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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Page: 357

Mr KEENAN (12:35 PM) —Can I add my congratulations to the new member for Brand, somebody who comes into this place with a very big reputation. I have not had the opportunity of meeting him yet, but he is very well regarded in the business community in Western Australia and I wish him luck in representing the point of view of that community within the new government. If I might just make an aside: the new member for Cowan was due to give his maiden speech at this time. For anyone who is waiting for him to speak, he has been detained and will be speaking at about 1.15 pm. I am very much looking forward to hearing his contribution.

I now want to take the opportunity, in giving my speech in the address-in-reply debate, to talk about the thing that is dearest to me: my electorate. I begin by saying that I am very pleased to be here, still representing the electors of Stirling. I had a very hard fought campaign in Stirling. I think it was equally difficult with, if not more difficult than, the campaign I had in 2004 to win the seat from the former member, Jann McFarlane. I want to take this opportunity to thank some of the people who were responsible for making sure that we won that seat and who helped me to be returned to this place.

Firstly, there is my campaign chairman, John Franklyn. He has been my campaign chairman for the past four years. He came to the role without any particular political experience. He learnt the job extraordinarily quickly. He worked on it practically full time for the six months in the lead-up to the election. I owe him an enormous debt of gratitude. He is somebody who has my deep and abiding respect and I look forward to working with him over the next three years to make sure that we also secure this marginal seat in 2010.

Fay Duda is somebody who has worked for me on previous occasions and continues to play an enormous role in my campaign, particularly as finance chairman. She is a very good friend of mine. I appreciate the enormous efforts that she put in, on behalf of the Stirling campaign, in the lead-up to the election. I want to place on record my enduring gratitude for everything she did.

And then there is the rest of my campaign team. My treasurer, Doug Dougall, is an excellent man who did his job. He has a very quiet manner. He did his job with very little fanfare but extraordinarily efficiently. I thank him for all the effort that he put in. It would not be right if I finished without mentioning my mother and father, who were an essential part of my campaign team. I again thank them for all of their efforts. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of my sisters, Jennifer and Catherine, who are not part of the natural Liberal constituency but nonetheless put aside their own political preferences and helped me throughout the campaign. Very importantly, I would like to acknowledge my partner, Georgina Bower. As well as working tirelessly on the campaign, she put up with a rather irrational and difficult person at home on various occasions during that campaign.

I will now come to my office. My electorate staff is led by Liz Behjat. She has just been preselected in a winnable position to go into the upper house of the Western Australian parliament, which I am very pleased about. She worked incredibly hard. She is an amazing on-the-ground campaigner. She worked with my other electorate officers—Erin McGrath, Sylvia Norton and Amy Yelash, as well as Stephanie Power and occasionally Katie Brooks. They worked incredibly hard. I thank them very sincerely for all of their efforts and I am looking forward to working with them over the next three years.

I had very good support from some Young Liberals in Western Australia. I want to quickly acknowledge Dan Hyde, John Pawley, Matt Dawson, Lauren Gregan, Caiden Gray and Michael Storozhev. They were the ones who came with me to the shopping centres. We really campaigned for the whole of 2007. They often came with their hangovers but they were there nonetheless and they worked extremely hard, and I thank them for that. The Stirling division again really put in a fantastic effort for me. I particularly acknowledge Ann Johnson, Marie Grout and Mal and Glenyse Holmes, who are at this time actually getting a tour of this House. I am very pleased that they have been able to come over for the start of this new parliament. I would also like to acknowledge my patron, Senator Christopher Ellison, who is an extraordinarily good mentor and did a lot to help me succeed in 2007.

The campaign was extraordinarily hard fought, as I have said, and I think it is only right and proper that I acknowledge my opponent on this occasion. I actually saw him in the House yesterday. His name is Peter Tinley. He worked very hard and he ran a very good campaign. I would like to place on record that we had an enormous duel and that he came very close to wresting the seat from me. We were able to hold it in the end through our very hard work over the three years, but I would like to acknowledge that he ran a fair and very good campaign and he was a very formidable candidate.

I am very keen to concentrate in my speech in the address-in-reply debate on the promises that were made to my electorate, both by me and by the Labor Party, during the campaign. Part of the Labor Party strategy in Stirling was to match any promise that we made. So, as far as I am concerned, the new government have committed themselves to honour every promise that the Liberal Party made to the electors of Stirling in 2007 and I will be holding them to account for the promises they made in matching the commitments that the Liberal Party had given. Those promises were not always on the record. I cannot necessarily produce written evidence that the Labor Party promised them but certainly every time we announced a policy they were on the phone saying that they would match it, and I would certainly be able to provide evidence from some of the community groups in my electorate to say that is what was occurring. That is fair enough, and I do not have a problem with it, but I do very much expect the new Rudd government to fulfil those commitments.

Since becoming the member for Stirling in 2004, I have been very privileged to work with the community to secure important projects, such as vital infrastructure for schools, incentives for small business and money to upgrade some of the more dangerous roads and black spots that affect my community. I am determined in this term to continue that work. As I said, we made promises on all of those particular issues and I expect the new government to fulfil them. I would like to go through some of those promises. These promises include the promises that we made to the electorate and the promises that Labor also made, and I think it is reasonable to expect that, now that the Labor Party has won the election, they will fulfil the commitments that they made to Stirling residents.

Crime is probably the No. 1 concern of Stirling residents. I know that from talking to people. You only have to go out on any Saturday morning to a shopping centre to feel the sense of frustration that people feel about what they see as uncontrolled crime rates. The reality is that it is very difficult to get a clear picture of where crime is at in my electorate because the state government are not up-front in the way that they publish crime statistics. Sadly, they are more interested in protecting their own backs than in providing serious information about the state of crime in Stirling. There is absolutely no doubt that it is extraordinarily difficult to get a police response when you require one. The police do an extraordinarily good job. They work very hard, but they are underresourced. Officers are leaving the force at a far greater rate than the Labor government can recruit other officers. That is a serious problem. At any given time in Stirling, which falls within the west metropolitan police district, the police are about 20 per cent undermanned. That makes it virtually impossible for these hardworking police officers to do their job.

One way that we can alleviate some of the pressure on the police is by enhancing the services that the City of Stirling provides for community safety. The City of Stirling is the only local government area within my federal seat of Stirling. It already has a very effective community safety patrol, with four cars and a number of officers, and we promised to enhance that service to the tune of $1.6 million. This was part of a seven-point plan that we had for the electorate, and we wanted the council to use that money to deploy extra patrols and make the local community safer.

Funnily enough, after we made this commitment, Labor announced the $1.6 million Safer Suburbs Plan—that is the same amount of money and the same plan but with a slightly different name. The Safer Suburbs Plan includes personal alarms for residents and four extra security officers for patrols to be done by the City of Stirling 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I would like to know when this $1.6 million Safer Suburbs Plan will be funded. I want those four extra security officers patrolling our local streets as soon as possible. They will be welcomed by my local community.

It is everybody’s right to feel safe and secure in their own homes. Fear of crime has become a cancer throughout the suburbs that I represent. I have collected thousands of signatures as part of an ongoing crime petition, and I coordinated crime forums across the electorate where concerned residents were able to talk to local police and safety patrol officers about personal and home security. I was very privileged that the then Minister for Justice and Customs attended a number of those forums, as did Senator Chris Ellison.

The previous Liberal government was tough on crime. The federal government is not traditionally the primary responder to this issue, but there is a huge gap in the state government’s provisioning of this service. I understand it is like that in other parts of Australia, and I can certainly confirm it in Western Australia. We tried to address this issue through the National Community Crime Prevention Program, in conjunction with the City of Stirling and my local police and local action groups. We were able to fund closed-circuit television cameras at some known hotspots within Stirling: particularly the Carine Skate Park in Mirrabooka and the Nollamara Shopping Centre. I would urge the new government to continue that program because it is a very worthwhile program that is making a difference to what is a very serious problem.

Probably the second major issue that was raised with me through my first term as the member for Stirling was road safety and the condition of local roads. I worked very hard to get the former government to fund an overpass for a highway called Reid Highway, which runs through my electorate. The original plan for it would have been that it would have operated as a normal highway, across overpasses where it intersected with other major roads. But at the time the highway was built, as a temporary measure—and, I assume, to save funds—they instead stopped the highway at various intersections and put traffic lights there. That creates an extraordinarily dangerous situation at two particular trouble spots in my electorate. I have been working very hard to address those issues and to secure funding for those two overpasses. If they had been built at the time the highway was built, they would have cost about $2 million each. The cost continues to rise every time we look at it. The latest estimates that we have had is that it would probably cost about $25 million for each of those overpasses, and the longer we delay it, the more expensive they will get, but they are vitally important. People are literally being injured and dying there on a regular basis, so it needs to be addressed.

I secured a $20 million commitment from the previous government to fund these overpasses. I had the privilege of taking the former Prime Minister out there during the election campaign. I secured $20 million to build these overpasses where Reid Highway intersects with Mirrabooka Avenue and Alexander Drive. Federal Labor also promised unconditional funding through the AusLink II program for the Alexander Drive overpass and, in what could only be described as classic weasel words, said that they would consider building the overpass at Mirrabooka Avenue also. The Labor government in Western Australia refused to accept the funding from the Howard government but was pleased to accept the funding commitment from federal Labor. Such is the state of the Labor government in Western Australia that, during that election campaign, it completely ignored the interests of the people of Western Australia in order to campaign on behalf of its federal Labor colleagues, which I think is shameful. Regardless, this commitment has been made and it needs to be fulfilled. Road safety is not something that should be trivialised in the context of an election campaign, and these projects are extraordinarily important for local families. I have been overwhelmed by the support that our commitment to build these overpasses has generated, and I expect the Rudd government to fulfil its commitments on both of these projects.

The Rudd government also promised a number of other things. Time is rather short, so I will go through them rather quickly. The then Leader of the Opposition and now Prime Minister came out and kicked soccer balls around with some young soccer players at Macedonia Park, home of the Stirling Lions Soccer Club. He said that he would upgrade the facilities at that club to the tune of $1 million. That was a commitment made by the Prime Minister and I do not doubt that he will fulfil it; it was a personal commitment from him. I would like to see that happen sooner rather than later. The club makes a very big contribution in my electorate. It formerly catered specifically to the Macedonian community. As is the case with a lot of these soccer clubs, it now caters to the much broader community. That is a very worthwhile project and I will be making sure that the new government delivers it.

We committed $464,000 to upgrade the women’s change rooms at a number of reserves in Stirling. Labor matched that funding, and I expect them to deliver on that promise. We promised important upgrades at the Butler’s Reserve in Scarborough and the Grindleford Reserve in Balcatta, home to the Balcatta Soccer Club, of which I am privileged to be the No. 1 ticket holder. These facilities will be able to encourage women into sport. I expect the government to deliver on that promise also.

A number of sporting facilities were promised funding during the campaign. Carine Senior High School is an excellent facility—a very good high school—in Stirling and one of which I am particularly proud. We promised that we would join with the state government or another funding partner to provide $82,500 to upgrade their tennis and netball courts. I would like to see the new government consider this. I do not have it on the record that they did equal that funding promise, but I will certainly be asking them to consider that request.

Every school in my electorate has already been severely disadvantaged by the axing of the Investing in Our Schools Program. This was one of the first actions of the new Rudd government—an extraordinary decision considering that Mr Rudd made education such a core part of the Labor Party’s platform. The money from the program went directly to building infrastructure in my local schools, and I am astonished that they would be targeted for savings. Labor promised $10,000 for rainwater tanks at both the Trigg Island and Scarborough surf lifesaving clubs. They are vital community institutions in Stirling. As patron of Scarborough and as vice-patron of Trigg Island, I am very keen to progress this initiative and get these rainwater tanks installed as soon as possible.

Labor also made a commitment to provide $300,000 on an annual basis to the Stirling business enterprise centre. That is a project that was built by the former government. We provided almost $1 million for that project to go ahead. It is a wonderful business incubator in Stirling. It contains about 32 fledgling businesses, and it is always full. They have an opportunity to be mentored by people who are in residence there. They get cheap rent. They are expected to use it for a year and then be in a position where their business is viable enough to go out into the community and get premises at commercial rates. It really is a wonderful incubator for small businesses. I know a number of businesses that have graduated from there and have gone on to greater things—$300,000 per annum, I will be making the government accountable for not providing that money.

Labor also committed $1 million for a multicultural centre in Stirling. Stirling is extraordinarily diverse. All of the major ethnic groups that are represented in other parts of Australia are represented in Stirling. It is an absolute microcosm of a multicultural Australia. We have communities that have come from all over the world, and now we have new arrivals from Africa. This money was promised to provide outreach in education for new migrants. It is vitally needed, and I expect the Rudd government to live up to that promise.

Time is very short. I was born and raised in Stirling. It is one of the best places in Australia to live, work and raise a family, and an enormous sense of community exists there. I want to know that people in my community can get the best possible future for their families and for themselves. Keeping our local economy strong, lowering the rates of crime and antisocial behaviour and educating our young students will be my priorities in my second term as member for Stirling. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER —Order! Before I call the member for Fremantle, I remind the House that this is the honourable member’s first speech. I ask the House to extend to her the usual courtesies.