GEPP (Northern Victoria) (16:58): I was listening to all of the contributions, and I have got to say this is a fantastic day to be a member of Parliament. I have heard in some of the contributions that there might be some gaps in this bill. Dr Cumming and Mr Grimley earlier mentioned some of those, and I think Mr Finn did, and I think that is right. But I take the point that Ms Shing made, and that is that when I first came in here in my inaugural speech I spoke about inequality and the Sisyphean task that it is. It is a never-ending journey that we are on, because as soon as we think we have eradicated it we will find something else—and often what we do is we look for the perfect and it stops the good. This bill may not be perfect. It may not address every issue that confronts people with disabilities—and I am sure it does not, not by a long way—but it has a go. It takes us forward. It advances the issues. It advances the causes. It puts another layer of protections in place for people in our communities right across the board, whether it be in Western Metropolitan Victoria or in Northern Victoria, my electorate, who need us in this place and in other parliaments throughout the country to focus on these issues and do the best that we can to put in place the building blocks that continue to advance the issues.
I want to congratulate Mr Finn on his contribution and telling us about the personal journey that he and his wife and son, Liam—and no doubt their daughters as well—have been on and the wonderful tribute that he paid to the disability workers who each and every day get out of bed and go to work with a smile. They do the best that they can for people who need their support, and it cannot be an easy job—it can’t be—to do that every day. They front up every day and they put their best foot forward because they just have this enormous capacity within their hearts. I do not know where they find it. I am here; I am not doing their work. I do not know where they find those things, but they do. They reach down into those places where I think we all wish we could go internally, and these people go to work every day and do their absolute best for the people in our communities of whom, if they were not provided with those sorts of supports, one wonders what might happen to them. So thank you, Mr Finn, for sharing your personal story, because it was touching but also highlighted in my mind that this bill is not perfect. I doubt that any bill would be perfect, but it takes us forward. It advances the issues. It offers those protections for those people who so desperately need it, and it allows us also, through the contribution that Mr Finn made, to celebrate those people who day after day in this sector go to work. I want to congratulate not only this Parliament for what I am sure will be the unanimous passage of this bill but all of the parliaments around this country for coming together and working together.
We can all criticise things like the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS), and we will, but it is from a perspective of: we want it to be better. We can see the flaws, but nonetheless at its core it is focused on the right things. Are we spending enough money in the right areas? Probably not. Do we need to get better at that? Absolutely we do. And it is just a bit heartwarming, I think, as a member of Parliament, whether it is in this place or in any other jurisdiction, that there are so many of us around the nation that are working so closely together to try and improve the lives of people who have a disability and, just as importantly, those people who care for them, their families.
I have been particularly blessed with a couple of very healthy children and a very healthy grandson. I know many, many others are not as fortunate, and we see that as we go around our respective electorates and we visit many, many places—in my own electorate, places like the Swan Hill Specialist School or what is now the Echuca Twin Rivers Specialist School. I mentioned in a members statement just a couple of weeks ago that the Echuca Twin Rivers School, which was the combination of two previous primary schools into one, had a third arm added to it recently, and that was the Echuca Specialist School. The kids have now moved into this one big school. I had the great privilege of visiting with them only about 10 days ago and met a couple of the kids—out the front, socially distanced and all of that sort of thing—and Paul, the principal, and a couple of teachers. Just hearing the kids, you could hear the excitement in their voices about what we are able to do in bringing them together with what we euphemistically call ‘normal children’, whatever that is.
We have now got a school of all abilities in Echuca, and there are a full gamut of kids with a full range of abilities in that school. It is just such a wonderful thing. It really is a wonderful thing to be able to come here today and speak on a bill of this nature—knowing that it is not perfect, knowing that no bill that we ever bring to this Parliament on this issue will ever be perfect, and they will never be perfect because each and every time we think we have dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’ there will be something else. There will be something else because we will set ourselves the challenge to continue to look for every avenue we can to support people in these circumstances.
The bill is not perfect because we know that there will be some that will slip through the net. We can focus on those people, we can concentrate on those and we can try and develop public policy for the lowest common denominator. I hope, like Mr Finn, that when those people are uncovered, when we discover who they are, when we discover what they are doing—and these sorts of things hopefully will pull that cloak back much more quickly than otherwise—they feel the full wrath of the law and the disdain of the rest of the community, because they are the scum of the earth. They are terrible individuals. They deserve no sympathy from us, and I hope that this bill in some way, shape or form sends a bit of a shudder through some of those people.
We know in our hearts that 99 per cent of people who work in this sector do so with the best of intentions, with a great deal of humanity—humanity that, as I said earlier, I wish I could reach down and find in myself, because it is such an admirable quality that they bring to society. They are not the highest paying jobs in the world—far from it. You would think that people with that sort of dedication and that sort of application could probably apply themselves to any type of endeavour, any type of working endeavour or any type of education endeavour and put themselves in a position where they could probably earn, I do not know, five, 10, 20 times the amount of money that they probably do in this type of work. It is probably the job satisfaction for them. I do not know what it is, but whatever it is that they find in themselves to be able to do this work, we cannot thank them anywhere near enough.
And we cannot thank enough the parents and the carers, the family carers, who provide that support. Mr Finn talked about his extended family and the expanded family that he now has—so many people in his life, the parents and families of kids with disabilities and how they form that support network for each other. They rely on each other to navigate the NDIS, which is a difficult beast to navigate, as I think most of us can attest, but they do such a wonderful job of providing that support for them.
I am going to leave my remarks there. Suffice to say, I am really proud of this Parliament. I want to really commend the Attorney-General. I want to really commend Minister Donnellan for his fantastic work. He does such a power of good every day that he goes to work. Ms Bath talked about one of her constituents and the troubles that they were facing with their daughter, I think Adelaide is her name, and Mr Donnellan rolled his sleeves up and dealt with that expeditiously. He certainly gets my gratitude and my thanks for his hard work. It is not a perfect bill—never is, never will be—but gee, I am so proud of this Parliament. This will take us further down the road than we were yesterday, and that can only be a good thing.