Blogs

ROAD SAFETY

March 25, 2014

Every Gippslander has been touched by the road toll.

Last year, 1200 people died on Australian roads and although the Victorian toll has steadily declined, a disproportionate number of deaths and injuries are still occurring on regional roads.

It’s estimated that road trauma costs our nation $27 billion per year, in addition to the enormous social impacts on our community.

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AUSTRALIA DAY

AUSTRALIA DAY MESSAGE FROM DARREN CHESTER

January 27, 2014

Australia Day is more than a public holiday – it’s the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on what has made our nation successful and resolve to overcome any challenges.

But what makes Australia such a great nation?
 
Other countries have beautiful environments, there are many other democracies in the world and we’re not the only nation that has brought together many different cultures in a largely harmonious society.

REFLECTION ON ANZAC DAY

April 23, 2014

As we approach the centenary of the military campaign on the Gallipoli peninsula it is an appropriate time for reflection on the significance of this annual day of commemoration.

Although ANZAC day marks the landings at Gallipoli nearly a century ago, ANZAC day is revered by all Australians as the day to commemorate the lives of Australians and New Zealanders who have died in the service of their country.

Each year, thousands of Australians across the country will attend dawn services at local memorials and cenotaphs. Prayers will be read, the Last Post played and our national anthem sung. While each of these services will follow a format that has existed for decades, each service will have unique elements that reflect local traditions. Services like those held in our towns and cities will also be held in overseas locations where Australian servicemen and women have fought and died.

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SPEECH - ANZAC DAY MORNING SERVICE SALE APRIL 25 2015

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls and most importantly Australian Defence Force members – both currently serving personnel and veterans.

I pay my respects to the traditional owners of the land, and on this most solemn occasion, acknowledge the service of our Aboriginal brothers and sisters in conflicts throughout our nation’s history, and their continued service today.

Ladies and gentlemen, this week I was in Afghanistan and other parts of the Middle East in my role as Parliamentary Secretary for Defence.

There are walls at the Australian headquarters in Kabul, and also at other bases, which carry the photographs of the 43 Australians who have died on deployment to the region over the past decade.

They join the 102,000 Australian servicemen and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice, throughout our nation’s history.

Even today, as we commemorate the Centenary of Anzac – Australian and New Zealand forces are standing side by side in Baghdad, in Kabul and in the skies above the Middle East – working together again:

This time to train and support local forces in the fight against Daesh and the Taliban.

As we pause to remember the original ANZACs, I urge everyone gathered here today and at similar ceremonies across our nation – and indeed throughout the world – to also pause and remember our modern day warriors and peacekeepers.

Young men and women drawn together from all corners of Australia and New Zealand to serve our nations again.

As we tuck ourselves into bed tonight – safe in the knowledge that no harm will come to our families – spare a thought, and a prayer if you are so inclined – for almost 2000 Australians currently serving on deployments throughout the world in places like Kabul, Kandahar and Baghdad.

In places where the summer temperature will scorch past 45 degrees and winter temperature plummet below freezing: some will be sleeping in tents, others in pre-fabricated huts, or dormitories with bunks and precious little privacy.

Regardless of where they sleep, they will be away from their families and loved ones.

Pray for their safety, pray for the people they are trying to protect – pray that their missions are completed successfully and they return as soon as possible to the arms of those they love.

Ladies and gentlemen, when I was in Kabul, I thanked the troops on your behalf and told them that we were proud of them, that we supported them, and we wished them well.

I said there was no greater service that anyone can give to Australia, than to put on the uniform of the nation they love and place themselves in harm’s way to help those who cannot help themselves.

It was true in 1915 and it’s true in 2015.

We don’t seek to glorify war by gathering here today but we do commemorate the sacrifice and the extraordinary service of so many young Australian men and women – along with our New Zealand allies.

I wrote this speech aboard an Australian K-130, high above the mountains and valleys of Afghanistan where many of those 43 young Australian men lost their lives.

As I looked around the young faces on the plane, I couldn’t help but think about those other young faces in the pictures on the walls.

They were all someone’s son, someone’s brother, someone’s husband, someone’s boyfriend, someone’s father.

We can never bring them back but we can make sure they are never forgotten.

We can’t fulfil the promise of their young lives cut short – but we can honor them by the way we live our lives.

Just think about that when we pause in a few moments time to pay our respects to the fallen… think about what others have given to allow us to enjoy our freedom and safety.

Our tribute to the fallen – to the original Anzacs and to the 102,000 killed in countless conflicts – is the manner in which we live today.

Our world is being challenged by people who would seek to do us harm and the enduring values that the Anzacs demonstrated - and fought to protect - are as important today as ever before.

A commitment to peace, freedom and fairness
- a determination to protect the innocent
- the courage and adventurous spirit to travel to far off lands and help others
- the bonds of mateship and camaraderie to stand together in hard times and
- the resilience, perseverance and dedication to duty…

These are all values and personal attributes our nation needs from us.

That is what Anzac Day means to me – I take it as a personal challenge to ask myself: ‘am I worthy of the sacrifice that others have made, am I honouring the people who have given so much and still serve our nation’s defence force today?’.

Ladies and gentlemen, they have shown us the way, now it’s up to us.

Today, as Gippslanders and Australians, we honor the Anzacs and we must commit ourselves to respecting their enduring legacy.

Lest we forget.

COAL SEAM GAS

LONG WAY TO GO IN CSG DEBATE

December 2, 2013

Over the past two years many East Gippslanders have contacted me to ask questions about the potential for coal seam gas (CSG) development in our region.

The most common concerns have been in relation to whether CSG exploration and production would have an impact on water resources, environmental amenity and agricultural land. The granting of exploration licences and approval for mining projects are primarily matters for the State Government to resolve and it must be stressed that there is currently no CSG production in Victoria.

The production of natural gas has been regulated by the Victorian Government for more than 40 years and the government recently announced that it would not support on-shore gas production until all of the scientific facts are known and any risks are fully assessed.

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DISABILITY SERVICES

NDIS STILL A WORK IN PROGRESS

May 7, 2013

Last week, there was a lot of media scrutiny surrounding the Federal Government’s proposed increase to the Medicare levy to pay for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and whether the Coalition would support it.

The truth is, the Coalition has supported the establishment of the NDIS every step of the way and all members are committed to ensuring it becomes a reality as soon as possible.

I applaud the work that the Federal and State Governments have done so far in establishing the scheme and it gave the community great confidence when Victorian Premier Denis Napthine signed the agreement for a full NDIS roll-out over the weekend.

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LABOR LEADERSHIP

RUDD RETURN WON’T BRIDGE DIVISIONS IN LABOR

July 1, 2013

The return of Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister has done nothing to convince me that the Labor Party is united and focused on the issues that matter in our community.

The Labor Party remains deeply divided and is completely obsessed with internal fights, rather than leading our nation. The leadership change was all about a bitter personality contest and nothing about policy.

If Julia Gillard couldn’t trust Kevin Rudd, why should we?

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MAKING A CONTRIBUTION HELPS REGION PROSPER

MAKING A CONTRIBUTION HELPS REGION PROSPER

March 5, 2013

No-one likes a 'bludger' and to be called a 'bludger' is to suggest that the individual doesn't do his or her fair share of work.

When it comes to regional communities like East Gippsland, we need everyone to make a contribution if our region is going to prosper in the future.

To create new jobs, develop improved infrastructure and build a stronger and more resilient regional economy we need to build on our traditional strengths while developing more opportunities in emerging industries like tourism.

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