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Thursday, 14 February 2008
Page: 377

Mr BRUCE SCOTT (1:57 PM) —I rise to speak in this address-in-reply. I know I have limited time but I will be seeking to continue my remarks at a later time. Listening to the Governor-General’s speech, something struck me in his opening comments about this great democracy that we have. The decision of the Australian people was that we saw a change of government, and that change, from the coalition to the Labor government, was a peaceful transition.

I want to talk about another level of government where democracy is also very important. I believe our whole democracy starts at the level of local government in our local communities, which are the cornerstone of this great nation of ours. I want to particularly focus today on the leadership that has been displayed by local councils, local mayors and the community in general during the extraordinary floods that we have recently seen and continue to see in the state of Queensland.

In western Queensland, out in the Murweh Shire Council headquarters on the Warrego River, we saw the leadership of the Mayor, Mark O’Brien, coming to the fore and the important role that local government plays when you have a state of emergency without warning, without notice. You have to have a response if you are going to save communities and prevent the further damage that would occur without great local leadership.

Through Mark O’Brien and other councillors in North and Central Queensland, I saw the importance of local government and local leadership in a time of national emergency. When they responded to the emergency in Charleville, they needed to put up a levy bank quickly because the one that they had partly constructed was not complete. It was quite invigorating and inspiring to see the speed at which the local community acted in putting up a temporary levy bank to protect the town from what would have been devastating floods.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2 pm, the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 97. The debate may be resumed at a later hour. I thank the member for Maranoa for his forbearance when the chair was unable to get an orderly House for him. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.