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Wednesday, 27 June 2018
Page: 4107

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (12:45): The coalition government—first, of Mr Abbott, and, now, of Mr Turnbull—has done a magnificent job in developing northern Australia. And it's something we are committed to doing. The northern Australia development white paper launched a few years ago set out a blueprint for the development of the north.

To help with the development of the north, we've had some very good advocates. I mention my colleague the Hon. Warren Entsch, the member for Leichhardt, who is a great and passionate advocate for northern Australia and chairs the Joint Standing Committee on Northern Australia. George Christensen, the member for Dawson, is also passionate about the north and has worked very, very hard to ensure that the development of all northern Australia actually happens. I want to also mention Melissa Price, the member for Durack, who looks after the northern part of Western Australia—again, a passionate advocate, a passionate worker, for the development of all parts of northern Australia. And I give a shout-out to Natasha Griggs, who was the member for the Northern Territory seat of Solomon when the northern Australia white paper came into being.

In Queensland, George Christensen, Warren Entsch and I, based in Townsville, have worked for the north. Unfortunately, in recent years, there have been two members of parliament who have been not doing a skerrick to help the development of northern Australia. One is the member for Herbert, whose sole contribution to developing northern Australia seems to be to criticise everything that the government does. She doesn't criticise, of course, when the Queensland Labor government blocks a substantial investment in northern Australia for no reason other than crass political purposes. And generally, from talking to ministers, I don't think the member for Herbert has ever made one serious approach to any minister about anything in Townsville. The other laggard, you might say, in the north is the member for Kennedy, who—whilst he's pretty good at doing stunts and getting front pages about odd sorts of things—has done nothing to assist in the development of the great north-west of Queensland. I've been pleased to fill in as the real member for that area. And, together with the leaders of the communities in Kennedy, we've done a lot.

But I now have some very good news for northern Australians—particularly those who live in the electorates of Herbert and Kennedy—because, just last weekend, the LNP selected candidates for both seats. I want to particularly welcome, first of all, Phillip Thompson, a distinguished former serving soldier in the Townsville based 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, which has the core values of protecting the Australian way of life, freedom of speech, family and reward for effort. They were all characteristics he fought for. And it's fortunate that Senator Payne is in the office of defence minister. She will be looking forward to getting someone into this parliament who not only understands the defence aspects but also will contribute to all aspects of life.

Phillip Thompson, whilst serving in 2009 in Afghanistan, was wounded in action when an IED detonated within a metre of him. The blast resulted in him sustaining severe injuries. He was medically evacuated back to Australia. He says, 'The road to recovery and post-traumatic growth was a steep and often difficult climb, but I'm proud of my recovery and the man I am today, and I've spent the past six years dedicating my life to helping others find their resilience within so they can live a full and meaningful life.'

For his work with mental health in Townsville, he was awarded the Queensland Young Australian of the Year this year. He is a married man, with a young bub—not very old. He's married to a Palm Island woman. He will be a formidable voice for northern Australia and North Queensland. I wish him all the very best. He is the sort of person who's already served their nation, and he's looking forward to serving it again in a different capacity. I know he will do very well.

I want to move on to the electorate of Kennedy, where the LNP again, in its wisdom, has selected Frank Beveridge as the candidate for Kennedy. Frank is well known in the Kennedy electorate because he was on the Charters Towers Regional Council for a number of years and was mayor from 2012 to 2016. He'd previously served on that council for 12 years as a councillor. I well know Frank Beveridge in his role in the council. He was always at my doorstep pushing for things for the Charters Towers end of that electorate. I still remember his advocacy for, I think it was called, the black rock weir on the Burdekin River. That's something I know Frank is passionate about.

He and his wife Sharon have been married for 32 years. They have four adult children and one grandchild. He's lived in Charters Towers for 40 years, and he's been a small-business owner for 30 years. He's a well-known figure in all parts of the electorate of Kennedy. He's recently taken on the job as chairman of Regional Development Australia, which looks after the north and north-western parts of Australia. He has very significant experience in helping the community to campaign and raise funds for community organisations and causes. Frank, I'm delighted to say, will be carrying the banner and offering to the people of that vast seat of Kennedy a real alternative. He is someone who will get out and advocate their causes and do something serious for those areas.

For those of you who don't know, the electorate of Kennedy was always seen as a western Queensland seat. If you talk Kennedy you think of Mount Isa, Cloncurry, Burketown, McKinlay Shire, Richmond and Hughenden. But, these days, the electorate of Kennedy is more based on the coast. The northern suburbs, new suburbs, aspirational suburbs of Townsville at what's called the North Shore, are now a significant part of the electorate of Kennedy. Going further north, the southern suburbs—again, you might call them the aspirational suburbs—of Cairns are a very big part of the electorate of Kennedy.

Kennedy includes the wonderful sugar towns of Ingham, Innisfail and Tully, the tourist meccas of Cardwell and Mission Beach, and the Atherton Tableland, just west of Cairns, with all its significant potential. It's not only potential. They're actually doing it on the Atherton Tableland—the Tinaroo Dam and the Nallinga Dam, which the coalition government is committed to. They will continue to allow that area to be the food bowl for northern Queensland and, indeed, a very big export hub for the north. Kennedy also takes in the gulf area, one of the biggest and best beef cattle areas. I know Frank Beveridge will be supportive of free trade agreements, because the current member opposes them. The biggest beneficiaries of the recent free trade agreements, particularly the Trans-Pacific Partnership, are the sugar industry and the beef industry, two of the biggest industries in the electrode of Kennedy—yet the current member opposes them.

So I look forward to welcoming both of these people into this parliament after the next election. They're both persons who have significant history, a significant record of achievement and commitment, and I am certain that they will make not only wonderful members in this parliament but wonderful representatives for their respective communities. I look forward very much to welcoming them to Canberra.