Monday, 22 July 2019
When I was last speaking on this matter, I was talking about the very poor rollout of the government's NDIS and the way it had been impacting on constituents in my electorate and, no doubt, on constituents of most of the electorates represented by members here. Unfortunately, the issue that we get to deal with in my office on a very, very regular basis is several complaints from various frustrated constituents with regard to the inefficient coordination between planners, local area coordinators and the staff of the NDIA.
In a recent discussion to paper, published by Autism Advisory & Support Service, they argue that much of the miscommunication has resulted from the participants being forced to justify their need in order to have the funds and support of services restored to them. Bear in mind, the NDIS is a system where we're bringing together a number of existing state systems that look after people in need—people with disabilities. This is having all sorts of consequences, particularly for those coming from migrant backgrounds. In many cases, insufficient funding for support services and the wait times for reviews have seen participants incur significant out-of-pocket costs. With the unexpected surge in applications for a review of plans, waiting times for a review of plans for people with disabilities can be anything up to six months. The consequence of that is that it simply can't be afforded by people with disabilities or families looking after children with disabilities.
With my community, another aspect of it is that Western Sydney has received one-fifth of Australia's recent refugee intake. Local service providers, particularly in Fairfield and Liverpool, have been put under considerable strain and pressure as they try to assist families to settle and integrate into our local community. The lack of funding to support these services has meant that there has been a reduction in the level of critical settlement service activity in my electorate. As members of parliament, I believe we have an obligation to show leadership and influence better outcomes for people. We must effectively invest in the settlement of refugees. We must ensure that they are given the same opportunities to contribute to our society, rather than allowing them to fall through the cracks and revert to some form of unsafe methods or systems of support.
Another aspect which takes some prominence in my community is the issue of human rights. The issue of human rights is one that my community is very passionate about, given the make up of my community. Many people in my community come from war-torn countries—particularly from Cambodia, Vietnam and other areas—and have taken refuge in this country. As a parliament, our position on human rights should be firm. It should be unwavering. This is especially the case given our membership to the United Nations Human Rights Council. There are far too many situations of human rights abuses within our region for us to turn a blind eye regardless of issues around trade relationships. Whether it be the extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, the arbitrary detention of the Uyghurs in China, the treatment of the Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, the crackdown on the freedom of expression and threat to democratic processes in Cambodia or even the oppression of basic rights and freedoms in Vietnam, we must call out bad behaviour.
In a recent statement issued by the director of Human Rights Watch Australia, Elaine Pearson, she says that this government has always preferred an approach of 'quiet diplomacy' when addressing human rights violation within our region. Simply put, we have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that, where we seek to maintain and benefit from trade relations with our neighbours, we must also be committed to ensuring that human rights abuses, wherever they occur, are promptly addressed. On that matter, I commend the government and the minister, in particular, for supporting the UNHRC's resolution for the investigation into the human rights situation in the Philippines. Australia should continue to use our voice as a member of the United Nations Human Rights Council to demand justice for victims and to ensure that human rights violators are held accountable for their crimes.
I again take the opportunity to thank my constituents for entrusting me with the honour of representing them in our federal parliament. It is an honour that I never take for granted. I hope I can live up to their expectations.
It is an honour to rise in this House again, as the re-elected member for Forde, for my fourth term. The electorate of Forde sits in the heart of South East Queensland, a region abundant in its natural beauty and rich in it cultural heritage and history. My electorate spans from the city of Logan in the north to the emerging northern Gold Coast in the south. It is an electorate that represents all that is great about Australia. I am proud to have grown up in the area and raised my two sons there with my beautiful wife, Judi.
The electorate of Forde is a place that many Australians call home. Importantly, these people who call Forde home represent generations of Australians—those who have come here more recently as well as those who have been here for millennia. It also is a place that those who have travelled from far and wide choose to call home. These are the people the Prime Minister referred to as the 'quiet Australians'. It is because of these quiet Australians that I am humbled to continue my responsibility to represent the people of Forde in this great hall and these chambers of the House—the centre of our democracy.
As I begin a new term, it's worthwhile to review what has been achieved in Forde over the past three terms that I have represented the electorate, with a coalition government that is working for families, for retirees and for small business owners across my electorate. We've worked in previous parliaments to ensure that we've had a solid foundation to enable the hardworking residents of the electorate to be rewarded for that hard work, for their enterprise and for their innovation. We do this knowing that the people who earn the money are the ones who are best positioned to determine where and how that money is spent.
It is because of our hard work over the past six years as part of the Morrison government that we are delivering our first budget surplus in over 12 years. Our strong fiscal policy and economic management means that Australia's economy remains strong and will continue to benefit the residents of my electorate and of Australia. Residents in my community are benefiting from 28 years of uninterrupted economic growth, and over 73,000 taxpayers in Forde alone will now have started to reap the rewards of this government's tax cuts to lower- and middle-income earners. I remain focused on reducing the cost-of-living pressures for households across Logan and the northern Gold Coast, but it was always a challenge, considering the position of those opposite. Our tax plan will give the hardworking people of Forde the best opportunity and platform in life to reach their goals and aspirations—not hold them back, as those opposite seek to do. I will fiercely continue to defend the government's position of lower taxes against what those opposite proposed in the recent election.
The people of my electorate are also benefiting from our plans for small business. Small business is the bread and butter of my community. There are over 15,000 small businesses in the electorate of Forde that will benefit from the tax relief plan for small business. These are small and family businesses like CG's Coffee & Grub at Bethania and G1 Asset Management at Yatala. They are benefiting from the fast-tracked business tax cuts. I want to see business grow in my electorate, and it is our plan that small business will see the incentive to grow and prosper and employ more Australians. This is why, through the increase in the instant asset write-off, small business will be able to write off those assets that they purchase to operate their business. This instant asset write-off will increase from $25,000 to $30,000 and can be used every time an asset under that amount is purchased. This will stimulate the economy and enable a cafe to get a new fridge or grill, a plumber to buy new tools or a courier to buy a new van.
I'm also proud to be part of a government that has increased funding for public hospital services in Queensland by 78 per cent since we came into office, despite the constant mistruths perpetuated by the opposition candidate during the election campaign. I'm glad to see that the residents of Forde saw through their smear tactics and realised that funding to Logan Hospital has increased by some 65 per cent and has doubled at the Griffith University hospital since Labor was last in government. I look forward to working with the state government on delivering the $33.4 million in funding towards the urgent and specialist care centre for Logan Hospital, and I hope we will see an end to Labor's health lies in the years to come. This government will also invest some $31 billion to public hospitals over the next five years and $310 billion towards public education in the next decade.
The important thing in all of this and the difference between this government and those opposite is that we deliver on our promises and they don't. Under this government, Medicare spending is guaranteed and is increasing every year, from $24 billion in 2017-18 to $28.8 billion in 2021-22, to ensure every Australian has access to our world-class healthcare system. It is this coalition government's strong economic management that is delivering continued record investment in our vital health system, ensuring its long-term sustainability.
In my electorate of Forde last year, over 1.2 million GP visits were bulk-billed—over 300,000 more than when Labor was last in government, in 2012-13. The bulk-billing rate in my electorate is now at 95.8 per cent—more than it ever was under Labor. I am proud that we are delivering better health services, facilities and technologies and, importantly, improved outcomes for the constituents of my electorate, including through funding to upgrade the Logan Hospital children's ward; more real support for Beenleigh rehabilitation services' drug and alcohol treatment program and for Logan's Street Doctor, which provides health services for the homeless and disadvantaged; a new headspace centre for the northern Gold Coast; and grants for Brook RED and Meadowbrook headspace for ongoing specialist mental health services for children and teenagers, as well as their families and friends.
Mental health is an important issue in Forde, which is why I invited the Prime Minister to Meadowbrook to learn about the valuable services that Canefields Clubhouse provides to people living with mental illness. It was a rewarding and humbling experience to join the Prime Minister and members of Canefields in the simple act of cake decorating, which is one of the many ways Canefields Clubhouse can support their members in developing their trust and socialisation abilities, to say nothing of the fantastic artwork that many of the members of Canefields also do. Equally, on that day I was pleased to announce with the Prime Minister $1.6 million in funding to Canefields Clubhouse, which will assist them on their path to becoming fully self-sufficient so they can continue to provide valuable mental health services for years to come.
If I were to single out one health achievement just delivered in Forde it would be the granting of a new fully Medicare funded MRI licence to Qscan Radiology for their new clinic in Upper Coomera. Upper Coomera is one of the fastest growing regions in my electorate and across Australia. As a burgeoning community, it's critical that this area has local access to MRI services for lifesaving scans for cancer, stroke, heart and other medical conditions. This MRI licence means that locals will be able to access a Medicare rebate for an estimated 5,900 services a year, saving lives and reducing the costs for patients.
I'm not alone in understanding and appreciating the importance of these facilities for families facing travel and the stress of dealing with serious medical conditions. There could be no stronger statement of support made than by appointing a Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I am grateful that the Prime Minister feels so committed to supporting Australians with a disability that he decided to bring the NDIS directly into cabinet. The NDIS represents a significant shift in the delivery of services for people with a disability, and our National Disability Strategy will transform the lives of young people with permanent and significant disability.
I also wish to acknowledge the thousands of people, not just in my electorate but from across south-east Queensland, from learner drivers just starting their journey to families, business owners, commuters and those working in the transport industry, such as couriers and truck drivers, who keep the Australian economy moving. I'd like to thank all of the Queenslanders who got behind my Fix the M1 campaign. I'd like to thank the member for Bonner, here in the chamber, for being part of that as well. I'm proud to say that your support for my campaign is beginning to deliver a safer and quicker drive, with upgrades already underway and funds already budgeted. Too much precious time is taken away from home and loved ones with residents of Forde travelling on the M1, which often feels more like a car park than a freeway. With the Prime Minister I was proud to have committed over $1 billion in congesting-busting funding to the M1. I'm focused on getting residents of Forde home sooner and safer. This includes $347.5 million for the Eight Mile Plains to Daisy Hill stretch and another $500 million towards the Daisy Hill to Logan Motorway upgrade. This will ensure the M1 is eight lanes from Nerang to the Gateway—the way it should have been built in the first place.
I'm also committed to ensuring our local roads are safe. I look forward to seeing my election commitments come to fruition, particularly in the City of Logan, where the federal government has committed $2.5 million to the upgrade of High Road and Easterly Street in Waterford, $11.5 million for the Chambers Flat Road upgrade between Park Ridge Road and Derby Road, and in Beenleigh to upgrade the current mismatch of road surfaces and lane widths on Beaudesert-Beenleigh Road between Milne Street and Tallagandra Road.
I also look forward to delivering our new commuter car parks at Loganlea, Beenleigh and Coomera train stations, which will provide the residents of Forde with more and safer car parking spaces. This valuable investment in our public transport network will incentivise commuters across Logan and the Gold Coast to use public transport to get home sooner and safer. I'm proud to be a member of a government that invests in our road and transport infrastructure, because it is good for not only commuters but our economy and Australia.
It's also no secret that I'm a big fan of sport, which is why I take this opportunity to recognise the outstanding achievements of many up-and-coming sporting champions across the electorate of Forde. In fact, the homegrown talent in my electorate that has gone on to achieve international success includes the very recognisable names of Corey Parker and Cameron Smith for rugby league, Jodie Henry for swimming, sprinter Trae Williams, and Alex Leapai for boxing.
Tomorrow's sporting superstars are being nurtured on our school ovals and in gymnasiums across sporting clubs in my electorate of Forde. Sport brings together people from all different backgrounds and it is the foundation of the strong community spirit that we enjoy. This is why I've committed valuable federal government funding towards upgrading the oval at Marsden State High School and building new changing rooms at Logan Lightning Football Club in Beenleigh. This investment in our local sporting hubs will allow local schools and sporting groups to train and foster emerging sports men and women into the future. The people of Forde are proud of our sporting heritage and we look forward to watching the champions of the future sign their names in the national and international halls of fame.
I also look forward to seeing students and families of all abilities enjoying the new facilities on the oval at the Kimberley Park State School, thanks to our commitment to building disability access to the oval and terracing. Eagleby and Norfolk Village state schools will also benefit from federal government funding towards the establishment of children's health and wellbeing hubs, greatly improving the services that the wonderful staff at both Eagleby and Norfolk Village already provide to our local community.
Every child deserves an education, no matter their ability. Being part of a school community is so much more than just learning how to read and write. I take this opportunity to recognise the students, teachers and families of Beenleigh Special School. When I visit I'm always inspired by the time, effort and care that is taken by the teachers, carers and helpers there to help those students, many with severe disabilities, be the best that they can be. Importantly, this is supported by significant funding increases by this government across our public schools, our Catholic schools and our independent schools. It is this government that is investing in Australian children's education to ensure that our kids can be the best that they can be.
In conclusion, I'd like to reflect and thank a number of people. As we stand in this place it is always worthwhile to reflect on how we got here and the collective effort of the many people that allow us the honour and privilege of representing our communities in this place.
I wish to recognise and acknowledge the efforts of those who helped ensure my re-election in Forde and, most importantly, the re-election of the coalition government. Firstly, I wish to acknowledge the efforts of the government's leadership team and thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison and ministers for visiting my electorate to provide us with the valuable support needed during the campaign. I'd also like to recognise the efforts of the amazing Senator Amanda Stoker, my patron senator. Your presence during my campaign was very much appreciated not just by me but by my staff and the wonderful volunteers, who were invigorated and inspired by your presence.
I wish to thank my FDC campaign team—Roger Emmerson, Joel Hall, Joel Prokic, Andrew Caswell, Pat Reynolds and Byron Sellan—for their support during the campaign. For many of you, this would be your second or third time supporting my re-election, and I thank you for your continued support. I also wish to thank my awesome staff of Byron, Vanessa, Jordan, Siobhan, Katie and Alannah. I would not have achieved the wonderful result we had without your tireless efforts not only during my election campaign but also in the weeks and months leading up to 18 May. Your dedication and performance were above expectations and, for many of my staff, this was their first campaign. And can I say it was an outstanding effort for a terrific bunch of first timers.
I would also like to acknowledge the generous contribution and support of the fabulous volunteers who helped me during the campaign. I had volunteers of all age groups and backgrounds helping me, and their involvement in my campaign was invaluable. I'd also like to especially acknowledge the support of the members of the young LNP. It was refreshing to see so many young and new faces being involved in politics. I also wish to acknowledge the many volunteers who belong to local sporting community groups, who supported me because of the relationships I've had the privilege of building over the last three terms.
Lastly, but certainly not least, I'd like to thank my beautiful family, who have always been by my side on my parliamentary journey. One of the only constant sources of encouragement to us in this House is the love and support of our families, which we could not go without. I'd like to acknowledge the tireless efforts and contribution of my beautiful wife, Judi, and our two sons Zac and Josh. My wife, Judi, is the rock of my life, and I wish to thank her for all of the love, support and wise counsel she has given me—albeit I don't listen to it all the time! Your guidance and assistance to my campaign is invaluable. And to my sons, who have grown into two fine young men: you'll always find a way to step up. I'm a thankful and proud dad.
In closing, I wish to extend my thanks and gratitude to the people of Forde, who've put their trust in me for another three years. You can rest assured that I am focused on continuing to deliver for you and continuing to be your local voice in Canberra.
Mr Speaker, colleagues, family and friends that are here today, Lindsay is in so many ways a microcosm of the Australian community. It's got families, it's got retired people, it's got lots and lots of small businesses and it's got a very strong community spirit. These are the words of former Prime Minister Howard OM AC on his visit to Lindsay during the campaign—and, as always, former Prime Minister Howard is right—'From Menzies' forgotten people to Howard's battlers to Morrison's quite Australians, Lindsay has been and will remain a microcosm of Australia.'
Former Prime Minister Menzies called the forgotten people the backbone of our nation. In the 1950s, nowhere was this represented more than in outer Western Sydney. Penrith was a nucleus for the transformation of market farming into suburbia, where the aspirational working class were moving out of the city to secure their slice of the Australian dream and a better life for their families. Back then, most people travelled by train into the city only a couple of times a year. Today, hundreds of thousands of people commute out of Western Sydney daily.
By 1996 and the election of Jackie Kelly to Lindsay, Western Sydney had changed significantly. The outstanding win in Lindsay was so significant that we became the epicentre for the Howard battlers. This is because Prime Minister Howard was able to do what Menzies did before him: reach into people's hearts and light their aspiration. I had the privilege to work for Jackie Kelly and Prime Minister Howard. What I learnt most from both of them was the importance of spending time listening to and connecting with people and to have conviction. Today, Lindsay is very much the heartland of Morrison's quiet Australians. But as Menzies's forgotten people become our older Australians we must not forget them again, and as Howard's batters wind up their careers as hardworking Australians we must not forget them, just as Morrison's quiet Australians have not been forgotten.
From working for Prime Minister Howard to working with Prime Minister Morrison, it is now my responsibility to ensure the aspirational people of Lindsay, working hard to get ahead for their families, continue to be listened to and fought for. It is with an enormous amount of gratitude to this microcosm of Australia, our community of Lindsay, that I humbly stand before you today to make my inaugural speech to parliament. Thank you for placing your trust in me to represent you, to deliver my plan for Lindsay and, as Prime Minister Howard also said in Penrith that day, I promise to work for you very, very hard. I will fight for the people who are working hard for their families and commuting out of the area every day for a good job. They have said they don't want to be doing that long commute. They want jobs close to home. Today, only five per cent of people in Western Sydney live within 30 minutes of their work. As someone who commuted for over 10 years, there is nothing I want more for our community than good local jobs.
I will fight for our families who want a healthy community, better recreational and sporting facilities and a beautiful Nepean River. This is why I announced funding during the election to keep our river healthy, and to upgrade Chapman Gardens in Kingswood and Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre in Cambridge Park for all our families to enjoy. For the mums and dads who drive their kids to school, I'll fight—and for our tradies who use our roads for work. They've said they want less congestion and to get to where they're going, and home again, safer and quicker. There is nothing more on my mind than our community's safety and ensuring that people's loved ones get home, because I know the feeling when they don't.
My husband, Stuart, would often cycle from home, in Emu Plains, to the Penrith Whitewater Stadium to train when he was an Olympic athlete. Cycling was just part of his training regime. One evening Stuart didn't come home. I called everyone we knew. I put the kids in the car and drove the route, back and forth, between our house and the stadium. Instinct told me where he was. I rang Nepean Hospital, and this is where I found him. Stuart had been hit by a car, on Castlereagh Road, and flew off his bike onto his head. In that instant, the injuries he sustained ended his sporting career. Safer, less congested roads are very much part of my plan for Lindsay. I was so pleased that, thanks to the community's support for my petition, Prime Minister Morrison announced $63½ million for the upgrade to Dunheved Road, and I am very committed to its delivery.
I will fight for small businesses, like Emu Plains Automotive Repairs, Bubbles Florist, Kingswood Florist and the well-known cafes in Penrith—The Natural Choice, Thor's Cafe, Bethany's, and Ratha's Place in St Marys—to name a few, people who are having a go. They have said they want to have a strong local economy and fewer taxes on their businesses so they can focus on what they do best for their customers.
I'll fight for retired people, like 92-year-old Glad. She's in North St Marys, and I met her at her home. She lived alone and still tried to stay active in her garden. As our community ages I will ensure they are not forgotten. How fortunate are we when we have people in our corner, always, especially when we get older. When I meet people in our community who don't have this, it breaks my heart—women who, after years of contributing to our society, find themselves in older age experiencing homelessness and older people in their homes experiencing loneliness. This concerns me greatly and I've seen both, working in a social housing and homelessness organisation and doorknocking over months throughout our community.
It is so important as people get older that they have a support network, whether family, friends or in the community. I know this firsthand. Just over two years ago my parents lost our family home of 40 years to fire, and every single material belonging they owned. I will never forget the feeling of not being able to get to them quickly enough, pulling my car over at the top of the street and running as fast as I could down its length, past fire trucks, police cars and people, with that terrible smell of fire getting stronger, and to turn the corner to see flames and the last remnants of the house burning. But we didn't lose my parents, and it is our families and friends, and their love for each other, plus my parents' inbuilt drive, that got them through.
I worry for people who, in older age, don't have that, especially when they need it most. And I will fight to maintain our very strong community spirit. This is a foundation of a great community. In Lindsay, community spirit is not just in our foundation; we are full to the brim and overflowing with it. I'll never forget the day that a local man who I know doesn't have much for himself brought me a cup of tea and a slice of cake at prepoll. It was the community spirit that kept me going throughout the campaign, and I would like to thank everyone who was kind to me during this time.
I was proud to be here for the opening of the 46th Parliament, where we honoured our country's First People. I would particularly like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land of Lindsay. There are over 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Lindsay, and there are many local organisations supporting our Indigenous community, like Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services in Cranebrook, whose breakfast club ensures that kids have something good to eat before they go to school. I was very pleased that I was able to secure funding for a new bus so that kids could be picked up from home to go to breakfast and then be dropped at school. Cheese-toastie Wednesdays are the best! I would like to give my happiest wishes to all the kids and families who visit the breakfast club.
There are many people I would like to thank who have played a special part in my journey to this place. I can't name you all, but there are a few I do want to mention—firstly, our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison: thank you for your time, support and advice. I am very grateful that your first stop during the election was in Lindsay, to visit our river, where you used to row as a kid, and you've been back a lot of times since. You are always very welcome. People in our community know that you are committed to us—except when our beloved Panthers play at Shark Park!
And I mention my first, second and third political bosses—the former member for Lindsay, the Hon. Jackie Kelly, who gave me my first job out at Western Sydney University; Prime Minister Howard, who I had the privilege to work for here in Canberra at the age of 22; and the Hon. Alex Hawke, who I have long called friend and can now call colleague. I have served in the offices of each of you and have been the beneficiary of your political guidance, and it means a lot that you believed in me and are proud to see me in this place. Alex, thank you also for your support in my campaign for Lindsay.
Another powerhouse in our great Liberal Party who has been a mentor and friend is Senator the Hon. Marise Payne—my thanks to you—and the Hon. Stuart Ayres. I am fortunate to be able to work alongside you both now for the people of Penrith, Lindsay and Western Sydney, and with my state colleague from Mulgoa, the Hon. Tanya Davies; Penrith mayor Councillor Ross Fowler OAM and our Penrith Liberal councillors. I want to mention the Hon. Robert Hill AC, our former defence minister, who served as a senator for 25 years. Thank you for being here today. Robert, along with another great friend and mentor, who is also here—Kevin McCann AC—helped guide my way back to politics when we were together at the US Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and, along with Craig Purcell, supported me to start my own think tank program at the centre; W21, the 21st century global women's initiative, allowed me to explore important issues around women and work, and to work with the world's best academics in this space.
To former president of the New South Wales Liberal Party and good friend Nick Campbell and federal president Nick Greiner: you have both given me so much of your time and guidance and have helped support the political pathway of many women in our great Liberal Party. To New South Wales state director Chris Stone, deputy campaign director Luke Nayna and campaign officer Bonnie Marshall—always in my corner. Locally, there is my campaign team and the Lindsay conference, led by president Glenn Gardiner—and my special thanks to Moe Rumman.
I also want to mention our extended Liberal Party family, Alex Hawke's Mitchell conference, and the Hume and Bradfield conferences and their MPs, the Hon. Angus Taylor and the Hon. Paul Fletcher. I thank all of those whose support enabled us to run such a fantastic campaign and the volunteers who walked and stood with me over those many weeks of campaigning, some of whom are here today. I would like to acknowledge Fiona Scott, the former member for Lindsay; former New South Wales women's council president Chantelle Fornari-Orsmond; Scott; Maureen; and Deni Hastings. I thank the people for whom it didn't matter if it was a freezing cold morning at a train station or an all-day campaign; they were there. It was not only members of our Liberal Party but hardworking locals.
I thank all of my coalition colleagues who have supported me on the campaign and since entering the 46th Parliament. It is our Morrison government policies that are going to make hardworking people's lives better. It was very special for me to join you to pass the income tax cuts that mean that around 77,000 Lindsay residents, who are working hard and aspirational, will be keeping more of than own money.
On a personal level, I am a proud Liberal who is grateful for good Liberal Party policy. It was Menzies' 1950s policy that I can thank for being here today. In the late 1950s, a very important invitation from the Prime Minister travelled the seas to a little town in Austria called Graz. My dad had been through war and lost his whole family. He lost his mum, his dad and his sister. He was raised by his grandmother. When she died, there wasn't much to keep him there. He worked hard and saved. When he was 23 and the invitation came from Menzies to create a new home in Australia, dad was aboard that ship. He came with only a few material possessions, but one of the most important things he came with was his drive to have a go.
Mum had an equally modest upbringing. My grandmother was one of 12 children and life wasn't always easy. Just like with my dad, mum changed her life by working hard. When times were a bit tricky, she dug in and worked harder. Just to show how working hard has its benefits, it was through both of my parents working in the same manufacturing company, at a time when manufacturing was booming in Western Sydney, that they met and fell in love. Mum and Dad worked hard for what they built, and I hopefully I received 100 per cent of the gene pool for hard work and aspiration. Growing up, I was enthusiastically encouraged to pursue my dreams. Taking responsibility, working hard for your success and love of family are attributes I am very grateful have been given to me by my parents.
It does take a village to raise a family. It is a very noisy village, filled with all of our beautiful kids, that drives me most: my sister Karen and her family; my brother Craig, his wife Belinda and their kids; and my brother Conrad, who helped his little sister on the campaign, his wife Debbie and their children too. There are over 20 of us. Many are here today. I would like to acknowledge Shereen and Gavin from Queensland. My greatest thanks are to Rhonda and Edmund, the best mum and dad in the world. Thanks, mum. Thanks, dad. I thank my husband Stuart and our most beautiful, smart and caring children, who are everything to me. There is Byron, our 16-year-old: I am so proud of what he is achieving in year 11 as he gets ready for the next phase of learning. Coby, our 11-year-old, has such a wondrous interest in wireless connections and landline internet connections—anything that powers Fortnite. There is Summer, who is so fast at running that it is now her mum saying, 'Wait for me.' Your encouragement and belief in me has allowed me to follow this political path. Thank you. I love you all greatly.
My political journey isn't as straightforward as some who come into this place. How does one go from training all of their young life as a dancer to being a parliamentarian? They have Conrad and Penelope Helfrich, two of our country's legends in the performing arts industry, instil at a young age the lifelong practice of professionalism, grace and always being on time. I shan't ever be late to question time, thanks to these two people who are here today from Melbourne. Dancing was everything to me when I was young. One of my first memories of Penrith was performing in a talent quest on stage in the old Penrith High Street mall. It was to 'Eye of the Tiger', so it was definitely the eighties. You can imagine my delight when I walked into Friendship Day celebrations last week, which connects people with disabilities in our community, and heard that very song playing and saw the dance floor in full swing. How could I do anything but join in? Congratulations to NADO for such a beautiful day that brought everyone, including me, so much joy.
My political career started with great enthusiasm when I was 21, fresh out of Western Sydney University. I am so proud to be an alumni of this world-class university and look forward to ensuring that it goes from strength to strength over the coming years as our children are educated in Lindsay's jobs of the future. The education I received here was the springboard for so many opportunities throughout my career.
At 23, I entered the corporate world. Like many young people and young women, I was rushing to get ahead and achieve it all before kids. I was also the girl from Penrith wanting to be the best and to take all the opportunities. People from Western Sydney are really committed; if you have to commute three hours a day or more for your job, you have to be.
But then an experience changed things. I was given a wonderful opportunity to travel to New York for work. A couple of days out from my departure, the trip was cancelled. I was disappointed. I was going to be staying at the famous Twin Towers. I would have been in one of those towers on September 11. I will never forget that day, sitting in an almost empty office in Sydney, about 20 storeys up overlooking Hyde Park, wondering what would have happened if I had made it to New York. Rushing for a career wasn't so important after that, so I put it on hold and I went travelling the world with Stuart and his sporting career. I also became a mum, and we visited over 20 countries with our first child, Byron, before he was one. He says he doesn't remember it. Travelling with a baby was an amazing and, at times, wonderful experience—overwhelming!—but it was one that made me value even more our beautiful country, which truly is the best in the world. When we returned home, my career changed paths again, including a time when I thought it would be a great idea to have my own small business and a travelling with kids website with my good friend Rebecca Collins, who is here today. Rebecca journeyed with me to create business ideas and inventions that would solve all the parental troubles of the world. How good are mum start-ups.
All three of my children were born in Nepean Hospital like me, and I have always worked. I think the balancing act as a working mum is something that takes a lifetime of practice. Sometimes this has been very hard. I remember dragging myself onto the train at 7 am each morning for the long commute into the city for my job, very pregnant and very tired. Sometimes people didn't offer you their seat. Sometimes I would have been anywhere else but on that train. My story isn't very unique, particularly in Lindsay. It's about family, hard work, opportunities and aspiration. I think this has always been the Lindsay way.
I was very fortunate to introduce the Premier of New South Wales at a Menzies Research Centre event, and I would like to acknowledge the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian for her support of my campaign. It was at this event that my friend and Menzies centre director, Nick Cater, declared me to one of the best thing to happen to Penrith since the first train in 1863. This is a wonderful compliment, as the introduction of the railway transformed Penrith which, right up until the First World War, served as a major railway town. Just as rail transformed Penrith in the 1800s, rail will again play a major role in its transformation in the future, with a north-south rail link from St Marys to Badgerys Creek opening in 2026 in time for the airport.
But rail won't be the biggest thing to happen to Penrith or, indeed, the whole community of Lindsay. This time, it will be air travel. With it, people in Lindsay finally will have the full potential to realise the aspirations they have always had. Western Sydney International Nancy-Bird Walton Airport has the potential to be transformational not only for Western Sydney but for our whole country. The blueprint that has been decades in the making is now being brought to life and the result will be thousands of jobs, expanded export opportunities and new industries that we haven't yet thought of. Every dollar invested by the government in the airport will generate $1.80 in return to our economy. By 2063, the airport will contribute over $5.8 billion per annum to our national economy, while business profits are forecast to increase by $2 billion a year. The key to unlocking all this is the aerotropolis and local jobs—in agriculture with local produce exported to Asia and the world, in tourism and advanced manufacturing, and even in world-class space manufacturing capability that could boost and transform our national space industry. But we aren't there yet. Building the puzzle and bringing it all together is going to be a huge task in persistence and determination, and it is what I'm committed to do.
The thing is, we have the smarts and the drive in Western Sydney, and it's time we stopped exporting them. No longer do people in Lindsay have to go somewhere else for their aspiration. People want to live, work and stay in our community, and as parents, we want our kids to stay too. How do we move the dial so that more people can work where they live? The answer is in Lindsay. We ensure that Lindsay's world-class education institutions, which are going to be taking full advantage of western Sydney's supercharged infrastructure development, are training our local kids in the jobs of the future. This starts in school and connects all the way through to post school education and workforce training. We also activate our full workforce potential.
In 2014, when I was at the US Studies Centre, I created and led the International Dialogue on Women in Leadership, a G20 event in partnership with my friend Russell Trood at Griffith University. Sadly, Russell is no longer with us, and I would like to acknowledge his service as a senator. I hope, Russell, you would be proud that I am here. The international dialogue examined how we would reach the G20's target of reducing the gender gap in workforce participation by 25 per cent by 2025. Why are we doing this? For sustainable economic growth. In Australia, an increase in women's participation could add $25 billion to our country's economy. If we can do it as a nation we can do it in western Sydney.
Encouraging female workforce participation and providing opportunities in the industries that will feature with the development of the airport, manufacturing, agriculture, science and technology are going to be key to ensuring we are reaching our full workforce potential. I've seen it on a national and international level and I know it will work on a local level.
When I created a program for a community housing provider and consulted, again, with world-leading academics to transition women in social housing to economic and housing independence, it was their ability to find and sustain work that would ultimately transform their lives—women who had experienced intergenerational welfare, women who were escaping domestic violence and women who had the aspiration they just needed the opportunities, and that's our Liberal way. There are many pieces to the puzzle. Educating our local Lindsay kids in the jobs of the future and activating our full workforce potential are just two that we can begin now.
As Prime Minister Morrison says, 'It's what we do now in policy making that will have a lasting outcome for the next 10 years and more.' It is so important we get it right. Not forgetting or leaving behind Howard's battlers and Menzies' forgotten people, it is now time for Morrison's quiet Australians of Lindsay to fulfil the aspirations we all share. There is never going to be a better opportunity for us to be front and centre driving our own economic future. A job within 30 minutes of home is just the start, not the end, of what we can achieve together.
I would like to conclude with a quote that means something to me personally from the former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. She said:
You will make a difference in the world, but not immediately. Your first obligation is to find something you like doing, because if you like doing it, you'll do it well.
I love representing our community, working hard to fulfil their aspirations and delivering my plan for Lindsay and, with God's blessing, I hope I will do it well. That is why I could confidently say on election night, 'I will promise I won't let you down.'
I offer my congratulations to the member for Lindsay. I wish her a long and fruitful career and great representation on behalf of her people, and I congratulate her once again on her maiden speech. On 27 April, on a rainy morning in Mackay, about 700 people gathered on the lawns of the Mackay Regional Council precinct to take a stand against the Green lunatic fringe. They did what most of them had never done before—they protested. They were amazed that they had to do this, but they were fed up with the thousands of green lefties and commentators from thousands of kilometres away telling them what jobs they could have, what companies they could do business with and what future they could expect for their children.
Central and North Queenslanders could generally ignore the rants and rubbish flowing from the south; they just got on with their lives. But, when the announcement was made that a former Greens leader and ageing hippie from Tasmania was heading north with a convoy to save us from ourselves, that was the last straw. After the disbelief—that people from as far away as Tasmania should be telling North Queenslanders what to do and think—came resolve, and then followed action.
Strangely enough, Bob Brown uttered some resounding words of wisdom, which are written on his website, and they explain exactly what happened when his convoy came to Central Queensland and North Queensland. Bob Brown said:
When people stand up for what they believe in they have unbeatable power.
Yes, Mr Brown was very much right on that point. The people of Central and North Queensland, and indeed across the rest of the state of Queensland, stood up for what they believed in and demonstrated that unbeatable power when they rejected Labor's weasel words on mining and the leanings of the Green Left and handed the member for Maribynong a loss in what was being styled as the 'unlosable election' for the Labor Party.
I would like to pay tribute to the economic development group which actually drove that protest to Mackay and to the other leaders in the community who supported its stance. The Resource Industry Network is a not-for-profit industry group which represents the small and medium-sized businesses which benefit directly from the resources sector and associated industries. The Resource Industry Network swung into action to stick up for the region, creating a website, www.forthefutureofourregion.org.au. They produced 'Go Galilee' signs, T-shirts and even earrings.
These are some of the words that were shared by our community leaders, as people gathered in the park, in the rain, on the first of two protest days. Resource Industry Network director Mick Crowe said:
We're here for our future. This isn't about whether a coalmine gets built or not. This is a protest about whether our industry has a future or not. We want to be heard. We'll be respectful. It's not about politics—it's about our town and our people.
The mayor of Mackay, Councillor Greg Williamson, said this:
We support democracy. We support everybody who wants to have a voice. But don't come into our patch and say, 'You can't do what supports 60 per cent of your regional economy.
He was joined by the Mackay Region Chamber of Commerce treasurer, Simon Vigliante, who said:
It's one degree of separation between coal and our livelihoods.
Another Mackay Regional Councillor, former Rugby League great and now Green Shirts leader Marty Bella, said:
They come from down south. They don't know us. We create wealth—they use it.
And, again, Mick Crowe, the director of the Resource Industry Network, summed it up when he said:
We need to show Australia we're here, we matter and we need a future. We need to show all the people of Australia and the politicians of Australia that if you won't back our futures we can back you.
He said to the community, 'Help us get a voice.'
Speaking after the second rally, Mick Crow went on to say, 'We're the people who are going to live with the legacy of whether mining gets supported in this state. Are we in great shape as a region because of coal? Absolutely. Will we stay that way? Not if we don't build new mines. The Galilee is the platform that gives us 30 or 40 years. If we don't make that investment, if that doesn't happen, how do we explain the next 30 to 40 years apart from shrinking? It is logical. The world needs it. We're good at it. How do we make it happen?'
The collective voice from this rally, and a second rally held about two weeks later, was: 'Galilee, Galilee, a future for our families.' At about the same time as the green activists were heading north to tell us what to do, a revelation came forth from the Australian Labor Party National Conference about their policies on mining jobs. Labor's plan was a just transition away from mining. Though Labor tried to paint this as some sort of scare campaign, the truth was there in black and white in Labor's policy documents. Labor promised to create a just transition authority, which would, according to their documents, have the power to implement pooled redundancy and redeployment schemes for workers in coal power stations and associated mines. This was referred to in a fact sheet in a media release from the then opposition leader in Labor's National Platform as Labor's uncosted economy-wide climate policy. Labor was making its intention to kill off coal jobs crystal clear. The document specifically listed the Bowen Basin as one of the target areas for their unbelievable hit on the coal sector.
In their climate policy Labor said they would spend $8½ million to establish pooled redundancy schemes for coal miners. How did we get to the point where the Labor Party, the so-called workers' party, wanted taxpayers' money to put people out of a job? We saw one Labor MP after another, including the then deputy leader and the then shadow environment minister use the Adani Carmichael coal project as their whipping boy, which was essentially smashing the coal sector. The member for Port Adelaide said:
I do not support opening new mines in the Galilee Basin, whether it's by Adani, Clive Palmer or anyone else for that matter.
The member for Griffith has been openly against the mine and has been on the record as opposing the Adani Carmichael coal mine for over two years. In 2018, during the abatement by-election, in reference to the Adani project the member for Maribyrnong said:
I don't support it because it doesn't add up commercially and environmentally…
The member for Sydney said:
It doesn't stack up.
And, on coal, the new Deputy Leader of Opposition said:
… I mean the, the, the global market for thermal coal has collapsed and wonderful, that's a good thing, because what that implies is that the world is acting in relation to climate change.
He was asked:
The collapse of thermal coal is a good thing, you said?
The, the, the global market for thermal coal—because what that implies is that the world is moving to a more renewable energy sources.
The reporter asked him:
… that effects jobs in Australia quite significantly?
Oh, well it, it, it, it just, what it means is that the, the, the economic case for opening up the Galilee Basin isn't now what it was a decade ago.
Shame. So what does the coal industry mean to the Mackay region? I can tell you, it provides 58 per cent of the region's economy. The Resource Industry Network's For the Future of our Region explains it this way:
The region's coal industry is the engine room of the Mackay economy, responsible in 2018 for 43% of economic activity. It's something we simply can't afford to lose!
FOR OUR JOBS
Almost 18,000 direct jobs and support for 58% of Mackay region employment makes it clear that without a thriving coal industry, the only way for regional employment is down.
FOR OUR KIDS
The Mackay region is home to more than 15,000 school-aged children who deserve the same opportunities as their metropolitan counterparts to win skilled, well-paid jobs.
FOR OUR COMMUNITY
Coal mining is the economic glue that holds the Mackay region together, making it the envy of other regional cities and towns who see their people and futures drifting away.
Here are some more fast facts on coal mining and its direct benefits to the Mackay region from the Queensland Resources Council. It means: $1.1 billion in wages; 17, 974 full time jobs; $3.4 billion spent locally; 1,810 local businesses paid; and 261 community groups helped, and yet Labor just don't get it. Despite once claiming to be the proud party of the worker, Labor politician after Labor politician bagged the industry, bagged Adani, bagged the Galilee Basin and bagged thermal and metallurgical coalmines. They offered weasel words rather than reassurance to workers in our mining and construction industries, because they had to do deals in innercity seats to save their politicians.
The CFMEU in Queensland had to come out and fight for the jobs of their members in the face of a complete lack of support for their industry from Labor leaders. The CFMEU saw the just transition plan for what it was—a threat to their existence—and they demanded Labor candidates sign a pledge of support for their industry. CFMEU Queensland President Stephen Smyth led the charge. They put up a motion that stated:
We will request a pledge from them … if you want support for us, you pledge your support for the coal industry.
He further added:
If we have to, we will campaign against those MPs no matter which party they're in. Even if they're perched up in the little cosy suburbs somewhere in the southeast drinking their lattes.
He spoke of the angst of coalminers:
We watch proud men and women caring for their families that are reduced to sitting by and watching their futures be decided in the political/media arena. As families struggle through, purchasing their homes, educating their children and preparing their retirements, they always have to watch their pride and ability to care for their partners and children wain as the challenge of 'just transition' looms.
I had at pre-polling a CFMEU member in a hat and hi-viz union shirt walk up to me—on none other than Labour Day—shake my hand, take my card and say, 'You're the one I'm backing, Mate.' He even jumped in a photo for Facebook for me. Another union member turned up with his lifetime union membership card—CFMEU again. He also showed me an old wallet he was carrying. It had his mother and father's lifetime Labor Party membership in it. He said, 'Because of all this, for the first time in my life, probably in generations in my family, I will not be voting for the Labor Party; I'll be voting for you.' He brought it in to whisper sorry to them before he cast his vote.
There are other issues that kept people in my electorate awake at night when they contemplated the prospect of a Shorten Labor government: the retiree tax, the housing tax, the electricity tax in the form of a new carbon emissions policy, weak borders, siding with the state Labor government in their attack on farmers through the tree-clearing legislation that was going to be taken federally, and the state Labor government's new so-called sustainability regulations on commercial fishermen. These are really the most unsustainable laws you could ever see. They reduce some commercial fishermen's catch by 80 per cent. That's not sustainability; that's a shutdown of an industry.
I doubt that we've ever seen such an amazing array of bad laws, and Labor wanted to introduce more at the same time. It galvanised people into action. I had big attendances at a range of meetings that I held with groups that were very worried about their future, a future potentially under a Shorten Labor government. Truckies once again turned up in numbers concerned about the return of the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal. Property developers and real estate agents gathered in my office and elsewhere. They were worried about the prospect of Labor's negative gearing policy. They saw it as a tax on the housing sector. Canefarmers, cattlemen and fishermen all gathered, battling the state Labor government, as I said, on the so-called sustainability reef laws and vegetation management laws—laws that Labor was talking about amplifying in the federal sphere. One businesswoman in Mackay, a financial planner who is about to retire, walked into my office one day and asked what she could do to help. She couldn't stand the thought of a Shorten Labor government. Many others of all ages and all walks of life stepped up to help in all sorts of ways—some putting in long hours.
There are many people I want to thank who helped during the election campaign. I particularly mention the following: Margie McLean, a saint; Leanne Fordyce, another saint; Ari Oliver; Chris Bonanno; Nicole Batzloff; Laurie Pinder; Frank and Margaret Cover; Lawrie Neilsen; Robyn Hall; Colin Hofmeier; Terry and Dulcie Dennis; Richard Wallace; Graeme and Lyn Downing; David Caracciolo; Jack McLean; Greg Porter; Alan Gascoyne; and John Cotter. In the Whitsundays there were people like Shane Newell, Stan Wright, Sophie and Lawson Camm, Helen Loft, Di Dobbins, Olga Dufty, Ailsa and Frank Reinke.
In Bowen, I want to thank Ian and Pauline Shields, Bruce Hedditch, Helena Hedditch and Bob Harris; further north, the newly minted Senator Susan McDonald, Julian Tomlinson, Peter Lindsay, Richard Stower, Rhonda Braithwaite, John Honeycombe, Rob Town, Joe and Mary Moore, Neville Dickinson, Nelvy Dickinson, Jim and Jill Gist, Ray and Rosemary Menkins, Alan Parker, David Cox, Richard Bonato, Tom and Jan Callow; and my dedicated staff—Lynnis Benallo, Shelley Argent, Megan Kerr, Lauren Ballard and some that have now left and some that came on temporarily just before the election Aaron or 'AJ' Stebbens and Damien Tessmann and a long-serving staff member of mine who gave it his all but has since left the employment in my office, Dave Westman—I want to thank him very much for his tireless support over the years and his ongoing support.
I also want to commend Michelle Landry, the member for Capricornia's, staff on their strong support obviously—with Dawson and Capricornia bordering each other—Jack McDougall, Dana, Anna Howard and Nicole Neale.
I want to pay particular tribute to Senator Matt Canavan and his strong support across the north. I was also happy to push for and see the delivery of funding for a range of projects over the past year. We've seen everything from a small boost to furnish and air condition a CWA house in Seaforth through to the massive bridge building project on the Haughton River between Ayr and Townsville.
In Mackay we're contributing $6.5 million to the Northern Beaches Community Hub in the fastest growing area of our city. We're putting $300,000 into providing seating at the Mackay Crater—the home of basketball in the city. Just under $4 million will go towards the construction of a 20-bed drug rehabilitation centre and $1.3 million is going towards the upgrade of boat ramps and recreational fishing facilities. We're providing $490,000 for lighting at Brothers Townsville Football Club, just under $200,000 for lights at Dolphins Football Club in Bucasia grounds and $80,000 is going to the Mackay Regional Social Development Coalition to teach leadership training and financial management to grassroots community groups.
In the Whitsundays we're putting $5 million into repairing the Proserpine Entertainment Centre, which was smashed during Cyclone Debbie. We're investing $2.5 million towards a maritime training centre so young men and women can do more of their training in the area where they're needed We're providing $75,000 to help Libby Edge and her Eco Barge Clean Seas operation clean up marine debris and rehabilitate turtles. We're providing headspace services in the Whitsundays so vulnerable young people and their families can get more ready access to help, and in April's Budget we announced almost $30 million to address flooding at Hamilton Plains on Shute Harbour Road.
We are also helping with sporting facilities in the Whitsundays: an extra $2.1 million for the Whitsunday Sports Park; $200,000 for a synthetic bowling green at Cape Gloucester; $480,000 for lighting upgrades at the Whitsunday Moto Sports Club. A project which will benefit the entire region is the construction of Urannah Dam—we've put $10 million forward to progress that project to get it shovel-ready. Urannah has the potential to create up to 20,000 hectares of new farming land adjacent to Bowen and Collinsville.
Also in Bowen we're investing $5 million so that the Bowen Hospital can purchase a CT scanner and associated refurbishments; almost $900,000 has been committed to the Molongle Creek Boat Club upgrade. In the Burdekin, work has begun on the Haughton River floodplain upgrade and bridge replacement. This is a half billion project which will provide flood immunity along a near 14-kilometre stretch of the Bruce Highway as well as replace the narrow and dangerous bridge that has no side rails. At Giru, the day care centre will receive $35,000 to help with their recovery from the recent floods.
In Townsville, $195 million will go towards the stage 2 of the water security pipeline. Almost $500,000 is going towards Townsville Basketball for upgrades and additions and $5 million will go to stage 2 of The Oasis Townsville, a veteran's wellness centre and support hub for veterans and ex-ADF personnel.
In the April budget, we announced $144 million for Townsville Ring Road Stage 5, which will provide four laning of the final six-kilometre stretch of this road link. The Townsville Turf Club has also received a helping hand with just under $200,000 going towards the upgrade of their female jockey facilities.
As we look to the future, one thing that I am very much focused on is securing a regional deal for the Mackay Isaac Whitsunday region. This was my commitment to the people of Dawson ahead of the election, and I have been working with the region's mayors—Greg Williamson, Andrew Wilcox and Anne Baker—to put together the details of an agreed plan of transformational projects for our region. They are projects that will futureproof our region, projects that will actually ensure a continuation of profitability and sustainability in existing industries in our region. As we perhaps move towards more automation in mining, we want to see work on that done in our region, not in a capital city and certainly not in another country; we want to see it in our region. We have opportunities to diversify in our agricultural sector, to provide more profitability to farmers. We also see the ability to transform our region altogether into a new tourist sector, whether it be more land based tourism opportunities in the Whitsundays or making Mackay a destination in its own right rather than a gateway to the Whitsundays and the islands. These are things that I'm going to be pursuing in my real action as the member for Dawson.
I thank all of those who cast their vote for me so strongly and carrying every single booth across the electorate. It's an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Dawson. Thank you very much.
It's a great privilege to rise in this chamber as a cabinet minister in the new Morrison government. Our focus was made clear at the first meeting of the ministry last year, when the Prime Minister presented each of us with an Australian flag pin—a symbolic and significant reminder for us from day one that we were there to serve the Australian people. It's a focus that never wavered. That was clear during the campaign, and it's even clearer to us all today. We know that our role is to back the aspiration of Australians. That's our job. It's not our job to tell them what they should be doing, how they should be thinking, what car they should be driving or what cause they should support.
Freedom is what underpins individual aspiration, and economic prosperity is what underpins both freedom and aspiration. That's why a strong economy is central to our vision and our agenda. It's not something we take for granted; it's something we work towards every day not because of ideology but because we know that a strong economy delivers a better way of life, more opportunity and a chance to get away for the quiet, hardworking Australians who make this country great. That's why the economy matters. It's about people, not numbers or figures.
I'm extremely proud to hold a broad and crucial economic portfolio: industry, science and technology. As an engineer by profession and having served as Assistant Minister for Science and Assistant Minister for Vocational Education and Skills, I came to this role with the grounding in the essentials: science and practical skills. I'm also one of the many people on the side of the House who have run their own small business. Since I was elected in 2010, I've worked hard and diligently for my electorate of MacPherson on the southern Gold Coast and for the Australian people. I'm not a factional player. I don't seek the limelight. I believe good government is about results and working hard.
Let's be honest. Over the past decade, there has been a culture of musical-chairs leadership and political games on both sides of politics. I love Game of Thrones as much as the next person, but the instability and drama we've seen over the past decade are not what Australians want from their governments. It dismayed me as much as it dismayed everyone else. I'm pleased that those days are behind us. The Australian people voted in May this year for a new way of government under the leadership of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. They voted for stability, humility and sensible government that puts the Australian people first rather than those who walk the corridors of power.
I'm also proud to be an example of what can be achieved through quiet hard work and without self-promotion or quotas. It was recently pointed out to me that I'm the first woman ever from Queensland to sit at the federal cabinet table from either side of politics. Since Dame Annabelle Rankin became a minister 53 years ago in 1966, Queensland women have made a remarkable contribution to the parliament, but none have ever held a cabinet position. I'm proud to be the first of what I hope will be many more to come. I take this opportunity to acknowledge the confidence the Prime Minister has placed in me.
Just as our government works every day to repay the faith the Australian people put in us, I work every day to honour the responsibility I have as Minister for Industry, Science and Technology. The first minister for industry was named in 1928. I'm also very proud to be the first female industry minister in the federal government. I come to the position not because of or in spite of my gender but as someone who has the skills, passion and experience to do the job. The portfolio I'm honoured to hold is central to Australia's economy. The course of our economy in the future is being imagined, chartered and forged through science and technology, and industry is the vehicle that will power along that course, utilising and maximising the paths that science and technology create.
There are international forces challenging our domestic setting in new ways for government, businesses and workers in industries undergoing rapid change. Our government plans to drive all industries forward by getting the economic fundamentals right and by supporting businesses so they can be successful and globally competitive. Traditional sectors, including manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, mining and aquaculture continue to support millions of Australian jobs, with so many in outer suburban and regional Australia. At the same time, there are incredible opportunities opening up in the fields of automation, robotics, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
The influence of AI is growing and its potential cannot be overstated. Earlier this year, I released a discussion paper on the ethics of AI, as part of a consultative process. Our government recognises that, in order to realise the full potential of AI, it's important that Australians have trust in how it is being designed, developed and used by business and government. In my department we're making a concerted effort to link activity across government to meet industry needs and develop credible pathways to get people into jobs and to boost business. Last year alone, more than 425,000 businesses and organisations received advice and assistance through AusIndustry, and there were more than six million users of business.gov.au, our government's excellent online one-stop shop.
I won't take up time today listing all of the positive programs we're delivering, from accelerating commercialisation grants to the Entrepreneurs' Program and major projects funding, that deliver significant industry-building projects. They're all practical; they're all co-funding arrangements—no handouts. They're about making the process of growing businesses easier and more successful.
I'd like to mention the industry growth centres which our government introduced in 2015 for a four-year period. Last year we extended them for a further two years. Growth centres have been established in six industry sectors of competitive strength and strategic priority: advanced manufacturing; cybersecurity; food and agribusiness; medical technologies and pharmaceuticals; mining equipment, technology and services; and oil, gas and energy resources. Growth centres are not-for-profit organisations, each led by a strategic board of industry experts who oversee the operation. So far, they have kicked plenty of goals. Since they began, they've engaged with over 26,000 firms, research organisations and industry associations. They have delivered over 150 collaborative projects addressing sector-wide opportunities, with $57.9 million committed by the growth centres and $77.7 million leveraged from industry partners. They have conducted more than 450 skills workshops with over 10,000 participants and assisted in establishing 16 cooperative research centres to help businesses get an edge. They have coordinated a 'team Australia' presence that has supported over 900 Australian organisations at 40 international trade shows and outbound trade missions. This has resulted in at least 150 firms either securing their first export or expanding their sales.
Like all ministers, my first order of business is delivering the election commitments we made. These include establishing a $50 million manufacturing modernisation fund, which will provide grants to small and medium sized manufacturing businesses to modernise, grow and employ more Australians, particularly helping those in regional and outer-suburban Australia. We will also reinvigorate the Australian Made campaign with up to $5 million to promote the logo in Australia's key export markets, to maximise the value of Australian goods. We will be expanding the incubator Support Initiative with an additional $5.2 million, specifically to assist migrants establish a start-up business, because we know it's the Australian way that if you have a go, you get a go.
One of the great personal joys for me in this portfolio is having oversight for the science agencies, including CSIRO, ANSTO, IP Australia, the National Measurement Institute and Questacon, all of which are active internationally. In the international science community Australia has always punched well above its weight. To support that, we're constantly working to better align these agencies with our strategic approach to international science engagement. Our government knows and recognises that science should not be shackled or clouded by ideology. It must be free of ideological pressures. Scientific inquiry must be rigorous, thorough and always open to new research and ideas. The very best science is solutions focused and designed to address challenges rather than just assess and present them.
One of the government's exciting new agencies is the Australian Space Agency. I must confess that I am very fond of the title. Often bestowed on me, by some in the media, is the 'Minister for Space'. Of course, that is a very large and expansive portfolio. It is truly exciting to be spearheading our government's plan for Australia's space economy to triple the size of the space sector to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 new jobs by 2030. Our priorities for the space economy are set out in the Advancing Space: Australian Civil Space Strategy 2019-28, published earlier this year. In the April budget, we announced a new $19.5 million space infrastructure fund to be delivered over four years. Yesterday we celebrated the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, and I was delighted to join with Australians from across the nation who came to Parkes for the official commemoration.
I certainly hope that the activities and media interest in space over the last month help inspire young people to study STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—which is also a focus of my work. Technology is undoubtedly the key to the productivity and competitiveness of Australian industry, and a skilled workforce is absolutely crucial. We know that the jobs of the future will be in STEM, so shaping a pro-technology agenda will be front and centre of our work over the coming term. Supporting the start-up sector, which is so often tech focused, is also part of our plan to make sure all business owners realise their aspirations. This leads me neatly back to our objective of backing the aspirations of the quiet Australians, as the Prime Minister articulated at that very first meeting and did so repeatedly during the election campaign.
I do want to take a moment to reflect on the election and, primarily, to thank the people of McPherson who placed their trust in me for a fourth time. I've always believed that my primary duty is to the people of the southern Gold Coast. That was my view when I was first elected in 2010 and it's still very much my approach today. I've spoken extensively in this place about our community, our business leaders, our outstanding education and health service providers, the volunteers who are the backbone of our sporting clubs, charities, veterans and community groups. I love the community that I've been part of for more than 20 years, where my husband, Chris, and I have raised our three daughters. There's no better place than the southern Gold Coast to raise your family, start a business, follow your aspiration or go and visit for a holiday.
In the few minutes that I have left, it's fitting that I thank the many local residents who have come onboard to help me over the past nine years, particularly during the last election campaign—old friends and new, my LNP branch members. There are far too many of them to name them all, but I do thank them all—those people who were out there in the lead-up to the election on prepoll, who were booth captains, who were booth workers, who helped wherever they could, as often as they could and for as long as they could.
I do want to mention my local LNP chairman, Ben Naday, who I have known for a very long time through the party. He has always been a tremendous supporter and has always had the southern Gold Coast and the LNP as the focus of his endeavours when making sure that we're fighting for a good deal on the Gold Coast. I'd also like to thank my treasurer, Boyd Hain, who I've also known and worked with for a very long period of time. He certainly keeps a tight rein and makes sure that we are maximising our opportunities on the southern Gold Coast. I'd also like to take a moment to thank the LNP team at our Queensland party headquarters, led by Lincoln Folo and Michael O'Dwyer. The result in Queensland speaks for itself—not only holding all our marginal seats but also winning the extra ones that got us across the line. To quote the Prime Minister, 'How good is Queensland?'
I know the long hours and sacrifice put in by everyone at LNP headquarters, and I thank them. I know the same is true of those at our federal headquarters, which was based in Brisbane and led by Andrew Hirst and his team. I genuinely thank them all for the work they did, particularly over the campaign period. I'd also like to thank my staff, both in my electorate office and in my ministerial office, for the extra time and effort they put into the campaign, as well as their ongoing support and energy as we worked together to deliver the government's positive plan for our nation.
I now turn to my family. We are a small but very close and tightly knit family: my mum, Moya Weir; my sister, Ann; my husband, Chris; and our three daughters, Emma, Jane and Kate. Throughout my life I've had tremendous support from my parents. Sadly, my father passed away before I was elected to parliament, but I know how much he would have wanted to have remained part of the work I'm doing here in parliament and how supportive he and Mum have always been to my sister and to me. So, Mum and my sister, Ann, once again rolled up their sleeves, chipped in and did everything they could to support me during the election campaign. For me, that's just the icing on the cake, because I know how much they do for me on a daily basis. To my husband, Chris—and I recall that shortly after I was elected he was described by some of my branch members as my 'long-suffering husband'—well, I disputed that at the time, but now, nine years into my time in parliament, I must confess that Chris is my long-suffering husband, because he has gone above and beyond in all of that time to support me very personally and to make sure that our children, Emma, Jane and Kate, certainly were looked after in the time that I was not physically present on the Gold Coast and at home.
So, to Chris I say, thank you very much. To my three daughters, Emma, Jane and Kate: all I can say is that life is not always easy for political children. My daughters had the luxury, I would call it—they would call it something else—of being driven to school in a car that had their mother's name and face on the outside of it. I didn't really understand what the impact of that was until at one stage we took the signage off the outside of the car and one of my daughters said, 'It's so good that now when we pull up at the traffic lights people aren't staring at us.' I thought, that is just so true, because when you're in a vehicle you forget what's on the outside of the car. To my daughters, who were driven to school in a car with their mother's face on the outside: I'm sorry, but thank you for all of that. Once again, they too rolled up their sleeves, and they were on pre-poll, they were out there on election day—they've campaigned for me from day one. They have been tremendous. They have understood the times that I have been unable to be there, and they've never ever thought I wasn't a good mother. So, thank you, girls; I really do appreciate that.
This 46th Parliament and the Morrison government represent a new chapter in Australian political history. It's a time to rebuild trust, deliver real outcomes and create an economy where all Australians can get ahead. I look forward to the challenges and to making my earnest contribution to this parliament and to the Morrison government.
I am deeply humbled to stand before you in this great place where I now commit again to be the servant and representative of the people of La Trobe, in the 46th Parliament, having been re-elected. This is actually my fifth term. The first time I was elected was back in 2004, when we had John Howard as Prime Minister, so I feel very honoured, being in a marginal seat, to again have the people of La Trobe supporting me. This time was interesting, because there had been the redistribution, and I thank very much those up in the Dandenong Ranges who have supported me in the past. Under the redistribution they're now in the Speaker's federal seat of Casey. The electorate of La Trobe now goes right to Pakenham and Nar Nar Goon. We've also lost Ferntree Gully and Upper Ferntree Gully in those areas too.
Having lived in the south-east and grown up in Ferny Creek and Belgrave and up through the Dandenong Ranges, I very much feel a strong connection to the south-east of Melbourne. It's a great place to bring up a family. Sometimes we as members of parliament don't—or we forget to—acknowledge the contribution made by our family members. I thank my parents, Bob and Jan, for everything they've done for me. It was always hard for them. The first time, when I told my father, I said, 'The Liberal Party's asked me to be a candidate in Holt.' He looked me in the eye and he said he'd never been more disappointed in his entire life. He was a pretty hard-core Labor man! As we all know, sometimes in the family your own political views are not necessarily those of your family. Having said that, my father and my mother have been great supporters, and at times they have had to carry the burden of the policies of the government of the day, the Liberal Party and also my own views. So I thank them very much. They both have been unwell, and my thoughts are always with them.
My wife, Judy, was born in Hong Kong, and we have a fantastic, beautiful daughter, Jasmine, now five years old. I thank my wife, Judy, for again being there every time I've asked her to come to a function, when she has her own business. As she points out to me sometimes, she's working two jobs! I've always called Jasmine my secret weapon. I don't know how many functions Jasmine has gone to in the last couple of years, but every time she goes to a function she brings joy and hope to the place. Sometimes she lets Daddy know it's a pretty boring function and it's time to go home! That's what I love about kids: they're brutally honest.
I thank my campaign team, who worked tirelessly for me as volunteers, ably led by Andrew McNabb, the FEC chair; and the branches and all the supporters I have. It is really touching, and I know this is for all members of parliament, when you have this incredible volunteer base out there supporting you day in, day out—not getting paid. They go out on weekends. They go to train stations and shopping centres all believing the cause. I have so many volunteers and I thank them very much.
There was a huge difference in this campaign in La Trobe. Again, it was one of those seats where the media, I say wrongly, said that we'd would lose La Trobe in the election. In Victoria I know things were tougher down there compared to other states. My best wishes are always with Chris Crewther, the former member for Dunkley and Sarah Henderson, the former member for Corangamite, for giving it all and, sadly, losing their seats. I acknowledge the other members from all parties who are not here. The public wouldn't realise that when you lose your seat your staff lose their jobs and it's actual very tough.
One of the big groups which really came on board supporting me in the recent federal election was the multicultural communities in La Trobe. It's something that we've seen in probably the last six or seven years. We've had so many migrant families move into the La Trobe area, especially from the Indian and Sri Lankan communities. I thank the Sri Lankan and Indian communities—and within the Indian the Sikh, the Gujarati, the Punjabi, the Bengali, the South Indian, the Tamil, the Telugu and the Malayali. The list goes on and I apologise for all the other community groups I haven't mentioned. The one thing I found with the Indian communities, and I suppose when it comes to Sri Lanka too, is that when it comes to cricket there's that mutual understanding and respect straightaway. I very much thank the Indian groups who were playing cricket with me on a Sunday morning. As I was going to field the ball they would always tell me what the government should be doing. I thank my friends in the Afghani community too, especially Ishaq for everything he has done for me. I thank the Pakistani community—and this is a growing community in La Trobe. I thank the guys who helped us out there.
An interesting one, and this caught the media a bit by surprise, was the strong support I had from the Sudanese and African communities. I put my hand up when we had issues with the African gangs. I was the one who said, 'There's an issue and we need to deal with that.' I very much thank Andrew Nyar , who is the South Sudanese leader in Pakenham, who I've worked very closely with and who has supported me in my campaign. What I'm trying to do locally once we've called out the issues is to do something about it. There's no future for any young person who's committing crimes, home invasions or carjackings. It's going to end up in tears every time for the victims but also for the young person. When they commit such a serious crime they will end up in jail for 10 years or get deported.
Some of the programs we introduced locally were through the Les Twentyman Foundation. Les is a great person from the western suburbs. Les appeared before our inquiry, 'no-one taught me how to be an Australian'. I will say that that was a joint term agreed with the deputy, Maria Vamvakinou, to acknowledge the struggle within the South Sudanese community particularly—and that was by a gentleman by the name of Gum who was a youth worker with the Les Twentyman Foundation.
Les made the very strong point to me that if you want to make a difference in the communities who are doing it tough early intervention is the key. You have to get to the kids in schools with social workers, especially when someone has been in a country where they have seen the most horrific and horrendous crimes. It's like someone was telling me, in Sudan where these young people have seen people butchered to death they need much stronger support. Locally, through the Les Twentyman Foundation, we have seven highly skilled and trained youth workers in a number of schools, including in my local area of Pakenham and Berwick. I was with the vice-principal from Pakenham the other day, who in my office with the Les Twentyman Foundation. Manny, as they call him at the secondary college, was just saying how fantastic this has actually been at the Les Twentyman Foundation. That is something I'm very excited about it.
I will talk about the Hope Australia Soccer Academy. I had Larry Sebastian approach me. I had a committee formed where, again, they were bringing in—they called it Hope Australia—Brazilian soccer players, who had come over and wanted to help those in the greatest of need. They were very keen to help the Sudanese. In particular, when I say 'soccer players', I don't mean people who have kicked a soccer ball in Brazil. Some of the players who I met were actually in the World Cup winning Brazilian soccer team. I was a two-week period of coming out to Australia and then going around the world. Larry said to me, 'Why don't we see if we can make this long term?' I really want to thank the Minister Paul Fletcher, because we ended up securing $1 million to make sure that happens. We have two FIFA-trained soccer coaches in Australia. Their key role, locally in the south-east, is to work with children in harm. One of the key groups is the Sudanese group. I was told just recently by one of the Sudanese elders that, if you go to the youth detention centres, nearly half the kids who are in there in Victoria are actually African.
I say thank you again to the Muslim community. They have been very supportive. We work very closely together on various issues. We always do, and will continue to do so into the future. I am working with a Pakistani group locally who are just absolutely fantastic. I acknowledge the Indian Sikh community, the Gurdwara Siri Guru Nanak Darbar Officer and the Gurudwara Baba Budha Ji Pakenham. I acknowledge Harpreet and his team in Officer. When it comes to Pakenham, I very much want to thank Monty, his father, Suri, Jag, the president, the uncle and all of the guys down there. They were just incredible.
In the state election, a lot of these community groups made it very clear that they voted Labor. During the federal election, they decided to back me. It was more because they thought we were trying to do the best that we could for the local community. To me, it is something very special when people say, 'We're going to support you. We may have some concerns with policies, but we believe you're the person who can work with the local community.' That's something I'm very proud to say.
I thank the Indian Association Cardinia Casey. I thank the Cardinia Gujarati Association, and I'm going to mention Brijal there. I thank the BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Melbourne, the Celebrate India organisation and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community group. As I mentioned before, Tariq and his great community are down there. I thank the Bangla Art Society of Victoria, the Cultural Society Of Victoria, the Kerala community and Malayalees of Melbourne. I will say that the function was so moving at Bunjil Place after the flooding. What they're doing for their own community back home is something special. I thank the Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara Sri Lanka in Victoria, otherwise known as the Berwick Buddhist temple. I again thank all of the people down in that community there and especially those who introduced me to Ranj Perera, who is now actually on my staff and working with me as an advisor. I thank Sam from the community there.
There was something that was really special that happened during the campaign. The event was actually a planned event. It was straight after the awful attacks in Sri Lanka on the Easter weekend. We had the Prime Minister visiting on the Monday. I thank Dusha for all of her preparations and for having the beautiful Sri Lankan girls practising dance. The conversation was about whether we cancel the dancing and make it a more sombre event, but I had the very strong view that we never allow terrorists to win. Those beautiful little girls had been practising and singing, and it was great to have them perform in front of the Prime Minister and Mrs Morrison. I know that was one of the highlights of the Morrison family's visit to the amazing community after such a horrendous attack. There was the Afghan Australian Association of Victoria, the Coptic Christian Egyptians in Pakenham and, as I mentioned before, the Hope Australia Soccer Academy and the Buddhist Council of Victoria.
Australia has a very vibrant and multicultural community. We are home to the world's oldest continuous culture as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries. Since 1945, almost seven million people migrated to Australia. One of the things I found in the migrant community when I first dealt with the Buddhist Vihara in Berrick is how important their native language is. I find there's nothing worse when you meet parents who were born overseas and, when you say, 'Can your children speak the language from back home?' they say, 'No. At home we always make sure we speak English.' They kind of regret it. My little Jasmine at home speaks Cantonese and Mandarin.
I thank Prime Minister Scott Morrison for making $780,000 available to support a meditation and education facility at the Buddhist temple for children to learn. The same occurred in the Gurudwara in Pakenham and Officer. Money was made available, again so they would have the funds to ensure their children would be able to learn Punjabi. This is the sort of project, in my role as assistant minister, that I think is so vital and needs to be rolled out further across the country. We supported the Sikh Games with $120,000. Next year, in WA there will be another Sikh Games, with $300,000. Coming up on the AFL grand final weekend, they have games in Pakenham. As I just said to the guys, in some ways I hope Richmond doesn't make the grand final, because it will put a lot of pressure on to turn up for that event! Also, locally we have Bunjil Place, a $110 million facility. If anyone listening gets the opportunity, go down to Fountain Gate to see Bunjil Place. It won international arts awards last year. The work they have done is absolutely incredible.
A future multicultural project I'm working on is a multicultural hub design in Pakenham, with $350,000. It is to speak to migrant people and find out what is important to them and what is missing. One thing I definitely heard in my electorate, and I've realised this from the multicultural communities in particular, is that they may have 500, 600 or 700 people at a family and community function. The wider community is the family at the same time. It is also about dealing with the issues of trying to find jobs and having sporting facilities in place for the seniors and the juniors, but not necessarily the traditional cricket, football and netball. There are the sports they have mentioned to me, like badminton, table tennis and other activities. This is something I want to work on with the local community to make sure we actually deliver, and I'm very excited about that.
Also, the Living and Learning centre in Pakenham was funded $180,000. The aim of the project is to address the challenges and break down some of the barriers facing the South Sudanese community in Cardinia, to foster better general relationships with authorities and youth focus groups, and to have a Sudanese warden program and legal aid sessions. There is also $322,000 for the Women's Association South East Melbourne Australia. This grant will be used to establish new Women's Friendship Circles. The WFC project has been developed to meet the needs of the rapidly changing neighbourhoods of the south-east community. Another a project I'm very excited about is in Cardinia Shire. I was able to secure $105,000 for them to employ a full-time Sudanese youth liaison officer. I thank the Bangladesh community for the Dream Harmony project—$65,000—which will bring music into the area.