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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1997


Ms HUSAR (Lindsay) (18:41): I rise to congratulate the Lindsay residents who have been recognised by the highest national awards for their exceptional service and achievement. The Australian system of honours was established 43 years ago. Prior to 1975 Australians were recognised under the British honours system, also known as the imperial awards system. We may want to defer to Tony Abbott, the member for Warringah, about his resurrection of the imperial system, but I'm quite comfortable with the way we hand these out now.

There are 57 awards in the Australian honours system, and the best known is the Order of Australia. The Order of Australia is the pre-eminent way Australians recognise the achievements and service of their fellow citizens nominated by the community. The Order of Australia has four levels, as most people would know: the companion, the officer, the member and the medal. Nominations for appointments and awards in the general division are considered by the Council for the Order of Australia, which makes recommendations for appointments direct to the Governor-General. I understand that there is quite an arduous process, and it sometimes takes up to two years for all this to unfold, for someone to be nominated and actually have the award bestowed on them. The council considers whether a nominee in the Order of Australia has demonstrated achievement at a high level, made a contribution over and above what might be reasonably expected through paid employment or whose voluntary contribution to the community stands out from others who have also made a valuable contribution.

I often say that the strength of my community is the people, that we have the best people living in my electorate. I'm sorry to everybody else in here, but I'm going to claim that! I don't have a beach. I don't have the Blue Mountains National Park. But I do have the best people. The recipients of these awards in my electorate are the best of the best. In Lindsay we were honoured to recognise John Bateman, who received an OAM for service to local government and the community of Nepean. He was mayor of Penrith from September 1998 to September 2000. He established the Bateman Battersby Law Bursary, which supports students to undertake legal studies, and is the founder of Nepean Philanthropists. He gives a lot of his time volunteering for our community.

Neville Barnier was awarded an OAM for service to people with a disability and to the community of Penrith, and this commendation is recognition for his volunteerism. Neville Barnier has had an extraordinary career. He has been involved in the Australian Foundation for Disability, or AFFORD, for thirty-four years and was chairman from 2014 to 2017. He has also supported our local Penrith RSL and Homes for Heroes in the western region. He is an absolute shining light of what people should aspire to be. Albert Fish, OAM, was awarded for his services to veterans and their families. He lives just outside of my electorate, but we'll claim him as one of our own—a bit like we do with Kiwis, except for a couple!

Last year, Queen's Birthday OAM honours were awarded to: Elaine Wade, for service to the community of Penrith; Allen Cullen, for his service to special-needs education through Litle by Little and Kurrambee and also to trampolining, which I am told is a sport—I know nothing about it; and Shirley Gow, awarded for her service to children as a foster carer, and to the community.

In 2016, we had other members of our community receive the Order of Australia medal: Kevin Connelly, for service to veterans; John Farragher, an amazing contributor to the football club of Penrith; David Trist for his service to the community through a range of organisations, which he often comes into my office and talks to me about; and Christopher Holden for his service to the community of Penrith. Quite often, we skip over those people who are not recognised on Australia Day. The smaller ceremonies that pass through on the Queen's Birthday in June often don't get the attention that the Australia Day Awards do.

The other award recipients I would like to speak about include Shiva Prakash, who is a general practitioner in my electorate. I know that he's been doing great service out there, because he was my GP when I was young—I know that that was a long time ago. He's been a general practitioner practising medicine in Western Sydney, and has been doing so for a number of years, and now looks after the GP network. Another recipient was Barbara Mitchell, an amazing advocate for humanitarian medical programs.

The last person that I would like to mention, who was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, is Ron Mulock. He was awarded in the Queen's Birthday honours list many, many years ago now, but I would like to pay tribute, given that we are talking about these very important honours. Ron Mulock, a good Labor man, was instrumental in instigating the Penrith Lakes Scheme. He fought for a proper allocation of services and resources for Western Sydney and, in particular, hospitals. We don't see them like him anymore. These people are amazing ambassadors. They are amazing contributors to our community. I thank them dearly.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Coulton ): There being no further speakers, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting.