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- Start of Business
- AUTONOMOUS SANCTIONS BILL 2010
- AUSTRALIAN CIVILIAN CORPS BILL 2010
- AIRPORTS AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- PROTECTION OF THE SEA LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- NATIONAL BROADCASTING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- RADIOCOMMUNICATIONS AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- CIVIL DISPUTE RESOLUTION BILL 2010
- HUMAN RIGHTS (PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY) BILL 2010
- HUMAN RIGHTS (PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY) (CONSEQUENTIAL PROVISIONS) BILL 2010
- NATIONAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- PARLIAMENTARY JOINT COMMITTEE ON LAW ENFORCEMENT BILL 2010
- SEX AND AGE DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS INTERCEPTION AND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- VETERANS’ AFFAIRS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (MISCELLANEOUS MEASURES) BILL 2010
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT) BILL 2010
- INCOME TAX RATES AMENDMENT (RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT) BILL 2010
- FINANCIAL FRAMEWORK LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- THERAPEUTIC GOODS AMENDMENT (2010 MEASURES NO. 1) BILL 2010
- FOOD STANDARDS AUSTRALIA NEW ZEALAND AMENDMENT BILL 2010
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
- Sugarloaf Pipeline
- Page Electorate: Telstra
- Gilmore Electorate: Nerriga Road
- Kingston Electorate: Reynella Neighbourhood Centre
- Fraser Coast Youth Mentoring Program
- Energy Efficiency
- Small Business
- Indigenous Affairs
- Farrer Electorate: Deniliquin Ute Muster
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Climate Change: Economy
(Abbott, Tony, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Perrett, Graham, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Hockey, Joe, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(D’Ath, Yvette, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
Emissions Trading Scheme
(Gash, Joanna, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Sidebottom, Sid, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Turnbull, Malcolm, MP, Swan, Wayne, MP)
(Ripoll, Bernie, MP, Smith, Stephen, MP)
(Fletcher, Paul, MP, Albanese, Anthony, MP)
(Cheeseman, Darren, MP, Roxon, Nicola, MP)
Immigration Detention Centres
(Morrison, Scott, MP, Abbott, Tony, MP, Bowen, Chris, MP)
(Melham, Daryl, MP, Shorten, Bill, MP)
(Windsor, Antony, MP, Burke, Tony, MP)
Paid Parental Leave
(O’Neill, Deborah, MP, Macklin, Jenny, MP)
(Coulton, Mark, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Grierson, Sharon, MP, Bowen, Chris, MP)
(Somlyay, Alex, MP, Crean, Simon, MP)
(Georganas, Steve, MP, Macklin, Jenny, MP)
(Stone, Dr Sharman, MP, Gillard, Julia, MP)
(Rishworth, Amanda, MP, Garrett, Peter, MP)
- Climate Change: Economy
- COMMONWEALTH GAMES
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL ANSWERS
- SPEAKER’S PANEL
- QUESTIONS TO THE SPEAKER
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- SPEAKER'S PANEL
Thursday, 30 September 2010
Mr BILLSON (12:35 PM) —Mr Deputy Speaker, I acknowledge your elevation to a presiding officer role and I extend my best wishes for your important responsibilities in that role. It is indeed an honour and a pleasure after being re-elected for the Dunkley electorate to be able to speak for the sixth time in address in reply to the Governor-General’s speech.
Mr Perrett —It might be your last!
Mr BILLSON —I welcome the interjection that it might be my last. I thank the Labor Party for their perpetual optimism about my future political prospects. But I will also use that interjection to characterise the nature of the contest in the Dunkley electorate. Time and time again the Dunkley campaign were saying, ‘Billson, we don’t know why you’re here; this is a Labor seat. Our polling says you’re gone, mate.’ There were all these kinds of comments going around.
What that underlined to me and many of the Dunkley voters is the comment made, way back in 1996 when I was first elected, by my predecessor the then Labor member for Dunkley, who, quite openly in a moment of honest reflection, said that Labor had forgotten about the Dunkley community. The attitude in the more recent campaign seems to show they have not learnt much, either. This presumption that Dunkley voters will support the Labor Party seems to have blended its way into the behaviour, comments and attitude of Labor candidates displayed earlier in this chamber. It contrasts vividly with my approach, which is that every day is an opportunity to do something worth while for the Dunkley community. Having grown up in that community, where Dunkley actually runs through my veins, having been a part of it for all of my adult life and all of my education, I have a very strong affinity with the Dunkley community and revel in its diversity. There are areas of good fortune and those are often pointed to and, electorally, are quite helpful. There are areas where prospects are not so bright and good fortune does not automatically rain on some communities within Dunkley. My job is to be there as an advocate and an ally for those people.
I came into public life with one simple inspiration, and that is your postcode does not determine your potential. Right across the Dunkley community there are citizens able and willing to apply their skills and knowledge—young people who are able to learn as well as anybody, who should be able to make this world of delicious possibilities their own. My job is to try to make those connections, to support all individuals in Dunkley in fulfilling their potential. I thank the electors of Dunkley for giving me the honour and opportunity to represent our community for a sixth term. But it is not just that inspiration, motivation and positive, passionate and persistent approach to representing the community that makes it happen; it is the team that puts their support and belief in you.
I am truly blessed by a committed, supportive and very politically astute wife, my sweetheart Kate. I have a very early photo of her when she was only a few years old wearing an ‘I’m a Liberal lover’ T-shirt as she was out with her father, Arthur, helping with the late Philip Lynch’s campaign. She is very sound in her political pedigree and very passionate about the value and benefits to the Australian public and our community of Liberal representation. Her support and inspiration and the encouragement of my children, particularly my eldest two, who were more involved in this campaign because they are now aged 12 and 10, were a tonic, a nourishment for those arctic mornings at Seaford Railway Station where you just stood outside, experiencing a natural exfoliation as the weather pounded its way through. They were great support. Family support is so crucial. I always honour and respect that support, because public life is perhaps not of their choosing. The elected member may feel more potently many of the ups than the family but the downs are moments that are seemingly shared quite equally across the broader family.
I was also very fortunate to have the most incredible dynamic duo in the form of Robert and Linda Hicks spearheading the campaign. They are two dear friends, both incredibly able and also well schooled in electioneering. Some years ago Robert was the Liberal candidate taking on Simon Crean in what was a fortress electorate, so he knows his way around a political campaign. That kind of experience and Linda’s attentiveness and thoughtfulness guiding our efforts were truly valued and incredibly beneficial to all of our work.
With regard to the campaign team, the visual merchandising efforts of Arthur Ranken, my indefatigable father-in-law, are renowned in the electorate. He was a great inspiration and an incredible contributor. The contribution of Cyrus Alyari and Horacio Diaz in pounding the pavements is truly valued. To the campaign team: Tony Conabere, Greg Dixon, Colin and Dawn Fisher, Michael Fraser, Marshall Hughes, and Graeme and Marita Johnson in their first campaign—their energy and insight were truly valuable. The kind of support from Robert and Joan Garnett and the broader Liberal family, including the dear mates who come out to help their buddy on election day, was really encouraging. To Greg and Virginia Sugars and John Catto-Smith, Tamme Klaster, Bob and Carole Ford, Bill Beaglehole, David and Melissa and all the Ritter family, thank you. There are so many to mention, including on polling day the likes of Janice Dupuy. They are all stalwarts of the party who do an incredible job.
We were fortunate this year to have some new talent come in: Reagan Barry and Zoe Nottas were two young people whom I met—one at a railway station. Their energy and enthusiasm were infectious. I am very optimistic about the contribution they can make to the future. It is important to acknowledge that team: Geoff Shaw, Robert Latimer, Declan Stephenson, Ted Galloway, Paul and Pam Amos, my mate Tim Smith and Barry MacMillan—and too many more to name—who just kept contributing day in and day out, whether it was at arctic dawns at railway stations through to the slog of letterboxing with a campaign that needed to be quite resourceful, given the funds available.
I also want to thank my dear friend and parliamentary colleague Bronwyn Bishop, who is here at the table, for her visit to my electorate. I said, very fondly, that Bronwyn is the Britney Spears of a particular generation. To see the way in which people respond and react to your presence, Bronwyn, is truly an inspiration. There is much love for you, ma’am. To see the way that people in the electorate of Dunkley respond—
Mr Perrett interjecting—
Mr BILLSON —and even the way members opposite respond in that Britney Spearsesque way is just terrific. I also thank my dear friend and, in some respects, mentor, Andrew Robb.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. Peter Slipper)—I would just like to remind the member for Dunkley of standing order 64—
Mr BILLSON —Thank you, sir. I thought you would do that. I was trying to remember the names of everyone’s electorate. If I can backfill at some point I will, but I acknowledge that I did not mention those fine individuals by their electorates. I trust that you may cut me some grace on this occasion.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I did.
Mr BILLSON —The campaign itself was quite interesting. I have always believed in putting forward a positive agenda. It was quite vivid how the only candidate in the Dunkley campaign putting forward a positive agenda was me. Time after time, positive announcements, commitments to address serious, genuinely held concerns or interest amongst our community was met by a wall of silence from the Labor Party, the Labor political machine and others contesting the election.
In fact, the only real voice from the Labor campaign was to claim that what Labor calls the trade training centre was at risk in the electorate. It was so blatantly dishonest to make that claim when it had been made clear time and time again that there was no risk to that facility—and why would there be a risk to that facility when I had applied so many years of effort to have the Greater Frankston area positioned to receive an Australian technical college under the former government? That could not proceed because the Labor government junked that program, a program of great importance and great appeal to my community. I then worked with the local community to persuade the Labor Party to change its policy—not to sprinkle a little bit of money around every secondary college and really deliver no net increase in learning and teaching capability—persuading it that it should go with a facility-specific, purpose-built skills and vocational training facility, and Labor ultimately agreed to follow the vision that we had outlined as a community. To then have the Labor campaign accuse me of somehow being anti that project was the most distasteful and dishonest element of that campaign.
All the way through to election day itself, people were arriving at secondary colleges and being met by banners saying that a trade training centre at that secondary college was at risk if you voted for the coalition team. Not only was that not accurate and honest; there was no such proposal to have trade training centres sprinkled around secondary colleges, because we had persuaded the Labor government that that was not the best outcome for our community. The location of the trade training facility—which is the badging Labor chooses to give to a project whose genesis was many years before Labor was even interested—was not at any of those secondary colleges, but that did not stop the fraud and the dishonesty of the campaigning on election day. Many parents had contacted me over the course of the campaign about the whispering campaign that the Labor machine had put into our secondary schools about facilities and projects already underway that somehow were at risk if the coalition were elected.
It is the sad aspect of campaigning these days that the fear and anxiety mischievously created by the Labor campaign were all they had to campaign on. There was nothing new, nothing positive, nothing responsive to the local concerns, no honest account of what the community needed and then a thoughtful response; just this bile and nonsense about what was supposedly at risk when it actually was not at risk at all. In fact, the coalition had championed that project. I personally had pursued it with great vigour and I will continue to work to make sure that it delivers what our community needs.
The irony also was that, right throughout the campaign, the local Frankston City Council had been urging people to ‘put their heart into Frankston’. This was a campaign the council had put forward urging certain commitments from those who were candidates in the campaign. Not a single commitment that they were looking for was made by Labor—not one. There was barely an acknowledgement that there was a need to respond to that campaign. There was a line or two in the local press about how the Heart of Frankston campaign mattered but no follow-through and no commitment.
It is not surprising, then, that on election day the Labor vote went nowhere. But the Greens vote did increase. And discussing with the very genuine and committed Greens candidate the decision the Greens had made—a decision made not by him but somewhere else—to preference Labor without any key performance test about that allocation of preferences essentially characterised what happened in the election: a growth in the Greens vote, a strong preference flow to Labor, and my modest margin finishing near microscopic. But that was the story.
There was no positive response from the Greens or from Labor about our three-quarters-of-a-million-dollar Dunkley drought-proofing investment, another initiative that I had championed and that Labor was silent on and then begrudgingly had to turn its mind to as some stimulus money was made available some years ago. There was no commitment to extend the recycled water that would otherwise run out into Gunnamatta along the pipeline and make it available to ensure that sporting facilities, school grounds and other heavy water users had a non-drinking-water option to meet their needs. There was not a word from the Labor Party, but I will continue to pursue that drought-proofing initiative.
There was no acknowledgement about the concerns about the atmosphere, tone and episodes of antisocial behaviour around Langwarrin, challenges that we as a community have been facing for some time, challenges that the coalition responded to by a commitment to establish a youth focused facility in Langwarrin. There was not a word from the Labor Party, not a word from the incumbent government and, again, not a matching commitment to be seen anywhere from those seeking to earn the support of the local community. That challenge remains and action is still required.
Even in areas around community safety in the CCTV extended rollout that I had committed to—again, more projects that the Labor Party seemed uninterested in and needed to be dragged, kicking and screaming, to attend to—there was an opportunity to match the commitments of the coalition, an opportunity again forgone by Labor. It was as if they were hoping to run on the sisterhood ticket of a Victorian based female Prime Minister and a female Labor candidate, as if that were all that mattered, as if gender were the only thing that would sway people’s votes, not a sense of the important commitments that needed to be made and the forward positive agenda that the city and the community were looking for.
Even in our main population centre of Frankston, a city that has so much going for it, we are not without our challenges, but the opportunities and the potential far exceed any challenges or obstacles we may face. But we need to craft and commit to a vision for that city. The Heart of Frankston campaign was about that, and I was keen to put the heart and the mind into that campaign, the mind being a clear sense of shared purpose about the destiny and the future of that city. We need that for a number of reasons. Frankston has long been recognised by the state government as a central activities district—great on the announcement but no follow-through. The identification of those central activities districts across Greater Melbourne has seen enormous sums of money go into other areas. Dandenong has received $290 million from the state government in support of that designation of a central activities district; $80 million has gone into Broadmeadows. Frankston has received $16 million. These guys are not for real. It is a further example of Labor forgetting our city.
Presented with a chance to make a commitment, to tackle that extraordinary imbalance and to address the fact that there are only about 80,000 jobs within half an hour of Frankston, where we need to grow the job opportunities so that there are opportunities for employment, economic wellbeing and a full life within reasonable reach of our community, the Labor Party squibbed it. There was no commitment, no recognition of the work that needs to be done.
There is no acknowledgement of some of the transport challenges that we face, such as an opportunity to accelerate the rail service between Frankston and the CBD; the implications the port of Hastings may have for our passenger rail system to maybe carry freight from Westernport to other destinations, further making greater challenges for passenger rail services to the city; the opportunity with the Frankston bypass for park-and-ride; and even the prospects and the case and the analytical argument to invest in extending the rail line down to Baxter so that it passes Monash, so that it services those growing communities, to do that analytical work to build the business case, to nurture a shared sense of purpose about our city. Where was Labor? Nowhere to be seen. Despite Labor claiming over and over again that the Dunkley electorate should be Labor, this is why it is not. Labor does not turn up, they are not committed, they are not serious and they never address the substantial issues that our community face. That is why, despite claims by the Labor Party that it should be their seat, it is not.
When you look at those projects and how to optimise the benefit from them, the Scoresby Freeway was committed to by the coalition. Labor was dragged kicking and screaming to finally put some money in and then slapped a toll on it. The Frankston bypass is another project that Labor said was not needed, not necessary. Finally they got on board to be involved with it. Why is it that every time these major challenges are before our community we have to drag Labor kicking and screaming to them? I believe it is because they take this community for granted. We need to make sure that the Labor Party understand that Frankston is no easy pushover for Labor. It should not be because Labor has not earned the reputation and respect to make it that way.
In the few minutes left to me I want to touch on a couple of other issues. One of them relates to the number of jobs available within our community. Bar a couple of examples, overwhelmingly public or health related services, employment in our community is through small business. Yet in the Governor-General’s address—and I am not critical of her, because this is scripted for her by the government—you would not even know that small business existed. There is no mention of any substantive measure. That follows what happened during the election campaign. Labor failed to release any kind of positive, comprehensive small business policy, settling only for some sort of record of what it said it had done in its first term and how it would do more of the same if re-elected. Well, more of the same is not what the small-business community want. In the first 2½ years of this Labor government some 300,000 jobs were lost in small business—300,000 fewer people are employed in small business. When Labor was elected more than 52 per cent of the employment in Australia was in small business; now it is 48 per cent.
This trend has to stop. The big end of town might love a government that loves doing big deals and big spending and they can get into the trough to get their share of the taxpayers’ money. But what about the small businesses and family enterprises that used to represent more than half of the employment opportunities in our country but that are now less than half, that now provide 300,000 fewer jobs than they did when Labor was elected? And Labor promised more of the same. It is little wonder the small-business community believes Labor is not committed to them, nor should the small-business community and family enterprise people be committed to Labor. The coalition outlined a comprehensive strategy that amounted to a microeconomic reform agenda to put the ‘business’ back into small business. Why? Because it needs to happen. For outer metropolitan, rural and regional communities, communities like Dunkley, if the small-business sector is not enjoying some vitality, some prosperity and some prospects for a brighter future, that damages the prospects of the communities they support and the jobs they seek to offer. I commit to keep working for small-business people in Australia. (Time expired)