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Tuesday, 19 February 2019
Page: 14019


Mr PASIN (Barker) (18:40): As this, the 45th Parliament, draws to an end, I thought I'd take this opportunity to update the House and, in particular, my constituency on some of the projects I am seeking to deliver. The Barossa Village is a not-for-profit community owned organisation which provides aged-care services to those within the Barossa Valley aged over 55 years. They are the only provider within the growing region that offers a complete package of services—from independent living, home support and home care services through to residential care services. In 2008 they were named the National Retirement Living Organisation of the Year and in 2013 they were inducted into the Brand SA Hall of Fame. Barossa Village is also part of the SA Innovation Hub, a small group of providers selected to work with the federal minister and government agencies to develop innovative ways of delivering aged-care services into the future. In 2017, they built a new allied health centre. They now have plans for a hydrotherapy pool as their latest addition to that facility. This would offer a range of benefits to the community, including pain management, rehabilitation and physiotherapy focusing on the elderly and those with disabilities. I want to make it plain: this would be a state-of-the-art, purpose-built hydrotherapy pool located in the Barossa Valley and I'm doing everything within my power to ensure that is delivered as part of this the 45th Parliament.

The Coonawarra would be known to many in this place for its great wine, but it is also a great community. If you ever find yourself in the Coonawarra on the last Friday of the month, it is tea night at the Coonawarra Hall. Bring a salad, share a steak, schnitzel or fish. Corkage is $5, or you can ask your friendly local volunteers behind the bar for a local drop; you might well be speaking to one of the world's premier winemakers. I checked on the internet, and the flyer says: 'Have a yarn with the everyday grassroots people of this fine region. Mix and mingle with the winegrowers, the winemakers, the cellar door staff, the viticulturists, the farmers, the store owners, the teachers and their families and so many more.' It is as authentic as it gets.

These community teas take place in the Coonawarra Hall. The hall was opened on 1 November 1922—and I'm sure they won't mind me saying it looks like it! It is nearly 100 years old and it is in need of an upgrade. The whole community has been working to raise funds for the much-needed upgrade, as well as applying for grants from government and other places. They have made an application to the Building Better Regions Fund and I for one am making sure that their application is considered seriously by those in a position to deliver that outcome for this exceptional community, a community which, as I said, is known for its wine but is also a fantastic and vibrant community.

Murray Bridge is one of the largest centres in my electorate of Barker and it is known as a regional city. Murray Bridge centres around the mighty Murray River, a river which is quite familiar to those in place—and there is certainly a lot spoken about it. It is important because of the vibrancy it delivers to river communities in particular—in this case, the community of Murray Bridge. The river is quite simply the lifeblood of so many communities and towns in my electorate of Barker, and Murray Bridge is no exception. The township of Murray Bridge, originally called Mobilong and later Edward's Crossing, was established when a road bridge over the Murray River was completed in 1879. It was followed in 1886 by the Adelaide-Melbourne railway line, which ensured the city's importance as a vital link across the river. It is a beautiful part of the river, but over the past century and a half the town has grown. Shopping centres have been built and the river bank has not been developed to the community's benefit.

Sturt Reserve is a wonderful open area for community members to enjoy. Indeed, it is the home of the Murray Bridge Rowing Club, the Murray Bridge Community Club, the Murray Bridge Lawn Tennis Club and the popular Riverscape Cafe. To put it bluntly, this area is in need of an upgrade to realise the full social and economic potential of this iconic part of Murray Bridge. I recently met with the Mayor and the CEO of the Rural City of Murray Bridge, and I am incredibly keen to work with them to see the riverfront at Sturt Reserve upgraded to become the vibrant community hub it can be, where locals and visitors can enjoy the iconic River Murray in the way that they should.

Mr Deputy Speaker Llew O'Brien, I, like you, spend a lot of time listening to constituents and, overwhelmingly, the same topics come up again and again and again. One of those topics for those of us who represent rural, regional and remote Australians is the need for better mobile telecommunications—or, more to the point, the need to avoid mobile black spots. Our Mobile Black Spot Program has delivered 867 new mobile phone towers and coverage to almost 32,000 Australians and their businesses. My father—and I have spoken about him in this context before—is a 70-something-year-old farmer who acts like a 20-something-year-old farmer. We are incredibly worried, as many people living in rural and remote Australia are, when farmers are working in remote locations and they don't have mobile phone connectivity. Mr Deputy Speaker, I, like you, understand that our mobile phones are effectively our first piece of safety kit.

The fourth round of the Mobile Phone Black Spot Program is currently under consideration, and I have been working, as I am sure other members in this place have been, to ensure my projects are given the best prospect of success. That is all very well and good, but I am here to say that what we need in addition to round 4, where priority sites will be identified shortly, is a rolling program—a commitment to a long-term funding package, which ensures that mobile phone programs and the subsidy for their rollout is provided for over many years going forward. Personally, I think if we commit to that and provide certainty for the telecommunications companies and certainty for communities then we will be much better for that.

In addition to the other work that I have been doing in this place, I have been running a campaign to deliver an MRI licence to the Riverland in my electorate of Barker. For those who don't know, the Riverland is situated, obviously, on the River Murray, but, importantly, it is some 250 kilometres from Adelaide and nearly 200 kilometres from Mildura. Why do I say those places are important? Well, those are the closest places where constituents in my community who are living in the Riverland can access an MRI scan. This scan is now a commonplace diagnostic tool. It is adopted almost all the time by healthcare professionals in the treatment of very many conditions. To ask individuals to travel, in some cases 500 kilometres, to undergo an MRI scan is unacceptable in 2019. This is why I have run a campaign to convince the federal health minister of the need for an MRI licence in the Riverland. I am grateful to the minister for making a number of licences available. We are clearly, as a community, putting up our hand for one of them. I am grateful to the three mayors within the community, the community generally and members of the Health Advisory Council, who have all worked collaboratively with me to make the case for these licences.

I had a lady on the phone to me who pointed out the inequity. Her sister was required to undergo an MRI scan. Her sister lives in Adelaide. Her sister could take time off from her work, during her lunch break, to arrange for that scan to be taken. In my constituent's case, it involved taking two days off from work, travelling 500 kilometres, overnight accommodation in Adelaide, cost and inconvenience—all of which wasn't something that her metropolitan based sister had to experience. This is an access-to-health issue. I, for one, am doing everything that I can to give us the best prospects of success. I want to thank the community for standing with me during this campaign.