FEDERAL Shadow Minister for Health Julia Gillard took time out from her busy schedule in Parliament to address the inaugural Kevin O'Gorman Memorial Luncheon in Coffs Harbour on Saturday.
Speaking at the Catholic Club luncheon, Ms Gillard paid tribute to Mr O'Gorman, who died last September at the age of 44, after many years of commitment to the Australian Labor Party.
"I hope this is a first of what is going to be an annual event, and become more than a memorial, but a celebration of Kevin's life and the values that he stood for," Ms Gillard said.
Mr O'Gorman served as president and treasurer of the Coffs Harbour Labor branch and was well-known for charity work in the Coffs Harbour community.
Ms Gillard praised Mr O'Gorman for his courage after being diagnosed with melanoma, when he held a wake for himself to raise funds for the proposed radiotherapy patient and carers' lodge at the Coffs Harbour Health Campus.
"That was an incredibly brave thing to do when faced with such news about one's mortality ... to turn outwards and think 'What good can I make of this?'"
Ms Gillard took the opportunity to talk politics, discussing education, health, infrastructure and the changes to the industrial relations legislation.
But her most scathing criticism went to the Federal Government's cuts to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).
"The PBS has been the envy of the world and has delivered medicines at world-class prices. On Wednesday, Tony Abbott announced that for four medicines ? one for lung cancer, two for epilepsy and one for depression ? he has not been able to come to a satisfactory deal with drug companies.
"So new patients will only be able to access those medicines if they can not only pay the co-payment, but pay a new special patient contribution. For a lung cancer patient that contribution will be $500 per prescription."