House debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020


Ryan Electorate: COVID-19, Child Safety

5:45 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As the year draws to its inevitable close, I rise in this House to thank very much the residents of Ryan for all of their hard work during this year. There are so many people to thank: the service organisations and volunteers throughout the community—the RSLs, the Men's Sheds, Meals on Wheels, Picabeen Community Association of Mitchelton; the teachers who have had to deal with online learning and the added burdens of classrooms that have been disrupted; the mental health support workers, like those in headspace at Taringa; the small-business people, who have had to do so much to adapt and ensure their businesses survived; the service and hospitality workers, like those at our supermarkets, who faced the brunt of it way back in March and April; all the way through to the people working on the COVID-19 vaccine at the University of Queensland who have spent so much time away from their families in order to undertake that endeavour on behalf of all Australians. I could go on and on.

This has clearly been a difficult and anxious year for all the residents of Ryan, but they have proved remarkably resilient. They have again shown some of the best of what our community is, and there have been some remarkable stories of community spirit. There were the drive-past Anzac parades when we couldn't get together and observe our normal ceremonies. There were the cafes that turned into family restaurants to provide home-cooked meals for those who needed them. There were neighbours looking after neighbours, and communities coming together wherever they could. It was difficult, but it never got the better of those in the Ryan electorate.

The efforts of the Ryan community and the efforts of everyday people all over Australia are the reason why Australia is a beacon to the world for how we've dealt with COVID-19. You know that the government has had your back throughout, and provided economic assistance and health advice where it could; but it has been your efforts, as Australians and as the residents of the Ryan electorate, that have ensured that Australia has successfully got on top of COVID-19.

Given it's the end of the year, I want to thank the staff in my electorate office. We kept the office open throughout the entire COVID-19 period. We were lucky that we didn't have to go into lockdown the way that Melbourne did. I thank my staff for being there and for facilitating my efforts to be there for my community throughout this year, no matter how tough it got. People always wanted advice. They needed help sifting through all the information that was coming in thick and fast. My staff were there to help me do it, so thank you so much to them. And thank you to the local LNP members who have facilitated my efforts as well. They're stalwarts in the community in their own right. Thank you to my wonderful family, who have supported me throughout this year as well and who have always supported our efforts. And, of course, I thank the people of Ryan for all of your efforts.

Moving to a more serious note, if I have one message for this Christmas it would be this: when you have your toys under the tree, as I'm sure you will for your families, for your nieces, for your nephews, do me a favour and double-check that they don't have unsecured button batteries. It is the end of another year—I'm sorry to end the year on a negative note, but this is important—and another year has gone by with the ACCC failing to give recommendations to government about how we fix the scourge of button batteries. It's pretty simple: button batteries need to be secured. One Australian child a month is injured by button batteries, and that is one child too many. For two years it has been a consumer priority for the ACCC. We want their recommendations, because I know that Minister Sukkar is seized of the opportunity to do something about this and we want to do something on behalf of Australian families.

You can all be part of it this Christmas. If you're going to have small children in your home, make sure you've secured all your button batteries and you don't have any products that can be easily taken apart and the batteries removed. They're silver, they're shiny and they're so easily swallowed by young people. We don't want to spend this Christmas hearing another story of a young child who has been terribly injured by these scourges. One of my wishes for the new year is that we as a government take action to make sure that these button batteries are secured in these products going forward and that it's a mandated requirement.

To end on a happy note, I say, 'Merry Christmas,' to all the residents of Ryan. I wish for you a much better 2021. I congratulate you on all your efforts and your stoicism in 2020.