House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022


Stirling Electorate

7:54 pm

Photo of Vince ConnellyVince Connelly (Stirling, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

NELLY () (): To paraphrase Winston Churchill: democracy is the least-worst system of government. Since its foundation in ancient Greece, we still haven't found a better method of reflecting the public will in a peaceful and effective way. For those of us who enjoy the temporary privilege to hold the torch of democracy as elected leaders, this is an immense reward. Like all previous members for the federal electorate of Stirling, I've worked with great determination to serve our local community.

With Stirling due to be abolished from the next federal election, I reflect today on the history of this wonderful division. Contested in 25 elections, the seat has been won by 14 Liberal and 11 ALP members. Liberals have proudly held the seat for a total of 37 years. I acknowledge the previous Liberal members: Doug Cash, Ian Viner, Eoin Cameron and Michael Keenan. I also acknowledge ALP members who have held the seat: Harry Webb, Dr Ron Edwards and Jann MacFarlane.

The early 1970s were a particularly exciting time for Stirling division, with a strong team, including Jim Clarko as president. Bob Pike led doorknocking on the weekends to drive voter membership, with $10 a couple for membership being quite a bargain, if you ask me. In 1972 divisional members donated $100 each to purchase the division's first property, a modest little house but great for meetings and campaigning. One member even went to live in the back of the house to help with costs and maintenance—what dedication!

In 1974, at the double dissolution election, the Labor Party desperately wanted the seat back, and at the close of counting Ian Viner trailed Labor's Graham Reece by 700 votes. But when preferences were counted the provisional result was a tie, so scrutineers were assembled and, after a long day's counting the next day, more Liberal votes were found and Ian Viner scraped in by just 12 votes. Fast forward to 1984 and a redistribution saw Stirling incorporate more northern suburbs, including suburbs like Balga, Westminster and Mirrabooka, bringing a great deal of wonderful, diverse community groups.

In 2004 my predecessor, Michael Keenan, won the seat back from Labor. Michael was a fantastic local member, serving with distinction for 15 years. It was an honour to be to be able to continue his excellent work in our community. Stirling has been so well served as well by passionate divisional members. And, though there are many stalwarts, please forgive me for only mentioning recent divisional presidents by name: Rob Paparde, Karlo Perkov, Chris Hatton, Tony Krsticevic, Troy Pickard and Melinda Poor.

I've always had a passion for serving others, and I bore this out first by joining the army straight out of school. Serving as a commander on military operations overseas will remain one of my life's highlights. In 2019, when I was elected to parliament, I made a commitment to serve in a different way by relentlessly supporting my local community. Since then, I've gotten to know so many local families, businesses and community groups. I'm incredibly proud of what we've achieved so far together.

Our area is one of the most multicultural in Australia. Whether it be the Vietnamese, the Burmese, the Italians, the Africans or the Indian communities—I could go on—it's a privilege to be your local representative in parliament. It's groups like these for whom I continue to fight. For example, in 2019 Michael Keenan introduced me to a wonderful local community leader, Fatima, who is the operations services manager at Mirrabooka Mosque. Fatima works tirelessly supporting attendees to the mosque and the wider community, who the mosque actively welcomes in. However, in 2018 the mosque was the victim of a firebombing attack, which badly damaged the building. Since then, I've fought to achieve funding for two rounds of security upgrades, including CCTV security cameras and lighting, because everybody deserves to feel safe and accepted in our community. But after the firebombing it was actually the spirit of resilience that I saw in our community as it rallied to support the mosque and condemn violence that was so heartening.

Now, roughly the eastern half of Stirling and the southern half of old Cowan are being smashed together in the new seat of Cowan. As the Liberal candidate for new Cowan, I am continuing to fight to serve my local community. I'm seeking re-election because, despite all of the good that we have achieved together, there is still much to be done in support of local families, businesses and community groups. I'm still filled with the passion and the energy to be the torchbearer of democracy in Cowan.

Question agreed to

House adjourned at 19:59


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