The 44th Parliament opened on the 12th November 2013 and sat for four weeks. In that time I delivered my “First Speech” and then spoke on issues affecting the nation and our community.
Delivering my "First speech" was very exciting. All new MPs and Senators are given an opportunity to speak uninterrupted for their first weeks in Parliament The speeches usually include thankyous to those people who have assisted in the process of getting elected, pay tribute to members who have gone before you, outline important things about your electorate and who you are and what you are about.
Once the first speech is delivered Members and Senators are then free to join in debates, ask questions and raise issues of importance.
The Federal Parliament debates bills put forward to become law. Once law they will impact on all Australian, including people in our local community. In the last three weeks of the Parliament I spoke in debates about workplace relations and infrastructure funding. I spoke in Matters of Public Importance about education; the importance of needs based funding and the evidence in local schools that targeted funding improves student outcomes.
I also spoke about the health related issues of negative body image and medical training.
I also asked my first question in Question Time, regarding childcare funding.
I have also raised local issues in the Parliament. Sometimes these are celebratory and acknowledge community members efforts or achievements. Sometimes they highlight particular problems that need addressing. Sometimes they are really specific about the way a change in law has or will impact on people in the community.
After organising a local forum on housing issues, I spoke about the needs in our community and the things identified that were hindering and helping those working in the sector to assist residents in crisis. This will be an ongoing issue that I will raise often because it needs to be addressed and some of the changes being made are making things more difficult.
I also spoke about the great work being done in our schools highlighting Iramoo and Westgrove Primary Schools and their continual improvement in student learning.
I talked about the great work done in our community by the Werribee Football Club and raised the issue of funding for the club to employ a multicultural ambassador to promote and engage newly arrived young people in community sport. This funding had been provided by the previous government and was at risk. Happily the funding has now been provided and this work will go ahead.
Another local issue I raised in the Parliament was a taxation issue that would have seen an increase in housing costs for retired people living in lifestyle villages in our community. I met with people concerned about this at my office in Werribee and spoke on this issue twice and tabled a petition. Happily this too has seen a positive outcome and the taxation change will not go ahead.
But regardless of whether it is to successfully secure funding, highlight a problem or give residents a voice, it is very important that Members understand and represent their communities within the Parliament.
That’s what our democracy is all about.