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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14734

Ms HENDERSON (Corangamite) (16:25): It is my great pleasure to speak on this MPI on the issue of integrity. I reflect on the comments just made by the member for Scullin that politics can be meaningful and that this sort of debate is repelling our constituents. Politics can be meaningful. So what a great disappointment it is, on the very last sitting day before Christmas, that we are seeing the sort of muckraking and debate from Labor that we have seen not just for the last couple of days but for the last couple of weeks. Day after day, we have seen the same thing. It is like groundhog day—and this is how the day began, with motions to try and disrupt the ordinary course of parliamentary business. At a time when this government is doing so much to help Australians, what a shame it is that we are not debating some of the really important issues, as the member for Hughes and the member for Hindmarsh argued so well.

It is International Day of People with Disability. We have joined together in unison as a parliament, with a great deal of bipartisanship, to roll out the National Disability Insurance Scheme. We have the National Disability Insurance Agency—in my great city of Geelong, in the great electorate of Corangamite. We have done that together, ostensibly. What a shame that we could not talk about some of those big issues.

In the wake of White Ribbon Day, we know we cannot talk about family and domestic violence just for one day. We cannot talk about things that need to change in our society just for one day; we need to keep those debates going. The last time I spoke on that issue—groundhog day again; it was during an MPI about integrity—I implored the Leader of the Opposition, 'Please, could we have a really constructive debate about family violence,' because it is through debate that we can bring new ideas to this parliament and canvass the various issues raised by our constituents.

Ice is a scourge that is destroying so many families in my communities and in communities across Australia. That is another very important issue. The National Ice Taskforce is doing an extraordinary job, led by former Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police Ken Lay, along with the Assistant Minister for Health, Senator Fiona Nash, with the enormous support of the Prime Minister.

Australians do respect the fact that we contest ideas and that we do not always agree in this parliament. But, please, at this time before Christmas, we do need to talk about the issues that really matter to Australians: national security, jobs growth, innovation, the transformation that we are seeing in our economy and the way in which our government is leading that transformation.

The health minister, Sussan Ley, made an announcement just a few days ago in relation to mental health. Mental health issues affect one in four to one in five people in Australia at some point in their lives. Why can't we speak about that?

I think it is really important to make the point that, in so much of what happens in this parliament, there is an enormous amount of good spirit, goodwill and bipartisanship. This morning I joined my colleague the member for Kingsford Smith, a Labor member representing the southern part of Sydney along the coast, at an event hosted by Surf Life Saving Australia. We are co-chairs of Parliamentary Friends of Surf Lifesaving. We were talking about important issues in the lead-up to summer—staying safe on our beaches, swimming between the flags and the importance of learning how to swim to make sure that we do not see drownings this summer. So much good happens in this parliament, and I am just saying to all Australians who are listening, who are watching this debate or who will be reading the Hansard, please do not lose sight of the good things that members of parliament are doing together.

On this final day of sitting before Christmas, I wish we had had a better spirit of goodwill in the debate that was brought before the parliament. I want to reflect on one other issue that has been debated. If we are going to talk about integrity, I implore members opposite: please debate with integrity. Do not run a debate about tax reform and make false allegations about a GST increase when it is actually untrue. It does the parliament no credit whatsoever. I wish everyone a happy Christmas, I want us to reflect on the good work we are doing together, and I wish happy Christmas to you, Mr Deputy Speaker Vasta.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Vasta ): The discussion is now concluded.