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Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Page: 1462


Mr TREVOR (11:06 AM) —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker Bevis, and congratulations on your appointment. I rise today in these great but somewhat formidable surroundings to speak as the first ever federal member for the newly created seat of Flynn. In doing so, the Australian Labor Party and I create a little bit of history, a fact of which we are immensely proud. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the newly created seat of Flynn and Australia generally and, in doing so, also take this opportunity to personally say sorry to the stolen generations of this land. I offer my congratulations to the ALP class of 2007 and all of their support crew and I look forward to their companionship and company during my stay here, no matter how long destiny determines that may be.

It is right and proper for me to inform the House about the great Australian whom the newly created seat of Flynn was named after. The new seat of Flynn was named after the late Reverend John Flynn, who was the founder of the world’s first flying medical service, the Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia. Back then, as it is now, no matter where illness or accidents strike, medical help was on call thanks to the man known as ‘Flynn of the inland’. My thanks go to Stephen Barber from the Parliamentary Library who was kind enough to provide me with the following passage which puts the matter so succinctly. I quote from the AEC that the seat of Flynn was named:

... in honour of the Reverend John Flynn, founder of the Royal Flying Doctor Service, who, in the early days of flying and also of radio (beginning in 1928) harnessed both to the relief of suffering and the saving of lives in the remote regions of Queensland and, ultimately, Australia. The flying doctor service for the provision of emergency medical care he pioneered was the world’s first, and is still the most comprehensive service of that kind.

May I add that, if one looks at the $20 note in one’s pocket, this great and compassionate Australian, the Reverend John Flynn, appears on the same, immortalised and honoured as he should be. I say to Reverend John Flynn’s surviving relatives: it is indeed a great honour to serve in the name of Flynn as its first ever federal member.

It is also a great honour to be part of a Labor government which acknowledges the outstanding contribution the Royal Flying Doctor Service continues to make to my community of Flynn. To take an example: in February this year Minister Albanese announced funding in my electorate to upgrade the Tambo, Springsure, Rolleston and Alpha airstrips, which will improve safety for all Flying Doctor planes. I thank him on behalf of those communities for that and also behalf of the Longreach community, where we have committed to contributing $6.6 million to their airport, which will among other things improve safety for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

Flynn contains within its vast boundaries the birthplace of Labor, and I am both humble and proud, as is Labor, to represent the people of Flynn and, among other things, to be part of a team that will put an end to that insidious piece of legislation, Work Choices. The seat of Flynn covers an area of 314,305 square kilometres, give or take an inch or a yard. I sincerely thank the community of Flynn for the great honour they have granted me in allowing me to represent them in federal parliament. I have not and will not let them down; I do not think I ever will. Already, significant community announcements have been made for the electorate of Flynn. They are far too numerous to mention here, but on behalf of my community of Flynn I thank the Prime Minister and the Australian Labor Party for their recognition and ongoing support of Flynn. I have only recently welcomed back to my electorate the Prime Minister and Treasurer and, hopefully, the community cabinet will follow shortly.

Flynn is one of the most diverse electorates in the land and includes, but is not limited to, primary production such as coal, oil, gas, orchards, cotton, grain, seafood, cattle and sheep. Gladstone, or the ‘Port City to the World’ as our local community champion Mayor Peter Corones describes it, is that part of the electorate where I live. It will soon, in my opinion, be the industrial capital of Australia and is already home to significant major industry with the port, under the watchful eye of CEO Leo Zussino, being the major export facility for the area. My home town of Gladstone is facing a cusp of major industrial development in the next few years and, unless government takes notice of the substantial infrastructural and social building blocks necessary to support this growth, Gladstone will fall over the cliff. I want to make it clear at this juncture that I believe a major portion of my community of Flynn sent a clear and unequivocal message to the previous coalition government that they grew tired of contributing billions of dollars worth of revenue to the federal government coffers only to get lip service for their loyalty in return, when it came to, among other things, simple, basic government services such as a Medicare office in Emerald and completion of a ring-road like Kirkwood Road in Gladstone. I am pleased that my government has already acknowledged their contribution and has made amends in respect of both of these long overdue community necessities. I give notice that I will be calling for a lot more because, in my opinion, my community has been ignored by government for far too long. In saying this, I also give notice that I will not let any government, no matter who they are, take advantage of my people any longer. I commit today my unswerving loyalty to the people of Flynn, and if I should fall on my sword as a result of it then so be it.

Today I bring to the attention of this House so that the matter is on the record if things go wrong that the Gladstone Airport runway may soon have to close because of its state of deterioration. This would have a devastating impact on current and future industry in Gladstone and bring it and the community to their knees. The people of Flynn, as diverse as they may be, from farmers in the west to the South Burnett to the coalminers in the east, are a can-do lot. They are both friendly and helpful but also stoic in the face of adversity. Somehow they manage to cope with droughts, floods and coalmining disasters. In saying this, I acknowledge the financial support of my government during the recent catastrophic floods in Emerald, Gemfields and surrounding areas. I also acknowledge and thank Premier Anna Bligh and state government ministers Tim Mulherin and Neil Roberts and National Party member for Gregory, Vaughan Johnson, for their compassion, understanding and support to those residents in Flynn affected by the recent devastating Emerald floods. I pay tribute to Emerald Mayor Peter Maguire, his councillors, the many volunteers, including, but not limited to, the Salvation Army, SES and Red Cross and to all those who assisted flood-affected victims during the peak of the floods and the remediation work which follows. I thank the insurance companies who, whilst not legally required to do so, morally felt an obligation to help victims in their time of need.

I thank the Prime Minister for responding to the Emerald community by announcing funding for flood-affected victims and then acknowledging their need by announcing a weather radar for them. It is only through a miracle that life was not lost recently because of this vital piece of infrastructure being delayed by the previous Liberal-National Party government for four long years. Finally, under a Rudd Labor government, farmers, businesses and the community in general in Emerald and surrounding districts have been respected and their voice heard.

In the process of creating the new federal seat of Flynn there was a need to readjust boundaries, including those of the federal seats of Hinkler, Maranoa and Capricornia. I place on record my special thanks to National Party federal members Paul Neville and Bruce Scott—despite what I believe to be their government’s failings—and Labor Party member Kirsten Livermore for their commitment, passion and public service to the people of their former electorates who are now in the electorate of Flynn. It is with a touch of irony but with a sense of joy that I now occupy both the member for Maranoa’s office in Emerald and the member for Hinkler’s office in Gladstone. I thank them both.

My electorate, which covers the bustling communities of Gladstone, Biloela and Emerald, also covers a massive amount of bush country. It is with great honour and pleasure and a sense of pride that I announce today that I have been chosen as chairman of the Prime Minister’s country task force. The people of the bush across Australia will have a strong voice in Canberra. I must confess that I have often wondered just how much more city folk would appreciate farmers if they stopped sending their produce to market. Farmers are part of the heart and soul of Australia and part of the backbone of our community.

I would like to place on record in this parliament forever my special thanks to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who placed his faith in me—and I in him—in handpicking me as his candidate to run for the new seat of Flynn. The rest is now history. To all the people who got me here, including the community of Flynn: thank you. Thank you to Kim Beazley, Bill Ludwig, Jimmy Wilson, my good friend Tony Beers from the AWU, Jim Valery, Michael Reik, Blacky, Dougie, Alex and crew from the CFMEU, Craig Giddins from the ETU, Phil Golby and John Hempseed from the AMWU, Milton Dick, Anthony Chisholm, Leo and Liz Zussino, Bill and Pat Prest, Russell Thomas, Paul Bell, Corrie McKenzie from the Prime Minister’s office and Shelly Holzheimer to name but a few. To all unions, both left and right, who united behind me, also Graeme Crow, Darrell Main, all branch members of the ALP, other helpers and supporters and the Your Rights at Work team: thank you.

My decision to enter politics would not have been remotely possible without the support of my loyal staff and legal team back in Gladstone, including David McHenry and Margaret Esdale at my legal firm, Chris Trevor and Associates, one of Central Queensland’s largest, proudest and most successful legal firms—built on trust and respect.

It would be wrong of me to not specially mention that Barcaldine is part of my electorate. Barcaldine, of course, is the birthplace of Labor and home to the famous Tree of Knowledge. The tree is now dead, poisoned they say, while others suggest it died of shame when that dreadful piece of legislation, Work Choices, was introduced and passed in this parliament. Whatever the reason, I acknowledge the commitment to restore the tree by way of monument by my government and the great work that Mayor Rob Chandler and Pat Ogden and others are doing to bring this project to reality. Like the Mayor of Longreach, Pat Tanks, and others out in that neck of the woods say, tourism will play a big part in the financial future of their communities. This monument, and the support of tourism in the outback, are integral to that part of my community’s sustainability and viability and have my full and undivided attention.

Mr Deputy Speaker, what brings a man like me to hallowed halls and corridors known as Parliament House where only just over 1,000 Australians since Federation have previously gone before? It is not the pay, for I have taken a pay cut to be here and, in any event, I have never judged a man’s or a woman’s success on the size of their wallet or, for that matter, what is in it. It is not the glory, for that is something which, to a large extent, is incapable of being shared.

My primary purpose in being here is to represent my community of Flynn and to give them a strong voice in government. My motive to enter parliament, in all honesty, is not entirely unselfish. It empowers me and strengthens my resolve to do well for others at the highest level. It enables me to continue to share with my community what I discovered at a very early age and what is perhaps the greatest gift of all—the gift of giving. For, if a true confession be made, I perhaps, like others here, am a restless soul tormented by the need and desire to improve the life of others. My willingness to help others, including my substantial contributions to charity, is well documented and is well known widely throughout my community. From words spoken, given freely, to walking down highways for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of kilometres in the name of charity in 2005 and 2006 to name but a few, I have given for the greater part of my life already almost my all. Now a new chapter of giving for CT begins.

My path to this destination has, like many others before me, not been an easy one. In order to speak up for and represent my community down here, I have had to overcome an overwhelming and petrifying fear of flying. To all of those Australians with phobias I say this: I did it, I conquered it and I beat it, because if you want something badly enough, whether it be what I wanted, to help and to give, or just internal peace, you can do it. Trust me, you can do it.

I have much to talk about on the issues in Flynn and, in coming months, talk I will. Adopting a broadbrush approach, because time is limited for this first speech, not everybody is enjoying the fruits of the resources boom and there is much pain and suffering in my electorate.

Before I conclude today, I want to specially thank my campaign manager, Jon Persley. During the campaign Jon shared my ups and downs, my elations and my disappointments. Whilst we did not see eye to eye on all occasions, to his credit he hung in there. He did teach me one lesson in life, one that even my valued friend and former captain-coach and rugby league legend Chris ‘Choppy’ Close could not, try as he did with me, and that is this: ‘It’s far easier to get across the line by looking for the gaps, CT, than trying to run straight over the top of people.’

I want to acknowledge some very special people in the gallery today: my mum, Iris Trevor; my wife, Colleen; and our good friend the loyal and trusted Jan Vesey Brown. I thank my family: sisters Michele and Sharon; my nieces Sandy and Sharlene; my nephews Daniel and Lewis; Judy and Denis St Ledger; Emma and Linzi; my wonderful sons, Joel, Guy, Rhys and Pryce; and my No. 1 supporter, my 11-year-old daughter, Kiara. I thank my personal assistant, Michelle Jones, for her tireless efforts and wonderful support in bringing this result to fruition.

I miss in the audience today but pay tribute to my dad, the late Allan ‘Foo’ Trevor. I dedicate this first speech to him. We made it, Foo, and whatever else happens from here on in, no-one can ever take today from us. My dad’s hand is the hand which still guides me in whatever I say and do. A kind and gentle man, my dad grew up on his father’s dairy farm, later becoming a Gladstone train driver. A greenie by heart, but staunch Labor man, he would, I suspect, be a little disappointed that his son got many more Liberal votes than Greens vote preferences but proud that his son had universal appeal, just as he had. My dad taught me all about the bush, how to hunt, how to gather and how to live off the land. Together with mum, he provided a loving and caring environment in which to grow—something that money just cannot buy. Thank you, Mum.

Finally, to my dear wife, Colleen, for supporting me in everything I say and do and don’t do, especially around the house: today and in the future she will walk in front of me where she deserves to be. Let the record reflect that she, above all, deserves this finest hour. Thank you, Mr Speaker, and to all of you, thank you.