Mr HOGAN (Page) (16:24): Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker, I congratulate you on your election to the position of Deputy Speaker. I know you will bring great grace and poise to the position. I thank my parliamentary colleagues currently in the chamber who have chosen to share this with me. I woke on 8 September this year with a great sense of gratitude that the people in my community had put their faith and their trust in me to be their representative in this chamber. I am humbled yet also excited about getting on with the job they have entrusted me to do. I have had the privilege of having met all the past members of Page—from Ian Robinson, who was the inaugural member in 1984, Harry Woods, Ian Causley and Janelle Saffin. They have all been good advocates for our community, and I plan to continue in that tradition. I would like to take you on a bird’s eye tour of the seat of Page; outline what will be delivered to my community this term; why only a good government can deliver on these promises; and, lastly, acknowledge the support of the people that helped me to be here to represent Page.
Firstly, for those of you who have not had the pleasure of discovering the natural beauty of Page, let me take you on a short journey. I want you to imagine you are a bird and you are flying south. You are on the Queensland-New South Wales border. It is probably the best way to be going. You are 60 kilometres inland from the coast and down below you see a great expanse of grazing country and tree plantations. You then come into view of Woodenbong and you realise you have entered a very special place. Flying down a spectacular valley you see Kyogle, home of the Bush Turkeys and a community that is so proudly self-reliant that 40 years ago when they needed a new road through rugged country they simply cleared the land and built it themselves on voluntary labour.
You veer east at Cedar Point and fly over Bentley before discovering the cosmopolitan regional city of Lismore and its iconic villages. Still heading east, you fly over Alstonville and Wollongbar with its fertile plateau and, if you look left, you will see Paul’s macadamia farm and Craig’s dairy farm. Flying down the escarpment, you see the vibrant centre of Ballina by the sea, and the Richmond River meeting the ocean. You veer south now and you fly 100 kilometres down the coast over communities such as Evans Head and Woodburn, stunning national parks and fishing boats plying their trade, until in the distance you notice the mighty Clarence River. At its mouth are the fishing and tourism meccas of Yamba and Iluka. You fly upriver past Lawrence and you cannot believe how good this flight is, because now you observe the jacaranda city herself—Grafton.
You then fly up the Nymboida and are overwhelmed by its rugged beauty before turning north over Baryulgil and encountering the magnificent grazing country surrounding Tabulam. Turning east you see the beef capital of Australia, Casino, before nestling quietly into the Richmond Valley for a rest. You have just flown over a very special place, God’s own, the electorate of Page. Yet, the physical beauty of a place in which people live does not create a community. I am fortunate to live among a group of people where volunteering and selfless acts are the norm. This is want creates a community, it is want binds us together.
In this parliament, I will be working to improve the lives of the people of Page and strengthen that which holds us together. Our first job has to be to repeal the carbon tax. It was never going to change the climate and it is a job-destroying tax. What is worse, it broke household budgets, particularly those of our ageing population on a fixed income. I also acknowledge that the coalition government will continue to fund the Pacific Highway at a level of 80 per cent federal funding to ensure the quickest possible duplication of this badly-needed infrastructure. The previous government wanted to revert to a 50 per cent funding split that would have pushed out the completion date. More than $5 billion of federal money will be spent on this highway in the next few years and most of it will be in Page. This project will save lives and it will bring hundreds of construction jobs and, on completion, tourism and other businesses will reap the rewards by linking our companies with the large market places of Sydney and Brisbane and bring more tourism to the area. The businesses of Page are also crying out for the government to cut red and green tape. Every day as I walk around my community, they tell me it needs to change. With local business chambers I am already working to find examples of this restrictive red tape that must be thrown in the bin, because these needless regulations are job killers.
I am also looking forward to delivering on the election promises I committed to during the election campaign. As stated: more than $5 billion of federal money to finish the duplication of the Pacific Highway; $4.5 million for the stage 1 upgrade of Ballina hospital; completing the upgrade of the Grafton hockey clubhouse; an investment of almost half a million dollars to provide CCTV in Casino to make our streets safer; completing the Iluka-Woomba Men’s Shed; installing a new goalposts at the McKittrick Park in Grafton; a new training centre at the Bunjum Aboriginal Co-op; full restoration of the Bellman Hangar at Evans Head Memorial Aerodrome and the fit-out of the museum; upgrading of the Mid-Richmond Neighbourhood Centre; Green Army projects on Susan Island in Grafton and at Tabulam; and others that are still on the drawing board.
Madam Speaker—I like to have you here and I acknowledge you on the job you have been given and the great poise that you bring to the role—mining and farming can be a delicate balancing act in certain regions. I acknowledge the work done by my coalition colleagues in the New South Wales parliament, tightening up farmer protection in relation to coal seam gas mining in New South Wales. I acknowledge my federal colleagues and our position. Our policy is that water and prime agricultural land, as well as built-up areas, need to be protected from CSG mining. I believe, and in my opinion, so does the majority of my community, that given current extraction techniques this policy currently rules out the electorate of Page from CSG mining.
I would like to explain to this House why I want to represent the people of Page. Good government I believe must come from good values. Good values lead to good decisions and good decisions ensure a good government. So, what are these values? Good values are summarised, I believe, in an Australian colloquialism which expresses whether life is productive or not, and that is the great Australian saying of ‘have a go’. Everyone in our country needs to have a go. The reason our country has long punched above its weight is because our nation was built on the ‘have a go’ philosophy. Everything we do in this chamber needs to support those Australians who are having a go.
This Australian belief, together with the First Australians, who I believe are the guardians of this nation’s soul and who give us a spiritual connection with our land, makes us the great country we are. The reason I am a proud member of the Nationals and the coalition government is that I believe we hold the values that support those having a go, that reward entrepreneurship, that support job creation and that care for wellbeing in our communities. Small business and the private sector fund every public service job in this country and therefore need to be nurtured. To provide important social services to our communities we need a healthy private sector to pay for them. And, importantly, it is the Nationals which focus on regional Australia and ensure that regions like mine are not forgotten.
I am naturally an optimistic person, and we as a nation have much to be optimistic about. But we do face challenges. I see challenges divided into three areas: economic, social and environmental. Economically, when you include private debt, we are one of the most indebted countries in the world. We must have a government that is prudent and responsible. When the Australian people want responsible economic management, they always turn to the coalition, as they know we are the only ones who can do this.
Presently, governments around the world are engaging in massive debt creation. Some are also involved in quantitative easing, simply printing money to stimulate an economy—all this within a fiat currency system and the fractional reserve banking model that we operate. Many pitfalls, such as the global financial crisis, can confront such a system, and we need to be prudent.
Socially, Australia is a wonderful example of a rich, diverse multicultural society. We have many institutions which make this system work, not least our public education system. We need to continue to support the role it plays, not only in educating our young but also in building the nation.
Environmentally, we have great challenges as the world population increases. Our farmers are well poised to play a great role in feeding Australia and the world. Indeed, they are doing so now. We do, however, need to get off our farmers’ backs, as with all businesses, and let them do what they know how to do without all the red and green tape that currently binds them. Farmers know the demands of their land like no-one else. It was they who understood the concept of sustainability well before the inner city so-called intellectuals stumbled across the word over their lattes and decided they had the right to tell farmers how they should farm and what they can and cannot do.
No-one can campaign for political office and take a seat in parliament without the help of others. I am but the face of a team who put a lot of work into winning this seat for the coalition. Firstly, I wish to thank Ben Franklin and his team at the NSW state Nationals office, especially Ross Cadell, Tony Sarks, Sam Pearn and Nathan Quigley. They always had the faith and belief that we could win this seat and, Ben, we did.
Thank you to my two campaign managers Andrew Gordon and Fay Boyd. Andrew would ring me every day and simply say, ‘Kevin, what I can do for you today?’ His boundless energy and enthusiasm were crucial and inspiring to me. Fay Boyd garnered troops and resources in the Clarence like a field marshal—you do not say ‘no’ to Fay. Her dedication and effort were total, and I thank her.
I thank all the federal parliamentary team who visited and helped, especially Warren Truss, Joe Hockey, Barnaby Joyce, Michael McCormack, Darren Chester, Fiona Nash, Luke Hartsuyker, Andrew Laming, Michael Ronaldson, John Williams, Mark Coulton and Michael Keenan. To my three state colleagues for their friendship and support: Chris Gulaptis, Thomas George and Don Page. To all the volunteers, who totalled in the hundreds, and my campaign team. I thank them all. To my office staff, Chris, Peter, Jo and Julie, who are already giving great service to constituent requests.
To my father- and mother-in-law, Kevin and Pat Webber, whose family history traces back many generations in the local community. My father-in-law’s family was one the first families to settle at Wyrallah. I thank them for helping keep our home front functioning when the campaign was on.
I am a fourth-generation Australian and, like all families, we have had our highs and lows, one generation wiped out by a hailstorm, others by drought. My mother and father, who have died in recent years, taught me four lessons that stand out: self-responsibility—only I could generate the life I wanted; resilience—when things don’t work out, don’t give up; compassion for others; and community involvement.
My father, John Hogan, was always the little entrepreneur who looked out for others in his community. He was an electrician in our country town and once did a job for a friend—a biscuit salesman—who was in financial difficulties. Knowing this friend was doing it tough, Dad took the payment in biscuits. I had a great, if not nutritious, week. I am not sure if my mother was all that happy with this form of payment. To my mother, Betty, who showered me in love, belief and prayers, which I know still protect me to this day from the naysayers who tell you why you can’t do something or why something won’t happen.
To my sisters, Teresa and Sue, who are here today, I thank them and their families for all the decades of looking out for their younger brother. To my sister Marg, who sadly died two weeks before the election, for the laughter she brought to my childhood home. And to my family, my wife, Karen, my best ally and my greatest supporter, every step in my life’s journey and endeavour has been with her for 20 years and I feel blessed to have her with me. And, yes, I thought your television ad was a really good one, and better than mine too! To my children, Bridget, Sean and Rosie, if and when you ever have children you may come to realise how much love and purpose you bring to my life.
Lastly, I humbly bring a range of my life experiences to this chamber, and lessons I have learnt. Through my career I invested and traded a multibillion dollar portfolio when I worked in the financial markets and learnt the importance of good economic management. I presented an economic update on Sky News for a number of years. I have been a teacher and understand the importance of education to the fabric of our society. As a farmer and small business owner I know that this is the engine room of our economy As an investment officer of an industry superannuation fund I know the importance of super to people’s retirement. But can I say that the greatest privilege I have had is to represent my community in this chamber. And I say to the people of Page, my community, I will always speak for what I believe is in your interests and vote for things that are for the best interests of our community and our great nation of Australia.