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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31771

Mr ZAHRA (11:38 AM) —If you are around long enough in political life, you will see and hear absolutely everything. To hear a representative of the apple and pear industry and of her electorate stand up in this place as a part of this government and say, `I'm against what my government is doing,' and somehow associate herself with the protesters who have been protesting against the government that she is a part of represents incredibly hypocrisy, incredible gall. What is the slogan of Sharman Stone going to be at the next federal election? `Vote for me. I'm a part of a government that wants to bring fire blight into Australia.' That should be Sharman Stone's election slogan at the next election: `Vote for me. I want to destroy the apple and pear industry in Australia.' What an amazing cheek to stand up in this place and try and present herself as being different from the government that she is a junior minister in and which has set in train this process that is bringing from New Zealand into Australia these apples and pears that are disease ridden and that are going to break the hearts of the people and break the apple and pear industry in Australia. What an amazing thing to hear. What an incredible thing for her to have said in this place.

But I want to speak about something positive today. I had not come in here to make that comment about Sharman Stone, the honourable member opposite; but I could not let that go without remarking on it. It is an incredible thing for her to have said—incredible hypocrisy. I want to talk about a gutsy little country town in my electorate called Trafalgar, where people are very self-reliant, hardworking and get things done for themselves. A few years back Trafalgar had, like a lot of country towns, the closure of a number of the bank branches. The National Australia Bank pulled out and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia pulled out, and it really was a big blow to the town when that happened. But people in the town are hardworking and they come together at times like this, and they have now successfully put in place a Community Bank branch of the Bendigo Bank.

I want to congratulate the town on that great achievement, and I want to congratulate some of the key people who have been the driving force behind this great local initiative. Frank Hernadi, a local stock and station agent, has been one of the key prime movers in all of this. Councillor Bill Harrington, a councillor from the district, a fine representative and a good man, has been working hard on this project as well, as has a local small businessman who runs the local community supermarket, Geoff Hasthorpe. Well done to all the people involved in making the Community Bank branch of the Bendigo Bank in Trafalgar a reality. It is a great achievement. There have been many other people involved, and I do not have time today to mention all of them, but they know who they are. They have really been a part of a great local initiative and a great local success story. We really applaud their efforts and I congratulate them on bringing the town together behind such an important initiative.

In relation to another matter, there has been a concerted community effort in the town of Mirboo North for some time to get a community based child-care centre in the township. There has been a lot of good work done by the steering committee over a considerable period of time, and they have been able to secure the use of the Uniting Church hall site in the town as a place for them to base their child-care centre. They have done a lot of good work, and they have had some support from the local South Gippsland Shire Council. In particular, they have been strongly supported by Councillor David Lewis, who is the councillor who covers Mirboo North. I want to congratulate them on their effort. They have approached the federal government for support for a capital grant to build the centre, and at this stage they have been told that the answer is no—that there is no money available from the federal government for this project. It is a good project and it is something which should be supported. They are asking for only a small amount of money for a capital grant. I think that where a community helps itself in the way that Mirboo North always does and where people come together in the way they have through the Mirboo North child-care project steering committee, the government should support it. I call on the Howard government today to not be mean and stingy in relation to this project but to back this important community initiative in Mirboo North.