Maiden speech of Vincent Tarzia MP, 7th May 2014
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Before I call the member for Hartley, who has sought and been granted leave to speak out of his place, I would like to remind the house that this is the member's first speech and I ask members to accord him the customary courtesies. The member for Hartley.
Mr TARZIA ( Hartley ) ( 16:24 ): Thank you, Deputy Speaker. Firstly, I thank the member for Morialta who has today allowed me to sit in his seat. I have done this so that one of my constituents, the very hardworking Mr Philip Menz, President of the Physical Disability Council of South Australia who is in the gallery today, can see me from his wheelchair during the course of this speech. During the course of my parliamentary career, I hope this parliament makes this place more accessible for those who are in such a position. May I begin by also wishing the honourable member for Fisher all the best with his treatment and I extend my thoughts and prayers to him and his family during this hard time.
We observe today a victory for the state Liberals in the battle for Hartley—a victory for the long term, for regeneration, for change and for growth for the future. It is a great honour and a pleasure to stand here today as the fifth member for Hartley, and currently the youngest member of this place. Hartley is in the heart of the inner north-east of Adelaide. It is a close-knit community comprised of many migrants, many of whom share a common ambition and a drive to succeed to the best of their aspirations. I stand here today proud to represent such admirable people and eager to serve this great state of ours.
First, I would like to congratulate the Speaker of this house on his re-election and I would also like to thank the Governor of this great state, His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce for his opening of the 53rd Parliament. I would like to congratulate all the new members and also all the members who have been re-elected. The recent election was hard fought and I am proud of Steven Marshall and the state Liberal team for our campaign. Steven Marshall and our team present a vision for this state by drawing on the ambitions of businesses and restoring confidence and pride in all South Australians.
We on this side of the chamber sit in stark contrast to the government opposite us, which has presided over—and continues to preside over—the decline of the state's future economic prospects. In fact, Deputy Speaker, it is my opinion that the economy is a bit like the clock in this house. It runs backwards and it has been going backwards time and time again.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: That's not true. It's digital and it is moving well today. You're misleading the house.
Mr TARZIA: It is completely in the wrong direction, Deputy Speaker.
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: No, it's meant to make you watch.
Mr TARZIA: Deputy Speaker, I am a product of what you would call post-World War II migration into Australia and it is in times like these where long-term thinking is required and bold, balanced, long-term decisions are needed, I am reminded of my two late grandparents: Vincenzo Tarzia (my namesake) and Salvatore Bruno, both of whom were Italian migrants from poverty-stricken southern Italy and who moved to South Australia seeking a new life and better opportunities for their families. Vincenzo and Salvatore were two honourable men and I know that they would certainly be proud to see me here today as the member for Hartley.
As the descendant of European migrants, I would like to pay a tribute to many before me with Italian heritage who have served this electorate and this state in this parliament, and other parliaments, including but not limited to: the Hon. Mario Feleppa MLC, whom you may remember, the Hon. Julian Stefani MLC, the Hon. Carmel Zollo MLC and, of course, my immediate predecessors in Hartley, Joe Scalzi and the Hon. Grace Portolesi.
The spirit of post-World War II European migrants has always been a great source of inspiration for me. With about 18 per cent of the Hartley electorate being solely of Italian origin, many families can relate to a story similar to that of my family. I would like to dedicate my election victory to the sons and daughters of all migrants in South Australia, because without their ambition and their sacrifice and their entrepreneurial spirit the state certainly would not be what it is today.
My late grandfather Vincenzo Tarzia was born in the seaside town of Siderno Marina, Reggio Calabria. He was a fisherman and later a soldier who fought in World War II for the Italian army. He was captured but escaped and migrated to Australia and settled in South Australia. My other grandfather was Salvatore Bruno, born in the country town of Altavilla Irpina in the Campania region, about 70 kilometres outside Naples, where he worked day in, day out down a sulphur mine. But he wanted a better future for his family. He never sought a handout. He looked for new opportunities to give his family a better life and once he settled in South Australia my grandfather got his first job at General Motors Holden, within the first week of his migration—a job that he proudly held for over 30 years until his retirement.
Both my grandfathers worked tirelessly for their family and for their children—my parents. They were not afraid to make tough decisions in their hope for a better future for their family, and I am proud of my grandparents, and, through their example, they have taught me the value of hard work, of ambition and of sheer determination for a more prosperous future. It is these values that have ultimately guided me to undertake this honourable responsibility. It is migrants and the children of migrants, like my grandparents, Vincenzo and Salvatore, and my parents, Mary and Tony, who have helped to make this state, and Hartley, great. It is these migrants who have inspired me to commit myself to public service today.
I was born and raised in South Australia and I was privileged enough to attend St Joseph's School, Payneham, a primary school founded by the Sisters of St Joseph in 1962. It began with 42 students and it has expanded to about 400 today, from preschool to year seven. I am truly grateful for the Catholic values that were instilled in me from a young age and I acknowledge Father Allen Winter, who was my first local parish priest. I am pleased that he is still there today serving his community as well as he did when I was at school. He tells me that I am his first MP to come out of his parish. It is also fitting to mention that my parents first met each other at that parish at the Feast of St Anthony held on the school grounds in 1974, they tell me.
My journey continued on to Rostrevor College where in my final year I was fortunate enough to be head prefect and dux of the college. That school was established by the Christian Brothers in 1923 as an extension of the facilities offered at CBC, Wakefield Street. The school borders the current boundary of Hartley, and its motto of Palma merenti—Latin for 'Reward to the one who earns it'— has always inspired me. It was good to see Ty Cheesman, my previous legal studies teacher, who by chance was in the gallery today hosting a group of school students, as I understand it.
After completing school I studied and graduated with degrees in law and commerce from the University of Adelaide and later went on to tutor in commercial and corporate law at that university in the business school. My studies were a good opportunity to serve my students and provide them with good advice to help them succeed. It is this passion for service to others that inspired me to work in many professional fields, including funds management and the legal and commercial sectors. It is also this passion that made me want to be involved in politics from a young age and to make this state and the electorate of Hartley great.
However, I make the point that I am certainly not a career politician, but I will serve this electorate and house hopefully for many years to come. I come to politics from the private sector. I have no union alliance; I have no political bloodline; but I have a long-term vision to improve my local area and this state. This path for me has been a choice that I have carefully considered and I have decided to undertake, leaving behind my immediate legal and commercial career. I am not afraid of hard work. My first job was at Foodland working for the Romeo family stacking shelves at the age of 13.
I made the decision to run for public office at age 23 and in late 2010 I was elected as a councillor of the City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters, part of which lies in Hartley. It would be fitting of me to mention that I see two hard-working Norwood, Payneham and St Peters councillors in the gallery today, and I acknowledge the role that they have played in mentoring me and assisting me along the way—Councillor Minney and Councillor Duke. As a councillor, I believe I was able to help improve the vibrancy of the City of Norwood, Payneham & St Peters and I am proud of our work here, particularly in helping and lobbying for PISA (the Italian Meals on Wheels) to stay at its current premises in Firle.
I would like to acknowledge and thank the volunteers who keep that council area ticking (because they are the backbone of the community) as well as the tireless staff and elected members of that council. I would also like to acknowledge the City of Burnside and the City of Campbelltown which also lie in Hartley. I would like to specifically acknowledge the hardworking volunteers, the staff and elected members of those councils who I have worked with over many years and who together make our community a better place.
My membership in local council has certainly allowed me to participate in various local charitable, community and sporting groups, such as Faith Hope Charity, the breast cancer group that my mother, Mary (a remitted breast-cancer sufferer), founded which raises money for breast cancer research, patient care, and breast cancer awareness, proceeds of which are distributed to hospitals and institutions here within South Australia. I have watched my mother's organisation spring from small beginnings, to watching it gain corporate sponsorship, and I am proud to say that she has raised over $500,000 since the organisation was founded 10 years ago.
Throughout my time as a councillor, a candidate, and now as a member of this place, I have been privileged to support charities such as the Little Heroes Foundation supporting children battling cancer, and the St Vincent De Paul Society, and I am active in the Campbelltown Rotary Club, Payneham RSL and, of course, a proud follower of the Norwood Football Club.
Honourable members: Hear, hear!
Mr TARZIA: I notice I was in the minority there, Deputy Speaker; in fact Deputy Speaker, I put it to the house that down the track perhaps the Address in Reply board could reflect the colours of the previous premiership team rather than what looks like black, white and teal.
It is estimated that philanthropic organisations receive over $2 billion each year and that the intended targets of many charities receive only 60¢ in every dollar that is donated. While Australia's charitable donation trends are increasing, Australia does not possess the ingrained philanthropic culture that is seen in countries such as the United States, for example. Research conducted a number of years ago shows that the US gives around 1.6 per cent of GDP per capita to not-for-profit organisations, whereas Australia gives just 0.7 per cent. I believe that as elected representatives we should always lead by example to participate in and promote these organisations and by doing so encourage members of our community to assume a degree of responsibility for their fellow compatriots, to lead from the front and partake in these organisations as many of our members from both sides of the chamber do already.
South Australia is a great state, but we are in a state that has been underperforming well below our best for at least the last 12 to 13 years. Let there be no misunderstanding: no one is more responsible for this calamity than the government sitting opposite me. Under this government South Australia is suffering under the highest taxes in the nation, the worst performing workers comp scheme in the nation, the worst small business conditions and confidence in the nation and spiralling public debt.
At the same time, South Australia's export market is dying. Over the past 12 years of this Labor government, our total number of exports has fallen from 7.5 per cent to 4.4 per cent of the national market. As a young professional I am passionate about ensuring that South Australian school and tertiary graduates are afforded the same opportunities of employment that other states enjoy. As the great Roman senator and advocate Cicero once said, 'Let the welfare of the people'—
The DEPUTY SPEAKER: In Latin.
Mr TARZIA: In Latin? I could go for Italian, perhaps, Deputy Speaker. He said, 'Let the welfare of the people be the ultimate law.' Sadly, this ethos is not reflected in the approach taken by this government. Unemployment in South Australia is the highest of any mainland state and has risen to 7.1 per cent compared to the national average of 5.8, and this is obviously at a time when all other states are increasing their rate of employment. It is South Australia's highest unemployment rate in 12 years. And what about regional South Australia experiencing its highest unemployment rate in 14 years? In my electorate of Hartley one in five young people are unemployed—one in five—and this is in spite of the fact that my predecessor was minister for employment.
I spoke previously about the hard work and sacrifices of families like mine and others to migrate to help build this state. Liberal Party great and former premier Sir Thomas Playford is remembered for bringing new industries and new migrants to build our great state because he understood that bold decisions had to be made to secure our future and with it create new jobs and prosperity. The current government will be remembered for abandoning South Australia's long-term economic future and investment for short-term political fixes by engaging in public spending projects which they do not have the revenue to sustain.
As a result of the corrosive impact of the government's policies they risk losing a generation of young professionals and workers to other states and overseas. For example, since this government first took office, over 34,000 South Australians have migrated interstate, many of them young people. As the youngest member of this place and as a member of South Australia's emerging workforce, I regret to inform you that many have already left us and unfortunately will not be coming back. What remains of my generation will be paying for this government's recklessness and poor economic management, for many years to come.
How is an economy supposed to thrive, rebuild and prosper when the productive element of its economy, that is, our young brains trust, our graduates, our up-and-comers, are rapidly leaving, as they are? Our state simply cannot prosper when only a diminishing few do well. Prosperity rests upon every child in South Australia having an opportunity to have the same start, the same chance, to achieve their ambitions.
For 12 years this government has ignored the increasingly obvious signs that are written on the wall, that South Australia's reliance on manufacturing and agribusiness exports alone will no longer sustain South Australia's revenue base. This government has done nothing to improve the efficiency and productivity of our labour market. It should be of no surprise to any member of this place that in a developed economy which has traditionally relied on certain industries, that in a period of changing times and markets these industries cannot continue to support our economy on their own. The job opportunities in these areas, which people like my grandparents grasped, are not new industries and new opportunities are required.
I believe it is time for all South Australians to increasingly look to other sectors, like the resources sector, to guarantee long-term investment and job creation. I believe for too long South Australia has missed out on this opportunity. Have a look at the Angas Zinc Mine and BHP Billiton's decision to shelve the Olympic Dam expansion. The list goes on and on. By now we could have had one of the largest producers of minerals, particularly uranium.
In the midst of these disastrous and shameful truths about the ills this state suffers sits a government that has done nothing to address these problems. It has become clear to me, while observing this government over the past 12 years, that only the Liberal Party has the appetite and the dedication to change our current direction and avoid the cliff from which we are about to fall economically.
I am determined as a member of this place to do all I can to rectify the problems that our great state faces. I do not fear these problems; I welcome the opportunity to help solve them and I stand before you as a breath of fresh air in this place. I believe we must invest more in research and development to harness our new ideas and our technology, alter our tax laws, improve our schools and hospitals, and implore and empower our citizens to learn more, to reach higher and to get the state moving again.
Hartley is a hard working, multicultural electorate. A significant proportion of people are from migrant families, with 48 per cent having both parents born overseas and 35 per cent speak two or more languages. Hartley is one of the most religious electorates, with a strong Judeo-Christian population comprising almost 50 per cent of the electorate, and there is barely a weekend that does not feature a fair, a fete, a Festa, a festival or a fundraiser.
Mr TARZIA: Lots of F words there. Hartley's diversity is shown, with 11.4 per cent of households in Hartley speaking fluent Italian, as I try to from time to time. Hartley is a true representation of the vibrant cultural diversity that exists in 21st century South Australia. It covers about 15.5 square kilometres and includes suburbs like Campbelltown, Felixstow, Glynde, Hectorville, Kensington Gardens, Tranmere, Magill, Auldana, Rosslyn Park and parts of Payneham and Paradise.
Hartley is an electorate that is blessed with many outstanding local businesses—over 500 in total—which employ thousands of South Australians, and with an array of local cafes. Where would I be without the hundreds of macchiatos that I consumed during the election period. There is something for everyone in Hartley. In the south of the electorate, Penfolds Magill Estate Winery and Restaurant is one of the state's premium food destinations and is located in the heart of Hartley. For the sweet tooths there are endless locations—for example, Robern Menz, home of FruChocs. There are families like the Capaldos at Glynde Mitre 10, which has recently been recognised for its excellence within the hardware industry at the Hardware Association of South Australia Awards.
Areas like Glynde showcase a plethora of Australia's finest food manufacturers, including Gelato Bello, Nuts About Food, AR Ravioli and La Casa Del Formaggio. Furthermore, the continental stores in the seat are some of the best in Australia. It was very hard to keep the weight off during the election campaign. Have a look at Pasta Deli, the Italian Place and il Mercato, for example.
Hartley was named after John Anderson Hartley, who established the system of compulsory education in South Australia in 1875, and the seat was created in the electoral redistribution of 1976. On behalf of my volunteers, I am proud to say that Hartley now has the worst Labor vote since 1993 and the best Liberal two-party preferred vote since 1993, and we won it with a commitment to help improve the area for all residents of Hartley.
During the course of my campaign it was a privilege to hear the views of my constituents that impact their day-to-day lives and to fight for their causes. Whilst there are many local issues, I was especially honoured and privileged to stand beside Prime Minister Tony Abbott and the local federal member and minister, Hon. Christopher Pyne, during the campaign to announce funding to build a fully developed Campbelltown leisure centre, with an eight-lane FINA qualified swimming pool, so that the children of Hartley can have the opportunity to learn how to swim, in Campbelltown, in Hartley.
Backing sport in our community is a good thing, especially in our youth, for sport teaches children about winning and losing, about discipline and about keeping fit and healthy. I am proud to say that it did these things for me when I won my first premiership with the Payneham Norwood Union Football Club many years ago, and that amongst other things, the state Liberal Party made a significant commitment to the Hectorville Sports and Community Club at the last state election.
Traffic in the electorate is a concerning issue, and I am proud to say, as many would view if they drove through the electorate today, that we were successful in lobbying the current government to upgrade the Magill Road/Glynburn Road intersection, which has been plagued with congestion problems. I also particularly highlight the need for a solution for better parking in Paradise. It is vital that the proposed McNally development has a traffic management plan. We also experienced a change in planning initiatives during the course of the campaign, particularly in Felixstow and Paradise, with the community's concerns being heard and listened to.
Preventing a substation from being built in residential Glynde continues to be an ongoing cause which we must keep fighting for, and I welcome the government's election commitment—and we will hold them to account—to relocate the substation to an alternative industrial site. I welcome the Italian government's decision to keep the Italian consulate open in Adelaide.
I believe that the best life we can lead is in the service of others. I grew up in and around the seat of Hartley; it is where I live and the place that has given my family and our community so much, and it is time to give something back. While we make a living by what we get, we certainly make a life by what we give back. I want to bring a positive change to the people of Hartley and for the people of South Australia. Our community can be better.
I am committed to the people of Hartley because there is no reason why Hartley cannot be stronger than ever before. It is this drive to serve others that made me want to enter public life. It is this drive that has drawn me to the Liberal Party. A key objective of the Liberal Party as set out in our constitution is to:
…[encourage] individual initiative and enterprise as the dynamic force of progress…In which the youth of the nation is given every encouragement to develop its talents to the full, recognising that from its ranks will come the leaders of tomorrow…[and] in which family life is seen as fundamental to the well-being of society, and in which every family is enabled to live in and preferably to own a comfortable home at reasonable cost, and with adequate community amenities.
Sir Robert Menzies, our longest-serving prime minister, thought of the Liberal Party as a:
…progressive party, willing to make experiments, in no sense reactionary but believing in the individual, his rights and his enterprise.
He also stated that:
If liberalism stands for anything, and young liberalism above all, it's for a passion to contribute to the nation.
History shows us that our society and our government interact at its best when the size and impact of our government is curtailed and free enterprise is encouraged. Governments have a duty to empower private enterprise to succeed to expand the economy. State owned and operated industries cannot alone sustain an economy into the future. It is only through the drive and industrious energy of the individual that truly drive the direction of our economy. For too long in South Australia that drive has been stifled and crushed by mismanagement, by red tape and by the carelessness of this government.
As a Liberal, I believe in equal opportunity for all South Australians and the encouragement and facilitation of wealth so that all may enjoy the highest possible standards of living, in health, in education and in social justice. I believe we should certainly fight for a free market but ensure there are rules to ensure competition and fair play, and care for the most vulnerable in our community. It is this dedication to giving back and to making sensible decisions that inspired me to help the people of Hartley and to make our state more prosperous.
The recent election was a challenge for all involved, and I would like to sincerely thank the people of Hartley for their support. I would also like to thank my family for their tireless work behind the scenes. To the charities, community groups like Probus, Lions and Rotary, the sporting clubs, the churches, and many others who have supported me, to my campaign manager, Sue Lawrie, the relentless lioness of the state Liberal Party, who is with us here today, and to those who helped me with my campaign: without your work and support, this would not be possible.
I am proud to stand here and say that my volunteers and I door knocked every street in Hartley, with no union alliance. I am proud to represent Hartley in this parliament, to make this state once again prosperous and to make South Australia even greater. I pledge myself completely and wholly to the people and institutions of Hartley so long as they deem me fortunate enough to represent them.
In closing, I would like to thank those who made it possible for me to have the privilege and honour of representing the people of Hartley in the South Australian parliament. I thank God. I thank my sister, Therese, who yesterday graduated from the University of Adelaide with her Graduate Diploma in Nursing. I thank my girlfriend Charissa for her love and her support and, of course, my parents and both of our families for the long road they have supported us along, and for the love and support that they have given us. As you, Madam Deputy Speaker, and other members before me know, public life can certainly be demanding on our families and friends, and I would like to thank them for their ongoing love and support of my pursuit to make Hartley and this state great.
I thank the members of my party and my financial donors for the trust they place in us. Further, I thank some state and federal members of parliament for their assistance during my political career, primarily the member for Dunstan. While some would like to remain anonymous—and I will respect that, they know who they are—I would also like to mention the federal member for Sturt, the Hon. Christopher Pyne, as Hartley is completely within the federal electorate of Sturt. I acknowledge the Hons Simon Birmingham and Rob Lucas, and the members for Bragg, Morialta and Unley.
Finally, I pledge to represent this place and the people of Hartley with a sense of duty, honour, gratitude and humility. I will stay hungry for the people of Hartley and hungry for the people of South Australia. I will be fighting for an economic recovery of this state from this place with a long-term view, with youth and drive, with diversity and openness, with an appetite for calculated risk and an aspiration for reinvention. I will continually ask what I can do for this state and what I can do for Hartley, and the job will not be done unless all that can be done has been done. I will help lead this state with good conscience. And may history, Deputy Speaker, be the ultimate, the final judge of our deeds.
Honourable members: Hear, hear!