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Thursday, 21 February 2002
Page: 771

Ms GAMBARO (10:05 AM) —It is a pleasure to be standing here as the member for Petrie for the third time. I want to place on the record my humble thanks to the people of Petrie for giving me the opportunity of serving them. It has been an amazing journey for me. I never imagined that I would be a representative of the federal parliament of Australia. I do not think my grandfather would have ever imagined that when he migrated to Australia in the early 1950s one of his descendants would be sitting in the federal parliament. I want to pay tribute to Giovanbaptista Gambaro for having the courage and the foresight to come to Australia. His choice to immigrate to a new land was to catch a boat either to America or to Australia. Thank goodness he caught the Napoli and came to Australia, because I would have had a different accent and I would not be standing in this place, I am sure.

History and destiny have an amazing way of intertwining. The first suburb he came to and settled in in Brisbane was called Petrie Terrace, named after Andrew Petrie, the gentleman whom my electorate is named after. Andrew Petrie was a very famous Scottish explorer and settler. He was a great student of indigenous people and the first free settler in Queensland. When you look back at things that have happened in your life, sometimes you think to yourself: was this meant to be? I went to a school that had some buildings that were designed by Andrew Petrie, and Petrie seems to have featured prominently in my life.

I had not been a member of a political party when the Liberal Party approached me to run for the seat of Petrie. It was the most amazing opportunity. When I reflect on it, it is just wonderful to be in this place. It has given me an increased sense of humbleness each time I am re-elected to the federal parliament. Sure, there is a lot of hard work to be done in an electorate and, having come from a business background, I knew nothing of the world of politics before I came into this House. In fact, I was not even a member of the Liberal Party when I was asked to run for the seat of Petrie, and I remember it well.

I had been raising two small children on my own, I was teaching marketing part time at the Queensland University of Technology, I was acting as a marketing consultant for the Queensland division of the franchisors of the Australia and New Zealand Association, and I thought my life was going along pretty nicely. I received a phone call from the area chairman of the Liberal Party saying, `We want you to stand for us for the seat of Petrie. You have three days to think about this, and we will get back to you.' How can you think about changing your life in three days? It was an absolutely momentous decision. I consulted some family and friends who said, `You are made for this. You are always complaining about the government. Here is your opportunity to do something about it. You can talk under wet cement.' Coming from an Italian background, I thought that was very amusing. But it was a wonderful opportunity, and I decided to take up the Liberal Party's offer.

What has it meant to be a representative? When I reflect on it, I have achieved some wonderful things for the people of my electorate. I probably have one of the most dynamic and diverse electorates that anyone could have. Even though I get a lot of attention, because it is a marginal seat—and sometimes I wish I did not—I just want to get out there and do my job. I do not want to read about myself in the national media. I am just an average person representing some 91,000 people. They do come to me with some wonderful issues that I am able to bring to parliament at each sitting. I am sure some of my colleagues sometimes wonder: what is the member for Petrie going on about this time? But, as usual, it hits their electorates shortly afterwards. I am very fortunate to have a very diverse electorate that is very responsive and gives me that feedback that I need so much to ensure that I carry out my job.

I thank all of those community leaders and members who work so tirelessly. There are men and women on the Redcliffe Peninsula who are members of 10 community organisations or more. I take my hat off to them. I have come to know most of them over the last six years and I count them as my friends. I get a lot of inspiration from many of them. I pay tribute to them for the countless hours of community work that they do and I thank them for coming and seeing me.

I want to place on the record some of the achievements that I have been able to deliver for the people of Petrie over the last six years. Every time I go past the Bruce Highway and see the evidence of the $75 million that I was able to secure, I cannot help feeling proud. My children are sick of hearing me point out the cranes and saying, `I got that money.' It has made a huge difference. The north and south of Brisbane merge in the seat of Petrie. We had terrible problems because of that merge, and the Gateway arterial merge. People wanted to travel north along the Bruce Highway, to places like Noosa and Caloundra, and we had never had a decent road. For the first time ever, we have extended and widened the Bruce Highway and the Pine Rivers bridge. This affects anyone who is commuting, be they tourists or business people. The people of the City of Redcliffe will not have those seven-kilometre traffic jams that they have experienced in the past.

I also place on the record the wonderful youth work that is carried out in my electorate. I have been happy to deliver some of those youth programs. We were able to deliver $265,000 in that area in 2001. The emergency relief people do a great job in helping those in our community who have very little. I will continue to lobby for funding for them. I know that last year they received funding. I have an ageing electorate, which means that I have a large number of nursing homes in the electorate. So far, we have been able to secure $34 million for aged care services in the Petrie electorate.

I am committed to working to decrease the unemployment rates in my electorate. I will do everything I can in that regard. Coming from a business background, I believe that, if we can solve the economic problems of our country, the other problems will fade into insignificance. There are people who will never have an opportunity to experience holding down a job. I know that there are many out there who find that very, very tough. Through Work for the Dole and through apprenticeship programs, I will continue to work with the local business community, the Redcliffe City Council and many of those people to ensure that our young people and also our mature age people are given opportunities.

I conclude by again thanking the people of Petrie. I am very honoured and feel humble to be standing here. I will continue to work hard for them. I thank them for keeping me humble. I hope that in three years time I am able to deliver even more for them. I will be in there fighting for everything I can for them.