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- Start of Business
- MEMBERS SWORN
- ELECTION PETITION
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Dr HEWSON, Mr BEDDALL)
(Mr NEWELL, Mrs KELLY)
(Dr HEWSON, Mr KEATING)
(Mr SAWFORD, Mr BEAZLEY)
(Mr DOWNER, Mr WILLIS)
Pensioners: Fringe Benefits
(Mr HARRY WOODS, Mr BALDWIN)
(Mr REID, Mr BEDDALL)
Australians with Disabilities
(Ms HENZELL, Mr HOWE)
(Mrs SULLIVAN, Mr KEATING)
Southern Bluefin Tuna
(Mr SNOW, Mr LEE)
(Dr KEMP, Mr BEDDALL)
Legal Aid: Victoria
(Ms DEAHM, Mr KERR)
HMAS Voyager: Compensation Claims
(Mr TAYLOR, Mr LAVARCH)
(Mr GRACE, Mr KEATING)
(Mr TIM FISCHER, Mr BILNEY)
(Mr CAMPBELL, Mr LAVARCH)
- Pay Television
- DEPUTY CHAIRMEN OF COMMITTEES
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- PAPERS: PRESENTATION
- COMMONWEALTH GRANTS COMMISSION
- FEDERAL POLICE DISCIPLINARY TRIBUNAL
- COMPANIES AND SECURITIES ADVISORY COMMITTEE
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- URGENT LEGISLATION
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 5) 1992-93
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 6) 1992-93
- APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL (No. 2) 1992-93
- SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1993-94
- SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1993-94
- SUPPLY (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL 1993-94
Monday, 10 May 1993
Mr ADAMS (11.00 p.m.) —I would like to congratulate Mr Speaker and Mr Deputy Speaker on their election. I would also like to congratulate my fellow Tasmanian the honourable member for Denison (Mr Kerr) for his rise to the Ministry as Minister for Justice, and also to my friend and colleague Senator Nick Sherry for his acceptance of a Parliamentary Secretary's position. I also congratulate my fellow Tasmanians the honourable member for Bass (Mrs Silvia Smith) and the honourable member for Franklin (Mr Quick), from whom we heard earlier tonight, on their election to the House.
The last Labor member for Lyons was sworn in on 6 November 1947 when this electorate was called Wilmot. That new member was the Reverend Gil Duthie who held the seat for 29 years. Gil Duthie served the Parliament and the Labor Party as Opposition Whip and Government Whip from 1972. Gil is now 82 years old, keeps very reasonable health and is still very active in his church. To many members here who may remember him, I can say that his great sense of humour is still with him. I would like to thank him for his support, his advice and his great inspiration. I am very happy to follow Gil Duthie in the Labor seat of Lyons.
The electorate of Lyons has changed over the years but is basically still made up of small isolated communities. The people of Lyons elected me as their representative because they saw a local, somebody who would always give consideration to ordinary people, who is always prepared to go in to bat for anybody on the bottom rung and for people who were often passed over by those in large cities, whether it be by politicians, bureaucrats or business folk.
I believe they saw in me someone who would give them consideration and have some understanding of their problems and needs. I will endeavour to live up to their consideration. Small towns are now facing many changes, and I will be seeking to build on their importance as centres for their communities, both socially and economically. The electorate of Lyons is not an easy electorate of which to be the member. It is big, ranging from the north to the south of the State and from the west coast to the east coast. Lyons makes up 61 per cent of the land mass of Tasmania. It touches all the other electorates—Braddon, Bass, Franklin and Denison—three of which, together with Lyons, now contain Federal Labor representatives.
The industries in Lyons include forestry, mining, farming, fishing and tourism. They all make a great wealth generator for Tasmania and its people. In its early days of development, Tasmania was the food basket for Australia. It was one of the first to develop the wheat and sheep industries, and it supported much of the mainland for many of the convict years. It has always played a prominent role in the rural economy, and today the seat of Lyons proudly carries on that tradition.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Tasmania's contribution to foreign trade for the 12 months ending June 1992 was valued at $1.5 billion in round terms. That is a considerable amount of money. The main categories in which the major proportion of this falls includes food and live animals to the value of $298 million; materials such as pulp and paper waste, crude fertilisers, processed ore and metal scrap and textile fibres to the value of $303.3 million; manufactured goods including leather, paper, paper board, pulp, textile yarn, iron and steel metals, $30 million; chemicals and related industries including organic and inorganic chemicals, dyeing and tanning, medicinal and essential oils and fertilisers, $476 million; specialist manufactured items such as furniture, travel goods, footwear, scientific instruments, et cetera, $98 million.
A very high proportion of these products is either produced in Lyons or manufactured from materials produced in Lyons. So, although it is sparse in population and facilities, Lyons produces much of the raw material going into our exports and is vitally important to the State and the national economy, as it has been for the past 200 years.
There has been much concern over the forest and mining industries in our State for some time, and some with good reason. Many of those concerns in the broader community of Tasmania are being overcome with improved forest practices and better mining practices and the national forest strategy, which I hope the Tasmanian Government will soon sign. In the long term, I would like to see another pulp mill that will assist the growth of export dollars for our trade figures. The action of some forestry companies, and the way they wish to restructure their operations, adds to the distrust of some Tasmanians towards some forest based industries.
However, there are progressive companies, and I would like to name Australian Newsprint Mills. It has gone about a restructuring process that would equal any industry that has been restructured in Australia. Although it has reduced its work force considerably, the honesty of the capital and of the labour working in that mill has proved capable of working through the difficulties of restructuring so that the mill will continue to operate in a profitable way within Tasmania. I had the pleasure of taking the Prime Minister (Mr Keating) there during the election campaign to show him the operation first-hand.
There are a number of important issues facing the future of the electorate. The wool industry has fallen into a hole, and there are many reasons for that. The superfine that was grown in my electorate—I guess there is a lot less being grown now—used to set record world prices. I certainly hope that will be the case again. But there is no simple solution to the wool crisis. We have been locked into the world milling market for too long, and we have not developed the products of the woollen industry. We have just concentrated on a commodity at the farm gate—a raw product. We have to be thinking about the product that the consumer wants. For too long the cocktail circuits of New York, Paris and Tokyo may have been the major incentives for those trying to sell Australian wool.
Having travelled to Scotland some years ago and looking over the Isle of Harris at some of the roughest sheep in the world and some of the strongest wool, I marvelled at why Australia does not have a Cressy tweed or Campbell Town worsted, as the world knows Harris tweed. Several of the caps that I wear are Donegal tweed from Ireland. Why have we not been able to match those world marketing names with our superfine wool? Why has the Australian woolmark not achieved the same success as Tasmanian salmon and King Island cheese? It leaves me a little bewildered.
The development of fine foods in the electorate of Lyons provides a great opportunity for Tasmania—and I am a product of that fine food. We have a great environment in which to grow those fine foods. People are starting to recognise that Tasmania produces excellent foods. We are now learning how to better market them, package them and transport them. If we can continue to do that, we will gain a higher reputation than we presently have. That will add to our acceptability as a tourist destination and we should be able to increase our tourists to the island. The tourist industry does provide an opportunity for growth in Tasmania, and as some of our major industries wind down some growth can be found in the development of fine foods and foods in general to bring us those jobs and wealth dollars.
Another of my interests is housing. I have been a member of Shelter, a community group whose major role is to assist community participation and input into housing policy in Australia. I am very impressed with the development process of the national housing strategy. I congratulate the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Community Services (Mr Howe) for at last putting housing on the national agenda as a major issue. It has never before been addressed in such a comprehensive way, and I look forward to seeing the many recommendations made being implemented.
Lyons, like so many other areas, suffers from a lack of accessible, secure and affordable housing. I know that many people can benefit under the community housing program, particularly in the more rural parts of the electorate. I will be doing my best to help promote this area.
I wish to touch on the great benefits I received through the learning process of the adult and community education that exists in our country. It gave me encouragement and assistance in a structure which allowed me to learn. Without that level of education in Australia, I would not be here today.
The future of that level of education is of great importance to many thousands of Australians. Like me, they may only get a chance later in life to improve their basic education, and I hope that some of the recommendations in the skills formation document through the community based adult education report, instigated by the Treasurer (Mr Dawkins) when he was the Minister for Education and Training, can be implemented by this Government.
I would also like to pay tribute to the present Treasurer for realising in the early days of award restructuring, when he was the Minister for Education and Training, that to restructure industry and retrain workers those workers needed to have literacy skills. In a modern Australian community, communication skills are needed to be world competitive. He was able to respond and make the policy decisions to meet the needs that emerged. These were addressed by the workplace better English basic education programs that exist throughout Australia today. There are also courses that exist through adult education, TAFE colleges and workskill, et cetera. They were all of great benefit to many thousands of Australian workers.
I merely mention this part of my life not to hold myself up as some great achiever through the education processes but to give heart to others and to show that no stigma should be attached to people who do not gain an education through the formal years. We need to make sure that we always maintain an opportunity for people to return to education, to improve to a level which they would like to reach. I hope my speaking here in this chamber today will show that it is possible to achieve things in our great Australia, and reach this high pinnacle of the House of Representatives. The right of all Australians to understand how to vote, to participate and to represent an electorate makes us a great democracy.
These education programs had great significance for me personally. When I left school I was nearly illiterate and needed to improve my basic education. Working in the meat industry and the shearing industry, I did not very often need to write. My reading skills were sufficient so as to allow me to buy my first book of poetry, as a 17-year-old in south-western Queensland, while working as a wool presser.
By that time of my life, I had already been elected as a shop steward, a union delegate. The book of poetry that I bought was by Henry Lawson. His poetry certainly gave me inspiration to build on my passion for the trade union movement and, of course, developed an interest within me for endeavouring to work through the trade union movement for better working conditions, decent wages, and a better way of life for working people. It still inspires me. Lawson understood those who built a good life out of very little, and still had enormous satisfaction with it. Those values are my values; those people are my people. I would like to quote from a poem written by Lawson in 1892, A prouder man than you:
If you fancy that your people came of better stock than mine,
If you hint of higher breeding by a word or by a sign
If you're proud because of fortune of the clever things you do—
Then I'll play no second fiddle: I'm a prouder man than you!
If you think that your profession has the more gentility
And that you are condescending to be seen along with me;
If you notice that I'm shabby while your clothes are spruce and new—
You have only got to hint it: I'm a prouder man than you!
Keep your patronage for others! Gold and station cannot hide
Friendship that can laugh at fortune, friendship that can conquer pride!
Offer this as to an equal—let me see that you are true,
And my wall of pride is shattered: I am not so proud as you!
In the early 1970s, I was elected a full-time trade union official with the Meatworkers Union, and it was then that I realised I had to endeavour to do something to improve my written word and my ability to communicate my ideas, my arguments, and my feelings. In those days there was very little help for illiterate people or those trying to improve their basic education as an adult. I was very fortunate to find an opportunity, after several years of looking, and I would like to pay tribute to Mrs Roy Pugh—somebody who at that time was just beginning to understand the needs of people without literacy skills, like me. She has since gone on to play a significant role in developing policies to assist people with basic educational needs as adults.
After many years of night classes, I was able to reach a reasonable level. That made me feel very confident to carry on my work as a union organiser. In 1979, I was fortunate to be elected to the State Parliament of Tasmania to represent the electorate of Franklin. So my concerns about being able to put my argument and promote the issues of trade unionism, in which I believe strongly, were able to be overcome through learning. It also enabled me to develop more broadly on party policy and its implementation, which is still my driving force today.
The trade union movement taught me my many skills of negotiation and understanding of history from a worker's point of view, and the Labor Party gave me a platform to pursue the issues and arguments that would make Australia a better place. It was a continuing passion within me to have the right to be heard, the right to seek to articulate an argument as well as any other person in the community, and I believe that education as an adult gave me the opportunity to continue to go on and learn.
No first speech would be complete without offering my thanks to all those people who assisted in my election. Firstly, I would like to recognise the efforts of David Llewellyn and Bob Gordon, who both gave much time and effort in past years in trying to win the seat of Lyons for the Labor Party. They kept the flag flying over many elections.
I would now like to give thanks to the people who helped me win the seat of Lyons. I would like to thank my campaign manager, Pat Tate, a schoolteacher of 24 years, especially in the electorate of Lyons and in rural schools. Her strength, her skills and her support assisted me in becoming the member for Lyons. I thank my dear friend and mate Dee Alty for her continuing support, encouragement, and confidence. I acknowledge them in the gallery tonight. To my daughter, Kellie, for the loss of a father for long lengths of time, and for her love and support, I thank you. I thank Sue McKay, Tasmanian Labor Party State Secretary, who believed from the beginning that I could win, and who helped me keep that confidence going.
To Senator Michael Tate and Senator John Coates for their support and strength, and to my colleagues in the trade union movement, especially my own union, the liquor, hospitality and miscellaneous workers, and especially the miscellaneous workers division, I thank them for their support and confidence. To all the union delegates and members who turned out on polling day and throughout the campaign to assist me, I thank you. Thanks go to my friends, Labor Party members and family members who helped in the campaign with all the nuts and bolts. Such tasks, though essential, are always tedious and time consuming. Lastly, I pay tribute to my old friend, Leo Brown, as one who led so few and achieved so much on many occasions:
Never did a small idea or so few words achieve such sweet victory.
I wish to thank the other side of the House for its courtesy and, Mr Deputy Speaker, I support the motion.
Debate (on motion by Mr Slipper) adjourned.