| August 16, 2017
I rise to talk about a very dear friend of mine who I had the opportunity to meet on Monday night, Neale Daniher. Neale and I have been friends since we were 15 years of age, when we went to boarding school at Assumption College with the same group of guys. After that, Neale headed off to play AFL football with Essendon and I with Geelong. We maintained this friendship through our playing careers. At the end of our playing careers, we ended up having a season together at Werribee in the member opposite's electorate—a great season. Neale went off to be an assistant coach with Fremantle and I went off to Sydney. It ended up with Neale going to coach Melbourne and myself heading off to coach Fremantle. We've always had this amazing friendship. However, when Neale rang me to tell me about his disease that he had contracted, MND, it was simply shattering, and you would have expected someone, like all of his friends, to wallow in the horrible outcome that we know is awaiting this great Australian.
However, Neale took a different tack to wallowing and feeling sorry for himself. In fact, he set about trying to raise awareness of this horrible disease and raise money for clinical trials. With Daniher's Drive, he's taken 50, 60, 70 and 100 cars all the way around Victoria and up through New South Wales, raising money as he goes, raising awareness and bringing people into the fold so they can help in this quest to find an answer, to find a cure for this horrible disease.
Neale has held Daniher's Drive and he held the Big Freeze at the G, where he effectively ambushed the whole Australian Football League community into making sure they're aware, making sure the big crowds at the MCG are getting behind him, with celebrities coming down into a giant bucket of ice—again, raising awareness and raising money. To the credit of this coalition government, they've matched that money dollar for dollar. In the first year it was $2.5 million to $3 million—matched by Sussan Ley when she was the health minister. This year Greg Hunt came to the fore and matched the over $2 million that Neil Daniher and his organisation, Cure for MND Foundation, had raised.
It is very exciting that, in conjunction with the University of Sydney, clinical trials are starting shortly. Here is a man who has had this disease for four years now and is looking to see if these clinical trials are in fact going to bear fruit, if they're going to come forth with a cure and an answer for this most terrible disease. I take my hat off to a great Australian, someone who we're going to cherish forever and ever. Thank you.