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Monday, 23 February 2015
Page: 848


Mr PITT (Hinkler) (12:24): It is good to be back, and what a difference a week makes! As I was saying, I had the great good fortune of meeting the Bundaberg winner of the Heywire competition, Ms Britteny Hunter. We had actually met Britteny before: the Prime Minister, now Minister for Agriculture Barnaby Joyce and I had helped move a piano out of Britteny's flooded home in 2013. Whilst I do not recall everyone who was standing in the yard at that time, I certainly recall the piano, which was exceptionally large, heavy and wet! Unfortunately, we are in a similar circumstance in Queensland at the moment, but I will get back to that.

Ms Hunter's winning entry was centred on the issues of homelessness and disadvantage. I was also interested to learn that she spent some time examining an issue of great concern to me and, of course, many other locals in the Hinkler electorate: the issue of human trafficking and exploitation. It is a problem I have been particularly vocal about with the aim of better protecting seasonal workers and farmers from unscrupulous contract labour hire firms. Knowing that we have such thoughtful young people living in our region gives me great confidence that our community's future is in safe hands. Ms Hunter has a very bright future ahead of her. I congratulate her on winning the award and wish her every success as she starts study at the Central Queensland University. Digital media platforms and forums like Heywire are giving young people in regional communities a national voice. It is an opportunity for them to participate and to have their concerns and ideas heard, and I congratulate her once again.

Social media in the recent week in Queensland has been incredibly important. Certainly Tropical Cyclone Marcia, which crossed the coast just north of Rockhampton through Yeppoon and Rocky has caused damage in all those regions and also in Biloela, likely in Maryborough and, of course, Gympie. Social media has been the source of information for many people. However, the difficulty with social media is that that source is not always verified. I certainly recommend that the people in my electorate continue to rely on ABC regional radio and their emergency broadcast. Their information is verified and constant.

Certainly we see more of the difficulties in communications in regional Australia. From discussions with the member for Flynn, Ken O'Dowd, the loss of the communications network in Biloela has made it exceptionally difficult in trying circumstances at the moment. So it is very tough to get on Facebook and get information when you have no tower, no communications, no fibre link and no power. However, you can always turn on the car radio, and once again I congratulate ABC regional radio on their emergency broadcast; they have done an exceptional job.

The loss of communications is particularly important and brought back to me memories from 2013 and the floods in Bundaberg. It looks like we will be fortunate this time around; hopefully, it will only be a minor flood through the Bundaberg region. But my heart goes out to those people who are suffering in the other areas. Certainly I recall all the other issues around flat batteries for mobile phones, the inability to communicate rapidly with emergency services and the thousands of people who have had their homes damaged—including my mother-in-law. I was on the ground in Rockhampton first thing as soon as the highway opened on Saturday because I knew what the results would be. It will be a very trying time for the people in that area simply because they have no power, and the likelihood of that being back up quickly is very low. So our thoughts are with them.

But back to the bill. This bill is all about enhancing the balance of online safety. As I said, this is an area which grows exponentially. It is a matter of great concern to me. It is a matter of great concern to many other parents in this country. I congratulate the minister no putting this together. I believe they have got the balance right. It gives parents the opportunity to go to a single point of contact rather than trying to raise these matters with our current law enforcement agencies under the Telecommunications Act. Hopefully, it will go through successfully. I am sure this bill will help to address some of the major problems that we have around social media.

Once again I thank the minister for the opportunity to speak, thank the House and of course endorse the bill.