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Thursday, 18 November 2004
Page: 80

Mr HARTSUYKER (1:54 PM) —May I first congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker Causley, on your election as Deputy Speaker to the parliament for this term. Before I begin my discussion of the address-in-reply, I would like to reassure the member for Hunter, who expressed some concern over the esteem in which parliament is held these days. I was reading in the Sun-Herald of 14 November of a survey that was published—a wellbeing and security study. The study looked at the percentage of respondents who replied to the survey who had confidence in a range of institutions. I noted that charities were very well regarded by the community, with some 78 per cent of respondents in the year 2003 feeling they had confidence in charities. I am pleased to inform the member for Hunter that the standing of the federal government has improved substantially between 1998 and 2003. Back in 1998, only 21 per cent of respondents had some degree of confidence in the federal parliament. That has substantially increased to 38 per cent of the community. I thought I would put his fears to one side for a moment.

I would also like to address another issue that the member for Hunter raised. He indicated that the election was apparently, in his words, `won on a lie'. That is certainly not the case. The people of Australia are not gullible. They listened to the arguments that were put forward by both sides of parliament. It was the Leader of the Opposition who claimed that this was going to be a referendum on Medicare, and it was the Leader of the Opposition who neglected to address adequately the issues of the performance of Labor with regard to management of the economy.

I have to say that the people noted—with some good sense, I might add—that this government is a friend of Medicare, that this government has been supporting Medicare, that this government is best placed to manage our economy and that Labor has a proven track record of failure in economic management. It is believed by most people out there that the economy is an issue of major importance, and the opposition has a demonstrated track record of failure in economic management. I think that the election result quite clearly and accurately reflected a well-informed community making a judgment about a team which has a poor record of economic management.

It certainly was a great honour to be returned for my second term as member for Cowper. As members of parliament, we retain our seats at the pleasure of the electors, and I was delighted with the support that I received from the people of Cowper and the support that the government received in being returned to office. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my party, The Nationals, and the many members of our campaign team who worked so hard to ensure the re-election of the coalition government. Without the assistance of strong political parties—both the Liberal Party and The Nationals—and without the assistance of strong campaign teams, the coalition could not have achieved the success that it did in the last election.

As members of parliament we could not have achieved the success we achieved without the support of very important volunteers—the countless number of volunteers turning out right around the country, manning the polling booths and distributing material. I would particularly like to thank my campaign director, Glynne Tosh, a tireless worker for the National Party and a tireless worker for her local community. Also, I would like to thank my electorate council chairman, Lloyd Beeby, and his wife, Jackie, who put in endless hours during the election campaign and endless hours through the entire election year. I would also like to thank my good friends, Ross and Beth Donald, who were absolutely everywhere during the election campaign, manning polling booths, manning pre-polls and distributing material. Absolutely vital in my campaign, the Donalds did a simply marvellous job.

We had a great range of people involved in a number of activities throughout our election campaign. We had people doing letterboxing, distributing some of the material and the policies of our government. I would like to thank Peter Roebuck and Gwen Hammersly for the great work that they did in distributing material throughout the election campaign. I would also like to thank Chris Forsythe, Campbell Forsythe, Lorraine Monkhouse, Angus Leahy, Nicole Leahy, Joel Medland, Nathan Medland, Gus Glover, Marcia Lachlan, Betty Boland, Janine Reid, Mary Tarr, Harry Green, Anne-Maree Rosenburg and Helena Aldridge. We had plenty of support in the National Party from our members in Cowper. I would also like to thank John Sercombe, who is one of my National Party colleagues—

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr HARTSUYKER —No relation!

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.