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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 308

Senator PATERSON (Victoria) (19:08): I would like to begin tonight with some thankyous, first and foremost to the people of Victoria, who have sent me back here to represent their interests in this place. It is a great honour, and I look forward to fighting hard for your interests in this the states' house. Thank you also to the members of the Victorian Liberal Party, who put their faith in me to represent our wonderful party in the federal parliament. I promised you that I would be a voice for our values. I hope you agree that I have done so in my first six months as a senator, and I recommit to doing so at every opportunity as long as I have your support to be here.

I am particularly proud to be back in the federal parliament as a Victorian Liberal following the federal election. We were the only state to return an extra coalition member of the House of Representatives. Julia Banks will be an outstanding member for the people of Chisholm, and I was very pleased to support her in a small way as her patron senator during the campaign. Her hard work and commitment was recognised by the people of Chisholm, and she and her close-knit campaign team achieved an incredible result of an almost three per cent swing against the trend. Although every coalition member of the House of Representatives could claim to be the key seat that delivered us government, I think Julia Banks has as good a claim as any to being our 76th member. If it were not for her success, we could have all been delivering very different speeches in reply today.

Victoria was also the only state to return an extra coalition senator in the wonderful Jane Hume. We have seen tonight, in her terrific maiden speech, why Jane will be an extremely valuable addition to the team. I want to single out particularly her powerful advocacy of social impact investing and the way in which it can achieve social justice objectives using free-market mechanisms. I am looking forward to serving with her in this place for many years to come.

Victoria can also boast impressive young, energetic new talent with our new Liberal colleagues Chris Crewther, the member for Dunkley, and Tim Wilson, the member for Goldstein. Chris fought hard to retain for us a seat that has not always been safe for our party, but I predict that he will earn the support of the people of Dunkley for many years to come. I am eagerly looking forward to hearing his maiden speech in a few weeks time as a fellow generation Y Liberal. Tim is of course one of the leading intellects of the modern Liberal Party. His maiden speech tonight powerfully demonstrated his capacity for deep thought, old policy ambition, and leadership. Tim offered optimistic and forward-looking vision of Liberalism that not only is morally right but has the capacity to earn widespread support in our community.

It is worth reflecting just briefly on why Victoria returned such a strong result for the coalition and such a poor result for the Labor Party. Although my impressive colleagues and our attractive platform no doubt played a part, I think we should be honest: it was not all about us. It was about at least two other people: (1) the Leader of the Opposition and (2) the Premier of Victoria. The Liberal Party did well and the Labor Party did poorly because the Victorian people know Bill Shorten better than anyone else in Australia does, and they got a very good preview of what a Shorten government might be like in the form of the Victorian Labor Daniel Andrews government. It was a gift from heaven, a perfect demonstration of the key philosophical divide that still exists in modern Australian politics, when the Country Fire Authority issue leapt onto the campaign. Nothing could more clearly demonstrate the difference between the Liberal approach and the Labor approach. In the Victorian Labor government we have a premier who puts unions and collective power ahead of individuals and volunteers. We have a government willing to use state power to force on free civil society onerous restrictions and burdens that they should not have to deal with. These are people who give their own time freely just to protect their communities. They ask for nothing in return. They give up their weekends, they give up their evenings, they spend time away from their families because it is important to them to contribute to their community by protecting it. But Daniel Andrews owed a debt to the union movement, and it had to be delivered at any cost, even at the expense of volunteers. The few hundred paid staff of the CFA and their union paymasters had to be put ahead of the 60,000 volunteers.

The Victorian people have sent a very clear message to us here in federal parliament but also to Spring Street in Victoria. They do not want to see governments gang up on volunteers. They do not want to see organisations like the CFA disrespected. They want to see their contribution valued, supported and respected. That is something that I think all of us should be able to do. That is something that I do not think should be a partisan issue, but in this campaign it was, and there is no doubt that it played a decisive role in the Victorian Liberal Party's success at this election.