I am very proud of the family unit that I have at home. I do not think I would be a federal member of parliament
if it were not for my wife's strength of character. Being a politician gives me the opportunity to speak on numerous topics and to thank and give accolades to those in my electorate who deserve praise. But as politicians we often overlook the humble simplicity of the family unit that we have at home. You do not realise what you have got until it has nearly gone. My wife had a bit of an accident, and it made me think about what life would be like without her.
My wife and I have a daughter, Grace, who is 16. She is a great kid. Don't get me wrong, some days you could tie them to a post and throw rocks at them—anyway, she is a good kid. She is heavily involved in the equestrian arena. She competes in the Olympic discipline of the three-day event, which is show jumping, dressage and cross-country. She was fortunate enough recently to make the Queensland squad for that event and a couple of other events.
She competed against the best riders from all around Australia, from every state in our nation—for example, Western Australia sent a delegation of 40 riders. I am a proud father because my daughter competed against the best of the best and came first in the nation for the event called the three-phase, for which I am eternally proud. Subsequent to that, she also came third in the nation for her pet event, the three-day event, the Olympic discipline that she competes in. I hope that one day soon she will give it away. I would like her to take up hockey—because the capital outlay for hockey is about $15 for the stick, while the outlay for equestrian sport, her chosen discipline, is far more expensive.
In getting here in my business career my wife was a tower of strength to me—not a tower of strength with corporate knowledge or direction, but every time we grew our business, from a mum-and-dad show through to having 14 depots around the state and over 105 permanent staff and contractors, each time I would go home and say, 'Right, it's time to pack up. We've grown this. We need to move on and build in another town,' I never got any heat or static from her. It was, 'Yep,' she would pack up the house and onward we would move. I never want to take for granted the capital that my family have in this game as well.
For all of the parliamentarians that are in here I would suggest that it would be advantageous for all of us to recognise the contributions and the sacrifice that each of our families make that make us who we are. We spend 20 weeks a year, plus our committee work, down here. Ultimately, our families pay the ultimate sacrifice for the time that we forgo being with them so that we can represent the members of our electorate and their values. Tonight I would just like to dedicate this speech to Australian families and the strength of the family unit and to encourage each of you to acknowledge your families from time to time, because they do pay the ultimate price.