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Address in Reply (2018)

Ms COOK (Hurtle Vale) (17:16): I take this opportunity to congratulate not just yourself, Mr Deputy Speaker, but also the Speaker on ascendancy as adjudicators of this place. I wish both of you every success in that role. I also congratulate the government and all its members, and all our members as well, new and old. It is a wonderful place to work. Every day is different and you will get so much out of it. Congratulations, and I look forward to working with you more closely.

I rise as a member of the house in the 54th South Australian parliament. I will reflect on my time formerly as the member for Fisher, and on the many victories we were able to achieve in our local community, and also reflect on the 2018 election campaign and reaffirm the commitments, goals and motivations that inspired me to put myself forward as the member for Hurtle Vale.

Firstly, thank you to my community, the wonderful electors of Hurtle Vale, who have given me an amazing gift by putting their trust in me to represent them here in this place. As I made mention throughout my campaign just once or twice, I am a lifetime local of the Adelaide southern suburbs. My family and I have lived in the same Woodcroft house now for nearly 30 years. I have been and will continue to be an active member of many sports, social and community clubs across Morphett Vale, Woodcroft, Old Reynella, Reynella East and Happy Valley. All these wonderful suburbs come together to make the seat of Hurtle Vale.

With the boundary changes handed down by the commission, Happy Valley and Morphett Vale sadly now find themselves split across two electorates, Happy Valley into Hurtle Vale and Davenport and then Morphett Vale into Hurtle Vale and Reynell, divided down the middle by Main South Road. This second division creates many logistical issues from an information delivery point of view, apparently, because it is such a vast suburb. It was an issue brought to light in the Hurtle Vale campaign, when residents in the Reynell part of the electorate received newsletters and information and other material from the Liberal candidate for Hurtle Vale, causing them a great deal of anxiety and worry. They were not quite sure what was going on. This is something we may need to address in the future.

It is, of course, an honour to be given the privilege of representing the good people of Hurtle Vale and I thank them for that today. I also thank my wonderful family. They continue to sacrifice so much to enable me to perform this job: my husband Neil, our children Sheree, Ty and Sid. Thank you for your support, your love, your encouragement, your understanding during long nights at parliament, the chaos of campaigns and the busy weekends when I am out and about in our community, sometimes dragging you along with me. My apologies to my beautiful little boy Sid, who I fall asleep in bed with many nights after coming home late from parliament and just popping in for a quick minute.

Of course, my wonderful son Sam, taken from us on 4 May 2008, 10 years ago last Friday, continues to be my biggest inspiration, motivation and driver for the work that I do in this place. He is always here with me. Also during the course of the previous parliament, I lost my dear mum. Mum sat in here and very proudly listened to me give my maiden speech. Parliament can be a funny place at times—adversarial, friendly, loving, joyful—but, when you go through awful personal circumstances, there is wonderful support from members on all sides, and I know many of you here have shared that journey as well. I thank all members for their support when I lost mum.

I want to take the opportunity also to thank the hundreds of volunteers who have supported me throughout my time as the member for Fisher and in the lead-up to polling day this year. If you manned a polling booth, made phone calls, doorknocked, stuffed envelopes, attended shopping centres, donated, attended an event, dropped everything and came out to show mass support on short notice or any and all of the above, thank you so much for your help and for your support.

I give thanks for the support and dedication also of our union movement more broadly but particularly United Voice, the Australian Services Union and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Union, South Australian Branch. Their hard work not only helped me in my campaign for Hurtle Vale but it also helps people every day—everyday South Australians fighting for fairer wages and conditions. I thank them for their support and I reaffirm my support helping them to change the rules.

Every campaign has a great campaign team. I must take a brief moment to thank my campaign manager, Ellen, who, together with my staff and also former staff, including Katherine, Tristan, Ella, Kelsey and Jess, helped me make the Hurtle Vale campaign a success. They are a dedicated bunch of staff. I could not wish for more. They have a great blend of youth and experience and wisdom. A couple of special mentions: for Ella, who supported me through some huge changes last year and assisted me with amazing work when I was an assistant minister to the minister for housing and infrastructure, Stephen Mullighan.

The work around affordable housing and solutions to combat homelessness will be more than useful as I journey now as shadow minister covering many of these matters. I would also like to recognise Katherine. She took on the role of office manager for me at short notice in a time of rapid change. She is crazy at times and very loud, but she is joyful, friendly and superefficient. She brought in procedures and check mechanisms that have made a huge difference to the way that we can serve our community. I feel so very lucky to have her.

Hurtle Vale is an amazing electorate. I could not be more proud or more humble to be representing that community. Our community in the southern suburbs is one that we are extremely proud of as a group of southern MPs. I see this every day from fierce competition and camaraderie at the Southern United Netball Association at Morphett Vale's Wilfred Taylor Reserve, to the true sense of community through Happy Valley's Old Cottage Playgroup, the community centres, the siren song of a Panthers' home game at Hickinbotham Oval. It truly unites the south and the southern MPs who I also work alongside.

I am pleased that, as first the candidate and now the first member for Hurtle Vale, I was able to commit to and secure a number of programs and projects in our local community that will start rolling out in the coming months and years. They will make a huge difference. We were lobbied really hard about the Hurtle John Potter Reserve in Woodcroft to provide somewhere for young people to spend time. We were also lobbied really hard about the mural at the youth centre at Old Reynella that was vandalised, and we were able to secure some funds to repair that as well. That means a lot to the community. We also secured $290,000 to repair the leaking roof at the Morphett Vale basketball stadium at Wilfred Taylor Reserve that has caused great risk and injury to players.

I am also really pleased that the Liberal Party throughout the course of their campaign matched that commitment to repair the basketball stadium roof so that it was happening no matter what. Also, the commitment of $1.3 million towards establishing a nature play adventure playground at Wilfred Taylor Reserve was matched by the Liberal Party, and I look forward to further discussions between the government, the City of Onkaparinga and myself on making this commitment a reality.

I will also continue to lobby the government on a number of key priorities around Hurtle Vale that we committed to throughout our election campaign, including female changing facilities at the Morphett Vale Football Club and a commitment to improve and streamline a very dangerous kiss-and-drop area at Woodcroft Primary School and surrounding areas. It causes a great deal of anxiety for many parents and students at the school, so I will continue to discuss that.

I also note the government's commitment, made throughout the election campaign, to install service lights at the intersection of Main South Road, the Southern Expressway, Kenihans Road and Panalatinga Road. I look forward to receiving an update from the minister regarding the time line of that important upgrade.

Before entering this place in 2014, as many of you know, I worked as a nurse for nearly 30 years. I am extremely thankful for that experience in the profession, which has provided me in my work as a member of parliament with much great reflection. I am honoured to be able to maintain my strong nursing roots through my annual International Nurses Day morning tea or lunch at Parliament House, amongst other things. I am sad to farewell the previous member for Elder, Annabel Digance, a midwife by profession and a fantastic advocate for women's and babies' services in our community. I will continue to work for midwives on her behalf here in parliament, and I will honour International Day of the Midwife regularly as well.

Nurses and midwives work at the coalface where health and social policy meet real-world application. They assist and support the sick and the injured, the mentally ill and the elderly. They are there to support those in mourning or suffering significant grief and loss and to celebrate the miracle of new life and extraordinary recoveries. They work incredibly hard across long shifts in trying circumstances and in health systems that are under stress and often undergoing significant change and rejuvenation.

My experiences as a nurse have served me well as a member of parliament and help me to listen to and understand concerns of my electors as well. My time as a nurse has instilled in me a passion for both health and social policy and has dovetailed nicely with my former portfolio as assistant minister for housing and urban development as well as my new role as shadow minister for human services.

I would like to take this opportunity as well to commend His Excellency the Governor, Hieu Van Le, and Mrs Le for their outstanding commitment and for all the hard work they do for our great state of South Australia. I would have to say, though, last week, when I sat and listened to the Governor read the speech covering the government's vision, it raised some red flags for me. My palms began to sweat, and I began to feel unwell. While sitting in the other place listening to that speech, I was reminded of my year 11 economics teacher, Mr Marin, in his efforts to teach me trickle-down economic theory. I really have not heard economic speak so disconnected from the economic imperative required for our state since that time.

If I examine my own economic values and explain them to you, you might understand why. If I fill out anything to do with the political compass, I land somewhere between Gandhi and Nelson Mandela, so I really have difficulty with trickle-down theory. The opposition, I know, is committed to supporting business investment, entrepreneurship and innovation, but the notion that the blunt instrument of tax cuts, like the mooted cuts to land tax—cuts that will benefit the state's most wealthy—will somehow trickle down and support South Australian workers, and support vulnerable South Australian people, for me is laughable.

I have enjoyed and appreciated the work of the current Minister for Human Services from the other place from a distance. Her commitment to equality, equity and access over her time in the parliament must be commended. I am very concerned that she will not have the capacity to stand up to the economic conservatives who sit around her cabinet table and ensure that South Australia's most disadvantaged do not suffer for the benefit of the big end of town.

I will work constructively with her, and I will support her to get her voice heard as a social advocate amongst trickle-down economics theorists. Her cabinet is led by a Premier, Premier Steven Marshall, who, when asked on 4 March 2014 which social issues were important to him, answered, 'Social issues? To be quite honest, I didn't go into politics for the social issues'. Well, minister Lensink in the other place, frankly, I did go into politics for the social issues and I have your back. I, along with my community sector friends, will have your back as your pleas for assistance for vulnerable South Australians potentially will fall on deaf ears.

I have relished my time as a shadow minister this past month, and I am looking forward to working with the minister in the other place to ensure South Australia remains an inclusive and equitable place to live. I am committed to holding the Marshall Liberal government to account while pursuing positive, socially progressive reforms to the sector that really only a Labor government delivers. I thank my caucus colleagues, and in particular our leader, Peter Malinauskas, for placing confidence in me with this awesome portfolio of human services. I could not be happier.

As a shadow minister with oversight of portfolio areas, including communities and social inclusion, disabilities, social housing, volunteers and youth, I have spent the past month meeting and consulting with dozens of peaks and stakeholders from the sector. I could not be happier. I feel like I am in the place that was written for me.

As our leader, the Leader of the Opposition, has made mention that Labor is committed to listening to both the public and to sectors to learn more about what went wrong for us in the March poll and how a Malinauskas Labor government can come in 2022 and better represent and deliver on their behalf. To this end, I am committed to engaging and listening to the sector over the coming weeks and months to better understand the sector and Labor's role in facilitating positive, progressive change where necessary.

I also wish to echo the Leader of the Opposition's commitment to work cooperatively and in good faith across many areas with government. We will not take that Marshall and Abbott approach of opposing for opposition's sake. We understand that the people of South Australia are best served when the parliament works and delivers for them. That is my pledge here today. But, should this government seek to target or forget the most vulnerable in our community, should the agenda seek to discriminate against low and middle income earners, against teachers, nurses, health, education and critical social services, or should it hurt our people, we will be there and we will put up one hell of a fight.

We on this side of the house are here to represent every South Australian, regardless of their income or circumstance, and I would urge the government to choose their policy settings wisely moving forward. I know I will be working hard every day throughout this 54th parliament, not only representing the constituents of Hurtle Vale but fighting for a fair and reasonable cost of living for all South Australians and better support for the housing and homelessness sector, as well as continued investment in key Labor initiatives that will have a substantial economic and social benefit to the people of South Australia, including our former Labor government's virtual power plant program.

This is same program that the Premier axed within days of coming to office only a few weeks ago, a program that must be reinstated. It is a fantastic partnership that will shield our most vulnerable and the broader community from the high cost of living. It was foolhardy to axe it, and there is no embarrassment in reversing that decision—we will support it.

I look forward to working more closely with the disability sector, and I put on record today Labor's in-principle support for the Disability Inclusion Bill. I hope it will return to parliament in short order. I will work more closely with the youth sector throughout South Australia. I have already convened a Hurtle Vale youth forum—you all know who you are. Thank you so much. You are an incredible bunch of young leaders. You will advise me on areas of concern for young people in Hurtle Vale and more broadly.

I think everyone comes into this place for the same reasons: we all want the same outcomes, and we all want the best for the people of South Australia. We just have different priorities, different journeys and different ways of getting there.


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