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.
I would like to pay tribute to Senator Cormann for calling out Labor on its policy position. Senator Cormann is someone—and people in this chamber may not know this—who, when the Berlin Wall was falling, drove with some university friends across to Berlin to watch the wall fall down and watch those East Berliners, those East Germans, run to freedom. We in this place have got to remember our history, and we've got to remember the part that the Labor Party has played in the history of Australia in terms of its failures at socialism. They admit over there that sometimes they're not very good socialists. That's because they're incompetent at everything they do, whether it is socialism or capitalism.
Many people and many organisations assist those who have served and those who are serving in the defence of our country, and their families. One organisation that I've had a bit to do with is the Defence Force Welfare Association. On Monday, their longstanding national president, Colonel David Jamison AM, announced his retirement. I met with David and his colleagues numerous times on a range of issues that impacted the Defence and veterans' community—from an Australian defence covenant, to recognition of awards for service and helping with veterans' super and veterans' support. David and his colleagues have met many people in this building and you would have seen him as a regular in corridors blue, green or red. I have always found David to be a genuine servant for the interests of Defence personnel and veterans. He has worked towards practical outcomes to improve life for them and their families. So tonight I want to pay tribute to David for his service and thank him, however briefly, for all his work and all the counsel that he's provided on behalf of the veterans' community.
The best way for the economy to work in the interests of working Australians is for there to be a Liberal-National government. When you have a Labor government, they destroy the economy. If you look at the history of Australia, and I encourage those on the other side to look at what happens when Labor get into power, they destroy the economy. They're not nasty people; it's just that they're not very good at things to do with money. They get in there, and it all becomes a bit too much for them, because they don't have the experience and understanding of what you need to drive the economy to help working Australians.
We have done more than any other government to ensure that multinationals pay their fair share of tax. I want to go back to basics. I think low tax is good and lower taxes are even better. I think small government is good and smaller government is even better. I think freedom is good and more freedom is even better. When it comes to the history of the world and of Australia, when the four horsemen of the apocalypse come, which they surely will, we are going to be divided into two camps: those who believe in freedom and those who do not; those who believe in giving people the liberty to look after themselves and those who want to chain them up through the regulations of government.