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Monday, 23 November 2015
Page: 13364

Mr WILLIAMS (Hindmarsh) (10:56): Often in politics you hear former President of the United States Harry Truman's famous quote:

If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.

Truman, who experienced some bruising political battles, must have clearly understood the importance of a canine companion, and I can attest to this since the recent inclusion in the Williams household of a pooch called Toby. An organisation who fully understands the importance of dogs is Guide Dogs SA/NT, which is one of the most trusted charities in Australia, having served the community by supporting people living with disability for more than 60 years.

Guide Dogs has a long and exemplary history in training and placing guide dogs and supporting people with a vision or hearing impairment in South Australia. I recently was provided with a tour of their training facilities by Chairman Joe Thorp, CEO Kate Thiele and other staff, and was most impressed.

The organisation's hallmark has been one of innovation and firsts, including being the first guide dog school in Australia to expand its services to include autism assistance dogs. With a rapidly ageing population, services to tackle loss of sight will become a critical issue, and Guide Dogs is playing a major role in this.

I have been working with this great charity over recent months as they embark on a visionary project to be located at the Adelaide Airport in my electorate. Guide Dogs have announced plans to develop a pet hotel, which will provide both luxury and affordable accommodation for dogs, cats and other pets while their owners are away on holidays or business. I was pleased to attend the turning of the first sod in early November, marking the start of the development of this exciting project. The hotel has officially been named Beau's after the first guide dog ever trained in Australia in 1951, Beau. Beau's Personalised Pet Hotel is an almost $10 million project and is expected to be operational by late 2016. It has positive implications for job creation, both during and after construction.

It is estimated the project will generate up to 65 full-time and part-time jobs. South Australia is in need of exciting innovative projects, as is the rest of Australia, and this is an exciting project. It is expected the pet hotel will be an enabler for further financial security for Guide Dogs in terms of a revenue stream, and the organisation's ongoing goal to expand services to people living with a disability.

Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Kate Thiele, who recently won a national title in the 2015 Telstra Australian Business Women's Awards in the For Purpose and Social Enterprise category. This is on top of her already impressive year, being named South Australia's Telstra Business Woman of the Year. I have met Kate a number of times and been very impressed with her success and achievements thus far with the Guide Dogs.

Kate, with her team, is doing great things in the not-for-profit sector and is dedicated to changing lives, and I look forward to working with them to ensure this project reaches its potential. Guide Dogs is an extremely impressive organisation, and I throw my full support behind this much needed project, which will have a genuine impact on Australians living with a disability.