Maiden Speech

I would like to thank His Excellency for opening the 52nd parliament and for his speech regarding the future of our state. I would also like to thank both the Governor and Mrs Scarce for their service to the people of South Australia. I support the motion to adopt the Address in Reply, although, unfortunately, I disagree with many of the initiatives.

 

Madam Deputy Speaker, I congratulate you on your new role, as well as congratulating Madam Speaker on being elected the first female Speaker of the house. I trust that you will both always act fairly in your very imp ortant roles of controlling the house. I congratulate our leader, Isobel Redmond, for attaining 51.6 per cent of the South Australian vote. It is unfortunate that we now sit in opposition against the wishes of the people of South Australia. Being chosen by the people of South Australia to represent them in parliament as their member for Adelaide and to represent this great city is a true honour.

 

I thank them for their support, and I pledge to the people of Adelaide that I will always act with integrity, hon esty and openness. I will always work hard to find solutions that bring the greatest good to the greatest number whilst considering the best interests of the state as a whole as well as minority groups and interests, including those where social structures are not equally accessible to all. I will not be swayed by the vocal minority, as I am willing to listen to the views of all people with an open mind and to gain a balanced perspective.

 

The Adelaide electorate includes the suburbs of Adelaide, North Adela ide, Fitzroy, Thorngate, Prospect, Gilberton, Ovingham, Medindie, Medindie Gardens, Walkerville and part of Collinswood. The electorate of Adelaide includes the beautiful Parklands, which are part of our first Surveyor General's (Colonel William Light) ori ginal vision for South Australia. This legacy surrounds the city with a green belt that encompasses the Aquatic Centre, the Memorial Drive tennis courts and a vast array of sporting fields throughout the Parklands, which encourage sport and recreation for all South Australians to enjoy.

 

The north - east corner of the city has a wonderful botanical gardens, its design influenced by many famous gardens in England and France, which I frequented often as a university student. On the edge of Botanic Park is the Na tional Wine Museum and Adelaide Zoo, the only major metropolitan zoo in Australia to be owned and operated on a not - for - profit basis and now known internationally as the home of our famous pandas. The State Library, Art Gallery and third oldest university in Australia, the University of Adelaide, are on the city's cultural boulevard, North Terrace, which is enjoying a revival of inner city living with apartments, the occupants including students, able to take in the spectacular views over Government House and beyond.

 

The electorate of Adelaide has many shopping, dining and entertainment precincts blessed with myriad shops, cafes and award - winning restaurants in O'Connell Street, Melbourne Street and Prospect Road. Rundle Mall is the premier retail centre in the heart of Adelaide: home to over 700 retail specialty stores, 200 service providers and 15 unique arcades and shopping centres. With 175 fashion stores and flagship stores such as Myer, David Jones, Harris Scarfe, Target and Woolworths, as well as a lar ge number of smaller independent chain stores including Borders, Toys 'R' Us and Harvey Norman, this vibrant precinct employs around 5,000 people and is visited daily by thousands of 110,000 city workers and 50,000 students who earn or learn in the city as well as thousands of tourists each year.

 

I support Rundle Mall becoming a designated tourist precinct under the Shop Trading Hours Act such as Glenelg. As one of our key tourist destinations, the state would benefit from having Rundle Mall open on a numbe r of the 11 public holidays that occur throughout the year. I also believe we should be investing in the reinvigoration of Rundle Mall as there has been no major reinvestment back into the mall since it was first established in the 1970s other than one min or facelift in the 1990s which was just the repaving, erection of the Gawler Place canopy and various subsurface infrastructure improvements.

 

I believe this should be a high priority, given it is visited by 85 per cent of tourists to South Australia, has t he highest point of pedestrian traffic with over 23 million visitors each year, has annual sales of approximately $800 million and employs around 5,000 people. The Adelaide electorate comprises a diverse and dynamic group of people including 27 per cent mi grants from over 35 different countries. It also has the highest percentage of people living alone. The top three industries of employment include professional, scientific and technical services, manufacturing, health care and social assistance. The electo rate also has 6,391 volunteers — and I note it is National Volunteers Week — who are a vital part of our community and 5,081 tertiary students.

 

What some see as impossible, others see as a challenge. Winning the seat of Adelaide was always going to be a challe nge but a challenge that I was up for. I believe firmly that the people of Adelaide deserve better from their political representative. Their wishes and concerns were not being heard or properly represented in parliament. The Labor policies affecting Adela ide did not correspond to the wishes of the people of Adelaide, so when eight candidates took time out of their life to stand against the one sitting member, it had to have sent a message to the government that either there is a problem with the member or a problem with the policies of the Labor Party.

 

The residents of Adelaide have spoken with their vote and they have clearly chosen the Liberal policies of rebuilding the Royal Adelaide Hospital on its existing site, building a new covered city stadium and building a second campus of Adelaide High School. This strong vote against Labor has sent an obvious message back to Labor as it is now saying it is reconnecting with the people of Adelaide and that they are now ready to listen. In my campaign I did listen and the result was a 14.5 per cent two - party preferred swing on a margin of 54.2 per cent.

 

Many generations ago my family came from Scotland, England and Germany. In 1983 my mother, sister, Colleen, and I followed my aunty Beth and cousin Jesse from Melbo urne to live in Prospect. Since then more family members have moved to join us in this wonderful city. I come from a family of very strong and independent women. My mother encouraged me always to do my best. She was a strong disciplinarian and never gave i n. My home was a place of healthy eating, and a good education was seen as paramount. It was assumed I would attend university even though no other family members had.

 

I attended St Peters Collegiate Girls School, a place where several women in politics we re also educated, including Julie Bishop. I thank the teachers who encouraged my quest for knowledge and who nurtured me on my journey. By studying physics, chemistry, biology, maths and Australian history in year 12, I planned first to study science but c hanged my preferences and completed a Bachelor of Arts in accountancy at the University of South Australia. Uni life was vibrant and informative and I formed many close friendships that continue today. I paid my own way through university and my mother, on my commencement of university, told me that I could do anything I wanted as long as I paid for it and got myself there. While sounding good, without a car and earning about $40 a week, my choices were limited.

 

My younger years were filled with study and s port. I participated in many of our school sports and was heavily involved in sport outside of school including swimming for North Adelaide, playing basketball for the University of South Australia and competing in judo for Prospect and the state team comi ng fifth at the nationals. I believe in encouraging sport in schools. It not only keeps children fit but it gives them a positive focus and it will also help our obesity problems.

 

I started working at the age of 14 babysitting for families in Prospect and North Adelaide. I later went on to cleaning, waitressing and worked as a casual at Myer for six years. Until I started regular work at Myer, other than my school uniform of which I was very proud, most of my clothes were second hand or hand - me - downs. Casua l days and school dances were terrifying days at school and I would either wear my uniform or borrow clothing from friends. My mother did not place any importance on clothing or material possessions or being like others. Whilst this was a hard lesson for a teenager who wanted to be like everyone else and fit in, it has now given me the confidence to be my own person and not need the acceptance of others to feel good about myself.

 

A quote that was on my wall that inspired me through my years of study and thr ough my campaign is by Paul Meyer as follows:

 

What you vividly imagine, ardently desire, sincerely believe and enthusiastically act upon, must, inevitably come to pass.

 

I am a living example of the truth of this statement after working tirelessly for 18 months and daring to dream of representing the people of Adelaide in parliament.

 

I have not been involved in student politics or a trade union. Instead, I have real world experience with over 15 years in small business and several years of financial experien ce covering tax, business services, audit and financial management. I have no interest in the politics of politics. Having said that, I am here because I am absolutely committed to the people of Adelaide, and I am determined to get things done. I want to i mprove my community and be an advocate for my constituents both in parliament and in the party room.

 

I was motivated to become involved in politics after the Liberals lost the federal election in 2007. I could not bear the thought of back - to - back Labor gov ernments. I felt it was time for me to do something for my community to ensure our economic future, as Labor governments have a history of leaving our economy and finances in decline, and this has been proven as, currently, in South Australia we are on tra ck to be paying dearly, to the tune of $2 million per day in interest on debt by 2013.

 

After considering both federal and state government options, I decided my skills and interests were best suited to state issues such as education, business, water, healt h, the environment and local concerns, as well as invigorating our city. I enjoy meeting new people, communicating, listening and helping individuals, so the lower house was the best option for me. With Adelaide being my home since the age of 13 and my pla ce of business for over 15 years, it was clear to me that the state seat of Adelaide was a position from which I could do the most good for my country, my state and my neighbours. I know and love this electorate and look forward to listening to the ideas a nd concerns of my constituents and fighting for the results.

 

The Liberal philosophy and core values include freedom of speech, religion and association and freedom of citizens to choose their own way of living and of life, subject to the rights of others. It is about protecting people from exploitation and looking primarily to the encouragement of individual initiative and enterprise as a dynamic force of reconstruction and progress. These values fit with my own beliefs, and as such I have always been a Lib eral voter and I have admired many Liberal leaders.

 

I see our prime ministers, premiers and members of parliament as leaders in our community, and expect that they should always act with integrity, honesty and openness. To act within the law yet without an y moral fibre or ethics that even a child could determine is a disgrace. I am extremely embarrassed that we now have sitting members in government who won their seats through using false how - to - vote cards that were both misleading and dishonest, along with several who sent out letters defaming their opponents and spreading lies and unjustified doubts in the minds of voters. A life without integrity is no life at all.

 

As a business owner for 15 years it has taught me about hard work, deadlines, pressure, bud gets and getting results. Small business is a major employer of South Australians and needs to be supported, so I will use my experience to help others in business by supporting legislation to improve their conditions. I believe we should be working to red uce business taxes, including payroll taxes. South Australian businesses are paying 4.8 per cent more state taxes than the national average and 11 per cent above that of Western Australia. The average business in South Australia pays $247,000 in state taxe s per annum.

 

I have a particular interest in youth, including their education, health and self - esteem. I personally believe that many problems such as binge drinking, drug use and eating disorders are a result of poor self - esteem. Through my businesses, Ra chel's Model Management and Training and Rachel's Junior Models, of which I declare I am still the sole owner, I have met with, interviewed, taught and worked with thousands of young people, and I believe good role models, encouragement and self - belief are important basics to the wellbeing and future of our young.

 

Our city needs reinvigoration to provide employment opportunities and to give our youth a reason to stay in our state. We lose too many of our finest young and capable minds to the Eastern States. More people leave our city each year than are born here. Immigration is the only reason our state population has increased. I want to engage with our young and work with them to find out how we can make our city more liveable for them.

 

Over 20 years ago, while studying accountancy, I was the treasurer for the Prospect Neighbourhood Watch. I would like to revive the Neighbourhood Watch groups and start groups where presently there are none. From a safety point of view these groups are an excellent way of in forming residents on keeping safe, identifying potential trouble spots and problems as well as engaging with the community. I am also an advocate of being able to protect yourself in your own home. Education is a high priority of mine. While doorknocking d uring my campaign I identified a strong demand for a second campus of Adelaide High School for the people of Prospect and Walkerville, as a zone school is currently two bus trips away and is soon to be demolished for the Gepps Cross super school, which wil l be even further away.

 

The electorate contains a total of 17 primary schools, six of which are public and 11 private. Of the secondary schools in the electorate there are 12 secondary schools of which only one is a public school and not zoned for any subu rbs further north than North Adelaide. The Adelaide electorate has the highest percentage of families choosing non - government education for their children, with 64 per cent of children attending private schools. I believe this high figure shows that there are not adequate public high school options available in this area.

 

Adelaide High School has a proud history and has a great academic record, with students from over 85 schools seeking enrolment each year. Increased demands on enrolments at the school are in line with increased population in the inner city and the popularity of the curriculum and special entry students through their double language, rowing, cricket and hearing - impaired programs.

 

In June 2001 advice provided to DECS, using state asset manage ment plan benchmarks, indicated that the Adelaide High School site is able to use between 9,579 square metres and 11,207 square metres to house students. The building area was identified and equated to a shortfall of space for approximately 226 students. B ased on enrolments in 2010 this shortfall is now 329. In a panicked reaction to the Liberal announcement of a second campus of the Adelaide High School to be situated on the Bowden Clipsal site, the Labor government, on 16 March, only days before the elect ion, announced an expansion of Adelaide High School of 250 students by 2013. It stated:

 

By expanding the schools, we can relax the zones — so students from Prospect or Walkerville, for instance, will be able to attend Adelaide High School.

I note that Adelai de High School is already over capacity by 329 students, and the number is increasing yearly. By adding Prospect and Walkerville, that demand could increase by a further 650 students thus, by 2013, Adelaide High School will require about another 800 places . The people of Adelaide require another public high school option that is convenient and of a high standard. The proposed super school in Gepps Cross is not what the people of Adelaide want. I note the quote by Jay Weatherill on the front cover of the Sch ool Post as follows:

 

By listening to what communities have to say, I believe we can together build a responsive school system.

 

I plead with you, Mr Weatherill, to honour your pledge and that of your government to start listening. From the eight governing c ouncil members surveyed in the magazine from around South Australia, five wanted the super school plan to be put on hold while real community consultation took place, one wanted it scrapped and the money returned to the school, one wanted it replaced by a better development, and only one wanted it to continue as planned.

 

I now come to the Adelaide Oval. Although I do not believe the Adelaide Oval redevelopment will ever go ahead, I see the proposal as a knee - jerk reaction to the extremely popular Liberal po licy put forward for a covered city stadium. The Adelaide Oval, known for its quaintness and surrounding lawn, would be forever destroyed by turning it into a concrete jungle to seat 50,000 people at a cost to the taxpayer of at least $450 million. Adequat e parking has not been included in the plan, and I worry about the Parklands becoming an all year car park, which will have a devastating effect, especially during the winter months when I fear it will become a quagmire.

 

I am also concerned that businesses in the area will have their regular parking taken up by people visiting the stadium, as was the case with the recent AC/DC concert, which saw people parking up to 2 kilometres away and walking in to save paying for parking. The government's plan would see residents of North Adelaide living their weekends in a car park with restricted access and road congestion. Another stadium that has a multitude of purposes and is covered will be required in the near future to enable large concerts and events throughout the year, rather than all the events happening in what has become known as 'Mad March'.

 

Regarding the Parklands, I believe we need a balanced approach to the protection of the Parklands as an important state asset. I believe that the restoration of the rai lyard site for the building of a city stadium and entertainment precinct would be a great state asset and a benefit to all South Australians for many decades to come.

 

Having had to negotiate my way through several commercial leasing agreements, I see many improvements that need to be made within the current system. I believe that introducing a series of related standardised commercial leases would protect lessees. I would also like the onus of the three months' written notice for renewal to fall on the less or, who is in the business of leasing and not, as it is currently, the lessee, who is unlikely to remember a date three months prior to the end of their term, which could be three, five or even 10 years forward.

 

There are many complicated clauses that easi ly trip up those who are new to commercial leasing or those without a law degree to negotiate their way through the sometimes hundreds of pages. Many people who have previously had private rentals assume incorrectly that some moral or ethical obligations e xist, and they are shocked when none of the safeguards available for private rentals — nor the help and advice — are available for commercial leasing.

 

With regard to the Royal Adelaide Hospital issue, the hospital is currently situated in a prime position near the Adelaide University Medical School, the Institute of Medical and Veterinary School (where I did work experience in year 10) and the Hanson Research Centre. It is devastating to think that another state icon worth over $1 billion, with an award - winning burns unit, an intensive care unit that was rebuilt only eight years ago and the biggest radiology department in the southern hemisphere, should be ignored by a government happy to decommission this public asset forever and rebuild on a contaminated raily ard site.

 

This option will take several generations to pay off and is another sign of the Labor government's inability to manage our finances. The proposed site will block future development of an entertainment precinct along the Riverbank and is a poor us e of such prime land.

 

In bringing my remarks to a close, I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have encouraged and supported me in my journey thus far. I am humbled and overwhelmed by the number of people who have offered their help and support. Many of the supporters and helpers only met me during my campaign or were people from my past whom I had not seen in many years. I would like to thank all of the branch members and helpers and supporters, of whom there are too many to name. I woul d especially like to thank my campaign team — Margaret, Angie and Peter — without whose support this journey would not have been possible. I would like to also thank Sheree, who worked tirelessly and put in extra hours at my office to enable me the time to cam paign and fundraise.

 

I acknowledge the women in politics who have encouraged and inspired me. These include: the Hon. Michelle Lensink, MLC; Vickie Chapman, MP; the honourable Diana Laidlaw, MLC; Julie Bishop, MP; the Hon. Jing Lee, MLC (our new member in the upper house); and, of course, most importantly, our leader Isobel Redmond, MP, who has shown a clear contrast in leadership style to that of our Labor government. Isobel is a straight talker who says what she means and means what she says. I thank her sincerely for her leadership.

 

I would also like to congratulate all the new members in the house today, particularly those with whom I have shared the journey over the last 18 months. I look forward to working with you all, and I am excited by the strong l eadership qualities you all possess. My election motto was 'substance, not spin,' and that is what you can expect from me now and in the future.