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Wednesday, 3 March 2004
Page: 25845

FRAN BAILEY (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Defence) (9:43 AM) —When I travel across the 15,000 square kilometres and 185 communities that make up my electorate of McEwen, in my mobile office or when holding town meetings in any of those communities, I am frequently told what my local constituents expect of government, and the federal government in particular. There are three key themes that constantly come through. What people in my electorate expect, firstly, is that they will have opportunities to succeed. They want to be able to operate in an economic environment where they are rewarded for their efforts and where they get those opportunities. Secondly, they expect the federal government to maintain our national security. Thirdly, they expect the provision of services.

When we came into government in 1996, throughout the 15,000 square kilometres of my electorate there was not one Centrelink office—not one. It took a lot of work to get that established. Initially, we got it established in a small shop in an arcade in Seymour. Today we have not only a purpose-built building but we have outreach services going into towns, plus, most importantly, we have the Murrindindi Cyberbus, which provides direct electronic access to Centrelink. It is the only one of its kind in the entire nation. Bob, the bus driver, is the secret to the success of the Murrindindi Cyberbus.

The services that constituents in McEwen expect include access to Medicare. In every pharmacy across the 15,000 square kilometres, we have Medicare Easyclaim machines. Occasionally, my constituents want access to something like a post office box from Australia Post. After 12 months of battle, we have finally got a post office box in Mill Park Lakes—a new suburb which is fast-growing and demanding. The residents are now telling me that they want access to an ATM and public toilets. This is not directly the responsibility of federal government, but we have already started the campaign to make sure that the local council—the Whittlesea council—honours its obligations to providing services and delivers on the public toilets, and we are going to pressure the major banks to provide an ATM service.