Mr BUCHHOLZ (Wright) (19:35): It gives me great pleasure to stand here tonight in the federal parliament and acknowledge the contribution of all the members not only here but also in our state houses. To serve in public office, to make a contribution to your nation, is an incredibly humbling experience. Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to stand at the dispatch box and robustly debate an issue that will hopefully influence the direction of the nation. So too our state colleagues do their very best to influence state outcomes. I have no fewer than four state electorates—probably a few more than four—that sit within the boundaries of my electorate of Wright.
Tonight I want to dedicate this speech to one of my state members. I speak of none other than the state member for Lockyer, Ian Rickuss, who recently announced his intention to retire at the next election. Choosing the door that you want to walk out of after a career is the way I want to go. No-one wants to be beaten at an election. No-one wants to leave this place disgraced. No-one wants to leave for any of the vast number of other reasons that you could leave this place. The way that every politician wants to leave here is with a dignified retirement, and Ian is doing that from the Queensland state parliament.
I want to share with the federal parliament some of his achievements. Ian has served as a state representative for his community since 2004, after defeating the then sitting member, One Nation leader Bill Flynn. Ian is a family man, a farmer and a businessman. He can be a rough nut. He is well connected to his community. He can ruffle feathers. But if he has been there since 2004 whatever he has been doing works. Prior to his life in politics he specialised in intensive horticultural production. He used to export produce to Singapore, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and the Philippines. During his time in office, Ian has worked diligently to deliver services and improve the local community.
One of the things that he has produced entailed up to $40 million for local highway safety upgrades. As a federal member, I think I have five federal highways that cut through my electorate. With the federal highways that go through my electorate, when it came to the Warrego Highway, Ian had his fingerprints all over it. Ian Rickuss was always my go-to because he knew every intersection. He was that intrinsically and innately connected to his community that if ever there was an accident there was a good chance that he knew the families involved. He was instrumental in organising some funds federally, through Senator Ron Boswell, to build the Plainlands overpass.
He campaigned for new schools to accommodate population growth in the area. As well, he improved facilities for local schools. If you just do a quick calculation with reference to his time in schools, if he has been there since 2004 and we are now in the year 2016, that is 12 years. The kids that started in grade 1 when he started are potentially now voting for him as he approaches retirement. Twelve years of service is an incredible contribution. He ended up putting together $250,000 worth of funding for the Laidley Cultural Centre and, in Gatton, the Lake Apex redevelopment. He has done a heap of things for the community.
I want to talk more about Ian. I said in my opening comments that he was a rough nut and he could ruffle feathers. But he has a heart of gold. He is very robust, but underneath that exterior he is such a compassionate man. I saw that compassion and that softer side of him in the Lockyer Valley floods. He was my go-to. He knew everyone. He knew their background. He knew the parents and their parents, and then he knew their kids' names, he knew their grandfathers and he knew the names of the properties that they had come from. You cannot buy that corporate knowledge. There is no book in any district that harbours that, other than the phonebook—and even that is not going to give you pedigrees.
In that regard, I saw a softer side to him, and no softer side of Ian would you see than in his love, his commitment and his dedication to his family. Ann, his wife, was a stalwart. When Ian was away serving in state parliament she would often stand in for him at functions. With his love and his commitment for his children—and now, in particular, for his grandchildren—I wish him all the best in retirement, whenever he chooses to go.