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Monday, 25 March 1985
Page: 846

Ms FATIN(5.55) —Mr Deputy Speaker, as is traditional in the Address-in-Reply debate, I begin by offering my congratulations to you. I also congratulate the Speaker on his election and the honourable member for Henty (Mrs Child) on her election to the position of Deputy Speaker and Chairman of Committees. They can both be assured of the continuing support and co-operation of their colleagues on this side of the House. I would also like to congratulate the many new members who have joined us on the government benches. The high standard of maiden speeches we have heard over the first three weeks of parliamentary sittings testifies to the commitment and integrity of the new members of the Government. During our first term in office, we were recognised by commentators from both sides of the political spectrum as being a government whose intellectual calibre matched its rhetoric. The qualities evident in our new colleagues mean that we are extremely well placed to maintain our track record.

In participating in this debate, I must pay a special tribute to my fellow Western Australian, the honourable member for Cowan (Ms Jakobsen), who moved the motion for the adoption of the Address-in-Reply. Having performed the same task at the opening of the Thirty-third Parliament, I know that it requires a considerable amount of preparation and a very strong nerve. The honourable member more than fulfilled our very high expectations of her ability, and I congratulate her warmly. Speaking of Western Australian women parliamentarians, I also take this opportunity to send a very special message of goodwill to Senator Ruth Coleman. The courage and strength of will which we have come to associate with Senator Coleman are serving her well now, and I know that my colleagues will wish to join me in wishing her a speedy return to work.

Like many other members of this House, I return to serve a different electorate in the Thirty-fourth Parliament. The redistribution, which despite the initial reservations expressed by the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) was fairly and most effectively carried out by the Australian Electoral Commission, radically altered the Federal electorates to the south of Perth and resulted in the creation of the new seat of Brand, for which I am now the member. I still represent large areas of my previous electorate, and must pay tribute to the councils and local organisations in Armadale, Serpentine, Jarrahdale and Rockingham that have worked tirelessly with me over the past two years to improve the lot of their communities. The town of Kwinana, which is now part of my electorate, has been something of an electorate shuttlecock over recent years, and I know that the Electoral Commissioner's decision to finally link Kwinana with the Rockingham sector of the coastal strip is a welcome move. Kwinana and Rockingham share many resources, both human and physical, and I have been impressed by the manifest determination of both communities to overcome some of the terrible difficulties which confront a population living in a depressed industrial area.

Deserving of particular mention are Des Mays and the Shire Council of Rockingham, Frank Baker and the Town Council of Kwinana and David Gorham, who has devoted an extraordinary amount of effort over three years to building up the Rockingham Chamber of Commerce. Rick Grounds and the staff of the South West Metropolitan Local Authorities Management Group have had a very significant effect on rationalising the development of the coastal strip and monitoring the effect of government schemes and programs. They have also been instrumental in getting several local projects started, one of the most significant of which is the Rockingham-Kwinana Emergency Relief Committee which will start work in the very near future.

I must also mention the work of Ian Blackburn and the Armadale Town Council. Thanks to their drive and enthusiasm, Armadale has a real chance of becoming one of Western Australia's regional music centres as well as a thriving sub-regional centre. Once again I acknowledge the dedication with which the people in Byford and Rockingham are fighting the subscriber trunk dialling battle. The final report of Telecom Australia has been eagerly awaited for many weeks now. I am pleased to hear from the Minister for Communications (Mr Duffy) that it should not be too long now before the response is available.

The electorate of Brand is comparatively large, covering an area of over 5,000 square kilometres. As well as the urban towns and areas I have already mentioned, it covers the seaside town of Mandurah and the rural communities of Waroona, Pinjarra, Harvey and Brunswick. I have had a considerable amount to do with the people of Mandurah already, having met many of the local pensioners and having recently allayed their fears about the assets test. I know this point has been made several times before in this place, but it staggers me that the Opposition was prepared to go to such astonishing lengths to score its political points off the pensioners of this country. I cannot refer to Mandurah without briefly mentioning the very effective work being done in the area by the local State member, my colleague John Read. His commitment to the people is evident. One has only to look down the list of State Government achievements and projects in Mandurah, such as the proposed hospital, the new bridge and the innovative work being done on cleaning up the inlet, to realise what a very fine local member Mandurah people have in Mr Read.

I am particularly pleased to be representing the rural communities of Harvey and Brunswick. Although it sounds like one of those great lines invented by politicians, I was actually brought up in a place called Wokalup, just outside Harvey where I was born. I spent the first 11 years of my life in the area. It is a great pleasure for me now to be back in Harvey meeting with people who have known my family, the Fimmels, for many years.

Mr Robert Brown —They are very proud of you.

Ms FATIN —They are very proud of me. In the course of my work in the electorate, I have always placed great emphasis on helping local government authorities in their task of serving the local community. I now have eight councils in my electorate and I have already indicated to them that this Government plans to carry on forging the co-operative relationships which we established during our first term of office. We all recognise that problems exist. Councils will probably never consider that their revenue arrangements are 100 per cent satisfactory any more than any other tier of government is likely to admit it has sufficient funds to carry out all its programs. However, the Federal Government is absolutely committed to establishing a stable and secure base for local government funding.

I do not want to take up too much of the time of the House because I think that the specific content of the Governor-General's Speech has been more than adequately covered by my colleagues. No one on this side of the House is suggesting that the next three years are going to be uncomplicated or unproblematic for the Government. We have an Opposition hell bent on recovering what it sees as its divine right to rule. We have a State Government in the deep north of Queensland which is beginning to make previous conservative State governments look like radical reformists. Most importantly we have an economy which simply will not stand the indefinite blowing out which characterised the last years of the Fraser Government. However, despite the fact that we may not be able to develop as many programs as we would like we still have a most impressive array of innovative and reformist legislation to introduce.

With the restructuring of the taxation system, this Government has the opportunity to go down in history as one of the great forces for economic equity and justice. The supported accommodation assistance program has been hailed by interested parties all over Australia as being one of the most comprehesive and potentially effective pieces of legislation ever applied to the area. Perhaps most significant of all, considering the extent to which our young people are bearing the brunt of living in times of rapid social and economic change, this Government is now in the process of formulating a youth allowance scheme which will significantly assist the young, whether whey want to stay at school, proceed to higher education, or receive specific training for the work force. As a member of both the Caucus Economic and Welfare committees, I consider all three of these issues to be of central concern, and look forward to taking part in all the forthcoming debates.

In conclusion I reiterate the point made by a number of my colleagues who have already spoken in this debate. As has been obvious during the first weeks of the Thirty-fourth Parliament, the Opposition has not deviated one iota from its previous policies of division and destruction. When the people of Australia voted on 1 December last year, they voted for a continuation of the stability and security they began to experience during our first term of office. That is what we promised, that is what we delivered during our first term, and that is the basis of how we intend to proceed for the next three years.