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- Start of Business
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS
- Dunkley Electorate
- Sheffield Shield
- Parliament House: Chapel
- New South Wales District Court: Appointment of Aboriginal Judge
- Petrie-Redcliffe Transport Services
- Sports High Schools
- National Crime Authority
- Northern Territory Chamber of Commerce
- Electorate of Dunkley
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Ms WORTH, Mr HOWARD)
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr HOWARD)
(Mr LINDSAY, Mr HOWARD)
(Mr CREAN, Mr MOORE)
(Mr ANDREWS, Mr COSTELLO)
(Mr MARTIN FERGUSON, Dr KEMP)
Industrial Relations: Accord
(Mr BILLSON, Mr COSTELLO)
(Mr McMULLAN, Mr REITH)
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Independents: Entitlement to Questions
(Mr CAMPBELL, Mr SPEAKER)
(Mr ANDREN, Mr SPEAKER)
Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms: Wines
(Mr FITZGIBBON, Mr SPEAKER)
- Telecommunications National Code
- National Flag
- East Timor
- Commonwealth Education Centres
- Aboriginal Legal Rights Movement
- Wagga Wagga Regional Taxation Office
- Family Law
- Parliament: Racial Discrimination
- UN Weapons Convention
- Immigration: Sudanese Persons
- Aged Care
- Aged Care
- School Funding
- Parliament: Behaviour
- Bendigo Regional Taxation Office
- CES Wendouree
- Nuclear Testing
- Telephone Boxes
- Breast Cancer
- Mobile Telephone Services
- Procedural Text
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Small Business
Port Arthur Massacre
Landcare Groups: Sales Tax Exemption
- Avalon Airport Redevelopment
Airservices Australia: Air Traffic Control
Telstra: Facsimile Calls
- May Day
- Mining: Lake Cowal
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
Monday, 6 May 1996
Mr BILLSON(12.49 p.m.) —Mr Speaker, I thank you and the electors of Dunkley for this opportunity. It is indeed a privilege and honour for me to be here today, representing a community I grew up in. My formative and adult years have almost entirely involved me living in, working for and being a part of the community I now have great pride in representing.
Early in my candidature, my Labor opponent conceded that our community had been forgotten in the past. Let me assure each and every person in Dunkley that I will not forget them. Our community has shaped and informed me. I am a product of this community. This prepares me well to see the things that need be seen and hear the things that need be heard in the interests of the people of Dunkley.
I often compliment my parents for the wise judgment they showed in moving our family from where my life began in Albury, New South Wales to Victoria's Mornington Peninsula in search of work and a better future. Moving to Seaford in 1970 was the foundation stone from which our family sought to get ahead. Back then, the new 11-square homes and the many kids that played in the gravel piles characterised our part of Seaford as a new, growing neighbourhood.
My father went to night school to open up his employment opportunities and showed the pride, persistence and true Aussie grit of a battler wanting the best for his family. My mother displayed that gift many homemakers have—the ability to stretch a tight budget, the interest in her children to be a Seaford Junior Football Club team manager and the get-up-and-go to be involved in anything parents are asked to volunteer for.
Things were tough, although my brother and I were lucky. Our parents taught us that hard work and participation produce better outcomes and opportunities and that worthwhile results rarely come easily. They are here today, and I thank them for the character and values they instilled in me.
Monterey High School provided me with a quality education, many rich experiences and contact with the broadest range of people. After my HSC, I began work with the City of Frankston and studied part time at RMIT. From emptying parking meters in Frankston to senior executive positions at the shire of Hastings, local government has been my primary trade. The opportunity to work for the Victorian Minister for Natural Resources in the Kennett government, which has renewed my state and lifted it from its knees, was a privilege and preparation for my duty and responsibilities to the people of Dunkley. Premier Kennett has demonstrated that electors will support sensible and responsible reform. Geoff Coleman showed me the decency, care and integrity in politics that I aim to emulate.
It is a long journey from the streets of Seaford, the Pines and Frankston to this place. My experience shows others that such a road can be travelled. I encourage all young people in Dunkley to consider participating in public life as a rewarding form of community and national service.
This chance to help restore our nation's former reputation as a country of the highest living standards, unequalled opportunity and the brightest of futures for our young people is the result of a significant commitment by a large number of supporters. The Liberal Party's Victorian Division, led by our President, Ted Baillieu, and State Director, Peter Poggioli, and the whole team at `104' rightly deserve their reputation as a professional and astute campaign force. The federal secretariat team were also first class.
But no headquarters team can be effective without the work of people on the ground. The Liberal family turned out in Dunkley to help our 18-month campaign. They were a dedicated and resourceful bunch whom I admire and value, and whom I will continue to look to for support and advice.
The focus and leadership of my electorate chairman and campaign manager, Bill Beaglehole, brought together the new Dunkley team. To the campaign team of Bill, John Howard, Taitie Gilder, John August, Paul Amos, Flo Parnaby and Arthur Rankin: you know of my respect and gratitude for your contribution. My thanks also go to Harry Dean and Betty Eastgate.
The party membership and many local people looking to have their faith in the future renewed gave willingly of their time and energy. My thanks go to them—particularly to Carol, Naomi and Jason, Maree, Lani, Gladys, Allison, Janice and Brian, Heather, Maurice, Bette and Cliff, Bill, John and Annette, Amber, Keith and Brian. To all those who helped in our information centres and on the road: your efforts were terrific.
I must confess to a degree of willing exploitation during the campaign in relation to my friends and family. John Cato-Smith, Stephen Sharrock and the Warwick family were magnificent. My brother, Ross, and father-in-law, John Papakos, parked political indifference and differences respectively to fully support our efforts. For the encouragement and support of the local Greek community generally, and of the Karamesinis family in particular, I say: ehvkhahreesto.
I am very grateful for the considerable encouragement and wise counsel received from the Minister for Communications and the Arts (Senator Alston) and the Minister for Industrial Relations (Mr Reith). My thanks also go to the Treasurer (Mr Costello), the Minister for Family Services (Mrs Moylan), Minister for Schools, Vocational Education and Training (Dr Kemp) and Senator Patterson for their support. A most sincere thank you must go to Senator Kemp for his friendship and the special opportunity he gave me to contribute to the finest environment policy this nation has ever seen.
My state parliamentary colleagues also deserve mention—particularly the former member for Frankston, the Hon. Graeme Weideman, for his advice, and the Hon. Ken Smith MLC for introducing me to the Liberal Party a decade ago. But we all know that the hard work of getting elected is just the start of it. People have grown tired of being told about `bringing home the bacon' and `beautiful sets of numbers' when few of these big statements rang true with the reality of their lives. By contrast, the coalition's policies and pre-election commitments resonated with the Australian people.
The election of our coalition government has provided the Australian community with an opportunity to understand the true situation of our nation, its economy and the enormity of some of the challenges we face. I will work toward having the 1990s and beyond recognised as a period of improved government accountability, of openness and of honest disclosure about key indicators of government and national performance.
The publication of reliable and timely information on the progress of our nation and the performance of its government would be a welcome relief for people made wary by the political spin-doctoring and statistical gymnastics of our predecessors. I believe such a measure would contribute greatly to the government's aim of improving the standing of the national parliament.
Being unemployed and having someone try to explain the problem away gives you little hope for the future and little confidence that your representatives are ready to meet the challenges of our time. Let me briefly mention the challenges as I see them. Our national competitiveness is a pointer to our prosperity and future standard of living. Great icons and assets of our national infrastructure were built on the commodity proceeds and the national wealth of more prosperous times. These early investments provide the building blocks for our standard of living today.
If we are to pass our house on in good order and seek to improve our standard of living, we must invest and provide the capacity for others to invest. Restoring our competitiveness is about more than jobs and our nation's capacity to pay its way. It is the means to fund our investment in the future—investments that will renew our cities, restore our natural systems, support growing populations, enhance our transport infrastructure with projects like the very fast train and see that we discharge our duty of stewardship to future generations.
The government's program of practical reform that was so overwhelmingly endorsed on 2 March must be implemented. Far too many people in Dunkley are suffering from the lack of opportunity for work and improved prosperity. Too many decent, able and proud people struggle to obtain the identity and security that comes with employment and the promise of reward for personal endeavour. Young people search for a start they cannot find; others hear about a work ethic they may not have experienced or had the chance to acquire in a family dogged by long-term unemployment.
The government's response to unemployment offers hope for our community. With more than 10,000 people officially registered as unemployed and with little prospect of a number of large employers setting up in the short term, adding to and expanding the 8,000 small and micro businesses in Dunkley is our future. The government's plan of action for small business is an excellent program of initiatives welcomed by the Dunkley small business community. Business activity grows jobs, not the other way around. It is this government's job to work to establish the conditions for this growth.
Despite claims by the previous government that national economic reform was largely done, the Governor-General's speech made plain that there is still much work ahead of us to improve our competitiveness and reduce import costs—particularly in the telecommunications and transport sectors.
I look forward to the government's industrial relations legislation being introduced to parliament. These reforms will provide a system that enhances our international competitiveness, recognises the need to balance family and work lives and facilitates higher incomes based on higher productivity.
A regional and community employment council that more effectively links training with real jobs and with regional development plans will be welcomed. Dunkley hosts the Mornington Peninsula Business Council, which I commend to the minister as an ideal pilot of the RCEC model advocated in the `Pathways to real jobs' policy. The Mornington Peninsula is the natural economic region of our area.
We must improve the job prospects for people in our region. The talk of exports in our community far too often refers to job seekers who have been forced to leave in order to improve their prospects for finding work. Practical measures such as the modern apprenticeship and traineeship system will bring new opportunities for young people.
Removing unnecessary qualification periods for older unemployed people before access is available to labour market programs is a positive move. The effects of long-term unemployment and the prospects of being jobless into retirement are damaging to individuals, their self-esteem, their skills and their employability. Recently unemployed people could benefit from more immediate training in job search skills and advice on retaining individual competencies and self-image. This up-front investment could reduce the need for more extensive training and counselling later to restore the person's job readiness and personal confidence. Unemployment impacts on the family network. The social, emotional and financial pressures joblessness brings can contribute to family dysfunction.
I welcome the action of the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) to implement the pilot voluntary youth homeless program. The increased emphasis on early intervention, mediation and family reconciliation where possible, will overcome concerns at current arrangements, and discourage the reunification of families experiencing minor resolvable difficulties.
Our local experience also suggests a need to review the previous government's policy of reducing child-care relief to eligible parents when a child is temporarily taken out of a regular place. Rigid guidelines offer little scope to reduce costs when permanent bookings are not used, so the costs and charges remain. With the fee relief reduced, it actually costs the parents more to spend more time with their children when the opportunity presents itself.
The growing number of older people in Dunkley coupled with the availability of hostel places and nursing home beds being well below the national and state average means that the home care needs of our community will require continuing attention. Beyond programs that support home-based independent living, I will work to increase the number of aged care packages and accommodation options available to provide appropriate supported care in Dunkley for our elderly citizens.
The excessive demands placed on respite care facilities, such as Connor House in Mornington, demonstrate the need to expand these services and the availability of supported residential care units. The national carer action plan is a long overdue recognition of the wonderful home heroes who devote their lives to the care of another.
With a reported one in three young people looking for work in Dunkley unable to find a job, agencies like the Frankston Community Support and Information Centre and Out `N' About remind me that disenchanted youth wander the streets looking for purpose and meaning to their lives. We cannot let these young people down.
A young man at a recent Padua College debutante ball highlighted that, even for those able to fully participate in schooling, the prospects for the future are not always bright. When asked about his life's ambition, his answer was a chillingly honest: `I just want to get a job.' That is a reflection of our time from a young man who seemed to be doing okay.
But some young people are thrown into our world without the skills and basic competencies to survive in it. Primary and secondary students with learning difficulties and other educational impediments are missing out. Learning disabilities are specifically excluded from the disabilities and equity program school funding provided by the Commonwealth to the states, yet as many as one in five unemployed youth may academically and socially underperform because of their learning disability.
The coalition's natural heritage commitments embrace important initiatives ideally suited and responsive to our community, Dunkley by the bay. The coasts and clean seas initiative offers support for the management of a diverse coastline from Seaford in the north, through Frankston and Mount Eliza, to Mornington in the south. These coastal areas show signs of pressure brought about by their own popularity.
The green corps initiative guides the energy and enthusiasm of our young people towards conservation projects like the management of our foreshore, the Langwarrin flora and fauna reserves, Pines bushland area, Mount Eliza Regional Park and the Sweetwater Creek reserve.
The management plan for Kananook Creek is an excellent urban area candidate project for the rivercare program. The national wetlands program offers some hope for assistance in managing the Seaford-Edithvale wetlands area, which I have supported for Ramsar listing. I have proposed the environmental and cultural experience of a `Wurrundjeri walk' foreshore trail at Seaford to link the Kananook Creek reserve and our wetlands.
Near the top of my agenda is restoring Frankston's status as a key regional centre. Under the previous government, Frankston was relegated into the shadows of Dandenong. Our community has been forgotten and disadvantaged accordingly. Restoring Frankston's profile and status will return our community to the forefront of people's minds when private and public sector investment proposals are being considered.
Clearly, with Frankston boasting the third largest retail centre in terms of aggregate floor space for all of greater Melbourne, and some one-third of the job vacancies notified to the local CES being in the wholesale and retail trades, working toward this area being a retail centre of choice is one of my further objectives.
Enjoying the adjoining foreshore and Kananook Creek precinct should be a greater part of the Frankston experience. A strategic plan for the city foreshore from Olivers Hill to Wells Street will provide investor and community certainty and ensure that any work in this precinct is coordinated with wider plans for the city's future. The vibrant and competitive retail sector within Frankston, the self-contained shopping complex at Karingal and the seaside village shopping experience in Mornington are strategic attributes that I think we need to preserve, market and build from.
The Monash University campuses, Peninsula TAFE and broader educational infrastructure make Dunkley an academic centre of some prominence with further opportunities for expansion into the heart of our city. These academic credentials, the existence of the Keith Turnbull Research Institute, affordable housing and improving transport services position Frankston to be Melbourne's premier educational and research community.
Strategic alliances between our educational institutions, research institute and our primary and sunrise industries have the potential to create a centre of excellence for land management and clean and green food production and processing technologies.
There is already a high degree of awareness of the outstanding tourism appeal of the Mornington Peninsula. Dunkley by the bay has its share of natural, cultural and tourist attractions. The McClelland Gallery is one of this nation's finest regional facilities of its type. The Frankston Cultural Centre is a significant addition to the cultural infrastructure in Dunkley. Frankston and Mornington provide excellent home bases for tourists wishing to travel beyond our immediate community. I support coordinated efforts to improve the transit interchange function at the Frankston railway precinct so that tour operators can be appropriately accommodated and can properly market the services that they offer.
Dunkley is the battleline where the sprawling southern suburbs of Melbourne seek to encroach further into the beautiful Mornington Peninsula and hinterland. I endorse the retention of the green wedge policy as a means of halting the expanding urban sprawl, but believe the residents in adjoining areas deserve the certainty of knowing what land uses are permitted and what is planned in these areas.
The challenges facing Dunkley are only as big as the opportunities before us. Through a partnership with the community, business and governments, I believe we will make some ground. I intend to grasp this rare privilege to make a contribution to our nation and to return the trust and hope individuals have put in me to improve the lot of the citizens of Dunkley by the bay.
My presence here today would not have been possible without the patience and support of my loving wife, Tina. Mr Deputy Speaker, she is here with us today. I would like to close by saying that I love her dearly, admire her courage for being subjected to a public life perhaps not of her choosing, treasure her trust and her wise counsel that ensure that my feet are kept firmly on the ground, and value her continuing support. I look forward to contributing to a parliament and a government that I hope will be respected as one of the best this country has ever seen.