Wednesday, 16 June 2021
Statements by Senators
Western Australia: Kimberley Businesses
Where do I begin? No, actually, I'm going to talk about something good. I've got something good to contribute. It gives me great pleasure to share this information with the Senate and those listening all around Australia. I have had the pleasure over the last couple of weeks of running around Perth with a little truck picking up second-hand furniture. Those in this place know that I do a charity run up to Kununurra each year. I work closely with Paige McLachlan, Revive and East Kimberley Job Pathways, and we transport pre-loved furniture that normally ends up in landfill. It goes to Revive, where it's done up, repairs are made, and then it's sold through their shopfront. It gives local people in the East Kimberley an opportunity to access very, very cheap furniture, which they wouldn't be able to otherwise. It's 3,000-odd kilometres from Perth—imagine what furniture would cost by the time they bought it and transported it up there.
In the last couple of weeks before I got back here, I had the opportunity to go on radio 6PR with Steve Mills. Every Western Australian knows Steve Mills. I've known Millsy for a number of years. He has both congratulated me and given me one hell of a grilling. Nothing changes with Millsy; he is a true voice of the people. Millsy gave me the opportunity to talk about what I've been up to on my recent visit to Fitzroy Crossing, where I have been a regular visitor for the last 30 years.
I had the privilege of catching up with my very dear friend, Emily Carter. She runs the Marninwarntikura Women's Resource Centre. She's done a magnificent job. Those of us who have been around for a long time will remember Emily's fine work, alongside June Oscar, to—against all odds—reduce the sale of full-strength take-away alcohol in the Fitzroy Valley. I sat with Emily about a month ago and asked her how things were going. It shouldn't come as a shock to us, but it was a shock when she said, 'What we would give to be able to get hold of beds.'
We take it for granted that each night we go home to a bed, a clean set of sheets and a blanket, or an electric blanket, but there are many, many people—our Indigenous population—sleeping rough in the Kimberley, not just in Fitzroy and the valley and the 17 communities around there. I'm not just talking about kids and adults; I'm talking about old people who don't have a bed, who may just sleep on a piece of foam on concrete or on the floor in their house.
When I spoke to Millsy, I shared my dream to stop throwing beds away because—as long as they're not torn or badly soiled—we can put them to good use, and I've got great friends in the transport industry to assist me. I received a phone call from a gentleman who offered me 100 brand-new king and queen mattresses, which I thought was a magnificent donation; I was absolutely rapt. We'll be picking them up in one of our semis in the next couple of weeks when we leave here. I also got a phone call from my very dear friend who works for other friends of mine, the Quinlivan family, who own the OB hotel in Cottesloe. Senator Brockman, you would know it—not that you're always frequenting the OBH, but every West Aussie knows the OBH. A part of the OBH has backpacker accommodation, which I didn't even know. They kindly donated 40 bunk beds and mattresses, all in great condition. My mates have been down there today to check it out. They are also kindly donating 10 single beds and another 10 double beds on top of that, all in great condition, with mattress liners, pillows, blankets and sheets, for the run to Fitzroy. It is a big deal for the people of Fitzroy; it's a massive deal. I delivered that message to Emily last week when I was up in Fitzroy. They're running through the Fitzroy Valley doing an audit of who wants a bed—who's going to get a bed: which kids and which old people.
It's something as simple as that. It's something that we just put out on the kerb. We can't give it away because no-one wants these pieces of furniture. Think what joy it may bring to a child or an older person that, for the first time in their life or a very long time, they are actually going to get a bed. They are going to get off the floor; they'll have sheets, pillows and blankets.
I want to thank David at the OBH very much—mate, I really appreciate that. To my friend, who donated the 100 beds, who does not want any recognition—you know who you are—I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.
The beauty of it is, we'll be carting that up in four weeks time on our way to Kununurra. Just touching on that: I've got two full road-trains—four semi-trailers—going up. Part of the deal is that I get to drive one, so there's no downside there! So out come the boots and the old shirt with no sleeves.
I want to take the opportunity to sincerely thank my dear friends in the road transport industry, who made this dream come true, who made this possibility in the Kimberley—something that we take for granted, that will be life-changing. To you, Arthur, at ACFS Port Logistics: mate, you've been there from the beginning. Thank you so much for your kind donation. Arthur donates a brand-new prime mover that I get to pedal up. He checks a fuel card at us and off we go.
To my very dear friend of over 40 years, Nick D'Adamo of KEYS the Moving Solution: without you, Nick, and your team, I don't know what I would do. Nick's one of those ones for whom nothing's impossible. Nick is a part of the Kimberley and the Pilbara as the owner of the largest privately owned furniture removal business in Western Australia. Nick donates the trailers. Nick donates the storage space. Nick donates the containers when I need them. Nick donates his staff, who are my mates as well, to help me load. Nothing is out of Nick's realm of possibility. Absolutely nothing stops Nick being part of this, and for that, Nick, good on you, mate. This year, I hope Nick is going to join me, because he is going to be pedalling one of the prime movers as well.
I would also like to take the opportunity to thank my dear friends at Centurion Transport, a massive transport company. They have celebrated their 50th anniversary this year, and they go back to the days of their founders, Carl and Frank Cardaci. Carl, you are still a mate of mine, and it was great to have you join me last week, coming through the Kimberley to see what we do. It was not your first trip but your second trip. Carl's son, Justin, now runs the trucking business. Centurion have 1,000 full-time employees. They have 2,000 assets out on the highway. They run everywhere between Western Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland. Justin, thank you, mate, for your support. Justin said to me that he'd throw one of his brand new SARs at me. He said it has 18 gears at the moment, but he also said, 'Sterley, by the time it gets back to Perth, I hope there are still 18 gears.' I'll do my best, Justin, to make sure it gets up there intact. Another dear friend of mine is Cam Dumesny, the CEO of the Western Roads Federation. Cam, for your support, thank you, mate.
This leads me back to when we went on the radio and said we wanted some pre-loved furniture, preferably beds. It was a great idea at the time, but I found myself parking out my suit and my Bata Scouts two weeks ago. I put on the boots, and with my mates—and I thank my son, who also helps out—we did 46 pick-ups around the metropolitan area. We have another 19 that we still have to do on top of that. For every bit of furniture that is donated, which may be someone's rubbish, I can't thank you enough for the smiles that you put on the faces of the recipients in the East Kimberley. As I said before, when those of us that have been sheltered living in capital cities talk about the East Kimberley and about people having access to something that we take for granted, when people actually drive from Kalumburu, for those who don't know, it's a 12-hour drive to Kununurra to try and purchase second-hand furniture. People from Wyndham, Warmun, Falls Creek and as far south as Balgo all have to go to Kununurra to get the opportunity to purchase cheap furniture.
But there's another kicker here, because, through East Kimberley Job Pathways and Paige and her team, every single cent that is made in profit at the Revive store or the Mango Way workshop goes back into training Indigenous youth, men and women to give them the opportunity to get off welfare. There is no greater thing than when I meet all the crew up there—and with me last week there were about eight or nine of them—who like nothing better than to get up in the morning, proudly pull on their EKJP shirt, their Wunan shirt or their Revive shirt, and go off and work. Part of that work also gives them the opportunity to use the skills that they are taught in welding and in furniture restoration.
So I say once again to Paige, to Michele Pucci, the CEO of East Kimberley Job Pathways, and to my very dear and close friend Ian Trust from Wunan Foundation: it's the least we can do. I know that when we roll into town we're treated like royalty. You know what? It would be lovely if we had the opportunity—and I know that I've been asked, and other transport companies have now contacted me to say, 'How can we roll this out in other places around Australia?'. So the challenge is there. If anyone wants to kick off and do something really great in remote and rural Australia, I've got the model and we've got the contacts.
I'll rise in the very short time we have remaining to pay a tribute across the chamber. It doesn't happen very often, but we just heard a contribution from Senator Sterle which demonstrates some of the remarkable charity work that he is doing. I make you this offer. I suspect you and I are the only two people with a heavy combination licence in the chamber, mate, so I'll make you the offer.
Senator Gallacher interjecting—
Oh, it's three. Sorry, Senator Gallacher.
Senator Duniam interjecting—
Senator Duniam, do you have one as well? You've got a truck licence?
I thought he was perhaps indicating that he had one as well! If you need an extra driver, Senator Sterle, as you head up north, I'm more than happy to get behind the wheel and give you a hand.
In the 12 seconds that I have remaining: for all of those in the eastern states who have a truck licence, there are plenty of jobs in Western Australia, so come west!