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Thursday, 3 December 2015
Page: 14820

Mr PASIN (Barker) (12:55): I speak for the final time in 2015 and I think it is probably an apt time to reflect on some of the achievements of this year. Before I do, I want to talk about the overwhelming sense of optimism that pervades throughout my electorate. Sure we are dealing with drought, and sure we are experiencing the lowest rainfall over a 24-month period that we have for over 100 years, but notwithstanding that there is a strong sense of optimism throughout Barker. We have seen cattle prices better than twice the price they were this time last year, and I see nods from the member for Flynn. He knows it too. Sadly, he knows about the effects of drought as well. We have seen lamb and sheep prices up and up and up. Sadly, this year I do not think I will be eating any crayfish, because it is selling on the beaches of my electorate at close to $120 a kilogram. In terms of the softwoods industry in the south-east of my electorate, quite frankly, the millers tell me they cannot cut enough timber, and that is a product of a significant increase in house starts on the eastern seaboard. So notwithstanding the climatic conditions, which no doubt over the next year or so will make the economic conditions in my electorate tougher, there is an overwhelming sense of optimism.

I would like to think that I have done something to add to that sense of optimism. The member for Hinkler was saying that he is looking forward to next year and his first ever performance review—a very interesting way to refer to an election but an apt way, because ultimately we are all here thanks to the good grace of our electorates. I too am looking forward to that challenge. But before we get to that point there is obviously more work to do.

An honourable member interjecting

Mr PASIN: I am absolutely looking forward to that challenge. I wonder whether you will be in the same seat next time—maybe seeking to encourage other electors to vote for you. We will see. But nothing makes constituents in rural communities happier than hearing about investment in infrastructure and regional development. I was reflecting on this today and noticed that in this year alone the federal government has committed over $220 million in infrastructure and regional development funding in my electorate of Barker. There has been $74 million for road programs. There has been $20 million for the National Highway Upgrade Program. We have seen a commitment to the Wireless Road-Penola Road intersection. We have seen a commitment to complete the long-awaited Penola bypass.

Not everything comes down to commitments in the infrastructure space. When the now former Prime Minister visited Mount Gambier this year, I was able to persuade him of the need for an MRI licence for the community of Mount Gambier. I am pleased to say that the magnet is now operating in the Mount Gambier hospital and being funded effectively via rebates from Medicare. But before that magnet was installed in that facility we saw the ludicrous situation where people in Mount Gambier, to undergo even basic diagnostic tests like an MRI scan, would need to travel to Adelaide. The cost to individuals was immense. This was as good as a 1,000-kilometre round trip, with cost of accommodation, for a service which people take for granted—indeed, a service you can have in one of two facilities in Warrnambool on the other side of the Victorian border, in the member for Wannon's electorate.

But there have been other commitments as well: $5 million for the Murray Bridge Racing Club and $7½ million for a motorsport park. There will be upcoming announcements in terms of the National Stronger Regions Fund and the Stronger Communities Program. The sense of optimism that has purveyed my community has also, I think, been added to by the member for Barker. In the few short minutes I have left can I thank you everyone for their assistance, particularly with my office. I thank the electors in Barker for their perseverance. I reflect also on the death of the late Don Randall. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I hope it is a safe New Year and I hope we see everyone back here in 2016 because we have all been safe on the roads after Christmas.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 13:00