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Tuesday, 8 December 1998
Page: 1650

Mr BILLSON (10:40 PM) —It is instructive to remember the words of the Governor-General when he opened the 39th Parliament:

On the third of October, the Australian people re-elected the government and renewed its responsibility for managing the nation's affairs in the interests of all Australians.

The government presented the Australian people with a clear set of goals for Australia into the next century, and a detailed strategy for achieving them.

The government's priorities for its second term derive directly from those goals and that strategy.

I could not agree more with that sentiment. It was a great honour to introduce the Prime Minister to a gathering in the electorate of Dunkley shortly before the election on 3 October and to highlight how it was this side of the parliament that was actually looking beyond the short-term gains and political manoeuvring, some of which we have just been exposed to, and looking into the long-term interests of the country. It was a courageous Prime Minister—and, I might add, a courageous coalition—that took that plan to the electorate and earned the support of the community to implement the plan, a plan that those opposite seem intent on objecting to.

One of the things that stood out in my mind is that, just as the nation needs a plan, so does a local community. That was a message I was getting back from the electorate during the first 2½ years that I have had the honour of representing the Dunkley community. So as a result of that message I was hearing and as a result of the input from, and the opportunity to work with, local community groups and organisations I thought I would meet that challenge that was being expected of all of us and which only a few of us in this place—I would suggest that most of them are on this side of the parliament—took up and took to the electorate.

The proposition I put to the electorate was a plan called Our Dunkley Destiny. It was a community action plan for the people and electorate of Dunkley that was designed to put forward some ideas and to put a commitment to the voters of Dunkley about what I would aim to do if I was fortunate enough to earn their support for a second term in this place.

The reason for putting that plan forward was that in the first term that I was able to represent the Dunkley community many good things had happened for that community. We had gone from having a higher than the national and state average of unemployment to well below. We had made significant inroads into youth unemployment. We had seen recovery in the home values right across the community of the electorate of Dunkley, after the devastation that the Labor Party had wreaked on home values in our community.

Those opposite might not realise that many of us who represent outer metropolitan electorates feel the sharp end of changes, of negative policies and of unhelpful policies, like those of the Labor Party. When they had record high interest rates, it affected our businesses and our local economies, because so many of those fringe metropolitan economies have building and housing construction as a key part of their economy, retail activity as a key part of their economy and other interest rate sensitive sectors of the economy. And it is no different for the Dunkley electorate.

When this government came in and got the fiscal house in order for this nation, it started playing very real dividends for the Dunkley electorate. But the key thing is that the good work we have been unable to achieve during the first term of the Howard government and during the first term that I have had the good fortune to be the member for Dunkley needs to be worked upon into the next term.

Mr Melham interjecting

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Nehl) —The member for Banks is not obliged to interrupt continually.

Mr BILLSON —For the encouragement of the member for Banks, he might be interested in seeing what local advocacy is about, because this is a plan for an electorate. It has four key objectives. One of them involves building on our local regional employment strengths to create more jobs. And there are a number of actions that I plan to pursue during this term. It is also about supporting Dunkley people of all ages to fulfil their potential, because the Dunkley people of all ages have enormous potential and, with the support of a forward looking government such as the Howard government, we can do something really worth while for their lives.

Just last Friday I had the good fortune of visiting Tanti Park Primary School—a primary school in the electorate in an area where, admittedly, I do not poll terribly well. It was quite an honour to visit that primary school, given that an invitation was also given to many ALP MPs—none of whom showed. I was happy to go down to that community and talk to them about my role and listen to their concerns.

Another part of the plan was pursuing the care, comfort and community needs of the Dunkley community and, finally, adding value to the Dunkley community by taking advantage of its leisure lifestyle and environmental appeals.

It is terrific to stand here as a result of the support of the Liberal Party in the Dunkley electorate. I would like to acknowledge the work of John Howard, my campaign chairman. I would like to acknowledge the support of my family and the whole Liberal Party team who have made an enormous contribution. I will not let them down. I will do my utmost to represent the community to the best of my ability. One thing is for sure: I will leave the Labor Party in my wake.