Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
Dec 7, 2017

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 – Consideration in Detail

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (09:55): Those great philosophers Mick Jagger and Keith Richards once sang: ‘You can’t always get you what you want, but you get what you need.’ This bill is what people need. They do not need delay or for the bill to be put off or for a series of amendments to be carried by this House that then get referred to the Senate, begin the whole debate all over again and return to this House at some time in the future.

What my community want, as they have clearly indicated, is to get this done. That’s what Australians voted for in overwhelming numbers. Is this bill perfect? No. It’s a product of a consensus. It is a product of a collective effort by people of goodwill, across the Senate, to ensure that reform can move forward. During the voluntary postal survey, I and other advocates of a vote for yes, in response to the misleading campaigns of those who suggested that this would have all sorts of unknown consequences to the lives of people who won’t be impacted by this legislation at all, clearly said: ‘There is a bill already. It’s a bill in the name of Dean Smith in the Senate.’ It’s a bill which has received, quite remarkably, unanimous support and consensus in the Senate.

I say to the member for Melbourne that there’s a time when you don’t think, ‘Oh, I can make this improvement here so that it satisfies all of my wants.’ This bill is it. This isn’t a time for grandstanding. This isn’t a time for trying to ensure there’s product differentiation. This is a time for national unity. This is a time for support by people of goodwill, across this parliament, and I pay tribute to people on the other side of the chamber—people I don’t normally agree with—because it’s hard. It’s easier if you’re in a party looking for purity all of the time on every issue and you say, ‘I think maybe there might perhaps be consequences to this, though I don’t think they’re real,’ which is what the member for Melbourne just indicated, and it is what he indicated in his second reading speech. He spoke about these amendments as restating things that are already in the Sex Discrimination Act. He said that this amendment would seek to change the title of the bill. Guess what? Do a survey of Australians and see how many people know the title of any particular bill, and I’d be amazed if you still want to hold up marriage equality in order to make change that is not of substance.

That’s a fundamental area of disagreement that I have and why I’m in a major party, the Australian Labor Party. What I do in this place is come in here to make a real difference to real people and to real lives. That is what this legislation will do. That is why all of the amendments to this legislation should be rejected, whether they be the amendments we’re considering now or future amendments moved by some of the opponents of marriage equality seeking to make changes which are not necessary. These issues were considered during the Senate processes. We have an outcome—we have an outcome that will produce marriage equality and can do it today. The big campaign of marriage equality was ‘let’s get this done’. Let’s not delay, let’s not look for areas of disagreement, because that’s simply not productive. I say to the member for Melbourne that I think it’s unfortunate that these unnecessary amendments are being moved. I won’t be supporting them. I call upon other members of the House not to support them, not to support the other amendments and to get this done today.

Dec 4, 2017

Debate on Senate Motion Regarding New Zealand’s Offer to Settle Refugees

Message No. 253, 29 November 2017, from the Senate was reported informing the House that the Senate had agreed to the following resolution:

That the Senate—

(a) notes that:

(i)      The New Zealand Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Jacinda Ardern, has continued to pressure Australia to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees who are currently in offshore detention;

(ii)     New Zealand will begin work to expedite processing refugees if, and when, the offer is accepted; and

(iii)    Prime Minister Ardern stated: “We made the offer because we saw a great need. No matter what label you put on it there is absolute need and there is harm being done’’; and

(b)     Calls on the Government to accept New Zealand’s offer to resettle 150 refugees and negotiate conditions similar to the United States refugee resettlement agreement.

The Senate requests the concurrence of the House in this resolution.


MR ALBANESE: I rise to support this resolution from the Senate.

I do so and say to the Government that this is an opportunity for it to rise to the occasion. There are many things that this resolution is not about. This resolution does not stop offshore processing. This resolution does not assist people smugglers.

This resolution is consistent with getting an outcome. At the end of the day, the Government is responsible for outcomes, not just rhetoric. The PNG court determined in April 2016 what the closing date of the Manus facility would be.

In April 2017, the Government came to an agreement with the Government of Papua New Guinea that it would close. Yet, the UNHCR has indicated that the alternative facilities simply weren’t all ready at the time of closure.

What you also have is men who have been in detention for four and a half years with still no security as to what the future is for them.

People who commit crimes, serious crimes, are often not detained for that period of time. A majority of these people have been found to be refugees. That is, they have been found under our international obligations to be deserving of Australia’s care. It has been found that we have a responsibility to these people.

We simply cannot have the approach of the Minister, which is to say: “This is nothing to do with me. This is something to do with the Government of Papua New Guinea, nothing to do with Australia’’.

The fact is that you can be tough on people smugglers without being weak on humanity. We on this side of the House take that approach. What we won’t do is just wash our hands of the responsibilities that Australia clearly has.

The Minister says that he won’t consider the resettlement option in New Zealand now. But he leaves it open for the future. He indicates that’s correct.

If not now, when? What is to be gained, apart from politics, in leaving these people in further uncertainty when the New Zealand Government – under both the conservatives, under the leadership of John Key, and now under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern – has offered to assist these individuals but also, frankly, to assist Australia?

If the Minister says we have no responsibility, if he doesn’t think that this is impacting on Australia’s standing in the world, then he is wrong. I say to him, with respect – he might disagree with that assessment; people can look at objective facts and come to different conclusions – but it is a fact, regardless of whether it is right or wrong, that this is impacting on Australia’s standing in the world.

It is also a fact that John Howard, a person he admires, led a government where John Howard, in spite of the rhetoric, said that the people who were on the Tampa would never settle in Australia and never settle in New Zealand – that they’d be sent home. The fact is that many of those people are today settled here in Australia as Australian citizens and many of those people settled in New Zealand.

Very clearly it would be possible for these people to come to an arrangement, which New Zealand has indicated would be possible, whereby they commit – they’ve said they would want to if they were settled in New Zealand – to stay there because they would feel welcome there because of the actions of the New Zealand Government and the New Zealand Opposition.

A good friend of mine, Father Dave Smith of Holy Trinity Church in Dulwich Hill, visited Manus Island a few weeks ago. It is interesting to look at the interviews that Father Dave, as he’s known, had with the people there.

This is someone who travelled there out of his view of what a Christian should do. I have disagreements with him on some issues politically, it must be said, but there is no question whatsoever of his genuineness. There are so many Australians who are looking for a genuine outcome when it comes to this situation. The fact is that a genuine outcome is settlement in third countries.

If the Government can say it’s OK for people to settle in the United States and that that wouldn’t provide a pull factor, but somehow New Zealand is not okay, then that is an extraordinary proposition. If the Minister doesn’t think that it’s possible to deal with the issue of the relationship of New Zealand visas into Australia, then I think he’s wrong there.

Quite clearly, with a little bit of leadership rather than ongoing rhetoric – and I disagree very strongly with some of the characterisations that have been made personally against the Minister. I don’t think that adds to the debate at all. I’m not seeking to do that here at all. What I am seeking to do is to say that these people, who have been in detention at what was intended to be a processing centre to then settle people in third countries, not in Australia, have now been there for four and a half years, and that is just too long. That is having an impact on their mental health as well as their physical health. It would for anyone.

When I was at my good, old Catholic school, one of the values that I was taught was about putting yourself in other people’s positions. I say to the Minister – put yourself in the position of those people. The Minister needs, frankly, to act with a little bit more maturity rather than the sort of knee-jerk: “Let’s hold these people almost as political hostages’’. That is unacceptable.

The fact is that these people need a solution. That is why we are prepared to support this resolution. We are trying to help the Minister find a way out of his predicament, frankly, because, at the moment, the way isn’t just to stay in a circumstance whereby he says: “’Oh well, this is all about Labor.’’ This is about the Minister. He has a responsibility. This resolution provides a way forward.


Dec 4, 2017

Statements by Members – Petition: Small Breweries

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:13): I begin my contribution by tabling a petition of 1,477 signatures calling for an end to the current unfair tax treatment of small brewers in Australia. I do that to support the craft brewing sector, a sector that, I know, has got some bipartisan support in this parliament. The petition recognises the inequity which is there for how the Commonwealth excise is calculated between small- and large-scale brewers, disadvantaging the smaller craft brewers. In simple terms, this means that the current rate of federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for a keg containing 30 litres. With excise making up approximately 40 per cent of operating costs for most craft breweries, this must change.

Craft breweries are growing. There are now over 400 around Australia. They are small businesses employing people in local communities and providing a centre for community activity in our suburbs and in our regions right around Australia. They will contribute some $35 billion to the overseas market by 2020. The sector has become an economic powerhouse. With proper support from the federal government, there is enormous potential for future growth. It should get that support.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms Claydon ): The document will be forwarded to the Petitions Committee for its consideration. It will be accepted subject to confirmation by the committee that it conforms with the standing orders.

Oct 24, 2017

Constituency Statements – Oktoberwest

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:06): I rise to speak about the positive impacts that the craft brewing sector is having on my electorate and on jobs and tourism. Last Sunday, the recently formed Inner West Brewery Association hosted the first ever Oktoberwest beer festival, and it was a great success. It’s part of the Sydney beer festival, of which I’m proud to be the patron. The festival marked the official launch of the association, celebrating the rich culture of Australia’s craft beer capital with a line-up of local breweries including Young Henry’s, Willie the Boatman, Wayward, The Grifter, Batch, Sauce, and Akasha, to name just a few. The festival, held at different locations across the electorate, included a celebration of women in craft brewing and small business, FemmeApocalypse, at the Wayward headquarters in Camperdown. Here I met Sophie Gamble, Wayward’s head female brewer, who gave me a tour of the facility. It was a great day. They had female small business, from barbecuing to artists to performers, all at Wayward, being celebrated by the local community.

Oktoberwest also aimed to raise further awareness about the unfair rate of federal excise that is disadvantaging our craft brewers. Today the rate of federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for a keg containing 30 litres. That disadvantages the small businesses that want to get their product into local pubs and want to support local jobs. This excise makes up approximately 40 per cent of their operating costs. The day was a triumph of live music, arts, entertainment and great food. Indeed, I want to particularly thank The Morrisons, who got me on stage at the Factory Theatre to present the argument for voting yes for marriage equality in the current voluntary postal survey. It was also a celebration about the creativity and sustainability of local businesses that create jobs. I will continue to argue the case that craft brewers deserve fair treatment—they deserve fair treatment because they have grown exponentially in recent years. There are now over 420 craft breweries right around Australia, not just in our cities but in our regional centres as well. They’re good for local small business; they’re also good as tourist attractions in their own right. That is why the government needs to respond to the current inequity which exists, to support jobs and to support local small business.

Sep 14, 2017

Constituency Statements – WestConnex

With the WestConnex project, guarantees were given by the former roads minister, Duncan Gay, and by the people in charge of the WestConnex project, that there would be no clearways on King Street. Clearways on King Street, Newtown, would destroy the fabric and vibrancy of that community for people who live in Newtown and for people who visit Newtown, whether they be from other parts of Sydney or from other parts of Australia and the world.

There has been, once again, concern expressed by the community that that commitment would be breached. I have had constructive discussions with the roads minister of New South Wales, Melinda Pavey, and have facilitated discussions to take place between Minister Pavey and the Chamber of Commerce of Newtown. The Newtown chamber represents those vibrant small businesses, and they’re absolutely determined to ensure that the no-clearways policy on King Street is maintained. It is a pity that the state member for Newtown seems incapable of making any representations about practical issues confronting the relationship between the community that she represents as a Greens MP and the state government. But the local businesses—as happens in lots of local communities—are coming to me to make those representations to the state government, and I am pleased to step into the void that has been created. But, given that the state member for Newtown said that WestConnex had been stopped with her election, it is not surprising that you don’t have that practical outcome. I look forward to Minister Pavey recommitting to former Minister Gay’s commitment that there will be no clearways on King Street.

Sep 13, 2017

Constituency Statements – Carrington Road Development

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:44): Developers need to understand that the key to successful urban redevelopment is bringing the local community with them. Their projects need to complement the suburban landscape, not dominate it. I certainly believe in higher densities close to public transport corridors, but what we’re seeing with the arrogant state government in New South Wales is an attempt to change the landscape of the city in a way that will destroy the vibrancy of communities. Along the Sydenham to Bankstown line is the industrial area of Marrickville. It currently plays an important role. Companies like Erth Visual & Physical and Empress Stilt Dance produce things like a 2.7-metre-high T. rexwalk-in puppet for creative use. There are IT companies in that industrial area of Marrickville that are creative, are creating jobs and are boosting our national economy as well as the vibrancy of the local community.

Yet the government wants to rezone this area with a proposal that shocked me when I met with Mirvac a couple of weeks ago. Mirvac developed the former Harold Park site with increased density. They’re developing the Marrickville Hospital site on Marrickville Road. Both of those projects have aspects of open space. They’re vibrant communities. They’re not significant overdevelopments. But what they propose in Carrington Road in south Marrickville, in the industrial area, where there are single-storey and two-storey houses, are 28-storey developments. In an area that doesn’t have great road access to it and has congestion right now, 28-storeys is a massive overdevelopment. It is greed gone mad, and I told Mirvac that. I will campaign with the community against such an overdevelopment proposal. Marrickville has a character to it, and the idea that you can go into an area of Marrickville that has one- and two-storey heritage houses, which families live in, and just change that to 28 storeys is, quite frankly, absurd. I say too, as I said to the Property Council last week: developers have an important role to play, but they will face the anger and fury of local communities if they put greed above the interests of those local communities.

Sep 12, 2017

Private Members’ Business – Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Trauma Counselling

For almost 50 years, RDVSA have provided specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counselling. Its staff are highly qualified. RDVSA uses the Standards of Practice Manual for Services against Sexual Violence, which requires counsellors to have a tertiary qualification in counselling, social work, psychology or equivalent, and at least three years counselling experience. The organisation is well-known for this expertise, and its executive officer, Karen Willis, has received an AOM for her work in relation to violence against women.

Since its inception, 1800RESPECT, which is an important Labor legacy—and RDVSA has been the sole provider of its specialist trauma counselling, assisting women living with domestic violence nationwide. The decision to withdraw from the 1800RESPECT counselling service follows a series of decisions made by the Turnbull government and lengthy negotiations with Medibank Health Solutions. In October 2006 RDVSA’s contract with the Turnbull government expired, and the contract for 1800RESPECT was put out to tender. While the Turnbull government has announced the 1800RESPECT service will continue, RDVSA will see its funding slashed by 75 per cent, with this funding allocated to three other organisations. It would also be required to operate as part of the MHS call centre model. MHS, of course, was not subject to an open-tender process. The quality and experience of these three other organisations is not under dispute. Each plays a critical role in their respective states assisting women living with domestic violence.

The issue here is with the Turnbull government’s decision to slash RDVSA’s funding by 75 per cent, which will see a reduction in the specialist services they offer, and a loss of jobs. The previous speaker, with respect, said they could just go to work for one of the organisations that has been offered a contract. If they were to do that, it would require these women, with families, to move interstate. It is not that simple, and the government knows that full well.

The Turnbull government should be looking at ways it can facilitate the growth of organisations like RDVSA. The fact is that new support for crisis services should not involve a reduction in the availability of much needed trauma counselling services. But for RDVSA this decision to withdraw is not just about the reduction in funding. It’s also about some of the new contract conditions, which have caused serious concerns. These ethical concerns are about requirements that include an obligation to hand over client files, and to allow voice recording, and we are yet to be told how these voice recordings would be excluded from obligations under subpoenas.

If RDVSA had accepted the new panel arrangement, the organisation would have seen 50 staff redundancies. As it is, withdrawing from the contract means 70 staff redundancies. We’ve been told the staff support this decision, because of their many concerns about the proposed new arrangement. This last change to the service, to reduce access to trauma counsellors and transform the service so that it focuses on information and referral, rather than specialist trauma counselling, comes after the Turnbull government and its for-profit contractor, Medibank Health Services, last year started diverting callers away from RDVSA specialist trauma counsellors to lesser-qualified people, in a first responder triage process. The Turnbull government needs to say how it will make sure that Australian victims and survivors of domestic and family violence and sexual violence, and their supporters, have access to specialist trauma counselling.

The Turnbull government also must say what it will do to avoid the loss of 70 experienced frontline domestic and family violence and sexual violence staff. These are committed people—I have met with them. They’re very upset that they won’t be able to continue to do the work. The Turnbull government also must say how the severance entitlement of these frontline workers will be covered. 

(Time expired)

Sep 7, 2017

Constituency Statements – WestConnex

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:06): I rise, yet again, to speak out against the destructive failure of planning of the WestConnex project in my electorate of Grayndler. Last month, the EIS for stage 3 of WestConnex was released. It confirmed that seven new smokestacks are going to be built in the Inner West in order to fumigate the tunnels being built underground. I recently received correspondence about the stacks from one of my constituents in Rozelle. He wrote:

Dear Mr Albanese,

My wife and I have lived in Rozelle for almost 20 years and we are absolutely not against development.

We understand that a 21st Century city needs a smart combination of private and public transport options …

It is beyond us to understand how any responsible government, any responsible human being in fact, in a first world country, considers it even conceivable that it is remotely acceptable to first concentrate and then spew unfiltered exhaust fumes onto its citizens.

We realise filters will cost up front and surely cost to maintain, but our point of view is this must be built into the cost of the project and delivered as part of the project. To do anything other is outright irresponsible.

Four of the stacks are being built in the suburb of Rozelle within a stone’s throw of local schools. All seven of them are situated in the middle of densely populated residential areas with more schools nearby.

The current NSW Minister for Education, Rob Stokes, recently remarked, at the suggestion that a smokestack be built near a school on Sydney’s North Shore, ‘There is no way in hell that I’d support any development that would put the lives of pupils, teachers and parents at risk.’ The NSW coalition government are saying that there won’t be any stacks near any schools in electorates which they hold, but it’s fair game near schools in seats held by Labor.

We’re better than this as a nation in the 21st century. We deserve the same care for our kids and schools, regardless of who the local MP is. And we want the same protections in Rozelle, St Peters and Haberfield that Minister Stokes thinks that schools on the North Shore deserve. I call upon the Minister for WestConnex, Stuart Ayres, and NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to do the right thing and protect the residents of the state they claim to represent by filtering any stacks from this project.

Sep 4, 2017

Statements by Members – Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia

RDVSA made its decision to withdraw last week following considerable negotiations with Medibank Health Solutions. It was a decision not made lightly, especially given that up to 110 specialist sexual assault and domestic violence workers and other specialists employed at RDVSA will lose their jobs in October. Worse still, RDVSA may need to close its doors. Rape and Domestic Violence Services Australia has been providing specialist sexual assault and domestic violence trauma counselling for almost 50 years. It’s regarded internationally, including by the UN. It plays a critical role in its community, supporting many women through very challenging times. The government must ensure that both the staff at RDVSA and RDVSA itself are not hung out to dry.

(Time expired)

Aug 15, 2017

Constituency Statements – Domestic and Family Violence

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:00): The statistics on violence against women in Australia are shocking. On average at least one woman a week is killed by a partner or former partner. One in four Australian women has experienced physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner. Women are five times more likely than men to require medical attention or hospitalisation as a result of intimate partner violence and five times more likely to report fearing for their lives. Half of its victims have children in their care. There is evidence that women with disabilities experience high levels of violence and that Indigenous women experience higher rates of more severe forms of violence than the rest of the population. Domestic violence is the leading cause of death, disability and illness among women aged 15 to 44 years. It is higher than motor vehicle accidents, blood pressure or smoking. It destroys individuals, families and communities. It costs the Australian economy around one per cent of GDP in lost productivity.

The ABS estimates that around two-thirds of women who experience domestic violence are in the workforce. That means that more than 800,000 women, or around one in six women workers, are experiencing some form of violence in their home. Apart from the personal impact of violence, there are costs to employers. These include increased absenteeism and staff turnover, decreased performance and productivity, conflict among workers and safety issues for everyone if the perpetrator of violence goes to the workplace, which we know occurs at alarming rates.

In a report for the Australia Institute Dr Jim Stanford confirmed what domestic violence counsellors have been saying for decades. Economic insecurity is one of the most significant obstacles confronting women in their decision to leave a violent relationship. Introducing paid domestic violence leave into the National Employment Standards offers an important opportunity to reach people living with violence and to provide them with support. The current federal government does not support paid domestic violence leave and this government is actively removing access to this vital lifesaving workplace right from the agreements covering its own employees.

Ill-informed claims and actions by the government are dangerous and negligent. It’s time that they had a rethink on this issue, which should be above politics. Stanford’s report calculates that the cost of providing every worker access to 10 days paid domestic violence leave to be less than 100th of a per cent of last year’s increase in average weekly wages. The idea that this would even be noticed internationally, let alone undermine our competitiveness, is extraordinary. Some of Australia’s leading companies—Qantas, IKEA, NAB, Westpac, Woolworths and Telstra—have all done this. Make no mistake: not paying domestic violence leave is not free. The reality is that the cost of inaction is too high. Paid domestic violence leave will make it easier for women to leave violence. It will make it easier to keep children safe. It will make our workforce healthier and safer. It will save lives. In 2017 there are no more excuses. 

(Time expired)

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office


Important items

Enrol to vote Parliament of Australia Australian Labor Party Clean Energy Future