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Wednesday, 12 February 2014
Page: 197

Mr MARLES (Corio) (12:51): It is my pleasure today to rise to give my address-in-reply to the Governor-General's speech to this place. In commencing my address-in-reply I would like to acknowledge the presence in the chamber today of the member for Corangamite. I was looking at my address-in-reply from three years ago, and it happens that the member for Corangamite then, also by coincidence, was in the chamber. The electorates of Corio and Corangamite are inextricably linked; they are the two federal electorates that represent the great city of Geelong in this parliament. Of course, the circumstances are very different now to those in which I made this speech three years ago, in terms of both the side of the House from which I am making the speech and the political representation of the member for Corangamite. I congratulate her on her election to this place. We have many differences, as you would expect given the parties we represent—and we argue those differences vigorously—but we share a passion for Geelong. We work together on matters relating to Geelong, and I look forward to working with the member for Corangamite over the course of this term of government.

We live in a time when Geelong faces many challenges. We are a manufacturing city, a car city, and over the last few months we have had very difficult news in relation to both the car industry and the manufacturing industry. It is very much my view that a country makes a conscious choice on whether it has a car industry or a manufacturing industry. It concerns me that the Abbott government clearly has made a choice not to support a manufacturing or a car industry, and I will come back to this point.

The principal basis upon which we make an address-in-reply is to thank the many people who supported our election to this place and the many people who support our ongoing participation in the federal parliament. I begin by thanking the Labor state MPs in Geelong as I work very closely with them: John Eren, the member for Lara; Ian Trezise, the member for Geelong; Lisa Neville, the member for Bellarine; and Gayle Tierney, the member for Western Province. I have worked very closely with them all in representing the interests of Geelong at every level of government, including the state level.

An enormous number of volunteers helped in my election, and an enormous number of volunteers give their time to support all of us in being elected to this place. Being elected to this parliament is a big thing, and if I have learnt one thing in my time here it is that my being here is the result of the work of an enormous number of people. It is not just about me—far from it. These people deserve recognition and I will put their names into the Hansard to thank them from the bottom of my heart for all their work and time. I thank Andrew Alexander, Desiree Balaburova, Tony Beck, John Bugge, Gorge Camorra, Chris Couzens, Ray Craske, Jim Cuthill, Paul Dabkowski, Oliver Dojcinovski and Soner Ekerbicer. I thank Sumeyra Eren, Ekrem Eren, Enes Eren—all the children of John Eren and they have been very strong supporters. I thank Damian Gorman, Ferg Hamilton, Emma Henderson, Stephen Hogg, Jeannette Johanson, Wendy Jones, Christine and Chris Kelly, Brian Kent, Jim Kontogeorgis, Richard Lewandowski, Zoli Luczo, Kate Maybin, Craig Meddings, Glenn and Russell Menzies, Justin Mills, Rita Monkivitch, Slavco Pantelic, Kathleen Pender, Adam Peterwood, Matt Podvinsek, Brett Robb, Michael Tate, Craig Taylor, Nandi Youny, Pinar Zegin and the Bosnali family, Senol and Semiha.

I thank Gail Cook, Colleen Gibbs, Cameron Granger—a longtime friend and supporter—and Joanne and Ashleigh Law. Joanne gives a lot of time to my family, and I really appreciated her support on election day. I thank Sam Lowrey and Wayne Mader—the Victorian branch secretary of the Transport Workers Union, the union at which I first worked. It was a real pleasure to have Wayne assisting on the day. I thank Joe Pavlovic, Jill Petersen, Vlad Selakovic and Leonie Sheedy. Vlad and Leonie are Forgotten Australians who were raised in institutions. They were instrumental in getting the apology to Forgotten Australians a number of years ago. I appreciate their support. I thank Roger Lowrey, a stalwart in supporting me over the years. I thank Sabrina Lewicki and Simeon Flanagan, friends of my son Sam, who did a great job to get them involved. I thank Nancy Saunderson and Lou Brazier, a great supporter. I thank Mark Donohue, a former staff member and very important supporter. I thank Darren and Natasha Lamont and Kelly Toyne. This is a large list, but not the entire list. Mentioning their support for what I do in this place is the very least I can do to thank them for all their time, energy, advice and counsel. This collection of people keeps me very grounded in the community I represent.

Many people have worked for me over the course of the last three years, both in my electorate office in Geelong and in portfolio work as the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and then the Minister for Trade. Without our staff nothing happens. They put in endless hours and get precious little thanks as they do not earn huge salaries. They work out of a commitment not just to supporting me but to serving the country and pursuing their beliefs. They deserve acknowledgement. I thank Sophie Andrew, Merric Foley, Hayley Bamford and Damian Hickey. I thank Saverina Chirumbolo, who has worked with me since 2000 when I was at the ACTU. I am not sure what I did in a past life to deserve Sav, but I am very glad that Sav is in this life, because without her I would not be able to do this job. I thank Zac Power, Geraldine Eren, Grant Dew, Vanessa Mantella, Rachael Wakeley and Jo Woodbury, who was my chief of staff as the Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs. I thank Pauline Braniff, Bassel Tallal, Haykel Handal, Ella George, Kylie Nicholson, Mark Mulligan, Berna Doksatli, Chris Balaam, Karyn Murray, Maxine Parisotto and Virginia Greville, who was my chief of staff when I was Minister for Trade. I thank Trish Rowley, Ruimin Gao and Glenda Price. I thank all of them for their great effort, which is deeply appreciated and not taken for granted in the slightest.

One of the nice things about running for public office is to have old friends involved who stand by you—in my case, people whom I went to school with in Geelong. I feel nervous about admitting this 30 years later, but that is the number. In fact, it is the 30th anniversary this year of my leaving school, a fact that I am struggling with and quite significantly resent! It is wonderful that those people were able to support me on election day. To Clare Lawrence and Ninian Lewis and William Reeves, and Peter and Gitte Little and Darren and Jo Fox, who were not able to be there on the day but have been long-time friends of mine, I very much thank them for the personal friendship and support they have given me over the years. Having known each other from childhood, we are genuinely the witnesses of each other's lives and I cannot think of a better group of people to witness mine, and I hope I honour them in witnessing theirs.

To my extended family. My parents Faye and Don Marles were there on the day, which was great. I thank my sisters Liz Marles, Vic Marles and Jenny Green for being there. I thank my brother-in-law Geoff Westcott and my nephew Alex Marles for the effort they made. I thank all my family and extended family who have contributed so much to my life over the years. It was a wonderful thing that they were able to help me on the day. I also acknowledge my nieces and my nephew Katie and Angus Quail and Evie Green, who live in Sydney and were unable to be there on the day. They too give me enormous support.

There is of course my own direct family: my wife Rachel Schutze and my children Sam, Bella, Harvey and Georgia—all of whom were conscripted to help in my campaign commensurate with their age and ability. I thank them for being with me. In relation to Rachel, it would be impossible to do this job without her support, particularly over the last three years. Being involved in a foreign affairs portfolio, particularly in the lead-up to Australia's successful campaign to be elected to the UN Security Council, involved an enormous amount of travel in addition to being here in this parliament. She was really heroic in the role she performed not only in pursuing her own career, which she does very professionally, but also in keeping our household and our lives together. I am deeply indebted to Rachel for that.

I would also like to mention four other people who have been real supporters and advisers to me on the work I do in Geelong: Peter Dorling, Andrew Balaam, Frank Costa and Brian Cook. The member for Corangamite knows all those people. I am sure they give the member for Corangamite sage advice as well. They have been the elders of our community—in experience if not necessarily in age. If any of them are listening, you are very young people! They provide us with a lot of guidance and our city has been incredibly well served over many years now by virtue of those people contributing to the civic leadership of Geelong. We hear a lot about the football club which is deeply important to Geelong and a lot of us here. You cannot be involved in Geelong without being involved in the football club. Brian Cook is the CEO of the club and Frank is a former president of the club. The success of the club has been emblematic of the development of Geelong and each of those individuals has been a really important part. If you wind back the clock, say, 15 years, we were known as sleepy hollow. No-one uses that term about Geelong today. I think the football club has had a bit to do with that. The contribution that those four people, and indeed a lot of others, have made to Geelong has gone a long way to changing the nature of Geelong and the positive way in which Geelong is seen. I thank all of them.

Those are my thank-yous. There are many more people whom I also could have mentioned, but in mentioning that list please see it as representative of the enormous number of people who have given me support and provided help in what I do, and I am deeply thankful to all of them.

The election campaign in Geelong involved a number of issues. On some specific issues: I was pleased that Labor was able to commit to the beginning of work to build a hospital in the northern suburbs of Geelong. I am glad that we were able to commit to providing initial funding to begin the process of stage 4 of the redevelopment of Kardinia Park, Simonds Stadium. I was pleased that we were able to commit to the building of bike paths because unfortunately Geelong has a sad recent history of bike rider fatalities and injuries. We are not a particularly bike friendly city and we need to be more so. I was also pleased to be able to commit to funding towards the redevelopment of the Leopold Sportsmans Club. None of those commitments will see the light of day. It is of deep concern to me that the Liberal Party in its candidacy in Geelong made no promises to the people of Geelong. Two of those projects will not come to fruition even though money had been allocated in last year's budget. The Liberal Party came to the seat of Corio and promised to take federal government interaction away from the seat. That concerns me.

Putting aside the specific projects, at the time of the election in Geelong I felt that it was a choice about the future of manufacturing in Australia. As a manufacturing city that necessarily means it was a choice about the future of manufacturing in Geelong. Labor went to the last election with a billion-dollar different proposition in relation to the car industry than the coalition.

We promised to increase funding to the car industry by $500 million; the coalition went to the election seeking to decrease funding from the status quo by $500 million, a difference of $1 billion in the two propositions that were put to the people of Corio at the election. I had no doubt at the time when I said that would make the difference between whether or not we have a car industry in this country. I also made the point that the making of automotive vehicles is the highest technical manufacturing that we do in Australia, that if we took the car industry out of Australian manufacturing we dealt manufacturing an enormous blow and that that would affect other forms of manufacturing not only in Geelong but also around Australia. I did not expect that within six months of the election we would have seen both Holden and Toyota make announcements that they would be ceasing the manufacture of cars in Australia. I did not expect that we would see at the end of last year the Treasurer of this country effectively goad one of those companies to leave the country, making the continued operation of the other impossible, but that is what we have seen.

The darkest prediction of what was at stake in the election has come to pass and we now have a government which is making a conscious decision not to have a car industry in this country. I want to make the point that in countries around the world which have a car industry it is always a public-private partnership—it is in Germany, it is in Britain, it is in Japan and it is in the US. Indeed, the amount of subsidy being provided to the car industry under the then Labor government and under the Howard government was less than the subsidy you would find in the countries I have just mentioned. The idea that you cannot make automotive vehicles, the idea that you cannot engage in manufacturing in a First World economy is absolutely wrong. Advanced manufacturing, of which making cars is the single best example of our highest technical manufacturing in Australia, is emblematic of what it is to be an advanced economy. The fact of the matter is that, with the car industry now leaving Australia, we are skilling down in our manufacturing. That is a really big concern when I stand in this place representing a car town and a manufacturing town.

What we saw under the Labor government was a willingness to support manufacturing and an attitude where we sought to keep the car industry here. What we did not do with Ford and what we saw the government do with Holden was to goad the company out of the country. That is the huge difference. A billion dollar difference in the proposition that we took to the last election is the difference between whether or not we have a car industry in this country.

We stand here today awaiting a very difficult decision by Alcoa about its future. One thousand people are employed at Point Henry in my electorate. There is a huge difference today between Labor and the coalition when it comes to manufacturing. It is a difference that needs to be debated and articulated at a human level.

Whatever decisions are made by virtue of whatever policy, it is important that everyone in a community that is affected comes together to help and I very much know that the member for Corangamite and I will do that. I know that the Mayor of Geelong, Darryn Lyons, is doing a great job selling an optimistic view of Geelong at a very difficult time and I take my hat off to him for everything he is doing. He will be in this place tomorrow to support manufacturing in our city.