Last Friday The Nationals Federal Conference in Canberra kicked off, which is held every term of parliament. It allows Nats from all over Australia to come together, discuss and form policy. Similar to our Conference, debate is but one of the many attractions, with ideas swapped, connections made and a variety of inspirational leaders on tap.
The Nats Federal Conference was a great success, with the usual intelligent and sometimes polarised debate on almost 50 motions. NSW put forward 13 motions to Federal Conference following our State Conference earlier this year, and all 13 were carried. Several motions, such as one calling to privatise the SBS and another to shut down the Safer Schools Program, led to lengthy and rigorous debate, and were eventually voted down.
A full motion list and outcomes will be coming shortly, however we all know that the debate is not the only part of the Conference agenda. It’s also about the social activities, the networking, the new friends made from across the country. Welcome drinks at the Hotel Kurrajong were lively and successful, with addresses by both the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister. Following this was the Women’s Council Dinner, with speaker Margy Osmond outlining her incredible career.
The following morning saw quite a few dusty heads at the Federal Young Nationals breakfast at 7am. However the turnout was strong, and the guest speaker, Catherine Marriott, was challenging, inspiring and entertaining. Catherine is a farmer from Kununurra in WA, and founder of Influential Women which supports rural and regional women.
Following the breakfast, the formal events of the weekend began, starting with addresses from the Federal President and Treasurer, before delving into motions. Throughout the day, we heard from our leaders in the Senate and House of Reps, from the Treasurer and Policy Chairman.
The Gala dinner was held at the Australian War Memorial, with tables spread out under the wings and engines of G for George, a WW2 Lancaster bomber (pictured). Such an excellent location for a dinner was trumped by an address from Dr Brendan Nelson, former Liberal Party Leader, Australian Ambassador to the UN and to NATO, and now the Director of the Australian War Memorial. He had the entire room captivated for almost 45 minutes, telling stories and explaining the significance of those that gave their lives to allow us to live in the peace and prosperity we see today.
Our own John “Wacka” Williams also addressed the room, and spoke passionately about his father Reg, who was a rear gunner on S for Snifter, a Lancaster plane like George. His father was grounded due to ear damage just one week before the plane was shot down. His uncle Don was also a rear gunner, and survived a total of 33 missions, far surpassing the average of this high risk role.
The following day, delegates continued to throw themselves into passionate debate, and also enjoyed an inspiring address from Ruby Cameron, President of the Young Nationals, before all motions were successfully completed. It was fantastic to see almost 50 delegates from NSW, including several from our Parliamentary team. With only one Federal Conference every term, we are pleased that we could spend this valuable time with our interstate Nats to discuss the matters true to our hearts and those of regional Australia.