Mr WHETSTONE (Chaffey) (15:57): I would like to rise today to speak about something that is very important to all the regions internationally. Tomorrow is International Day of Rural Women. This year's theme is 'Building rural women's resilience in the wake of COVID-19'. This is an opportunity to celebrate and honour women and girls living in rural areas, particularly in South Australia and more particularly in the electorate of Chaffey.

Today, we recognise the huge role that mothers, daughters and grandmothers play in our rural communities globally. Their valuable contribution to our communities has only become more difficult through the COVID-19 pandemic, and rural women continue to play a critical role in our society. As I said, the great electorate of Chaffey is home to many amazing rural women. I will start off with one of my good friends and colleagues, the federal minister Anne Ruston, Minister for Families and Social Services, and the Hon. Nicola Centofanti, both great role models in the Riverland.

The Murraylands and Riverland Landscape Board is headed up by Di Davidson, with Caroline Phillips and Sandy Iosefellis. The Renmark Irrigation Trust, the oldest large-scale irrigation trust in Australia has two great women on the board, Kate Strachan and Jasvindar Kor, very worthy members.

Regional Development Australia Murraylands and Riverland Board's incoming chair, Jodie Hawkes, is doing an outstanding job. Sandy Iosefellis is also part of that board. We also congratulate Margaret Howie, Petrina Coventry and Bridget Mather on their great work on the RDA board. Destination Riverland, a great tourism body, one of the great growing economies in the Riverland, has the support of Lynda Schenk, the co-deputy chair, as well as artist Liz Frankel, Frances Asher and, of course, Sonya Altschwager. They are doing a great job.

I also want to pay tribute to Sheridan Alm, who was recently made the new Chair of Riverland Winegrape Growers Association. She was also named Viticulturist of the Year at the Australian Women in Wine Awards in 2019. Sheridan has made a great contribution to the industry.

Also, Justine Fogden was the 2019 Secondary Teacher of the Year. I want to acknowledge her for the great work she does in the ag department at Loxton High. Loxton has just seen a new facility built and I thank the Minister for Education for the funding that he has put towards a state-of-the-art ag centre. I also acknowledge the councillors in all of my Riverland councils. They are many and very skilled in putting in a great contribution.

The Riverland also has many female business owners who play key roles in the economy of our local region, but many Riverland women are also involved in many of the service clubs such as Zonta, the voluntary organisation of women in business and the professions advocating to advance the status of women. Voluntary service organisations such as Rotary, Lions and Meals on Wheels are a critical part of the fabric of our regional communities. People benefit every day from the countless hours of those rural women as they continue to volunteer. I salute you and thank you for the great work you do to keep our regional communities where they are today.

In the upcoming South Australian Tourism Awards, Riverland businesses have been named finalists and they are all influenced by women: Berri Riverside Holiday Park, BIG4 Renmark Riverfront Holiday Park, Murray River Trails, River Murray Houseboats, 23rd Street Distillery and, of course, the iconic Banrock Station. They are all outstanding tourism businesses with outstanding women who are standing side by side with those businesses to make them as successful as they are today.

I really want to pay tribute to Cassie Bye who is my electorate office manager. She is there early every day, she is there late every day, providing a caring ear and a service second to none, particularly in these trying situations. Every electorate office I know has been impacted by COVID-19 issues, but particularly in my border community Cassie is doing an outstanding job providing an outstanding service. She is getting results for our border communities and those people who are impacted. So I say thank you, Cassie, for the great work that you do at my electorate office.

speeches feature