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Thursday, 9 February 2017
Page: 590

Mr WALLACE (Fisher) (10:54): I am delighted to rise today to pay tribute to some great Australians who are also constituents in my local community. The federal seat of Fisher is proud to boast not only the Australian of the year, Emeritus Professor Alan Mackay-Sim, but also many of the wonderful recipients of this year's Sunshine Coast Australia Day awards. Professor Mackay-Sim is famous, as I hope every Australian now knows, for achieving a feat that was previously the preserve only of miracles, that of restoring mobility to a person whose spinal nerves have been completely cut.

Following his work, a firefighter, whose life had been almost destroyed by a savage knife attack, can walk and even ride a bicycle again. But Professor Mackay-Sim's work has gone much further: like all great Australians, he has created a great team to continue and build on what he has achieved. His research using olfactory stem cells is now being developed by colleagues in Queensland to advance our understanding of Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and motor neurone disease. As Australia transitions into the economy of the 21st century, we have a greater than ever need for innovative and creative thinking. Professor Mackay-Sim, the man who recognised how his work on the nose could help people with a traumatic spinal injury to walk again, is an inspirational leader in that area. I congratulate him on being made Australian of the Year.

In Fisher, though, we have a great many outstanding people. We cannot, of course, make all of them Australian of the Year, but in our community we give our own Australia Day awards to recognise their contributions. I am proud to be able to tell the chamber about just some of them. Our Citizen of the Year was Julie Penlington, who is the founder of Four Paws Animal Rescue, a local organisation that provides loving homes to rescued animals. Jak Hardy, a personal friend of mine, won our Young Citizen of the Year award for his extensive volunteer work in the community. While achieving great academic success, Jak has featured heavily on local volunteer boards and committees. He has even represented Australia at the Commonwealth Youth Peace Ambassadors Network.

In Fisher we are very concerned about the preservation of our beautiful natural environment, and I would like to acknowledge our environmental award winner. Rhondda Alexander has been a tireless servant of the community over the past 40 years. I would also like to acknowledge my very good friend Don Moffatt, who received his Order of Australia for his dedication to community rescue helicopter services and the horseracing community. These are just a few of our local award winners, a selection of the wonderful people we have volunteering in our community of Fisher every day.