I would like to talk about what happened on May 18, if I may, especially in the context of Queensland. I want to acknowledge that many people did a lot of work to help the Liberal-National Party achieve 23 out of 30 seats and also return three senators. I would like to acknowledge the fact that we have got Senator Scarr, Senator McDonald and Senator Rennick as new senators on this side of the chamber.
I rise to speak on the Farm Household Support Amendment Bill 2019. Five years ago, the Liberal-National coalition government introduced the farm household allowance program as part of the suite of measures to assist our farmers who were doing it tough. During this time, we've made a number of changes to ensure the program meets the needs of Australian farming families, whether that be putting food on the table, paying household bills or buying school supplies. Today, we are seeking to make further changes to improve the program to ensure it is fit for purpose.
I rise to speak on the Australian Veterans' Recognition (Putting Veterans and Their Families First) Bill 2019, which sees the establishment of the Australian Defence Veterans' Covenant. I'd like to commence by acknowledging all those who have served, and are serving, and their families for the sacrifices that they make so our freedoms go forth into the night. We can sleep safely in our beds because of the work and the service of these men and women.
In my maiden speech, I made a commitment to introduce a private senator’s bill to abolish the student services and amenities fee.
This bill would deliver on that commitment by repealing the Higher Education Legislation Amendment (Student Services and Amenities) Act 2011, thereby abolishing the compulsory student services and amenities fee (SSAF) and amending the Higher Education Support Act 2003 to abolish the Student Amenities (SA-HELP) loans.
I rise this evening to speak about the legacy of a remarkable woman, Lady Phyllis Cilento. Lady Cilento belonged to one of Australia's most prominent families. She had a long history of public service. She was a household name in Brisbane—indeed, across Queensland—for almost half a century, where she worked as an obstetrician, a paediatrician, an author, a journalist, a columnist, an ABC broadcaster and a women's activist. She travelled widely throughout her life in her youth, heading to Britain and Europe in 1919 shortly after the end of the First World War and the Armistice. While in Europe, she travelled through France, Belgium, Holland and Italy. In France, Lady Cilento trekked through the still untouched battlefields of the Great War, an experience that must have been incredibly, profoundly sobering and heart-wrenchingly sombre for her, but one that must have played an indelible role in shaping Lady Cilento's future endeavours.
We are blessed in so many ways in my home state of Queensland. It's a great big state, a vast expanse of a state. It has a cornucopia of marvels across it. We are the Sunshine state. We are where tourists go. I don't believe there is a better state in this great nation—indeed, in this world—for people to spend their holidays. So I was very lucky to be in Roma at the beginning of this month, where we had the Outback Queensland Tourism Awards and the Outback Queensland Tourism annual general meeting. I attended there as a senator for Queensland but also representing Minister Birmingham, the federal minister for tourism. I met some fabulous tourism operators We had a really nice dinner on the tarmac of the Roma Airport, hosted by the Maranoa Regional Council.
There is a small town up in the Sunshine Coast hinterland. It's on the slopes and the hills of the Blackall Range. It's guarded to the south by the Glass House Mountains. It's called Maleny. It's one of those changing rural towns. Forty years ago it was full of dairy farmers and now it's full of tourists, and a lot of people retire there. It's a similar community to those small rural communities you see across the state where there are always one or two people who are the drivers of the town and the community. And perhaps one of the tragic injustices of life is that we often speak highly of the people who are the leaders of the community only after they have passed. And for many years, the Maleny community—indeed, the entire hinterland community—benefited from the passion and the dedication of Mrs Joyce Newton OAM. Joyce dedicated much of her life—indeed, probably all of her life—to giving to the community, giving to community groups and giving to make her local neighbourhood and her locality a better place. She was assisted by Greg and the children—Ty, Jennifer, Daniel and Carl—and their families. Joyce made such an incredible mark on the Sunshine Coast and, in particular, the hinterland.
I present the second advisory report of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters on the Electoral Legislation Amendment (Electoral Funding and Disclosure Reform) Bill 2017, and I move:
That the Senate take note of the report.