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Wednesday, 13 February 2002
Page: 171

Mr HARDGRAVE (Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs) (7:13 PM) —I am absolutely delighted to stand here as the member for Moreton, having been elected now for the third time. I wish to take the opportunity in this debate on the address-in-reply to renew my commitment to the people of Moreton, to thank them for the faith that they have shown in me and for their support on 10 November.

When I first rose in this place on 1 May 1996, I promised to be Moreton-centric. Following the 1998 election, I renewed that promise. Tonight I again state that, despite the additional duties which have been conferred upon me—the high honour of serving as a minister in this third Howard government—my priorities rest still with the electorate of Moreton. I will represent them in a vigorous way through the usual channels that I have been representing them over the last almost six years.

We have a very multicultural community in Moreton, so my appointment to the ministry to look after citizenship and multicultural affairs has been regarded by many people in my electorate as a vote of acknowledgment by the Prime Minister of the very cohesive local community that we have. That multicultural community came out to support my candidacy on 10 November, with people who have come to this country as refugees from a variety of parts of the world, including the Horn of Africa, standing out there in the warmth and wet—it was a very wet and horrible day on 10 November, but a hot, warm day, if you get my drift—to hand out how-to-vote cards that entire day.

It just goes to show that, despite the attempts of those to try to paint some division and some difficulty as a result of the government's tough stand on matters to do with our national sovereignty, the law and order issue of our border protection measures, those who have in fact come through the immigration system see the integrity of that system as being very important, so much so that they wanted to actively campaign for a government member to be returned and to send that message clearly to this place.

It is important for migrants, refugees, people who have come to this country through a variety of programs, that the government does maintain its strong measures of integrity with regard to our border protection to ensure that our migration system never allows in people of bad character and bad health. The fact that we now have security checks adds to the dimension of credibility that every migrant and every person with a permanent migration outcome actually brings to Australia.

The Australian Labor Party's campaign of lies on 10 November was always going to be rewarded with complete failure—they spent so much of last year campaigning strongly and misleading people on the question of school funding. As the member for Lyons has just rightly observed, there are Labor states all over the place. In Queensland we call government schools `state schools'. There are Labor state governments all over the place, and we call government schools `state schools'. They are the schools that are funded by the states. Of course, when you couple that with the fact that the Commonwealth has now reached record levels of funding in education for state schools as well as non-government schools, to provide support to parents who want to make those choices, you can see the fallacy in the campaign and how so many people saw through it.

The same is true in health care. The Queensland government's health care system is in crisis, with a minister who is crisis prone, who is not quick to react to the real problems, who wants to try and flick people who are old out of the system into aged care, because it is cost shifting to the Commonwealth, instead of realising that they are sick first and foremost and dealing with that problem. These are the sorts of problems that we are getting from Labor state governments around Australia, despite the efforts of the Commonwealth to increase funding.

Mr Deputy Speaker, as you know, the more the Commonwealth seems to increase expenditure in a variety of portfolio areas, the more the state governments back out of their commitment to match on a dollar for dollar basis the Commonwealth's contribution. We both know, I am sure, that both systems are needed in the health care area and that both systems are needed in the school area of the government and non-government contribution.

The member for Moncrieff, amongst the three fine new members to this place—the member for Ryan and the member for Dickson being the other two—made a very fine contribution a few moments ago. I would like to reflect briefly upon a similar theme because in preparing for this address today one of the things that occurred to me that needs to be talked about, that is of great importance to the people in my electorate, is the arrogance factor of the Australian Labor Party.

In my own electorate, despite increased funding in areas to do with local roads from this government and more funding that has been forecast for the term of this government, the Queensland state government continues to show absolutely no understanding of the needs of local people on the issue of the Southern Brisbane bypass and the fact that the Griffith arterial road—the continuum of Riawena, Granard, Kessels and Mount Gravatt-Capalaba Roads—and the roads which run parallel to this major road are in fact choking on traffic, traffic that is avoiding a toll, a toll that the toll king of Australia, Steve Bredhauer, will not do anything about.

He has been dragged kicking and screaming into a study to look into community views on this, a study in which he attempted to try to focus on just one road. Of course, as the local member, I rightly forced the terms of reference to include all of the consequences of alternative options to this one particular road. Yet Minister for Transport Bredhauer and the Queensland government showed so little interest in the matter after me writing to him when he was first appointed to that position in July 1998 that it took him 1,200 days to come to my electorate to try and talk to me about that. He did that—wait for it—17 days out from the last federal election and brought a gaggle of media and the Labor Party candidate along with him for the fun of it all, and he expects me to take seriously his commitment to or interest in the people in my area.

Steve Bredhauer's complete lack of interest in my area and his arrogance extend to the people of Salisbury, for whom money was given by this government to the Queensland government for noise barriers. But the Queensland Department of Transport have decided that noise barriers along Riawena Road in Salisbury are not a priority and are not even going to do anything about planning for it, despite having the money from the Commonwealth. It is a matter that I intend to pursue with John Anderson, the Minister for Transport and Regional Services.

The arrogance factor continues to the state member for Yeerongpilly, Matt Foley, another minister in the Queensland government, who has made a choice of his department's infrastructure at the Yeronga TAFE which now involves emissions coming out of that TAFE. The local residents are complaining that they are being covered in soot, that there are emissions and smells, and he has made a choice between his department's facility and the residents across the street by backing the department's facility. He does not care about the people in his own electorate. The problem in Queensland now is that, with the Australian Labor party having such a large number of seats—

Mr HARDGRAVE —I will point it out because that in itself is part of the arrogance: they actually do not care about the large number of people in each electorate who did give them support last year. The bigger the margin, the bigger the arrogance—that seems to be the motto of the Beattie government. But it is not just the Queensland state government. The Brisbane City Council has the divisive Jim Soorley at the helm—a man who wants to go, but after the member for Denison attempted to go the Labor Party in Queensland apparently have polled Brisbane and found that, if Soorley goes, the Labor candidate will not get up; so the arrogance factor may be tempered, but we will find out. This is the man, the great conciliator, who the other day described a Scotland-born union official—from, I think, the Transport Workers Union, representing bus drivers who were upset about a bus driver being sacked by the council—as a `foreign import' and described bus drivers in Brisbane as terrorists. The arrogance of the Soorley era must end and I hope he goes soon.

What is worse is that underneath this arrogance that Soorley brings to the running of Brisbane is the fact that there are Brisbane city councillors all over the place not working. There is an arrogance factor: a member of Civic Cabinet, Councillor Kerry Rea, Councillor for Holland Park, was breathless prior to Christmas when she told a public meeting that she could not decide whose side she was on in relation to rezoning properties in the Holland Park west Tarragindi area of my electorate. It was an issue that was raised for about two months prior to the federal election. I kept my commitment to the local people by attending a public meeting. It was the Monday night after the federal election when Kerry Rea could not decide whose side she was on. Ultimately, the sheer level of public outcry and embarrassment—and I guess the Labor Party pollsters—ruled this rezoning should not go ahead. The arrogance factor is not just in Kerry Rea's domain alone.

There are, however, many good news items occurring in the federal electorate of Moreton which are very relevant to the Governor-General's address given to this place yesterday. The government promised prior to the last election, and is delivering in full, a law and order pilot project in my electorate which is named `Spot-It'. It is about securing our local schools and ensuring that—rather like Neighbourhood Watch—local school communities will have properly vetted volunteers to check out the school grounds to make sure that some of the nasty activities that may occur at night do not result in `sharps', or whatever, left around the school grounds. It will also make sure that people who park at schools and in a variety of places for whatever sick reason they might have are all passed on to the police. It is a worthwhile project. Mission Australia are coordinating that and Wellers Hill State School was the first school to agree to be part of that pilot scheme, and I am pleased to see that they were.

Likewise, I know that on National Service Day last Saturday national servicemen marched in Brisbane and were very proud to receive the first of the national service medals, which is also a part of this government's ongoing commitment to fulfilling an obligation to respect and remember the contribution of those who have served. The national servicemen's medal will be, upon application, going out to many tens of thousands of people. I congratulate the former Minister for Veterans' Affairs, the member for Maranoa, for his persistence in ensuring that this medal did come to fruition.

There was also a rather nice intersection, in my activities as a minister, with the local community on Australia Day when the Lions Club of Brisbane, Macgregor, held the first citizenship ceremony in my part of the world for many, many years. There were some 57 new Australians who were conferred that day. Immediately after that, I was able to present my Moreton area community service awards. There are so many people who have served our local community so well. I would suggest to all honourable members that they look at ways of involving their local community in that sort of activity—where successful local residents who have made a difference come together with new residents and new citizens. The bonding for about 350 people, I believe, was a very important event for each of them.

I would like to read into the record the names of those who received that community service award, because they are great Australians and they have served our local community extremely well. I give my heartiest congratulations to Len Abbott, Ron Baker, Lena Bazzo, Alan Beale, Winifred Bristow, Joyce Bylett, Henry Chen, Melody Chen, and another Melody Chen, and Benjamin Chen—none of them are related but it certainly does show that the local Chinese community are as enthusiastic about community service as others are—Jocelyn Clarkson, Walter Costello, Jack Curtis, Patricia Dormer, Edith Edwards, Judith and Rodney Ellerington, Miles Farmer, David Floyd, Darel Green, Yong Huang, Russell Kelly, Yung-Fu Lee, Eric Lin, Jason Lin, Kevin Ludgater, Narelle Morris, Jack Orr, Imaan Yusuf Peer—from the Kuraby mosque; Imaan provided real leadership in our local community following the attack on that place late last year—Merv Reid, Bob Robinson, Neil Scanlan, Margaret Smith, Owen Stewart, Bill Temple, Bill Thirkill, Joan Wakefield, Dennis Webb, Austin Wilkins, Dulcie Winbank and Julia Wu. It is right that I place your commitment to the local community on the public record in this most important place.

I would also like to register my support and thanks to the many people in the Liberal Party branch in the federal electorate of Moreton. From time to time, people have cause to comment on Liberal Party activities in the state of Queensland. I am very happy to report to this place that the united Liberal Party in the federal electorate of Moreton, I believe, has been part of the reason why I am here today. Chris Penglis, my FEC chairman; Angela Owen-Taylor, the vice-chairman; and particularly Denise Button, the secretary of the FEC, amongst others, stand out in my mind as people who made a marvellous contribution. The Sunnybank Wishart Young Liberals brought a vitality you would expect from such an organisation, an organisation which has produced such fine people, as the new member for Moncrieff, the new member for Dickson, and indeed the new member for Ryan. Like the Queensland division of the Liberal Party and the Young Liberal Movement, I believe they should be heralded. We in Queensland are very proud of our new members in this place. We believe we have brought a great sense of renewal and vitality to this third Howard government. We are very appreciative of the contribution that each of these people will make. But, at the heart of it, the Moreton FEC of the Liberal Party is proving the way forward for so many other divisions within the Queensland organisation.

Finally, Mr Speaker, as you know, because you often talk about it in this place upon reflection, none of us as members can operate in the isolation of just our own ability. It is important to note on the public record my absolute appreciation for the stress and the strain that I, as a very active member of parliament, have put my own electorate staff under during the last three years in particular. To Lorraine, who has been the team leader and continues to play a vital role in my ministry office; to Tanya; to Adrian in particular; and we are now joined by another Tania as well; and also to Jan, who comes in a couple of days each fortnight, I say thank you for the tremendous work and effort that you have put in to making a difference. From each of those people I have gathered a great deal of inspiration, an enormous sense of purpose and an understanding of the duty that I must perform to maintain my Moreton-centric approach, as I promised in 1996, to maintain a vigorous representation of the good people of the federal electorate of Moreton and to ensure that their voice is always heard in this place.