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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 208


Mr LYONS (4:39 PM) —I have already formally seconded the motion that the address-in-reply be agreed to and, having done so, I extend my congratulations to all members of the House of Representatives on their election on 21 August 2010. I would also like to extend my thanks to the people of Bass in Tasmania. I am very humbled and deeply honoured to be given the opportunity to represent them and to thank them for their support and trust. A successful election campaign relies on a huge team effort and I place on record my appreciation to all the supporters who letterboxed, put up signs, doorknocked, stuffed envelopes, took photographs, spread the message of the Australian Labor Party and all the other myriad tasks that a campaign requires.

In particular, I thank Senator Helen Polley, who is in the chamber today, Paul Griffin, Ross Hart, Adam Clarke, Pamela Carswell, Alan Stacey, Robyn Giblin, Sam James, Syd Edwards and many others. I also wish to thank my dad, who through all this had to be moved out of his home into alternative accommodation. Thank you, Sheryle, for all your love and support and thanks to my three beautiful daughters, Michelle, Bianca and Sarah, and their partners, Ashley and Emmett. There was one person who put all this into perspective for me and that is my grandson Harper. When it all seemed too hard and too tiring, a few moments with one-year-old Harper gave me distraction, joy, perspective and laughs. I also wish to acknowledge my predecessor in Bass, Jodie Campbell, a happy soul who graciously stepped aside to spend more time with her two beautiful daughters and who supported my campaign from start to finish.

Many people in regional and marginal Bass are doing it tough with the decline in the manufacturing, vegetable processing and timber industries. Our challenge is to find innovative white knights who will take up the opportunities which our soil, our water and the majestic beauty of our environment provide. There is no doubt that regional Bass, like the rest of regional Australia, does need to find innovative ways to build a sustainable future.

I am a passionate Tasmanian. I grew up in Tasmania and have worked in Tasmania all my life. I have a strong community obligation and commitment to sport, health, education and regional development. I believe we must reinvigorate community sport. I believe there is a need to encourage people, particularly young people, to belong to community organisations. When vandalism was on the rise in the town where I grew up, my father started a youth club. When kids were falling off horses and breaking limbs, we started a judo club to teach them how to fall. I know we are not in an era of joining or committing to any organisation and I believe Australia is worse off for that. How do we turn that around? One way is to improve recreational and sporting facilities in regional Australia which would make it more attractive for people of today. We are not in a make-do world as the Australian people once were. Therefore, to encourage participation and joining and to establish that feeling of belonging or having an ownership of community facilities, facilities must be designed and built by communities with assistance from governments.

My family have grown up. I had no set plan for bringing them up, but I do know how to keep them busy and community sport is an important part of that. I believe that we should be empowering people to provide better community facilities which will encourage not only joining but also community ownership. It is not easy to be at training four times a week, to sweep out the rooms after everyone has gone home, to cook the tea for the players, to mark the ground and to stand on the gate each week. The people who do that are the backbone of small and city communities alike. We must work out ways of providing assistance to provide the light of hope that those people—the real heroes of Australia—need.

Those of you who know me know that I am passionate about sport. I am passionate about improving sporting facilities in the electorate of Bass and encouraging young people to become involved in both individual and team sports. Tasmania has a rich sporting history in many fields and disciplines. We have a strong sporting pedigree, producing some of Australia’s leading sports stars. We want to continue that legacy with top-class community sporting facilities and administration. Just as many schools in Bass had not had any money spent on them for 20 years until a Labor government came to power, some sports facilities have not changed for 50 years. These are not community facilities which will motivate participation.

I am actively involved in surf-lifesaving and have been lucky enough to have assisted in running state, national and international events for surf-lifesaving. Surf-lifesaving has been a large part of my life, providing me with the opportunity to serve as a club secretary at 17 and a club captain at 18, and with the continuous satisfaction of belonging ever since. Through my daughters I became involved in netball administration, and what a wonderful opportunity we have to make a difference by assisting to improve facilities for that sport. Community football has been the poor cousin of Aussie Rules with the AFL dominating every aspect of the game, particularly venues and media. The AFL, with the extra revenue of two grand finals this year, could put some more resources into community football. My advice to the people of Australia is to visit your local club and to assist your sport by providing some assistance to that club. You will be made very welcome. The satisfaction you receive will far outweigh your contribution. Voluntary aged-care administration has been an area of great satisfaction to me and is an area that we as a government need to foster. Again, people of Australia, if you want something else in your life, offer to help at an aged-care facility.

In all these activities I meet wonderful Australians who universally believe private and public bureaucracy has gone mad. No matter where I go, the burden of excessive process exists. We seem to have promoted people who are good at process, but those people sometimes think that process is achievement. The sad part is that some cannot tell the difference. I urge all involved to think in the way an old doctor friend told me I should administer a hospital: ‘If you were at war and in the trenches, would you do it that way?’ That is a reality check worth contemplating.

I also strongly support empowering people in either government or private organisations to manage those organisations at the lowest possible level where they have full information. This creates genuine empowerment of people. I spent a large part of my working life in health administration at Beaconsfield and Launceston hospitals. The pleasure of developing services for people is not measurable. The people in health care are amazing for their commitment, skill and caring. At times it is not possible to justify on business grounds that a service should be provided for a community, but if it is genuinely needed the service is usually developed.

One thing I learnt in health care is that it is constantly evolving. The only constant is change. So the challenge is to be smart enough to understand that a facility developed today may well have another use tomorrow. The reality is that diseases and cures can overcome all your planning. Health care in northern Tasmania will improve with the current work at the Launceston General Hospital. But that is not the end, merely a start in creating a centre of excellence.

We have an obligation to continue to work and build on the effort of past leaders going right back to 1847 when Dr Pugh was the first doctor in the Southern Hemisphere to utilise ether to successfully anaesthetise a patient during surgery. In 1896 Dr Drake returned from England and brought with him a complete X-ray unit one year after they were first invented. He also brought back bacteriological equipment. Dr John Ramsey wrote a paper in 1898 called Intravenous injection of normal saline solution in severe case of typhoid with haemorrhage. In 1911 Dr Ramsey was the first man on earth to successfully transfer pancreatic tissue in an attempt to heal diabetes, 10 years before the discovery of insulin. In 1916 a patient of Dr Ramsey had a cardiac arrest during a surgical procedure. He performed open-heart massage and the patient recovered—the first in the world. In 1919 Tasmania was the first state to require women to undergo a course of training to register as a midwife. The first radium needles were purchased in 1927 for Dr Holman to treat cancer patients at the Launceston General Hospital. He and Dr Ramsey formed the radiotherapy unit for the hospital.

After experiencing the polio epidemic, breathing machines were common and Dr Keverall McIntyre, obstetrician and gynaecologist at the Launceston General Hospital, invented a neonatal respirator in 1944 to assist a child’s respiration and hence reduce the all-too-common cause of death—asphyxiation. In 1974, Dr Lees and Dr McIntyre conducted the first successful reattachment of an amputated hand in Australia at Launceston General. In 1977 Professor Einoder started arthroscopic surgery in Tasmania. He did the first arthroscopic procedures in a public hospital in Australia and was told by health bureaucrats, ‘It will never catch on.’ In the 1980s Dr Rob Fassett, renal specialist, was told no renal dialysis should be done outside Hobart, but he continued and created a first-rate renal service. In 1992, the Launceston General Hospital did the first endovascular procedure in Tasmania and in 1996 it started automatic afterloading, high-dose-rate brachytherapy.

Dr Clifford Craig arrived at the Launceston General Hospital on Anzac Day 1926. His recollection of the hospital at the time was as follows:

The outstanding impression of those early days was the hospital’s strong personality. There was obviously a longstanding tradition of excellent training. All members of staff, nurses, ward maids, porters, cooks, gardeners knew what work they had to do and did it well. The hospital discipline was excellent. Such a state of affairs could only have been reached after a long period of good management by people of great capabilities.

Those traditions continue at the Launceston General Hospital today and give us an outstanding foundation for our future as a centre of excellence in training, education, research and patient care.

I have been a member of the Australian Labor Party since the early 1970s. From an early age I was encouraged by my family, particularly by my grandfather, to discuss politics and take an interest in the political issues of the day. He used to say it is always capitalised profits and socialised debt, and the recent global financial crisis brought that home to me, with the Labor government guarantees and stimulus protecting our people. The decline in manufacturing in Australia and the government money poured in to support the debt of businesses certainly confirms my grandfather’s theory. He, along with former Deputy Prime Minister Lance Barnard, encouraged me to stand but that was not the right time for me in terms of my other commitments. Now is the right time for me to represent the people of Bass. I hope to be able to contribute to policy, particularly in the areas of health, education, sport and regional development.

To be elected to represent the people of Bass means that I now have to show my leadership for the benefit of them. To be a good leader requires initiative, creativity, inspiration and vision. The Labor government has a commitment to lifelong learning and I have a vision for the people of Bass: that Launceston should be the Oxford of Australia, an education centre of excellence. We must create a place to live where all levels of government communicate, where all levels of government are passionate about making Bass—indeed, Australia—a better place to live. I want to inspire people to be accountable and responsible for decisions that are made at all levels of government and link progress to advance that responsibility.

Our young people need to be encouraged to find their strengths, exercise their talents and realise their dreams. I believe that young people deserve a political voice and my vision is that all young Australians will be active citizens. I believe that we as a government need to provide more education for our youth about the business and purpose of government and I hope to make a difference in this area.

When I think about all of my ambitions for the people of Bass and all the requests that I have received and those that will be made to me, it is quite daunting. However, I will assemble a strong team behind me who are also committed to Bass and we will work together to deliver. The famous George Bernard Shaw said:

We are made wise not by our recollection of our past, but by our responsibility for our future.

I will take my responsibility as a member of the House of Representatives with honour, compassion, common sense and commitment.

I am proud to be part of a government that will provide answers on issues of real significance for our society: issues such as parliamentary reform, a more inclusive society, a stronger economy, regional development, environmental responsibility, health and education. I too have great faith in the enduring strength of our democratic institutions and I will represent the people of Bass with the commitment to make a difference. I feel very humble and full of anxious anticipation to be standing here today. I pledge my commitment to make a difference for the people of Bass, for the wonderful state of Tasmania, for this federal parliament and for all Australians. It gives me great pleasure to second the motion.


The SPEAKER —Order! Before I call Mr Wyatt, I remind honourable members that this is his first speech. I therefore ask that the usual courtesies be extended to him.