Dr Anthony Lynham


Dr Anthony Lynham MP – Member for Stafford maiden speech


Member for Stafford, First Speech

Dr LYNHAM (Stafford—ALP) (11.20 am): I acknowledge the traditional owners and custodians

of this land on which this parliament meets. It is an immense honour for me to rise in this people’s

house for the first time as the member for Stafford to deliver my inaugural speech. I am truly humbled

by the faith and trust that the people of Stafford have afforded me. I assure members of this House

that I will work hard every day to fulfil my duty to the people of Stafford. It is an honour that I embrace


The Stafford electorate was formed in 1972. I am pleased that, having been originally won by

Labor, Stafford was retained by Labor on its re-establishment in 2001. It has been my privilege to

return Stafford to its Labor home at the recent by-election. Stafford is a vibrant, diverse, largely

residential community bisected by Kedron Brook, which meanders past our major sporting clubs and

recreational facilities. In its early years Stafford hosted a mixture of rural and industrial activities with

tanneries, quarries, dairying, a wool scour and brickworks. From the 1940s to the 1960s Stafford saw

a massive expansion of housing, both private and public. While most of these industries have

disappeared, Stafford has now become a retail, small business and services hub for families in the


The Stafford electorate also boasts a centre of innovation, with world-leading research taking

place at the Prince Charles Hospital. It is an electorate where education and health are paramount.

Parents of the inner northern suburbs of Brisbane have always wanted their children to have access

to a very high standard of education. Schools in the Stafford electorate, both government and

non-government, have catered for the needs of our families and have become an integral part of our

community. With the Prince Charles Hospital in the heart of the electorate and the Royal Brisbane

and Women’s Hospital close by, Stafford has one of the highest concentrations of health workers of

any electorate.

I have come to this place by way of a career. I have cherished being part of the surgical and

trauma team at the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital. I have operated on one unsuspecting

teenager after another who was just out for a good night but ended up in my care after a senseless

assault. This constant exposure to trauma and violence caused me to consider how this mindless

behaviour can and should be stopped. For over 12 years I have campaigned tirelessly for prevention

of violence in our community.

Prevention of violence has usually been bipartisan in parliaments across Australia. We can all

recall the strong initiative of John Howard and Kim Beazley in 1996. Australia’s bipartisan gun control

legislation has been one of the most effective violence prevention measures anywhere in this world. I

have been appalled and angered by the feeble and ineffective response by the current LNP

government to sensible violence prevention measures. It is easy to watch the nightclub brawls on the

TV news and think that you know the answer, but my team and I were the ones who had to pick up

the pieces on a weekly basis. As a surgeon, I could only keep operating on more and more

distressing cases. As an elected representative of the people of Stafford, I aim to do more. Alongside

others, I will be working hard to bring common sense to the debate, to provide solutions as to how we

can prevent these attacks. Preventing violence surely is more worthwhile than trying to mop up the


I grew up in my early years with my parents and my nan in a typical postwar housing

commission home. Like many families, we came from humble beginnings and we would have been

lost without the visionary, compassionate response by the then government to provide affordable

housing to those who are struggling. Housing just like my childhood home continues to provide

homes to many people in my electorate.

After some time and through hard work and persistence, my parents were fortunate enough to

secure a housing commission loan and move to their own home. I attended Murarrie State School

and then Iona College—two wonderful educational institutions which enabled me to achieve my

potential. Like many kids, both then and now, my opportunity for advancement came through

education—education that was affordable and accessible. That revolution in tertiary education came

with the Whitlam Labor government in 1972. Prior to that, tertiary education was only for the

privileged few.

Today, there is a growing concern in our community that this LNP government will follow the

lead of its federal LNP colleagues, who are intent on making further education accessible to only

those who can afford it. I do not want to return to a time when how much money and influence your

parents had determined your entry to university rather than your academic ability and your


I am immensely proud of my parents, Clarrie and Marie. They came from humble beginnings to

achieve so much in their respective careers. My dad was a council worker, well respected and liked

by all at work and in the community. He was head of the school P&C association and the best dad

one could ever hope for. My mum, like many others of her era, was forced to leave school at an early

age in order to help support her family but, realising the value and empowerment of a good education,

she returned as a mature-age student firstly to high school and then to university. She became a

leading social worker in the Logan area, devoting her life to needy and underprivileged families.

One of the luckiest days of my life was when I met a beautiful young lady at a local dance. That

wonderful person, Pam, has been my darling, tolerant wife for 34 years. We are proud parents of four

loving and loved sons. Brayton, Rohan, Sean and Eamon have made an integral part of their lives the

strong social conscious that was instilled in me by my parents. All of them are serving their respective

communities in a productive and compassionate manner. Brayton is a teacher, Rohan a paramedic

who is now attending medical school, Sean is a police officer and Eamon is a student at QUT. I also

have a beautiful grandson, Darcy, who is spoilt rotten by his grandmother—and rightly so. It is to

Darcy that I dedicate my commitment here to work to ensure that in his life he, along with all other

children, will have access to affordable, high-quality education. As an MP, I will do my best to ensure

that he and all children of his and future generations will have access to opportunity irrespective of

their social or economic situation.

I wish to sincerely thank two former Labor members for Stafford: Terry Sullivan, my guide and

mentor to whom I owe so much, and Stirling Hinchliffe, who has provided such wise counsel. I thank

them both for their friendship, guidance and support as I enter the challenging world of state politics. I

also want to thank those within the Labor movement who guided and supported me through this

journey. My formative years in the party were influenced by two very distinguished politicians: Jim

Fouras, a former Speaker of this House, and Tim Quinn, a former Lord Mayor of Brisbane and a

teacher of mine at Iona College. Throughout the recent by-election, party president Dick Williams and

state secretary Anthony Chisholm have been pillars of support. My now parliamentary leader,

Annastacia Palaszczuk, gave me confidence, faith and guidance throughout the campaign. Without

her encouragement and the assistance of my fellow caucus MPs I would not be here today.

I also thank those federal and council colleagues who worked tirelessly on the campaign,

offering me immeasurable assistance. There are a great many campaign workers whom I wish to

thank and to whom I owe so much: the people who were campaigning on my behalf—walking the

streets, handing out leaflets, staffing polling booths—all helping in their own special way. Support

came from all sections of the community. There were mums and dads, grandparents, students, small

business owners, teachers, nurses, doctors and lawyers all working to assist in sending a strong

message of protest against this government’s arrogant and callous attitude to the people of

Queensland. Some stand out for their unfailing enthusiasm and steadfastness: Theresa, Krish, Jaime

and Ellie—volunteers who were out in the community almost every single day. I thank those many

union members who gave their support in so many ways: the cleaners, the bus drivers, the firefighters

and the electrical trade workers. They are the backbone of our community yet they have come under

relentless attack from this government. They deserve to be treated with respect and they deserve to

be listened to. This by-election gave them the chance to be heard.

Together with local branch members, affiliated unions form the core of the ALP. Members of

trade unions are only too aware of the pain caused to thousands of Queensland families by this LNP

government’s sacking of dedicated loyal public servants. I assure all government workers that I will

listen to you, I will respect you and I will fight for your working conditions, as I will for workers across

the state. I want to particularly thank my campaign team: Jimmy, Bruce, Peter, Ian, Mark, Brenton,

Jamie, David, Terry, Trish, Helena, Dylan and James. We worked tirelessly; usually up before dawn

every day. Most of our days were spent simply out meeting and listening to the people of Stafford; to

the hardworking mums and dads who were not being heard by this government. They were not from

the big end of town, they did not give large electoral donations, so their concerns were not considered

important by this government.

As representatives we all share a bond of wanting to do good for our communities. What is

sometimes forgotten is that as a representative we also reflect our community. We must represent all

those in the electorate with diverse but significant interests and concerns: the families, students,

businesspeople, pensioners and community groups to name a few. The responsibility of

representation demands an MP understands what makes up the lives of the people and the way

issues might impact on them. The community deserves to be served responsibly and I commit myself

to stand up for them, show respect for them, not just in the community or in the electorate but also in

this House where laws that affect people’s lives and issues of concern are made and debated.

However good the intentions of MPs in this House, I am concerned—very concerned—that our

parliament is losing the trust and respect of the people of Queensland. Respect—the due regard for

the rights, wishes and feelings of others—is sadly seen as being lost in today’s society. As a

17th century Spanish philosopher stated, ‘Respect yourself if you would have others respect you.’

How can we members of parliament gain the respect of the people we serve and represent if our

behaviour inside and outside of this House is such that it would not be tolerated in our communities?

Tony Fitzgerald, the man who brought integrity and accountability back to Queensland after the

rampant corruption of the Bjelke-Petersen years, has made strong comments regarding poor

parliamentary behaviour. My immediate predecessor, Dr Chris Davis, paid the ultimate political price

by speaking out against the lack of accountability and changes to electoral funding laws. He too was

subjected to appalling behaviour by his colleagues who should have been supporting him.

Many constituents ask why so many children do not give up their seats for the elderly on the

bus or why does there seem to be less respect for our teachers and why do paramedics who go out

to help people get attacked by others? There are undoubtedly many children and parents who do

show respect for their elders and their teachers, but a fair and general observation could be that it is a

custom in decline. How can we expect the general public to show respect for each other when

members of parliaments, the highest representative bodies in the land, show such little respect for

their fellow parliamentarians or for the general public? If we are to bring greater respect back into our

community, we must start here with our behaviour both in and outside of parliament.

I will be active in the parliament, not only as the elected representative of the people of Stafford

but also in my roles as opposition spokesman on education, primary industries, fisheries, science and

information technology. Education is the foundation stone on which lives and careers are built. It

provides opportunity for all and is the path towards a successful society. As Labor’s portfolio

spokesman, I will not only be a champion for our students but also a champion for our teachers. I

want to see teachers restored to their rightful and historical place as pillars of our society: teachers

who are well educated, resourced and respected, not only by the pupils under their care but also by

the whole community. Teachers are sometimes our last line of defence when families are unable to

cope. Teachers should be thanked every single day for what they achieve in our state.

Science and information technology go hand in hand. The Smart State is one of the great

achievements of Labor governments past. It has provided the backbone, the springboard from which

current initiatives in technology and innovation have grown—initiatives that I indeed have been

involved with as part of university research teams, including QUT’s research facility at the Prince

Charles Hospital.

It is with great pride that I will serve in the primary industries portfolio. I am passionate about

the rural sector, not just the important role it plays in our economy but about protecting the quality of

life for those in the bush. I will pay particular personal attention to this important and vital area.

I intend to work hard as the representative for Stafford and as a shadow minister, but I will

always be first and foremost a Queenslander who cares about my community and is determined to

make it even better. Along with many fellow Queenslanders, I hold concerns as to the path this

government is taking, a path of pandering to vested interest groups, of listening only to those who

have the resources to donate and of adhering to the politics of the lowest standards. I see

Queensland as a strong and vibrant state which is economically sound, encourages the gaining of

skills and provides the opportunity of employment. I see a Queensland that strives to conserve its

precious natural and pristine areas and does not sell the rights to these areas to the highest bidder. I

see a Queensland that protects its reef and nurtures its rich natural heritage. I do not see a

Queensland where we sell off our precious economic assets for a mere temporary return. I also see a

beautiful northside community, a community that pulls together in good times and in bad, individuals

and families who have concerns and who want to be heard.

Madam Speaker, I wish to finish by once again thanking the people of Stafford, that diverse

community from Newmarket to Stafford Heights, from Kedron to Alderley, for putting their trust in me.

I promise to work hard and to be a strong voice in the community and in the parliament for them. Most

importantly, as a husband, a dad and a worker with a broad range of life experience, I will be a voice

that stands proudly for a community that deserves strong representation. Thank you, Madam