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- Start of Business
- WORKPLACE RELATIONS AMENDMENT (UNFAIR DISMISSALS) BILL 1998
- ANTI-PERSONNEL MINES CONVENTION BILL 1998
- TELSTRA (TRANSITION TO FULL PRIVATE OWNERSHIP) BILL 1998
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS (UNIVERSAL SERVICE LEVY) AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS (CONSUMER PROTECTION AND SERVICE STANDARDS) BILL 1998
- NRS LEVY IMPOSITION AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- ACTS INTERPRETATION AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FORESTRY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL (No. 1) 1998
- AUSTRALIAN WOOL RESEARCH AND PROMOTION ORGANISATION AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- AUSTRALIAN NATIONAL TRAINING AUTHORITY AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- ABORIGINAL AND TORRES STRAIT ISLANDER HERITAGE PROTECTION BILL 1998
- PAYMENT PROCESSING LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (SOCIAL SECURITY AND VETERANS' ENTITLEMENTS) BILL 1998
- 1998 BUDGET MEASURES LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (SOCIAL SECURITY AND VETERANS' ENTITLEMENTS) BILL 1998
- TELECOMMUNICATIONS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1998
- SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (CHOICE OF SUPERANNUATION FUNDS) BILL 1998
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL (No. 2) 1998
- PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES BILL 1998
- PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT (PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE) BILL 1998
- SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION (COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYMENT) REPEAL AND AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- COMMONWEALTH SUPERANNUATION BOARD BILL 1998
- SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION (COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYMENT—SAVING AND TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS) BILL 1998
- SUPERANNUATION LEGISLATION (COMMONWEALTH EMPLOYMENT) REPEAL AND AMENDMENT (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1998
- PARLIAMENTARY ZONE
- WOOL INTERNATIONAL AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- AUSTRALIAN RADIATION PROTECTION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY BILL 1998
- AUSTRALIAN RADIATION PROTECTION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY (LICENCE CHARGES) BILL 1998
- AUSTRALIAN RADIATION PROTECTION AND NUCLEAR SAFETY (CONSEQUENTIAL AMENDMENTS) BILL 1998
- STATES GRANTS (PRIMARY AND SECONDARY EDUCATION ASSISTANCE) AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- HIGHER EDUCATION FUNDING AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- FILM LICENSED INVESTMENT COMPANY BILL 1998
- TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT (FILM LICENSED INVESTMENT COMPANY) BILL 1998
- CHILD SUPPORT LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- STATES GRANTS (GENERAL PURPOSES) AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- NATIONAL CAPITAL AUTHORITY
- DATA-MATCHING PROGRAM (ASSISTANCE AND TAX) AMENDMENT BILL 1998
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Goods and Services Tax: States Funding
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Unemployment: Job Growth
(Charles, Bob, MP, Reith, Peter, MP)
Colston, Senator Mal
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation
(Nugent, Peter, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: Pensioners
(Crean, Simon, MP, Howard, John, MP)
National Youth Round Table
(Cameron, Ross, MP, Kemp, Dr David, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: Pensioners
(Beazley, Kim, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Iraq: Weapons Inspectors
(Bishop, Julie, MP, Downer, Alexander, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: Motor Vehicles
(Crean, Simon, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
Economy: Monetary Policy
(Pyne, Chris, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
- Goods and Services Tax: States Funding
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Iraq: United States Military Action
(Brereton, Laurie, MP, Howard, John, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: Transport Industry
(St Clair, Stuart, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
Air Traffic Control
(Kernot, Cheryl, MP, Anderson, John, MP)
(Bartlett, Kerry, MP, Bishop, Bronwyn, MP)
Telstra: Full Privatisation
(Smith, Stephen, MP, McGauran, Peter, MP)
(Billson, Bruce, MP, Abbott, Tony MP)
Telstra Sale: Consortium Fees
(Tanner, Lindsay, MP, Fahey, John, MP)
Logging and Woodchipping
(Causley, Ian, MP, Tuckey, Wilson, MP)
Family Court: Delays
(McClelland, Robert, MP, Williams, Daryl, MP)
Goods and Services Tax: States Funding
(Barresi, Phil, MP, Costello, Peter, MP)
- Iraq: United States Military Action
- SPEAKER'S PANEL
- DELEGATION REPORTS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT
- QUESTIONS TO MR SPEAKER
- MEMBERS' TRAVELLING ALLOWANCES
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- AGED CARE AMENDMENT (ACCREDITATION AGENCY) BILL 1998
- GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S SPEECH
- Health: Disability Services
- Employment: Jobs Pathway
- Aboriginal Reconciliation
- McEwen Electorate
- Goods and Services Tax: Northern Territory Election
- Environment: Gladstone City Council
- Telopea Post Office
Thursday, 12 November 1998
Mr RIPOLL (4:30 PM) —Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker Jenkins. I extend my congratulations to you on appointment to your high office.
I stand in this House as the new member for Oxley, fully aware of the history of my seat and its recent elevation in the national consciousness. Oxley is the seat you have all talked about over the last three years. Everyone, it seems, has an interest in our community. But, unfortunately, all the attention has been for all the wrong reasons.
People are shocked and unsettled by the rise of political opportunists pushing an antagonistic cause. How did these people and their antagonism appear in our community? They appeared before us because there are real problems in Oxley, as there are throughout Australia. People are hurting. Too many people are genuinely hurting, and have been for too long. And, when people are hurt, they look to something new. And when the pain is great, they look for relief in something radical. They will often try something unknown.
Yet, without any of the theatre or hyperbole that ushered in this astonishing shift in our community, it has suddenly retreated and almost disappeared. They have lost any credible place in contemporary Australia. The remains of this self-proclaimed political force lay strewn like the ruins of the empire of Ozemandius:
. . . Half sunk, a . . . colossal wreck, boundless and bare.
They are gone now because people have seen that anger and fury are not enough. And their particular brand of misdirected anger did nothing to address the issues affecting the lives of us all in Oxley. And we do need the problems of our community addressed.
When I visited work sites like the meatworks in Dinmore and the railway yards of Redbank, I spoke with working people who had voted against Labor for the first time in their lives in 1996. These workers were prepared, though, to give us a go again because I gave them my commitment to roll up my sleeves and work alongside them to get things done.
Oxley cannot afford to be a launch pad for anyone's national political empire. Our concerns are personal and our needs local. This is not to suggest what we do here in this House makes no difference. We are certainly making a difference in people's lives but, regrettably, much of that difference is sometimes for the worse.
Many decisions made here are having a tremendously negative impact on the community we live in. While we often hear from the experts and the economists explaining harsh and unwanted policies—the policies of downsizing, privatisation and national competition policy—these people promote this in terms of flow-on benefits, benefits to the entire community. I do not doubt the sincerity of these experts and economists; I am sure they truly believe in the benefit of their policies. But, out in the community, we feel the impact of these policies, and we are not receiving any of the flow-on benefits. We are not benefiting one bit from the relentless pursuit of competition. The end result is often more pain for those who can least afford it. Some may not wish to accept this, or even try to mount an argument to show that it is not true, but the anger out there in the community is evidence enough.
The results of the last election highlight exactly how little support there is in the community for this harsh economic agenda. It is like the game of Chinese whispers—what makes sense in the very beginning can end up scrambled as it goes down the line. This is what happens with government policies. What seems rational in economic models and consultants' reports makes less and less sense as it travels down the line to the community. The mums and dads and the families of Oxley are a long way down that line. What was supposed to help us may, just as likely, end up hurting us.
So much of the current economic agenda, the ideological demand for competition, the blind faith in the markets and the worship of individualism fail to provide for human needs. The relentless pursuit of unfettered competition has led to a disastrous social outcome.
In Oxley, we like our sport, and one of the things that sport teaches us is that in every competition there are some winners and there are also some losers. When you seek competition, you do so knowing that some communities do not have the advantages of others and that some families also do not have the advantages of others. Ours is one such community, and we have many such families.
When you pursue totally deregulated competition, it is people like us in our community who are likely to end up behind on the scoreboard. It is our jobs under threat, it is our services stripped from our community, and our families that are thrown into anxiety and despair. We are invariably the users that pay in a user-pays world.
And, in a cruel irony, in the sickest joke, it is those who have lost their job, taken at the altar of the almighty competition, who can no longer rely on the assistance of a Commonwealth employment service. Instead, this government replaced it with a shambolic and failing jobs network, a network that does not work. It does not work and it will never work because it is in competition with itself. This government has introduced competition to a service that cannot function without cooperation.
But this government is not stopping there. There are further cuts, this time to Centrelink. The government's outrageous plans will drastically scale down services to individuals most in need in our community, and also will take away 5,000 jobs. These are exactly the reasons why we must begin again in Oxley, why we must begin again to rebuild the relationship between people and government.
Relationships are built on communication, and this will be at the heart of my efforts in Oxley. I will always maintain the conversation between the people of Oxley and their government, regardless of who is in power. I want to talk with people; I want them to tell me what their issues are and what impact the government is having on their lives. I want to know about them and their individual circumstances. I want to share their stories.
Through listening to the people of Oxley, I feel I am then able to speak—and speak not to the people but for the people of Oxley. I will carry forward their concerns here in this House and anywhere their message should be heard. I will promote no agenda, save for that of the people of Oxley.
I will earnestly carry forward their message with tolerance and compassion because compassion is the challenge of our times. That struggle for competition has been at the expense of a compassionate society. But compassion must come before competition and, in this period of social, financial and technology change, it is what we must all strive to achieve.
It may seem romantic and idealistic but these are the goals I have set for myself. Both compassion and competition are fundamental elements of our humanity. But competition emerges from us with ease and dominates us without reluctance. For competition and dominance will be forever linked. The successful will always welcome competition and the successful often get their way. But compassion is tough. It seems to take so much from us and give us little reward in return. Milan Kundera said this:
There is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even ones own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes.
Government must lay the foundations for a caring society. It must support us in our endeavours to support each other. A compassionate society is built around an infrastructure of respect and tolerance. We must provide shelter for all from anxiety and bitterness. It concerns me that, under Howard, government obligations are replaced with glib homilies and media friendly labels designed more to make us feel better about those that are struggling rather than do anything meaningful to alleviate their problems.
We are not battlers in Oxley. We are pensioners, we are returned service men and women, we are families with sick children, and we are sole parents struggling on low incomes. We are casual and part-time workers desperate to find full-time work, we are people to whom English is not our first language, we are workers threatened with retrenchment, we are school leavers looking for an opportunity, we are disabled, and we are households that dread Christmas for the bills that it brings.
We are all this and we are more. We are the parents helping out on school fetes, we are drivers for meals on wheels, and we are the managers of our neighbour's footy team and the coach of our daughter's netball team. While others may call us battlers, when you come from where I live, we call each other friends, neighbours, workmates and family.
Mr Deputy Speaker, I will not allow anyone to give up on fixing the problems in our community, to label us as battlers and consign our problems to the political and economic too-hard basket, because we have not given up on ourselves. We are striving as individuals and as organisations for positive changes in our community.
Local P&Cs continue to raise funds and work hard at improving education for our children. Our sporting clubs are doing a terrific job providing leisure and recreation to our community. Our trade unions are continuing the struggle to protect the rights, wages and the dignity of working people in Oxley. Our charitable organisations are asked to do so much more and receive increasingly less assistance from government. Yet they are still performing miracles in our community, but for how much longer.
These organisations are ready to step in and lend a hand and assist people with the basics, like a place to stay, or someone to talk to. Our resource centres are providing advice and advocacy for the vulnerable and marginalised. Our migrant communities and organisations are adding to the richness and character of our region.
Local industry is the linchpin of our local economy, because we need more than just jobs for the people of Oxley. We need local jobs. Local jobs provide so much to our region. Our sense of community comes not only from living together but also from working together. Local jobs bring dignity. And, of course, local employment means more local jobs. When people commute out of Oxley they take money with them and, when that money goes, local jobs go with it. The role of local industry is vital in our area.
None of these groups could do what they do, and do it so well, without the perseverance of a large number of committed and largely unrewarded individuals. And as just one other individual, I am humbled before them—humbled and proud: proud in the knowledge that I am in a position to serve my community. The electorate of Oxley is certainly my community. I have lived and worked in all of the major centres throughout the electorate of Oxley.
At the south of my electorate is the suburb of Inala. This is where I grew up. My family and I came to Australia from another country without much, but a desire for a new start and the opportunity to give something back. Inala is where I learnt about Australia and where I became an Australian. It is where my parents still live. It is truly the place of my formative years.
As a young man I went to school in Inala, got my trade in the Wacol industrial park and, in Ipswich, the metropolitan centre at the north of the electorate, I celebrated my marriage to my wife, Margy, and the birth of my children, Timothy and Emily. And in the geographic heart of the electorate is the growing region of Goodna and Redbank Plains. This is my home and this is where we are raising our family, whose aspirations and needs are the same aspirations and needs as most families in Australia. I am, therefore, privileged to have the opportunity to give something back to a place that I feel so completely linked with and to whom I owe the most tremendous debt of gratitude.
As I look upon my opportunities to serve the people of Oxley, I am struck by the challenges in representing this electorate. As I pointed out earlier, Oxley has several social and commercial centres. The electorate can be divided into three main hubs. To the south of the electorate are the suburbs around Inala and Acacia Ridge. They cannot be treated as outer suburbs of Ipswich City.
At the other end of my electorate I have the heart of Ipswich, divided by an artificial electoral boundary. Services for Ipswich cannot be neatly partitioned off between the two electorates. And representing, as I do, the vast majority of Ipswich City, I therefore recognise the need to preserve and protect all services in the heart of the city.
In the centre of Oxley is the region of Goodna and Redbank. A commercial and administrative hub is in our electorate. Services to this area are under continual threat by the rationalisation of government services. The recent closure of our CES by this government has forced job seekers to travel to Ipswich or elsewhere for employment services. Our electorate is growing rapidly, particularly outside of the Ipswich City heart, and in suburbs like Forest Lake and Springfield. I recognise the need for services to be maintained throughout the electorate and not concentrated in one or two areas.
I am also committed to creating unity amongst all levels of government to provide these vital services. Free of the recent distractions and the pettiness and tribalism of the past, I am confident we can achieve this. And if we can, we must. I will support the work of the local government. The Ipswich City Council is a dynamic and innovative force in our community. The development of global information links and the establishment of Ipswich as a technology town are a triumph and a model for others to follow. The Brisbane City Council's financial commitment to reinvigorating the Inala corridor is achieving real results and greatly improving the local outlook.
The state government, which provides so many vital services in our community, is well aware of the work that needs to be done. Premier Peter Beattie has made jobs his No. 1 priority. Frankly, nothing else would have been good enough for the people of Queensland and Oxley. I am certain our state Labor government will deliver on their commitments in our community. I congratulate the premier on setting these goals and pledge my support and assistance in any endeavour that will create more jobs in my electorate.
Our electorate is also challenged by our recent history. The controversy and ill feeling created by the previous member for Oxley cannot discourage us from discussing and debating the important social issues affecting our community. I welcome any debate on immigration and population policy—any debate free of acrimony and conducted with reason. And I also believe the time is right for us to review and debate the family law and child support policies. Now we must search for solutions to minimise the pain of family break-up, for all involved.
I would like to conclude by thanking those who were central to my success at the recent election. I thank my family, in particular my mother, Suzanne, for her undying love and belief in my abilities, and my father, Andre, for instilling in me the work ethic and courage to pursue my dreams. I thank my soul mate, Margy, for her unconditional support, understanding and love, and my children, Timothy and Emily, who made me realise what life is about and why we must all struggle for a better and just society.
I thank Kim Beazley and my Labor colleagues for their support and advice before and during the election campaign. I would also like to thank the committed and hardworking ALP branch members of Oxley. Success would not have been possible if it had not been not for their hard work and dedication. They organised a magnificent campaign, and the result is a credit to all of them. To all these people and to the electors of Oxley: I am forever in your debt and always at your service.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins) —Before I call the honourable member for Lowe, I remind the House that this is the honourable member's first speech. I ask the House to extend to him the usual courtesies.