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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31744

Mr BYRNE (9:52 AM) —I rise briefly to discuss an article that was published in the Dandenong Journal. Its title is `Big Honours Pool but No Proposers'. This related to the Order of Australia awards that were in the 2004 Queen's Birthday honours list. Of concern to this particular journalist, Marge Stork, who is an excellent journalist from the Dandenong Journal—a fine paper with a large circulation in the south-eastern suburbs of Melbourne—was the fact that only one local individual received an Order of Australia award.

Mr Danby —How many?

Mr BYRNE —Just one. Given the population base in this catchment area, where the City of Greater Dandenong has a population of 130,000 people and the City of Casey has a population of 210,000 people, the fact that only one person received an Order of Australia award is quite concerning. It is concerning because of the nomination process. Obviously there were not a lot of nominations in this region, and I have undertaken on behalf of the community in this region to advertise this particular award more fully so that more good honest battlers can apply for it.

One thing I need to alert the Order of Australia Council about is that, when you have good, decent people who nominate and nominate frequently, please make sure that they are actually granted the award. I give the example of Murray McGregor as a good community person, a person who has given 55 years of service to the community. He is a good community battler who does represent the region incredibly well and very effectively. When we have someone like Murray, who has given 55 years community service, has been a bail justice for 10 years, has served in the CFA and has served in St Johns Ambulance with aplomb and distinction, and particularly in his capacity as bail justice has been dragged out at 2, 3 and 4 o'clock in the morning, appropriate recognition should be given to someone like Murray. So I would encourage the Order of Australia committee, when we get a few more nominations, which we will do next year, to use fair criteria to determine who should be eligible for this award. I would like to see people like Carlos Lyola, the coach of the Australian soccer team for kids with intellectual disabilities, Carol Drummond, a director of the Dandenong Community Advisory Bureau, and Lindsay King, who is a fantastic promoter of tourism in the Cranbourne region, given the opportunity to be appropriately recognised.

I say this to the House and to the community: I am establishing, in light of the fantastic contributions made by the people just mentioned and thousands of others in the region, my own community spirit award. If they do not get the recognition by the Order of Australia Council, I want to make sure they are recognised by me and by the community for their incredible achievements and their substantial contributions to the communities that keep our community ticking over.