Corey Wingard: Maiden Speech
Mr WINGARD ( Mitchell ) ( 16:11 :39 ): I am pleased to support the motion and in doing so I congratulate you, Deputy Speaker, on your elevation.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before you continue, member for Mitchell, may I remind the house that this is the member's first speech.
Mr WINGARD: Thank you. I acknowledge your elevation to such an important and prestigious position. I am sure you will do an admirable job serving this house and the people of South Australia. I also join with others in congratulating all the new members on both sides of the house upon their election to the South Australian parliament, in particular I must congratulate the new members on my side of the house. It is a pleasure to join my new colleagues, the members for Hartley, Schubert, Mount Gambier and also my close friend, supporter, sounding board and electoral neighbour, the member for Bright. It has been a pleasure to work so closely with the member for Bright over the past few years and I look forward to extending that working relationship and friendship for many years to come.
I also acknowledge our new member in the Legislative Council the Hon. Andrew McLachlan and I offer him my most sincere congratulations as well. I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my best wishes to the member for Fisher and his family. He is another of my electoral neighbours and I wish him a full and speedy recovery so that I can work with him in the future as well. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting and hearing from the Governor at the opening of the 53rd parliament. I am fortunate to have met the Governor and his wife, Mrs Liz Scarce, on a number of occasions. Can I say what a superb job they have done representing South Australia for almost seven years. It is my absolute privilege to be elected as the member for Mitchell and I would like to thank everyone for putting their trust in me to represent them as their local member of parliament. Serving the local community is the essence of this role and it is one that I am thoroughly enjoying and one I truly relish.
The electorate of Mitchell runs south of the city from Oaklands Park and Warradale in the north, in a corridor through Dover Gardens, Seacombe Gardens and Sturt. From there it travels up hill to Seaview Downs, Seacombe Heights, Darlington and O'Halloran Hill. You will then reach the suburban heartland that is Trott and Sheidow Parks, before working your way further south into the townships of Old Reynella and Reynella. Mitchell touches on the boundaries of six other electorates, making it somewhat unique. Having so many neighbours means that the flow of residents through Mitchell is like no other. It makes for a diverse and caring community which has interests and relationships spreading beyond those confined to boundaries set by the Electoral Commission.
Deputy Speaker, this is the point where every member talks about their electorate being the best electorate in the state. I could prattle on about Mitchell's landmark features, from the SA Aquatic Centre to the expansive Westfield Shopping Centre, the O'Halloran Hill Recreation Park, the Field River, Glenthorne Farm and the rich history that is wrapped up in the wine regions of Dover Gardens, Reynella and Old Reynella, but I won't. Instead, I am going to break with convention. I am not going to enter into the debate about which electorate is best, even though I think it is a debate I can win. What I will do is let you in on the real secret which makes the electorate of Mitchell so special: it is the people. Mitchell has the best collection of people in South Australia. I believe they are people whose views reflect the thoughts and ideals of the wider South Australian community.
Before I tell you about the great people of Mitchell, I would like to take a bit of an opportunity here today to share with you why I have worked so hard to represent the people of Mitchell in this parliament. The electorate was named after Sir William Mitchell. He was a professor of English language, literature and mental and moral philosophy at Adelaide University. Sir William's love for the English language and the fact that I am now the Member for Mitchell would carry a great deal of irony for many of my school teachers because English was not my strong suit.
At school I struggled with the 'big three'—I apologise, member for Heysen. I struggled in writing, spelling and public speaking. That may surprise some people here, given that prior to entering this house I was a journalist and television presenter. Anyone who knew me at school would tell you that journalism and politics were not the top two suggestions by my careers councillor; in fact, they did not make the top 50. However, I believe that confronting your weaknesses and making them strengths is very strong in a person.
I was also lucky that my mother raised me to believe that I could achieve anything if I set my mind to it. She taught me that hard work, belief and making the most of your opportunities were the recipe for success. As is most often the case with lessons you learn from your parents, they are not truly realised until later in life. So, I thank my mother for that lesson now, and it is a value I work hard to instil in my four children.
I was also fortunate to have some wonderful teachers and friends who invested in me and were very supportive of me throughout my school years; they invested in me a lot. I would like to thank Lyle and Silvanna Murphy, David Wiese, Roger Parsons, Damian Hill, Nick Joy and numerous others from Brighton High School for their efforts, patience and persistence.
There is a part of me that would like to think that, over the years, these teachers would have used my story as an incentive for some of their students. I can hear them talking to their class now; they would say, 'If Corey Wingard can be a TV reporter, you can achieve anything.' Now they would be saying, 'If Corey Wingard can be a Member of Parliament, you can achieve absolutely anything!'—and they would be right. I believe that anyone can achieve anything. Like my mum says, you just need hard work, belief in yourself and to take your opportunities.
My early years were spent growing up in country South Australia. My parents are from the Housing Trust precinct in Port Lincoln. I was born in Cleve on the West Coast, and I started school in Quorn in the north of the state and spent the bulk of my primary school years living on Kangaroo Island.
When mum and dad separated, dad moved to Kingston in the South-East. My brother and I visited every holidays, which helped us maintain our healthy country values. Kangaroo Island was the perfect place to be a kid. You never had to lock your bike, you had the freedom to explore and learn, through getting your hands dirty, and you survived, despite collecting a few hard knocks along the way. You could run, swim, fish and play to your heart's content as long as you were home by the time the streetlights came on.
I take this opportunity to note that there must be something very healthy and inspiring in this rural upbringing because there are now three members on this side of the chamber who have KI roots. It is my privilege to join the member for Bragg and the member for Finniss as part of a Kangaroo Island connection.
While my island upbringing was 30-odd years ago when child safety and child protection were taken for granted, unfortunately now it is a major concern. It was a particularly big issue in my electorate in the lead-up to the last election, given the findings of the Debelle report. Child protection and education are two areas I am very passionate about and something I will fight for especially during my time in this place.
I was pleased to hear the Governor speak of a focus on a renewal of the education sector in his speech. I know that the education portfolio has been handballed through a number of Ministers on the benches opposite in recent times, and there has also been a rotation of Chief Executives. This has left many parents in my electorate quite perplexed about who is actually calling the shots on their children's future. I applaud the Premier for seeking to give the necessary attention to this very important sector, and I plan to keep him to account to make sure that South Australia lifts its outcomes in national testing results.
After my primary school years on Kangaroo Island, I moved to Adelaide and settled into Oaklands Park. As I have mentioned, I went to Brighton High School. It was the early 1980s, and it was the time when I was introduced to city life. It is funny now, but I remember traffic lights, department store shopping, league football and 'red hen' trains all being quite fascinating. Adelaide was a vibrant city and a key capital city on the national landscape. Adelaide was mentioned in the same breath as Sydney and Melbourne. We were often talked about in front of Brisbane and Perth but, sadly, that has all changed.
Our state debt continues to escalate uncontrollably up toward $14 billion, with continued wasteful spending from this Labor government. After 12 years of a State Labor Government, South Australia is struggling to stay in front of Tasmania in so many of the key indicators that measure economic prosperity for the states. This is a fact that must change if we hope to keep our young people here and ultimately lure good people back to SA. It disappoints me to note that we have had in excess of 33,000 net interstate migrants over the life of this Labor Government; that is 33,000 more people leaving South Australia than moving here to set up home. On a personal level, I am sad to say that just last week my cousin and his family added themselves to that figure. The exodus must stop.
Going to school in the eighties was a brilliant time. It was a time when the mullet haircut was cool and acid-washed jeans were trendy—or so I tried to tell people. It was also when I started in the workforce. My first job was collecting paper money, followed by a few years at Foodland stacking shelves and packing groceries, before I landed a job at The Athlete's Foot in Westfield Marion, the retail heartland of the Mitchell electorate.
At the time, I was getting paid to sell sports gear and I could not have been happier, but in hindsight it was so much more than a job. The store owner is Geoff Roberts, a great person working hard in Mitchell, and he is someone I still call a friend today. He taught me how hard you have to work to earn a dollar in business. As a business owner, he carries a large risk. A big part of his reward was employing so many young people from the local area. For that I thank him, and it is a credit that he is still employing young people in Mitchell today.
Working at Westfield Marion made me part of a bigger family, and I soon became friends with many other store owners, staff and the security team. One of the security team from that period, Graham Miller, now owns Spargo's Café in the Marion Centre just around from the movie theatre steps. Graham is another person taking a risk, working hard to make his business a success and also giving employment opportunities to 20 to 30 staff from in and around the Mitchell electorate. Rhett Biglands and his Nike store, Lucy and Roger Trombetta in their Hyde Leather shop, and Marco Venturini at Hairmesphere are doing likewise. They are all great people investing in South Australia. They are putting their money on the line to run a business and create opportunities for our state.
I read with great interest yesterday on the front page of The Advertiser how SA's retail environment was described as 'anti-business, uncompetitive, inefficient, over-regulated, overtaxed and out of touch with economic reality'. The quote from Gilmour's Comfort Shoes was alarming. They have stores in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, but in their submission to the Productivity Commission they said that “it is easier to set up business in the US than it is in Adelaide”. That is what is hurting growth in this state and it has been limiting employment opportunities here for the past decade.
Under this State Labor Government more than 21,300 jobs have been lost in Adelaide's southern region in the past 12 months. The jobless rate has jumped, from 4.2 per cent to 7.9 per cent in that period according to the ABS Labour Force survey. With all the talk about the high unemployment rate in the north of the city, I am concerned those opposite have forgotten about the south. Well, that will not happen while I am here.
We must free business of the excessive burdens that are choking South Australia's productivity. We must help them flourish so that they can sustainably employ more people. I speak to business owners every day who want to employ more people, but they cannot because the cost of doing business in this state is too high. We need to help businesses create more jobs by cutting red tape and slicing payroll tax or 'jobs tax', as it has been adequately renamed by the Member for Bright in his maiden speech.
I call on the Premier to move on these measures quickly and I call on him to make sure he remembers the people of Mitchell and the people in the south. There are many other businesses stretching through my electorate in Mitchell right down to Reynella and Old Reynella. They all work equally hard and face the same concerns.
After finishing high school, I made my way to university and completed a degree in sports science. Upon graduating, I worked for the SANFL, coaching and teaching in communities right across South Australia. It was the ideal job, especially while I played reserves footy for both Glenelg and Sturt. My playing career, however, was stifled by injury, but ultimately ended by a lack of talent. Many of my mates were called into the Adelaide Crows inaugural squad, but that lack of talent issue I mentioned saw me overlooked, so I decided on a new challenge.
I decided to become a sports journalist so that I could travel the globe and watch all the world's great sporting events from seats money could not buy. The short story is that I did that. I set a goal and I achieved it. I have been lucky to witness events like Wimbledon, the French Open, Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, AFL Grand Finals, Grand Prix, the Cricket World Cup at Lords, and many more. I share this story to make my mum's point again—that if you work hard, believe and make the most of your opportunities you can achieve anything.
When I moved to Sydney in search of my big break in television, I had to start at the bottom. After working as a runner on a few major sporting events, I was offered a job as a receptionist at Channel Nine's Wide World of Sports. For the record, I was considered the ugliest receptionist they had ever had, but it was a foot in the door and it was the start of a fun-filled and rewarding media career.
After nearly a decade in Sydney and Melbourne, I returned home for family reasons. I was lucky to land one of the rare jobs in television in Adelaide. I worked for Network Ten on the news and on numerous national events. I also produced and hosted a local footy show with a good friend of mine, Poppy, which was called Simply Footy. While I am proud of what I achieved at Ten, it has been sad to see career opportunities in television diminish in Adelaide over the past 15 years, and it is not just the media; it is a story I hear from so many industries.
The fact is a vast number of opportunities are now only on the eastern seaboard. I strongly believe this is something that has to change. We have to be able to generate more career opportunities here in South Australia, especially for our young. As I stressed earlier, we need to engage with business and give them an economic environment that will allow them to flourish and create more opportunities. I am very passionate about this and it is a key reason why I am standing here today.
For those of you who know me, there will be little surprise that I will spend some time talking about my affinity with local sporting and community groups in and around the electorate of Mitchell. This leads me back to the secret of Mitchell, the people. Sporting clubs are a haven for great people. They are home to countless brilliant volunteers, people who give their time generously to help educate the next generation and work tirelessly to build better communities. My electorate is home to the reigning Southern Football League premiers, the Reynella Football Club. Mitchell residents also flow to the Brighton Club which is my Club, Cove, O'Sullivan Beach, Lonsdale and Marion Cubs among others. These Clubs are led by outstanding presidents, Dave Denyer at the Wineflies, Kym Steer at the Bombers, Dale Champion at the Cobras, David Schultz at the Lions, and Min Adams at the Rams.
It is not just football that has great people. I have seen Andy Fry, the president of Cove F.C, and his wife Michelle work tirelessly to change the culture of their Club. It has been amazing to watch. They have brought in a new positive approach and all their teams have shown results and improved their community. The Marion Mall Walkers are another incredibly positive bunch who regularly power their way around the shopping centre. If you ever make it to the mall early on a Monday, Thursday or Friday you might see them striding out in their red shirts, and good luck keeping up with Pat Thalbourne, last year's “Walker of the Year”. She is a real goer and a lovely person.
Even though Mitchell is landlocked, there is still a strong affinity with the water. Many residents make the short journey from Mitchell to one of a number of surf lifesaving clubs stretched along the coast. Away from the beach Mitchell is arguably the home of the learn-to-swim programs in the southern region, from Juan Castro's swim school on Sturt Road to State Swim around the corner on Morphett Road and down to Sherriffs Road swimming centre at the other end of the electorate in Reynella. I think I can confidently say that if you grew up in or around Mitchell and you can swim freestyle there is a fair chance you attended one of these facilities. These centres are loaded with caring people. They have been operating for years, but more recently Mitchell has proudly welcomed the swimming jewel in the crown, the SA Aquatic Centre, which is the headquarters of the Marion Swimming Club.
Another person who typifies the great spirit of Mitchell people is Greeny at the Reynella Cricket Club. I was only recently told that his name is David Green because everybody calls him Greeny. Club life member number 20, he recently had his trademark wispy silver hair and handlebar moustache shaved off for charity. I have to be honest and say it was not a pretty look but he did raise $1,500 for charity. Greeny is another great person in Mitchell.
It is disappointing to note that so many of these sporting groups will be doing it tougher in the future after the Premier decided before the recent election to cut $3.5 million of funding to the Community, Recreation and Sports Facilities program. I will be working hard to help all of these great organisations and others in any way I can.
Nine schools and one hotel fit into the confines of the Mitchell electoral boundary. My waistline is thankful for that ratio and I am very thankful it is not the other way around. Eight of the schools are primary schools and there is just one high school in the electorate. While Seaview High School stands alone as the only high school in Mitchell, it is well and truly playing its part in producing more quality people. The principal, Penny Tranter, was very proud to introduce me to one of her students last year, a young man named Blake Derer. He went on to sweep the awards at Seaview's graduation ceremony in 2013 and he was named the City of Marion's Young Citizen of the Year on Australia Day. It was an outstanding acknowledgement of his great service to the community, but a better indication of the quality of this young man was evident from a story I followed with him and a few of his friends on Facebook.
The support Blake and his mates gave to their school friend Patrick Buksinski as he battled cancer was uplifting. They took every opportunity to be with Patrick and raise his spirits during the associated chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment. Sadly, they experienced the cruel curse of cancer as the disease eventually claimed their mate. They were there in his final moments and true friends to the end—yet another example of good Mitchell people.
On a lighter note, I would like to talk about the $7 schnitzels at the Crown Inn Hotel in Reynella. This is the one pub in Mitchell, Madam Deputy Speaker, and if you are ever free on a Thursday night I would like to take you to the Crown Inn for a schnitzel. My buy. What you will get for your $7 is a great feed and a side order of more brilliant people.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: You're on!
Mr WINGARD: I mentioned earlier that I have four children, so you can do the maths, but taking them all out to dinner can be expensive.
About 18 months ago my family was having some work done on our kitchen and the cooktop was out of action, so we headed to the Crown Inn for dinner. We walked in knowing no-one, and left with a dozen more new friends. In fact, my wife, my stepdad, my mum and I are now social club members, and the other week my wife won the raffle and took home 4 feet of meat. It doesn't get any better than that! So again, if you are free on a Thursday night I would love to take you along; I can introduce you to Donald and Cathy—
Mr WINGARD: The member for Heysen is more than welcome to come—I can take anyone in the house; it is a whole lot of fun!
An honourable member: Are you shouting?
Mr WINGARD: I am only paying for the Deputy Speaker! But if you want to join the social club, as I said, I will introduce you to Donald and Cathy and you can get to know more magical Mitchell people. Mitchell is also home to the Edge Church, and I mention this group specifically because they have been so welcoming and engaging. The congregation takes in an incredibly large number of Mitchell constituents, but their care for the wider community reaches far beyond my electoral boundaries. I have personally witnessed this amazing group of people gather around a family in need after their son was shot dead. They offered guidance and support in the toughest time, and they did it without expectation of anything in return. Once again, another team of outstanding Mitchell people. I think I have made it very clear: Mitchell means 'good people'. I am sorry I cannot mention them all here today, but I look forward to serving them all in the years ahead.
Before I finish, Deputy Speaker, I would like to thank some people who helped me get here today. As we know, campaigning is a team effort and my team is first class. Thanks go to my Campaign Manager Mary Andrew, Emma Andrew, Josh Rule, Trent Harron and Penny Pratt for all their help and support. I also thank Demi, Steve, Roberta, SEC President Paul, Kimberley and Maddie, branch President Bill and Lesley, Em-Jay, Liam, Courtney, Steph, Linda, Greg, Mostyn and Diana.
I would like to thank my mum Heather, my stepdad Len, my dad Rick, and step mum Liz. I would also like to thank Jody, Nick, Laura, Sarah, Tommy and Hugh; Johnny, Tui, and Taya; Annabel, Brian and the younger Brian; my brother Brenton, Jessie, Madi, Luke and Mason; Andrew, Sarah, Jack, Alex and Erin (who walked their feet off); Sharon, Wayne, Jake and Adam and Rachel Brown, who is a politician in the making! I also thank long-time friends Aaron, Poppy, Damian, Anne Marie, Michael, Garry, Yvette, Jaimie and Brett—and everyone else who helped on the campaign.
I would also like to mention the member for Waite and the Hon. Terry Stephens in the Legislative Council for all their help and support, and our leader, the member for Dunstan. Steven has only met my mum a couple of times, but I think he also lives by her mantra. He is the hardest working person I have met.
Thank you to the rest of my state colleagues and Senators Edwards, Birmingham, Bernardi, Ruston and Fawcett. Thank you also to the Federal Member for Sturt the Honourable Christopher Pyne, the Member for Boothby Andrew Southcott, and the Member for Hindmarsh, Matt Williams.
Mostly, I would like to truly thank my wife Emma and our beautiful children: Amy, Tyson, Heath and Brooke—I knew I would stall here! Collectively you are my inspiration and life, and I love you all to the moon and back.
Finally, you may have noticed I have not mentioned the Oaklands Park crossing. I do not have enough time left for me to share with you all the grievances that I have received about this neglected piece of infrastructure, so I will save that for another day, but trust me, before I am gone from this place, you will have heard plenty about that matter, and more, from me and the very good people of Mitchell. Thank you.