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Wednesday, 13 February 2002
Page: 78


Mr DUTTON (11:55 AM) — On 30 January last year I attended a Liberal Party preselection at the Samford CWA hall, at which I was selected as the Liberal candidate for the federal seat of Dickson. That night was obviously significant to me in many ways. On one hand, it brought to a climax a lifetime of hard work and a focus on achieving the goal of standing proudly in this place today; on the other, it was a night which signalled a lifetime change and the beginning of an opportunity to work with people for whom I have great respect and friendship.

Dickson is my home; it is where I work and live. It is of course a great honour to represent those people in this great place. The federal seat of Dickson is an exciting and diverse community, very much representing middle-class Australia. Our community is diverse and rich in goodwill. We are an area often neglected because we are neither metropolitan nor rural, but we are an area rich with natural water resources, picturesque rural settings, industrial and commercial precincts, and fast-developing residential areas.

Dickson is well served by service groups, community groups and a true Australian spirit. That spirit sees many volunteers do so much for so many. Dickson is a community where good people are raising young families, where farmers and small business people—the backbone of the Australian economy—are enjoying the benefits of a strong local economy. It is also a place where people are working towards a better life not only for themselves but for their families. It is these people that I have to thank most today. They have bestowed upon me what I consider to be one of the most significant honours in life—that is to serve in what is the greatest democracy and nation in the world.

Only a few short kilometres from where I live in Dickson, my great-grandparents started their new life as dairy farmers in the electorate in the 1860s. My grandmother, who worked hard on the farm all her life, joins me today in the gallery. It makes me very pleased to see her well and enjoying this very proud moment for all of us. My parents, who have been my lifelong inspiration, are also with me today, as are my brother, sisters, family and close friends— the people who have stood with me through the ups and the downs, the highs and lows that life has to offer, and of course the pinnacle today, the opportunity to represent the great seat of Dickson as part of a decisive and well-managed government in the strongest economy in the world.

My parents have been an inspiration to me for many years. Their outstanding quality is their tenacity. My family is a typical, small business, middle-class family. When we were children, mum and dad struggled to send us to good schools, and worked and saved hard to provide for their sole focus: their family. Let me take this opportunity to pay a special tribute to my parents for making this special moment possible.

As the members of this place would be aware, the election campaign in Dickson last year was a robust campaign. It is probably appropriate that at this time I also take the opportunity to make mention of my predecessor. I would like to thank the former member for her efforts in the seat during the last term.

Honourable members who had an interest in the Dickson campaign would know also that I was a police officer for nine years. I often say to people that, as a police officer, I have seen the best and the worst that society has to offer. I have seen the wonderful, kind nature of people willing to offer any assistance to those in their worst hour, and I have seen the sickening behaviour displayed by people who, frankly, barely justify their existence in our sometimes overtolerant society.

I am proud of the fact that I had a distinguished career in the police service and that that service saw me perform duties all over the great state of Queensland. It provided me with the opportunity to work with many dedicated, hardworking and, best of all, loyal colleagues to whom I pay special tribute. Many of those people I still call close friends today. Some of those people are no longer with us.

I would also like to take this opportunity to reflect on the tragic events of September 11 last year, and to hope and pray that those that were lost, including the Australians and those emergency service workers who gave their lives, are never forgotten. I visited the site of that tragic event earlier this year, and the experience was indeed sombre and humbling, but it was both moving and a chilling reminder of the reality of our short existence.

I first started work in our family business when I started high school and, when I left the Queensland Police Service in 1999 to work full-time with my father, it made me very proud to see what we had achieved. The business now employs close to 40 Australians, both young and mature age workers. I thank them for working with a boss who perhaps has not always been as tolerant as he could have been, but certainly who always demanded the best for our valued clients. In particular, I would like to make special mention of and thank Jodie Grant. Jodie, who is suffering personally at the moment with the illness of her mother, is a very good friend and our business manager. She has been a dedicated member of our business family for many years, and I thank her for her loyalty, tolerance, honesty and friendship.

I first joined the Liberal Party when I was about 18 years of age, and for me it was a party of natural choice. I had always had an interest in politics, and to me the Liberal Party was a party founded in many ways on the principles of individualism and reward for achievement. It goes without saying, of course, that these are principles from which I have benefited and always defended with great conviction. What makes the Liberal Party even more significant today is the stark contrast in which it stands when compared to the other party structures in Australia's society. Where we are guided by principles and objectives, the others in Australia have adopted this third way of operation, in which the end result is that they now stand for nothing. They have lost all credibility. Because they stand for everything they stand for nothing.

The Liberal Party has provided me with many longlasting friends. I would like to take the opportunity to thank my friends and supporters, particularly in the Queensland division, including other honourable members of this House and of the other place, for their belief and loyalty. In particular, I would like to thank the members of the Dickson FEC for their incredible support through a very hectic year. I take the opportunity to thank all those who worked hard on my campaign team, but in particular those who worked seven days a week with me during the campaign period, including Penny Edwards, Craig Ansford, John King, Brenda Martin and Jan Orme.

My aim for this term as the member for Dickson is to continue working hard to make Dickson an even better place. That means fighting for adequate medical services within our community, supporting the business community and fighting for a road system adequate to facilitate a fast developing region. When we consider the challenges of our modern society, our aim to make our community an even better place is not an easy task. In society today we are experiencing unacceptable crime rates, causing older Australians to barricade themselves in their homes, all in the name of safety. We are seeing an alarming number of households where up to three generations—in many cases by choice—have never worked in their lives, and a society where in many cases rights are demanded but no responsibility taken.

The fight for a better place in which to live is today made even more difficult for many reasons, not least of which is the fact that the boisterous minority and the politically correct seem to have a disproportionate say in public debate today. The silent majority, the forgotten people—or the aspirational voters of our generation, as some like to term them—are fed up with bodies like the Civil Liberties Council and the Refugee Action Collective, and certainly the dictatorship of the trade union movement. Australians are fed up with the Civil Liberties Council— otherwise known as the criminal lawyers media operative—who appear obsessed with the rights of criminals yet do not utter a word of understanding or compassion for the victims of crime. Their motives are questionable and their hypocrisy breathtaking.

That is not to say that right of speech should not be observed at every turn—quite the opposite. What it does mean is that there is a right for all people to be heard. The mood of the silent majority is fast rising to one of anger, because at present there is a basic right that is being impinged upon. It is incumbent upon us to represent the views of the majority and not to be held captive by groups who grab headlines in tabloids on the basis of anything but substance. As leaders and representatives of this country, we must facilitate and inform debate, and not be deterred by those who would seek to drive their own hidden agendas.

It is my aim to use my experience both in small business and in law enforcement to provide perhaps a more practical view on some of the issues and problems experienced in these areas. It also makes me proud to be part of a government so determined to ensure a balanced workplace, not only for employees but also for employers. This program is significant to small business and indeed essential if small business is to continue as the engine house of the Australian economy. I spoke before of my commitment to small business and the incredible role that small business plays in our community. The process of reform in the area of industrial relations must continue to be rolled out, and an employee's right to choose whether he or she should join a union is an essential in any modern democracy.

Perhaps the most significant challenge our society faces today is the way in which we deal with the issue of national security, and indeed our continued and ongoing response to the terrorist and criminal attacks generally. The fact is that we live in a complex world. The terrorist attacks and the attacks on our day-to-day lives by criminals who have complete disregard for common decency must be dealt with in a measured way. At this point in time it is stating the obvious that in my opinion the courts are not representing the views in the large of the broader community. Time after time we see grossly inadequate sentences being delivered to criminals whose civil rights have far exceeded those of the victim and others in our society. This imbalance must be addressed, and for the sake of living standards and reasonable expectations for all Australians must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

I am a strong advocate of the rights of the individual and I am certainly an advocate of minimalist intervention by government in our lives. However, as part of this process we must set ourselves on a course of information sharing between law-enforcement agencies and other government departments, with this end in mind: when does the right of privacy for the individual start to impinge on the common good of society? We must face the reality that criminals in today's society are well resourced, professionally operated and structured and administered, and must be combated to ensure the fabric of our society remains intact. It is counterproductive in our society when, for example, police are searching for a murder or rape suspect, they know who the offender is, but they are prevented from obtaining any details from government departments, including federal and state departments.

I take this opportunity to thank both my staff and the people of Dickson, as I mentioned before, for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of such an exciting democracy and to be part of a government that has served the Australian economy and the Australian community very well since 1996. I thank honourable members for their hospitality in hearing me today and wish them all the best for their term of office.

Honourable members—Hear, hear!


The SPEAKER —Order! Before I call Ms Vamvakinou, I remind honourable members that this is her first speech. I therefore ask that the usual courtesies be extended to her.