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Thursday, 11 March 1999
Page: 3872

Mrs ELSON (12:43 PM) —It gives me pleasure to stand here today. This week we have witnessed in Canberra the National Youth Round Table discussions and young people from all over Australia and its territories have contributed enormously to many discussions, bringing forward their ideas on how they would like to see their future shaped.

The reason why I stand up here today is, firstly, to congratulate them for the contribution they have made in Canberra this week. I have had the opportunity to attend a few of their discussions. I have found that I have great faith in our young people and I know that my future has been well looked after when I see young people like that in Australia making great contributions.

I also stand here today to talk about another young gentleman in my electorate and that is Ben Hall. He is only 13 years old and he won the Queensland Headstart's Youth Ambassador Competition last year with a poem praising the many faces of Queensland. I would have loved to have recited that poem in here today, but it actually takes a bit longer than the time allocated to me.

When I read that poem it brought tears to my eyes to think that someone so young had such a great perception about Australia and its future. Ben has had the opportunity this week to see, a year down the track, whether his perceptions of Australia have improved or decreased, and it gave me great pleasure to see what he wrote in the Courier-Mail on Tuesday. I would like to read a little bit of that out—if I could be indulged. He wrote in the paper, 12 months after winning this award:

As we enter a new year, decade, century and millennium we have asked ourselves the questions: What are we going to make of our lives? How do we want to be remembered by our friends and families?

I look up to the hard workers of Australia, the people who get up every morning and go to work—for money for sure, but also for the satisfaction of knowing that they are helping to make Queensland a better state.

He went on to say:

I admire the people who worked on the railways of western Queensland. They build hundreds of kilometres of railway line, sometimes in 40-plus degrees.

I admire the selectors and farmers who lived in close to unbearable conditions so they could get the money to live and feed their families and to make the state a better one for our future generations—us.

All the entertainers, both in sport and theatre, are to be thanked for what they do every day to make people happy, to make every day a bit more enjoyable. We are all thankful for the people who design zoos and theme parks. I know a lot of them do it for enormous profit in mind, but the odd few actually design a leisure park to make people happy.

I admire people like . . . Pat Rafter who make it big in the sporting world, win millions of dollars and instead of selfishly going back home with it and buying new cars, actually give some of their wealth to people who need it, in hospitals and orphanages.

Queensland already has a great tourism industry with the Great Barrier Reef, rainforests and beaches and if we keep encouraging overseas visitors the money will keep pouring in and we can use this money to fix up our environmental problems and maybe help other countries.

Ben also stated:

This state is verging on being perfect, with relatively low traffic, low crime and high life expectancy. Every person in Queensland so do their bit to contribute towards a better state, country and world—simple things you've heard a million times before like putting your rubbish in the bin and travelling by public transport when you can, not using too much electricity, not using too much of anything. It's just common sense.

Young people today have a big problem to face, and that is to find a job. It will be easy for some, but those who don't do well at school will find it a lot harder. Every young Queenslander should be considerate in the environment at all times and do well at school.

But above all, they should enjoy themselves—for their own good and to help the Sunshine State an even better place to live.

I am proud to have Ben living in my electorate. I feel very secure in the knowledge that he will be making decisions for me and other Australians when I am in my elderly years. I sincerely congratulate him for the wonderful contribution that he has given to our young people in Queensland.