Statements By Senators- 19 November 2014


Senator SESELJA (Australian Capital Territory) (13:14): On 14 October, young leaders from across the ACT converged on Parliament House to attend a youth leadership forum. I had the privilege of hosting a diverse group of young leaders at this event, which was as inspirational as it was informative.

The forum had the opportunity to hear from ACT Young Canberra Citizen of the Year 2013, Jarret Anthoney. Jarret is an inspirational young leader in the ACT community and was recently announced as an ACT finalist for the Young Australian of the Year. His efforts to develop a Dainere's Rainbow Brain Tumour Research Fund, in conjunction with Sydney Children's Hospital Foundation and Dr David Ziegler, were prompted by the tragic loss of his sister Dainere to a brain tumour. His initiative and leadership is awe-inspiring and a great example to youth in the ACT and across Australia.

The forum then moved to focus on the young leaders that were in attendance: from St Francis Xavier school, we had Alysha Bird, Tegan Norley and David Zeller; from Gungahlin College, Kal Slater; from Burgman Anglican School, Nick Hains, Mia Linden, Munashe Rusamo, Madison Einfalt; from Trinity Christian School, we had Amy Uebergang and Jaye Polleycutt; from Hawker College, Tahirrae Slikker; from Daramalan College, Ben McDonald and Matthew Aldridge; from Australian Christian College, Samuel Suva; from Erindale College, Julian Barrett; from Canberra High School, Ariana Glass and Tessa Minns; from the Canberra Institute of Technology, Haylee Bates; and from St Edmonds College, John-Paul Romano.

This diverse group of young Canberrans had the opportunity to engage in a broad discussion. We touched on environmental and social issues, before moving on to discussing the economy and immigration. The forum was a great way for me to hear the views of youth, whilst at the same time fostering the leadership skills of young Australians. The discussion was engaging and robust, and I can assure everyone gathered here that spirit of democracy is alive and well in the youth of the Australian Capital Territory.

I recently had the pleasure of opening the new Snowy Hydro SouthCare training and administration centre. Since 1 October 1998 Snowy Hydro SouthCare has been primary provider of aero-medical and rescue helicopter services to people in the ACT and south-eastern New South Wales. In the 16 years since its opening, it has completed over 5,500 missions. While the helicopter is based on the Monaro Highway in Canberra, Snowy Hydro SouthCare's primary service area extends east to the coast, south to the Victorian border, west to Hay, and north almost to Sydney. As Snowy Hydro SouthCare completes an average of two missions per day, it is clear that this life-saving service is an important part of our community.

The new Snowy Hydro SouthCare training and administration centre will play a vital role in the timely provision of medical services for both the ACT and surrounding region, cementing the ACT's role as a regional services hub. This opening is the culmination of a $1.15 million project that was achieved through the combined financial contributions of the Australian government, South-East New South Wales Aero-Medical Services Ltd and the Master Builders Association. The opening of the centre marks an important milestone in the development and consolidation of this critical service for the ACT and region. It was great to see Snowy Hydro SouthCare's CEO, Owen Finegan—a former Brumby and Wallaby—there with his staff, who were eagerly waiting to move into their new premises.

On 17 October I had the opportunity to attend the 50th anniversary of the suburb of Curtin in South Canberra. It was in the year 1964 that people first moved into the new suburb of Curtin. To commemorate this occasion, the Curtin community put on a series of events, which culminated fittingly in the heart of the suburb, the local shops. As many of you will be aware, the local shops are often a focal point for communities across Australia. By virtue of the deliberate design of Canberra, each suburb has its own local shops, and these often contain community groups, such as scouts and churches, alongside local businesses. In Curtin, it was these local shops that provided the stage for the day's celebration.

The display of community spirit was great to see. There were local musicians on show, including talented children from Curtin Primary School. Against this backdrop of local talent was a variety of stalls that were set up by local retailers. Community information stalls conveyed a strong sense of the local history, which was both informative and interesting.

Many Canberra suburbs received their name from prominent political leaders. Canberra's city is steeped in rich political history and of course we only need to look at a map of Canberra to see this played out in the names of suburbs such as Deakin, Reid, Cook, Bruce, Ford and Chifley. Curtin is of course named after the Rt Hon. John Joseph Curtin, who, as our 14th Prime Minister, led during a turbulent time in our nation's history.

It was encouraging to see such a strong, diverse and vibrant community celebrating their suburb. I was glad I was able to share this milestone with locals. I would like to particularly congratulate Viola Kalokerinos and Evan Mann and everyone else who helped to organise the event. I should also mention John Kalokerinos who was doing a lot, as he always does, in the local community. I also spotted Malcolm Farr, from the press gallery, who is a Curtin resident, who was there proudly celebrating a wonderful area and a wonderful place to live.

I would also like to make mention today of the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, which I had the privilege of launching recently. This is for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. They have the Walk to Cure Diabetes, and it was great to so many people out to support such a great cause. The Walk to Cure Diabetes is an important event, not only because it is the biggest fundraiser of the year for the JDRF; but also because it represents hope—hope for a cure. The majority of walkers were there on the day because they have been affected by type 1 diabetes in one way or another. By taking part in the walk, they contributed to critical medical research that will improve lives and ultimately find a cure for those with type 1 diabetes.

ACT and regional development coordinator Mel Eveille presented four Walk-Hero Status awards on the day, to: Kathryn Jeffress from team Walking4Ethan, Ingo Evers from Diabetes Squared, Alexis Bendun from Team Sixela and Katie Coulter from the Bean Team. Corporate committee member Lee Phillips was also recognised on the day for his outstanding volunteer and fundraising efforts for JDRF.

As a father of five children, it is difficult for me to imagine some of the challenges that are faced by families who deal with type 1 diabetes. But, with the help of organisations such as JDRF, and fundraisers such as Walk to Cure Diabetes, we hope that one day we can turn type 1 into type none.

On the back of that, in January next year, I will be taking part in the Ride to Cure Diabetes in the Barossa Valley. It is an 80 kilometre ride and I encourage people to get on the JDRF website if they would like to donate to any of the riders. It is a fantastic cause and it is a major fundraiser for JDRF.

I recently also had the opportunity to address a number of business owners from Tuggeranong about the possibility of development in West Tuggeranong. The Tuggeranong Region Business Forum was formed to lift the profile of Tuggeranong and regional businesses, engage both levels of government and to yield community benefits and sustainable commercial outcomes. The interim convenor, Michael Lindfield, has done a fantastic job of getting local businesses together to discuss ways to further develop Tuggeranong and what opportunities there may be in the future.

I do believe it is important that we explore ways to ensure that Tuggeranong prospers, and growing the population of the local area will help to ensure that better facilities are available in the south of Canberra. If development were to go ahead in West Tuggeranong, I believe that the initial stages would appropriately be just a short distance from the town centre. This is an issue that goes back some time, prior to self-government for the ACT, when the original plan for how to grow the southern part of Canberra, particularly in this case Tuggeranong, was to develop on both sides of the river.

 

There was a decision taken by the federal government prior to self-government to ban development on the western side of the river. I think that was a significant mistake. I think that was a significant problem and it is, unfortunately, an issue that in the first instance has to be fixed by the federal government. There is a process in place, and I am pleased that Assistant Minister Jamie Briggs has actually taken this up with the NCA. The NCA is going through a process of examining this issue. I think that it is important that we get this right. Sometimes these decisions, in this case taken decades ago, can have long-lasting impacts. They have an impact on the ability to have affordable housing in the south of Canberra, they have an impact on revenues for the ACT government and they have an impact on the facilities for the people of south Canberra and particularly for the people of Tuggeranong. This is an important process and I look forward to engaging in it.