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Wednesday, 30 August 2023
Government House
Her Excellency the Honourable Margaret Beazley AC KC

Bujari gamarruwa

Diyn Babana Gamarada Gadigal Ngura

In greeting you in the language of the Gadigal, Traditional Owners of the land on which we gather, I pay my respects to their Elders past, present, and emerging. I extend that respect also to the Elders of all parts of our country from which you have travelled.

Tour de Cure - what can I say? With Dennis and I as your joint patrons and both of us lawyers, perhaps the question needs reframing: ‘what should I say’? Because we are lawyers, can I say that’s both an easy and difficult question to answer.

Easy because we should and most simply say ‘thank you’ – to Tour de Cure and its supporters: all of you being variously described from time to time as audacious and crazy - who else would have started up a major fund-raising exercise during the GFC? – bold and relentless, and believers in possibilities.

The difficult part of the answer requires a little unpacking. Cancer is a global curse. The figures are staggering. World-wide, there are 10 million cancer deaths every year,[1] 1-in-2 people in the US and UK are expected to be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.[2]

That last estimation is exactly the same for Australia: 1-in-2 Australians are predicted to get some form of cancer by the time they are 85.[3]

Last year in Australia, an estimated 162,000[4] new cancer cases were diagnosed – more than 400 a day – and 50,000 Australians died, accounting for close to one third of all deaths certified by a doctor.[5]

Perhaps surprisingly, given the strong health initiatives taken over the last 25 years, lung cancer is still the biggest killer in Australia and remains one of the most difficult to treat, along with brain, oesophageal, and pancreatic cancers.

Although there have been extraordinary gains in treatment, with the 5 years survival rate for cancers overall now 70% compared to 51% about 30 years ago,[6] ‘there has been very little change in mortality rates for some complex cancers […] over the past 35 years’.[7] 

There has been a 47% increase in blood cancers in the last 10 years[8] with some 20,000 cases diagnosed a year, and a prediction that this is likely to nearly double by 2035.[9] There are no screening tests.[10]

However, there is a positive side. Australia ranks in the top 10 countries for cancer research and treatment globally. In trying to pick trends in why some countries do well in the fight to bring down cancer rates and increase survivability, there is a common theme: good research institutes; accessibility to treatment centres; a strong cohort of specialist doctors and nurses; well-based government policy; and dollars, dollars, dollars invested into ground-breaking research.

You are part of that global story. Your dollars, every single one of the 108 million raised over the last 16 years[11] has been vital to Australian cancer research and the consequential benefits that flow from it. Your contribution is even more significant when put in the context that, in Australia, 42% of cancer research money comes from the non-government sector.[12]

The Tour de Cure community has backed 801 cancer projects, helped fund 131 cancer breakthroughs, and provided 280 grants to local cancer support groups across regional Australia. The Be Fit, Be Healthy, Be Happy education program has been delivered to 180,000 primary school children, educating young Australians about the importance of healthy lifestyle choices in preventing cancer.[13]

So, thank you again Tour de Cure, Bruno and Dominque and the Board, for being audacious and crazy, bold and relentless, and believers in possibilities. You are a great global story and an even better Australian one. Thank you to the community of volunteers, supporters, and donors for your part in it. You are precisely the kind of people that we want – and indeed need – in our corner in the fight to defeat cancer.

Thank you.


[1] World Health Organisation Cancer Fact Sheet, available: here

[2]; Honor Whiteman, ‘1 in 2 People Will Develop Cancer in Their Lifetime’, Medical News Today, 4 February 2015, available at here


[4] ‘Cancer Data in Australia’, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Web Report available: here


[6] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cancer in Australia 2021, p. ix

[7] Associate Professor Peter O'Brien, Chief Medical Officer, GenesisCare, quoted in ‘New $5m Research Project to Treat “Untreatable” Cancers’, CSIRO News Release, 7 May 2019, available: here

[8] ‘Blood Cancer’ web article on Cure Cancer website, available: here

[9] State of the Nation: Blood Cancers in Australia Report 2023: Final Report to Leukaemia Foundation, pp. viii, 3; available: here

[10] ibid, p. 11.

[11] Information provided by Tour de Cure.

[12] “The Australian Government was the largest funder of cancer research projects [in the period 2012 to 2020], providing 58% of the direct funding identified in the audit”: Cancer Research in Australia: 2012 to 2020, Cancer Australia, 2023, p. xv; available: here

[13] Information provided by Tour de Cure.

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