Wednesday, 14 September 2016
Thank you, member for North Sydney. In this age where political cycles seem permanently set to fast-forward, I believe that the fixed four-year term can bring some needed stability to federal politics.
I was born in Wagga Wagga—
Mr McCormack interjecting—
Was that the member for Riverina? It was, thank you. Whilst I was young, my family lived for a time in Nairobi, Kenya and also San Francisco. We eventually settled in Maitland, in the Hunter Valley. My parents by then operated a small business: a wholesale and retail nursery. It was my parents who taught me the value of hard work, initiative, perseverance and resilience.
I was fortunate enough to attend Newcastle Grammar School. My modern history teacher was someone well-known to this side of politics in New South Wales, Patricia Forsythe. It was she who steered me towards Sydney University, St. Paul's College and politics, and she is with us here today.
After I finished law school and commenced life as a solicitor, my brothers, David and Matthew, and I decided we would move to Asia and start our own business licensing consumer products and promotions for international entertainment companies. My brothers went to Singapore and I headed to Hong Kong. It was a long way from Largs in the Hunter Valley. Building a business from scratch across multiple countries was hard work, but I look back on those years with pride, not least because my brothers and I did it together.
When I returned to Australia, my first job as a solicitor was at the illustrious firm of Colin Biggers & Paisley, or 'the fighting CBP' as it is known to its many friends. There I was lucky enough to be schooled in the art of litigation by two outstanding solicitors, Antony Riordan and Alex Ostermayer, who are also in the gallery today.
After completing my bar reading, I moved around the corner to Queen's Square Chambers in Macquarie Street. But the call of the country was strong. We wanted a better quality of life and a true sense of community, so my family, like so many before us, crossed the Great Divide to find a new life in the magnificent electorate of Calare. I practised as a barrister both there and in Sydney until the New South Wales election of 2011.
The poet Banjo Paterson was born in Orange, just a short distance from our house. He then spent his early years at Buckinbah Station near Yeoval, also in the Calare electorate. Banjo was also a lawyer, and his poem Clancy of the Overflow is about escaping the city for life in the country. His words about swapping his 'dingy little office' for 'the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended' certainly resonate with me.
National Party members are famed for their common sense and straight talking. They are the heart and soul of our party, and I am deeply grateful and humbled by all that our members across the branches of the Central West have done for me. When there have been times when I have been disappointed, or sometimes even exasperated, I have constantly drawn both inspiration and strength from our members, who have supported me and urged me to carry on. During the recent campaign I was particularly grateful for the help of our hardy band of 'cold warriors', who turned out to man prepoll in freezing conditions day in and day out. We even had snow one afternoon in Orange.
I simply cannot name all of our wonderful members here. However, I would like to make special mention of campaign director extraordinaire and all-around good bloke Peter Pilbeam, who is chair of the Lithgow branch; National Party legend Kay Martin; campaign treasurer Janet O'Brien; Joy Brown; Wellington branch members, including chair of the Wellington branch John 'Dutchy' Holland and his wife, Penny, Allison Conn, Gary Francis and Michael White; the mighty Mudgee branch, including chair Sandy Walker, Thelma Beechey, Margaret Reid, Lloyd Coleman, Terry and Marie Croom, Barbara Searle and Barbara Duff; chair of the Orange branch Warwick Baines and former chair Duncan Brakell; Orange SEC chair Chris Messenger; Wade Marlow; Ron Gander; and, of course, local television star Guy Gaeta and his wife, Sim; the Hayes family; Peter Carmen; Ralph Crystal; Tom Hodgson; Barry and Robin Moore; Paula and Wayne Townsend; Cheryl Newsom from Canowindra; from the Bathurst branch, member for Bathurst Paul Toole and his family, chair Sam Farraway, David and Cheryl Veness, Anne Bowe, Paul Rasmussen, Martin and Judy King, Vicki Wilson, Robert Bowman, Dorothy and Clyde Colley, and Robby Marshall, the original Rylstone cowboy; from the Forbes branch, chair Mark Pietsch, Jeff Herdegen, Vanessa Crompton, Graeme Miller and Yvonne Glasson; and also chair of the Parkes branch Gavin Tom. I would also like to acknowledge the Calare federal electorate council chair, Brett Kenworthy, plus the federal and state National Party offices, headed by Scott Mitchell and Nathan Quigley. I am also very grateful for the wonderful support of the Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce; the Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Fiona Nash; and the entire federal Nationals team. They were of great assistance to our campaign for Calare and have made me feel very welcome.
My state colleagues—including the member for Ku-ring-gai, Alister Henskens, and the member for Northern Tablelands, Adam Marshall, and others who are watching these proceedings—also need to be acknowledged. I also have to give a special acknowledgement to the Hunter Valley's self-styled Team Gee of family friends, who are now veterans of three campaigns and show no sign of slowing down. Thank you also to Ron Camplin and Ardin Beech from Radio 2BS, Neil Gill from 2GZ, and David Beadle and Tony Healy from 2EL, who consistently let me have a lot of fun on their radio stations.
The town of Parkes was recently moved out of the electorate of Calare by way of a boundary change. This has sadly meant that my gold-sequined Elvis jacket that made its debut at this year's Parkes Elvis Festival and had two appearances on the floor of the New South Wales parliament will not be making the trip to Canberra, despite the member for Riverina, whose electorate now takes in Parkes, trying to get his clutches on said jacket.