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Monday, 7 November 2016
Page: 2987

Mr CHAMPION (Wakefield) (19:05): Thank you, Deputy Speaker; that is very kind of you. It is a great honour to follow the member for McMillan, who made a very fine speech about tolerance and decency in our country and about how best to make sure that tolerance and decency continues. I think he talked very ably about Edmund Burke and his fine contribution to the House of Commons. Interestingly enough, Edmund Burke only lasted two terms in the House of Commons, so I fear his very noble belief about an MP's relationship with their electors was perhaps better in theory than it was in practice! Nevertheless, it serves as an example for all of us, and I think we do have an obligation not just to reflect the passing mood in our electorates but also to reflect our own judgements about what is good for the country. The more of that that is done, the better this place will be, because it forces elected members to reflect on their own principles and make sacrifices sometimes, in the cause of the nation.

The member for McMillan made a very fine contribution to the House tonight, and I hope others pay as much attention to that as is paid to the member for Dawson and others, in the Senate, who grandstand and talk nonsense. Sadly, such is the nature of public discourse and the media machine now. I do not think any of us like it, including those in the media. We all crave more substance, but what we get is, really, the lowest common denominator in public debate, and that does not serve us well. It does not create a job. It does not invent anything. It creates no scientific advantage. On that front, I am as one with the member for McMillan.

It is, of course, a great honour to serve in the House of Representatives for a fourth term in Wakefield, and I am the first Labor member to do so. That is a great privilege. I should reflect that the boundaries in Wakefield have changed somewhat and now include the good people of the northern suburbs, which does help Labor's cause. Of course, there are many places in the mid-north, around where I grew up, which are slowly coming to appreciate me perhaps. A real surprise this election was the very curious result in Freeling, which is a town I had not expected ever to win—a very traditional conservative town. It swung by 9.2 per cent, and I ended up getting 51 per cent in Freeling this year. Dominic Shepley, who runs the Freeling Hotel, tells me I am the only Labor man to be allowed in the front bar of the Freeling Hotel. I think it is a Labor town now! So they will have to adjust, I suppose. I have many good friends there, and I do appreciate their industry and their efforts.

It was a very challenging election for me personally—not just because of the electoral dynamics in South Australia. My wife, Fiona, was pregnant through the campaign. I certainly did curse the Prime Minister—not in a normal way. His timing of the election left a lot to be desired from our personal point of view! I know my electorate and the country did not really appreciate an eight-week campaign, but I can tell you I would never combine the two things again, even though the result was completely joyous. My daughter was born shortly after the election. Fatherhood is an even more unique privilege that one can have, and I have been very blessed with such a beautiful wife and such a beautiful daughter. Every day since has been a great blessing, so before I begin my thankyous I certainly reflect on that.

I have many people to thank: of course, the many electors, both those who supported me and those who did not. I have always had the view that the day after the election I do not care how you voted; I will always meet with people, give them my opinion and expect to get theirs. I do not really care for partisanship on a personal level. I think partisanship belongs in these chambers and it is a good, but it should not really be expressed when it comes to representing your constituents or community. So I have always made a fair bit of effort to be in every bit of my electorate and try and serve them as best I can.

I have to thank my leader, Bill Shorten, and the whole of the Labor Party. It was a magnificent effort by probably the most underestimated Labor leader since Jack Curtin. There is a fair bit of commentary in this business and Bill gets his share, but it was a magnificent campaign. I had the great pleasure to go with Bill to places like Whyalla and other communities, and every time he came to South Australia he was always enjoying it and enjoying the campaign and the opportunity to get out there and engage with the Australian people.

Mr Ramsey interjecting

Mr CHAMPION: I hear the member for Grey interjecting. We put a bit of pressure on him around the place. I know he would prefer it had Labor ran second rather than third, but we will be working to do that. Maybe we will even run first up in Grey and repeat the glorious representation that they have had in the past by Lloyd O'Neil and others.

Of course, there were thousands of volunteers across South Australia, and I have to thank all of mine. I have to thank the union movement, including: the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, particularly the vehicle builders division in my electorate; the CEPU, particularly those from the electrical division, a union I am privileged to be a member of and happen to represent in this House; and the SDA, which I am a member of and was an official of. Thank you to all of those unions. Thank you to former senator John Quirke for your help in the campaign. Thank you to my campaign manager, Tom Kenyon, who is a colourful member of the South Australian parliament with very strong views. Tom is a very good organiser and a great marginal seat campaigner. It is good to have a campaign manager who is a contemporary of yours, because at this stage of public office, I suppose, they are the only ones who can really boss you around. Your campaign manager always has to boss you around and that gets progressively harder, I think, with members of parliament as time goes on.

I have to thank my staff—many of them long-suffering, I have to say! They have stuck with me for some time: Mathew Werfel, Rob Klose, Caleb Flight and Richard Brooks—all fine gentlemen and all long-term staff members. I have to thank Michelle Wilby, Amy McInnes, Ruben Bala and the many volunteers—not in particular order—Beau Brug; Heidi Mohring; Sam Miller; Alex Pados, who is certainly the most interesting Facebook meme generator I have ever met; Paige Stevens; Maddi Brett; Gareth Bailey, who has recently been to Italy and back; Zachary Gallaway; Tahlia; Chad Buchanan; Aivi Nguyen; Lucas Jones; Isabel and Claire Scriven; David Jones; Leroy Cook; Peter Skinner; Barry and Nadia Penney; Graham and Jordan Klose; and Carmel Rosier. The last one, Carmel, has helped me on many campaigns all the way along and has been a very strong supporter over the years, along with her husband, Stephen.

Of course, we have to make some special mentions of those who served on booths. Handing out how-to-vote cards is a pretty old school bit of public politicking. I do think that one of the most positive things we could do is ban how to vote cards. I know that that is sacrilege and many people will disagree with me, but I do think it would be an important function for our democracy that the ballot booth be sacred, both the internal bit of the ballot booth and also the approaches. I know the booth presentation is particularly important. It can win or lose elections in close seats, and we have increasing contests for them across the country. I think in New South Wales they are now arriving on Friday afternoon straight after school closes or as soon as the booth can possibly be manned. I do not think that is particularly healthy for democracy, and there are pretty easy solutions to it. You can just say that you cannot canvass within 50 or 100 metres of the booth, and that soon fixes your problem. I have always regarded that as an unnecessary intrusion. These days people can get how-to-votes by email or by postage, or you could have copies for people upon request. I do think that that would be worthy of consideration. It is just a personal view, of course; it does not reflect that of my party.

Regarding those who do man booths, Joe and Jasmine Daniele at Two Wells have always manned a booth for me, and I am very privileged to have their support. Antonio Polonco is another long-term supporter at Elizabeth Park. There is the Caunce family, particularly Tom and Peter; Kathy Chiera at Roseworthy; Mark Napper and Steve West manning the Hamley Bridge booth and returning it to the Labor fold, which I know will be a cause of great consternation for some of my friends in the local branch of the Liberal party up there; Councillor Paul Koch on the Gawler booth; Tony Bell out at Owen; and Guy Ballantyne at Saddleworth. Guy has been a long-term supporter, contributor and candidate for the Australian Labor Party, and a very strong presence in the mid-north for Labor. Sadly, now he has moved back to Adelaide, but I do appreciate his last efforts for us in Saddleworth. Roy Hadley and his family have been at the Watervale booth; Louise Drummond has been out at Marrabel. Marrabel has not switched. The member for Grey will know Marrabel is good farming country. I never ever get much above 33 votes, or 28 per cent—

Mr Ramsey: The people in Marrabel are very smart.

Mr CHAMPION: As the member for Grey says, the people in Marrabel are, indeed, very smart—but not for the reason that he thinks. There is Councillor Adrian Shackley and all of Young Labor, particularly Ben Rillo and Sean Hill who are always great organisers for Young Labor across the state. There is Kamal Dahal from the Bhutanese community; Sheila Rammell; Councillor Gay Smallwood-Smith, who is a really great supporter of mine; Councillor Marcus Strudwick, who has always handed out for Labor in Malalar, and continues to do so; Ron and Sue Wurst, who are strong supporters in the Clare Valley; Susan Cunningham, a former employee of mine and a great contributor to the Labor movement, and I cannot thank her enough; and Lindsay Palmer, a former member of the South Australian state parliament and another big contributor in the Clare Valley.

Amongst the Wakefield federal electoral council, I have to thank: Glen Armstrong, a long-term former president of the branch and former vice-president of the Centrals footy club, is always the best companion to have by your side at a shopping centre stall or a community meeting, and is a steadying voice in those debates; Stephen Hollingworth, who is a cleaner at the Munno Para shops and who I see every morning when I go to my electoral office, and also a former head delegate at the Holden site—he is amazingly connected to that part of working-class Australia, the factory workers and the people who really did want to continue to make things in this country but for the actions of the Abbott government; Derralyn Dellar; Brad Templar; 'Cricket' and Phil Fox; and Paul Purvis. These people were all big contributors to my branch and its organisation through the term and also during the election campaign.

I have to thank Zak Gadalla, Ollie Bullitis, Ali Muhammad from the Hazara community, David Amol from the Sudanese community, and the state members of parliament—Tony Picollo in Gawler, Jon Gee in Napier, Zoe Bettison in Salisbury, Lisa Vlahos in Taylor, and Lee Odenwalder, who is a former employee of mine and a former police officer in the local area of Little Para, and is a great contributor to state parliament and the local community.

All of these people made a big contributions to my re-election and I do not know where I would be without them. As you go on in this job, you realise how much you rely on the local community and your supporters within it. I also have to thank all the local papers for their contributions, and I have always found the local media, without fail, to be fair and reasonable and to reflect community opinion. All of them are country newspapers. I have a fair smattering of really successful country newspapers that are, in some in some instances, expanding. It is nice to see newspapers—which were all told are going the way of the dodo—expanding their readership and their base and finding a market out there. I have to thank the Plains Producer, the Two Wells & Districts Echo, the Barossa and Light Herald, the Northern Argus, the Barossa Leader,The Bunyip and the Northern Messenger. We rely on those papers to have the news and the local footy. I rely on them to get the local message out about the community.

For this term there are many priorities, but the priority that will remain steadfast in South Australia is jobs. We have a big challenge. In the member for Grey's electorate there are the workers at the steelmaker Arrium. We know that they rely on a government that is active and interested in their welfare and that is committed to keeping steel manufacturing happening in Whyalla. I certainly appreciate that there has been an outbreak of bipartisanship in recent times, and I think that is an important and good thing for Whyalla.

Tragically, in my electorate we will see the closure of Holden in 2017, in this term. Many of the Holden workers do not want any media interest at this point in time. They want to look for more work through the transition centre, which I visited last week with Doug Cameron and Kate Ellis to look at the work being done by the Holden transition team to help those factory workers seek other work and sometimes be released with a modified redundancy package to take those jobs. But we are going to see a great bulk of workers who want to see the last car come off the line—an important car because it will reflect the end of car manufacturing in this country. It will be an emotional moment for this country, and I think it will be a moment of reflection for people in South Australia and people in the country, particularly when they realise the dollar is at 70c and we could have been exporting these cars, particularly to the United States. Cop cars and Chevy SSs could have been happening if different decisions had been made.

I think there will be both nostalgia and disappointment—not so much anger any more, but disappointment—with the actions of this government. We have seen the same thing at ASC, in shipbuilding. In one way or another, whether it is the supply ships, whether it is the government decision making around submarines, they got there in the end, but the decision-making process caused unnecessary angst and debate in South Australia. We now have a job to retain a skilled workforce in shipbuilding and automotive and make sure that those people go back into productive enterprises. That is going to be the great challenge for this government, and if they fail it will be a challenge for the next government, a Labor government.

It is a challenge that I want to be at the forefront of. For that reason I am very thankful that Bill Shorten has made me shadow parliamentary secretary for manufacturing and science. I want to see a country where people do make things, where manufacturing is highly engineered, where the value is driven by science, research and productivity. We can do that. We did it in the car industry, despite all the palaver that you might read in some of the news outlets. We did it in shipbuilding as well. We are capable of making very well crafted and effective bits of machinery in this country. You only have to go down and look at the latest Holdens. You only have to look at the performance of the Collins class submarines to know that Australian workers can make great and magnificent bits of kit—cars, medical instruments and a whole range of things. That is what I will dedicate myself to do, to face the jobs challenge in my state and across the country. Hopefully we will be doing it in government in short order.