MP tears up during emotional maiden speech
NEWLY-elected MP Laura Gerber wiped away tears during an emotional maiden speech to state parliament today in which she slammed weak laws on child pornography and described her Currumbin by-election win as a "difficult" achievement.
Ms Gerber was elected after a gruelling campaign during which outgoing MP Jann Stuckey described her as a "blow-in", narrowly seeing off rival Kaylee Campradt in the March 28 poll.
"During my work as a disciplinary prosecutor for the office of the health ombudsman I completed the bar practice course through the Bar Association of Queensland," Ms Gerber said.
"I used to tell people that sitting the bar was the most difficult career achievement I had undertaken. I can no longer say this. This by-election was also one of the most challenging, yet rewarding achievements I have undertaken in my career."
Ms Gerber became emotional and used a tissue to wipe away tears as she thanked her family, friends, colleagues and mentors for their help in the election campaign.
Ms Gerber said she was "humbled, grateful and privileged" to be elected to the seat.
The former lawyer said she would use her role to fight for a second M1, lobby to deliver airconditioning to every state-owned classroom and improve local infrastructure.
She also called for an improved public transport system, with a heavy rail station at Elanora, as well as "detailed planning" and consultation with the community for stage three of the light rail.
Ms Gerber said while the Gold Coast was sure to grow she called for the "inappropriate development spree" to end to preserve the lifestyle residents enjoy.
She said she would be a voice for the 5000 small business owners in Currumbin, especially as they struggle with the impacts of COVID-19.
But she said a focus of her work will be planning for the future to ensure children have opportunities to experience clean beaches, world class education and local jobs.
"I firmly believe that all children should have opportunities to achieve their dreams," she said.
Ms Gerber, who dreamt of being a lawyer since she was six, also used the opportunity to talk tough on crime.
As a prosecutor she said she worked with a team to put away bikies, people smugglers, drug importers and paedophiles.
"All too often the argument to mitigate online offences against children is that online child pornography is a victimless crime, but everyday across the world children are exploited to produce this material," she said.
"It is not victimless, yet the legislation allows the judiciary to go soft on these types of offences. To me this is wrong. The law should prioritise victims over criminals.
"I welcome the opportunity in my role as the member of Currumbin to work with my colleagues to be tougher on crime and be a voice to keep children, and our most vulnerable, safe.
"I worked as a prosecutor for nine years because I want to make a difference, because I want to uphold community standards, and because I want to protect our most vulnerable.
"I used to prosecute the law breakers to protect the public, now I join the law makers to continue to preserve and protect my community."
Originally published as MP tears up during emotional maiden speech