More new MPs rose in parliament on Monday and again yesterday to deliver their defining maiden speeches, including the youngest-ever federal parliamentarian in Liberal newbie Wyatt Roy. In our efforts to get to know the class of 2010, Crikey captures the highlights…

Wyatt Roy, Liberal-National Party member for Longman:

I see my own personal story as a Liberal story, a story of opportunity and enterprise. My father, who is here today, has taught me the importance of service, of compassion, of responsibility and of a quiet but steadfast pride in our country. He has taught me to be tenacious but to also have a sense of humour. My father started out his working life on a shovel. He took hold of the opportunities that presented themselves and worked hard to provide me, in turn, with my own opportunities and choices. Not only did my father teach me that I should take what I do seriously but also he taught me that I should never take myself too seriously…

As a young person, I hope that I can bring to this place a long-term perspective, an intergenerational perspective, to the significant policy challenges facing this nation into the future. I am acutely aware of the demographic challenges that face Australia. The Future Fund, which the previous Treasurer, the Hon. Peter Costello, had the vision to set up, is an important and practical response to this challenge. I know that my generation must take personal responsibility for our financial future, in particular for superannuation. Another significant challenge that this nation will face in the future is not only climate change but inevitably the inseparable issues of energy security and energy interdependence. These will all play an important role in how the Australian economy is restructured post the current mining boom…

My upbringing influenced the political path I have taken. Those of us who come to this place have weighed up what each party stands for and what they offer. For me, it was an easy choice. I wanted to join the party of opportunity, the party based on encouragement rather than subsidy—as I said, of a hand up, not a handout.

Ken O’Dowd, Liberal-National Party member for Flynn:

In my early years I enjoyed playing cricket at home in Australia and in PNG. I have played rugby league and squash. I still enjoy a game of golf and I have been the President of the Calliope Country Club for over 20 years. My real passion is horse racing, and I have dabbled in most aspects of the game: owner, breeder, bookmaker, and punter, win or lose. Currently I am on the Capricornia Country Racing Association board, and we face a continuing uphill battle to keep the game alive in the bush. If Queensland Racing had its way, there would only be racing in the south-east corner and two or three centres along the Queensland coast. I have led three veteran cricket teams, called the ‘Gladstone Muddies’, to New Zealand, England and South Africa…

Regional Australia and in particular Central Queensland have suffered through lack of investment in infrastructure. Our roads are a national disgrace. The National Highway between Gin Gin and Rockhampton is in need of a complete makeover. It is too narrow and too rough for the number of vehicles that use it. It is not only the Bruce Highway but the roads west to Emerald and Biloela that are also in urgent need of improvement. Our highways are the workplace of transport workers and yet we give them substandard conditions in which to perform. It is a testament to their skill that we do not have more accidents involving heavy vehicles…

Some people refer to me as ‘the bulldog at the gate’. Some people have unkindly said that I look like a bulldog! I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that when I have an issue that needs to be followed though on for my electorate, I will be an absolute ‘bulldog at the gate’ with sharp teeth and a loud bark, making sure that the Prime Minister honours the promises made to Flynn in the days immediately prior to the election.

Alan Tudge, Liberal Party member for Aston:

The changes these men wrought in this place, and in themselves, were the end results of the vast opportunities membership of a parliament brings. This is its strength and power if you are willing to embrace and run with it. I want to take all the opportunities presented to me in this place. I want to put my 15 years experience in business, in government and in the community sector to the best use I can. I want not only to be a great representative for the individual families and businesses in my electorate but also to make a national contribution to keep our society open and free, to minimise the role of government in our daily lives and to provide real choice and opportunity for all Australians…

My parents and in-laws are small business owners. I have run my own small business. I understand the risks that people take, frequently putting their own homes on the line. I am an unflinching supporter of small business, including the 11,000 in Aston. I believe that people should be rewarded for their effort through lower taxes and that people should be able to get on with the job as free as possible from government interference.

My upbringing is similar to millions who have come before me. I was born to newly arrived immigrants—10-pound Poms—who set up on the very outskirts of Melbourne in Pakenham, the last stop on the train line. While my family did not stay as a unit for very long, the abiding commitment of both my mum and my dad was to a good education. I did not appreciate it at the time, but through my school education I was given the skills, confidence and values that laid the foundation for future opportunities.

Karen Andrews, Liberal Party member for McPherson:

I graduated as a mechanical engineer, starting work with the Queensland Electricity Generating Board initially in engineering design before moving to Gladstone Power Station to work in plant maintenance. My next job was in the oil industry in Victoria. That was the first job where I was directly or indirectly supervising employees, including fitters, electricians, store workers and drivers, and I was working with them on the shop floor. At that site I was the youngest plant engineer that they had ever employed and I was also the first female. There were some bitter demarcation disputes in the early to mid-1980s, and the oil industry was certainly no exception. In order to keep the plant running effectively, I needed to be able to work with the employees and get them to willingly, or perhaps unwillingly, do the work that was needed. So dealing with demarcations in the oil industry as a young engineer was my introduction to industrial relations.

For the last 15 years I have worked as an industrial relations specialist throughout Australia and New Zealand, where the focus of my work became alternative dispute resolution and, in particular, mediation. This work continued when, in 2002, I moved back to the Gold Coast with my family and we made the McPherson electorate our home. The division of McPherson, named after the McPherson Range, was first proclaimed in 1949, and the first elected member was Sir Arthur Fadden, later to become Prime Minister of Australia. I am the seventh member for McPherson and the 1066th person elected to the federal parliament.

To my husband, Chris: we have always had an equal partnership and we have always supported each other’s career choices, even when it meant that those choices made life a little—or sometimes a lot—more complex. You have always been there when I needed you and I thank you for that. My final words today are to my three daughters: Emma who is 14, Jane who is 10 and Kate who is seven. Each of you played a part in my being here today as the member for McPherson, and I thank you for that. Girls: life will offer you many opportunities and many challenges. I encourage you to grasp every opportunity that comes your way with both hands. View each challenge that you face as an opportunity to learn and remember that, no matter what, you will get through it. Believe in yourself because you can do it. I believe in you.

Josh Frydenberg, Liberal Party member for Kooyong:

My great-grandparents, and many relatives on both sides, perished in the Holocaust, but one who survived is with us today. My great-aunt Mary Frydenberg spent two years at Auschwitz. She was transferred back to Germany by the Nazis and then sent on a death march, but she escaped with the assistance of a humane German guard. In her run for freedom, she was given shelter by a Catholic priest—at great risk to him—before making her way to Australia. The welcome my family received and the opportunities and freedom they enjoyed is for me the essence of what makes Australia great. My parents, like my paternal grandparents before them, settled in Kew, right in the heart of the Kooyong electorate. Never would they have dared dream that, decades later, one of their own family members would represent Kooyong in the federal parliament. But in Australia anything is possible. We are only limited by our imagination.

My vision is to achieve what Menzies termed ‘civilised capitalism’, unleashing the power of the individual and his enterprise while always providing a safety net for those who despite their best efforts are unable to cope. These are my motivations, my cause and my way, and they not negotiable. In this place we are painting the canvas of the nation and its future. We have a responsibility to dream large and think of what is possible in a difficult world. It may appear a paradox but the first of my large thoughts is that we need to limit the government. Our government is too big. For problems large and small, bureaucratic outcomes always seem to be the default option. This comes at a price—paralysing monopolies and a culture of dependence. It removes incentives for innovation and creativity. It often crowds out a capable private sector, impeding its ability to create jobs. The net effect is a less productive nation.

Much of Australia’s future depends on opportunities created by research and teaching in our universities and the quality of training in our vocational sector. The funding of our tertiary institutions needs review. We must do better than funding them at below the OECD average. To underfund these institutions is self-defeating because the harvest of intellectual property generated by them can be the source of our prosperity in the knowledge economy of the future.

*You can read more of the earlier maiden speeches captured by Crikey here

Peter Fray

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