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Thursday, 14 August 2003
Page: 18667

Mr NEVILLE (12:49 PM) —I was going to speak on a totally different subject today, but having heard the frolic from the member for McMillan I could not let the occasion pass. And what a frolic it was. I hope that the good electors of McMillan will take note of that speech and how well he represented his constituents on matters of import to Victoria and to the electorate of McMillan. It was one of the most self-indulgent, self-righteous and obsequiously presumptuous contributions I have heard in our adjournment debates for many a long year. The member tried to compare John Anderson to our former leaders and then denigrated him because there is some speculation in the media about the possibility of his giving up the leadership. Let me tell you my experience of John Anderson.

Let's start with the character of the man himself. John Anderson has had many challenges in his life. I will not go into the details of those, but he has had some real tragedies in his life. He has overcome those. They are tragedies that would have crushed the average person, and here he is in the No. 2 slot of leadership in Australia. I have found him to be one of the most decent, honourable, focused men I have ever dealt with. There is no bumf and no artificiality in John Anderson. What you see is what you get. If he believes something, he tells you. Over the years he and I have had some disagreements about Telstra, but John Anderson is not one who will walk away and treat you like a fool and let you believe something just to humour you. I admire a person like that. He has been a great commentator for Australia on a number of social issues and a number of issues that are seminal to people in country Australia.

He was the first in Australia to seriously challenge that unbelievable decision of the High Court to pay compensation to a woman for the birth of a child after an unsuccessful sterilisation procedure, and I admired him every inch of the way on that. I thought that the decision of the court devalued human life and depreciated the value of children in a way we have never seen before in Australia. Who was the leader in this country who came out and spoke about that? John Anderson. When the drought started to bite and with country towns having been denuded by the previous Labor government over 13 years, who was the one who really came to the nub of the problem of the two Australias? John Anderson. His speech was a seminal speech and one that is admired by everyone in the coalition and, I suspect, by a lot of my Labor colleagues as well. His position in the stem cell debate was relentless.

It does not stop with those sorts of moral issues. John Anderson is the one who has been prepared to challenge the traditional concepts of transport with his AusLink proposal. If the freight task in this country is going to double in the next 10 years and treble in the next 20, we have a big challenge with roads and rail and prioritising them in a way we have not done before. Who was game to do that, to bring it before parliament and issue a green paper and a white paper? John Anderson. As our state Labor colleagues have denigrated the rights of country people, especially in relation to property and particularly to water rights, who is out there with a new agenda looking to give those people certainty in their lives and an appreciation of what they are entitled to in their water and property rights? Again, John Anderson. The member for McMillan might have had a little frolic here today but I suspect, when the people of his electorate weigh up what he had to say about John Anderson against John Anderson the man, they will find that the member for McMillan is sorely lacking.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. I.R. Causley)— Thirty minutes having elapsed in the adjournment debate and with no agreement before the chair to an extension by the whips, I propose the question that the Main Committee do now adjourn.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no agreement before the chair for the whips to extend the adjournment. So I have put the question.

Mr Neville —Mr Deputy Speaker, there may be no agreement before the chair but the government would be pleased to let the member speak if it meets with your indulgence.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —In future, the whips had better get their agreement, because the rules are that an agreement has to be before the chair.

Mr Neville —I understand.

Mr Murphy —What is the motion before the chair?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —That the Main Committee do now adjourn.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I have no agreement.

Ms King —There is an agreement.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —I put the question that the Main Committee do now adjourn.

Mr Murphy —Mr Deputy Speaker, there is agreement with the whips.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The Main Committee stands adjourned until Wednesday, 20 August at 9.40 a.m.

Main Committee adjourned at 12.55 p.m.