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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3605

Mr COULTON (ParkesThe Nationals Chief Whip) (11:37): I would like to raise two issues in the debate this morning. Firstly, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the situation that the Life Skills organisation in Mudgee find themselves in. Life Skills is a day care and respite centre for disabled people in the Mudgee mid-western area. At the moment they are operating from a house in Mudgee. A couple of weeks ago the mayor of the mid-western council, Des Kennedy, along with the state member for Orange, Andrew Gee, and my neighbour Joel Fitzgibbon, the member for Hunter, visited the Life Skills organisation. They were absolutely appalled at the conditions that they were operating under.

Not only were the clients there working in very cramped and not very amenable conditions but the staff conditions were such that they were even using a portaloo in the backyard. In this day and age, caring for people with a disability in circumstances such as those is not acceptable. I will be working with my state colleague and, hopefully, with the assistance of the state minister Andrew Constance and the cooperation of the federal government, to try to reverse the situation that Life Skills Mudgee find themselves in. They have found another venue that they can move to—the ex-Harvey Norman premises in South Mudgee—which will be very suitable. I state now that I will be doing everything I can to make sure that they can make that move.

I would like to remind the House that this year marks 10 years since country legend Slim Dusty passed away. It was a move afoot to make 13 June as the official National Slim Dusty Day and I endorse that. Quite a few A-list celebrities, including Keith Urban, Nicole Kidman, Kasey Chambers, Lee Kernaghan, Shane Nicholson, Ray Hadley, Dick Smith, Beccy Cole and Adam Harvey are all behind this proposal. Indeed, Slim Dusty's wife, Joy McKean, also supports the idea.

This will be of great interest to the member opposite: on 13 June at the Rooty Hill RSL there will be a large concert to mark Slim's birthday and to start raising funds for the Slim Dusty museum at Kempsey. I raise the issue that Slim Dusty is an icon of legend in Australia, particularly for the people of the Parkes electorate. I represent one of the largest Aboriginal populations anywhere in Australia in this place. There is great affection in the Aboriginal community for Slim Dusty. Slim Dusty is one of the few top artists who took the time to travel to Aboriginal communities, to the regional areas, to deliver his brand of music to those people. I have been a Slim Dusty fan since I can remember. The very first record that our family owned when we bought a radiogram prior to TV—and that is dating me a little—was a Slim Dusty record. As my family know, I have requested that when I pass from this earth there is a particular Slim Dusty song that I want played at my funeral.

This might sound frivolous but it is not: Slim Dusty is by far the most prolific recording artist that this country has ever seen. I think he recorded something like 110 or so albums. He is without peer. More than anyone else, in his music he explained the psyche of the bush. He clearly understood what made people tick in Australia and his songs reflect that. Time prohibits me to go on to some of my favourite Slim Dusty songs, but I would encourage everyone to get behind the push to make 13 June national Slim Dusty Day and I would encourage my colleague opposite to attend the Rooty Hill RSL on 13 June to show his support for this wonderful cause.