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- Start of Business
SUPPLY BILL (No. 1) 1996-97
SUPPLY BILL (No. 2) 1996-97
SUPPLY (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL 1996-97
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Coalition's Election Promises
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr FAHEY)
(Mr RANDALL, Mr HOWARD)
(Mr CREAN, Mr HOWARD)
Unfair Dismissal Law
(Mr BOB BALDWIN, Mr REITH)
(Mr McMULLAN, Mr HOWARD)
(Mr FORREST, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Mr MARTIN FERGUSON, Mr HOWARD)
Industrial Relations: Small Business
(Mr LLOYD, Mr HOWARD)
Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme
(Mr GARETH EVANS, Mr FAHEY)
- Coalition's Election Promises
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Mr CAUSLEY, Mr REITH)
(Mr ANDREN, Mr WARWICK SMITH)
Apprenticeships and Traineeships
(Mrs ELSON, Dr KEMP)
Diesel Fuel Rebate Scheme
(Mr O'KEEFE, Mr ANDERSON)
(Mr NUGENT, Mr DOWNER)
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr DOWNER)
(Mrs ELIZABETH GRACE, Dr KEMP)
- Union Membership
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE
- INDIGENOUS EDUCATION (SUPPLEMENTARY ASSISTANCE) AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- WORKPLACE RELATIONS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- AIRPORTS BILL 1996
- AIRPORTS (TRANSITIONAL) BILL 1996
- SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (NEWLY ARRIVED RESIDENT'S WAITING PERIODS AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 1996
- THERAPEUTIC GOODS AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- Start of Business
- INDIGENOUS EDUCATION (SUPPLEMENTARY ASSISTANCE) AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- HAZARDOUS WASTE (REGULATION OF EXPORTS AND IMPORTS) AMENDMENT BILL 1996
- QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Thursday, 23 May 1996
Mr BOB BALDWIN(10.12 a.m.) —Mr Deputy Speaker Jenkins, I congratulate you on your election and the dignity with which you are carrying out the duties of Deputy Speaker of this House.
The seat of Paterson is, beyond doubt, one of the most diverse electorates in this country. In its original form the seat was named in honour of Colonel William Paterson, soldier, explorer and Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales in 1809. But, with the re-creation of the seat in 1992, Paterson was appropriately named after the great balladist, Banjo Paterson, a person who regularly wrote of the spirit of a young Australia. Like my forebears, I have continued the coalition tradition that was but briefly lost.
Sir Allen Fairhall, a senior minister throughout the Menzies era, held the seat for eight consecutive elections between 1949 and 1969. The late Frank O'Keefe then sustained the coalition stranglehold until Paterson was dissolved in 1984. Bruce Cowan, the former longstanding member for Lyne, similarly represented for many years a great portion of what Paterson geographically represents today. The work and contribution of all three of these gentlemen are held in the highest regard by both sides of this House.
No-one could better describe the area than did the poet Dorothea Mackellar when, in 1908, she penned the poem My Country as she sat on the verandas of the historic property of Torryburn between Vacy and Gresford in the heart of the Paterson electorate. The poem was inspired by the breaking of a long drought of that time. I would like to read a few selected lines from that poem, lines which all school children throughout Australia have committed to their hearts and minds:
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of rugged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror—
The wide brown land for me!
The language that Mackellar speaks is apt in its description of Paterson. `Of rugged mountain ranges' speaks of the Mount Royal Ranges, which include the magnificent Barrington Tops. These rise in splendour and possess pockets of subtropical rainforest. The Paterson and Allyn valleys are prime dairy and beef country and their majestic geography undulates mile after mile.
The jewel-seas are the Pacific Ocean and pristine waterways of Port Stephens and the Myall Lakes. These unreplicated waterways meet Nelson Bay and the villages of Hawks Nest and Seal Rocks, where time seems to tick by just that bit slower. `And flooding rains'—the historic footage of yesteryear can only jolt the memories of the mass flooding of the Hunter in 1955 which engulfed so much of the electorate, yet drew forth the true spirit of Australia so revered in our culture. This was her heart and this was her country.
Like Dorothea Mackellar, I too have developed a love for the area, its people and what it offers. As I stand proudly, surrounded by this new government, a worthy opposition, the legislators of Australia's future, I am led to comment on the responsibility and focus we face together. Labor has run its platform of equal opportunity in the workplace and in particular in this parliament, of trying to establish safeguards that minimise poverty, of attempting to promote a system of medical care for all Australians and of sustaining a welfare system that protects the needy and the unemployed.
On the canvas, Labor had painted the big picture for our nation. It had attempted to reignite Ben Chifley's light on the hill—a light that never truly caught fire. Unfortunately, the big picture was painted on flimsy brown paper.
Today everything has a price and, regrettably, a social cost. Once established, society readjusts quickly to a new status quo, creating a feudal system in reverse where an increasing percentage becomes totally dependent on a welfare state that does not do enough in providing incentive for individual productivity. For all Labor's good intentions, we have seen Labor's dream become Paterson's curse.
In 1996 we are currently in a drought of a different kind, one that the flooding rains of 1955 will not fix. Our youth, the very future of this country and our source for optimism, have been failed; yet it is here that this curse has struck, and struck hard at the very social and cultural core. As I move around the electorate I am confronted by the reality of young Australians just waiting without direction and, worse still, without hope. They feel deserted.
But whom do we blame for this predicament, this sad indictment on our society? We simply cannot single out the Labor Party for this one. We are all to blame; yes, every member in this House—indeed, every Australian. You may ask why. The answer is simple: because we, and I mean all Australians, have allowed this to happen. That is the real curse that we all face.
Time has come for real leadership—leadership that shows direction and hope for all Australians. As Teddy Roosevelt, America's 26th President, said:
Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.
Roosevelt was the can-do leader in American politics. His young nation needed direction; it needed identity. His verve, his patriotism, his passion for the nation he loved excited the American people, instilling in them a sense of pride and promise as the United States entered the 20th century. So now we must do the same in the 21st century.
We have our own can-do leader. I see John Howard as the very hope of Australia. I distinctly remember the former Prime Minister once saying about leadership that all his predecessors just could not cut the mustard with the Placido Domingo of Australian politics. I see leadership in a far different light, and I am sure many other Australians do.
True leadership is about results—getting the runs on the board by holding your team together as the last line of defence and delivering the goods in the line of fire. But it is also about taking others with you on an issue that is right. Can-do leadership is about what the Prime Minister delivered in cementing tougher gun laws that span the nation, where the boundaries of states cannot impinge. The term `leadership' will be redefined under a John Howard government, so much so that he will not just be the Placido Domingo of leaders but all three tenors rolled into one.
Sensible, responsible government is not about intruding into community life but about providing the framework for individuals to achieve their maximum potential in life, yet still maintaining the support mechanism for those who genuinely need support.
Unemployment is a major problem in Paterson. Unemployment, at the current rate of 11.2 per cent in the Hunter, continues the tragic and historic trend in our area of being well above the national average. Even more concerning is the sad indictment that we have some 30 per cent of our local youth wanting work; they are presently jobless. If those youth figures seem high and are the subject of embarrassment to the former government, then what should be considered is that the figure for youth unemployment would be much higher if we did not have one of the highest incidences of young people leaving home and heading to Newcastle or Sydney to find work. Through Labor's failed policies we have lost generations of people who will never, never return to the farm.
The former government's programs of Priority One and Working Nation have failed our youth. Remember the classic line—with tear in the eye and hand on the heart—that no child will live in poverty by 1990. Six years on, for all Labor's intended good, Labor's dream has become Paterson's curse.
Paterson's curse is often known by another name: Salvation Jane—a strain prevalent in the drier lands and used by stock in drought. So out of the dry well of ideas of Labor, what can I offer as solutions to the people of Paterson? One of the chief mantras repeated over and over is the need to get our small business sector in Australia back into business. The issue resonates with people because the concept is so easy to understand—it is logical and it is right. Small business has long held regional and provincial Australia together. Without invigorating the small business sector right across Paterson, no new jobs will be created and existing jobs will be lost.
During the election campaign, at a meeting of small business proprietors at Raymond Terrace, the member for Pearce (Mrs Moylan) and I said that we would be a government committed to listening to the people. That is why in just over a month's time I am holding a small business and jobs summit in the electorate, briefing local business on our reforms but, more importantly, listening to their concerns and what they need to get jobs back on track in our electorate. That is what it is all about: motivating small business to get people back into work. This is a two-way deal and, yes, it is a worthy partnership in the future of our nation. Small business will not change unless a decade of government neglect and abuse is overturned in the Hunter. The record closure of small businesses in Paterson destroyed confidence and brought a community to its knees.
On terra firma there was also a similar scenario unfolding. I seek to remind the members of this House of the promises of the previous government, who said in 1990 they would deliver a $1 billion package to make over the Pacific Highway. The member for Charlton (Mr Robert Brown), who unfortunately is not with us in the chamber at the moment, sought when Minister for Transport to upgrade the highway's chief black spots, including the death trap of O'Sullivans Gap. Yet, for all his talk in promising new bitumen, he could not even deliver a bulldozer.
The former government thought so little of the people who used this road. But we have listened. The coalition has committed funding of $386 million to build a new highway from Bulahdelah to Coolongolook and then on to Possums Brush—not a simple patch-up job but a new highway. And we will deliver, and we will help prevent horrendous accidents like the ones that have claimed over 600 lives since 1987—the equivalent of more than one life per week on Highway No. 1—as well as an untold number of serious accidents.
The timber industry is a critical economic lifeline for many local communities within Paterson. Just as the local people are passionate about their work, so too are outsiders equally passionate about restricting their future evolution. Encouraging such emotions to come to the boil is no way to solve the industry's future or its problems. What I say is it is time to stop playing politics and start putting practical initiatives into place to maintain a sustainable timber industry. If the Australian ethos of a fair go is observed, timber workers will now be at the top of the queue to receive their fair share.
It saddens me to see the environmental vandalism that occurs from the burning of waste timber that could be used as woodchips to help small towns and our national debt—all because previous governments would not listen to the very people who knew the industry, people like Royce Dawney at Bulahdelah and Mark Scifleet at Gloucester, people who are from generations of loggers, people who have timber in their blood and in a responsible fashion make it their livelihood. I am personally committed to working with the local timber industry and achieving a win-win situation for all sides.
The implied threat or otherwise of Newcastle disease and avian flu re-entering, however inadvertently, our country could have an enormous impact on both the chicken trade and the local environment. Within Paterson, chicken farming outranks all comers—dairy production and cattle included—as our biggest rural income earner. In light of the recommendation by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to lift the import ban on cooked chicken, I have to say I am saddling up with my local chicken growers to challenge this view. Disease knows no barriers of state borders or livestock crossings. As we seek to establish ourselves as the food bowl to Asia and increasingly the wider Western world, I owe it to my rural producers, their work force and their families that our primary industry sector sustains the premium price in the market place for the produce which disease-free food carries.
When Sir Allen Fairhall, the first member for Paterson, gave his inaugural address in 1950, he spoke of the honour of representing some of Australia's most rich and fertile lands—and pay dirt. However, he made it clear there was also a heavy toll to be paid. He said:
. . . soil erosion is taking its toll . . . The rivers are silting up, and can no longer drain off all the water that falls in the catchment area . . . At present there is much wasted effort in our attempts to cope with erosion, the rabbit pest, failing soil fertility and the decaying mineral content of the soil.
The burden we threaten to leave our children and our children's children if we continue to not so much neglect but pass up an opportunity to revitalise, clean up and adequately resource our local environment will be a great one. The price paid will be our nation's loss. This government's historic commitment to the environment through a $1 billion Natural Heritage Trust is, I know, well supported across the community.
Listening to the thankyous and the extending of gratitude can be onerous on the ear, but it is pleasurable to my soul. Without the fantastic support and love of my wife, confidante and best friend, Cynthia, and my forgiving very young children, David, Robbie and Samantha, who are here in the gallery today, the flame of desire to succeed would have been quickly doused.
And one should never forget one's mum. My mum, Betty Baldwin, is the very person who instilled in me the care and love for family, for others and of country. My late father, David Baldwin, would be immensely proud at my achievement, but as a foundry worker and former Labor voter he would surely turn in his grave at what Labor has done.
Thanks go to Mike Warczak, my sailing buddy and the very person who introduced me to politics and ensured that, when I got angry about something, I got up and did something about it; my political mentor and friend Senator John Tierney and his media junkie, Graham Hallett—they helped put me on the path to victory; my state colleague and friend Peter Blackmore, who I know is listening in state parliament at the moment—he literally holds the right to what grassroots campaigning is all about; my friend and state colleague Patricia Forsythe MLC, who gave me the confidence and encouragement to stand, Chris Hartcher MLA and John Jobling MLC who put in so many hard yards.
Thanks also go to the campaigning team, which was headed by Richard Filewood and footed by upwards of one per cent of the actual electorate in manning the 84 booths on the day—their reward was victory itself; my treasurer, tower of wisdom and adopted uncle, Ian Paul, and his wife, Dorothy, who knew I was worth investing time in; Daryl Lewis, a true National with a liberal heart the size of Paterson; my guiding light Mike Breen; and my personal team of Tony McCormack, Malcolm McPhan, Colleen Essex, Robert Frost, Ross Cadell, Ben Howell, Dawn Anderson, Bunny Almond, Phoeme Wallace, Fran Dawson OAM, Beryl and John Purdy and Greg Hansen, Peter Hulsing, Wilf Smith, and not forgetting our wise but not so old regional president, Arch Humphrey. All were spokes in the wheel. All came to the fore when it was time to be counted.
To our State President, Bill Heffernan, State Director, Tony Nutt, and John Burston and his dynamic team at party headquarters: their never say die attitude when Labor let loose with both barrels pushed my campaign to the finish. To John Howard, Tim Fischer and Federal Director, Andrew Robb: united they stood and united they succeeded.
To my supporters from the previous campaign in the seat of Dobell in 1993 who continued on—Ron Moss, Betty Talarico, Phil and Colleen Walker, Paula Allan, Brenton and Nanette Pavier, and Don Frasca—I owe you all a great deal of gratitude for originally dipping my feet into the political well. But most importantly to my friends, colleagues and supporters from both the National and Liberal parties—the coalition family was never tighter and hence the victory forever sweeter in Paterson on 2 March.
Finally, at the end of the day if I can be remembered for one contribution to this House I would want it to be that I was part of the team that helped turn the ship around; to steer a new course towards the nation's salvation. Ultimately, however, I have been sent to do a job, and it is a job that I will undertake with pride. I am here and I will continue to speak out for Paterson. Thank you.