Mr McCormack (Riverina) (11:05): by leave—I thank the minister at the table for his indulgence. The minister at the table, the Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, knows full well how important it is to ensure that we have productive irrigation in regional Australia. That is certainly so in the Riverina area, and I know he is particularly conscious of how many billions of dollars worth of exports come out of that region.
Mr McCormack (Riverina) (13:58): I inform the House of the death this morning of Graeme Hull, husband of my predecessor, Kay. Graeme was diagnosed with advanced pancreatic cancer just a few short weeks ago, having been unwell for years with other health ailments. He remained stoic and uncomplaining to the end.
Mr McCormack (Riverina) (18:41): We mourn the death, yet celebrate the life of Joseph Martin 'Joe' Riordan, AO. Sydney-born Riordan was educated at Patrician Brothers School and Marist Brothers College. He had a Labor pedigree. He was the nephew of Darby Riordan, the Labor member of the House of Representatives for Kennedy from 1929 to 1936. Joe married Patricia Watkins in 1955, and they had six children.
Mr McCormack (Riverina) (19:06): Bryce Courtenay once wrote:
Intelligence is a harder gift. For this you must work, you must practise it, challenge it, and maybe toward the end of your life you will master it.
Today, as we mourn his passing and celebrate his enormous contribution, we can reflect on how Courtenay mastered that intelligence and inspired all who read his books.
Mr McCormack (Riverina) (22:01): As I rise to speak on the Water Amendment (Water for the Environment Special Account) Bill 2012, I hold in my hand the proof committee Hansard, which runs to 33 pages, of the hearing of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Regional Australia, which inquired into the bill, on Tuesday, 20 November 2012. I inform the House that the member for New England, who is the chair of that committee; the ALP member for Bendigo; the Liberal member for Murray; and I as the Nationals member for Riverina were in attendance at that hearing and we took evidence from a number of witnesses, following the submissions that were sent in to us, to discuss this very important bill. Certainly, people took a lot of time on their submissions to the committee.
Mr McCormack (Riverina) (11:53): Diabetes myelitis type 1, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a form of diabetes which results from the autoimmune destruction of insulin producing beta cells of the pancreas. This type of diabetes accounts for 10 to 15 per cent of cases of diabetes worldwide. That means there are about 20 million people living with type 1 diabetes in the world. In Australia, more than 123,000 people are affected by type 1 diabetes.
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (12:37): It is important, indeed imperative, that Australian history be an integral part of Australian secondary schooling. Thankfully, the coalition when in government under John Howard recognised this as a fundamental part of the curriculum. The former prime minister had attacked the teaching of Australian history in schools, saying that 'too often history has succumbed to a post-modern culture of relativism where any objective record of achievement is questioned or repudiated'.
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (16:56): The Migration Amendment (Reform of Employer Sanctions) Bill 2012 seeks to impose an additional regulatory regime on employers employing foreign nationals who are illegal or who do not have work rights. The requirements this bill proposes are, I believe, onerous and unnecessary and are in direct opposition to the coalition's commitment to reduce the regulatory burden and compliance cost on business.
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (10:01): Gordon Neil Bilney, who died on Sunday aged 73, was a straightshooter and someone with whom you knew where you stood. So said Noel Hicks from Griffith this morning when I telephoned him to talk about the Australian Labor Party's late member for Kingston, to whom we appropriately pay tribute again today. Mr Hicks was the National Country's and the National Party's member for Riverina from 1980 to 1998, spanning the time that Mr Bilney was in the federal parliament. 'I got on well with him,' Mr Hicks recalled. 'Even though we were on opposite sides of politics, I had the greatest respect for him. He was down to earth and he represented the people he served very well. His diplomatic experience was an asset when he came to parliament.'
Mr McCORMACK (Riverina) (13:57): The proposed GrainCorp buyout would put 100 per cent of eastern Australia's grain exports in foreign hands. Is this in the national interest? Worried grain growers in the Riverina do not think so. For the eastern states' grain export facilities to be taken over by American company Archer Daniels Midland would be another nail in the coffin of our agricultural sector and another huge blow to future food security. Surely this takeover bid must ring alarm bells in the heads of some in the Gillard government and the Foreign Investment Review Board to rigorously and vigorously apply Australia's national interest test to this latest proposed buyout?