MP highlights healthcare in maiden speech

February 17, 2023 BY

Speaking up: Annabelle Cleeland was elected at the 2022 State election. Photo: FILE

THE new Member for Euroa, Annabelle Cleeland, made her maiden speech in the Victorian Parliament last week and used the occasion to highlight challenges within reginal health and maternity care.

“This one is personal for me,” she said. “Three years ago my local hospital lacked the resources to provide a safe birth for me and my first child Arthur.

“I was forced to endure the indignity of labouring in an examination room with no door, fully open for passers-by to see, because no bed was available to me, and after hours of labouring with no privacy I was left with no choice but to have a caesarean to deliver my son.

“I had no option but to undergo major surgery. Not because my baby or I needed it but because a lack of critical resources at the hospital meant there was no guarantee of a safe birth by any other means.

“After this experience I resolved to fight for better.

“I have had countless conversations with women just like me, women like Ellen from Nagambie and Meg from Heathcote.

“Meg had the first baby born at her local hospital in 30 years. Meg and her baby almost died at her local hospital because they simply did not have the equipment needed to appropriately care for them.”

The Nationals MP also said she stood for election because the loves the region, sense of community, and the “supportive and resourceful” people who call it home.

“These people are my people,” Ms Cleeland said. “My children are fourth-generation Seymourians.

“The Seymour community gave my grandparents safety, support and an opportunity to provide their son with a good life and education.

“I stand here with the hope that I can repay that debt and give back to a community that has given my family so much.”

Ms Cleeland said her career as a farmer, and senior agricultural journalist, has given her skills which will translate well to a parliamentary role.

“I shared the unique experiences of country Australians with the rest of the nation,” she said.

“I reported on the front line of major issues like the Indonesian live export ban, animal activist trespass laws, biosecurity threats and more recently the attacks on our CFA.

“I witnessed some of the most devastating stories in regional communities come about as a result of decisions made by a government that was out of touch with the people and families living in those communities; decisions that prioritised politics and what looked good on paper over people and that prioritised votes over lives and livelihoods that were on the line.

“My career has been driven by integrity, compassion, and a strong set of ethics, and I worked without fear or favour. I intend to hold tightly onto these same values as I step into public life.”