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Monday, 29 November 2004
Page: 123

Mr CIOBO (8:13 PM) —When I rose in this chamber for my first speech in the early evening of 13 February nearly three years ago, I asked one question: what is our purpose? I indicated that I thought this question would underscore my actions and provide a compass for my journey in this place. Having survived my first term as the second member for Moncrieff, I am pleased to take the time to review the progress that has been made both in my electorate and also nationally under the stewardship of the Howard government.

There can be no doubt that standing for office for a second term is far less daunting than standing for the first time. The campaign in Moncrieff in 2004 was an honest, clean campaign, and I thank my opponents for their contribution in this regard. Although I fiercely disagree with most of them on the path that they desire Australia to travel, I do applaud their commitment to being participants in our robust democracy. I pay particular tribute and give thanks to the electors of Moncrieff. I have a great appreciation for the electors of Moncrieff, for they have certainly placed their faith and their confidence in me with regard to being not only a strong advocate but also a passionate advocate for our part of the world. It is indeed a privilege and an honour to serve the people of Moncrieff, who live in Australia's fastest-growing city on the Gold Coast.

As a consequence of boundary changes prior to the last federal election, I saw some significant changes in my electorate. I lost the suburbs of Parkwood, Arundel and Labrador, most of Southport and parts of Nerang to the member now to my immediate north, the Hon. David Jull, the member for Fadden. I did, however, pick up nearly 20,000 additional constituents in the suburbs of Mermaid Beach, Mermaid Waters, Miami, Nobbys and north Burleigh. I have been particularly grateful to them, for they have embraced me and my advocacy on their behalf with regard to those parts of the central Gold Coast. Overall, the Gold Coast is a city that faces unique challenges. I have certainly been able to glean a good indication of what a number of these challenges are as a consequence of my regular listening posts and the various works I have done in the community throughout my first term.

I would like to take this chance to thank my campaign team who assisted me throughout the most recent campaign. I must especially thank my incredibly loyal, dedicated and hardworking staff—Marianne McCabe, Tricia Walsh and Mark Powell—who I am sure for quite some time thought an eight-hour day only took you as far as lunchtime. I also have to thank Alastair Mitchell, Jonathon Ellis, Sarah Allard, Peter Cantazariti and the Moncrieff campaign committee for their undying work on tasks which they completed in full because they knew the importance of ensuring all tasks for the campaign were done to put us on the best possible footing to ensure victory.

I also must thank all of the volunteers. They contributed so much towards the campaign. Countless hours of work went into making sure the Liberal Party in Moncrieff was able to perform to the greatest possible extent. I thank my booth captains and all my prepoll volunteers who worked for the weeks prior to polling day, especially my mother and father, who put in an exorbitant amount of effort in this regard. I also have to thank the nearly 400 volunteers who turned out on polling day to assist not only my campaign but the Liberal Party's campaign. They did so because they have a resolute belief in the good governance of the Howard government and the path we as a government are taking this nation on.

I also want to thank my financial supporters. The reality is that modern day campaigning is notoriously expensive. While some people would obviously desire that politicians not have to incur any campaign donations at all, the reality is that campaigning is expensive and does require financial assistance and support. I cannot thank enough those people who were willing to contribute. Whether it was $5 or more, each one of them made a significant contribution towards ensuring the Liberal Party performed not only in Moncrieff but also in a number of key marginal seats within Queensland.

Most of all, I cannot ever truly show my appreciation and thanks to my wife, Astra, who truly does give meaning to my life and educates me every single day. Her support, her strength, her humour and her tenacity are certainly inspiring to me, and I am forever grateful for her support and her inspiration.

We saw a 3.8 per cent swing towards the coalition in the seat of Moncrieff, which raises the question: why was that the case? As I foreshadowed earlier, I believe it is fundamentally because I and the Liberal Party have listened, responded and, most importantly, delivered for the Gold Coast. As I outlined, through my community listening posts and my regular work in the community I have on a number of occasions heard people put forward the key issues that are outstanding in the community. Among them—and perhaps first and foremost, as it was one I raised in my maiden speech—was the absolute need Griffith University on the Gold Coast had for additional university places. It is fortuitous that the Minister for Education, Science and Training, Dr Brendan Nelson, is in the chamber this evening. I thank him for his tireless efforts and, importantly, his regular visits to the Gold Coast to hear the very sound arguments that were put forward by Griffith University for additional university places.

Mr CIOBO —I am pleased to hear that the education minister recognised how compelling they truly were, and I was very pleased that, in fact, the highest allocation of new university places across the nation was to the Griffith University Gold Coast campus. There can be no doubt that in Australia's fastest-growing city there is an absolute need for more university places, and whilst we certainly did make a very large dent in the shortfall that exists on a per capita basis there is still much work to be done. I reaffirm in this chamber tonight that I will continue to pursue the allocation of additional university places.

When I was initially elected, there was a shortfall of approximately 3,000 university places that Griffith University required just to bring the Gold Coast up to the Australian average. When compared to other cities such as Wollongong, that deficit rose to approximately 5,000 university places. I have been very pleased to be part of a government that has listened and responded to that cry and demand for new university places. Those 1,500 additional places will certainly go a long way but, as I indicated, there is still some significant work to do in that area, and I intend to continue working on that.

I also highlight that my electors raised with me that they sought a new medical school for the Gold Coast. The Gold Coast for far too long was seen as the inferior cousin to Brisbane. Brisbane had a medical school and the Gold Coast had been attempting to gain a medical school since the 1970s. I must particularly thank the former Minister for Health and Ageing, Senator the Hon. Kay Patterson, who together with Dr Brendan Nelson approved a new medical school for the Gold Coast. Coincidentally, today the Australian Medical Council announced that both the Griffith University medical school and Bond University's medical school have received AMC approval. That is a great shot in the arm for our region, and I am particularly excited to see two quite different models of a medical school going forward and coming onto the marketplace in the near future.

I am very excited to watch Griffith University's medical school being constructed. It is a mere 500 metres up the road from my electorate office, and I was pleased to see within the last several weeks the Griffith University medical school logo going up on the exterior of the building. It is a tremendous shot in the arm for our city, and it means we have a long-term solution to the growing demand that exists within our city for access to doctors. Importantly, it also satisfies the very strong demand among young people on the Gold Coast to undertake medical studies at a local campus.

For the residents of Nerang and Highland Park, access to Medicare services was an important priority as well. I sought a new Medicare office for them and, although I was unsuccessful, I was very pleased to announce in my last term the allocation of three new Medicare Easyclaim booths. The sites for these have now been selected, and I am pleased that the tens of thousands of residents west of the M1 motorway will now have a great deal of access to Medicare through these booths.

Another key component which I spoke on at length in my maiden speech was the fact that the tourism industry is vitally important to the Gold Coast. The Howard government certainly has the runs on the board when it comes to the tourism industry. I was very pleased that the former Minister for Small Business and Tourism, the Hon. Joe Hockey, was able to steer the tourism white paper through both this chamber and the other place. That white paper will see over $600 million going into the tourism industry over the next four years. The proof that the tourism industry is already reaping significant benefits from this white paper can clearly be seen in the number of inbound tourists to Australia. I was pleased to see numbers released by Tourism Australia which indicated that there had been more inbound international tourists coming to Australia in the past 12 months than for the year 2000 with the Sydney Olympics. This indicates a very strong resurgence and interest in visiting Australia among international tourists, which generates significant export income.

I was also pleased in my last term to see the Cooperative Research Centre for Sustainable Tourism—which is headquartered at Griffith University on the Gold Coast—receive nearly $30 million of funding from this government. It received this money because it has been producing a number of very significant and commercially attractive applications that the tourism industry has been embracing. We have seen significant runs on the board from this CRC which place it among the best CRCs currently operating in Australia. In the last 12 months I was also pleased that the new international centre of excellence for tourism was placed on the Gold Coast. These institutions not only ensure growing recognition of the important role that the Gold Coast plays as the engine room for tourism in Australia but also create a link for those in the tourism industry to additional applications, support and research, all of which help them to run their businesses better. At a time when our country is looking for additional opportunities to increase productivity, it is important to recognise that productivity can also occur through efficiency gains realised in service industries like the tourism industry. I am very pleased that both the ICE and the CRC for Sustainable Tourism play very important roles in this regard.

During the campaign it was encouraging to have the Prime Minister visit. The Prime Minister and I, whilst walking along the beach towards Surfers Paradise one day, had the chance to talk about a number of key issues and challenges facing the city of the Gold Coast. Among them was the growing shortage of those who have been vocationally educated, and the announcement during the campaign of the new technical training colleges was a great shot in the arm. I was very pleased that the 24 sites selected included the Gold Coast. I believe that the Gold Coast benefits from having a strong team of four Liberal members, and I have no doubt that the allocation of one of these new sites is a direct consequence of the Gold Coast having these four strong advocates.

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in the first roundtable in our region to discuss options for the new technical training college that will be placed on the Gold Coast, and I was very excited by the discussion of and the enthusiasm for this new facility. It means that across the board young people on the Gold Coast will have the opportunity to participate not only in tertiary education but in vocational education, which is equally as important. They will have access to education in the correct skills for, for example, the construction industry, the tourism industry and the marine industry—another nascent industry which presents great potential for the future. I would like to see young people embrace the opportunity to undertake studies in the marine industry—whether it be in marine upholstery or fibreglass—at the new technical training colleges that will be placed on the Gold Coast.

I was also pleased that an extension of the film tax offset to the television industry was put forward as part of the federal government's policy. The film and TV industry on the Gold Coast is rapidly growing. Several hundred people are now directly employed not only in what are called `runaway productions' from the United States but also in film and television productions indigenous to Australia, with scripts that are written, produced, directed and post-produced in Australia. The new film tax offset and its extension to the television industry will augment the number of incentives that already exist in this industry. I am very confident that this industry has its best days ahead of it and there will be opportunities for new graduates of vocational and tertiary education to undertake roles within this growing industry.

My electorate has the highest number of small businesses per capita in this nation. We have seen a rededication by the Howard government and certainly by me to ensuring that conditions within this country benefit small businesses, which truly are the engine room of our nation. If we did not have entrepreneurs willing to take risks in seeking reward then we as a nation would not be able to meet many of the challenges that face us. We have heard a number of those challenges enunciated today, not least of which is our ageing population. I believe fundamentally that the reforms that we are making in the small business sector—I note in particular the unfair dismissal laws which, under the new composition of the Senate, will finally have a chance to be passed—will remove many of the shackles that the Labor Party left on the small business sector, enabling it to be more productive and profitable and to employ more people into the future.

I have listed each of these points because I believe that they not only relate to the needs and aspirations of middle Australia but also highlight and demonstrate the way in which the Howard government has delivered very strongly for the people of the Gold Coast. With a population of nearly 500,000, the Gold Coast does continue to face a number of significant challenges. The various points I have raised are some of the challenges but are also, importantly, some of the solutions that this government has highlighted. However, these are not final solutions. There still needs to be more work done, and I will continue to undertake that work. Principal among that work is to address the growing need for additional funding into traffic and transport infrastructure.

I cannot go further on this point without recognising the $12 billion investment that the Howard government is making under the AusLink proposal and also expressing my extreme concern and disappointment in the Queensland state Labor government. The Queensland state Labor government this year ran a budget surplus of $2.3 billion. Despite this budget surplus and despite nearly $1 billion in road funding that was put toward the M1 project, or the Pacific Motorway, that runs over the Tweed border, I was disappointed to see the state Premier, Peter Beattie, announce recently that they would not proceed with additional widening of the M1 between Nerang and the Tweed border unless the federal government was willing to put even more money into the project. I really question the bona fides of the Queensland state government when they run a $2.3 billion budget surplus and, most importantly, have a $500 million windfall gain as a consequence of the introduction of the goods and services tax by this government and yet still cry poor when it comes to important transport infrastructure such as the M1 project. I implore the state Labor members on the Gold Coast to please speak with the Premier and ensure that this very necessary and important road project is completed.

I again thank my campaign team for their efforts in the last election. I also thank those opponents who stood because of their belief in having a robust democracy. I am very grateful to the constituents of Moncrieff; with their good grace I would like to continue serving them throughout the entirety of this next term.