Wednesday, 27 November 2019
Between 1939 and 1940, the former member for Barker in South Australia, Archie Cameron, was also the leader of the then Country Party. What was great about him was that he was a member of the Country Party. It's incredibly important that we make sure that in South Australia we rebuild the National Party. During the last week, I and others have been working hard to make sure we get the requisite number of people for the party to remain constitutional. We believe it's incredibly important for our democracy that we have a strong National Party in every state. It is imperative for those who wish to join a party and be part of a party that stands behind such things as the creation of the Inland Rail, which we got the money on the table to build; and the Regional Investment Corporation, which the Nationals were instrumental in creating.
Whether it's Roads to Recovery, whether it is driving an outcome on drought and making sure we get the proper support for people or whether it's standing behind issues such as decentralisation, despite the barbs that get thrown at us and the sense of, whatever they want to call it, parochialism or looking too much after our own people—we are only too proud to be accused of that, because that is precisely what we do. Whether it's striving for better telecommunications and such things as mobile phone towers, it is absolutely important that people understand the fingerprint the Nationals leave. You can see country-of-origin labelling on virtually every grocery item now in the supermarkets. We drove that agenda and we made it happen.
We must continue to drive for a constituency by unashamedly standing behind every section of our party in every corner of our nation. Right now we have just about arrived at the required number, but we're not quite there. We are only a few short and I ask people—and I will put this on Facebook—to understand that you need to do it for South Australia and do it for your nation. We need all the support we can get down here. People have to understand the heritage of the Nationals, formerly the Country Party, and what they've done for this nation and in South Australia.
The Nationals are state based organisations that work together once we arrive here. We believe in the independence of the states and how they operate. As such, the Nationals, at our federal conference, passed a motion unanimously calling for regional senators. Having 12 senators per state has now led to the anachronistic position where we have, in most states, 11 senators in the capital city and merely one outside. This must be changed. We must have better representation throughout our nation. The purpose of the Senate is to get that geographic spread to balance up the demographic intensity, which is what you see in the capital cities. The capital cities have the benefit of the vast majority of the House of Representatives members, but they shouldn't get all the House of Representatives members and 11 of the 12 senators. That would mean a complete overweight for issues in urban Australia to the detriment of people in regional Australia, and it's the Nationals who stand behind a push to have regional senators in place. I hope that in the future, as we drive that forward, South Australia will have the capacity to get better regional representation in its most effective form—to have members of parliament in this place and senators in this place.
It will also give the best opportunity for our Indigenous Australians to have people who are not only a voice to the parliament but a voice in the parliament. That is something that we will always acknowledge: the role of Indigenous Australians in our nation. They were here first, and we must respect that by making sure that they get the appropriate say and the appropriate place of power within this building, and to do it in a way that we can all concur with—that is, to get elected to it.
We have to have these numbers by Friday. We have one day left, and I have been impressing on my Nationals colleagues to do everything in their power to make sure that we row behind those in South Australia who have already put their names to the list. I think we're up to about 195; we need 200. I will always make sure that whatever I do and whatever my colleagues do will always be for the betterment of our party, because we know that a strong National Party means that we have a strong nation.
I'd like to thank those who have already gone out of their way and who maybe for the first time have signed up to our party. We will do everything in our power to make sure that that trust in us is respected through hard work down here.
House adjourned at 20 : 01