Sam's maiden speech to parliament

In Parliament - Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Mr DULUK (Davenport) (11:14:55): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you to the member for Bright for his kind words and the very colourful ending to his speech. I am proud to speak to this Address in Reply before the house today, as the new member for Davenport. First, I would like to acknowledge the support of my party and the trust placed in me to represent the people of Davenport; equally, I thank the electors for their support and the privilege they have afforded me. It is with an enormous sense of gratitude and responsibility that I take on the new role as their representative in Davenport and in South Australia.

Maiden-Speech-small.jpgDavenport is an active district with its members contributing through business, community involvement and neighbourly actions. The seat of Davenport covers the Mitcham Hills suburbs of Blackwood, Eden Hills, Bellevue Heights, Glenalta, Craigburn Farm, Bedford Park, parts of Darlington, Upper Sturt and Belair, Flagstaff Hill, Coromandel Valley and Hawthorndene. In addition, the electorate is home to many excellent primary schools, Blackwood High School, Flinders University and the Flinders Medical Centre. Significantly, open spaces such as the Belair National Park, Colebrook Reconciliation Park, Sturt Gorge and Wittunga Botanic Garden create the beautiful environment that provides the seat of Davenport a unique connection to bushland within suburban Adelaide.

We have a proud volunteer history in Davenport which gives it a strong community spirit. There are countless volunteer groups and volunteer hours performed in our area, from the CFS and SES, service clubs such as Lions, Rotary, RSL, Probus and Meals on Wheels, scouting, walking and wildlife groups, residents' associations, sporting and social clubs, church communities, school parent associations and families just to name a few. These groups add to the vitality of our community.

Many of the issues and concerns that are important to the families of Davenport are applicable to many South Australians. However, I would like to touch on a few local issues, including support for our local CFS and SES. The Sturt CFS group, which includes the brigades of Belair, Blackwood, Eden Hills, Coromandel Valley and Cherry Gardens is, in many ways, the embodiment of community and volunteering within the Mitcham Hills. Without the volunteer service of the local CFS over many decades, we would not have the strong and generous community that we have today. We owe a debt of gratitude to our CFS volunteers. It is incumbent on us to ensure that the CFS and SES are always well funded, respected and supported. The CFS and SES act as the fire service for a large part of the electorate. They are at every car accident and emergency incident, day or night.

The Blackwood Christmas Pageant includes the CFS appliances at the end of the parade just before Father Christmas arrives. We rely on our volunteer services throughout the year and especially in the bushfire season, as we have seen recently. As the member for Davenport, I honour their commitment to protecting our community and, as one CFS member said to me last week in my office, 'Sam, you just can't mess with the CFS.'

Honourable members: Hear, hear!

Mr DULUK: Road infrastructure, public transport and a dedicated transport master plan for the Mitcham Hills have long been on the agenda for local residents, councils and politicians. I am absolutely delighted that in the recent by-election my party announced the development of a master plan for the upgrading of the central road corridor through the Mitcham Hills: a plan to deliver improved bushfire safety for residents and reduce the peak hour bottlenecks that frustrate the daily commute on Old Belair Road, Main Road, Flagstaff Road and many other local road corridors. For too long master plans for the Mitcham Hills have been discussed with no funding attached. A future Marshall Liberal government has committed $20 million to fund both the master plan and the first stage of the Mitcham Hills road corridor upgrade.

Open spaces, bushland and national parks form a significant part of the electorate of Davenport. The Mitcham Hills are renowned for some of the last large remnant areas of Eucalyptus microcarpa, otherwise known as the grey box woodland gum tree, particularly within the Sturt Gorge Recreation Park. The Belair National Park attracts over 250,000 visitors each year. The park sits within the Mount Lofty Ranges which is regarded as one of Australia's 15 biodiversity hotspots.

The Wittunga Botanic Garden is one of the three botanic gardens in Adelaide and home to a large collection of South African ericas and proteas. Wittunga holds a special place in the heart of many residents. It would be wonderful to see this garden used to its full potential, just as it was last Friday, as part of the Wittunga Under the Stars. One of the drawbacks to its being fully utilised, in my mind, is the number of its regulations. Some of the regulations for this suburban botanical garden include: no bicycles, no skateboarding or rollerblading, no barbecues, no ball or throwing games. Does this mean 'no fun'? I am sure we can do better to ensure full use of our parks and gardens. The natural environment plays such an important part in our life. It is incumbent on us to generate its protection but also its utilisation for the benefit and education of all.

The seat of Davenport is named after Sir Samuel Davenport, one of South Australia's early colonial settlers and prominent landowners, and a member of the Legislative Council. He was a strong promoter of agriculture and new industries in the early colony, a strong advocate for the manufacture of olive oil, silk and tobacco, as well as a trustee of the Savings Bank, a director of several companies and, for 20 years, president of the Chamber of Manufactures.

I stand here as only the fifth member for Davenport. The previous members representing this seat can all boast significant achievements of service to this house and to this parliament, and I pay tribute to them. Joyce Steele, whose portrait hangs opposite me in this house, was the first female elected to the House of Assembly, and she served as a cabinet minister in the Hall Liberal government. Dean Brown, first elected as the member for Davenport at the age 30 and then, on his return to the house, as the member for Finniss, served as premier of this state from 1993 to 1996.

Stan Evans holds the record for the longest-serving whip in this parliament and the second longest-serving whip in the commonwealth—21 years. It was also Stan Evans who first put forward the motion proposing the establishment of the Ombudsman in South Australia. Recently retired, Iain Evans was the member for Davenport for the last 21 years. In my opinion, and in the opinion of many of his former constituents, Iain was a hardworking, dedicated and community-focused MP. Iain served as a minister in the Olsen and Kerin governments, and he had many notable achievements in his portfolios, especially his environment portfolio. Iain was also a former leader of the parliamentary Liberal Party. He leaves big shoes to fill, and he will be missed by many in Davenport.

I would like to personally put on the record my thanks to both Iain and Stan for their combined 29 years of service to the people of Davenport. I am grateful to both Stan and Iain and their families for their support, advice and belief in me on the path that has brought me here today. That journey began with my migrant grandparents. Three of them, having fled the horrors of war-torn Poland, arrived in Australia in 1949, and one of them arrived in 1957, a year that saw a change in the then Polish communist regime's attitude to certain forms of migration.

My grandparents' story is no different from that of the tens of thousands of postwar migrants who called Australia their new home. They, like our new Governor, came to this country with a suitcase filled with dreams for a better life. With limited English skills, they worked hard for themselves or in low-paid, unskilled jobs. They valued education and ensured that their children and grandchildren had the educational opportunities that were denied to them. It is a testament to my grandparents and the importance that they placed on education that all of their children and grandchildren have been tertiary educated.

My grandparents were hardworking, self-reliant, community-minded individuals. They had a strong faith in God, loved their adopted Australia but never forgot their native Poland. My grandparents' proudest day in the country was when they became naturalised citizens. In so many ways, they represented the best of our multicultural society.

I often draw strength from my grandmas (or babcias, as we would say in Polish) and reflect on what my babcias would say of the by-election result if they were alive today: one would say, 'Why didn't you win by more?', and the other would say, 'Be humble in your vocation.' For me, the enduring legacy of my babcias is one of self-sacrifice, as well as knowing that we must always work hard to achieve our goals whilst ensuring that we are humble in our success, remembering that the role of a parliamentarian is one of service.

There is no doubt that my calling for this parliamentary vocation stems from observing my grandparents' involvement in community and politics. My grandparents were founding members, office-bearers and active members of almost every Polish community group in South Australia. I have been active in the Polish community as well. Politically, Babcia Duluk was an active member of the captive nations campaign in the 1980s. I recall many conversations about Lech Walesa and the Solidarity movement around the kitchen table. These conversations absolutely fascinated me. In his 1949 election campaign speech, Sir Robert Menzies, founder of the modern Liberal Party, said of freedom and liberty:

To worship, to think, to speak, to be ambitious, to be independent, to be industrious, to acquire skill, to seek reward. These are the real freedoms, for these are the essence and nature of man.

It was these values of freedom that my grandparents passionately believed in, and they are the same values that I seek to uphold and drive my desire to make a contribution to this state.

As I have previously put on the record, community and volunteering play a major role in the lives of the people of Davenport. They have also played a large part in my life. For many years, I was a St John Ambulance cadet, including being SA Cadet Leader of the Year. For quite a while, I thought I wanted to be a paramedic after completing high school. I then realised that you probably need to have the stomach to handle the trauma that our front-line healthcare professionals face. I finally chose accounting and commerce instead.

St John Ambulance Australia each year delivers 1.2 million hours of voluntary community service, trains 500,000 people and treats 100,000 people in Australia at public events. As an organisation, I have always had a lot of respect for St John Ambulance and feel that my involvement with the organisation, whilst many years ago, played a part in my journey to this place.

I have been an active member of the Adelaide University Football Club for many years. It has been said that I am possibly not the best player to ever have run out onto the field, but I have been a long-time team manager of our team's D grade. The Adelaide University Football Club is one of those great clubs that embodies the virtues of suburban sport in Australia: volunteering, community focused, friendship, and gentle larrikin behaviour. It is not always about winning; it is about being part of a team.

In recent years, two other groups which I have been involved in are Neighbourhood Watch and Lions International. Can I acknowledge and thank members from both clubs for being in the gallery today. Both Lions and Neighbourhood Watch are fundamentally grassroots service organisations. The loyalty and dedication of the members of these groups cannot be underestimated. It is a great pity that in today's society we are beginning to see a generation gap in volunteering and community involvement. We must continue to nurture, promote and support our volunteer organisations, whose contributions add so much to the fabric of our communities.

My professional life has been spent in the accounting and finance industry. I completed my Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Adelaide and I am a CPA member. While studying at university, I was employed part time as an accountant for Pitcher Partners, where I was fully employed at the conclusion of my degree. From my first day of employment to my last day working in the commercial and small-business banking arm of the ANZ, I have been a dedicated supporter of small to medium South Australian businesses. I come to this house with an understanding of the complexities of small business and will seek to champion their cause at every opportunity.

Small business forms the backbone of our South Australian economy. Davenport is a community home to many small businesses and business owners, from fish and chip and newsagent operators, local hairdressers and barbers (and it is a shame that I no longer have a need for their services), franchise owners and self-employed tradies, fruit and veg wholesalers to apple and pear growers. In fact, the typical Davenport business operator works 7 days a week, has his or her home as collateral for their business finance, ensures that their employees are well looked after and remunerated, and finally, at the end of the week, takes home for themselves a wage to look after their family, pay the mortgage and put a bit away for a rainy day. In many ways, the Davenport small business operator is the embodiment of Liberal Party ideals.

A high priority for small business operators in Davenport, and indeed all over the state, is business taxation reform. State taxation reform is well and truly overdue if we are going to create an environment where our business operators can grow and prosper into the future. With small business being one of the largest employers of South Australians, it is imperative that government does not put a handbrake on economic growth.

People are responsible for their own destiny, and decentralised decision-making powers within the framework of government help facilitate this. Like many on this side of the house, I am a committed federalist. Strong cooperative federalism within our commonwealth requires that states be visionary and experimental in policy formulation. It allows policies to be tailored to individual and regional community needs. Cooperative federalism fosters greater study of government decisions and promotes competition between states and territories to provide incentives to improve government efficiency. Canberra does not always know best.

Over the past decades, we have seen the states cede power to Canberra at the expense of the benefits and virtues that cooperative federalism brings to the table. A review of the roles and responsibilities of the states and the commonwealth in areas such as health, education, law enforcement, transport, electoral reform and fairness, and industrial relations is the logical first step in enhancing the workings of our federation.

One of the many challenges that faces our state is the need to reform our taxation base. Our state taxation regime is inefficient, penalises job creativity and transactions between individuals and corporate entities. A poorly designed state taxation system undermines our sustainable future within the federation. For example, payroll tax and land tax have narrow bases and high rates of tax and are a disincentive to economic transactional activity.

A comprehensive review of our state's taxation also needs to look at the possibility of transferring some of the commonwealth's taxing powers to the states to address our current vertical fiscal imbalance—the difference between expenditure responsibilities and revenue-raising powers. State governments have become captive to an inefficient taxation regime, a regime that can only be improved by embracing cooperative federalism.

I may be accused of being an economic conservative, but a conservative is someone who conserves that which is tried, tested and true and reforms that which is broken or harmful. In the footsteps of Sir Samuel Davenport, I want to spend my time in this house as a champion for industry, agriculture, new technologies and IT. South Australia must look to its natural advantages for its future prosperity—agriculture, education, tourism and renewable energies. We must provide the right regulatory taxation and incentive framework to achieve this.

It is economic growth that provides us with the dividend that ensures that our social capital can be built. We cannot maintain world-class health and education facilities, support the disadvantaged and the marginalised, protect the environment and promote the arts if we do not have a strong economy providing an economic dividend. It is economic prosperity that drives social cohesion and social progress.

It is paramount that young people stay engaged and active within the political process. We have all read the reports and seen the studies on the lack of current engagement by young Australians in the political process. The Australian Electoral Commission estimates that 300,000 eligible young Australians between the ages of 18 and 25 are not enrolled to vote. A 2013 Lowy Institute poll suggested that only 48 per cent of 18 to 29 year olds prefer democracy to any other kind of government.

These statistics and trends are a worry if we are to maintain our democracy. Democracy as we know it is losing traction in our society. It is important that the teaching of civics in our schools, public debate and political leadership are placed as a priority to engage young Australians. Young people vote with their feet when they are not engaged. Clearly, we can and must do better. We must ensure that all citizens of this state and country trust our institutions and believe in our democracy.

Higher education and the export of education services is now a billion-dollar industry for South Australia. Ensuring that our education institutions remain world class should always be a priority for any government. World-class education for all South Australians is paramount if we are to grow and prosper. Just as my grandparents saw the value of education in my family, so must we ensure that all South Australians receive and see the benefit in education. Education is the key that lifts individuals out of poverty, empowers the marginalised and underpins tomorrow's success stories.

Education is also about choice. Too often, young people enrol in university because it is seen as the right path. We must ensure that our vocational educational institutions are respected as much as our universities. Our graduates from a well-resourced VET system will play crucial roles in our state's natural advantage industries.

I am a proud graduate of our state school system, and I am a strong advocate for public education. That is why I am concerned about our current state school system. Our NAPLAN results highlight the long-term decline in our education standards. Too many children are not reaching benchmarks in literacy and numeracy, leaving them vulnerable to disengagement in education in high-school years.

It is of great concern to me that too many of our teaching graduates are on 12-month employment contracts for years after their graduation. In fact, South Australia has over 3,000 teaching staff on contracts of 12 months or less. It makes little sense in having our teachers complete a master's in education if they cannot obtain permanency in our education system. Our current system is allowing our best young teachers to walk away from this important vocation.

Sadly, it is not only the vocation of teaching that young people are walking away from. They are walking away from the state of South Australia itself enticed by the perception of improved career prospects and a more vibrant cosmopolitan lifestyle interstate or overseas. South Australia is losing thousands of residents annually, the highest proportion being the 25 to 29 age group, to the Eastern States—a brain drain which costs our economy millions in lost tax revenue and human capital. We must do more to create a culture of fearless innovation to attract young people to and retain them in South Australia so that South Australia is a place of destination not departure.

The hallmark of a just and caring society is measured by how it treats its most disenfranchised and disadvantaged. As we sit in this house, we need to reflect on how our legislation impacts on those less fortunate than us. Assisting those who suffer from mental illness, supporting the disability sector and ensuring that up-to-date, accessible and well-funded palliative care services are available will always be priorities of mine.

We must do more to allow those with disabilities to actively participate in the workplace. A 2013 ABS report found that participation in the workforce by people with disabilities has fallen over the past 20 years. The 2011 study by Deloitte Access Economics found that closing the gap in labour market participation between people with a disability and those without a disability by one-third would add $43 billion to the nation's GDP over the next decade.

It is vital to ensure that people with disabilities are able to access the financial and social benefits that come with employment. Improving employment outcomes for people with disabilities has the potential to provide for and enhance quality of life and independence. Barriers to workplace participation—especially through red tape, misinformation and employee concerns—can be reversed through positive government action and community engagement.

I was raised in a musically-rich environment and I have a strong appreciation for the arts. The value of the arts needs to be recognised not only for the intrinsic value of both enhancing and enriching our emotional lives but also for their far-reaching effects on the economy, health and wellbeing and education. The arts are crucial and need further development in our early childhood curriculum.

Early childhood professionals have long recognised not only the significant benefits to creative development but also the connection between participation in musical activities and educational success in literacy, maths and languages. In order to be the clever state, we need to invest in the creative development of our children and young people. The chair of the UK arts council, Sir Peter Bazalgette, recently wrote:

Imagine society without the civilising influence of the arts and you'll have to strip out what is most pleasurable in life and much that is educationally vital. Take the collective memory from our museums; remove the bands from our schools and choirs from our communities; lose the empathetic plays and dance from our theatres or the books from our libraries; expunge our festivals, literature and painting, and you are left with a society bereft of a national conversation about its identity, or anything else.

There is a saying that great cities have great orchestras. Our own Adelaide Symphony Orchestra is a great orchestra, but one without a home. It is time we had a dedicated performing arts centre for our orchestra—like the Barbican Centre in London or the Avery Fisher Hall in New York—with all the associated economic flow-on benefits in creating a vibrant cultural space. With Adelaide being the only Australian capital city without a dedicated concert hall, can we truly claim to be the Festival State?

To champion education, disabilities and the arts is not simply the purview of those opposite. As Liberals, it is incumbent upon us to champion these issues, as it is through education that the individual develops, it is through empowering those with disabilities that individuals gain empowerment, and it is through art and culture that the individual's humanity is enhanced.

I come to this house ready to serve and to champion many causes; however, in the words of Martin Luther King Jr:

There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right.

It is only when we take the words of Martin Luther King Jr and apply them directly to our daily lives in this place that we will truly be able to progress and reform this state for our future prosperity.

I would like to put on the record my appreciation and gratitude to the South Australian Young Liberal Movement. I joined the Young Liberals when I was at university, and I am fortunate enough to be a former president and life member. The movement is a great training ground in the battle of ideas and policy formulation. It must also be a record that, including myself, four former Young Liberal presidents now serve in this current parliament: the Hon. Michelle Lensink in the other place, the member for Morialta, John Gardner, and my good friend the member for Schubert, Stephan Knoll. I look forward to continuing the battle of ideas with the member for Schubert, and thank him for his friendship, support and haphazard wine advice.

I would also like to thank former Young Liberal presidents Chris Browne, Dan Cregan and, in particular, Michael van Dissel for their support, loyalty and wise counsel over many years. I would like to acknowledge and thank the leader and the parliamentary Liberal Party for their hard work and assistance over the by-election campaign, especially on those hot January days.

Thank you for the support of the local Davenport Liberal Party and the wider Liberal family, who volunteered their time for my campaign. Manning phones, doorknocking, supermarket visits, letterboxing and polling day rosters all need volunteers. There are so many people who supported my campaign to win the seat of Davenport, and I am sure I will probably forget a few people; however, I would like to particularly thank Pam Lehmann, Ray and Pam Scottney-Turbill, Louise Flood, Jenny Coates, Geoff and Liz Bartlett, David Hawker, George and Pat Oram, Barry and Maria Caddle, Wayne Jobson, David Henderson (the master carpenter), Steve Murray, Heidi Girolamo, Helen Ronson, Travis Munckton, Alex Hyde, Brendan Clark and Marg Westmore for all their hard work, dedication and commitment to the campaign.

I thank all those who have been able to come along to the gallery today; it is wonderful to see so many of you here. I would like to place on the record that coming to this house as an elected member is no solo effort. I have received wonderful support from so many people over many years, and I would like to particularly acknowledge Joan and Steele Hall, Bin Irwin, the Hon. Terry Stephens, Hugh Martin, George and Helen Sobol, Brian Moran and the Bode Shed for their guidance, sharing of past experiences and belief in me. I owe you all a great debt of gratitude.

To my family and friends, thank you. To Gemma, thank you for your love and understanding. To mum and dad and my three siblings, there is no doubt that our family dinners have provided an invaluable training ground for the argy-bargy of politics. To the people of Davenport, thank you for the honour of allowing me to serve you in this place.

Finally, as a member of the Aberfoyle & Districts Lions Club, I would like to end my Address in Reply with the Lions Code of Ethics—a code that I like to think we can all live by, and a standard to which we should all aspire to. I thank the club for allowing me to read the code:

Lions Code of Ethics

To Show my faith in the worthiness of my vocation by industrious application to the end that I may merit a reputation for quality of service.

To Seek success and to demand all fair remuneration or profit as my just due, but to accept no profit or success at the price of my own self-respect lost because of unfair advantage taken or because of questionable acts on my part.

To Remember that in building up my business it is not necessary to tear down another's; to be loyal to my clients or customers and true to myself.

Whenever a doubt arises as to the right or ethics of my position or action towards others, to resolve such doubt against myself.

To Hold friendship as an end and not a means. To hold that true friendship exists not on account of the service performed by one to another, but that true friendship demands nothing but accepts service in the spirit in which it is given.

Always to bear in mind my obligations as a citizen to my nation, my state, and my community, and to give them my unswerving loyalty in word, act, and deed. To give them freely of my time, labour and means.

To Aid others by giving my sympathy to those in distress, my aid to the weak, and my substance to the needy.

To Be Careful with my criticism and liberal with my praise; to build up and not destroy.

I thank the house.

Honourable members: Hear, hear!