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- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- WORLD YOUTH DAY
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Mr Brian Burke
(Nelson, Dr Brendan, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Ripoll, Bernie, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
Mr Brian Burke
(Nelson, Dr Brendan, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Burke, Anna, MP, Elliot, Justine, MP)
(Turnbull, Malcolm, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Turnour, Jim, MP, Bowen, Chris, MP)
Newcastle Electorate: Roads
(Truss, Warren, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
(Vamvakinou, Maria, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
Investing in Australia
(Robb, Andrew, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
(Grierson, Sharon, MP, Crean, Simon, MP)
(Bishop, Julie, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Trevor, Chris, MP, Ferguson, Martin, MP)
Days and Hours of Meeting
(Scott, Bruce, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
(Bradbury, David, MP, O’Connor, Brendan, MP)
Vocational Education and Training
(Smith, Anthony, MP, Rudd, Kevin, MP)
Bombing of Darwin: Anniversary
(Hale, Damian, MP, Griffin, Alan, MP)
- Mr Brian Burke
- FUEL PRICES
- QUESTIONS TO THE SPEAKER
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- SPEAKER’S PANEL
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
- Paradise Point Bowls Club
- National Primary Industry Centre for Science Education
- Cowan Electorate: Blackmore Primary School
- Shortland Electorate: Homelessness
- Local Grants Scheme
- Ballarat Electorate: Australian Ex-Prisoners of War Memorial
- Start of Business
APOLOGY TO AUSTRALIA’S INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
- Ruddock, Philip, MP
- Thomson, Kelvin, MP
- Truss, Warren, MP
- Plibersek, Tanya, MP
- Stone, Dr Sharman, MP
- Hayes, Chris, MP
- Slipper, Peter, MP
- Gibbons, Steve, MP
- Hunt, Gregory, MP
- Ferguson, Martin, MP
- Keenan, Michael, MP
- Combet, Greg, MP
- Ciobo, Steven, MP
- Melham, Daryl, MP
- Scott, Bruce, MP
- Albanese, Anthony, MP
- Hull, Kay, MP
- George, Jennie, MP
- Morrison, Scott, MP
- Grierson, Sharon, MP
- Pyne, Chris, MP
Monday, 18 February 2008
Mr PYNE (7:19 PM) —Mr Speaker, it is good of you to come into the House to hear the humble member for Sturt make his contribution to the address-in-reply debate tonight. I look forward to feedback on my speech, perhaps at a later occasion when we might be chatting about the parliament over a cup of tea.
There is no doubt that the opening remarks that I would like to make in the address-in-reply debate are to thank the electorate of Sturt for re-electing me for the sixth time to the House of Representatives. In the Howard government, I had the privilege to serve as a minister and as a parliamentary secretary over four years. But it is a truism of politics that service at the electorate level is the most important privilege that is afforded a member of parliament.
If you are not a member of parliament, you cannot have those other opportunities to serve in higher office. Every three years or less, I face the opponents that Labor puts up against me, and every other time and again this time I am grateful that the electors of Sturt have chosen to re-elect me. Perhaps on this occasion it was not quite by the comfortable margin that I have enjoyed in the past. I won by 1,711 votes. Some of the members of this House who are busily congratulating their colleague were active in campaigning against me, which is a great shame. I thought there was a bit of camaraderie in this place but, unfortunately, at election time the Minister for Youth and Minister for Sport and others could not wait to get their talons into my electorate to try to remove me from it. But we fought the good fight and, fortunately for the electors of Sturt and for me, we were re-elected. I am very grateful for their support.
Often when you are a minister or a parliamentary secretary, you get given opportunities to do large things. When I was the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, I was responsible for the mental health package, which was one of the more important tasks that I did as a member of the executive of the last government. It was worth about $1.9 billion. I think it is fair to say it has made and will continue to make a great difference to people in Australia who are suffering from a mental illness, not least because we opened up the Medicare safety net to psychologists—I note the member for Kingston, who has just spoken, talked about her role in psychology—and I think that has made a huge difference to those people in Australia who are suffering from a mental illness.
At a more micro level, every task that each person in my electorate asks me to do for them as their local member is critically important. Each one needs to be given the absolute attention that one can bring to it as a member of parliament. Over the last 15 years that I have served in this House, I hope that I have helped many of the constituents in my electorate, and I look forward to continuing to help them over the next three years.
During the election I did lay down a seven-point plan for improving the electorate of Sturt in particular. I wish to touch on that tonight in the address-in-reply debate. For many years one of the hoary chestnuts of politics in South Australia has been the Britannia roundabout. This is not just any kind of roundabout; this is a historic roundabout just outside my electorate but in fact servicing my electorate and which used to be in my electorate. It has been a difficult area for traffic in South Australia and Sturt for a very long time. It is rated the most significant traffic red spot in South Australia by the Royal Automobile Association of South Australia, with in excess of 100 car collisions annually. For a very long time I have been campaigning and calling on the state government in South Australia to take the necessary action to improve the Britannia roundabout. This roundabout is not on the national highway and as a consequence misses out on the funds that the Commonwealth could bring to try and assist in fixing the Britannia roundabout. I have asked on many occasions the state government, circulated petitions, held public meetings and supported the Britannia roundabout action group. I have asked the state government to take the necessary steps to make it a safe place for the commuters, for the drivers of South Australia and Adelaide from my electorate into the city.
Mr Bevis —You had 11 years to list it as a black spot.
Mr PYNE —The member for Brisbane I think is quite rudely placed on the back bench by the new Prime Minister. Certainly if I had had that position he would have been on the front bench of any government that I led—not that he would get this opportunity, I would think. I would not be holding your breath, if I were you, Arch. I think that is highly unlikely. But I think the Prime Minister made a significant error of judgement in not putting the member for Brisbane on the front bench, and I welcome his support for my campaign to do something about the Britannia roundabout.
There are a number of options, but the two that are the most conducive to assisting with the problems of the Britannia roundabout are, first, installing traffic lights around the roundabout at a cost of about $9 million, which the state government could do relatively easily. It would not be the optimal solution, in my view. It would be a short-term solution but it would be at least some step in the right direction. The longer term solution, the better step, would be to start a feasibility study to build an underpass under the Britannia roundabout so that the traffic would be diverted substantially in the direction of Fullarton Road and Dequetteville Terrace. By doing so it would ameliorate substantially the likelihood of danger and damage to the residents of my electorate. That is one of the areas that I intend to continue to campaign on in this term.
Another one is to try to bring funds to the state schools and other schools in my electorate. The Howard government had an excellent record in the Investing in Our Schools Program of providing substantial funding to schools in my and many other electorates right across the country. In fact, only in the last few years the former government committed $2.7 million to Linden Park Primary School for its redevelopment; $132,000 to the Paradise Primary School for the upgrade of its music, drama and information technology facilities; funds for the upgrade of sports amenities at Athelstone Primary School, which cost $150,000; close to $47,000 to the Norwood Morialta High School under the Community Water Grants; and $65,000 for the installation of air-conditioning at Wandana Primary School. The East Marden Primary School received close to $50,000 to create an environmentally friendly play space, and $75,000 was provided to the Charles Campbell Secondary School for an all-weather shelter and an upgrade of the student support area. These are a few examples. Finally, the Gilles Plains Primary School received $75,000 for resurfacing of the playground. So over quite a period of time the Howard government injected millions and millions of dollars into local schools in my electorate, making a difference to the services and the amenities provided to the students of those schools. I would like to see that continue.
There is tremendous work that could be achieved at the Hillcrest Primary School. That school needs new ovals and new play areas, new buildings and air-conditioning to provide support to one of the more depressed areas of the Adelaide metropolitan area, which is in my electorate. Hillcrest, Gilles Plains Primary School—these schools need continuous support from government. The state government has a direct responsibility, and the new Commonwealth government should not have abandoned the Investing in Our Schools Program, because it did provide a tremendous resource for those kinds of tasks that principals and their school councils thought would be of great value to the local schools. I would like to see that reinstituted or, if it is not reinstituted, another program which would support primary schools and secondary schools across my electorate, particularly Gilles Plains and Hillcrest. I know the Burnside Primary School, where my own children have been to school, is also in need of an upgrade. I hope it will get support from the new Commonwealth government in providing the kinds of services and amenities that the close to 700 students need at the Burnside Primary School.
One of the other areas that I have raised as one of my plans for Sturt in the next three years is keeping open the Glenside Hospital. The state government have a plan to essentially close the Glenside Hospital, which is the mental health hospital in Adelaide, and turn it into a smaller and in my view downgraded mental facility. They will introduce residential accommodation for the mentally ill, which I think is very important, but they are going to sell off huge parts of the Glenside Hospital campus for housing redevelopment. It is important public land which was willed to the people of South Australia in 1836 by our ancestors to be handed down to future generations. The state government’s plan is for a smaller mental health facility, for the South Australian Film Corporation to be moved to the old hospital, for the selling off of large parts of the public land at the campus, and for retail and commercial tenancies to be built on the site of the campus, which is quite unnecessary given the amount of retail and commercial accommodation that is already available in the Glenside precinct. This will not provide the kinds of services that those people who have a mental illness in South Australia need.
The local community in Glenside are quite rightly up in arms, and they are also up in arms because the state government has treated them with such complete contempt. I have been to three public meetings in my electorate—others have been held; I think there have been four or five—and at none of those has the state minister responsible for this, Gail Gago, been prepared to front up to the local residents of Glenside and explain her position. She has sent public servants. The public servants have come along and manfully—and I guess womanfully—defended the state government’s position. But the reality is, as anybody in this place knows, that public servants are not responsible for policies of governments. Public servants are required to introduce the policies set for them by government. But it is the government which is answerable to the people for those policies. And for the state minister for mental health services to be so cowardly as to be not prepared to front the public meetings, in my electorate, of local residents who are deeply concerned about the changes to Glenside Hospital I think is nothing short of an abject disgrace. Probably the member for Wakefield is a close friend and supporter of Gail Gago, the minister at the local level. They might not be in the same faction of course—they are a bit split down there in South Australia. But, on the basis that they are all in the Labor Party family, he no doubt supports Gail Gago’s inattention to the constituents who are dead keen to meet with her and ask her questions in a public forum about what exactly she intends to do with the Glenside Hospital campus and to ask her to reconsider. That is an area on which I will continue to fight for my constituents over the next three years.
Another area is the periodic flooding of First Creek. There are four major creeks that run through my electorate from the foothills through to the sea, or to the Torrens. First Creek had a major flood in November 2005. It was not quite the same as the Queensland floods that we have been experiencing in the last few weeks, but it was a very substantial flood that washed out hundreds of homes of people who lived along First Creek in the catchment area and destroyed the roads and made them unusable. The state government has been very slow in repairing the roads adequately for the benefit of the residents who live along First Creek.
We need to have a long-term strategy for the diversion of water or the stopping of the periodic 50-year and 100-year floods that occur on First Creek. The former government initiated a program on this. We put money into the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board. We allocated them money to start a program or conduct a feasibility study about what to do with the periodic flooding of First to Fifth creeks. The Norwood, Payneham and St Peters Council, an excellent council in my district, have been taking steps within their own area to mitigate the worst excesses of the flooding of First Creek, but it is a bigger responsibility than one council’s.
We started the project, and I call on the federal government and the South Australian members who are present here to continue it. The South Australian members present here have not quite got the same pull in the federal government as had South Australian members in the previous government. We had a number of ministers and cabinet ministers from South Australia. I think there is one cabinet minister in the Rudd Labor government from South Australia. At one stage there were four from South Australia under the previous government. Whatever small pull the present members have on the government, I call on them to use it. I hope that the member for Adelaide, into whose electorate First Creek flows, will take a great interest in the need to stop the periodic flooding of First Creek.
I notice the member for Makin looking quizzical. He has not given his maiden speech yet, I think, so he is not entitled to be rude to me from the government benches, though I will be kind to him. I notice him looking quizzical. But I can assure him that the residents in his area, to whom Fifth Creek would be of importance, are very keen to make sure that these kinds of projects are given maximum attention by the Labor government.
There are a couple of other areas I would like to touch on. One is the Campbelltown City Soccer Club. I was very fortunate to be able to gain a $1 million grant for the Campbelltown City Soccer Club based at Newton in my electorate. That grant is to provide facilities for the 400 families who are regular users of that sports and social club. The club had been allowed to languish for several decades using very substandard facilities. After a great deal of lobbying, the former Minister for the Arts and Sport, George Brandis, very helpfully managed to secure a grant for me of $1 million for that sports and social club.
The club members are very worried because Labor’s razor gang is planning cuts right across the government. It would be an absolute travesty of justice if that grant—which had already been announced and was relied upon by that club, its families and the people who live in that part of Newton in my electorate—were cut. Those people would miss out on their grant and on the change to their facilities, a change that would give state-of-the-art facilities for the children who use that sports club. It would be a travesty if they were to miss out on that because of the razor gang of the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, which is cutting into national security and defence and outrageously targeting projects like the Campbelltown sports and social club redevelopment. And so I am calling on the government to assure me, and through me my constituents in Newton, that the Campbelltown sports and social club grant is safe from the prying hands of the minister for finance and the Treasurer as they seek to try and pretend that somehow they have not been given the best economy in 107 years in the handover between the two governments.
Black spot funding is always an important issue in all electorates across the country. There are, surprisingly, even in metropolitan Adelaide, a number of black spots in my electorate which I think still need to be attended to. On Gorge Road, Athelstone, for example, where there is a valley which crosses to King George Avenue, there is a black spot which pedestrians find very dangerous to cross. It has railings and guard rails and so on, but still it is not adequate, and what they really need is a raised pedestrian crossing—oh, the Speaker is back. It is good to have you back, Mr Speaker. They were moving through the chair pretty quickly in my speech—being knocked over like flies. We need a raised pedestrian crossing in order to protect those pedestrians crossing Gorge Road at Athelstone.
There are two other black spots that I would like to make mention of. One is OG Road at Klemzig. There was a very terrible accident involving a school student who was killed at that crossing late last year—a St Ignatius student. St Ignatius is my old school, my alma mater, and the Leader of the Opposition’s old school. OG Road at Klemzig needs attention under the Black Spot Program. There is a similar situation on Gorge Road at Athelstone near St Ignatius College. A lot of complaints and petitions have been raised by me and by local residents about the need to improve the black spot situation at Gorge Road, both at King George Avenue and at St Ignatius College—between the cemetery that exists there and the school.
There are a number of outstanding aspects of black spot funding on which Sturt could well do with support from the Commonwealth government. There are improvements, I am pleased to say, that are occurring at the North East Road and Sudholz Road intersection and the North East Road and Blacks Road junction through the Australian government’s Black Spot Program. We managed to secure funding from the last government to ensure that those issues in the northern part of my electorate are being properly dealt with.
Finally, I would like to touch on the subject of broadband, which has received a lot of airplay under Kevin Rudd. It is one of his many first priorities. He has a lot of first priorities. Education is his first priority. Economic management is his No. 1 priority. Defence and security were his first priority in November 2007. Inflationary pressures were his No. 1 priority in December 2007. Climate change was in November. Cooperative federalism was also his No. 1 priority. He has six No. 1 priorities; he is quite the Houdini. I would ask him to come through with his promises to do with broadband. The federal government put huge resources into the broadband guarantee. I hope that is not under threat. Families and all Australians who live in the foothills in my electorate—in Campbelltown, in Newton, in Tea Tree Gully and through Hope Valley and Oakden—deserve proper access to broadband supported by the private sector. Whatever the government can do to fulfil its promises on broadband will be welcomed by the residents of my electorate, and it will build on the good work that we did in government with respect to the broadband guarantee. (Time expired)
The SPEAKER —Order! Before I call the member for Lindsay, I remind the House that this is the honourable member’s first speech. I ask the House to extend to him the usual courtesies.