INAUGURAL SPEECH - 13 NOVEMBER 2019
Thank you Mister President.
At the outset, it would be remiss of me, on this day, in the midst of a week of unprecedented fire risks that our State has faced and continues to face, not to acknowledge the tremendous capacity of our great State to pull together and stand up to the worst challenges. I speak with certainty that all our thoughts and prayers are with those facing the fires.
To all involved, from local service organisations, property owners, our very own local RFS teams. Dropping their lives to serve through to the Premier, even members of parliament who are absent today and in their electorates doing what they can to help their communities. I also acknowledge the clerk and deputy clerk of the parliament along with the entire staff that work tirelessly behind the scenes to ensure that this place functions as it should with the highest regard for the processes, transparency, tradition, practices and seriousness that comes with operating Australia’s oldest parliament. I have only been a member of this place for a short period of time but I have already taken in a much higher appreciation for the work that occurs behind the scenes.
Many of these dedicated and passionate individuals don’t seek gratitude or acknowledgement but their contribution warrants appreciation. I also acknowledge those seated opposite me (the opposition) and those seated on the cross bench – we all have a job to do in this place and I look forward to working with all of you.
Particular mention must go to my fellow Nationals colleagues in this place, the Hon Sarah Mitchell, the Hon Bronnie Taylor, the Hon Trevor Khan, the Hon Ben Franklin and the Hon Wes Fang.
On appointment to this and the other place - most of us do so as part of a class of a year at a general election, but some of us come by a different path, like the kid who starts school after the term has commenced.
I suppose I’m an addition to the class of 2019 …..I would like to thank my Nationals colleagues for all the help, guidance and support transitioning into this place as the new guy.
It is with great pride and humility that I stand here in this chamber as a member of the legislative council. They say you have two opportunities in your political career to have the floor to yourself. When you enter parliament and when you leave…so here is my story.
Out our way, you’re either from the Central West, or somewhere else. I’m not saying we’re parochial but I grew up believing it was a place the other side of Trunkey. Some of you may even know where that is….
Born at the old Bathurst Base Hospital in 1986 I’m the eldest of five siblings of Warren & Leanne Farraway, who both have long family ties to the Central West region of NSW.
My father was heavily involved in the automotive trade and it in 1988 my parents took the plunge and purchased their own small business. A Hertz Car Rental franchise in Bathurst.
Like all small businesses, starting out .. it was very modest and not the largest operation you’ve seen. Their first office was setup in the oil room in the back of my grandfather’s Ampol service station on the main highway into town. With just 8 Cars and 1 Pantech truck they were in business and ready to go.
It’s important to highlight this part of my family’s journey as it played such a significant role in shaping our Family, our community and in developing my keen interest in business.
Growing up I was very fortunate not only to be close to my immediate family but also to have an amazing network of extended family and friends.
I had the immense privilege of growing up closely with my grandparents. It was just like having an extra set of parents. Our family farm backed onto my grandparent’s farm on the outskirts of Bathurst. This was so important to me, my siblings and my parents as Mum and Dad were tirelessly running the business in town.
I remember with great affection my Grandmother picking us up at school – she was a pretty cool gran – she would pull into the school carpark where my brothers and sister would pile into the car all jostling for the front seat, but as we would open the front door she would have Bachmen Turner Overdrive or the Bee Gees blaring through the speakers. All the other kids would be looking, but we were never embarrassed. There were also the school projects we created with her assistance, she was very artistic …. They were so good - mind you that we all recycled them and they were handed down year after year …. Thank goodness the school didn’t change the assignment brief too often.
Having my grandparents play such an important part in our lives is something I will always cherish and I know nothing is more important than family.
During my school years I worked in the family business. A familiar story – particularly to those on the land. On finishing my education at All Saints College in Bathurst I joined our small family business in a junior role. Well, it was the junior role; yet I was keen and learnt fast by ‘listening and doing’
Unfortunately, as is often the case, it wasn’t smooth sailing. While finishing my schooling, my father became unwell and was forced to take extended time off. My mother had to make a decision and at 18, armed only with a desire to succeed and enthusiasm, I was entrusted to ‘step up’ and take over the business. It was a huge challenge and one that thankfully I was able to meet. Looking back, this is when my passion and appreciation for small business and regional development began to take shape. I learnt to be tough earlier than most but also learnt the value of trust and leadership by example.
Down the track, our business expanded, diversified & grew. With renewed vigour I continued my late father’s commitment and that’s something I know he would be proud of.
Through hard work and learning from adversity I have, with the help of a great team and my family, built a successful business with hundreds of motors vehicles (a big leap from the 8 cars and 1 truck in 1988) and branches across NSW in Orange, Bathurst, Mudgee, Lithgow and the Blue Mountains.
In 2018 after celebrating 30 years as a family owned business, my mother and I decided it was time for a change. We were lucky enough to be able to sell our business to another family owned operation who has taken our 30 year legacy and continues our passion and commitment in servicing regional communities in NSW.
My family have been involved with the land for generations and I have continued that tradition through our family property and involvement with the Royal Bathurst Show as a councillor & President for the past 10 years.
The Bathurst Agricultural, Horticultural and Pastoral Association has conducted agricultural competitions for 161 years, in 2019 we conducted our 151st agricultural show and our 26th Royal Bathurst Show.
It is the largest agricultural show west of the Blue Mountains and the largest annual community event in Bathurst. I am proud to be a part of it and the amazing team that makes it happen.
Like the other 194 agricultural shows in NSW the Show is amongst the most important community event in many regional towns.
Once a year, regional NSW communities come together at their local shows, in drought, in sleet and occasionally in good times, showgrounds, reserved in our case 141 years ago at the request of our association are used, and have been used in these past few days not just to conduct shows but to help local communities in times of dire need.
Through the Show and my community involvement I have seen the work of other organisations often working together to support their community; the Country Women’s Association, the RSL Sub-Branch, Legacy, Lions, Rotary, Probus, the mighty RFS, NSW Farmers and many others.
I will commit to stand up for our agricultural societies, our local shows and our local community organisations that make such a tremendous and important contribution to the fabric of our regional communities.
My interest in politics started in High School. There were some very heated debates in Year 12 Economics and Business Studies classes. It’s fair to say that we always set out to challenge each other - we would agree to disagree most of the time …. A sound preparation for this place perhaps.
By 2007 I’d run the family business for 3 years and had learnt a great deal, I started to really engage with politics and set out to understand how it worked. Luckily for me I met Kerry Bartlett, the then sitting Liberal MP for the Federal seat of Macquarie.
A re-distribution had occurred and the City of Bathurst had moved into the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury seat of Macquarie. It was a redistribution that created a seat without a community of interest.
One half of the electorate was the Blue Mountains and the other half, part of the Central Tablelands & Central West. All that aside, Kerry set out to introduce himself to the new constituency areas of Lithgow, Bathurst, Oberon and surrounds.
I met Kerry when I decided to attend a lunch with the then Prime Minister John Howard. Everyone was there even several Labor party supporters!
After meeting Kerry I thought to myself I want to help this guy. He’s genuine, he had a real story to tell outside of politics and how he ended up in politics. So I offered to help wherever I could.
I learnt a lot during the 2007 Federal Election. I became a booth captain, I drove around for 5 weeks with a picture of Kerry’s face on my car, I packed booth kits, manned pre-poll for days on end and met some amazing people who shared the same passion and enthusiasm as I did for the same cause.
Whilst that election result wasn’t what I had hoped for, and was bruising to say the least; it ignited my interest and involvement in politics.
Three years later another Federal re-distribution occurred, and The City of Bathurst, Lithgow & Oberon were shifted back into the seat of Calare.
A guy called John Cobb turned up. He was running for the newly shifted seat of Calare for the Nationals.
Despite the bruising result of 2007 – I threw myself into the campaign. I was a booth captain and drove around again this time with John’s face on my car, manned pre-poll for days and packed the booth kits. At the end of another busy campaign we had a win. John Cobb won the seat of Calare comfortably at the 2010 election.
The following 18 months included many discussions with John on Small business, regional development, jobs, agriculture, regional communities and representation. After all these conversations John said it’s time for you to join the National Party son. And so I did…and began my involvement and dedication to the National Party.
My involvement in the National party has been extensive since joining. Bathurst Branch Chairman, Bathurst State Electorate Council Chairman, Calare Federal Electorate Council Chair, Campaign Manager for John Cobb in 2013, Campaign Manager for Paul Toole in 2019, Central Executive member, 2019 Senate Candidate and now the Senior Vice Chairman of the NSW Nationals.
Our party is truly a grass roots party, with a strong open organisational wing that encourages all members to be active and engaged. It is the heart of our party and where our MP’s are forged with a firm commitment to our objectives.
First and foremost it allows us to represent diverse communities across the whole state and allows someone like me to start as an ordinary member and in 7 years arrive at this place today.
It should never be a simple decision, taken lightly, to enter politics. After a great deal of contemplation and discussion with friends, family and mentors I arrived at the conclusion that my genuine commitment to make difference, to use my experience for the benefit of others and to serve the people of NSW was too strong.
I believe in our political system and I want to make a meaningful contribution that provides tangible benefits for all those who live in NSW, especially Regional NSW.
I have deep respect for our traditions and our institutions, a respect that is though, informed by modern views. I have a healthy regard for the past with a broad view for where we need to go in the future.
It’s clear that the Nationals are not, as some would paint us, just the voice of Akubra and RMs wearers; though we do wear them far better than most others. We are far more.
We are the voice for regional workers, the voice for families; whether on the farm or in the town, and we are the voice for the family business.
For me, that means we should be building strong communities, providing the circumstances that allow our families and businesses to thrive, with their own hard work and innovation. Small business is at the heart of our communities and our success & it’s in my blood.
I am not one to dwell on these things, when my father passed away I was faced with a choice. Go off to Sydney and Uni like many of my mates: or, as the eldest of 5 children, grow up quickly, get stuck in, and work hard running the family business.
I am passionate about small business. I know what they add to families and regional communities. I know the importance of the jobs they create. I know how difficult they can be to manage and run.
Providing full-time jobs has strengthened my community, kept families in regional NSW and supported other local businesses.
Whilst there are sacrifices; knowing that people’s ability to pay their mortgage, buy groceries or put fuel in the car is reliant on you, it’s a serious and very personal commitment – but one that is enormously rewarding when you get it right.
My experience tells me that whilst university access is important, it isn’t for everyone. You can build a successful career in the regions through hard work, motivation and determination. There are opportunities in small business, in trades and apprenticeships.
In fact, we know there are opportunities across all sectors in the regions – from agriculture, through education, manufacturing, mining, forestry and in emerging technology, whether small or large enterprises, it is through getting stuck in, adhering to your values and building relationships with people that we get the job done.
Bringing opportunity to country people is the reason the Nationals have existed for 100 years and the reason we will exist for the next 100 years.
Agriculture, small business, investment in critical regional infrastructure and water security are THE vital policy issues NOW and for the next decade.
I believe that there are real opportunities to build on the hard work from the past 8 years and to see the ambitions of Regional NSW come to life.
That means building dams now, to improve our resilience, readiness and survival for the next drought.
It means investing in the capacity of our towns to meet the water needs of families and business now, and in the future.
It means making sure that the rules that our farmers operate under are fair – rightly prosecuting the few who give the many a bad name; but not cruelly pursuing the others.
It also means that those who provide advice on how our rivers run and our environment is managed should live in the communities they are making decisions about.
Regional communities want government to push ahead with this agenda and deliver better water security and a fairer system!
I will push for shovels in the ground, for smarter systems and for more public service jobs in our towns.
I believe in giving people a fair go; believe in the value of hard work; believe in the best possible opportunity for all people no matter their post code.
The Nationals in government are together showing what we can do when we tackle our big problems from all angles, which means:
Listening to the community,
making the hard decisions, and
delivering the resources needed
The $4.1 billion quarantined by the NSW Nationals from the sale of Snowy was an outcome delivered by the Deputy Premier and his team, an outcome that has directly benefitted many regional communities.
I also have to take this opportunity to thank and acknowledge the people who helped me along my political journey.
Firstly, to the members of the Nationals Bathurst Branch and Bathurst State Electorate Council – some of whom are in the gallery today. I will not name all the members individually, as I could be here for some time but there are a few that must be mentioned.
Brett Kenworthy, the current chairman of the Electorate council who has been and continues to be a good friend and always at the end of the phone to offer an opinion, advice or a good laugh.
Lachlan Sullivan, the current Secretary/Treasurer or better known as the ‘Windradyne Whisperer’ in my home town. Only a local newsagent for 20 years could get a title like that. It’s exciting to see him venturing into a new role with the Nationals and I know he will do a fantastic job.
To Sheena Rigby, Rosaleen Sullivan, John & Judy Nicoll, Harvey & Cheryl Sherlock, Nino & Tracey Di Falco, Melissa Inwood, Peter Woodward, Jim & Liz Inwood, Col, Cathy & Kirby McPhee, Ean & Rhonda Mcmaster, Sue & Bill Thompson – in fact, the entire branch thank you for all your support. I truly appreciate it.
I also have to thank the NSW Nationals Central Council, our parties governing body - including the past and present members who are the driving force behind our grass roots organisation.
Without their passion & dedication we wouldn’t have the National Party. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for these dedicated individuals and I acknowledge the trust they have placed in me to be a representative for our great party in this place.
To the former honourable member for Coffs Harbour, a 28 year veteran of the other place now turned party Chairman, Andrew Fraser. It’s a pleasure to work with you as Senior Vice Chairman. You’re never dull and always willing to fight for and represent the interests of Regional NSW. Thank you for your support and friendship.
To the State Director, Ross Cadell – Rosco - you lead a great team at our Nationals head office and I acknowledge all the hard work that is done behind the scenes by your team for our entire membership across NSW.
To my fellow Young Nationals including the current chairman Jock Sowter. The Young Nats are an important element of our party and have a significant role to play in progressing the agenda for young people in the regions. To Will Rollo, Alysia Smith, Nat Openshaw & Jess Coles. Thank you for all the support and your friendship.
I must also thank Rebecca Treloar for agreeing to come and work with me. You have been a huge help in the transition to this place and I am looking forward to all the fantastic things we can achieve for Regional & Rural NSW.
I am fortunate to have had a number of political mentors.
Kerry Bartlett showed me what a hardworking, genuine and passionate Member of Parliament looks like.
John Cobb got me involved in the National Party and encouraged me to put up my hand to serve the party as an electorate chairman after he became the Federal Member for Calare. We have always had a fantastic working relationship. We know we can be frank with each other without ever affecting our friendship. His wise counsel has always been welcomed.
The Hon. Paul Toole, who is also my local member, would have to be one of the hardest working MP’s I’ve ever met. He never stops – he’s driven to serve his community and has earnt a great deal of respect from the voters of the Bathurst electorate.
I’ve enjoyed playing a small part in his campaigns and successes. I appreciate all his advice, support and friendship. I’m looking forward to being able to work alongside him in the Central West & Western NSW.
Finally I count myself lucky to include our former Federal leader and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson as a mentor and friend. I will always remember his line that ”you can not get good public policy out of a bad public debate”. He reminds me that the Nationals may represent rural and regional communities, we are a party that governs for all.
To Michael Mccormack, Deputy Prime Minister – I’m looking forward to working with you and my federal colleagues in partnership to continue to deliver for Regional NSW.
To my new boss and good friend, The Deputy Premier and leader of the Nationals in NSW John Barilaro. You’re an excellent example of a Nationals leader. A Chippie from Queanbeyan who brings such real-life experience and leadership on the tough issues. I’m excited to be entering parliament and serving the regions with you as the Nationals leader in government.
It would be remiss of me not to thank my new colleagues whom I have not already mentioned. I include not only the Nats in the Legislative Council and the Legislative Assembly but also our Liberal partners in coalition, as well as all the other members in this Chamber.
I believe, no matter what side of politics we are on, we all put ourselves forward to do this because we are genuinely here to serve our communities and make a difference in society. I thank those members from all parties who have welcomed me and I look forward to working with them. To my close friends, real mates, many who have made the journey to be here today. Alex Bland, Lachlan Bullock, David West, Nick Sharp, Jim Cooley, Matthew Press, Jeff McCormack and Emma Watts. You have all been so supportive and I’m so lucky to be able to have you all as friends.
It is often said family is everything. I am so fortunate to have such a supportive family who have been by my side from the beginning and supportive in my political pursuits.
To my mother Leanne, my brothers Toby, Ben, Liam and my one and only sister Sarah – Thank you so much – it’s your support and love that has got me to this point today.
To my grandfather Norm Sweetnam who is also here today – Thank you for all you have done. Not only for the unconditional support you have given me, but because we have always been close and having you here today just means so much.
Finally, there are two more people I want to particularly mention. Unfortunately both are no longer with us. It is truly a shame my father Warren Farraway and grandmother Gwen Sweetnam are both not here today.
They both played such a significant role in my upbringing, life, and education. They kept me grounded and gave me the strength to always have a go.
I am sure they’re both looking down today proudly…
I will always remember the journey and the people who got me here, and will use their example to guide me in my role.
The promise I make today is that I will do my best to deliver for the people of rural and regional NSW. I will play my part in representing the regions and I will fight to develop outcomes that have a real benefit for our communities.
Thank you Mr President and fellow members.