Peel’s new politicians present priorities to parliament in maiden speeches

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup and Murray-Wellington MP Robyn Clarke delivered their maiden speeches in parliament on Tuesday night, setting out their priorities and paying tribute to their supporters and voters in their electorates.

Maiden speeches are rare opportunities for MPs to speak personally about their backgrounds and to speak about the principles that guide their terms in office.

Both new MPs were elected at the 2016 state election, Mr Kirkup replacing retiring member for Dawesville Kim Hames and Robyn Clarke defeating Liberal Murray Cowper.

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup. Photo: Richard Polden.

Dawesville MP Zak Kirkup. Photo: Richard Polden.

Kirkup: WA should stop ‘licking the boot that kicks us’

Mr Kirkup spoke passionately about his family background and Aboriginal ancestry before calling on parliament to withdraw Western Australia from cooperation with the Commonwealth if the state continued to be ripped off by its share of the GST.

“For too long this broken system seeks to compensate mendicant, backward states like Tasmania,” he said.

“We must not continue to sacrifice our state's future in order to provide an even greater future for and greater fortunes to states like South Australia and Tasmania.

“This parliament needs to do all we can to rally against the notion that WA should continue to lick the boot that kicks us.”

Mr Kirkup said his family had experienced firsthand the oppressive laws made by the WA parliament: his great-grandfather was prevented from marrying because he didn’t have permission from the Chief Protector of Aborigines, his grandfather could not freely own property, marry or own a business, and his father was not counted in the 1965 census because of his Aboriginality.

“The recognition of my family history will continue to remind me that our place in this parliament is to forever guard against the intrusion on personal rights and freedoms that have been granted to us by law,” he said.

“In all decisions we make in this parliament, we must now not allow ourselves to be dictated to out of fear for the direction of contemporary commentary of the day and instead we must adopt a long-term view to always represent, protect and serve all Western Australians no matter their race, religion, gender or sexuality.”

Murray-Wellington MP Robyn Clarke. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Murray-Wellington MP Robyn Clarke. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Clarke: ‘Let's lock the gate on fracking’

Ms Clarke began her maiden speech by acknowledging the Bindjareb people of Murray-Wellington and her family.

She identified a number of issues she would pursue as a member of parliament, including addressing the region’s high unemployment rate and ensuring schools were properly resourced.

Ms Clarke called on parliament to legislate a statewide ban on unconventional gas mining, known as fracking.

“Many people living in regional areas, particularly the South West region, are worried about the impact fracking will have on their lives and their environment,” she said.

“Introducing fracking into the South West threatens the sum of $1 billion that the region annually adds to the local economy through tourism as well as the dairy, beef and wine industries that the region is internationally renowned for.”

In a veiled warning to the government Ms Clarke also alluded to the recent decision to axe funding for the Peel Mobile Health Service.

“Although we have two limited service hospitals in the electorate, many people have to travel to Mandurah, Bunbury or Perth for health care,” she said.

“Because of this a lot of people rely on mobile health care services provided by at-risk not-for-profit organisations and continued government support for these organisations will ensure that these important resources can keep running.”

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