Wednesday, 17 February 2021
Statements by Senators
Revive, Western Australia: Employment
It gives me great pleasure to rise for the short time that I have to talk about a magnificent project being conducted in the east Kimberley, predominantly out of Kununurra. It is called Waste to Wages. In Kununurra, prior to the formation of the Revive recycling store, all waste went to landfill. Then, through the magnificent efforts of East Kimberley Job Pathways—and I want to acknowledge the CEO, Michele Pucci; and they are ably supported and backed up by Wunan Foundation and my very dear friend Ian Trust—they decided that they would start recycling. So, crews were employed with a little truck to run around town, and they started picking up recycling stuff—pushbikes, old furniture, everything you could imagine.
It's now led to two sites. One is in Mango Street. That's a workshop where we have local Aboriginal young men and women employed to fix up old bikes, fix up old furniture—they do some magnificent stuff. They create art with old car springs. You've got no idea of the creativity of these young people. Then, it goes around the corner—and I like to say hello to Senator McCarthy; it's good to see you on there—and it's sold in the Revive store.
I was walking through the store with an absolute diamond of the Kimberley, and that's Paige McLachlan. Paige runs Revive, and Paige has informed me, as of yesterday or the day before, she's now being employed as a development manager, which is magnificent. As we're walking through the store, we're seeing old cutlery, bits of art, old clothing and all sort of bits and pieces, and it struck me as we walked through the warehouse—old furniture! For those who might not know about my background, the two things that formed a major part of my life were old furniture and the Kimberley, where I was a long-distance road train operator. I asked Paige, 'How does the furniture go?'
She said, 'We can't get enough of this furniture. It gets distributed through the East Kimberley.' For those of us who know the East Kimberley, it's not a hop, step and jump when you talk about going down to Halls Creek, going over to Wyndham, going through Warmun. But they have clientele who come from as far away as Kalumburu, which is a 12-hour drive into Kununurra, and even further down to Balgo, 300 kilometres south of Halls Creek, to get second-hand furniture.
I thought, 'How can I use my contacts and my old skills?' To cut a long story short, I rang up my very dear friend Cam Dumesny from the Western Roads Federation and said, 'You and I have a job to do, mate. We need to go and get a truck, we need to go and get a couple of trailers, a dolly, a fuel card. I'm going to get all the furniture and we're going to do a road train run and we are going to supply all second-hand furniture to Revive so they can profit from the sales. And all the profit that comes from that store will go into training Aboriginal men and women in the East Kimberley. How good is that?' They're doing that and we've seen the success. Senator Cash, I can't wait, because I know you want to get up there to see it. I hope you take a whole cohort of your mates up there too to see what a great job they are doing.
Now come the thankyous. I'm spoilt—I got to do what I did for 16 years and it was a pleasure. I was back in my safety boots—well, I was while I was in the yard—and back behind the wheel of a brand new 580-horsepower truck that was kindly donated by ACFS. I want to thank Arthur Tzaneros, who went one step further when he gave us the truck. He threw a fuel card at us, and he actually asked if it would be alright if we could put some East Kimberley Indigenous art on the prime mover. I have the photos. What a magnificent thing. I'm so grateful to Ian's son, who is the artist. The scoop is all printed in Indigenous artwork—food of the East Kimberley. We also had the Wunan stickers on the side and the East Kimberley Job Pathways stickers to show the support we had.
I also want to thank Nick D'Amo, an old mate of mine. Nick and I started in the transport industry in 1980. We watched his meteoric rise as he went through the ranks as my co-driver and then brought his own truck. He now owns his own business and employs some 70 or 80 people. I'm just a baggy-panted old truckie who never got past one truck. But Nick came good, and he donated a heck of a lot of furniture too. He donated the lead trailer for me, and ACFS gave me the dog trailer and the dolly. Nick threw on a big sign saying, 'Waste for Wages', with art on the container. Better than that, Nick got his guys, whom I used to work with—some of the older guys like Nobby and Bruno—on a Saturday, put on brekky at the yard and we loaded. I stood around and talked a lot. There was 120 cubic metres of furniture, and we hooked up the road train and off we went.
I also want to thank, for his support, Mr Scott Huntsman, the general manager of All Cast. He said he couldn't supply furniture, but he supplied 1,500 face masks for Kimberley health, so that went up. Now I come to my support crew too. I had to have a support crew in case I forgot how to get to Kununurra after all these years or I forgot how to hook up the road train. My old mates Reg Cowan, Johnny 'JD' Davis, Graeme 'Storky' Purkiss and Erik 'Mac' McGuinness got me up there and back and kept me lubricated with cold water while I was unloading—I just thought I would throw that in! I also want to thank Robert Bilato from North West Quarries for supplying accommodation for us on the way up and on the way back, and also fuelling the support vehicle, supplying the truck and 1,400 litres of diesel. That's no mean feat, so, Robert, thank you very much.
Now the best part: I have spoken to Paige and to Michelle. It's on again, but this time we are not doing it in November. We are not unloading a road train of furniture in 41 degree heat like we did last time. Paige, I'm looking forward to working with you again and with Ash, Keira, Erik and your team. I have given Paige the task of now putting out the wish list. I rang Cam yesterday; he can't wait to get the riding boots back on. I said to him, 'Look, while you're at it, get a learner's permit and I might even teach you some of my skills.' He reckons he is going to do that. So, selfishly, I can't wait until July next year as we head back up to Kununurra again. More importantly, we will be dropping furniture off in Halls Creek for those disadvantaged families there and we will be supplying furniture for Wyndham as well. What a magnificent project by Paige and her team up there in Kununurra. I wish her all the best. I can't wait.
In this place, we talk a lot about closing the gap, as we should do, and we talk a lot about our visits to remote communities and about how we love working with Indigenous leaders and Aboriginal communities. But when you see something a fantastic as this—they didn't put their hand out to ask for one cent of help; they did it all themselves—you can see the benefits rolling through the community and you can see young Aboriginal men and women break the cycle of dependency in having a job. If that doesn't bring warmth to your heart, nothing will. I urge everyone: get to Kununurra and visit Paige at Revive.