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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4419

Ms LANDRY (CapricorniaChief Nationals Whip) (19:44): My, what a cracking pace we've set the last few weeks! Throughout April and May, I've spent very little time at home, choosing instead to cover the vast spread of my electorate. Capricornia is a reasonably large electorate, covering some 91,000 square kilometres, encompassing five local government areas and stretching along the east coast to the mouth of the Fitzroy River, which is full of crocodiles, all the way up to Alligator Creek—presumably full of alligators. It then turns inland but keeps heading north-west up to Collinsville and Glenden and goes as far west as the Carmichael and Belyando River country out north-west of Clermont. I am abundantly proud of the area and the people I represent. They are a hardworking bunch with a strong sense of community—one that has been put to the test with countless fires and floods and two cyclones during my tenure. The pride I hold drives me to do all I can to serve my electorate effectively and to keep my job, the best one in the world. That means a gruelling regime of driving.

Last month Anzac Day dominated the nation's thoughts, and it certainly created a full day for yours truly, attending six ceremonies. Anzac Day, as many others in this place can surely attest, is something of a dilemma for a federal member each year. There are always far more ceremonies than one could possibly attend. The case is made all the more difficult with the added distance between services in regional electorates such as mine. The sad solution to this predicament is that each year we have to choose which communities we will join for this most solemn day. After last year spending the day in Rockhampton and the Capricorn Coast, this year I headed north to cane country. 24 April saw a wonderful service at Mirani State High School, where school and community came together and gave their thanks to the diggers of the region. It was a lovely, moving ceremony run by the students, highlighting the talent of many students, with the school band, choir, and public speakers all doing themselves and their community proud.

Then came 25 April, Anzac Day. The day started with one of the most memorable dawn services I have attended, the Hay Point Half Tide Beach ceremony. This service had everything: a World War II veteran, visiting naval officers, an outstanding drumming procession, a hearty breakfast with all one's heart could desire, hundreds of locals, and a flyover right at dawn by the port pilot helicopter. The rest of the day was going to have to be pretty good to top that. From Hay Point we ventured south to Koumala, a little town on the Bruce Highway with a crocodile on the front of the pub. There was another touching ceremony there, with a huge contingent of young cadets from Sarina parading in unison. Then it was on to Sarina for what was certainly the biggest ceremony of the day. Sarina's cenotaph is smack-bang in the middle of the Bruce Highway, so Anzac Day can have a bit of an impact on traffic. Hundreds lined the streets and flocked to the cenotaph for a service that was equal parts formal and familiar. Sarina's ceremony is followed by one heck of a lunch back at the RSL, where I believe some patrons may have taken up a game of two-up later in the afternoon. It had already been a big day, but we had far to go as we tripped up the Pioneer Valley to Mirani and Finch Hatton for their evening ceremonies, wonderful examples of national and valley pride, with schoolchildren, Army cadets, jeep enthusiasts and even a pipe band from Mackay making their way up the valley to help the locals mark what is such a special day in all Australian calendars.

How these communities do it each year with such gusto and such emotion is an absolute credit to them. I take my hat off to the organisers within each community. I'd like to thank Tom Andrews of Sarina RSL for his service and assistance to the Half Tide Beach, Koumala and Sarina services; Jan Lindbergs for her masterful stewardship of the Mirani service; and Tammy Sprott, the female president of the Finch Hatton RSL. All in all, it was a very moving day. Lest we forget.