Wednesday 24 June 2020
Hansard of the Legislative Council


Men's Health Week


 [11.16 a.m.]
Mr PRESIDENT - Honourable members, to begin our session we have quite an historic moment.  For the very last time, we will call on the Honourable Kerry Finch as the member for Rosevears.  I am sure the new member for Rosevears will be equally as compelling and will use this forum to great use, but I think this has been almost been known as the 'Kerry Finch session'.  If we went through the records, there would probably not be any larger contributor to special interests than Mr Finch, so, for the very last time, the member for Rosevears.

Mr FINCH (Rosevears) - Mr President, thank you.  I must say, Mr President, you look quite happy announcing that it was my last one.  However, last week was Men's Health Week and I take this opportunity to reflect on some instances that highlight the need not to ignore the signs that suggest something is wrong with your health.  That applies to women as well. 

You may recall my condolence notice about Mike Howe when we were last in parliament.  His wife, Louise Earwaker, in writing to me about his passing, said -

With your influence, please pass the message around to look out for your health and see your doctor.  So many, men especially, ignore warning signs until too late.  Louise.

In Mike's case, after putting things off for quite some time, he was due at the doctors the next day, but he died in his sleep. 

In a special interest speech I made in 2014, when I spoke about my heart attack, I mentioned my friend and fellow Stretford-ender, who is an avid Manchester United supporter, Kevin Gannon.  He worked at the Wigan Infirmary and when he came home from work, he told his wife, Barbara, that he felt unwell.  Straightaway she urged him to call an ambulance but, no, no, he will get it checked out at work tomorrow.  Overnight, he passed away in his sleep, at 63. 

Many of you will recall the very successful broadcaster, Peter Kaye, who rated number one on 7EX for many years in a row.  He was feeling off-colour over a couple of weeks and his wife, Sally, kept suggesting he see his doctor but Peter was his own man.  Strong and proud, no, he did not budge.  It is inconvenient.  On 21 January 2016 he slept well, felt good and died from a heart attack, a blocked artery, two hours later.  That was the day before a doctor's appointment at which, no doubt, that would have been picked up.  He was 64, so please - heed Sally's advice.  Do not shrug it off; do not say, 'If I am no better on Monday, I will go to the doctor'; do not think it is too inconvenient - go and get checked early.  It is not being dramatic.  It might just save your life. 

Ms Forrest - It is being a man.

Mr FINCH - We cannot help it.

There is the reticence, too, in respect of calling an ambulance.  Certainly in my case, when I felt pressure on my chest here in Hobart after being in the gym early, I phoned my doctor, and without hesitation, he said, 'Call an ambulance'.  A driver and a paramedic came, and after examination, the suggestion was that, because I had called an ambulance, I needed to go to A&E.

On arrival I was examined, taken upstairs, and with no fuss a stent was installed in a blocked artery.  I stayed overnight, then back home.  The funny thing was -

Ms Forrest - And missed your Thursday special interest speech.  Someone had to do it for you that day.

Mr FINCH - I am going to refer to it tomorrow.  Do not pre-empt me.  I will be here all morning.

The funny thing was that I reported to the rehab at LGH, and discussed my situation with John Aitken.  This was about a week and a half later. 

I said to him, 'The stent is just off to the side here,' and he said, 'Kerry, the stent is in your heart.'

I said, 'Oh well, there was nothing to worry about, because everybody was pretty relaxed.'

To which he said, 'Kerry, it was an emergency.' 

To which I said, 'Do you mean, could this be that I had a heart attack?'

He said, 'Yes.'

That was the first time anybody said I had a heart attack.  Nobody, but nobody, had used those words, so it was quite a surprise.

I want to quote Frank Noakes from Ambulance Tasmania -

It is well understood that men are often hesitant to seek medical assistance and can sometimes leave it longer than is good for their health.  In a medical emergency, calling for an ambulance could mean the difference between life and death.  Sometimes men hesitate to call because they are not sure if the situation qualifies as an emergency.  Remember, if in doubt, always call 000.

The people who take your call are trained to help you and will direct you to the appropriate resources, even if this is not an emergency ambulance.  Be safe, not sorry.

A word from Graeme Lynch from the Heart Foundation.  He said that if you are over 45 or 30 or over, if you are of Aboriginal or Torres Strait descent, you should book a heart health check with your doctor today.  It is covered by Medicare.  Some 1.4 million Australians have a high chance of having a heart attack or a stroke in the next five years - Australia's number one cause of death.  One Australian has a heart attack or a stroke every four minutes.  Think of your family and those close to you.  Understand the risks and make positive changes.

Mr President, I hope my talk today encourages fellow Tasmanians to make their health a top priority.  Embrace preventive health.

I have banged on about it often enough over many years here.  We owe it to ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.  They learn by watching us, and we owe it to them to demonstrate self-care.