No laughing at Lister this time around
WALKING in to Queensland Parliament this week as the newly-elected Member for Southern Downs, James Lister recalled a younger self stepping into the same room, only to be laughed and jeered at by all the parliamentarians.
As the Governor's aide-de-camp, Mr Lister marched 'stiffly' on to the floor of the House to deliver a message to the Speaker and was subject to an age-old tradition of jeering at newcomers to the House.
"The last things I heard above the cacophony before exiting the chamber were, 'well, he's better than the last one,' and 'yeah, he can come back'," Mr Lister recalled.
Now, as a member of the 56th Legislative Assembly, the tables have turned for Mr Lister, and he will be the one doing the jeering.
"A gamekeeper turned poacher," Mr Lister said, adding the tradition was all in good spirit.
Mr Lister delivered his maiden speech in Queensland Parliament yesterday afternoon, thanking his family and electorate for the support they had shown throughout his political career.
"My electorate of Southern Downs is a wonderful place, with friendly and involving communities, a strong economic base and a remarkable and varied landscape," Mr Lister said, proceeding to name each of the individual towns in the Southern Downs by name, from Yangan to Pozieres and Billa Billa.
But Mr Lister admitted he had big shoes to fill, stepping into a role that was firmly held by predecessor Lawrence Springborg for almost 28 years.
"While it is a challenge to step into this role and become acquainted to all the issues of the electorate, having Mr Springborg's help and support is a great benefit," Mr Lister said.
Whether Mr Lister really has his ear tuned in to the hopes and needs of the people of the Southern Downs will only be revealed with time, but a number of issues are on his radar.
Electricity prices and the threat of new vegetation management laws are both pressing issues Mr Lister said he would be focussing on in his new role.
"Customers in our electorate in some cases have accounts with providers other than Ergon Energy, the government currently has a non-reversion policy which means that clients who have left Ergon can't return to take advantage of better prices Ergon now offers, particularly in the Border regions," Mr Lister said.
"I have written to energy minister asking for their timetable to abolish the non-reversion policy.
"The entire electricity industry needs reforming, and we are proposing to split government Energy providers from two in to three to improve competition."
Mr Lister said the threat of new vegetation management laws is also a concern for producers in the Southern Downs region.
"We haven't seen the detail yet about what Labour and the Greens want to do but they have foreshadowed they will be clamping down on the rights of landholders to manage their vegetation in the way they ought to," he said.
"We will be fighting very hard indeed to prevent the Government from attacking the rights of land holders."
Mister Lister said he has enjoyed his first week in Parliament, but is looking forward to getting back to the country this afternoon.
"While Parliament is interesting and important, to me it will never be as important as being back in the electorate."
Mr Lister's full speech can be viewed online at: http://tv.parliament.qld.gov.au/?reference=0Mba20180215_153559