Cathy McGowan: Member for Indi

Dairy farmers bring innovation to Canberra

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (13:32): I regularly rise in this place to talk about the importance of agriculture, and I am particularly proud today to welcome into the House some of my colleagues from Indi. A warm welcome to Stuart, to Scott, to Pat, to Patten, to Karen and to the mayor of Towong, David. They left their homes yesterday and have come up here today to talk to ministers and senior public servants about what is happening in the dairy industry in north-east Victoria. We have particular issues around water, around succession and transition between farms, around productivity, around energy, about growing the industry and about education. I appreciate the efforts you have made to be here today and am wishing you well with your meetings with everybody.

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Community leadership vital for policy initiatives to work

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:14): Policy is one of the main things that this government does. I have to say that I am so sad that in this government we do not have regional policy. I am told that we have not had a regional policy since John Anderson was the relevant minister. I have got a little bit of hope that the current minister, Senator Fiona Nash, is promising us something in early April. But it is in terms of policy that I would like to make my comments today, because, in terms of being effective, policy by itself just exists. Without leadership, it cannot be implemented. My comments today are about the role of community based leadership. In particular, if we want to make sure that government policy is effective in rural and regional Australia and delivers its outcomes, we have to work in partnership with our community leaders.

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Cathy says government response to childcare concerns disappointing

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:57): I am so disappointed to be here today, because we have missed an opportunity to provide services that meet the needs for rural and regional Australia. I have to say that the politicking with this policy, connecting core funding responsibilities of child care to welfare cuts, splitting the bills in the Senate, and then the reintroduction, is even more disappointing. To me it is a clear sign that someone in the system, someone in the government, is missing the point.

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Regional students big winners with changes to student payments

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (18:08): Good evening, Deputy Speaker, and thank you for this opportunity to address the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Simplifying Student Payments) Bill 2016. There are three main points I would like to make in my speech tonight: first, to give my support for the bill and the process involving it; second, to talk a little bit about Indi—my electorate—and some of the wonderful things that are happening there with young people; and third, to put the call out for a much stronger approach and recognition from this House to support young people, and particularly young people in rural and regional Australia. Clearly, I have some ideas that I would like to share with the House about how we might do that.

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National Rural Health Commissioner role needs more work

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (17:05): I am absolutely delighted to support this bill, the Health Insurance Amendment (National Rural Health Commissioner) Bill 2017, and to second the comments from the various speakers. However, in doing so I would like to say that, while it is a good first step, it does not go nearly far enough. In addressing my comments to that, I would like to add to the context that I acknowledge the minister and his staff for the open way they have worked with this bill. I am going to be moving some amendments a little bit later, but I acknowledge the great communication that we have had together, so thank you for that.

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Congratulations to Mars Pet Food on 50 years of manufacturing

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (16:23): I would like to tell the House that manufacturing is alive and well in my electorate of Indi. Today I would like to make a special callout to Mars, the maker of over 550 million cans and trays of dog and cat food that leave the Wodonga factory every year. But the fantastic thing about Mars is that next week on Tuesday, they celebrate 50 years of production in Albury-Wodonga. What a magnificent achievement!

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Renowned potter John Dermer welcomed to Parliament House

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (16:04): Deputy Speaker and colleagues, it gives me enormous pleasure today to welcome into the parliament and to acknowledge one of Australia's outstanding artists, internationally acclaimed potter John Dermer, who is celebrating 50 years of pottery and 40 years of working in Yackandandah. Colleagues, John is particularly famous and relevant to this place, because he was commissioned in 1987 to make 10 pots for Parliament House, and these pots now grace the Cabinet Room, both inside and out. So, in acknowledging 15 months of creative effort to make those pots, I am absolutely delighted and proud to welcome John and his wife Shirley to this place.

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PM called to show commitment to regions with a white paper from Task Force

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (14:18): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, last week you announced the Regional Australia Ministerial Taskforce. This is a welcome innovation and I look forward to a coherent regional policy that ensures that we have the right policies delivered for all Australians. But, as we have discussed, the opportunities for rural and regional Australia are many and the needs are great, and there is strong interest in regional Australia in the terms of reference for the task force, time lines, budgets, community engagement processes and the relationship between the task force and the budget process. Prime Minister, will you commit to delivering a full white paper process that sets out a vision for regional Australia with strategies that enable us to reach our full potential?

 

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Regional passenger rail should be prioritised in rail infrastructure projects

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (10:36): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I am pleased to present a bill for an act to amend the National Land Transport Act 2014. This bill is to be known as the National Land Transport Amendment (Best Practice Rail Investment) Bill 2017. In opening my comments I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery today of participants in the Australian Alpine Valleys Community Leadership Program and other constituents from my electorate and to say how proud I am to be here as I represent our interests to improve public transport right across Australia but particularly north-east Victoria.

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Dairy industry needs policy to transition from crisis to growth

Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (12:31): I appreciate the opportunity to speak the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2017, and I acknowledge the comments of the member for Murray and the member for Hunter. I say to the minister: thank you for what you have done, but it is not nearly enough. I pick up the point that the member for Murray made about Senator McKenzie's visit. It is true; it is absolutely true that the senator came to Indi, to Murray, to Gippsland and to Corangamite. She did listen, that is true; however, where we have a massive failure is with the action taken from the listening. It is really fantastic the government comes and listens, but if it fails to take action on what our farmers are saying it is for nought. I have Senator McKenzie's report here, which I acknowledge. There are nine recommendations and areas for action; however, in this particular piece of legislation—which is great to see—before the House only two get addressed. So there is a long, long way to go. I have to say to the minister: consultation is important, but if you fail to act you lose the trust of the people you have been consulting with.

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