Pages tagged "Speeches"

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975 Statement

    I rise today to laud the work of our community leaders in defending the Racial Discrimination Act and to join them again to call on this government to step back from the precipice, to step up and say they will make no changes. After a lifetime of work in schools I can tell you that this legislation makes a difference on the ground in our communities. It sets a high standard for all Australians in their dealings with one another, not least of which children and young adults.

    I have worked in schools with quickly changing demographics at the pointy end of developing harmonious multicultural classrooms and school grounds, for the most part with adolescents. This legislation has been a touchstone in that work. When mediating between adolescents working their way through racial tensions it has been a godsend. It says clearly that racism is against the law in this country and, in my experience, kids respect that.

    The community groundswell to maintain section 18C has been affirming; the impetus to repeal section 18C, though, unedifying. When I saw the footage of the Attorney-General saying everyone has the right to be a bigot I was gobsmacked. I was hurtled back to my classroom full of adolescents saying similarly thoughtless things. I understand though that adolescents are a work in progress, not so this supposedly grown-up government.

  • Budget and low-SES

    One of the things I love about being home in Lalor is running into former students, at the supermarket, at the football, or at netball coaching my team. Last weekend was no different. A former student told me how she and others were going at university. Another spoke about his carpentry apprenticeship—great boss, interesting work—and how he has just saved up and bought his first car. Yet another who dropped out at the end of year 10 and did it hard for a few years is now working in retail after some pre-employment programs. Lalor is home to thousands of young people like these, who, regardless of the home they grew up in, want to work hard and get ahead.

    These former students have benefited from Labor government initiatives like the program that encouraged universities to enrol low-SES students. This resulted in a 32 per cent increase in low-SES students from Lalor attending university. The apprenticeships programs, like the access program, have helped 50 locals secure apprenticeships. The Tools for Your Trade program and Apprenticeships Incentives Program benefited more than 6,000 apprentices in Lalor. The Youth Connections program assisted youth at risk to reconnect to education and training, leading to work opportunities.

    The sad irony now, though, is that this budget changes all that. I am left wondering: will their younger siblings get to university? Will people still afford to make home improvements after the cost-of-living pressures announced in the budget? Will the apprenticeships be completed if the work dries up? Will the cuts in people's incomes see a reduction in local retail? Budgets are about priorities. They shine a light on what a government believes, and this budget is no different. For the young people of Lalor this budget carries no good news. This budget clearly shows that the young adults in Lalor and their futures are not a priority for this government, despite the rhetoric.

    We see this in the actions, in the cruel changes to arrangements for Youth Allowance and Newstart eligibility. We can see it in changes to university funding, in the cutting of Youth Connections, in the cuts to employment support programs. We can see it in the cuts to apprenticeship programs. Those opposite throw around a slogan for people under 30: earn or learn. They pitch it across this chamber like a challenge—a challenge that belies the reality on the ground, the reality that their cuts and their budget will make it harder to learn and harder to earn. I have seen first-hand the impact of well-targeted support and implore those opposite to reconsider these cruel changes. I implore my community, too, to shop local, to use local tradespeople and, if employing, to look locally so that we can see our way through what this budget is going to bring us.

  • Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal

    I rise today to support the motion moved by the member for Perth and join her in calling on the government to retain the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal so that it can do its job to make our roads safer for all users. I note the comments by the member for Parkes and would say that I have not been here long but I have learnt one thing: defence is the best form of attack. So, yes, I too am jumping early and with good reason. Words like 'unstuck' and 'safety could be assumed to be a burden' have me on my feet today.

    The passing of the original legislation in 2012 was an important moment for all Australians. It sent a clear message about the then Labor government's commitment to road safety. But more than sending a message, it ensured that action would be taken to make our roads safer. It created the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal, with specific powers to ensure pay and pay related conditions for truck drivers and that they and the trucks they are driving are at their best when they are on our roads. It was introduced in response to alarming statistics in human cost. Between 2010 and 2012, around 250 people were killed and more than 1,000 suffered serious injuries on our roads in accidents involving trucks. It was the Australian industry with the highest incidence of fatal injuries, with 25 deaths per 100,000 workers in 2008-09. It was 10 times higher than the average for all industries. The legislation was passed to address specific issues: to reduce incentives for drivers to push themselves beyond what is fair, reasonable or safe to make unrealistic deadlines and a decent living; to reduce incentives to cut corners on safety and maintenance; and to make our roads safer for truck drivers and the general public.

    The tribunal was created to do all that was necessary to ensure that truck drivers, whether they are an employee or a self-employed owner-driver, have a safe and fair workplace, while sustaining the long-term viability of the road transport industry. The government of the day recognised the important role of small business, particularly owner-drivers, in the road transport industry. They acknowledged that the small businesses in this sector provide flexibility for businesses to meet demand for the delivery of goods, particularly in rural and regional areas. It was noted at the time of introducing the legislation that small businesses made up around 60 per cent of the road transport industry, yet they made up far less of the income earned in that industry. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal works with all stakeholders to ensure that pay and pay-related conditions encourage drivers to drive safely, to manage their hours, and to maintain their vehicles.

    The safety of truck drivers and of the community is paramount. When your place of work is the cabin of a prime mover, work conditions and rates of pay that allow for rest are essential for your own safety, for the security of your family and for the safety of everyone else using the road. I heard the term 'road train'—long before I saw one for the first time on the Stuart Highway in 1984—from two brothers who were owner-drivers doing interstate haulage. I was taught by those same brothers to respect trucks on the road and to understand their capacities and limitations. I understand the variation of load on the way a truck manoeuvres, and I appreciate and admire the skill of experienced drivers as much as I admire those who load and secure trucks and ensure driver safety. I understand how important sleep is for truck drivers because, as a family, we lived it.

    I also understand the pressures to meet the deadlines; the hours spent waiting to load and unload; the time off the road for repairs and maintenance, or because the roads are congested or flooded—and what it costs in terms of income. I understand the pressure to make the payments on the truck and to keep the business alive. I also understand the love for the work. With that, I also understand how unfair the industry can be, how cutthroat, and how an owner-driver has little time for politics, or organising, or lobbying. In my experience, there was no time for that—just the pressure to stay on the road and make a living. The Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal was established specifically to target this, in an industry that is essential for our economy: to make that industry safer and fairer. While the economic cost is important, it is the human cost that really counts. Very few Australians have not been affected by the loss of a loved family member, a workmate or a friend in a road accident. My family is no different; except that the one we lost was an owner-driver, thrown from his prime mover on a sweeping bend. My family have lived the nightmare of the police visit with the ghastly news. It was a single-vehicle accident so we were, thankfully, spared the worst news—that others might have been killed or injured. The effect was devastating.

    As a society, we have changed the way we socialise to counter the damage of road accidents. We have spent millions of dollars on advertising and deterrence. I urge the government to let the tribunal get on with the job.

  • Disability Support Pension

    Earlier this month I met with a community member, Ms Wen Jiang. Wen is 46 and has lived for 30 years suffering from rheumatoid arthritis—a condition that has not only had a crippling affect physically but in all areas of her life.

    Like 5,000 other members of my community, Wen receives the disability support pension, unable to work any longer due to her chronic medical condition. Lack of mobility often isolates her in her home. She suffers daily pain. She has had two hip replacements, a knee replacement and ankle surgery. She has disfigured hands and feet. Fusing in her neck causes nerve pain. Wen faces the possibility of spinal fusion. She will require more surgery in the future.

    Despite all this, Wen gives back to her community by volunteering at the Laverton Community Hub three days a week. Her pension buys the numerous necessary medications, the costly supplements, and her specially designed shoes. She wears second-hand clothes.

    Wen was concerned about the now confirmed GP tax, changes to the PBS and the pension. She felt compelled to come and speak to me to ensure I understood that she would not have chosen this life.

    I stand compelled today to put a face to people in receipt of the disability support pension who, although struggling in their day-to-day life, continue to make a valuable contribution to my community.

  • Local Education Funding

    At this time last year, in the staff room of the school where I was principal and in staffroom conversations across sectors and across the country, Gonski funding was on the horizon and the optimism was palpable. We were excited the education debate had been so deep. The national partnerships had made a difference. Student outcomes were improving. The focus was on every student in every school achieving their potential and we hoped this great work would continue. During the election campaign we were reassured by the member for Sturt when he said there was a unity ticket for school funding. This morning the picture is different, especially for Victorian schools. Today, I feel for every school principal and every school council president. I suspect the conversations are now very different: what does it mean for stage II of the building program; what will the future hold for the school budget; are we going to be able to keep the literacy specialist; will there be funding for students with a learning disability; will we need to axe programs; can the parents contribute more; how many fundraisers can we have?

    The Gonski funding review was undertaken in a deep and measured way. It was sector-blind and student-focused. It showed a way forward. Last week's Victorian budget was silent on Gonski and this week's federal budget just rips money away. It is all bad news and, worse still, there is no certainty. This is a budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. For Victorian schools this is a budget of broken dreams.

  • Budget

    I rise today to condemn the 2014 Budget delivered yesterday. People say 'Change the government and you change the country'. Last night's budget shines a harsh spotlight on the truth of this. Even battle-hardened politicians and the most cynical in our communities are shocked by the draconian measures introduced in the budget last night. They are shocked by the sheer audacity and by the hypocrisy on display after the promises made before the election. My electorate of Lalor is one of the highest growth areas in Australia. It is also going to be one of the electorates most affected by this budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. Lalor is home to lots of young families and pensioners. We have newly arrived migrants, lots of single families and a high proportion of people living with a disability. We have been hit hard by the closure of the car industry and now we will suffer again.

    When I talk to the local service providers in the electorate, people like Carol Muir from Werribee Support and Housing and Jennie Berrera from the Wyndham Community and Education Centre, they talk about the incredible cost of living pressures so many in the community already experience. This budget will only increase those pressures. We can expect more families requiring food vouchers, increased evictions and more homeless people. There are approximately 10,000 age pensioners and 5,000 disability support pensioners in Lalor. We have a 92 per cent bulk-billing rate. We have 3,300 students with a disability in our local schools. The youth unemployment rate is around 35 per cent. These are the people who will be most affected by this budget.

    Lalor families will be whacked by broken promises—broken promises such as a $7 GP tax, not just for a visit to the doctor but for blood tests, scans and X-rays; the axing of the schoolkids bonus; less money for our local schools; less money for the Werribee Mercy Hospital; a reduction in the family tax benefit; reducing funding for students with disabilities; cutting carers' payments; and an increase in the price of petrol in an area where we rely heavily on our cars.

    On top of that there is no plan for jobs, just cuts to industry innovation funds. Young people in Lalor will suffer also with increases to uni and TAFE fees; with changes making it harder to access youth allowance; with the cutting of apprentice support programs including Tools For Your Trade; by moving under-24-year-olds onto youth allowance, another cut; by changes making those under 30 who lose their job wait six months for assistance; and by cutting programs that support job seekers to find work. The cruellest cuts, though, are for older residents, those on disability support pension and pensioners. There are funding cuts to pensions. We are making people work until they are 70. The GP tax and changes to the PBS will leave many deciding between visiting the doctor and filling the pantry. There will be funding cuts to carers payments and cuts to preventative health programs.

    The priorities of this government are clear: let us get the most vulnerable in our community to do the heavy lifting; let us demonise our most vulnerable as taking more than they deserve. Poor, sick people will now pay through the GP tax for medical research that, once Medicare is dismantled, only the rich will be able to afford and will therefore reap the benefit. Families will face increased cost-of-living pressures because of reduced family payments and health care becoming more expensive. They will face a petrol tax every time they get in their car. While families struggle, the top three per cent of taxpayers will contribute a mere $7.70 a week through the debt levy. They will be paid $50,000 when having a baby, while others receive nothing.

    The budget has taught us much about this government. They are a government of broken promises and twisted priorities. For my community this is a cruel budget—not just of broken promises but, for many, of broken dreams. And for what? There is no budget emergency, just an excuse to enact this pain and to further embed inequity.

    Australia is one of only 10 countries with a AAA credit rating, and the previous Labor government's spending in the last four years was the lowest, as a percentage of GDP, that it had been in this country for 23 years. I will not stand by as this government tells us that we cannot afford to be fair.

  • Official Opening of Emmanuel College Trades Training Centre

    Firstly I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners, the Woiwurung and Wathaurung people and their elders past and present.

    It is indeed great to be here today for this opening.

    I commend Emanuel College and particularly Chris Stock and the team here at the Notre Dame Campus, for all your efforts in delivering this marvellous facility. From the submission writing, the planning and scoping, the build and the final fit out.

    I would also like to acknowledge Bobby Evans for his ongoing work in the VET/VCAL area ensuring that this building comes alive as an effective learning space with the right courses, the right teachers and a positive culture.

    Providing access to the VET system, in partnership with Kangan TAFE, for students in Years 9 to 12 is at the corner stone of building the right environment.

    The mission of the Trade Training Centre Program is to improve outcomes for young people.

    • To increase engagement in learning
    • To increase retention rates to Year 12
    • To broaden pathways through vocational training.

    Because we know, the reality is, that the longer students engage in formal learning the better their life outcomes.

    I am confident that in this school, on this campus, that mission is what drives the leadership and the staff.

    The Trade Training Centres program in schools was designed to address skill shortages in traditional trades and importantly in emerging industries.

    It was designed to equip schools with the state-of-the-art, industry standard, facilities they need.

    As a former principal, I would add, that time and time again I have seen, and research has borne out - that student’s pride in their learning environment leads to increased self-esteem, manifesting in improved student outcomes.

    I am sure given the quality of the build we see here today that this building will also deliver on that score.

    Six years ago, when this program started, schools struggled to offer meaningful VET programs.

    Today, here at Notre Dame, we see fifty students are already benefitting from the electro-technology courses offered at this facility. It is also great to see this facility being utlilised by the students in the VCAL program.

    These new Trade Training Centres are concrete evidence of Federal Labor’s determination to ensure every young Australian can get the skills they need to succeed, no matter what field they want to build a career in.

    The Trade Training Centres in Schools program goes beyond building facilities though; it also encourages schools to work with local businesses.

    This investment is a win for businesses because Trades Training Centres help ensure students get the skills which local employers need.

    Schools are encouraged to work with local employers who can support the schools with expertise, equipment and provide on the job placements, school based apprenticeships and traineeships for students.

    I suspect Dallion and the team at WynBay LLEN have played a hand in developing relationships and partnerships to support the school in these facets of the program and in this centre being fully utilised.

    This centre is part of the Hobsons Bay cluster, meaning it has students coming not just from Emanuel College, they are coming from across the region including from, Laverton College, Mt St Joseph’s, Point Cook Senior School and Williamstown High School. A great example in cross sectional , network and regional co-operation.

    I would like to finish on a pet topic of mine.

    Investing in education sends a strong message to students, their families and the community about the high value of education.

    The Federal Government’s contribution of $1.5million for this centre is part of 6 years of funding of over $1.4 billion for more than 510 Trade Training Centres benefitting more than 1,290 secondary schools across Australia.

    Hundreds of thousands of students are actively participating in training, from agricultural and aeronautical studies to hospitality and engineering studies, across Australia.

    Hundreds and thousands of students are receiving those strong messages about their value, the value of education and the value of being lifelong learners.

    Once again I congratulate all of those involved in getting this facility delivered and wish all the current and future students, who study here, all the best for the future.

  • Official Opening of the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic

    I would like to pay my respects to the traditional owners, the Woiwurung and Wathaurung people and their elders past and present.

    I am so honoured to be here today, with Terry O’Bryan and his wonderful team and Clovis Bonner and his terrific board.
    I also acknowledge our local council and community representatives.

    I am so pleased to be joined by my Labor colleagues, our Leader, Bill Shorten and Catherine King, the Federal Shadow Minister for Health, to celebrate this great achievement. Labor is proud of its record in delivering vital service like these. Thank you for making the time to be here today.

    Today is a great day for the Wyndham community. I would like to commend ISIS Primary Care and the work they have done in the community health sector across the west of Melbourne for more than 17 years.

    Now ISIS is working hard to provide primary health care for the community of Wyndham Vale through this great facility, the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic.

    This is great news for the community of Wyndham Vale. It’s great news for the region. A much needed facility in this area of high growth; with approximately 70 babies born each week, with 15,000 new residents in the last 2 years and a population of 200,000 expected by the end of this financial year.

    This facility is a shining example how government health policy can directly serve the well-being of its citizens.

    The Rudd-Gillard Government saw the need to plug the gap between local GP’s and Hospitals. Health Minister, Nicola Roxon, another champion of the west, identified a need in the provision of Primary Care. She recognised the need for local services that would go further than just providing a local GP, one that would be able to also take the load off hospitals.
    GP super clinics were designed to deal effectively with primary care.

    This GP Super Clinic will cut waiting times and work in tandem with private practice and our Medicare Local to make seeing a doctor easier and quicker.

    This GP Super Clinic will bring together general practitioners, practice nurses, allied health professionals, visiting medical specialists and other health care providers to deliver primary health care services aimed at addressing the health care needs and priorities of our local community.

    Prevention of diseases before they take hold is extremely important, as treatment after they have become established is difficult, time consuming and a huge burden on the economy.

    The fiscally shrewd way to deal with diseases then, is to prevent them, to treat them at the primary level.
    This is why investing in GP Super Clinics is not only a good and sound idea for our nation’s health, it is also fiscally responsible.

    And this is why my community is thankful to people like Nicola Roxon and Tanya Plibersek and indeed my predecessor Julia Gillard for putting so much work into this project.

    I first visited this facility last year, with Julia, as she inspected the building work in progress. As the previous Member for Lalor, Julia, followed this project closely and wanted the following message to be read out on her behalf:

    Thank you kindly for your invitation to attend the official opening of the Wyndham Vale GP Super Clinic and Primary Care Centre. It was my great delight to turn the first sod on these grounds in October 2012 and I regret that I cannot join you today in these celebrations.

    This is a growing community with growing health care needs. Because of the Labor Government’s investment in this clinic, residents in Wyndham Vale finally have access to the care they need when and where they need it. My congratulations go to all involved, and to the staff, I wish you the very best in delivering the healthcare needs of this great community.

    Julia Gillard

    ISIS has driven this project locally, taken on the challenge and excelled.

    They had three clear aims for the centre- that it be;

    • An iconic building
    • Near public transport
    • Near a shopping centre

    They have achieved all three of these aims.

    They built it all, under budget and in good time.

    The building is beautiful, functional and has plenty of room for future expansion. Wonderful to see there was foresight to deliver a facility with the capacity to grow with the community, as the residents arrive.

    This was done with $15million dollars from the Federal Government at a total cost of $23million.

    This investment also builds on the unprecedented investment by the previous Labor Government in the Mercy Hospital and the establishment of the Melbourne Clinical School, in conjunction with Notre Dame University, to train doctors here locally.

    This facility is good news for health provision in Lalor.

    I thank ISIS and all those involved for their efforts and expertise.


  • Wyndham Athletics Club Presentation Night

    I’m sorry I can’t be here tonight. One of the best parts of being an MP is being able to attend awards nights like tonight.

    To see people be recognised for their efforts and achievements. To see those who miss out graciously applaud the victor. To see the club review the year, take stock and give credit where credit is due is a privilege and an honour and I’m sad to miss it.

    As club patron, I want to congratulate the executive committee. Presentation nights are often weighted toward recognising the heroic moment, the 12 second dash, the one throw that brings victory or beats a personal best. And rightly so.

    But it’s important that we also recognise the quiet, humble and sometimes dull work that goes on day in, day out just to keep clubs like these running. The administration, the book keeping, the endless emails and phone calls.

    All these small, seemingly unimportant tasks form the foundation on which this club stands. Without them, the club cannot exist. So to all of you doing the small things day in, day out, we say thank you.

    To all athletes, the fact that you are involved, participating and trying is a victory in itself. The effort, the early morning starts, the sweat, the tears. None of it is in vain. All of it will help you later in life in ways you can’t imagine. The only defeat is to give up- to stop having a go. And remember- for those who miss out, there is always next year!

    To the coaches- it’s often only in later years do we recognise the sacrifices and efforts of our mentors and teachers, but there is nothing quite like a coach’s quiet smile of satisfaction when watching our athletes perform. As a coach myself, I know it well.

    To the parents, friends and families- the driving, the early mornings, the money spent on equipment the highs and lows- dare I say the tantrums…nights like tonight remind us that it is all worth it.

    Congratulations to all the award winners. Well done. Enjoy it, and allow yourself the time to reflect on how and why you have won. When doing so, remember your coaches, your fellow athletes, your families and the Wyndham Athletics Club.

    Congratulations to all.

  • Racial Discrimination Act 1975

    I rise today to express my concern at the retrograde actions of this government in seeking to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and failing to discuss section 18D, which protects free speech, and to express my concern that this government is sending a dreadful message to the people of Australia that bigotry is okay. In this place this week there has been faux horror that the 'bigot' word was used in questions, with scant regard for the fact that the word was used in the other place first, by Senator Brandis—not by those on this side—and that it was used accurately to describe what is at issue with this repeal. This government, for all its talk about zero bullying, has sent this country backwards in our most important debate. All over the country, kids in classrooms are listening, and I am really worried about the message they are receiving from the grown-ups—the grown-up government—about the way they behave toward one another. What they are hearing is that bigotry is okay, that the government said it was. What they are hearing is that it is their right to say racist things to their classmates.