Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Speech in Parliament - Casey Electorate - 05 June 2013

Mr TONY SMITH (Casey) (19:29): As this parliament nears its end, I rise to give what will surely be my final adjournment speech before the coming election. I would like to take this opportunity to talk about the electorate I am so honoured to represent in this House of Representatives—the electorate of Casey; to talk about what it is, what it could be and what it should be.

Casey encompasses around 2,500 square kilometres, ranging from the outer eastern suburbs of Melbourne through the bulk of the Yarra Valley: from Steels Creek and Dixons Creek, Healesville and Yarra Glen in the north to Mount Dandenong, Kalorama, Olinda, Monbulk and The Patch in the south; from the edge of Croydon through Mooroolbark, Bayswater North, Kilsyth, Monbulk and Lilydale and out eastwards along the Warburton Highway beyond the historic town after which that road is named.

The Casey electorate is quintessential middle Australia that includes suburban neighbourhoods and country towns. It is a part of the country where the combination of aspiration and perspiration has produced a determination to build a better life. Much of the region was settled more than a century ago by pioneers who sought nothing more than an opportunity to determine their own fate and their own future. They tilled the fields and built homes and businesses—people like the Chapmans, who founded Chappies fruits, or the Flemings, who established Flemings Nurseries.

As the descendants of that first generation have dedicated themselves to building upon the legacy of their founders, they have been joined by successive waves of newer arrivals from other parts of Australia and the world. But whether they were born there or moved there, all have seen our local community as a place of optimism and opportunity. While some commute to work elsewhere, others find employment with the wide diversity of local business enterprises that range from furniture manufacturing right through to food manufacturing. There are orchards, nurseries, flower farms, vineyards, timber, tourism, light manufacturing and engineering industries, to name just a few. And there are many, many small business owners who work the long hours required to turn vision and ambition into entrepreneurial success. The local quality of life has also been enriched by a vibrant tapestry of local communities, where local volunteers do so much, for so many, so often.

It saddens me to report that the people I represent in this House are now hurting in increasing numbers, their futures handicapped, limited and handcuffed by the incompetent policies of the most inept federal Labor government in recent memory. Many are struggling under the burden of Labor's carbon tax that they were promised they would never have. The small business owners amongst them are being drowned by Labor's high taxes and strangled by excess red tape churned out by a Labor regulatory state on steroids. They have watched a massive level of debt run up in their name by a Labor government that is stealing from their future. They have watched as gross debt heads to $290 billion this December. First-time voters and young families know that Labor's debt is not free: it costs $12 or $13 billion every year in interest—and that is before the principal has even begun to be repaid. They know that any more of Labor after 14 September will only mean more debt and intergenerational theft.

There is a better way: the coalition way that offers hope, reward and opportunity by ensuring government lives within its means instead of racking up charge after charge on the national credit card; a way that restores confidence in the competence of Canberra. If the coalition is fortunate enough to win the upcoming federal election, our first order of business in the new parliament will be to repeal Labor's job-destroying carbon tax. We will also enhance local control of schools and hospitals because we recognise local communities have a better sense of local priorities then far distant bureaucrats. And we will restore the same integrity to Australia's border protection through the tried and true policies that worked well under the Howard government.

The 14th of September will mark a major fork in the road. The Labor road will head to continued failure, continued cons and continued chaos. The coalition road will lead to stronger communities, a strong and prosperous economy and a safe and secure Australia. (Time expired)

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