Pages tagged "Speeches"

  • Department of Human Services Offices

    I rise this morning to highlight a growing concern in my electorate of Lalor. Over the past few weeks my office has been contacted on numerous occasions regarding the wait time for people who attend the Werribee office of the Department of Human Services. The complaints are becoming more frequent. We know that Human Services offices provides Centrelink and Medicare services. The Werribee site is about 500 metres from my office in Synnot Street and is the second busiest office in Australia. Over 3,000 people walk through their doors every week.

    People in Lalor are frustrated that for a simple Medicare claim they are waiting for over an hour. I know the argument is that most services can now be completed online but that does not take into consideration those people who are not able to do that. And there are many: the aged, the disabled, the mentally unwell, the illiterate or those too frightened to make a mistake, and those who simply want the comfort of personal contact. These are people at their most vulnerable, some coming from specialist appointments—you could say on the worst day of their lives. They feel and communicate to me that they are being punished for being sick. There are similar waiting times for Centrelink services. Again, it is the most vulnerable who feel that they are being punished for being unemployed. This goes to their dignity, to their self-esteem.

    I visited the Werribee office two weeks ago, to see the impact on my neighbours and to watch the staff who face the lines every day. By 8.30 am, the line already extends to the end of the street, and all day long it is a constant flow. The staff at Werribee do a terrific job with the resources that are available to them. I watched them go about their normal routines with enthusiasm and I applaud the way they work with their clients. I know they too face challenges when people take their frustrations out on them, and this is on the increase. Put simply, my community deserves to be better resourced. In fact, the Point Cook pop-up shop closed on 31 January. Yet in Wyndham more staff are needed or, better still, another office needs to be established. My electorate of Lalor and the city of Wyndham are amongst the fastest-growing communities in the country. Resourcing for these essential services is critical. So at a time when the Abbott government is looking towards cuts, I implore them to provide the human services that Lalor needs.

  • Social Security Legislation Amendment (Green Army Programme) Bill 2014

    I rise today to support the amendment moved by the member for Port Adelaide to the second reading debate on the Social Security Legislation Amendment (Green Army Programme) Bill 2014. Labor has always believed in the need for people in our society to work and in the dignity it brings to the individual and to the community. We also know that the vast majority of people in our society want to work. They want to earn money. They want to make a contribution. Having meaningful work is integral to one's sense of self.

    This is why Labor are focused on creating the conditions for low unemployment and for fair work conditions and why we fight to keep workers in their jobs. This is why we have moved this amendment. This discussion needs to address how participants in this program will be protected if they are injured, sick or mistreated. We need to address what training will be given to the participants. What will be provided to help them transition to full-time work? What are the risks for the displacement of existing workers? These are all questions that need to be asked and answered.

    Labor agrees that we need to do everything we can to get people into work, but we need more than a thought bubble here. The implications of this legislation need to be carefully and rigorously thought through. Given that this is a Green Army, the government's environmental record seems to be a good place to start—and I mean on the big environmental issues. This government already has an unenviable reputation as a retrograde administration when it comes to the environment. It is the only government in the world that has asked the World Heritage Committee to delist a currently listed wilderness area. It has a radical anti-environment agenda—from disallowing the endangered community listing of the Murray from the Darling to the sea, to the marine park stretching from Cape York to Fraser Island, to the reserve in the great Alpine National Park. In six months this government has conducted a relentless, destructive campaign when it comes to the environment. I have not yet mentioned its flat-earth-society approach to climate change or the oxymoron that is this government having a Minister for Environment.

    The Australian government, regardless of which party is in power, has a sacred duty to protect and maintain our Great Southern Land's unique and magnificent natural assets. Those opposite must realise that they are stewards. They have been entrusted by the people of Australia, and by our children and children's children, to take care of this fragile place. At the moment, those opposite are failing in this duty. In fact, they actively and shamefully neglect it.

    It is worth looking, too, at their record in protecting and supporting the vulnerable, given this bill will impact on our vulnerable young people. In the six months since they took office, they have abolished the Council on Homelessness, followed soon after by axing the National Housing Supply Council. More recently, they have refused to commit to the National Affordable Housing Agreement and to the National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness.

    Their record on workers is also instructive. They have abandoned manufacturing workers at Toyota, Alcoa and Holden, giving no guarantees of assistance despite the time elapsed since these heartless decisions were made.

    There is a theme that has developed in the short time this government has been in power. The Prime Minister has told us that there are goodies and baddies. In this case, market is good, regulation is bad. It is here again in this bill—a failure to do the hard work that will ensure positive outcomes for the young people involved with an eye only on the prize of less regulation, as though less regulation is an end in itself—a value. This government know the cost of everything but the value of nothing.

    However, the government are good at a few things. They are good at spin. They are great sloganeers. They excel at reducing debate to nonsensical repetitive sentences. Their three word slogans are becoming legendary— 'cutting red tape'. We all know this is a euphemism for removing protections. Just this week I heard an argument form the member for Farrer that childcare workers should not monitor and record children's progress as part of their duties—that somehow this was an example of evil red tape and a waste of time. Again, the cost is highlighted rather than the value—the value of early detection of learning, health or social issues that would lead to better outcomes for the child, the family and the community.

    We see it here again with the Green Army legislation. The purpose of the bill is unclear. Is it about getting young people into work? Is it about developing work-ready skills? Is it about long-term outcomes through training and experience? Or is it about the market and this government wrapping itself in green and pretending it cares about the environment and the vulnerable? This bill provides exemptions from the Fair Work Act 2009, Work Health and Safety Act 2011, and the Safety Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988. This is alarming. These acts cover occupational health and safety, workers compensation and rehabilitation.

    Labor is concerned that this bill does not provide adequate protections for participants in the Green Army scheme. Participants will not be treated as employees, and so they will be denied the rights and protections normally afforded to employees. These pretty basic rights are quite important for the smooth running of our society. They are there to ensure that unwarranted risks are not taken on the job site, to ensure workers are trained appropriately to minimise injury and to ensure that, where this fails, workers are rehabilitated and compensated for their injuries. They are hallmarks of a civilised society. They are what a First World country expects. They are about risk and harm minimisation. It seems they are the one cost that this government does not understand—the cost of a young person who works too hard to impress the boss and damages his or her back, who is then judged to have a permanent injury that will prevent them from ever joining our armed forces. Where there is smoke, there is fire.

    As I said earlier, cutting red tape is a euphemism for removing worker protections. It is not credible that any government would introduce a scheme that did not provide these basic protections. This legislation raises more questions than answers. Why do participants not have employee status even though they are being removed from social security and paid an equivalent training wage? The government is attempting to take an employment program, rebadge it as an environmental program and abdicate from their responsibility as an employer—all at the same time.

    It kind of sums up the Abbott Government—mad policy alchemists trying to conjure solutions to difficult problems out of thin air, while doing none of the hard work required. It is irresponsible, it is dangerous and it is not on. This government does not have an environmental policy. This is why it is forced to take from employment policy and dress it up as environment policy. But let us be clear: it is an employment program and, as such, participants should be treated as employees. It is a good thing that the Green Army participants will be paid the equivalent of the training wage. It is not a lot of money, but it is more than Newstart pays. These payments will also be similar to the training wages received by thousands of other young Australians who are in vocational training or education. What is troubling though is that, while they are being paid by the Commonwealth, they will not be treated as Commonwealth employees. This leaves them in an undefined place—a place without standard worker protections and entitlements, yet with the same risks as workers in the workplace.

    A further concern for Labor is the concept of additionality or the potential to displace existing workers. There is no point training people for roles that are already filled. Robbing Peter to pay Paul is no way to govern. This is another example of the government trying to conjure solutions out of thin air without doing the hard work required. The thing about governing is that it is hard work. I am not certain those opposite have fully comprehended this fact. It is not all swanning around parliament and cutting ribbons. It is certainly not about taking the reins of government and then slinking back to the office or the restaurant and leaving the market to do the work. It is about working with and for the community. It is about working with business, workers and people to build the economy together.

    Sometimes in question time, when I hear the cries 'Get out of the way!', I wonder what would happen if we did just get out of the way and let this government put the markets in charge of our lives. What would happen to the young people who set off to the job site without protection under the law? When I read this bill I know the answers. While this amendment bill omits much of the detail related to workers' rights, benefits and protections, the associated statement of requirements is equally bereft of detail. Unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, causes great hardship to workers, their families and their communities. Entrenched unemployment is a cancer on the economic strength of our nation.

    Those on this side of the House believe that some people need help getting work and that there is a role for government in this process. People need the right training, work experience, incentives and, most importantly, the appropriate level of support. A close reading reveals that access to the formally recognised training requirements delivered by RTOs are an optional part of this program. What then will compel those charged with delivering the program to include this training in it? We all know that training costs money. What impetus will drive the delivery of training within the program? And, if the training is to be delivered, of what nature will it be? What vocations and skills will be provided within the program? Have they been identified by the Australian Workplace and Productivity Authority as areas of emerging and future skill needs? There are many questions to answer because there is so little detail. If we look at the decisions and choices this government has made, we get an insight and again we get bad news—this time for our youth. This government has cut trade training centre funding and will cut the Youth Connections program funding—two initiatives that assist our young people in becoming contributors to our society through education and work preparation.

    Environment-based training and employment programs are an effective way of getting people to work whilst at the same time training them up in skills that our country needs to remain economically strong. This country cannot afford to look for shortcuts. We need to invest in training now, but that is not in this government's plan. Their plan is to cut and cut and cut again. You cannot cut your way to prosperity. The Green Army scheme, if delivered as intended, not only will help train young people and the unemployed in skills our nation requires but will also go ways to conserving our natural environment at a local level. However, if we leave out the training, those in the Green Army will become little more than gangers with no pathway to a better future and few skills to help our economy.

    Youth unemployment must be addressed. It must be addressed for the sake of the youth in question—a citizen, an Australian, someone's son or daughter. It must be addressed for the sake of the workforce. There is a skills shortage. Training our youth is an obvious solution. It must be addressed for the sake of our economy. The unemployed not only cost the economy in terms of benefits but also deny the government revenue in the form of taxes and productivity when they are not taking part in the workforce. This government needs to show a commitment to fair wages, meaningful work, training and the opportunity for people to progress in the workforce. It is now time they look the problem of youth unemployment in the eye, roll up their sleeves and start doing the hard yards required to solve this complex problem.

  • Future of Financial Advice

    I rise today to speak in defence of investors in my community currently protected by Labor's Future of Financial Advice, or FoFA, reforms. These reforms were brought in by Labor to protect investors from dodgy advice and vested interest within the financial services industry. Since 2006 there have been more than $6 billion worth of financial advice collapses, affecting more than 120,000 Australians.

    The former federal Labor government saw the need to act, and so it did. After a number of parliamentary inquiries it was clear that, when financial advisers were not compelled to act in the interests of investors, unsound advice was given in pursuit of commissions. This resulted not only in people losing their entire savings but entire companies collapsing due to a poisonous mix of conflicting interests.

    According to the Australian Financial Review, analysis by Rice Warner actuaries estimates that a repeal of FoFA will cost consumers twice as much as the actual cost of FoFA to the industry over the next 15 years. The FoFA reforms were introduced by the former Labor government to reduce the risks of another Storm Financial, Opes Prime or Westpoint collapse. This is policy on the run from the Abbott government and a poorly thought out attempt to please its backers in sections of the financial sector.

    To use John Howard's words, this is a 'barbecue stopper'. It certainly stopped the barbecue I attended on Saturday night. People were aghast. I spoke to many who felt that, when they truly needed to get specific financial advice for their superannuation, they were feeling threatened by the fact that the advisers would not have to act in their interests.

  • Western Chances

    I rise today to speak about an organisation in Melbourne's west called Western Chances. Western Chances is a not-for-profit that seeks to help young people from disadvantaged backgrounds achieve their educational goals in life. In my time as a teacher and principal I had the privilege of identifying students and putting them forward for Western Chances scholarships, and one of the highlights of the school year was attending the scholarship recipient announcement evenings. On 12 March I had the privilege of again attending—this time as the member for Lalor. It was a grand evening of celebration for the 2014 recipients and for the organisation.

    Western Chances was founded by Terry Bracks in 2003. Terry worked as a teacher in Melbourne's west and in this place for Barry Jones and Julia Gillard, and in her time in schools and in the electorate she saw all too often talented students with the will to work hard falling through the cracks because of their financial circumstances. Western Chances identifies these young people with the help of those at the education coalface—the teachers, tutors, lecturers and principals who are in a unique position to identify eligible candidates.

    Mimi Huynh, a daughter of refugees, first received support in year 11 in 2007 and was supported all the way through her education to 2013. Mimi recently wrote to say thank you and to tell us she has won a scholarship to Vietnam, has published a research paper, and has finally graduated and is now a dentist working in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Stephanie Tedesco was similarly supported in years 11 and 12. She spoke at this year's event and is studying medicine at Monash. There are countless more examples of how young people throughout Melbourne's west have been supported by Western Chances. In just 11 years, the organisation has gone from strength to strength and has now awarded over 3,400 scholarships to over 1,900 students. They have been able to support these young people to the tune of over $2.4 million. Western Chances works with schools, businesses and private donors, and has an extended network of partners—far too many to mention by name.

    Western Chances is run by an extraordinary team headed by CEO Rhyll Dorrington, and is overseen by the evergreen Terry Bracks as chair of the board. Its esteemed patron is the Hon. Frank Vincent AO QC. Western Chances is an outstanding example of how our community pull together and look after each other.

  • ISIS Primary Care, Wyndahm Vale GP Super Clinic

    I rise to today to commend to the House ISIS Primary Care and the work they have done in the community health sector across the west of Melbourne for more than 17 years. ISIS has an annual budget of $33 million and employs more than 400 staff throughout Melbourne's west. Recently, ISIS worked together with the previous federal Labor government to provide primary health care to the community of Wyndham Vale in the Lalor electorate. I am pleased to be able to say that the Wyndham Vale GP superclinic opened its doors last Friday and that they did this under budget. I was able to take a tour of the facility on Sunday with hundreds of other locals after receiving a flyer in my letterbox.

    This is great news for the community of Wyndham Vale and it is great news for the region. It is also a shining example of how a government's health policy can directly serve the wellbeing of its citizens. The previous Labor government saw the need to plug the gap in primary health care services. This need was identified under former health minister Nicola Roxon.

    Australia produces surgeons of renown who have performed many world firsts in areas such as microsurgery and organ transplants. Australia is also renowned throughout the world for the quality of its doctors. Other nations look to us and try to emulate our Medicare system. You might say that it is a good place to get sick. What was missing, however, was an intensive approach in the space between the two—a service that would go further than just a local GP and one able to take the load off hospitals. The GP superclinics were designed to do just that—to deal effectively with primary care.

    GP superclinics bring together general practitioners, practice nurses, allied health professionals, visiting medical specialists and other healthcare providers to deliver primary healthcare services aimed at addressing the healthcare needs and priorities of their local communities. Importantly, this GP superclinic will provide after-hours care and dental care, addressing the current 22-month waiting lists in my electorate.

    As many of us in this House know, each electorate has its own unique health profile. For example, only 40 per cent of women in Wyndham have regular Pap smears, an alarming statistic in preventative health terms. This GP superclinic will cut waiting times and work in tandem with private practice and the Medicare local to make seeing a doctor and getting vital health checks easier and more timely.

    As a further example, the rate of gestational diabetes in my electorate, where 76 babies are born each week, is 4.5 per cent, almost twice the national average. Reducing these numbers is critical because gestational diabetes increases the risk of type 2 diabetes in the longer term. Preventing diseases like diabetes before they take hold is extremely important, as treatment after they become established is difficult, time consuming, leads to poorer health outcomes for patients and leads to lower economic productivity too.

    On a purely economic basis, the fiscally shrewd way to deal with diseases, then, is to prevent them—to treat them at the primary level. Prevention, of course, is often immeasurable in the health outcomes for individuals, families and communities. This is why investing in this GP superclinic is not only a good and sound idea for our community's health, it is also fiscally responsible and this is why my community is thankful to people like Nicola Roxon and the current Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, and indeed my predecessor, Julia Gillard, for putting such work into this project. We also thank Terry O'Brien, the CEO of ISIS, and Clovis Bonner, the chair of the ISIS board.

    ISIS have driven the project locally, taken on the challenge and excelled. They had three clear aims for the centre: that it be an iconic building that spoke to the importance of health, that it be near public transport and that it be near a shopping centre to increase awareness and access. They have achieved all three of these aims. The building is beautiful and functional and has plenty of room built in for future expansion. It is near public transport, right next to the Manor Lakes railway station, and the Manor Lakes shopping centre is just a stone's throw away. They have achieved this despite the building being built on the very edge of the growth corridor—truly a greenfields site: no power, no water, no drainage. They built it all under budget and in good time. This was achieved with $15 million from the federal government, at a total cost of $23 million. This GP superclinic will add to the six sites already run by ISIS throughout the Wyndham, Brimbank and Hobsons Bay local government areas.

    We needed this GP superclinic. The Wyndham region is going through a period of unprecedented growth. There is a clear need for family healthcare services at the primary level; there is a clear need for this service to operate after hours; and there is a clear need for this service to offer bulk-billing. This GP superclinic satisfies all of those needs. This is good news for health provision in Lalor. I thank ISIS and all those involved for their efforts and expertise.

  • Endevour Research Fellowship

    I rise today to celebrate in the House the awarding of the Endeavour Research Fellowship 2014 to a member of our community, Dr Ferry Jie. Dr Ferry is a graduate of Sydney University and lived in New South Wales while he studied and completed his PhD. He built his home in Tarneit, a growing suburb in my community, in 2010. He is married with four children and is the deputy program director of the master of supply chain and logistics management program at RMIT. It was an absolute pleasure to meet with him in my mobile office in Tarneit last week, where I heard about his life and the life of his family and had the opportunity to congratulate him in person.

    As I said, his wife and four children live in our fast-growing suburb of Tarneit, and Dr Ferry takes his community very seriously. He is a member of the school council for the Tarneit Senior College his children attend. In that school he has taken on the responsibility of introducing the Premier's Reading Challenge, as well as maths competitions. This is a man who takes his commitments very seriously, and what an asset he is to his community. I wish him and his fellow school councillors well in supporting students, staff and parents across the year to deliver a fabulous educational year for Tarneit Senior College.

  • St Patrick's Day

    I rise tonight to talk about St Patrick's Day and the fact that I represent the seat of Lalor. I have been prompted by Deputy Speaker Goodenough, who has suggested that if I say Lalor often enough in this place it will continue and people will pick up that it is an Irish name and an Irish word.

    Honourable members interjecting—

    Ms RYAN: I note also that the member for Lalor would love to attend this evening's St Patrick's Day event at Old Parliament House which, I believe, will be lit up in green to celebrate this very special day. I know that the member for Hotham beside me also shares my Irish heritage. You will note that we both chose black and white to wear today—sometimes having an Irish surname is enough and you do not need green accoutrements to go with it. As the member for Lalor, I will continue to correct everyone who says 'Laylor' in this place and see if we cannot get an acknowledgement of the great Irish Australian Peter Lalor.

  • Thomas Carr College

    I rise to speak about a visit I made on 18 February to Thomas Carr College in my electorate. I have had the pleasure a few times since the election of meeting with Dr Andrew Watson, the college's principal. On this occasion I met with the college's high-achiever students from 2013, all of whom obtained an ATAR score above 90. I would like to congratulate those students: Vuong Phan, the 2013 college dux; Nicholas Mastos; Aaron Diker; Quynh Diep; Harsh Bhambra; and Isaac Lobo. These students made considerable sacrifices to achieve stunning results for the college. I wish these highly successful students, and all their peers from the graduating class of 2013, well in their plans for the future.

    The college offers a broad curriculum, which is reflected in its arts acquisition program. I visited last October to attend the annual art show. I was struck by the talent of the students and the positive relationships between staff and students. The ceremony I attended recently also included the investiture of the college leaders. I congratulate those leaders: Abby McDonald, Nicholas Parella, Helena Carapina, Adrian Debrincat, Erin Sidwell and Jacob Sigismondi. I wish all in the school a terrific learning year.

  • Tarneit Library RDAF Funding

    I move:

    That this House:

    1. notes the importance of investing in local communities to assist them in meeting future challenges and seizing future opportunities;
    2. acknowledges that the Regional Development Australia Fund (RDAF) Round 5 and 5b commitments, which were announced and budgeted for by the former government, were an opportunity for regional communities to address their challenges of growth whilst also providing economic activity and job creation;
    3. recognises that the withdrawal of these funding commitments will adversely affect every local council across Australia that was relying on the RDAF Round 5 and 5b funding; and
    4. calls on the government to immediately reinstate the funding as previously promised and budgeted for, thereby enabling communities to continue with certainty the projects they so desperately need.

    Last week on 11 March, my office was contacted by several Tarneit residents concerned after reading the local paper. They were ringing to convey their dismay that the planned library would not receive the $1.05 million promised by the federal government. I was surprised to learn in the same article that the responsible minister had confirmed to a local journalist that the funds would not be delivered as budgeted. On the same day, my office received a letter addressed to me from the Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, the member for Wide Bay. It was in response to a letter I had written requesting confirmation of federal government funding for the new Tarneit library. It was dated 28 February, but it seems it took a full nine days for the post to get to Werribee from Canberra.

    The letter was in response to a letter I had sent to both the member for Wide Bay and the member for Mayo on 31 October last year. I, like the residents of Tarneit, learned of the decision from the local paper because the member for Wide Bay, the Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the National Party, took a full four months to respond to my letter. In those four months, another 500 houses have been built in the growth suburb of Tarneit. In those four months, the population of Tarneit has grown by another 790 people. In those four months, a school year has gone and a new one begun, with more and more students needing access to books. The local students at Tarneit college are doubly disadvantaged because their school has no library either. The need for the Abbott government to honour the commitment to fund Tarneit library becomes more urgent every day.

    The infrastructure minister, however, has decided to cut government funding for the Tarneit library. He explained the funding cuts in these terms: 'The government has announced that it does not propose to fund projects announced by the former government. These projects were election promises and naturally do not bind the incoming government.' This is simply not true. The funding was approved and budgeted for before the election campaign had begun. I note the minister recommends 'another two funds the government has set up' and suggests that they may be a source of future funding for the Tarneit library project. In short, he is suggesting that the city of Wyndham reapply for the same money for the same project. Correct me if I am wrong, Deputy Speaker, but is this not coming from the same government that proudly assert they are here to cut red tape? How is reapplying for the same grant a second time cutting red tape?

    Tarneit is one of the fastest-growing communities in Melbourne—a suburb of Wyndham, the third-fastest-growing local government area in the country. In Tarneit there are more than 9,990 households, 5,700 residents from non-English speaking backgrounds and 7,500 people currently attending an educational institution. Tarneit's population grew between 2007 and 2012 by 15,000 people, a staggering 295 per cent increase. Tarneit needs vital services and infrastructure yesterday. All the research says that kids who are read to have better literacy outcomes. This is incontestable and the reason that libraries are so important in a growing community. Last week I spoke to a council officer who told me that the neighbouring Point Cook library run a zero-to-two book session for 17 babies and that just last week 50 children were present with their parents for a session. That is one clear example of the demand and oversubscription in Lalor. As you can see, this library has already had huge support from the community and in turn the library supports the community.

    The city of Wyndham has done its part. It is time the federal government honoured its part of this bargain. Providing services such as a public library is precisely what government is for. It could not be more clear: this community desperately needs this library. A community member only last Friday said to me: 'We need this library, Joanne. My children are spending 45 minutes on a bus just to get to the closest library and then 45 minutes home again.' If you are serious about cutting red tape, do not make the city of Wyndham reapply for funding that has already been granted and budgeted for. Do not make them write yet another submission. Do not make them collate yet more data. The growth pattern in Lalor is clear. The Tarneit library is clearly a priority for local council. The need is incontestable and the positive outcomes all but guaranteed. I would strongly urge the federal government to support this library, to fund the $1.05 million as promised before the election.

    The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mrs Griggs ): Is the motion seconded?

    Mr Perrett: I second the motion.

  • Netball

    I rise today with pleasure to pay tribute to a sport that has delivered enormous social good for over a century in communities across our nation. Netball taught me, and thousands like me, the importance of team, the thrill of winning and the lows of defeat from a contest-by-contest as well as game and season perspective. It taught us about fitness and about persistence; it taught us to work hard and to work together. It taught us about volunteering and about community. It provided local role models—women who played hard on the court and ran a very successful and inclusive association, of which I am honoured to say I am a life member. Women like Jenny Toohey, Irene Cooney, Wilma Ryan, Dulcie Harvey and Alison Purdon were involved from their girlhood through to their 60s, and Kerin Flaherty, today in her 70s, is still umpiring multiple times a week.

    In the years I grew from junior to senior, netball grew from a sleeping giant to having the highest participation rates of any sport in the country for girls, and with it came more opportunities for those involved. When I was a kid I lived for stories of Melbourne University Blue and North Melbourne. These were serious clubs where state reps learned their craft and donned the Victorian navy blue in the national championships to play arch rivals New South Wales and South Australia. Today we have a trans-Tasman competition with international players from around the world televised weekly, adding to the media coverage of international competitions such as the World Cup, the Commonwealth Games and annual Tests.

    I want to pay tribute today to a lady who was critical and pivotal in building the profile of this great sport: the great Joyce Brown. Joyce Brown OAM was a Victorian player, captain and coach. She was an Australian player, captain and coach. She was a double-A badged umpire and developed the national coaching accreditation programs still used today. She is a great Victorian and great Australian. It was women like those in my community and like Joyce Brown who took their love for the game and built what we have today.

    What is so special about netball? Let me explain. It is a true team sport. It is a game of specialised positions that are limited to populate only certain parts of the court. It therefore takes more than one player to move the ball from one end of the court to the other. Teams have alternating possession from the centre, so one team cannot dominate the game the same way they can in soccer or hockey or football or basketball. This creates one-on-one contests all over the court for every possession, which means it is about strategy. It is about creating and closing down space and doing it in a cohesive way, using intricate moves and counter-moves all over the court. The uninitiated soon learn that, although the rules say it is a no-contact sport, it is all about contact in the contest, move and counter-move. It is also like dancing—it has a rhythm that is hypnotic and players rely heavily on kinetic awareness and peripheral vision.

    For my netball friends and I, who also played lots of other sports together, netball is the only thing—the sport that provides the tightest physical contact with the perfectly threaded pass, the exquisitely timed lead, the crafted moves that open up just the right space and the 'aha' moment, when limbs and mind combine and a great intercept is taken and the player and ball move smoothly through the air. Playing the game is theatre and concert. It is elegant and graceful. It is demanding and exhilarating. It is the most aerial of sports, combining the perfect one-handed passes, the high hard to a leading player and the sweet arch of the lob, these juxtaposed by the double-handed give-and-gos and tight bounce passes delivered around corners at lightning speed.

    In a Commonwealth Games year, I wish another great Victorian, Lisa Alexander, and her charges in the national team all the best in their selection and preparation across the next six months and a great tournament in Glasgow. I, like all netball fans, look forward, as ever, to watching the Diamonds play. I also congratulate all involved in the ANZ Championships, particularly, of course, the Vixens. I commend the motion to the House.