11 September 2019

Gilmore residents take over Parliament House as MP makes first speech

| Elise Searson
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Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips. Photo: Elise Searson

After a ball busting campaign to secure the seat of Gilmore, newly elected Labor MP Fiona Phillips delivered her first speech in Federal Parliament today (July 30) with the public gallery filled with supporters from Nowra to Batemans Bay.

“It was really lovely to see everybody in the gallery, my supporters and Labor colleagues,” Ms Phillips says. “I wanted to make it about our community and a speech people could relate to.”

While addressing the speaker, the Member for Gilmore made her community a clear focus during a broad-ranging address that covered, health, arts, nuclear power, agriculture, education and more.

“With our areas natural beauty comes many challenges. Two-thirds of people in Batemans Bay and Moruya have to travel out of the area for hospital treatment, this can mean a trip of two to three hours each way. There is no public transport so there are worrying consequences as a result.”

Brian Joyce, Lyn Stadtmiller, Liam Joyce at Parliament House. Photo: Elise Searson

Liam Joyce from Batemans Bay travelled to Parliament House to watch and support Ms Phillips with her maiden speech.

“Fiona had a very tough and messy contest in Gilmore and she’s come out the other side. With my parents being retired the aged pension and the need for a dedicated hospital in Batemans Bay and Moruya is really important to me.”

Liam’s parents who are also members of the Batemans Bay Labor Party branch say coming up for the speech was a great opportunity to hear their local member talk about regional issues.

Lyn Stadtmiller’s ears lit up when Ms Phillips spoke about keys issues including health care and mental health.

“Until Fiona mentioned it, I wasn’t so conscious of mental health issues – I thought about it and there are clear deficiencies for that service in Batemans Bay,” Lyn says.

Brian Joyce was surprised about the focus on the anti-nuclear issue, “not that I disagree with it – it just wasn’t something I thought about until today. To hear Fiona discuss that as an issue in our local area was really encouraging, it shows she’s broader than dairy and bridges.”

Paul Mitchell at Parliament House. Photo: Elise Searson

Paul Mitchell arrived at Parliament House from Narrawallee, a small coastal suburb north of Ulludulla.

“I think it’s really good to see young people going into parliament that still have some fire in the belly and vision, who still want to make sure they can do whatever they can to achieve the best outcomes for the disadvantaged and people who need a hand up not a handout.”

The common admiration among her supporters seems to come from Ms Phillips homegrown history.

“She comes from the Shoalhaven, she grew up on a farm, went to university but stayed in the region, one of the things she said is that she wants to progress Australia and the region and to help people become the best they can,” Mr Mitchell says.

Hugh, Barton, Fiona, Glenn and Sophie Phillips at Parliament House. Photo: Elise Searson

With life for this mum of four now revolving around the flashing red and green lights of the Parliament House clocks, Ms Phillips has taken on her new role in Canberra as a mission to improve the quality of life for people in her community.

“It’s a little bit daunting but amazing to be here, I want to reduce disadvantage, that’s my main focus,” she says.

Click play to watch the Member for Gilmore’s first speech in parliament…

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David O’dell1:05 am 31 Jul 19

Thank you Fiona. Such an inspirational speech from the heart & for our community.
I thank you for your help, support & Courtney’s check ins over the phone. It means the world to me. I received another rejection from the NDIA on my review, but I now must fight onto an appeal of the review. It feels like they’re nit picking as lawyers do to wriggle out of responsibility.
I’m so glad you were elected. I’ve always been liberal but you’ve won me over.
I look fwd to seeing you in action, standing up as a STRONG VOICE for our beautiful & diverse community.
Congratulations on your first amazing speech, keep up the good work & don’t let anyone push you down. You’re incredible!

Dr Douglas Simper11:12 pm 30 Jul 19

Fabulous speech – gutsy, powerful, truth telling, emotional and humble. Fiona you are a shining light. Thank you! Dr Douglas Simper.

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