Senator MOORE (Queensland) (7.00 pm)-This evening I want to talk on a couple of points about my hometown, which is the city of Toowoomba. As people may or may not know, this is a very special time of year in Toowoomba because it is when we celebrate the Carnival of Flowers. This particular celebration has been going on every year since 1949 and, as can be seen through various websites and tourism manuals, it is a focus for people across our country and also across the world. Toowoomba is indeed the garden city and, as people know, we have suffered severely in that part of the world over the last few years as a result of drought. Also, in the last couple of years we have had quite divisive debates about what is going to happen with the future of our town.
Late last year there was a very difficult local plebiscite. We have heard much about local plebiscites in Queensland, but a local plebiscite was held in Toowoomba on the issue of recycled water. Whilst that was quite a straightforward discussion, the way that that plebiscite was conducted in our town caused great pain. There was great division within the community and, at the end of the process, I think there were many people, regardless of the result of the actual plebiscite, who were damaged deeply by the operation of the process, the media process and the quite serious personal attacks that contributed to a difficult time in the city.
At the end of that process, there were various discussions about what could happen locally to rebuild the town's sense of pride. We have a wonderful, long-term tradition and there were great discussions about how we could reinstate the focus in the community on unity, strength and moving forward. The mayor, Di Thorley, a friend and also a particularly strong human being, came up with an idea after much discussion and after being inspired by a group of women who were working through their own struggles post breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. Out of a series of discussions-and I wish I had been there to hear them-came the idea that, at the same time as rebuilding civic pride and civic unity, there could be a special project focusing on some of the women in Toowoomba who have been victims of breast cancer to rebuild their own sense of being and, most particularly, for them to make decisions that could help them move forward.
After a lot of discussion, there came the idea of developing a calendar-not just any calendar but one featuring the women who were part of the local breast cancer support group. When launching this calendar at the annual lord mayor's breakfast last Sunday, which is the function that launches the Carnival of Flowers celebration every year, there was a discussion about what led to the decision to develop this wonderful calendar project. There were various discussions but, in the end, what we have as an ongoing statement for the woman of Toowoomba who are survivors of breast cancer is the 2008 alchemy calendar called Le Bal des Sirenes. This particular calendar features 12 wonderful women. It was designed with the creative expertise of Richard de Chazal, a Queensland designer who is, to quote from his own website:
A member of the Australian design hall of fame and winner of numerous photographic, design and art awards, his lavish creations on the catwalks, in theatres, in the pages of magazines and calendars and on the walls of collectors globally have won him acclaim as well as outrage.
Richard brought his acclaim and sense of the outrageous to the citizens of Toowoomba and walked away as, I think, an honorary citizen of our town. This evening I want to pay tribute to the women who were part of the creation of the calendar. I am going to name these women by month. I will not go into description of the scrumptious calendar. You need to see this calendar, because it is a work of art. I want to name the women who gave their time, effort and courage to the calendar. Janet Crompton was January. Lin Boyle, who was the spokesperson for the group, was February. Morgan Le Fay was her chosen character and the magnificent colours of purple and blue made up a piece of art that will be with Lin through what she will face in the rest of her life and in her treatment. The others were Cathy Whyte, Lyn Stafford, Jeanette Baxter, Helen King, Julie Warrington, Wendy Head, Jacqui Jorgensen, Barbara Jacobs, Margaret Mackenzie and Joanne Woodland-and Debra Howe was January 2009. These women now have something that they can hold on to. They have the experience that they shared with their friends, with their families and with Richard de Chazal and many others.
When Richard spoke on Sunday, he talked about what he brought to the project-not just his creative skills but also his commitment to work with these women to create something of beauty and his longstanding commitment to them and their families into the future. He talked about the fun that went on and the enormous amount of make-up and effort. He mentioned, as did the mayor, how close one of Toowoomba's landmark buildings came to being a fire hazard because the character of one of the women was Joan of Arc, and I believe real flames were used! I think that expresses the way that this calendar was developed. Di Thorley, in launching the calendar, talked about the strength that she gained from working with the women and the way that this was a rebuilding exercise. She also talked about the amazing work that her PA, Lyn Smith, did in the process and how you could sense from the rebirth, from the beauty, that something great was going to happen.
The money that was raised at the Lord Mayor's breakfast on Saturday went exclusively to the Breast Cancer Research Fund. Again, this shows the way that the community builds around helping their own and wanting to be part of wider community action. Every year that Di Thorley has been mayor there has been a Lord Mayor's breakfast on the Sunday before the Carnival of Flowers parade. Every year a strong community charity has benefited from the generosity of local sponsors, by having people pay to be part of that breakfast and also by having the charity highlighted for that time, and the amazing good work that is linked locally can be seen by others who can draw strength from that. This year it was breast cancer. We saw the symbols of that with the calendar, which is able to be purchased-and I encourage people to look at how they can purchase one of these works of art that also doubles as a calendar for 2008-from the Toowoomba City Council. So please go onto the website and find out more or talk to the Queensland Cancer Council, who were there giving out information on Sunday.
We worked out that in that room we had not only the women who were partaking in the calendar project but, sprinkled through the people there on the day, also many families who understood what it is like to work through the journey of cancer. Di spoke about how those women gave her strength. She also paid particular credit to the members of the crew of the ship named after Toowoomba-which Di has visited many times and which is the second ship named after our town and linked to the city-which is on the high seas. Linked to the charity event, each year young people from the armed forces come, so the amazing historical link that Toowoomba and the Darling Downs have with the armed forces over generations can be reinforced and we can re-encourage people to look at joining up and being part of serving our country in that way. There is something particularly inspiring about seeing the way communities can work together. I am incredibly proud of my home town of Toowoomba and I am very proud of the work that Di Thorley has done as the mayor.
I want to add my congratulations to the women who were the works of art on our inspirational calendar. I also add my thanks to Richard de Chazal. We heard that a number of designers were approached to be part of this project. Many did not choose to take up the opportunity. It was a blessing that Richard did take up the opportunity-one that will live with him. I think that the Toowoomba 2007 project for breast cancer, and moving on to our calendar next year, will remain as yet another important element in a wonderful part of the world.