Pages tagged "Speeches"

  • Qantas

    I rise to speak in response to appeals from Qantas workers living in my community. Once again, and it is becoming a sadly familiar occurrence, I am being contacted by anxious members of my community, worried about their futures. As recently as last night, one of my constituents contacted me, concerned about jobs being sent offshore—not Qantas jobs but call centre jobs and public service jobs, because there is a roll-on effect. It seems, in the short time I have been in this place, I have spent most of my time advocating for workers in my electorate who, under the Abbott government, have lost their jobs or are in peril of doing so. And it is not just the workers I worry for; it is their families, their children, their husbands, their wives. We on this side understand the role government plays in job creation and keeping a community stable and flourishing. This is why, under Labor's watch, nearly one million jobs were created.

    The sense of deja vu is overwhelming, standing here saying the same thing I said two weeks ago and yet it has had no impact. There is still no plan. There has been no action taken to avoid the Qantas losses, and the figures do not include the cruel state of anxiety that the workers have endured for weeks while Qantas went public with the plan to cut 5,000 jobs but did not share specifics with the workers. I am not inured to the pain of my neighbours in the face of such an announcement or to the cumulative impact of the rolling job losses occurring in my community. These are real people with real feelings and pressures. These are families with mortgages, school costs and children to rear. I empathise. I remember well the shock of suddenly being reduced to one wage, and part time at that, while raising three children. I know personally the anxiety of income stress, mortgage stress, the worry about the next bill.

    Paul Keating described this Prime Minister as economically illiterate. I fear the truth is far worse. His lack of action shows no empathy or feeling for his own country men and women. Those opposite seem to enjoy the sport of parliament, winning petty points and cheering each other's smart alec comments. What they do not seem to have an interest in is the wellbeing of the 23 million people we are here to represent. The fact that 63,000 jobs have been lost since September seems to be a point of pride. We all remember the astonishing day when the Treasurer actually goaded General Motors Holden, one of Australia's most loved and respected companies, to leave our shores. And they did, as did Toyota, as did Alcoa, and, tragically for my community and many others in Australia, so did 63,000 jobs—and counting. When the Prime Minister promised he would create a million jobs in five years, perhaps he was telling the truth, but we are all waiting for actions to match the rhetoric. I urge the government to act on Australian jobs for the people of my electorate.

  • Cambridge Primary School

    On 17 February this year, I visited Cambridge Primary School in my electorate. I commend the Principal, Meenah Marchbank, for leading this school on an amazing improvement journey. In 2002, the school was accredited as an international school by the European Council of International Schools; it is the first primary school globally to be accredited by this organisation.

    I met assistant principals Nella Cascone and Craig Spry and the School Council President, Reg Stott—a very proud fireman and involved father. In the BER building—a new, fantastic gymnasium, which the school uses every day—I met with the newly elected school leaders and presented them with their captain badges. Cambridge Primary School captains for this year are Neesha Howarth and Deshan Vitharana Pathirana. I talked to them about leadership and about the fact that it is not always the best speaker or the first to stand up for a job who is the best leader but rather someone who their peers think will represent the school community well.

    I walked away feeling buoyed by the enthusiasm and encouragement that the children receive at Cambridge Primary School from their incredibly professional staff and from their families. I wish the leaders a successful year, and I hope they carry the experiences and lessons learnt into their futures.

  • Iramoo Primary School Visit

    Last week I had the opportunity to again visit the very impressive Iramoo Primary School, in Wyndham Vale, named after the Wurundjeri people's word for the stretch of land upon which my electorate is situated. I was there to stand with Principal Moira Findlay and congratulate the newly announced school leadership team. It included school captains Tevita Sopu and Courtney Wenlock as well as vice-captains Jacob Bowen and Lisa Gill. I was there to wish them well in their roles.

    It was great to see family and friends attending. One mother, Lesieli Sopu, was particularly proud, as her three boys, Tevita, Andrew and Isikeli, were appointed school captain, house captain and flag raiser. The smile on her face made my week.

    The flag ceremony at Iramoo Primary School is treated with great respect, and the flag raiser role is an important one. Along with the blue ensign, the school will variously raise the Torres Strait Islander flag, the Aboriginal flag and the Victorian state flag. I really enjoyed the national anthem played by the band and sung—both verses—by the student body. I was also able to visit the grade 5 literacy group, who were working on narratives and sizzling starts.

    It is a great privilege to visit local schools to encourage students in their civics and citizenship and to acknowledge great leaders, already, in grade 6.

  • Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2013-2014 and Cognate Bills

    I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate. I welcome it not because I am enthusiastic about the content of this bill but because I think it perfectly epitomises the actions and approach of the Abbott government to date. The bill before us is yet another example of their willingness to break promise after promise, yet another ideological attack on the central tenets of our society and yet another kick in the guts for every vulnerable Australian. It is what this government is all about. In just a few short months they have wreaked havoc. Take, for example, the first parliamentary sitting week of the year: in just seven days they managed to finish off the Australian car industry, blame affected workers for wanting wages and conditions, and then backtrack on their promise to deliver new jobs. I am sure they see it as quite the achievement. Broken promises, ideological attacks and hurting working Australians is this Liberal government's bread and butter.

    So let us see what further pain they can inflict with these new appropriation bills. How about cutting $13.2 million from the Health portfolio, $4.8 million from education, $4.6 million from legal policy reform and advocacy funding, or $11.5 million from the Building Multicultural Communities program. They certainly have stayed true to form, with broken promise after broken promise. After all, this is the very same Prime Minister who said on the eve of the election that there would be 'no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS'. Let us break that down. Mr Abbott said there would be no cuts to education, a unity ticket: that did not last long. No cuts to health: obviously abolishing one of our oldest peak public health organisations does not count. No changes to pensions: I am not sure what Mr Abbott thinks a welfare review is for, then. No GST changes: mobile home owners who fought against the government's tax hike might disagree. And no cuts to the ABC or SBS, just apparently an efficiency and expenses review. It is almost like a checklist of cuts to come, a checklist of broken promises, a checklist to mislead the Australian people. So much for a no surprises, no excuses government. The Abbott government has consistently said one thing before the election and then gone and done the complete opposite.

    This is, after all, the party that said on multiple occasions that if debt is the problem then more debt is not the answer. What then did they do in government? They cut a deal with their avowed enemies, the Greens, to legislate for an unlimited debt ceiling—quite a backflip. And how many times did we see the current Prime Minister and Treasurer get to their feet in the lead-up to the election and claim Australia had a budget emergency? They claimed we were headed for disaster. I heard more of it today in this House. They claimed that only they could fix it. I guess they hoped that if they said it often enough it would become the truth, and when it did not they decided to change the rules. As the Secretary of the Department of Finance told Senate estimates recently, the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook has discarded the former Labor government's fiscal rules which limited real spending growth. Mr David Tune confirmed that this change in assumptions had increased the outlook's projections of budget debt over the next 10 years. So the government changes the rules to suit its own purposes and then, lo and behold, uncovers a $667 billion debt figure in 2023-24. It is a disgraceful action by the Treasurer; it is deplorable. This willingness to fiddle with figures might also explain why the Treasurer decided to gift $9 billion to the Reserve Bank. It was an interesting choice, particularly given that there had been no indication that this was money they asked for or needed.

    So why would the government do this? What reason could they possibly have to create and craft a bad result? It is because they are looking for excuses to cut health care, excuses to slash education and excuses to rip up important infrastructure and services around Australia. So obsessed are they with cutting, they are willing to distort the budget numbers in order to justify their ideological agenda. And we know from history that this is something those opposite do. They say, 'We can't afford it and it costs too much.' They attempt to dupe and deceive the Australian public in order to cut, cut, cut. But it flies in the face of logic that if we cannot afford vital health and education services we can somehow afford the coalition's exorbitant Paid Parental Leave scheme, or tax and superannuation breaks for some of our most wealthy. To put it simply, if we are broke, we should not be eating caviar. But the truth is we are not broke, it is just a question of priorities. So it seems that the health of our nation and the future of our kids, creating an equitable and welcoming society, none of this matters to the Abbott government; they simply do not care.

    There is a fundamental disconnect between what Australian people want and what the Abbott government is delivering. After all, this is a government that relentlessly pursues inequity. It is a passion of theirs. It is in their bones. They govern for the big end of town while leaving the rest of us behind. We see it again and again. As my colleague the member for Throsby said last week, if you want a tax cut under this government then you had better own a mining company. At the same time as they reward big business they are cutting the schoolkids bonus. They are arguing that we cannot afford to help low-income earners with their lifetime superannuation savings. They are saying that Australian workers like those at Toyota and Holden earn too much.

    And if you need any more proof that this is a government that embraces inequality, look no further than their Gonski backflip with triple pike. It was those opposite that promised they shared a unity ticket with us on better schools funding. The Minister for Education pledged to us that he understood the importance of better and more equal education, but of course with this government promises and pledges mean little—in fact, zip. Despite their promises to the contrary, fundamentally, and buried deep within, this is a party that does not believe in funding education. Overcoming disadvantage, a fair go, creating equality—that is not what the Liberal Party are about. And now they are in government they no longer have to fool the Australian people, they are showing their true colours. They are pursuing their dreams of inequality and inequity. They are robbing from the poor to give to the rich. Yet this is the very same party that said they would govern for every Australian. I cannot recall how many times I saw a member of the coalition during the campaign with their Real Solutions pamphlet in hand. It contained, they claimed, the cure for every problem. It promised hope, reward and opportunity for everyone. But, as you can see, Mr Deputy Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. The bill before us is yet another example which proves that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer govern for a minority, a small few with vested interests, and certainly not for everyday Australians.

  • Programme for International Student Assessment

    I thank the member for Bass for raising education in this place and keeping it on the agenda. Having been a school principal, I have a deep understanding of the ins and outs of school funding. It is fair to say that when I talk about education funding reform I am, to use the words of the Prime Minister, sticking to my knitting. On both sides of the House we are, at least on the face of it, in broad agreement that urgent reform of the education system is required—as we have just heard from our previous speakers—although I am a little puzzled that money is actually being identified as the problem.

    The coalition's pre-election pledge that 'every single school in Australia will receive, dollar for dollar, the same federal funding over the next four years whether there is a Liberal or Labor government' seemed unequivocal. But it is now apparent again here today that this was just a cynical ploy by the LNP to gain power. Let us be clear: by breaking this promise on the Gonski reforms, those opposite are willingly and stupidly stealing from our nation's potential. The member for Bass makes the point that education funding has increased by 40 per cent with no apparent improvement in educational outcomes as a justification for going back on a promise. This is at best naive and at worst deliberately cherry picking stats to bend a predetermined narrative.

    The most compelling figures coming from PISA are around inequity. It is the ball and chain that is holding this country back in education performance, and to say otherwise is disingenuous. The Gonski report followed intensive consultation across the education sector. It asked teachers, principals, academics, politicians, economists and private and public schools—all stakeholders had a say, and all were listened to. The Better Schools Plan that came from this report was wide-ranging and addressed the issues identified for improvement, some of which we have heard mentioned today by those opposite.

    For the first time ever across Australia, state schools, Catholic schools and independent schools agreed on a way forward. The politics were removed in most states. The work was done and the way was clear. Now we see a slinking away from these commitments. Last week in Senate estimates we heard the proof of it. It was revealed that the states have clearly been released from their pre-election education funding commitments. These funding commitments were one of the structural pillars that held up the Gonski reforms. With states now free to slash their education funding, the government has reduced Gonski to ruins. In its place? The member for Bass makes the point that schools need greater autonomy, which of course was in Gonski. He might be surprised to find out that Victoria did just that under the Kennett government many years ago, and it was called Schools of the Future. Victorian schools are well down this path. It worked well for a few schools in the initial years, but it made life very difficult for many others.

    The minister might want to talk to leaders and parents who lived the experience of being thrown into a competitive environment where autonomy ruled but support for schools to make the transition was minimal. He might also want to ponder what impact autonomy without support might have on equity, because there is a real danger, as was seen in the first years in Victoria, that inequity could be further embedded. Some schools had parents well equipped to take a school forward in partnership with a principal, while others did not. I might also add that, having lived this experience myself, I saw an enormous amount of money moved from classrooms to marketing campaigns in the early years, sometimes indiscriminately. He might be further surprised to find that, in a tale of two states, while Victoria travelled this road, New South Wales did not and still centrally control their schools. After 20 years, there is little or nothing between the two states in terms of educational outcomes. Giving schools greater autonomy is not the magic bullet it is claimed it to be. It will not do the work that the Gonski report set out to deliver.

    Education is the cornerstone of democracy and it is the single most effective way of breaking intergenerational disadvantage. We can only conclude that this government does not want to break intergenerational disadvantage. I call on the government to honour its promise and put in place the Gonski measures, as intended by the former Labor government and all who signed up to it.

  • Closing the Gap: Prime Minister's Report 2014

    I would like to begin by acknowledging the first Australians as the traditional custodians of this land and paying my respects to their elders, past and present. I would also like to particularly acknowledge the Woiwurung and Wathawurung people, the traditional owners of the land that encompasses the electorate of Lalor, and I acknowledge the presence of the member for Hasluck this morning.

    The last time this parliament sat, I was pleased to be in the House and see the bipartisan recognition of the importance of the sixth Closing the Gap report. To see both sides of parliament commit to better outcomes for Indigenous people, not only in terms of numbers on a page but in terms of real and tangible improvements, shows how far we have come when these sorts of aims are shared and are no longer a source of conflict or debate.

    When we established the Closing the Gap targets in 2008, we did so with a long-term view: to end the disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We pledged this not only on behalf of ourselves but also on behalf of those who would come after us—years and decades after us—because this is not a problem that can be fixed in an instant. It requires our time, resources and, most importantly, our commitment. So, while I am pleased to see this new era of bipartisan support, I am at the same time worried that some of the former Labor government's policies and reforms in this area are being undone—in health, in justice and in education.

    For example, the reduction in funding to health programs and infrastructure, particularly in rural and remote areas, can only hurt Indigenous people. Same, too, with the $13.4 million cut to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal aid, an incredibly short-sighted move, in my humble opinion, and one which I know is already causing great concern in my community. As a former educator, it concerns me that one of the first acts of the Abbott government was to cut all funding to the First Peoples Education Advisory Group. The group, a cross-sector expert panel that sought to provide education advice to the government, was working on the very issues we are addressing here today—closing the gap. It is therefore very disappointing that the Abbott government has walked away from continuing this important work.

    It is also very concerning that the government has refused to fully commit to additional financial loadings for students under the Better Schools plan. The loadings seek to address disadvantage head-on and, importantly, recognise the continuing disparity by providing extra assistance for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. It is about targeting funding to targeted needs.

    These cuts to health, justice and education services are short-sighted and raise questions about the government's real commitment to closing the gap, because, as the report shows, while we certainly have had some success, we still have such a long way to go in ending the gulf between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. We are not there. In abolishing the gap in employment outcomes, we are not there. In terms of halving the gap in reading, writing and numeracy for Indigenous children, we are not even close. The most recent NAPLAN results support this finding and show that, despite some encouraging gains in literacy, Indigenous students continue to be left behind. This is not good enough. As my colleague Senator Peris said in her speech on closing the gap, equality in education is essential. It is the great equaliser. And it is the government's responsibility to ensure that every Australian child has access to a quality education regardless of background or bank balance.

    Without adequate commitment from government to improving outcomes in education, in health, in employment and in justice, we will not meet the most important target of all: life expectancy. This gap is estimated to be about a decade between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians and represents the years of inequality in services, in health and in education that Indigenous communities have faced and continue to face. I think there is always a risk that when we talk about these sorts of things in such dry and removed language we can forget what we are really talking about. We need to remind ourselves that, when we are talking about life expectancy gaps, what we are really talking about is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people being denied the chance to grow old. It is unfair. It is appalling. It is heartbreaking. So, when we say we need to do better and we need to do more, let us not forget what we are really talking about here. Real people in real communities have been left too far behind for too long. By being better, by doing more, we can create better outcomes and create more opportunities. We can change lives.

    While it is so important that we acknowledge the work still to be done, we do need to acknowledge and celebrate some of the successes in the report. We need to recognise that we are on track to halve the gap in mortality rates for Indigenous children under five. If improvements continue at the same rate, this will be achieved by 2018. We need to recognise that we are on track to ensure access to early childhood education for every Indigenous child living in a remote community, with 88 per cent of Indigenous children in 2012 enrolled in preschool. This is an encouraging result. And we need to recognise that we are on track to halve the gap in the number of Indigenous kids completing year 12.

    The Victorian Aboriginal Education Association recently celebrated the achievements of the 384 Koori students who completed their VCE, VCAL or VET in 2013. This is up from 257 students just three years before. And not only are more Indigenous students completing year 12 studies in Victoria but more are going on to tertiary studies. The percentage of Aboriginal students going from year 12 to university has increased from 22 per cent to 40 per cent over the past five years. This is a momentous leap and a profoundly life-changing outcome for these students.

    In acknowledging these successes, we also need to recognise the people whose work, day by day, is closing that gap inch by inch: the teachers, the nurses, the doctors, the community workers, those in the not-for-profit sector and, most importantly, people in Indigenous communities themselves. In my own community, I would like to recognise the work of the Gathering Place; the South Western Melbourne Medicare Local; the Western Region Health Centre; the schools that have embraced the Wannik individual education plans for Indigenous students, which have led to such great outcomes; and other local agencies who are deeply committed to closing the gap within our community. Without the efforts of these people, without their dedication, we would not have much to celebrate.

    But they do need our support. In particular, they need those things I mentioned earlier: our time, our resources and our commitment. So I would like to take this opportunity to ask of the government, the opposition and every single parliamentarian in this place that we continue to hold ourselves to account, that we continue to always aim high and that we never forget our role in ensuring that every Australian gets a fair go.

    That is why I am particularly proud to be a member of a party and a member of a parliament that is committed to ensuring that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a place of honour in the Australian Constitution. It is the next important step in a long road of reconciliation for our parliament. In 1963, Indigenous Australians were able to vote in a national election for the first time. In 1975, Prime Minister Whitlam acknowledged the rights of Vincent Lingiari and the Gurindji people and poured that profound handful of sand.

    As Mr Abbott noted some weeks ago, it was 1992 when Prime Minister Keating made the Redfern speech, a watershed moment which acknowledged the pain of our past and committed our nation to doing better. It was 2007 when Prime Minister Rudd said sorry and reminded us that both symbolism and actions have a role to play in achieving true reconciliation. It was in 2013 that under Prime Minister Gillard parliament passed the act of recognition, the fruition of years of work that have in turn led us to our next step.

    The next step of constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders is more than words on a page. It is about acknowledgement and recognition and it serves as a permanent reminder as to what has been and what should be. The referendum is our next opportunity to bring every Australian with us on that long road to true reconciliation.

  • General Pinochet

    I rise today to speak on behalf the people in the Latin American community in my community, who have contacted me in relation to a specific incident that occurred at the end of last year. They contacted me out of concern, concern that one of this nation's elected representatives had make careless and offensive remarks in the New South Wales Parliament that would forever be on the public record. They were concerned that the history of one of the most brutal military juntas was being rewritten and that that their own stories and experiences were being forgotten. I speak of course about the remarks made by Dr Peter Phelps, member of the New South Wales Legislative Council in relation to the Pinochet dictatorship. He made these comments on 11 September last year, the 40th anniversary of General Augusto Pinochet's military coup that deposed the elected Allende government.

    In his speech to the parliament Dr Phelps said that he was there to argue the case for General Pinochet. This was a man, he said, who many believed was a 'reluctant hero, a morally courageous man'. He also defended the overthrow of President Allende, saying:

    We have to accept that sometimes it is necessary to do bad things to prevent terrible things—
    It was a callous and cold-hearted comment to make. After all, those who appreciate the truly deplorable actions of the Pinochet dictatorship could not say such things. They would never seek to 'make the case' for a man who imprisoned and tortured his own people, who killed those who opposed him and who tore Chile apart bit by bit.

    In speaking to those members of our Latin American community about this issue, it was clear that their memories of this time were as vivid as ever. Even if Dr Phelps had successfully forgotten this violence, they could not. They had no such luxury, because what they had seen, what they had heard and the people they had lost would be with them forever. The trauma experienced by parents, siblings, partners and friends was theirs too. And it always would be. Those I spoke to lived this history and felt incredibly disrespected to have that history rewritten for political pointscoring in their new home.

    In response I feel compelled to call Dr Phelps to task on the public record in this place. In the days after his speech and following the outcry from the Chilean community, his fellow state parliamentarians and the wider population, Dr Phelps then tried to diminish the impact of his remarks. He said that he had not sought to defend the Pinochet regime but merely highlight the criticisms of the Allende government.

    I think that what Dr Phelps was really trying to do was to whitewash history to score some kind of point about ideology, that his attempt to recast Pinochet as merely doing what was necessary is really an attempt to cast stones at those on the opposite end of the political spectrum.

    While I understand that Dr Phelps has personal ideological objections to the Allende government and its philosophy, I would suggest that all he has managed to do is hurt innocent people. His attempt to score a political point comes at the cost of creating further trauma to already traumatised people. This cost is far too high, because to dismiss the experiences of these people as somehow the benign lesser of two evils is to deny these people basic justice. To insist that murder is necessary to overthrow a government is to belittle the memories of those who lost their lives, and to declare that many believe Pinochet to be some sort of hero is to obliterate the concerns of those who knew him as a villain. There is, after all, nothing 'morally courageous' about violence and oppression.

    This is a man whose actions have been condemned by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the Chilean parliament, as well as the broader international community. No matter how many times Dr Phelps denies this, he cannot change the reality. He cannot equate his own opinions as being equal to facts and expect to get away with it; and he cannot make these kinds of statements and then seek to dismiss them as merely a misunderstanding, with no damage done. All he has really done is to deny the people of Chile their truth—truth, that most basic of justices.

    It shows, I believe, a callousness and contempt which I find appalling, and so I would like to use this opportunity to ask Dr Phelps to apologise for his comments and to suggest that rather than using Chilean history as a political pawn that he acknowledges the truth of the situation: regardless of your personal politics, the Pinochet dictatorship committed unconscionable harm. I thank the House.

  • National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospitals

    I rise today to commend the former Labor government's National Partnership Agreement on Improving Public Hospitals, which has come to fruition today in my electorate. This morning was the official opening of the Werribee Mercy Hospital's rehabilitation centre. This $28 million COAG funded project comprises 30 specialist subacute beds, a gymnasium and a two-storey community rehabilitation centre to service Melbourne south-west.

    The Werribee Mercy funding was part of a $36 million injection into western suburbs hospitals, which has also funded an operating theatre at Williamstown Hospital and short-stay beds at Sunshine and Western hospitals. Unable to attend the opening this morning, I was disappointed to hear that state Minister for Health David Davis and MLC Andrew Elsbury have a press release that does not give credit where credit is due and attempts to diminish the role of the previous Labor federal government in securing this project. They are of the same stripe as the government across, causing anxiety about health funding and health costs in my electorate. Families in our region could be forced to pay $6 every time they visit their doctor if the Abbott government breaks yet another election promise and introduces a GP tax. In our community, with a bulk-billing rate of nearly 91 per cent, $6 a visit would cost local residents more than $7.5 million every year. This will hurt my community and be a further hit to the most vulnerable.

  • Wyndham Rotary Club Fun Run

    Today I would like to commend the efforts and hard work of the organisers of the annual Wyndham Rotary Club Fun Run. The run, a fantastic community event, raises vital funds for the Good Friday Appeal, a tremendous cause. The event this year will be held this Sunday, 2 March, and kicks off at Chirnside Park Oval, home of the Werribee Tigers footy club and cricket club. Participants have the option to run five kilometres or 10 kilometres, or walk for eight kilometres around our beautiful Werribee River. The run also coincides with our local Weerama Festival, which I know will add to the atmosphere of the event, and I urge local residents to sign up or come along and support a family member or friend.

    I will be participating in the run— probably more of a run, walk, run in my case—as will my state colleagues, the member for Tarneit, Tim Pallas, and the member for Derrimut, Telmo Languiller. We do this because we want to help the important work of the Royal Children's Hospital as well as supporting this community-led and organised event. I would like to expressly thank Eddie Szatkowski, David Lane, Gary Wilson, Julie Mason and the entire Wyndham Rotary Club for their efforts in running this event. I am looking forward to getting my running shoes on and supporting this important community event.

  • Point Cook Relay For Life

    Today I would like to acknowledge the efforts of the Point Cook Relay For Life committee, who, on Saturday, 16 November, hosted their annual event in my electorate. I had the great privilege to attend the relay and saw firsthand the work and dedication of the team of volunteers who put this event together. It was a great day of the community coming together.

    It began with young Hannah sharing her story of caring for and losing her mother. Her story was beautifully written and delivered with poise and clarity. Listening to her, I knew that Relay For Life is much more than a fundraiser. It is only the second time the relay has been held in Point Cook. The event was a credit to the organisers.

    There were 32 teams participating—up from 23 the year before. They work together to celebrate survivors and carers, to remember those we have lost and to raise vital funds to continue the fight against this awful disease. There were 462 participants in teams of 10 to 15 people. They all challenge themselves to take turns in keeping their baton moving overnight. The event raised over $51,000 for the Cancer Council's research, prevention and education programs—a remarkable achievement.

    I would also like to acknowledge Lauris, this year's recipient of the 'Spirit of relay' award. Lauris was commended for her strength in fighting cancer, for her ongoing work in the community and for her support of the Relay For Life event. I would like to congratulate, Lauris, the committee, and the volunteers for their work and commitment in ensuring the Point Cook Relay For Life committee was such a great success.