House debates

Tuesday, 22 October 2019


Liberal Party of Australia: 75th Anniversary, Berowra Electorate: 50th Anniversary

7:35 pm

Photo of Julian LeeserJulian Leeser (Berowra, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak about the 75th anniversary of the Liberal Party and the 50th anniversary of the Berowra electorate. In October 1944 Sir Robert Menzies formed a party out of what he called 'a mass of fragments'. What united the fragments was a shared commitment to liberalism and the pre-eminence of the individual in society.

As Menzies said:

We believe in the individual, in his freedom, in his ambition, in his dignity. If he becomes submerged in the mass, and loses his personal significance, we have tyranny. And because of this, we believe in free enterprise; not enterprise free of social obligation, but free enterprise in the sense that it embraces free choice, reward for effort and skill, encouragement to grow and be self-reliant, and strong.

The Liberal Party is the party for all Australians. Unlike other parties we don't represent sectional interest groups like trade unions, rural Australia or environmental activists. Rather, we govern in the national interest. We don't believe that a person's lot in life is determined by the job they do, where they were born, what their parents did, their race, their gender, their sexual preference or their religion. Rather, we believe it is within each of our capacities to determine our own destiny, and that it's the job of government, therefore, to liberate the individual and put in place the conditions where they can rise and thrive. We believe that individuals have obligations to their families, to their community and to their nation, and we support individuals to serve all three.

In celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Liberal Party last weekend, Prime Minister Morrison described our party as being 'founded on a commitment to personal freedom and individual responsibility—a party that recognised at its very birth that free and responsible individuals are the enduring pillars of loving families, caring communities and a strong country'. From Menzies to Morrison and beyond, our party will continue to deliver for all Australians because it has values that reflect and resonate with them—an optimism that stems from a pride which says that Australia is fundamentally a good country that does not need to be bent to fit an ideological paradigm but, rather, needs to be nurtured so that we can each make a contribution which is our own destiny.

This Friday marks the 50th birthday of the Berowra electorate; it is the 50th anniversary of the 1969 election. The 1969 election was like the 2019 election; Labor thought they would win, yet they lost. The hubris of Labor supporters in 1969 was beautifully captured in David Williamson's play Don's Party, which became a film shot in Westleigh in my electorate. At that election the celebrated barrister Tom Hughes QC, now aged 95, became the first member for Berowra. Following that election he was appointed Attorney-General in the Gorton government. Since 1969 only four people—Tom Hughes, Harry Edwards, Philip Ruddock and myself—have had the honour of serving the Berowra community.

As I said in my maiden speech:

The people of Berowra are community minded and self-reliant. That is why there is a greater number of volunteers, people of faith and small business owners than in many other communities.

On significant anniversaries like this, it's worth thinking about what the future might hold for Berowra. My vision for Berowra is to ensure that we preserve many of the things that make our community great: the strong individual identity of each suburb or town that Tom Hughes described as being 'like Italian city states'; the spirit of aspiration common to our small businesses and families; the call to community service, which sees people involved in sports clubs, service groups, P&Cs, the SES and the RFS; the multicultural nature of our electorate, with significant Chinese, Indian, Korean, Sri Lankan, Lebanese and Italian people; and its multifaith character, with Christians of every denomination—Muslims, Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and Jews—making Berowra home.

I want to preserve the physical beauty of the electorate, like the awesome majesty of the Hawkesbury River with its commercial and recreational fishing and aquaculture, its pleasure boats, its tourist destinations and its river communities surrounded by national parks and bushland. I want to maintain the rural areas still home to significant horticulture and hobby farms, providing people with a semi-rural experience 40 minutes from the CBD, and garden suburbs like Beecroft and Cheltenham. But there are things I want to change. I want to preserve more of our heritage homes. I want to see improvements to our community infrastructure, roads and telecommunications. I want to see fewer people in Berowra commuting for work. For many, Berowra is a bedroom community, where work is the city, Macquarie Park or north-west. I want to see more businesses attracted to our light industrial areas and the Hornsby CBD. With its rail junction, Hornsby should be a major centre, a gateway between the Central Coast and Sydney. I'll lobby to include Hornsby as a stop in any fast-rail project going north of Sydney. I know Berowra will have an exciting future. My task is to apply my Liberal values in representing our community so that together we can meet the challenges of the next half century.