Steve Irons Address-in-Reply
August 31, 2016
Mr IRONS (Swan) (18:21): May I also congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your return to this chamber and your return to the Speaker’s panel. I am sure that we will share plenty of good times together on the Speaker’s panel over the next three years.
Mr Broadbent: The stubborn member for Swan.
Mr Irons: The stubborn member—I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the member for Perth for his maiden speech. I was glad to hear him focusing on the mining sector in Western Australia and talking about how important it is to our economy, and also the fact that Gary Gray was a great member for Brand in Western Australia. One of the things I would like to remind the member for Perth about is that I know privately that Gary Gray would never have imposed a mining tax on the West Australian industry.
Mr Champion: Play nice for once.
Mr IRONS: I am playing nice. I think the member for Perth is a fantastic person. When we ran the campaign together back in 2010 it was called ‘the gentlemen’s campaign’, because we were both very cordial towards each other and did not get down in the gutter like many of our colleagues in other seats did. It was a pleasure to have a combat with a man of the quality of the member for Perth. I know he grew up in the electorate of Swan and I know his parents were highly respected within the Swan electorate as well, as he was in the time he lived there and attended the schools there as well. I am sure the member for Wakefield, who is on the opposition bench at the moment, will be pleased to hear that there is a due amount of respect between me and the member for Perth.
It is a pleasure to be back here in the 45th Parliament of Australia representing the people of Swan for the fourth time. A stat that was given to me after the election is that this is the first time the Liberal Party has won the seat of Swan four times in a row since 1960. I am proud of that achievement.
Mr Tehan: They have got such a great member.
Mr IRONS: Thank you, member for Wannon. You do not have to stop; you can keep going if you like. For the past nine years it has been my privilege to represent the widely diverse group of people who live in Swan. I would like to now make a few comments about the campaign in Swan. As we prepared ourselves for the longest campaign in more than half a century I could not have been more appreciative to those who contributed towards retaining the seat of Swan. Over the eight-week campaign we had over 500 volunteers—people who devoted themselves to achieving the end result of keeping a Liberal in the seat of Swan. The 500 volunteers did letterboxing in their local areas, did volunteering at one of the 33 booths, did envelope stuffing or put yard signs in their front gardens. I was appreciative of their efforts towards the retention of the seat of Swan.
One of these volunteers was Liberal stalwart Ray Peek, who at the age of 88 was one of our star letterboxers. Ray, your commitment to the Liberal cause is inspiring and I would like to personally thank you for all your efforts not only in this campaign but for the entire four decades you have been a member of the Liberal Party. I also wish you all the best with Margaret, who I know is not in the best of health at the moment. I know you will be spending time by her bedside. I wish you and Margaret the best, Ray.
The successful campaign was a testament to the support I received from each and every volunteer, who devoted themselves to a government who are committed to budget repair, stability and cohesion and who are not prepared to sit idly by and let Labor’s lies and untruths take advantage of vulnerable Australians—I will return to this later. I would like to thank my wife and campaign manager, Cheryle, who is well known within this place. The hard work she put into the Swan campaign each and every single day was astonishing. Her dedication to the campaign was evident in the professionalism she showed in her approach to coordinating our volunteers. I cannot thank her enough for all she did and all she continues to do as I serve the people of Swan. I am very proud of her.
When I returned to the House for my third term I noted that we put forward positive local plans for the people of Swan, that we outlined a positive plan that would help shape the future of Swan. As I return today for my fourth term I stand by the positive approach to politics. At the start of the campaign, unfortunately, I was labelled a rich white man by the Labor candidate. Those who know my background I am sure can see the irony of that, as I came from a very low-SES background. To be labelled like that I am sure would make many people raise the spectre of 18C, which I did not do.
Mr Champion: Lucky you have got a thick skin.
Mr IRONS: Well I have had to listen to you for nine years, so I had to develop a thick skin.
Mr Perrett: Glorious years.
Mr IRONS: Yes, glorious years. I do admit that I am getting encore from the members who came in in 2007, at the same time I did. We must talk about that. At that time eight coalition members came in. There are still seven of us here.
Mr Champion: Is that right?
Mr IRONS: Yes. There were 34 Labor members and there are only 11 of them left from 2007.
Mr Perrett: Quality they are.
Mr IRONS: Quality—the cream has risen to the top. I see that they have nobbled the member for Moreton by giving him the role of whip.
Despite the personal attacks we made sure we could hold our head high and continue to strive for the best possible election outcome for the people of Swan. In 2007, 2010, 2013 and now 2016 I established a plan for the community of Swan. It is my job as the community’s representative to consult with them, establish the needs of the electorate and then develop a plan through which we are able to meet those needs. The campaign period provided us with an opportunity to communicate this plan and allowed constituents to decide which candidate was best fit to deliver. I have always tried to focus on community infrastructure which will meet the future needs of our growing community. Now we have six concrete commitments to the people of Swan and I look forward to a very busy and very exciting three years ahead.
The coalition has invested $490 million in the Forrestfield-airport rail link, which goes straight through my electorate. The link will connect residents to the airport and to the Perth CBD. There will be three new stations. The first will be Forrestfield, which is the outreach. Perth’s eastern and south-eastern suburbs will be connected to the CBD and Perth airport. This will provide commuters with a short 20-minute journey into Perth’s CBD. The airport central station will service the main Perth airport terminal. It has been designed to meet projected 2022 customer demand. Finally, the Belmont underground station, which is part of that link, will have a bus-train interchange and a 500- to 1,000-bay car park. It will allow commuters to travel to the CBD in only 15 minutes. The Forrestfield-airport link is a fantastic infrastructure project for the electorate and will change the way each of my constituents commutes.
Building on the government’s unprecedented transport infrastructure package, I am also overjoyed by our commitment to fund the Manning Road on-ramp. We initially made a commitment back in 2010 for this project. Unfortunately, back in 2010 we just missed out on getting over the line and being able to fund that project.
The Manning Road on-ramp has been an important local issue in Swan, and one that I have campaigned on for many years with the support of the hardworking local MLA, John McGrath, who again has assisted in many ways and supported the drive to get funding for the Manning Road on-ramp. As most of my constituents and many other Perth drivers are aware, the Manning Road is a major road that runs through the south of the electorate, connecting residents to the Kwinana Freeway. Curtin University is also on Manning Road, which means that, with an enrolment of nearly 40,000 students, Manning Road is heavily used and requires fixing to have the on-ramp heading south, not only to the southern suburbs but also to the new hospital.
Any car that needs to join the freeway going south from Manning Road currently has to endure a difficult stretch of road before doing a loop all the way around the freeway that involves heading north, merging and lane-changing back across the Canning Bridge before heading south on the Kwinana Freeway. Then they have to merge with traffic coming off the freeway to get back onto the freeway. Not only does it cause great frustration to many motorists but it is a very dangerous design for one of Swan’s busiest roads. To amend this we have now committed $15 million towards a southbound on-ramp at the Manning Road and Kwinana Freeway intersection, and we look forward to successful participation from the state government as well.
The provision of southbound access to the freeway will provide better access to Curtin University and now, of course, to the new Fiona Stanley Hospital in Murdoch, with more patients needing to travel south to attend the hospital or emergency department from this major road.
In addition, our federal Treasurer, Mr Scott Morrison, personally visited Swan to announce the coalition’s $9.675 million investment in the Belmont community centre, which will include the library, a senior citizens centre and a Belmont museum. This funding will also ensure that vital community services within the area of Belmont will be housed for free within this community centre. Many of the services they provide assist locals within the Belmont community, which is the second lowest SES rated community in Western Australia. These vital community services are currently operating in facilities well past their use-by date.
Labor actually opposed this centre in writing to the City of Belmont, which was extremely disappointing for the people of Swan. Thankfully, Labor’s campaign was unsuccessful, and we, along with the City of Belmont, will deliver the community centre, providing an important boost for the region and delivering the City of Belmont’s vision for the precinct as the centre of Belmont and a place for all community members to enjoy.
Another community infrastructure initiative that I have been heavily involved in is the Lathlain Park development. We are investing $13 million in the Town of Victoria Park to fund the development, which will drive local jobs and growth in Victoria Park. The development will be the new administration and training centre for the West Coast Eagles—who, I must admit, had some success in Adelaide last week, toppling the Adelaide Crows in the lead-up to the finals, and that means they will now have a home final next Thursday night at the current Subiaco Oval. That development will see the West Coast Eagles move out to Lathlain, in my electorate, with a $67 million infrastructure program. It will include tennis, netball and volleyball courts; a playground and BBQ area; and computer facilities, with a focus on modern technology to drive local innovation and education.
It will also house the Wirrpanda Foundation. I would like to thank Minister Bishop, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and member for Curtin, for coming down to Lathlain during the election campaign to announce the $3 million grant for the relocation of the Wirrpanda Foundation within integrated facilities, alongside the West Coast Eagles, at Lathlain Park. This supports local jobs as part of our commitment to support more Indigenous Australians to complete school and transition into work or further study. The new site will provide innovative, purpose-built spaces, setting new standards for community and recreational facilities. For those who are like-minded when it comes to the AFL, there will be two ovals at the new facility. One will be the exact dimensions of the MCG, for the Eagles to train on, and the other one will be the exact dimensions of the new stadium—again, in my electorate—which will be completed in the next 18 months and is well ahead of schedule.
The Lathlain facilities also house the Perth Football Club. My dear friend Vince Pendal, who was the president back in the late eighties for a while, then became president again in 2011 and has been president since then, unfortunately passed away two weeks ago from cancer. So Vince will not see the outcome of all his efforts to have his beloved Perth Demons housed in the same facility and grounds as the West Coast Eagles.
As the community of Swan continues to grow, so too does the need to ensure the safety of its residents. The government will provide $300,000 to upgrade 71 streetlights over eight kilometres in the Town of Victoria Park, under the Safer Communities Fund, to tackle crime and antisocial behaviour. The streetlights will be upgraded to maximum capacity in East Victoria Park, the St James residential area and the Burswood industrial district adjoining the Burswood train station. These areas have been identified as crime hotspots. Everyone has the right to feel safe in their own neighbourhood, and better lighting is supported as an effective deterrent to criminal activity.
Just as we strive to protect our constituents, we strive too to protect our natural environment. Swan gets its name from the Swan River, which wraps itself around the north and west of the electorate and is named after the famous black swans of its local surroundings. In the south, the Canning River provides the electorate’s border. Both rivers are landmarks not only within the electorate of Swan but also for the City of Perth and the great state of Western Australia. It is of great importance that we endeavour to protect, and aid in the recovery of, the Swan and Canning rivers. Stage 2 of the Swan-Canning River Recovery Program delivers another $1 million and a new Green Army project to help finish the job of eradicating the hydrocotyle weed. The Green Army team will work in partnership with local community groups to deliver the projects. This project will perform environmental restoration work on the Swan and Canning rivers to continue reducing the overall extent and intensity of hydrocotyle. It will also improve local riverbanks and protect threatened species’ habitats, including those of the Carnaby’s black-cockatoo and other local migratory animals.
This important environmental initiative is a much-needed project which will help to ensure that our local rivers and environment are improved and that threatened species’ habitats are strengthened. In the Canning River regional area, there are 17 volunteer environment groups who regularly are out doing work, cleaning up and getting rid of noxious weeds, and who are part of the initiative that the funding went towards, which was to supply the necessary goods and tools for use by the volunteer groups—and they provided the labour free of charge. So it was a win for everyone, not only for the community and the volunteer groups, but also for the environment in the Swan-Canning regional area.
These funding commitments highlight this government’s willingness to invest in long-term projects which provide economic benefits, not just in Swan but across electorates around the country, investing in jobs and community infrastructure. Through the commitments I have mentioned, Swan is receiving a total of $519 million for major local infrastructure projects, community safety and the environment. In doing so, this government is providing opportunities for the people of Swan.
In stark contrast to this, Labor offered its candidate for Swan only a $300,000 commitment to Swan’s Sussex Street Community Law Service. It is an important service, nonetheless, but yet another disappointing offer for the residents of Swan—residents who deserve far more for the community in which they live and work; residents who continue to invest far more than Labor ever has done in their own community.
Whilst on the tone of Labor disappointing constituents, I would like to return to Labor’s `MediScare’ campaign, which appears to have been the only successful commitment they did deliver on. Over the campaign, my office received countless calls from concerned, scared and elderly constituents. One lady I spoke to was 85 and she received a call at 10:30 at night, which woke her up, and she was told we were going to privatise Medicare. It was a disgraceful way to campaign by scaring elderly people into changing their vote. Let’s hope we do not see it again.
Mr Broadbent: It was an O’Connor trait.
Mr IRONS: We were not mentioning any names. We will not go into that. Labor claimed our government would privatise Medicare and in turn cut much-needed services—which we have not done and we are not going to do. Again, it was another Labor lie. What won’t they do? Anything it takes. What is that famous catchcry? Anything that it takes. Labor lied to prey on Australia’s most disadvantaged, just so they could have something, anything, to base their election campaign on.
While our government was driving budget repair, jobs, growth and a plan that would deliver for all Australians, Labor drove the political tactics and, quite frankly, abused the trust of voters. Despite this, the people of Swan saw through those lies and returned me to serve as their federal member for a fourth term, and the people of Australia returned our government. They have sent a message to all of us that, if they want strong leadership, transparency and a government that has the ability to deliver on its commitments, they have once again put their faith in us in what is a critical time for stability—economically and in the current international climate.
For those who are interested in statistics, of the 84,464 votes counted in Swan, I received 48.18 per cent of the first preference vote in Swan. I think Western Australia led the first preference votes for the Liberal Party across the whole country. We managed to maintain our primary vote above the 2010 election. Despite redistributions, it was a great effort to receive that 48.18 per cent of primary vote.
The electorate of Swan understands our party’s values, our government’s actions and, of course, they can see the value of the infrastructure that we have continued to deliver for them over the nine years I have been lucky enough to represent them.
As I return for my fourth term as the member for Swan and as a member of the 45th Parliament of Australia, I look forward to building on the initiatives of this government, including all, but not limited to, budget repair, creating jobs for all Australians and maintaining our strong border policy.