House debates

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Governor-General’S Speech


1:27 pm

Photo of David BradburyDavid Bradbury (Lindsay, Australian Labor Party, Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer) Share this | Hansard source

It is with great pleasure that I rise today to add my voice to the words that have been contributed to this debate in the address-in-reply. I would like to take this opportunity to reflect upon the election campaign that we have all endured—some more so than others. It is very much that punctuation mark, if you like, in the term of the parliament, the term of our democracy, where local residents in communities all around the country have an opportunity to determine the future direction of this nation.

I know that in communities such as the electorate of Lindsay people take their responsibility very seriously. They take their responsibility to determine the future of our government and the future of our nation with great care. It is with a sense of privilege that I return to this place as the member for Lindsay after having served for one term. My association and my connection with the Lindsay electorate goes back many years. Of course, having contested the 2001 and 2004 elections unsuccessfully, it was a source of great pride for me to have the opportunity to serve my community at the 2007 election. To be given the opportunity to continue to service our local community is something that I am very proud of. I thank the local residents who voted to give me the opportunity to keep working hard for our community.

I went to the election in Lindsay based on what I believed was a record of achievement in our local community. As someone who had served in the Penrith area for 11 years as a councillor and then as the member for Lindsay, it was on that record that I went to the election. As part of the Labor government that was elected in 2007 I had been a part of a government that had delivered a great deal for my local community. It was on the strength of the record of achievement of that government that I went back before the people at the election.

I think it is important to reflect upon some of the projects and achievements that were delivered in the Lindsay electorate in the three years of the previous government, because that is central to understanding why I believe it was so important that the people of Lindsay did what they did—and that was to give me the opportunity to keep working in our community as the local member.

Over the last three years the Labor government has delivered the biggest investment in the Nepean Hospital of any Commonwealth government in the history of that hospital. The Nepean Hospital is the central tertiary referral hospital in my electorate, but it serves a catchment that is much greater than my electorate. We often see stories in the papers or on the television news that talk about the lack of capacity in our hospitals. Sometimes these stories go to resourcing issues; other times they go to issues connected with the great challenge of delivering the high-quality health services that we expect in this country, combined with the challenges of an ageing and growing population. The stresses of a growing population are felt as much in a place like my community as in any place in this country. That is why I believe it was significant that as a government we contributed $96.4 million to the redevelopment of the Nepean Hospital.

The works at Nepean Hospital have already commenced, and those works will be expansive. They will include: the construction of six more operating theatres; extra day-only and extended day-only beds; two new, purpose-built, 30-bed surgical wards to replace the older wards and a new surgical outpatient clinic; a new 12-bed intensive care pod, including six more intensive care unit beds; a new renal dialysis unit for hospital inpatients; and a new 64-bed mental health unit and community mental health facilities. In addition to that, there will be an extra 32 chairs in the oral health building.

They are the capital improvements that this government is making at the Nepean Hospital but, as any person who has worked in the hospital system or who has attended our hospitals as a patient will tell you, it is one thing to put money into the bricks and mortar; it is another to resource the hospital system on an ongoing basis. That is why the health reforms of the government in our previous term are so important to delivering the improvements in health care in communities such as mine. It is not just about delivering the improvements in the infrastructure; it is about delivering the ongoing resourcing improvements that are needed to improve the quality of health care.

I want to take the opportunity to thank the staff at the Nepean Hospital, the many doctors and nurses and other employees of the hospital who are not necessarily in clinical roles who contribute and always give their all to try to ensure that local residents have access to quality services. The job of governance is to empower those people to do the jobs that they so passionately commit themselves to by committing adequate resources. I believe that the commitments that we have made over the last three years go a long way towards doing that.

In addition to the investment in the Nepean Hospital itself, we have also invested $17.2 million in the new clinical school, which will be run by the University of Sydney. We are very pleased to have the Nepean Hospital as a teaching hospital in our local community, but with the investment in the new clinical school we will give medical students who are undertaking their practical work at the hospital a real home within the Penrith community. We think that this is important not just in terms of investing in the skills of the future health workforce. It is also about trying to ensure that we are able to establish a strong connection between those practitioners who come into our area and the community itself. That is what will ultimately ensure that communities such as mine have the health professionals that they need into the future. The clinical school is a significant initiative because, particularly in marrying up with the very good work that the Nepean Medical Research Foundation have been doing in our community, it will also improve the research capabilities of the health professionals within our region. This is important work and I want to acknowledge the outstanding work that is being done by the many health professionals that form the network of clinicians of the Nepean Hospital.

One of the big initiatives that we pursued—and which I championed—in the last term of parliament was trying to secure funding for a commuter car park at the Penrith station. We are an outer suburban electorate. People who live in my community often travel into the city. The only public transport option is catching the train. Often the connection from their homes to the station is a difficult one for people to make. Public transport does not service that connection that well. So for so many families driving to the station and parking their car before hopping on the train to head into work in the city or Parramatta or other parts of Western Sydney is a central part of their daily existence. Providing adequate parking for people as they confront all of the challenges that come with getting to work in the morning is something that has been a massive challenge in our community. We have been working with the state government to try to secure a future for the north Penrith army land site, which is adjacent to the northern side of the Penrith station, to ensure not only that we have car parking facilities—although that has been an important part of what the Commonwealth has been engaged with—but also that we are able to ultimately, as far as our community is concerned, achieve a development outcome that will make it a site that the people of our community will be proud of and that will help us lift the productive capacity of our local community by ensuring that employment, residential and retail opportunities are available at the very centre of this major transport hub which is the Penrith station. I am very pleased to have worked as a part of the government to deliver that funding towards the commuter car park and I look forward to the commencement of the construction of that in the near future.

In our local community we have a history of having a very strong representation in the trades. Whilst, in some respects, we are under-represented when it comes to participation in higher education, many tradespeople live in my electorate. Many people understand that the importance of securing a vocational education is just as important as having the opportunity to go to university. That is why I am particularly proud of the more than $13 million that the government have invested in trades training centres in my local community, one which will be hosted at Kingswood High for all of the government schools in our local community and then another trades training centre hosted at McCarthy Catholic College, which will service the Catholic schools within the region. These initiatives will deliver real opportunities to young people in our community, to get the chance to learn the skills that they will need not just as part of their qualification to get through school but to begin learning the trade that they will ultimately undertake and hopefully go on to complete, to work in the area for which they have a trade and to fill some of those skills shortages that we have right across the country. These skills shortages are hampering our ability to realise the productive capability that our country requires.

Our investments in education and health have very much been the cornerstone of the first term of our government. Having achieved the opportunity of a second term, we look forward to completing those investments, to seeing them through to their completion and also building upon them. I want to comment briefly on the computers in schools program, which has been an outstanding program. When the first stage of the rollout began to occur in my electorate, members will remember that priority was given to those schools that had a ratio that was worse than one computer for every eight students. I suspect that very few electorates benefited from that initiative in the first phase—where, frankly, the ratios were appalling—as much as my electorate. But, as a result of that initiative, we have been able to invest in the technological capacity of our schools, ensuring that all of the high schools, between years 9 and 12, in my electorate now have ratios of one to two. As we move towards the completion of that funding period for which funds were committed, that will move to one to one. I am very proud of this because, as I have travelled from school to school, I have seen the way in which this technology is being employed. It really is changing the nature of the classroom, engaging more and more young people in particular in their education so that they can go on and realise the potential that a good education can help them realise.

There were many other achievements and the government made a number of commitments in the course of the election campaign, and I will briefly refer to those. There was a commitment of $1 million to repair the Western Sydney International Hockey Centre. This is a tremendous initiative that will keep hockey going in our local community. The facilities were so bad that the future of hockey was in jeopardy. A sum of $7½ million was committed to the Cumberland Conservation Corridor. This builds on the $15 million that we committed in the previous term. This is about ensuring that we have green-space opportunities in Western Sydney so that, with the march of development, the urban sprawl, we are able to preserve some of our natural environment and ensure that there is the green space that livable communities require.

In addition to that, we made a commitment in relation to the Safer Suburbs Plan to invest in CCTV lighting and other community safety measures around the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and in the Westfield shopping centre. Whilst referring to the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre I make the point, with some sorrow but also with some pride, that the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre, which is located in Penrith, was given that name with the permission of Joan Sutherland. As many Australians and many people throughout the world mourn her loss, my sympathies go to her husband, Richard Bonynge. I know that the two of them have been great supporters of that facility, having visited the facility on a number of occasions, giving kids in Western Sydney the opportunity to pursue their potential in cultural and artistic pursuits. That is something that our local community has benefited greatly from. We thank her for allowing her name to be used for ‘The Joan,’ as we refer to it.

I would like to thank a few people who assisted me throughout the election campaign and assisted in our local campaign. I wish to acknowledge the fact that I believe I am here for a second term as the member for Lindsay because of the very strong local campaign that we ran. I had tremendous support from a number of people. I wish to take the opportunity to thank my family, in particular my wife, Kylie, and our four children, for having endured all that comes with running in a marginal seat. Without their support I would not have been able to contest the election and go on to win. I thank them very much for their support. I thank my parents, my siblings and my many family members who contributed. They all made and played a very important part in helping me hold on to the role that I am so proud to have as the member for Lindsay.

I wish to acknowledge a number of people who took what, in my experience, is a very big step—that is, people who are not connected with political parties came forward and allowed their name to be associated with me by endorsing me as the local member. I would like to thank Michael Morris, who is head of the Samuel Morris Foundation. Michael and his wife, Joanne, and their son Samuel are great advocates for the cause of preventing drownings and near-death drowning experiences in homes right across the country. I thank them for putting their name behind me in support of my efforts as the local member.

I would like to thank Jackie Legenda and Mark Fleming, a family in Emu Heights. They are very decent people who were prepared to come forward and endorse what I have been able to do as the member and to give me a vote of confidence and put that before the electorate. I would like to thank Greg Alexander. (Time expired)


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