Ten of Trev's Significant Speeches
Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020
I'm very pleased to sum up the Recycling and Waste Reduction Bill 2020 and associated bills. These laws will become Australia's first-ever National Recycling Act. These are significant bills which I've had the privilege of helping to develop alongside my friend and colleague the Minister for the Environment, Sussan Ley, and alongside the recycling sector, environmental groups, industry and experts. These bills will give Australia, for the first time, a comprehensive and national framework to improve recycling, reduce waste and achieve better resource recovery.
I thank honourable members who have contributed to the debate on these bills. These bills will accomplish better environmental outcomes in Australia and across our region, keeping waste out of landfill and out of our waterways and oceans. These bills will also achieve economic benefits. Australia will be creating value by transforming waste streams back into valuable resources. This better, smarter way of dealing with waste creates jobs, value and prosperity. Our nation can become more self-reliant and self-sufficient in key industries including manufacturing and remanufacturing.
A few short years ago, indeed for most of Australia's history, federal governments in Canberra were not especially involved in waste and recycling. When Australians put their bins out on the kerb, what happens next has always been—and remains—a key responsibility of state governments, who, in turn, have often devolved it down to their local councils. Yet there are many reasons why our government is the first federal government in Australia's history to step so heavily into waste and recycling policy. Recent events have proven that there are, increasingly, national and international aspects to waste and recycling. When we see waste here in Australia being shipped not just around the world but also trucked or transported hundreds or thousands of kilometres around our nation, often past suitable recycling facilities, in order to take advantage of the different levies or rules or the arbitrage that exists between the states, then we know that the patchwork of state laws is letting us down. Furthermore, state governments are not as naturally equipped to deal with aspects of international trade, including sudden external shocks when other countries change the rules on what recyclable materials they will receive.
So this bill implements our strong decision to stop the export of waste glass, mixed plastics, whole tyres and contaminated paper and cardboard from Australia to all other countries. As the Prime Minister has said, it's our waste, it's our responsibility. And it must be noted that the Prime Minister's personal interest and passion for this area of policy is another factor in our focus on recycling. I want to thank the Prime Minister for his keen interest and for making me the Commonwealth's first-ever assistant minister with responsibility for waste reduction. The Prime Minister knows that recycling is one of those challenges where the coalition's record of practical action and achieving tangible outcomes can make all the difference.
The Prime Minister, I am sure, also sees the opportunity for Australia to help our friends and neighbours in our region, particularly in the Pacific, to deal with their serious challenges when it comes to reducing waste and our shared challenge of reducing maroon debris in our oceans. Most importantly, the Prime Minister understands how important it is to the Australian people we represent that we achieve better outcomes in recycling. Australians don't want to see the contents of their recycling bins being rejected at overseas ports or hear that their mixed plastics have ended up in rivers or oceans because other countries' recycling processes couldn't adequately deal with them. Australians don't want to be shocked, as they have been too many times in recent years, to discover that the contents of their recycling bins were dumped at their local landfill right alongside their general rubbish.
So, while the federal government is not taking overall constitutional responsibility for these policy areas, we know that we can use some tools available to us at the federal level of government to move the dial. We can move the dial through our leadership and through our engagement with the community, with industry and with other levels of government. We can use the opportunities available to us to make the case for stronger action, for more consistency and harmonisation in Australia's approach and for extending the planning horizons for recycling policy in our nation. That's why it was an important foundational step last year when the environment minister and I worked together with the states and territories and local government to agree on the National Waste Policy Action Plan. It sets ambitious targets with measurable milestones for reducing waste and improving recycling over the next 10 years and it clearly identifies who is responsible for leading, funding and taking various actions.
Following the plastics summit earlier this year in Canberra, the Prime Minister at COAG secured the final agreement of all state and territory governments for the laws contained in this bill that will stop the export of the unprocessed or contaminated waste streams I listed earlier. In July, the government announced our Recycling Modernisation Fund, which, together with contributions from the states and industry, builds a $1 billion transformation of Australia's domestic waste and recycling facilities. In short, we're building, here in Australia, the recycling facilities and infrastructure we need to process our waste streams we've been sending offshore. We want to co-fund the local facilities we need in every state and territory around Australia—for instance, to sort mixed plastics, to process single-plastic polymers and to turn the recovered materials into pallets or other commodities that can be picked up and used by Aussie businesses, making the next generation of fantastic products.
So, as these laws come into force together with the record investments for recycling funded in our federal budget and together with our other recycling announcements and reforms, Australians can start to gain confidence that, when they do the right thing and put something in the recycling bin, it will actually be recycled, it will be recovered as a resource and it will support jobs, our environment and our economy.
Chapter 2 of this bill creates a framework for stopping the export of problematic, unprocessed or contaminated waste streams, including plastics, glass, paper, cardboard and tyres. The minister in her second reading speech outlined the operation of this framework. Future exports will be managed through a licensing and declaration scheme through an online portal and, as detailed by the minister, significant penalties are proposed for those who fail to comply with export requirements or who make false declarations. We also propose to publish the list of licence-holders for transparency that can help empower whistleblowing against anyone who tries to do the wrong thing.
Chapter 3 of this bill turbocharges Australia's approach to product stewardship. This is about empowering industry and businesses to take responsibility for their products to encourage better design, better manufacturing outcomes and better recovery at the end of life for products. Product stewardship is probably best known to most Australians through successful schemes like Planet Ark's scheme for printer cartridges or MobileMuster for mobile phones. In fact, Australia's very first product stewardship law, created by the Howard government 20 years ago today, was the product stewardship act for oil. That scheme has grown so successfully that it now achieves the collection and recycling of over 300 million litres of dirty, used oil each year out the back of mechanics, service stations and factories. There are now dozens of schemes like that established in Australia, achieving significant success, yet it's also widely acknowledged, including in the recently released review of the existing Product Stewardship Act 2011, that product stewardship in Australia can achieve much more with the right improvements. Taking up the recommendations of our review, the government is enacting many significant reforms to turbocharge product stewardship and set it up to achieve much, much more over the next 10 years.
While the existing act has been somewhat successful at encouraging the creation of new schemes, it would be fair to say that most existing schemes pertain to individual products or categories of product. We want to see product stewardship in Australia applied more widely and more ambitiously, particularly to resources and material streams. We want to see new schemes that can recover and recycle materials regardless of what products those materials are contained within, such as, for instance, schemes for agricultural plastics or soft-plastic packaging. To encourage more ambitious product stewardship in the years ahead, we're putting product stewardship at the heart of this new recycling act and we're expanding the existing objects of the act. Notably, we're bringing sustainable product design into the objects of the act to encourage producers to properly consider their product through the life-after-use lens, from design and materials used through to recycling, remanufacturing and disposal. We're also proposing to make it easier for industry and businesses to set up schemes and to have them accredited. These reforms are accompanied by two other very important measures. First, we've established Australia's first Product Stewardship Centre for Excellence to provide mentoring and advice from some of the best minds behind some of our existing successful schemes. Secondly, we're investing $20 million to support the creation of new schemes or the expansion of existing schemes through our National Product Stewardship Investment Fund.
The bill also proposes reforms that will boost the benefits from having an accredited scheme and the effectiveness of schemes overall. For example, the existing act has always allowed the minister to publish a list of priority areas where the government wants to see new schemes created; we're strengthening that by granting the minister the power to set a ticking stopwatch whereby, if no scheme is presented to the government by the deadline, the government makes clear it is likely then to proceed to regulation. Gone are the days when priority items like batteries sit on a priority list for years without action being taken. The free-rider problem is also often raised as being a factor that can hold back the success of many schemes under the existing act, and that's why we're adding a new dimension to the priority list process, to give the minister a regular opportunity to celebrate schemes and organisations that are doing fantastic work but also to publicly call out free riders who are not participating in an accredited scheme that's available to them. I know that industry and consumers alike will welcome this indication that the federal government wants to embed a more active role here in encouraging scheme outcomes as well as the government setting out a formal process to publicly name and shame those that are letting us all down.
Product stewardship done right has the potential to contribute significantly to Australia meeting many of our targets for 2030 under the National Waste Policy Action Plan. As a result of the reforms in this bill and the government's other initiatives and incentives, I expect to see dozens more product stewardship schemes spring into existing in Australia, I expect to see dozens more schemes become accredited and I expect to see many more schemes working closely with our government to stamp out issues like free-riding. Ultimately, I hope to see all these schemes become more successful, improving product design and increasing the recovery of products and materials that would otherwise be going to landfill. Otherwise, as the minister described in her second reading speech, our government stands poised to use the co-regulatory and mandatory powers contained in this bill whenever targeted interventions are needed.
In the next stage of the debate, I'll place some further thanks on record, because there has been extensive consultation in developing this legislative package. In summing up, I simply want to observe that to live in Australia is to live in a sanctuary. It's true in so many ways, and it's reinforced by the events of this year. Australians are fortunate to be the custodians of both a country and a continent. That provides significant benefits to us, and it also entails significant responsibilities. By introducing Australia's first ever national recycling act, the Morrison government is taking significant and practical steps to fulfil Australia's responsibilities to our environment and to our nation's future. I commend these bills to the House.
Three years ago I made my first speech in this place. I'm humbled to have once again been elected to serve as the member for Brisbane, and I reiterate my thanks to the people of Brisbane for giving me the opportunity to continue representing our wonderful community. I pledge to keep working hard towards a style of representation that is as visible, accessible and responsive as possible and that is deeply thoughtful about the challenges and the opportunities ahead of us.
When it comes to the future, there are compelling reasons for Australians to be so optimistic. The liberal democracy we maintain and the institutions, traditions and values we uphold have delivered Australia through many challenges over the past 118 years since Federation. Our nation scores well on most measures compared to most other countries—prosperity, health, the environment, justice, freedom and security. We're home to the oldest continuing cultures on the planet, of which we can be very proud, and simultaneously we are one of the most successful multicultural and immigration based societies around the globe.Read more
Federation Chamber on 25/10/2018
MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS - Veterans
It's pleasing to be able to speak for a second year running on the annual ministerial statement on veterans and their families. Representing Brisbane in the federal parliament, with the Enoggera Barracks on the edge of that electorate means I have the absolute privilege of spending a lot of time with serving Defence personnel as well as the many veterans across our community in Brisbane. As I noted last year when the inaugural statement was made, these ministerial statements are opportunities for governments to measure their efforts, their progress and their progress in policy and administration. They're intended, I think, quite deliberately to be a frank, warts-and-all type of assessment of how we're doing here in Australia—the good and the bad—and they should act as a yardstick over time for how government's performance is measured and viewed.
I see this deliberate approach by governments in more and more areas of critical policy. When these critical and complex issues are finally canvassed in the community, when problems are finally brought out from under the carpet, enter the national conversation and get the recognition that important issues deserve, it naturally follows that governments provide more resources, more focus, more efforts and more funding. But it's about more than that. These ministerial statements and the work behind them are about making a really conscious effort to try new things to succeed and to fail fast if some attempts, experiments or initiatives are indeed going to fail, but, when things work, to quickly ramp up on those successes. Further, these ministerial statements can accept and respond to the fact that all people are unique. Their needs and their experiences will be different. There's often no magic bullet or any one-size-fits-all policy. In other words, these annual ministerial statements are a very deliberate commitment to a process that will guide us to keep doing better.
In this year's annual ministerial statement, delivered yesterday, the minister mentioned a number of priorities where the government is addressing some serious DVA service problems, overhauling the systems of the DVA and getting them into the digital age—new online capabilities and services—leading to faster claims processing and also moving to that single point of telephone contact, 1800 VETERAN. The minister also mentioned continuing good work in areas like employment initiatives and transition-to-work programs. The minister also mentioned a number of independent experts and reviewers looking in their work at different ways to make the next round of big improvement. This includes work by the Productivity Commission into rehabilitation and compensation systems, studies into advocacy and support systems, and more.Read more
Federation Chamber on 13/08/2018
STATEMENTS BY MEMBERS - Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
I want to speak briefly about the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and why strong economic management matters. Since the election in 2013, there have been about 1,740 new or amended listings on the PBS, representing $9 billion of government support for new medicines. That means that this government is averaging 31 new or amended listings per month, or approximately one per day. The recent federal government budget alone included a $2.4 billion investment in new medicines.
By way of example, at the end of last month the Minister for Health announced the government will invest $250 million to make four life-changing cancer medicines available to thousands of Australian patients from 1 August. These medicines will assist patients suffering from a type of head and neck cancer, lymphoma and leukaemia as well as chemotherapy patients. The health minister also announced a subsidy for new PBS medicines for hepatitis C and diabetes. All these patients will now have access to affordable, life-changing medicines and save thousands of dollars in treatment costs per year.
Governing is all about choices and having the right priorities. Unlike Labor, who lost control of the budget and then lagged in their listing of new medicines, this government's strong economic management ensures all medicines recommended by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee are funded.
House of Representatives - 27/06/2018
I've spoken here previously about the fact that Queenslanders receive the lowest per capita arts funding of all of the states and territories. As I've noted, that's not a recent phenomenon. It's a long-term trend that has existed for many, many years. It's an issue and a challenge that I've been keen to take up, along with my colleagues—the Queensland LNP members and senators, including yourself, Deputy Speaker Buchholz, who've collectively come to be known in recent times as 'Team Queensland'. Without in any way wishing to talk down the fantastic and amazing things currently happening in the arts sector in both Brisbane and Queensland, at the same time, it is really necessary to find opportunities to grow and to continue to support our vibrant arts sector. As I've said before, Brisbane and Queensland have some great things happening in their arts sector. There are hundreds of innovative, creative and vibrant artists who represent our diverse and expanding culture economy, from the four major performing arts companies and independent circus groups to cutting-edge digital offerings and Indigenous arts. The history and culture of arts in Brisbane and right across Queensland are an important part of our identity and our local economy.
Late last year, I provided an update on some recent funding wins that had happened around that time. Today I'm back to report on several additional success stories involving arts organisations in Queensland, including Queensland Ballet, Queensland Performing Arts Centre, the Gallery of Modern Art and QUT. Two weeks ago, I visited Queensland Ballet to make the very, very important announcement that this government has granted Queensland Ballet $3½ million over three years to help them transform the Thomas Dixon Centre that houses Queensland Ballet. That centre is the core. It's the home of Queensland Ballet, and this significant grant is critical to securing and growing Queensland Ballet's future. They are led by Li Cunxin, who is a force of nature and a huge advocate and ambassador for the arts scene in Brisbane and Queensland. Queensland Ballet has directly contributed to the economic and employment growth in Brisbane and around Queensland, and this funding will ensure that they can continue their excellent work. A new 350- to 400-seat theatre will enable both major and smaller independent artists to showcase their work and their talents. The centre will also feature state-of-the-art new technologies so that Queensland Ballet can better collaborate with other Brisbane arts organisations. It's that sort of collaboration which we really want to see and encourage to make sure that there are always exciting new things happening in our arts sector.
I was also pleased to announce recently that QPAC, the Queensland Performing Arts Centre, has been granted $420,000 to deliver Armistice, a theatrical performance reflecting on Australia's wartime history. It opens in November this year, and that's a very important time because we'll be commemorating the Centenary of World War I. This performance, Armistice, will explore the sacrifice of wartime and how this experience has contributed to shaping Australia's national identity. This collaborative project will bring our history to life through materials from the Australian War Memorial and the National Film and Sound Archive.Read more
Federation Chamber on 18/06/2018
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BUSINESS - Great Barrier Reef
The Great Barrier Reef is a remarkable natural wonder. It's breathtaking and spectacular. I've been very privileged to visit it before. It makes up in total about 10 per cent of the world's coral reef ecosystems. It stretches almost 3,000 kilometres, almost the distance from Brisbane to Melbourne and back again. It's one of Queensland's greatest landmarks and one of Australia's most beautiful natural environmental treasures.
The long-term protection and conservation of the Great Barrier Reef is critically important, and it is essential that it be preserved for future generations. That's why I and so many people in Brisbane were delighted that this year's federal budget made an additional investment, Australia's largest ever investment in the reef, of more than $500 million. This new funding is on top of the $2 billion that's already been allocated under this government to protect the reef.
In areas like conservation actions speak louder than words, so I'm proud that this government is doing more, investing more, funding more programs, than any other government in Australia's history. This record extends a long track record of support and protection of the Great Barrier Reef by former federal Liberal governments. It was, after all, the Fraser Liberal government that proclaimed the first section of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 1979, and it was the Fraser Liberal government again that nominated the Great Barrier Reef for World Heritage listing, leading to the World Heritage Committee placing it on the World Heritage List in 1981. The Howard government brought in the Great Barrier Reef Region (Prohibition of Mining) Regulations 1999 to prohibit mining in areas just outside the Great Barrier Reef region, falling outside the marine park. And it was also the Howard Liberal government that extended the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 2000 to include six new sections right along the coastline of Queensland that were previously missing out on the park's protection status. That added almost 1,300 square kilometres to the park.
When this coalition government took office in 2013, we inherited a situation where, sadly, the Great Barrier Reef was on the UN World Heritage Committee's watch list, basically because Labor was proposing four sites there for the dumping of dredge spoils. The coalition put a stop to the dredge sites, and, happily, the Great Barrier Reef was then taken off the UN's watch list. That's the environmental record of action of which this government is rightly proud.Read more
House of Representatives - 21/05/2018
I rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2018-2019 cognate debate with Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2018-2019, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2018-2019, Appropriation Bill (No. 5) 2017-2018 and Appropriation Bill (No. 6) 2017-2018, and to state, in case there was any doubt amongst honourable members, that this month's budget has been a great budget for Brisbane. More than 75,000 people across the electorate of Brisbane will be getting tax relief next financial year commencing in 40-something days' time, meaning the hardworking people of Brisbane will be keeping more of their own hard-earned money as reward for their efforts because this government's strong economic plan is starting to pay dividends.
A year ago, talking here on last year's budget, the topic was business tax cuts and we just heard that last year's budget still manages to distract members of the opposition. Last year, we talked about how this government was predicting what would happen if we backed Australian businesses, notably the small and medium family businesses which together make up such a large proportion of Australia's economy and its enterprise. We talked about why supporting those small and medium and family businesses might pay certain dividends. Now we are here seeing the very real evidence that the key planks of this government's strong economic plan are working—the tax relief already delivered for small and medium businesses, our innovation agenda, the new free trade agreements and the growth of our defence industry. We see evidence of these policies working certainly in Brisbane, right across Queensland and indeed across Australia.
Last week, two notable economic milestones were reached. Queensland's population reached five million and the target of one million jobs being created since the coalition government was elected was reached—about half a year earlier than was hoped for originally. The first milestone is a sign of the confidence Australians have in the great state of Queensland, including the 3.5 million who choose to make their homes in the south-east corner, centred on the wonderful place that is the City of Brisbane.
The second milestone, those jobs, is an unambiguous sign that the government's strong economic management is paying the dividends that we were talking about here in this place a year ago. A million jobs means a million livelihoods out there improved, a million more people having the security, dignity and prosperity of work. Record jobs being created, business investment rising, the budget strengthening is the story underpinning the budget.
Nationwide, our policies are coming together to help Australia's small and medium businesses create all of these new jobs faster than jobs have ever been created in the history of this country. Last year, a record 1,100 jobs a day were created, on average. That means, as I said, more Australians are being productive. It also means more Australians are paying taxes, and fewer of them are relying on welfare. That is a powerful outcome economically and morally. And it is enabling, in turn, this government to provide and guarantee the essential services. For instance, in the budget there is a record level of support for seniors and a record investment in the Great Barrier Reef. Finally, with certainty, it is enabling the government to fully fund the NDIS out of consolidated revenue.Read more
Anzac Day 2018 – Windsor & Districts Historical Society
9:00 am 25 Apr 2018, Windsor Memorial Park
May I acknowledge the traditional owners, the Turrbal people, and pay my respects to their elders past and present. Thank you to Uncle Joe Kirk for your welcome to country.
Thank you to Rosalie Raciti and the volunteers of the Windsor & Districts Historical Society for again organising today’s event.
I’m honoured to join you all again here to commemorate Anzac Day, particularly this year, as we mark the Centenary of Armistice – 100 years since the guns fell silent at the end of WWI.
This is an important nationwide event. Yet Anzac Day in practice and in spirit is made up of local commemorations, across countless local communities like ours here, in the same way that generations of our soldiers have been drawn from the communities spread across all corners of our continent.
The original Anzacs were clerks, tradesmen, labourers, professionals, shearers and farmers, the indigenous; young people representing every cohort of Australian society.
More than 50,000 Australians fought in Gallipoli in 1915. They included young Queenslanders from across our state, from local places like Windsor, Wilston, Kelvin Grove, Wooloowin, Clayfield and New Farm.
Their sacrifices have won our freedoms, given us lasting benefits, and helped forge our national identity.
This morning there were a number of dawn services including one at Cameron Rocks nearby Breakfast Creek. That is where, back in 1915, many Anzacs last stood on Australian soil. It is where too many of them last saw the sun rise over the Australian coast.
That memorial, and this one, were built in the years after WWI and were funded almost exclusively by private donations and community subscriptions. It is a fine example of community-led action. This is a spirit that lives on in today’s event here.
These memorials honour those who served their country, many dying a world away from their childhood homes and families. Places like this memorial and events like this allow us to come together as a community to remember, to reflect, to grieve, to acknowledge the sacrifice of others, and to consider our hard-fought freedoms.
Our area of Brisbane has more significant war-time history than even some locals may realise.
We may never know for certain, but the historian Charles Bean concluded that the first ANZAC ashore at Gallipoli was a Queenslander, Lieutenant Duncan Chapman, of the 9th Battalion. He was born in Maryborough and was a resident working here in Brisbane when WWI began. He survived Gallipoli, but later fell, in action, in France, on 6 August the following year.
Of the 50,000 Australian soldiers at Gallipoli, the Australian War Memorial records that a total of 8,141 Australian souls were lost before the evacuation.
It was a grim and formative moment in Australia’s psyche and in our history.Read more
House of Representatives on 4/12/2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 - Second Reading
It is with pride and joy that I second the motion. I rise to speak on the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017. On 15 November 2017, just past 10 am local time, celebration erupted on the streets of Brisbane as the Australian Statistician announced that the vast majority of Australians had said yes to allowing same-sex couples to marry. At a large gathering in Queen's Park in the CBD, and in cafes and workplaces across Brisbane, people clapped and cheered. They hugged complete strangers, and people cried with a mixture of relief and joy. My partner, Roger, and I shared in that emotion. The 'yes' vote in Brisbane was almost 80 per cent. It was 79.5 per cent, meaning that Brisbane recorded the highest support of any government seat across the country except for the Prime Minister's seat of Wentworth.
When the Statistician was giving his speech that day he also announced in passing that the ABS later that day would be releasing Australia's labour force statistics. Now, it is thought-provoking to imagine a nation tuning in and erupting with the same level of celebration at the release of our employment statistics. They were pretty good job figures after all! But that comparison does reveal the importance of the postal survey results and the significance of marriage equality to so many Australians. It underlines the responsibility that this parliament now has in front of it to respect the clear will of the Australian people by passing this bill this week in a business-like fashion.
That comparison between the postal survey and other statistical releases reveals another serious point: that in the hustle and bustle of life there's possibly too few occasions when Australia stops and pays attention to the operations, the decisions and the news of government. When a national moment like this occurs, there are lessons to be learned for those of us who ponder things like the operation of our democracy, policy-making processes and concepts of good governance.
Why did it take so long for this reform to be achieved when public opinion had shown that the majority of Australians have supported marriage equality for almost a decade?
What precedent did the postal survey set for our parliamentary democracy? And what has the postal survey taught us about how Australians can engage with each other and our parliament?
I wouldn't be the first to observe that reform has been difficult for Australia in this decade. About a year ago, I was on my feet here speaking of my sadness and disappointment that yet another Australian parliament looked set to fail to achieve marriage equality. Despite these years of national debate, this government's plebiscite bill was actually the first time in history there was a government-endorsed bill sitting on that table in front of me. We were the first government ever elected with a mandate containing a path to achieving marriage equality, and we had our Prime Minister—the first in Australia to be consistently in favour of it. And yet, despite all those firsts, that bill was headed for defeat by the usual blockade in the Senate. And those who voted against it had no plan for what would happen next. Essentially, they were content to run the risk that this reform would stall for a long time—possibly, for many years. And of course, that was after some of them had done nothing to achieve marriage equality when they had their chance in government. Now, history, not I, will be the judge of that.
As for me, I'm proud to stand up here today and say that I've played a small role in ending the stalemate on same-sex marriage. It was a path that contained some risks, and, for their strength and their courage on this topic, I want to pay tribute to some of my colleagues: to Senator Dean Smith; to the member for Goldstein, Tim Wilson; to the member for North Sydney, Trent Zimmerman; the member for La Trobe, Jason Wood; and to the irrepressible and legendary member for Leichhardt, fellow Queenslander Warren Entsch.
Those members I just named and I didn't come to this place to focus on same-sex marriage. I came here with a background in small business, with experience in economics and industry, to focus on many of the other important challenges and opportunities that lie ahead of us today. But sometimes one could have been forgiven for thinking otherwise. I can't count the number of times that news stories introduced me as 'the gay MP' before even referring to my seat or my party or my achievements or other attributes.Read more
Almost every week a constituent runs up to me looking panicked and asks me, 'Is there an election coming up?' There is not, of course. They have just seen me holding my regular mobile offices. 'Mobile office' is a pretty fancy title for what is essentially me on the side of a busy street under a shade sail with the A frames out and some plastic chairs, listening to locals who pass by and stop in. When I was elected last year, I outlined my intention to be as visible, accessible and responsive as I possibly can, and also as thoughtful as I possibly can about the challenges and the opportunities that lie in front of us in Brisbane. My mobile offices are just one of the ways I have been working hard to achieve that.
So I want to formally thank the 500 or so constituents who have come to talk to me so far at my mobile offices. They have helped me to prove the value of listening. Their thoughts, their feedback and their stories have made me a better representative. I am proud to record that, as of this month, I have now held over 100 mobile offices across Brisbane. If the one downside of that is that it causes the occasional moment of panic for people who are worried that they are missing out on an election, then the answer surely is for me to hold even more mobile offices until every last constituent knows that this is how I want to work to represent the people of Brisbane.