I begin my address-in-reply by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present.
I will also start by congratulating the President of the Legislative Council, Mr Bruce Atkinson, on again being elected as President of this place. I look forward to working with him.
I would also like to congratulate all members of the house on their election or re-election to the Legislative Council. In particular I congratulate the new members on their inaugural speeches, which right across the political spectrum were insightful and entertaining and of a very high standard. I believe these speeches have set a new benchmark for those who will follow those members into this place.
The outcome of the election, to say the least, has been complex. The new complexion of the Legislative Council is quite unprecedented, with three political parties having their first members of Parliament elected to this place. As a member of the Andrews government I look forward to working with members of all parties both in this chamber and on the various parliamentary committees. At the end of the day I believe that if goodwill is demonstrated, then we will get through the most trying legislative times. So far that has not occurred, but I am sure it will over the next three and three-quarter years.
I would also like to thank the constituents of Western Victoria Region for voting for me and for electing me to this place for a third time. It is a great honour and privilege to represent them. I have had an opportunity to have been a member of government when I first entered this place, a member of the opposition and now a member of the government again. I will continue to work hard to get the best possible outcomes for my constituents.
I have never found it difficult to find motivation in this role. I have had the pleasure of representing an area of the world that boasts some of the most stunning natural attractions. Western Victoria Region spreads from Melton and parts of Wyndham Vale and Werribee right through to the South Australian border. In the last electoral redistribution Western Victoria Region lost places like Trentham and Daylesford. I extend my best wishes to those constituents who I no longer represent; I very much enjoyed my time representing those areas. I am sure that Minister Herbert and Ms Symes, along with the member for Macedon in the Legislative Assembly, will ably represent their interests.
The electoral redistribution provided more physical additions to the electorate of Western Victoria Region, particularly in the north. I have had an opportunity, along with Minister Pulford, to meet a number of constituents in the local government offices in that area, as well as community and business leaders. I intend to do so again over the next few weeks.
Western Victoria Region includes major regional cities like Ballarat, Geelong and Warrnambool and major towns such as Portland and Hamilton. We also have Maryborough and Horsham and many mid-size towns as well as small towns. It is a diverse electorate. It has local economies that are interlinked. The region has a number of industries that have faced many challenges in recent times. Whether it be Alcoa, Shell, major car manufacturing, car componentry or the wind farm energy industry, Western Victoria Region has punched above its weight.
But we have had and continue to have challenging times, whether it be under the previous government, which essentially saw no role whatsoever for governments in supporting industry or even in industry policy, or whether it be the situation Mr Purcell and I have highlighted in relation to the renewable energy industry, where the federal government is dragging its feet on the renewable energy target. That is having a major impact on jobs, and those job losses have further impacts in our area, particularly around Portland.
Even given the enormous challenges Western Victoria Region faces, the people of the region are up to the challenge. I say that because I have come to know a whole range of people right across the electorate over the last eight and a bit years, and I represent them with pride because they have not only the capacity to work out that they have enormous resilience — and look at what resilience can do — but also the ability to know how to partner up to face challenges together and work through issues. However, they cannot do that without government support, and that is why I believe they voted so overwhelmingly for an Andrews government. They were very frustrated by the lack of action from the previous government in relation to jobs and the very little action there was in relation to education and training. What action there was was devastating, because it involved just straight cuts, and there was little effort demonstrated in relation to health and transport.
The situation now is one where Western Victoria Region is primed, eager and wanting to work with the Andrews government to make sure that we have a genuine future in terms of not just industry but also vital, sustainable communities right across the electorate that will take us forward, for ourselves and also for our children and future generations.
I want to pay tribute to a number of organisations, including Deakin University, which has really shone not just as a major regional university but a major university in respect of innovation and the work it is doing in collaboration with business. It has absolutely cornered the market in demonstrating that practical links between industry, community and academia can really work. They can not only work but provide spin-offs for industry and assist in terms of making a profit and a serious contribution to our economy. To those at Deakin or involved in the associated activities there, I thank you for the work you are doing, and I look forward to some really good dialogue and working with you over the next four years and more.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank some other people. Kym Pearl and Luke Humphries are my electorate officers, and I have been very fortunate in having two people with me almost from day one after my election to this place. It has been very important to my constituents to have that consistency in my office, where people are known and the issues are known. My team understands how my office works. I would challenge anyone not to feel comfortable or that their issue was not being dealt with in the most appropriate way. That we have operated as a team in every sense has held us in good stead.
On top of that, we have also had some casual employees who have provided backup and stepped in when required. Rosemary, Torin, Marcus, Heidi and Stef have been absolutely fabulous over the last eight years. I also acknowledge all the volunteers, supporters and party members who have gone beyond the call of duty. It is their energy and their strong belief systems that sustain such great political engagement.
Finally I also acknowledge and thank my immediate and extended family for all their support. It gets a little bit difficult from time to time when you are not home for several days and nights because of the electorate being so large, but my family knows that is part and parcel of who we are as a family unit. Sometimes some of them can actually join me, and that makes life a little bit easier. It also makes it a bit easier in terms of explaining things at home.
Again, I am very pleased to be a member of the Andrews government, and I am extremely pleased that the priorities of this government are jobs, education, health and transport. The communities I represent in western Victoria are strong, resilient and looking forward to working with an Andrews government that will support them to get going again, a government that cares and a government that wants a fair go for all Victorians, including those in regional and rural areas.