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Tuesday, 19 June 2012
Page: 7084


Mr BILLSON (Dunkley) (22:00): A little over an hour ago a seismic event of 5.2 occurred some 160 kilometres south-east of Melbourne near the Moe community—a significant tremor lasting about 20 seconds and recorded at 10 kilometres below the earth's surface. I know it has been felt in Gippsland, in your community, Madam Deputy Speaker Anna Burke, and in mine, and all the way around to the western suburbs of Melbourne. There have been no reports of injury or damage at this stage but there are plenty of people with shaken nerves wondering what was going on. For the community I represent, with the Selwyn Fault running through South Frankston and part of the geological formation of Olivers Hill, it was certainly of particular interest. Our thoughts are with all those responding to anxious calls in the hope that there is no injury or substantial damage. Our thoughts are with our fellow citizens of Victoria.

It reminded me of the flood events in Victoria. The response which the Commonwealth government provided was quite commendable. It saw a number of Centrelink staff redeployed from around various offices. At that time the Frankston Centrelink office, one of the busiest in the country, had to forgo its pensions, carers and age services on the ground floor of the building with which I am a co-tenant, along with others. We were told that was a temporary measure but it has never come back. The age pension, carer and disability community relied heavily on that more convenient mode of access in that discreet designated area where the Centrelink staff was most attuned to their needs and able to respond to queries of variations in income and the like, and these, which could have been routinely provided in a simple way, have now been bundled in with Centrelink's heavy workload upstairs at the Davey Street Centrelink centre. I would like to see that service returned. I have inquired repeatedly about when it is likely to return but it is looking less temporary as the days go by. I know that the electorate that I represent and the clients that very much valued the team on the ground floor at Davey Street are very keen to see it returned, as am I. I hope I get some answers shortly about the fate of that service.

I also rise to take the opportunity to wish those Paralympians who are heading off to the London games all the very best. I would like to be able to say that all of the Paralympians know who they are, but many teams have not been selected yet and that is causing great distress for the families and those wishing to support their loved ones in what for many is the pinnacle of their success in dealing with the life challenges that disability has presented them with. I know, for instance, that the swimming team participated in the 2012 swimming trials. The Olympic and Paralympic event was held in Adelaide between 15 and 22 March, and by all accounts it was a fabulous occasion. Over 750 swimmers participated and more than 80 swimmers were those with a disability. There was a fitting tribute at the end of that meet where the Olympic team was announced and paraded before the crowd that had assembled but, sadly, the Paralympian team was not afforded that same accommodation. That was emotionally difficult for the Paralympians; they were thrilled to be able to participate in a joint trial but then discouraged from full involvement at the end of that meet when those on the Olympic team were afforded a great deal of attention. The Paralympians just wished that the equality of treatment they had received throughout the meet had extended to the selection of the team.

The team still has not been selected. The games are some four weeks away. They will be in a position of a short window of time in which to make their arrangements and for parents to secure tickets through an authorised ticketing agency which, for the Australian Paralympic team, involves a bundled package of accommodation as well. It seems a shame that the arrangements for an orderly preparation for such a sporting event is quite different for the Olympic and Paralympic teams.

I note that in that qualification meet there were quite a number of records achieved, and I want to put them on the record. They were from Matthew Cowdrey for the 50-metre freestyle, Timothy Antalfy for the 100-metre freestyle, Brenden Hall for the 400-metre freestyle, Timothy Antalfy again for the 50-metre backstroke, Blake Cochrane in both the 50-metre and 100-metre breaststrokes, Timothy Antalfy again for the 50-metre and 100-metre butterflies, Jacqueline Freney for the 100-metre women's freestyle and Prue Watt for the 50-metre backstroke. They deserve greater consideration. All of those events where world championship records were broken were undertaken before the broadcast time had commenced. I would like to think the preparations for the broadcasters for the Olympics and Paralympics have a greater balance of coverage.