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Thursday, 25 September 2008
Page: 104

Ms SAFFIN (12:55 PM) —I will begin my contribution by noting that National Police Remembrance Day is 29 September. It is a day when we pay tribute to police officers who have lost their lives in the course of their duties. I want to mark that day and also honour their families.

I recently attended the Old Bonalbo Spring Fair. It was a fundraiser to buy a new defibrillator for Bonalbo hospital. It was organised by those I call the ‘good local women’ from the United Hospitals Auxiliary at Bonalbo hospital, who were at the forefront of the fundraising efforts. When I recently attended Coraki’s United Hospitals Auxiliary AGM at Campbell Hospital, I was not surprised but was encouraged to know how much money they had raised. There was $7 million across New South Wales from the United Hospitals Auxiliary, with $2 million across the North Coast area. That is a wonderful effort, and I say well done to all of those good women, and some men, in the United Hospitals Auxiliary. We commonly refer to it as a women’s auxiliary because that is what it was for a long time: a group of all the women who did fundraising around the hospitals. Dare I say it, there are still a lot of good women but they are joined by some good men in those efforts.

It was a lovely way to spend Saturday afternoon at Bonalbo. I ended up at the local bowling club talking to the locals after having opened the annual fete at Manifold primary school, which is in the Bentley area between Lismore and Kyogle on the Kyogle Road. Fetes are a national and local institution and, again, they raise money for things that are needed in some of the schools. This school, like most, does a lot with a little and gets good results. Manifold has a wonderful garden that is fed hydroponically and uses little water, and it can be attributed to all the locals mucking in and helping. I even got to have a painting lesson with my old mate and local bush artist and teacher Gary Holmes, and I managed to do a small landscape painting. My staff kept asking who did it and would not believe me when I showed it to them. They were surprised, and I told them it was the value of a good teacher. They can get us to do anything.

Yesterday I was able to announce, along with Minister Albanese and the state Minister for Roads, Mr Daley, that tenders for the Alstonville bypass would be called on 6 October. It is a project that has been on people’s minds for about 40 years. The local Alstonville Bypass Action Committee and its chair, Bob Wilson, have been beavering away at it for some 18 years. The community are delighted. They knew the money was in the budget but to know that the tender is being called on 6 October is far more concrete. So the community are quite happy about that.

I also want to raise an international issue to do with somebody whom I know quite well. Her name is Aung San Suu Kyi and she has been a political prisoner for about 12 years. Just recently in Burma-Myanmar it was reported that some 9,002 prisoners were released. This means that a lot of people were released from jails and some significant political prisoners were released. As always, it is hard to get exact information, but it is clear that U Win Tin and U Win Htein were both released. They are very significant political leaders in Burma-Myanmar. I also have just been told this morning that U Win Htien was rearrested within a day or two of his release. It is said he did a radio interview. He is up in Katha, and that is up in Kachin state. U Win Htein is Aung San Suu Kyi’s advisor, and U Win Tin is quite a famous journalist in Burma. Like a lot of people, I dare to hope that it may be the harbinger of some change, but there has been so little change in that country over a long period of time because it is a dictatorship. I just hope that the next person who is released is Aung San Suu Kyi, along with her deputy, U Tin Oo, and the SNLD leader, Khun Htun Oo. They are three very significant political leaders and I hope they will also be released.

Question agreed to.