Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
Jun 19, 2017

Private Members’ Business – Craft Brewing Industry

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:26): I move:

That this House:

(1) notes the growth of the craft brewing sector in recent years as a generator of employment, tourism and exports in capital cities and regional communities;

(2) further notes:

(a) there is an inequity between how Commonwealth excise is calculated for small and large scale brewers which disadvantages the craft brewing sector;

(b) that excise currently accounts for a disproportionate amount of the costs of production for small brewers and the calculation of excise imposes a significant burden on them; and

(c) this small business sector provides local employment and is an emerging tourism attraction; and

(3) urges:

(a) the Australian Government to ensure policy settings which encourage the realisation of the potential of the craft brewing sector; and

(b) state and local governments to update their planning controls and development approval to facilitate the growth of the craft brewing sector.

I do so in support of those Australians who are currently employed by the more than 400 craft brewers around Australia. The craft brewing industry is a job creation powerhouse, but if we get the policy settings right it could generate even more jobs not just in our capital cities but also in our regional communities. Craft brewers employ locals and buy local produce for their operation, while craft brewing related tourism is booming.

Craft beer is a quality product; however, the industry has been restricted by outdated planning controls and development approval processes at the state and local levels, and this resolution calls for local and state governments to provide support to the craft brewing sector. But the fact is it is also disadvantaged at the federal level by poor legislation related to the excise rates faced by small brewers. Today the rate of the federal excise charged for a keg containing 50 litres of beer is less than the rate charged for a keg containing 30 litres. In addition to this, a maximum tax rebate a brewery can receive per calendar year is $30,000, which compares unfavourably to the wine industry’s producer rebate of some $500,000.

These anomalies put Australia’s craft beer brewers at a competitive disadvantage against mass produced beers. With excise making up approximately 40 per cent of operating costs for most craft breweries in Australia, this has to change. On Friday, five brewers from the inner west of Sydney in my electorate came together to form an industry association that aims to turn the precinct into the craft beer capital of Australia. This association was formed following a forum of microbrewers I hosted in March with the shadow minister for agriculture, Joel Fitzgibbon. Peter Philip is the founder of Wayward Brewing Company, located in Camperdown, and one of the five founding members of the association. Peter has noted the operating costs are not the only problems that have come out of unfair excise on smaller operators. He said: ‘If there was no tax discrimination for smaller kegs, then most pubs and breweries would prefer to use 30-litre kegs, which make for fresher beer, more variety and fewer injuries. Not only would changing the excise on craft brewers give the industry the economic shot in the arm it needs, it would also lead to safer working conditions and better beer.’

As our brewers do better, so do the industries that they rely on for their operation. Microbreweries are large consumers of agricultural produce, going through tonnes of grain and hops a week—mostly Australian grown. Hopsgrowers have gone from selling low-value, bittering hops to the big breweries to selling high-value innovative hops to craft breweries. The unique beers produced by these unique ingredients are fuelling the premium beer sector in China, estimated to be worth some $35 billion by 2020. There are also great opportunities for craft beer tourism, whereby operators set up walking tours for enthusiasts to visit several breweries to sample different types of beer.

If the government is serious about supporting small business in Australia then it needs to get serious about changing the legislation to help our brewers. Despite the obstacles faced by the industry it continues to expand, and the type of kick-on employment that the sector supports, such as boutique hops growers, is vital to a healthy and diverse national economy.

With proper support from the federal government, the potential for growth is enormous. Already, major regional centres, like Ballarat, Wagga Wagga, the Hunter, the Illawarra and in Tasmania—including Scottsdale, where I visited the brewery there—have seen growth in local jobs, with people being employed and local communities being able to gather. I certainly have respect for the resilience and success of the craft beer-brewing industry. I have respect for the sector’s contribution to the national economy. And I have respect for the fact that local breweries employ local people.

I will end with a quote from Russell Crowe, as his character John Nash in the film A Beautiful Mind:

I have respect for beer.

I commend the motion to the House.

Jun 19, 2017

Statements by Members – WestConnex

Federation Chamber 

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:27): I want to take the opportunity to raise the impacts of the WestConnex project on St Peters, a community in my electorate. The fact is that St Peters has suffered substantially not just from the compulsory acquisition of tens of homes but also where the state government literally withheld a report that they had about the financial compensation that should be due to those homeowners. They have suffered from the demolition of those homes and factories in their area, much of which has had an impact on local schools, particularly St Peters Public School. But since March they have suffered from a noxious smell that has impacted the local community from the fact that much of the major works is in an old tip. Indeed, the Environment Protection Authority produced a prevention notice to contractors in March which said that they should ‘undertake all reasonable and feasible measures to prevent leachate from pooling’ and to cover or remove pooled leachate as soon as practicable. That has not happened. Children are being kept inside St Peters Public School, unable to play or go out at lunch. This needs to be fixed by the state government. and it needs to be fixed now.

May 30, 2017

Grievance Debate – WestConnex

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:14): Back in 2012, the experts at Infrastructure New South Wales sat down to take a look at the major challenges facing Sydney’s transport network. They later produced a report about their deliberations. Under the headline ‘First things first’, the experts, chaired by Nick Greiner, a former Premier of New South Wales, said the greatest transport challenge facing Sydney was rapid growth around Port Botany and the Sydney Airport. The Infrastructure New South Wales report said:

With growth forecast to continue, investment is urgently needed in landside infrastructure to allow access to these gateways.

It was identified access to the Port of Botany as the No. 1 priority. The advice could not have been clearer. The other imperative was access to the central business district of Sydney. It was these two requirements—access for freight to the port in particular and for cars to the CBD—that led to the beginning of what was termed the WestConnex project.

What we have today with the WestConnex project, five years later, is a very different project. It is one which will not go to the port. It will not meet the very challenges that were identified as the reason for its existence. This is the worst example of planning that I have seen for a major infrastructure project. What you need to do with infrastructure is to get the plans right first, go through the community consultation process and the environmental approvals and then have funding provided. What we have with this project is literally a government which is making it up as they go along. This is a project where they literally started digging tunnels before they knew where the tunnels were coming up—an extraordinary proposition. It is a project which began with a cost of some $10 billion which has now blown out to $17 billion, which is now leading to calls for further extensions of the road network.

In the 2014 budget of the Abbott government, the one where they cut funding for every public transport project that was not under construction, there was money handed out. It was handed out as advance payments for projects that had not been through planning proposals and had not been through the Infrastructure Australia process. That included the WestConnex project, where the $1.5 billion in grant funding has already all been paid—every single dollar of it—even though the project will not be concluded until into the 2020s.

In government, we instituted a process whereby you would have milestone payments. That is the concept that you have to actually build something and achieve the milestones that have been set in order for state governments to then be rewarded with payments from the federal government. But what we saw with this project was $750 million forwarded as an advance payment. We also then saw $2 billion made available as a loan to the New South Wales government, even though the New South Wales government has got substantial revenue from the sale of essential public assets in New South Wales. This is what the Auditor-General had to say about the project. I will quote from the report released last year as a result of representations that I had made asking for an audit into the financing processes of this project. He wrote:

The WestConnex project had not proceeded fully through the established processes to assess the merits of nationally significant infrastructure investments prior to Australian Government funding being committed. This situation was identified in departmental advice to decision makers prior to decisions being taken.

So there we have the Audit Office saying that ministers ignored the advice. With regard to the milestone payments, the Audit Office found that they changed what the milestones were in order to justify the payments being made.

We also saw the ongoing complete failure of community consultation. The residents of Haberfield, St Peters, Ashfield, Leichhardt and Rozelle all tell the same story. Take just one example—that of Vince Crow, a long-time resident of Haberfield. In June 2014 Mr Crow received two letters from a representative of the WestConnex Delivery Authority. Both were delivered on the same day. The first letter said, ‘We’re going to need to buy your property,’ and the second letter, signed by the same gentleman, said, ‘We don’t need to buy your property.’ There was absolute uncertainty for this resident. The pattern of inaccuracy, unprofessionalism and miscommunication has been repeated across my community ever since. About 180 properties have already been acquired out of a total of more than 400. Indeed, there is the extraordinary circumstance whereby the New South Wales government kept secret from the community for more than two years the report they received in 2014 about compensation that people who were having their homes acquired were due.

Across my community, residents have had to fight to protect public parks and sporting fields. Ashfield Park, Easton Park in Rozelle and Blackmore Oval in Leichhardt were all defended by the local community. I made representation about all of those public parks because open space is at a premium. Worst was to come with the idea that you would create a dive site next to the Leichhardt campus of the Sydney Secondary College. This was right next to the one oval that that overcrowded campus has. It was proposed to have a convoy of trucks rolling in and out of the worksite past school classroom windows. Fortunately, the New South Wales minister, Stuart Ayres, who I approached about this, intervened and it has been ruled out as a proposal. At the same time students in schools like St Peters Public School have had to put up with the demolition of homes right near the school. This had a real impact on them. Haberfield Public School students and teachers are very worried about the impact of the project on Haberfield.

You would think, given the extent of disruption, that senior people in the New South Wales bureaucracy would be concerned about this. The Greater Sydney Commission has responsibility for planning in greater Sydney. In August 2016 the chair of the commission, Lucy Turnbull, was interviewed on ABC radio and was asked to comment on the fact that houses were being demolished in Haberfield to make way for WestConnex. The chair of the commission said, ‘I’m not aware that there are houses going to be demolished at Haberfield.’ At that very time dozens of houses, which were heritage listed in a heritage listed suburb, had already been demolished. There is complete contempt for these local residents.

Delivering major infrastructure projects is never easy. I support good infrastructure, public transport as well as good road infrastructure, but you have to get the planning right. You also have to acknowledge that, in our growing global cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, the key to dealing with urban congestion is public transport, not more and more road infrastructure. You must get the planning right, you must consult properly with the community and you must bring the community with you. In the words of the 18th century American statesman Benjamin Franklin, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’ The WestConnex project has now been set up under a separate authority so freedom of information laws and the normal accountability of a government agency do not apply in New South Wales. This is an example of avoiding bringing the community with an infrastructure project rather than having proper consultation.

May 29, 2017

Statements by Members – Broadband

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:37): I rise to speak about the diabolical farce that is the rollout of the National Broadband Network in my electorate of Grayndler. My office is currently inundated with requests from constituents trying to navigate the atrocious half-measure that is this coalition government’s ‘fraudband’ network. The problems are a direct result of policy failure.

Fibre to the premises—every home and every business—was Labor’s plan, a universal system that recognised that fibre in the 21st century was as important as water or electricity, an acknowledgement that high-speed broadband is essential for education and health. Under this government though, particularly under Malcolm Turnbull as the minister, he unravelled that. We have a mix of fibre to the premises, fibre to the node, fibre to the basement and hybrid fibre coaxial cable, where there was just one plan before. We have even had the purchase of some 15 million metres of copper wire to complete the NBN—a farce in the 21st century. Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that Morgan Jaffit, a Brisbane based video games developer, had used registered post rather than uploading files, because that was quicker. The fact is that we need 21st century technology, and that means fibre to the premises.

May 22, 2017

Statements by Member – Public Transport

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:14): The New South Wales government’s planned privatisation of inner-west bus services will result in worse, not better, transport for commuters across the region.

As the member for Grayndler and the shadow minister for transport, I will fight alongside the public to prevent this privatisation—which Luke Foley’s Labor Party is of course opposed to—from proceeding. The sell-off of services will lead to jobs being lost, routes being cut, fares increasing and service levels dropping. Hundreds of thousands of people in the inner west, including workers, students and pensioners, depend heavily on public bus services. Any cuts to these services will have a real impact on their lives. The government claims that after their sell-off the routes and prices will not change, but we know that private bus services only operate anywhere in Sydney with massive public subsidies.

Transport Minister Constance seems to think that he can justify this privatisation by crudely denigrating the bus drivers, but the commuters of the inner west know that these drivers do an excellent job in difficult conditions. I pay tribute to the drivers on the 412 and 423, my local bus drivers. Mr Constance has launched this attack on the inner west for purely partisan purposes. The Premier needs to intervene and step in before the minister does any more damage.

May 11, 2017

Adjournment – St Mary and St Mina Coptic Orthodox Church

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:26): I rise to call for the Inner West Council, unelected as it is, to withdraw its proposed demolition of the St Mary and St Mina Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydenham in my electorate. This is the oldest Coptic Orthodox church in the Southern Hemisphere, and was the first Coptic Orthodox church established anywhere outside of Egypt.

This church was built in 1884. It was, for many, many years, a Methodist church on Railway Road in Sydenham. It was there before the airport, which, of course, had a significant impact on the practice of faith in the church, because it was directly under the newly built third runway. The church was bought by Egyptian Coptic migrants in 1968. Those migrants, of course, fled after political turmoil and persecution of Coptic Christians in Egypt. They put their hard-earned dollars into that church to buy it. The church holds war memorials from before that time dedicated to our brave diggers who fought for freedom in this country. The buildings around the church were demolished when the third runway was built, and a new church funded by the federal government was established in the St George area across the river. But the community had wanted the church to be maintained as a museum to the local history of, particularly, the Coptic Orthodox community, who number around about 100,000 in Sydney alone.

Recently, on 2 May, an arsonist targeted the building, causing more damage, which is the subject of a New South Wales police investigation. It is true that the building needs an upgrade, but the Coptic community have themselves raised funds and organised builders who are prepared to participate in the refurbishment of the church. The Inner West Council, of course, does not actually exist as a democratic body. The New South Wales government abolished the former Marrickville Council, and had a forced amalgamation between the Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield councils into the Inner West Council, and they have had an unelected administrator since that occurred. Given that, there is no democratic process for the community to participate in stopping the abolition of this church.

The council says it will take $5 million to rebuild the church, but the Coptic Orthodox community have raised in cash and kind some $2 million to carry out the work. The Inner West Council plans tomorrow to raze the building and create a memorial area using parts of the church. The state government’s Office of Environment and Heritage has not opposed the demolition. I say to the New South Wales government of Gladys Berejiklian, if this is not heritage—a church built in 1884, the first Coptic Orthodox church outside of Egypt—then what is? The New South Wales government particularly have a responsibility because there is no elected council in place. Effectively, the administrator is a representative of the New South Wales coalition government, appointed by them as a sole administrator, and they should intervene. At a time when the Islamic State is claiming responsibility for bombings of Coptic churches in Egypt as recently as Palm Sunday, when 50 people were killed, this is a community that feels they are under siege, and I stand with the community in support of their heritage, in support of their right not only to practise their religion at the church in Bexley but also to recognise their history as an important community here in Australia.

Mar 28, 2017

Hansard – Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2016-2017, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2016-2017 – 2nd Reading Speech

The 2016-17 budget was an opportunity for the Prime Minister and his Treasurer to put their personal stamp on the administration of this nation. After the chaos, conflict and disappointment of the Abbott Prime Ministership, banished by his own party members, here was a chance to turn the page. In my own area of infrastructure it was a chance for the coalition to bridge the huge gap between its soaring rhetoric on infrastructure and the everyday reality of cuts, delays and nondelivery.

In particular, I think people had a great deal of hope that the prime ministership of Malcolm Turnbull would lead to a reversal of the Abbott government’s attitude towards urban policy and public transport. It was hoped that the member for Wentworth, who enjoyed taking selfies on trains and trams, might actually fund them. But of course that has not happened. The budget’s opening bid was a $1 billion cut to infrastructure investment allocated in previous budgets—no new money for public transport or roads and nothing for cities policies. Indeed, there was a cut of $18 million of funding that was intended to build infrastructure in order to fund a television propaganda campaign that falsely claimed ahead of last year’s election campaign that the government was increasing infrastructure investment.

Actually, what we know is that under the first two years of the coalition government, infrastructure investment fell by 20 per cent. The Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that quarterly public-sector investment in infrastructure under this government has been lower in all of their 12 quarters since they gained office than any single quarter under the previous Labor government’s first budget after 2008. Each one of their 12 quarters has been lower than the 21 quarters in which Labor was in office. Let us look at the context of that. Firstly, you had the resources sector moving from the investment phase to the production phase, which means that you had a drop-off in private sector infrastructure investment. Secondly, you have the economic circumstances of record low interest rates and a Reserve Bank that, because of those low interest rates, has identified a risk in that those low interest rates have led to increased speculation in the housing market. The Reserve Bank of Australia, no less—both the current governor, Philip Lowe, and his predecessor, Glenn Stevens—as well as, of course, former Treasury Secretary Ken Henry and others, have all called for increases in infrastructure investment, and yet the government has stubbornly ignored this advice. We were promised cranes in the sky and bulldozers on the ground by the Abbott government, which we have not seen. We have not seen bulldozers, just clouds of bulldust in terms of the rhetoric of the Abbott government and now the Turnbull government. The only hole that this government has dug has been the one in which they buried the prime ministership of the member for Warringah.

Indeed, we hear, endlessly, this government proclaim that it has a $50 billion infrastructure program. But, of course, that is not true. The Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development noted at Senate estimates that the program is worth $34 billion over the first five years and then $8 billion at some unspecified time in the future. It is not just that; it is that they are not actually even spending the money that has been allocated—last year, $1 billion less than the funding that was actually in the previous government—and they have underspent, which means a slowdown in the rollout of projects like the Pacific Highway and the Bruce Highway. What we have seen from this government is cuts to projects, delays to projects and deferrals of projects. Cuts to all public transport projects that were ready to go, like the Melbourne Metro and the Cross River Rail project. Delays to the commencement of projects, like Adelaide’s upgrade of the South Road and the M80 project in Melbourne. Quite often what we have seen is an extraordinary propensity to rename projects and then pretend that they are new, whether it be the F3 to M2 in Sydney, renamed as NorthConnex, or the Swan Valley Bypass, renamed as NorthLink, a new name does not make it a new project. We have seen a government running around the country not investing in the infrastructure that is needed.

This is the sort of appropriation where you should have seen investment in projects that are ready to go that would boost productivity. One example is the Port Botany rail link. Port Botany has had an upgrade through the Southern Sydney Freight Line, but it stops at Mascot. The bit between Mascot and Port Botany has to be completed. At the moment, you can have only one train in and one train out. If a train is going out from Port Botany, then the train bringing in freight to the port has to wait until that train has gone through the system—an absurdity in 2017. When we were in office, the more than $1 billion we invested in the Southern Sydney Freight Line was aimed at upgrading the capacity of the port and upgrading the rail network. The Moorebank Intermodal Terminal, which will begin actual construction in the next fortnight, is a vital project to get trucks off Sydney’s roads and to increase the productive capacity of Sydney, New South Wales and the nation. And yet this government has failed to complete that project—an absolute no-brainer. The Cross River Rail project in Brisbane was approved by Infrastructure Australia in 2012, funded by federal Labor in 2013 and cancelled by the incoming coalition government, and four years later the government still says, ‘We need more information,’ even though it went through a very rigorous process of Infrastructure Australia’s assessment.

You would think that, if there is a project the National Party could support, it is inland rail. If only we had a sleeper laid every time they mentioned inland rail, the project would be up and running now. Warren Truss, the former transport minister, said on 28 August 2013 that construction would start ‘within three years’. It is now into the fourth year and still we have not seen any construction. Indeed, the new minister, Darren Chester, Mr Truss’s replacement, said to the Australian Logistics Council on 8 March 2017:

… my challenge in this term of government is to build momentum on this project and make its development inevitable.

So they have gone from, ‘Construction is going to commence in 2016,’ to saying in 2017 that they just want it to be inevitable down the track. This is a government that simply cannot do it properly.

It is not just rail. Look at their dud toll roads. We had the East West Link delivering 45c return for every dollar invested. An advance payment of $1½ billion was made and was criticised by the Australian National Audit Office. The government committed exactly the same mistake and received exactly the same criticism from the Australian National Audit Office over the WestConnex project, where, again, advance payments were made. Milestones were changed to suit payments after the milestone had already been reached. The project was supposed to reach a milestone in order to receive a payment. When it did not reach that, the New South Wales government said, ‘We’ll just change what the milestone is to something that has already been achieved and, therefore, justify the payment being made.’ The proposal for the Sydney Secondary College at Leichhardt, in my electorate, to be turned into a construction dive site still remains. The school’s one oval, which serves 1,000 students at Leichhardt and is right next to the tram sheds, is to be turned into a major construction site. This is an absurd proposal which would damage the educational capacity of that school. The government would never think about doing it at one of the wealthier private schools in my electorate, but Leichhardt high school is fair game. There has been no consultation with parents or the school community. Indeed, a letter delivered to the suburbs of Leichhardt and Lilyfield was how residents first found out about it—and, indeed, how I, as the federal member, was first informed about that. I have had productive meetings with the minister, Stuart Ayres, about making sure that that proposal goes off the table. But at this stage it is still there, which is similar to the lack of proper consultation and the concern that parents have had at St Peters Public School, at Haberfield Public School, and at a range of schools, institutions and community groups around the inner west.

But, in terms of funding, the most extraordinary thing is that the letter to the suburbs of Leichhardt and Lilyfield indicated that the government would consult about the final route of the project. That might not seem unusual, except for the fact that they have started building the tunnel. They have literally started building a tunnel without knowing where it is coming up and without knowing what the route of the tunnel will be. You could not make this up. This is a $16.7 billion project that has blown out—the original costing was $10 billion—by $6.7 billion, and they do not know where it is going.

Then we have in Perth the Perth Freight Link, a project rejected by the people of Western Australia just a couple of weeks ago. It was a project that was supposed to take freight to the port, except that it did not go to the port; it stopped three kilometres short of the port. The route goes through the Beeliar Wetlands. It is a project that simply does not stack up and one where the government’s response has been to threaten the $1.2 billion of funding for the people of Western Australia to have proper infrastructure in terms of roads and, of course, the vital Metronet project to expand public transport.

When it comes to cities, in spite of the fact that there was a change of prime ministership and allegedly a change of policy, we have no replacement for the Major Cities Unit, no return to the producing of State of Australian cities reports, a City Deals process that is just matching commitments to previous commitments made by Labor to build the new stadium in Townsville and in Tasmania around the University of Tasmania, and, in Western Sydney, a vague commitment of a small amount of money without any proper engagement with the local community.

Could I say in conclusion that this record stands in stark contrast to when we were in office, when we doubled the roads budget, we increased the rail budget by more than 10 times, we built or rebuilt 7,500 kilometres of roads and 4,000 kilometres of railways, we delivered the nation’s first aviation white paper, we created Infrastructure Australia.

Mar 28, 2017

Hansard – International Record Store Day – Members Statements

Saturday, 22 April will see the celebration of the 10th international Record Store Day. This was established to highlight the cultural and economic importance of record stores in an era of online shopping, file sharing and downloads. In Australia, more than 180 independent record stores will mark the event with live music, DJ performances and other in-store activities, as well as fundraising for various charities. We all know independent record stores are important in our communities as small businesses, generating economic activity and providing jobs, but the importance of independent record stores extends well beyond economics. It goes to our culture, our lived experience and the way we understand and engage with the world. That is because, in the words of the late, great Chuck Berry:

Music is an important part of our culture and record stores play a vital part in keeping the power of music alive.

We have all spent time in record stores, maybe looking for something specific or maybe just thumbing through the racks, killing time. In 2017, you can download or stream the latest song by your favourite artist without leaving your lounge chair. But you do not get the experience of seeking it out in a record store, thereby opening yourself to a world of music you might never have heard. You do not hear that song on a full album with a collection of tracks chosen by the performer to be heard in a particular order. You do not get to feel the CD or record in your hands, read the liner notes, or admire the pictures and artwork. Grinderman, a side project of Australian singer Nick Cave, put this concept this way:

Do yourself a tremendous favour and go to a record store today. The relatively mild exertion of getting off your fat, computer-shackled [backside] and venturing out to find the object of your desire, the thrill of moving through actual space and time, through row upon row of records, and the tactile ecstasy of fondling the quested treasure—all this will augment and enrich the mental associations the music invokes in you for the rest of your life.

The record store subculture is perfectly described in Nick Hornby’s awesome novel and subsequent film High Fidelity. Record stores bring people together. Back in the late 1970s, two young men were browsing in a record store in the US state of Georgia and stopped to chat: Michael Stipe and budding guitarist Peter Buck, who became friends and went on to form R.E.M.

Independent record music stores are critical to the music industry and to our communities. You will not find many recordings of local emerging bands in the big chain stores in your city, but you will find them in independent record stores. I am proud to be an ambassador for Record Store Day on 22 April.

As Tom Waits said of music stores:

Folks who work here are professors. Don’t replace all the knowers with guessors. Keep’em open. They’re the ears of the town.

Feb 28, 2017

Hansard – House of Representatives- Westconnex

I rise to express my dismay and anger about the New South Wales government’s latest proposal to convert the former tram sheds next to the Leichhardt campus of Sydney Secondary College into an industrial construction site for the WestConnex toll road project.

Last week, without undertaking any consultation with the local community or local elected representatives, the government notified residents it wanted to use this land as a dive site for the construction of the stage 3 tunnel for the WestConnex project. This exemplifies the appalling lack of proper community engagement that has caused so much resentment towards this project.

The Leichhardt campus is already overcrowded. Almost 1,000 students are packed into a site that has little open space and only one school oval. That is why the school community has been campaigning for years to have incorporated into the school the very site that Sydney Motorway Corporation are now targeting. In any normal sized school, this land would already be a part of the grounds. If built, the dive site will become a major construction site, where earth will be removed to build the tunnels that make up stage 3 of the tollway. That anyone would propose this type of major construction virtually on the grounds of a local public high school is beyond belief. Daily truck movements and tunnelling activity will expose students to noise pollution, dust and dangerous traffic conditions.

In 2010 I was proud to open the sports field adjacent to the tram sheds—prior to that, they had none—following a grant to Leichhardt council from the former federal Labor government under our Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program. The grounds are heavily used by students as well as local sports clubs on weekdays and weekends. How will sport or any other outdoor activity on the current grounds be enjoyed when they are surrounded, over and under, by an industrial construction site? By any measure, the location is entirely inappropriate for tunnelling.

What is worse is that the government does not even know where the tunnel will be going. In the notification letter sent out to residents, Sydney Motorway Corporation declares that they will ‘soon release a design report that includes the latest tunnel route, all short-listed M4-M5 link potential construction sites and other details’. This is a project where they have started building the tunnel at one end without knowing where it is going or where it is coming up. They are literally making it up as they go along. Because the government does not know where the tunnel is going to end, there is also no final completion date for the project, which means the site will be in use for an indefinite period of time. There is no set end to the disruption.

Besides bad planning, the outrageous thing is that the primary motivation behind choosing Leichhardt High School, or Sydney Secondary College, as it is now known, is simply greed. The choice of site is motivated by Sydney Motorway Corporation—which will be privatised down the track, and its assets sold off—thinking that, because the tram sheds are state-owned land, they will not have to purchase more for the construction site, when other locations are available.

The minutes of a recent meeting between Sydney Motorway Corporation and the Inner West Council reveal that the New South Wales Department of Education has given in-principle support to this absurd proposal. It is a shocking betrayal of the school community for the department to secretly enter into negotiations and give tacit approval to such a dangerous plan.

The new education minister, Rob Stokes, must intervene to protect the students and staff at the Leichhardt campus from this proposal. Premier Berejiklian should intervene and rule out this proposal immediately. To think that placing an industrial construction site next to a public high school was ever a good idea is completely nonsensical, particularly when there are no entry or exit points apart from driving through an oval—the only oval—that services almost a thousand students.

Sydney does need infrastructure. But it does not need to show utter contempt for communities while it is being built, and that is what has happened with this proposal. It is total and utter contempt. It will be opposed by the local community, and the local community will ensure that this does not happen.

Nov 28, 2016

Private Members’ Business – World AIDS Day

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:12): I rise to support the motion from my friend the member for Griffith, acknowledging that this week we will hold, on Thursday, World AIDS Day, and the theme this year is: HIV is still here and it is on the move. World AIDS Day has been held every year since 1988. More than 36 million people around the world are living with HIV.

The first recorded case of HIV AIDS in Australia was in Sydney in October 1982, and the first Australian death from AIDS occurred in July 1983. Between 1984 and mid-1985, there was a 540 per cent increase in HIV infections. And there was no cure. Labor health minister Neal Blewett, with the support of the then opposition, deserves incredible praise for embarking on a world-leading, pioneering and brave campaign to promote a safe-sex message. A television advertisement showing the Grim Reaper knocking people down like pins in a bowling alley was first screened on 5 April 1987 and kicked off efforts to provide the public with reliable information on preventing HIV and AIDS.

The success of the campaign can be judged by the reduction in the rate of infections. New diagnoses of HIV—according to the Australian Federation of Aids Organisations, based in my electorate in Newtown—have stabilised at just over 1,000 per year in the last three years. HIV diagnosis among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, however, has been increasing over the last five years. Ninety per cent of people living with HIV are men.

The stabilisation follows a concerted effort to increase the scope and regularity of HIV testing. The key is awareness. Pre-exposure prophylaxis has revolutionised HIV prevention. Through its use—along with rapid HIV testing, treatment as prevention, condoms and lube, and supportive attitudes and laws—the situation in Australia has stabilised. What is more, highly effective treatment for those with HIV means that deaths in Australia are now rare.

Unfortunately, people are still dying, including my dear friend and the first out MP in Australia, Paul O’Grady, who passed away in recent times after a very long illness. When he contracted HIV he resigned from the New South Wales parliament because he was not expected to live very much longer. He of course lived for decades longer as a result of the effort of science in prolonging people’s lives and providing that treatment.

Internationally, there remains a massive challenge. In our region of the Asia-Pacific, 180,000 cases of AIDS and 1.2 million cases of HIV are reported each year. The Australian government has committed $220 million over three years towards the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. This fund operates in 120 countries and is estimated to have saved 20 million lives since 2002. Australia should play a leading role in our region in tackling HIV, and this of course should be a bipartisan effort.

I want to today pay tribute to those people who in the early years had the courage to come out and say that they were HIV positive, sometimes attracting criticism and very personal derision as a result of the courageous stance that they took. Many of those people are no longer around. But, as a result of that many—hundreds of thousands—of lives here in Australia have been saved. The courage and vision that the former Labor government showed—and also it must be said the fact that the opposition of the time was prepared to support that leadership from Neal Blewett has made a real difference in our society. It is another reason why we need to be open about these issues, how we need to as a community do whatever we can to ensure that in future years we do not actually have a theme of ‘HIV is still here and it is on the move’; but that we can celebrate that HIV is in the past.

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Email: A.Albanese.MP@aph.gov.au

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