MP pledges meals project funds
ROCKHAMPTON MP Bill Byrne said "quality education" was the first step to a "highly flexible and intellectually robust society" as he delivered his maiden speech in parliament.
The Labor politician, who said he could trace his family roots back more than 140 years as Queenslanders, also went in to bat for his electorate which he said "had their fill of promises that can never be delivered".
Mr Byrne spoke with passion about his election pledge to provide funding to Rockhampton Meals on Wheels to construct new premises on land the Rockhampton council gifted.
"This is not a luxury, this is not something that can be ignored by government and I can say without reservation is an issue beyond politics," he said.
"This is not just about providing a few meals to pensioners it is about keeping people out of aged care homes and is not only essential to their health and welfare outcomes, but also saving the taxpayer the huge cost of subsidising nursing care beds.
"It is socioeconomic soundness by any measure. Also I must point out to all that this project has just as many implications for the seat of Keppel as it has for Rockhampton.
"I offer to work with the member for Keppel to bring this project on.
"It is appropriate and important for this government to dispel growing concerns about a partisan agenda and provide modest support to projects like the meals on wheels in Rockhampton where the merits are so patently non-partisan and obvious.
"The community has had their fill of promises that can never be delivered, of five-second sound-bite public policy debate, and the never ending distortion of political discourse.
"I know that I'm contesting Cicero's basic rules of politics, but I submit that the time is up for such approaches."
Mr Byrne told the Legislative Assembly chamber he believed education was the first step to bettering society as he talked about his own background including a career in defence.
"I am the product of many generations of regional Queenslanders, and proud of it," he said.
"My journey here began as I said with parents dedicated to quality public education who ensured their children got the benefit not just of the best formal education experiences but also the understanding that a good society is based on compassion, generosity, and one's best endeavours to help create equity of opportunity, and thereby ensure we get the best economic and social outcomes by maximising human capital.
"The strength of this state is its people and empowering our constituents through quality education must be our overwhelming priority.
"It is a journey which took me from school in Bundaberg, to a QR electrical apprenticeship in Ipswich Railway Workshops, and three decades of regular and Army Reserve service.
"The latter stages overlapped a further career in the Department of Defence managing highly complex and at times controversial activities in one of the largest and most environmentally significant tropical military training establishments in the world."
Mr Byrne said he was well aware of Tarago jokes about Labor's small team of seven after being smashed at the March 24 election.
He said he preferred to think of his team as "the Magnificent 7" where his "hairline might translate to Yul Brynner's".
"I'm not sure who Britt, Chico or Vin are just yet, and perhaps that is something for cartoonists to contemplate," he said.
"As our leader has said we owe an apology to those Labor voters who the previous government pushed into the laps of our opponents.
"I don't believe that every idea or initiative that emanates from the conservative side of politics represents evil incarnate.
"My role in this chamber is to promote good public policy.
"Too often the blunt instrument of political necessity has overwhelmed, or substantially compromised, the development of good public policy in this great state.
"My point is that Queenslanders are sick and tired of the argument for argument's sake, of the spin generated simply to distract and divert from the essential facts of a matter.
"They deserve better than that, and if this chamber is ever to be redeemed in their eyes an outbreak of brutal honesty might be worth a go."