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Wednesday, 5 March 2014
Page: 1789


Mr BUCHHOLZ (WrightGovernment Whip) (19:10): I take the opportunity to associate myself with the words of the previous speaker, the member for Flinders, in an accurate assessment that it is truly a privilege to stand in this place. I am humbled to be re-elected by my electorate to return to this place for a second term. What motivates me is the fact that if this was not my address-in-reply speech and it was a speech I was giving because I had lost my seat and I was coming back for a valedictory, would I be able to sleep at night knowing that I had given my all during my term? Would I be able to sleep at night knowing that I had helped as many people as I could during my term? I know that the effort that one goes through during the election cycle is a journey one does not take on one's own. You take the journey with your staff, with your family, with the mountain of volunteers who assist you to get back here so that you can stand in this chamber, debate issues that are relevant to your electorate and hopefully, just hopefully, influence the direction of the nation.

The electorate of Wright was named after a poet, Judith Wright. My electorate is approximately 7,500-8,000 square kilometres and borders at the top the Toowoomba range. It encompasses some of the most picturesque, beautiful landscape, ranging from horticulture to the Gold Coast hinterlands. It borders up to the New South Wales border, with reference to geography. We border up to Blair in the north and Forde, MacPherson and Moncrieff in the east. It is really a picturesque electorate and I am truly blessed to be able to be the electorate of Wright's representative. It is an extremely diverse electorate: vegetable growing, dairy, beef, tourism and new areas under housing, a developing area such as Yarrabilba, where there is expected to be no less than 50,000 people residing in that community over the coming years. That is an entire state electorate in its own right. In addition to Yarrabilba there are Flagstone and the Bromelton industrial park—all positive influences that are changing the dynamics daily within our electorate.

The return trip to the parliament for a second term is not made on your own. Yes, you may be the face on the billboard, but behind that campaign there is an enormous amount of work that gets done by extremely generous volunteers. I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge some of those in my FDC, my federal executive. The chairman, Rod Venz, is a dairy farmer, a man who is grounded in the electorate, a man who spent most of his professional career as a high school teacher and principal working in regional and remote parts of Queensland. The advice, the mentorship, the steady comments when he would pick the phone up and advise you helped to make me the man that I am, so I acknowledge Rod for his contribution. He and all volunteers give their time freely. Deputy chair Alan Fry is located strategically in the Lockyer Valley, so we have our executive come from different sectors of the FDC, so we get true representation. Alan's discipline and sense of community are outstanding. He is an Englishman, and before coming to Australia he was a high-ranking officer in Scotland Yard, where he sat below the Commissioner of Police and above ranked officers; I think he was either the second or third in charge of Scotland Yard. Those skills also were of enormous advantage—the discipline, the structure and the regimented way in which he assisted with the campaign.

Our secretary, Lynne Bell, from up on Tamborine Mountain—what a wonderful asset she was. You need a diligent set of hands on the books. To you, Lynne, and your husband: I appreciate your contribution as well. My trusty treasurer, Alice Warby, who is on my staff and is also the zone president of the women's association for our party in Queensland, has been a stalwart of the party for so many years. Thanklessly she goes about offering an enormous number of hours for the betterment of the party, and recently she was acknowledged for her contribution by the party when she was the recipient of a life membership. This is the calibre of personnel that I have working collectively with me. I am so blessed and I am humbled.

Once we get past our executive, we have a number of branches throughout our electorate, and I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the Beaudesert SEC executive chairman, Glenn Abbott, and his commitment. Glenn is one of the area's predominant horticultural farmers, growing a range of products including beetroots, carrots and onions, but always found time in the middle of planting to get to our meetings and to lead his community. The hardworking branches in Wright include the Fassifern branch, the Lockyer branch, the Tamborine branch, the Christmas Creek-Rathdowney branch, the Beaudesert branch, the Jimboomba-Woodhill branch and, of course, the Beaudesert women's. I acknowledge all of their support.

In addition, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the regional chairs. My area is so diverse that it falls over two regions. I thank James Kennett from the Gold Coast for his contribution and the way that he went about diligently working through the campaign. To the west is a wonderful man by the name of Pat Weir. Pat, I take this opportunity to acknowledge your recent preselection for the state seat of Condamine, which you will contest at the next Queensland state election. I acknowledge what you do and the area that you represent, and I know that there are many people in my electorate that join with me in congratulating you on the fantastic result that you achieved recently at that preselection.

I would like to thank my campaign team, led by none other than Greg Birkbeck, a personal friend of mine. It is as if you cannot work on my staff unless we all share the same birthday. Greg and I share the same birthday, 27 March. I am sure that I would not be here without his support and leadership. I acknowledge the many hundreds of booth workers that come to help out on the day, particularly those who come before the euphoria of the election, when people are able to get enthused—those true diehards who come out and stand at pre-polling centres for the weeks beforehand and those who scrutineer late on polling day. I acknowledge their commitment and all of those who assisted me to be here.

I would like to thank my staff, who like to refer to themselves as Team Buchholz. I am truly blessed. We sometimes see the staff of members in this House acting like a carousel, as staff rotation can be quite high. I wear as a badge of honour the fact that I have taken the same team as when I first entered this place through to today. Those people are Greg Birkbeck, Alice Warby, Ruth Doyle, Hannah Robinson and Jo Dempsey. It is a team effort. As I said earlier, my face is on the billboard but it is the team effort, along with the efforts of those aforementioned, that really owns the right to be able to say that we have an LNP member representing the seat of Wright.

The families of all members in this place make an enormous sacrifice, because it is our families that sacrifice the time that they would normally spend with us so that we can spend it with our communities. I take this opportunity to acknowledge my beautiful wife, Lynn, and my daughter, Grace, who only this week started her first year of university, where she will be studying environmental science in Toowoomba. She will go great guns, because she has her mum's looks and her dad's—well, not much! She is all mum! Mum is a cracker of a—she is all mum! Any skills that my daughter picks up are as a result of my beautiful wife.

Mr Hunt: That was some fast footwork!

Mr BUCHHOLZ: Yes. Big thanks go to the LNP state president, Bruce McIver, who is an absolute standout. Bruce is a personal friend of mine. Thank you for what you do in shaping our organisation and the discipline that you bring to the job. You are truly an inspirational leader. I am sure there will be a resolution put at the next state conference to double your salary next year! To Brad Henderson, our state executive director: thank you for the leadership that you showed during our campaign. From a federal perspective, without Brian Loughnane and the overall macrocampaign I do not think we would have secured the numbers we did on this side of the House.

I have to get out of the habit of calling Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, 'brother' or 'mate'. It is a humbling experience to be able to refer to him now as 'Prime Minister'. His discipline through the campaign was exemplary, and I was honoured when he rang me to ask me to take on the position of Government Whip. That phone call was one that I was not expecting, and the progression path for a relatively new member was evidence that I was not expecting it. But I do appreciate the opportunity that he has given me, and my commitment is that I will act with due diligence and offer as much as I can to make sure I fulfil the duties of the whip.

But, moving closer to the reply speech in trying to find issues and what you achieve for your electorate, I will recap on some of the heartache that we had to endure during the first three years. I was only four months into the job, and Lockyer Valley, on the western side of my electorate, was hit with a devastating flood, an unprecedented amount of water that went through in such a short amount of time. The devastating impacts that it had on that electorate, those scars, will be seen and felt in the electorate for many decades to come. It was a one-in-150-year flood. We lost an enormous number of lives in that period.

I recall, as a new member, not really knowing where my parameters as a member were. I am sure that sometimes I approved stuff well outside my pay grade under the auspices that if I did not do it nobody else would, and as a result our community hastily started its rebuilding phase. We had an enormous number of insurance issues to deal with after the floods. In the relationships that I built with insurance companies, there were insurance companies that were excellent to deal with. There were insurance companies that, through the rest of my life, I will have an opinion on, which I have shared in this House before. From my light, the best form of marketing for an insurance company is to pay the client out. For those that decided to sneak out the back door because of fine print: you do not have any respect from me.

Can I acknowledge in my community those enormous contributions made by our service organisations, which I am so proud to be associated with either indirectly or directly. They are the people from our Rotary clubs, our Lions clubs and our Red Cross. In regional Australia and regional Queensland, they are so instrumental in our communities. They are the blood of our community service. When you find communities that have those strong organisations, you will often find vibrant communities, and you will find that we do not leave our weak behind; we take them with us.

On my RSL clubs: we did an overview of how many RSL clubs we have in our electorate and how long it would take me to attend every dawn service in my electorate. For me to attend every dawn service in my electorate, I would need to be returned to this parliament eight consecutive times, and it would only be after the 26th year of consecutive service in this House that I could then return to the place where I attended my first dawn service.

We have an enormous number of schools. I know they are under state auspices, but I do work closely with my schools because I believe that the job of a federal member is to encourage and lead the next generation coming through. In our school leaders program, where we offer certificates for both our senior leaders and our junior leaders, it is encouraging to see the next wave of talent coming through the electorate.

An ongoing issue for us in the electorate is without a doubt the plight of our dairy farmers and the pain which they endure with reference to the retailers' price-down structure for a dollar for milk. The cost-of-production price in the electorate is just over 50c. A recent survey was conducted by the Queensland dairy organisation, and it was found that just on 80 per cent of our dairy farmers, when they received their monthly milk cheque, could not pay their expenses for the month. The long-term future financial viability of this industry is truly in question.

As a member of parliament I gave solemn commitments that I would fight for a better price at the farm gate. I have given speeches this week in this parliament doing exactly that. I have met with ministers with reference to mandatory codes of conduct. I speak, if not on a daily basis, on a weekly basis with the Queensland dairy organisation, and most definitely on a daily basis to different dairy organisations. I will continue to fight not only for our dairy sector but for our horticultural sector, for our beef industry and for anyone that is suffering, for a better price for their product at the farm gate.

Can I acknowledge the contributions of our chambers of commerce through the electorate and what they do with reference to working collectively with the business groups to enhance profitability.

Additionally, I acknowledge the chaplaincies in our schools and our church leaders. The church leaders in our community are so important because they are the moral compass for our community. Without faith—you do not necessarily have to attend church, but it is the moral compass of a community which assists in where its trajectory is. Recently, St Mary's in Beaudesert had a horrific fire where they lost their administration building. I know that as a community they will rally once again and they will rebuild. It will be an arduous task, but they will rebuild. My thoughts and prayers go to that community.

I would like to acknowledge my local mayors. I have four shires that are encompassed. The mayors are Steve Jones, from the Lockyer Valley Regional Council, who was in the House this morning; Mayor John Brent, from the Scenic Rim Regional Council, who was also in the House today and who also plays a role with AUSVEG; Mayor Tom Tate, of the Gold Coast, where my electorate takes in parts of Mudgeeraba; and Pam Parker, from Logan City Council, who was down here last week. The relationship I have with my mayors is outstanding. They are wonderful people. If we are truly going to make a difference in these communities, we need to understand what the priorities are for a local government and help them help themselves through infrastructure, funding or planning. It is our responsibility as federal members to make sure that we deliver on those commitments.

I would like to also share with the parliament the impact that the carbon tax is having on businesses throughout my electorate. Not one of my business houses has been able to escape the clutches of the carbon tax. We will continue in this House to fight on a daily basis to have that ridiculous piece of legislation repealed so that that financial burden can be lifted off their energy prices. And basically everything they touch has hidden in it somewhere a secret carbon tax component.

I would like to thank the many ministers, too many to mention, who have taken the time to travel to my beautiful electorate.

I would also like to thank our media. We have 13 media outlets throughout my electorate. Some are friendly; some are not so friendly, but they are all honest. To each of our media outlets in the electorate: thank you for the way that you have worked and cooperated with me. In times of hardship, you have been there. When you have thought I have got a little bit too big for my boots, you have snapped me back into gear. The fourth estate is a valuable part of our community, and we should never forget you.

I gave a commitment when I was first elected that I would stand up and represent the voice of the silent majority. Unfortunately, the voice of the silent majority is becoming greater and greater. I have always advocated that the electorate of Wright is the weathervane for our nation. I thank you for the House's indulgence.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): Order! I imagine the member has concluded his remarks. If he has not he will have leave to continue his remarks when the debate is resumed.

Debate interrupted.