Address In Reply 

 

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

Recently I gave my Address in Reply speech in the QLD Parliament. The Address in Reply is the formal acknowledgement by the House to the Governor-General for the speech given at the opening of Parliament. It was only appropriate for me to thank those who supported me at the 2020 state election and outline my plans for this term of Parliament. This is an abridged version of that speech and the items covered.

 

I rise to speak about the period leading up to the election and of course the honour of being re-elected as a representative for the people of Southport.

 

Like so many others who have gone before me in this House I would like to add my gratitude to the chorus of thanks to Deb, Jason and her family for the leadership they provided during the last term of government and the election and Deb's deputy leader Tim Mander, the member for Everton. As someone who has run and lost in the past—I ran for mayor of the Gold Coast in 2008 — I have somewhat of an insight into the disappointment one feels through that experience, and more importantly, the impact it has on families. My best wishes go to Jason and Deb's beautiful family because it is not just the member who runs but the whole family as well.

 

I want to add my congratulations to our new leader David Crisafulli, the member for Broadwater, and his family and, of course David Janetzki, our new deputy leader, the member for Toowoomba South. I look forward to working with both of these gentlemen through this term of parliament over the next four years because there is still so much to be done.

 

I also want to say how pleased I am with the opportunity I have been given to work as an Assistant Shadow Minister in a number of key areas. When I first ran for council the issues I was passionate about were homelessness, the challenges of mental health that are so often brought on by drug and alcohol abuse, the need to stand up for our kids and the importance of providing hope and opportunity for our young people, so it is truly a privilege to have been asked to take on the areas of mental health, drug and alcohol treatment, families and seniors for the Opposition this term.

 

  1. also had an amazing team of people behind me at the last election. I won’t list them all here, but I have to thank my campaign team, SEC and branch, my electorate office staff and the many family, friends and volunteers, who worked tirelessly on my re-election campaign. Thank you.

 

I also have had the privilege and honour of being a director of Braveheart’s for nearly 15 years. Sadly, but understandably, Hetty Johnston recently announced her retirement as the executive director. Hetty is well-known to everyone in this House. It would be remiss of me not to take a few minutes to focus on her accomplishments and her contribution to child safety not only here in Queensland but all around the nation. Hetty is without a doubt one of the most renowned child protection advocates in Australia, but, as she said in her own words, 'Braveheart’s has now grown up and my time is done.' After 25 years, I think she is allowed to take a bit of a break and step away from the fray—not that she will be stepping too far away.

 

Returning to my comments on Southport. It’s well known the Gold Coast is a vibrant and growing city. Queensland is going through significant population growth off the back of COVID-19 with every man, woman and their dog wanting to move here, and Southport is no exception. In my electorate, I have more than 65,000 residents but only 32,000 people on the electoral roll. One of the reasons for that is that we have a large number of Kiwis who are not citizens who live in some of the suburbs. We also have Griffith University and the Health and Knowledge Precinct nearby, so many people live on the fringes. We also have thousands of domestic and international students, small businesses and manufacturing located throughout the electorate.

 

What is particularly interesting about Southport is that we also have 18 schools. On a daily basis, some 23,000 students travel in and out of my electorate to go to school. There are five private schools and the balance are state schools. I can assure the House that every one of those schools is reaching breaking point in terms of their capacity and I will be raising this with the minister in due course. Even my old school of Keebra Park has gone from 500 students a few years ago to more than 1,200 students today. Benowa State High School has in excess of 2,200 students and Southport State High School has a student population approaching 2,000.

 

It will come as no surprise to the House that I have a bit of a shopping list of projects that I have been talking to the schools about, including some 20 or 30 projects that we have identified in the Southport electorate that are so desperately needed to meet the growing demands of the school population.

 

There are so many other things that need to be done as well.

 

  1. One of the things that COVID has highlighted is the incredible shortage we have across the state in terms of facilities for the homeless. Aside from the obvious need for more public and affordable housing—we need more crisis accommodation and support services for victims and families experiencing domestic violence. In terms of the facilities on the Gold Coast, Still Waters, which is a wonderful centre that the Salvation Army built and runs in Southport, but it built in 1982. One of my reflections on this is that there has been very little additional capacity added either there or to any other service within the electorate.
  2. The other issue we have seen throughout COVID is an uplift of people on the street with mental health and drug and alcohol addictions. While great strides have been made and a lot of effort has been put into trying to house some of these people, the sad fact is that some of these people do not wish to be housed. Unfortunately, we do not necessarily have enough services or accommodation facilities to meet the needs of some of these most disadvantaged people in our city.
  3. The other project that I would like to flag today just briefly is the need for us to work up a plan in terms of safe corridors for international students to return. I know we still have a bit of work to do in respect of COVID. But the Queensland economy and the Gold Coast economy are so incredibly dependent on the income and even the cultural exchanges that come from that. It might interest the House to know that there are some 26,000 international students on the Gold Coast. There are 23 separate colleges within the Southport electorate and a couple of extra colleges in Surfers that fundamentally cater to advanced learning and advanced education not only for international students but also domestic students from all around Australia. To put that into context, if we look at export earnings for Queensland, mining is obviously the big one. The second largest earner is international education, worth $9 billion about two years ago!

 

Concluding my remarks, I also should mention how pleased I am that TAFE has seen further upgrades recently. We upgraded the Southport campus a few years ago and last year additional money was spent on refurbishing level 3 and 4 to accommodate allied health services. Next week it will be my pleasure to join some of my colleagues and other members of this House and perhaps even the minister at the opening of the new $13 million trade training centre at the Gold Coast TAFE in Heeb Street in Ashmore.

 

Like my colleagues, I also want to finish by briefly saying it is an incredible privilege to be a member of this House. It is not something that I take lightly. It is my intent to work just as hard this term, if not harder, for the people of Southport and the Gold Coast. They have given us their trust and we need to repay that with hard work and we need to deliver on the services, the facilities and the activities that people expect from us as a Parliament.

 

 

Rob Molhoek MP

State Member for Southport

Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health

Shadow Assistant Minister for Drug and Alcohol Treatment

Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Seniors

 

Queensland Parliament

M: 0430 209995

E: rob.molhoek@parliament.qld.gov.au

 

 

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