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Clive, Cathy and the newbies: maiden speeches from our new MPs

Clive Palmer, Cathy McGowan and four other MPs stood in federal Parliament yesterday to give their maiden speeches. Crikey intern Tim Oliver captures the best of the rhetoric …

Although perhaps the most anticipated, Clive Palmer’s was not the only maiden speech to be heard in Parliament yesterday. There were, in fact, six maiden speeches given, and funnily enough, Palmer spoke for the least amount of time. Traditionally, maiden speeches serve to introduce policy agenda to the Parliament albeit in an anecdotal and emotional way; yesterday did not disappoint.

Here’s an excerpt from all six of the speeches given to introduce you to our newest MPs …

Rick Wilson, O’Connor:

My 87-year-old mother, Mary, who is in the gallery today, epitomises all that is good about family and community. She was a child of the Depression whose family suffered financial ruin. She educated herself via correspondence lessons and became a much-loved and respected nursing sister. She has spent her life giving of herself for others. Even today, she still works tirelessly for many community organisations. She is an adored mother, grandmother and now, to her delight, great-grandmother. Her selflessness has been an inspiration to all her family, and we strive to live up to her example …

I am the youngest of six children. I am a farmer. For the past 25 years, I have farmed in partnership with my brother Allan. When our father, Archie, died suddenly, I was just 14 and Allan was 17. Circumstances forced us to accept the enormous responsibility of maintaining the family business from a very young age and, while there were many difficult times, we have succeeded in developing an outstanding farm operation …

I am proud of my hardworking, salt-of-the-earth ancestors. I am a social conservative and an economic liberal … and I strongly believe that marriage is and should remain the union of a man and a woman.”

Tim Watts, Gellibrand:

My wife and her family came to this country from Hong Kong in 1985 seeking the same freedom and opportunity in our nation as John Watts did some 150 years before them. They brought with them a different language and cultural tradition, but they shared the same desire and determination to be the architects of a better life for themselves and for their children. Today, these braided threads of my children’s heritage are equally fundamental to both their own and the Australian identity … The presence of my family here today — diverse, happy and thriving in a modern Australia — is a living testament to how far we have come as a nation in the last 150 years …

The foundation stones of Australia’s open society have been immigration and multiculturalism … The great Australian chronicler of our nation’s Anglo-Celtic convict heritage, Robert Hughes, noted that multiculturalism: ‘… proposes … that some of the most interesting things in history and culture happen at the interface between cultures … the future .. in a globalized economy … will lie with people who can think and act with informed grace across ethnic, cultural, linguistic lines … In the world that is coming, if you can’t navigate difference, you’ve had it.’”

Melissa Price, Durack:

I am a girl from Kalgoorlie — the gold-mining town in the eastern goldfields of Western Australia. I left school at the age of 15. I did not think the nuns could teach me anything further. I was wrong, of course, and had to find out the hard way …

Growing up in the goldfields in the 1960s and 1970s was no picnic. The gold price was unpredictable, so times were tough. But in those days people who worked on the mines worked regular hours, went home to their families at night and were able to contribute to the community more broadly. Growing up, my mother encouraged my siblings and me to ‘just have a go’, ‘do your best, that’s all that can be asked of you’. These words of encouragement have followed me through life and given me the belief that to be successful all you need is effort — the rewards will flow …

As a kid from the bush, I know the region has its problems, but I also know its potential. It is my hope that this current Parliament is remembered not only for the economic benefits Durack makes to Australia’s economy but also for the contributions this parliament gives back to the electorate.”

Clare O’Neil, Hotham:

Thirty years ago, a group of Cambodians purchased a large piece of land in Springvale South. They had a vision of a regional temple, where thousands of local Buddhists would gather to worship but, when construction began, it was beset by problems. At this time one of the congregation began to be visited in her dreams by a Bunurong woman. ‘This is not your land,’ she would repeat night after night. The monks conferred and agreed that a shrine would be built to honour the Bunurong … From there, construction ran smoothly, and today Clarke Road temple is one of the largest in Melbourne. Still, worshippers leave gifts at the shrine to the Bunurong to show their respect to the traditional owners of that land …

This is my electorate of Hotham. It will always be the traditional land of the Bunurong and will be ever lucky for the migrants who have made our local area their home too …

So it was for Simon Crean, who gave 23 years of his life to this electorate … He is one of my Labor heroes and a person in whose footsteps I am honoured to walk. He helped me when I ran for council as a 22-year-old and, a year later, he endorsed me as the mayor. Now, he has backed me all the way to federal Parliament.”

Cathy McGowan, Indi:

Today I am going to share a story … In the 1800s, some five generations ago, my family left Europe in harsh times to make a better life for themselves and their children’s children’s children. Their courage and persistence is my foundation, like it is for so many Australians …

On my father’s side, Elizabeth Anne Brown arrived from County Cork, Ireland in 1860. She was 20 and alone. She died at the grand age of 87 and is buried in the Tallangatta cemetery, her occupation, proudly, farmer … She was a woman in agriculture well before that term was even thought of …

Granny’s legacy to me was: be a teacher; be a lover of stories and history; have a deep sense of social justice and community service and never forget to laugh …

In closing, I would like to quote from a piece of wisdom found on a toilet door at Mittagundi, an outdoor-education centre for young people in the King Valley: ‘The future is not some place we are going to, but one we are creating; the paths to it are not found, but made, and the making of these pathways changes both the maker and the destination.’”

Clive Palmer, Fairfax:

Australians know who I am and where I come from. They know I love my family and that I love Australia. In 1918 my father, at the age of nine, went to see a silent movie. By the time he was 14 he was producing and starring in his own movies. He went on to become the world’s youngest movie producer — as he was known in Hollywood …

He returned to Australia to establish radio station 3AK in Melbourne and radio 7UV in Tasmania. Prime Minister Lyons, of the United Australia Party, opened radio 3AK — and I still have the recording …

My mother was born in Penguin, Tasmania, and left in 1940 to work in ammunition production in Melbourne. Family members have served this nation in the first and second world wars, some giving their lives for Australian freedom … all of them have done for Australia more than I could ever do …

The ghosts of the Anzacs call us to action … To stimulate our economic activity, we must ignite the creativity of all our citizens. Chairman Mao said a long time ago that women hold up half the sky, yet women received their vote in 1902 but prejudice still remains. Leadership, not complacency, is our need today. In parliament and in cabinet, we need more women …

Let us unite to serve the nation we love, to discover the future, to share in our trials and tribulations, to overcome adversity, to pull together for the common good under the Southern Cross.”

3
  • 1
    MJPC
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Can someone tell Comrade Clive, “patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundral”. I will unite with Clyde when he starts paying his way like the rest of us.
    p.s: I hope someone is holding up the other half of the sky, it could be a disaster.
    Cevolution Now!

  • 2
    K.D. Afford
    Posted Tuesday, 3 December 2013 at 6:52 pm | Permalink

    Oh! My God! Clive made me cry!
    It is only because I was never rich!

  • 3
    Terrence John Snedden
    Posted Wednesday, 4 December 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    They are only passing through pushed forward like scoria by the blades of progress dust particles impacted into a grandiose vision of our importance.

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