Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
Sep 13, 2012

Constituency Statements – Grayndler Electorate: Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (09:33): Just over a week ago, I had the honour of meeting Justin Kwon, a year 5 student at St Vincents Primary School in Ashfield. Justin’s passion for prose saw him take out a top spot in the Dorothea Mackellar Poetry Awards, a nationwide competition that attracted over 10,000 entries this year. What was extra special about Justin’s award was that it was in the learning assistance and special education category. Justin’s passion for poetry began when he heard Dorothea Mackellar’s legendary poem My Country. It is fitting that this budding poet has won an award named after his idol.

While I happily presented Justin with a book pack and a cheque for his prize, he gave me a much greater gift: a book that he made himself with poems he had written since he was seven years old and illustrations for each poem.

It is obvious that poetry is an important part of the way that Justin expresses himself. I was honoured to receive such a wonderful present. He is a credit to his parents, Oh Soo and Marissa; his teacher Robin Catchpole; and his school, St Vincent’s at Ashfield. I would like to share with the House some of his poem which won the prize:

Wheels, Wings and Marvellous Things

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things!

I wish I had wheels,

So I can be as fast as a car,

I can go near and I can go far.

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things!

I wish I had wings

so I can fly:

I can take a trip to the blue sky!

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things!

I wish I had a shell,

So I can hide,

when I am scared…

or when I’m sleepy inside…

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things!

I wish I had gills

to breathe in the sea,

to conquer my swimming,

to be a different me.

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things!

I wish I had springs,

so I can jump high

to feel the clouds

and the beautiful sky

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things!

I wish I had muscles so I can be strong:

I can carry people all day long

I wish I had a tail, fins, a magic ring

and all sorts of marvellous things!

I wish I had wheels, wings and marvellous things,

wheels, wings and marvellous things!

This is a wonderful young man. He is in year 5 at St Vincent’s at Ashfield.

Mr Neville interjecting—

Mr ALBANESE: I note the statements from across the chamber, including from the member for Hinkler, acknowledging what a marvellous thing this young man is. He suffers. He is on the autism spectrum. He expresses himself in such a magnificent way through this book of poetry. I assure other honourable members that this book that I will cherish as a prized possession, as a member of parliament, is full not just of wonderful poems but of wonderful illustrations of those poems. He is a wonderful boy and he is a great credit to his school, to his family and to the local community.


Aug 21, 2012

Constituency Statement – Recent Ministerial Visit to Lebanon & Cyprus

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (16:08):  I recently visited Lebanon and Cyprus where I held meetings with senior government officials to discuss transport infrastructure, joint business opportunities, and to further improve what are very good bilateral relations between Australia and Lebanon and Cyprus.


My visit to Lebanon was the first by an Australian government minister since 2001 and followed the first ever visit of a Lebanese President to Australia in April this year.

Australia and Lebanon share a warm and productive bilateral relationship that is underpinned by strong community and people-to-people links. There are approximately 350,000 Australians of Lebanese descent that have made a significant contribution to Australian society in all walks of life.

In my meetings with President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Miqati, and Speaker of the Parliament, Nabih Berri, I was given an update on the economic, social and political challenges facing the Lebanese people. In these meetings we discussed further strengthening two-way economic trade in cooperation between our nations.

I also met and was hosted by the Lebanese Minister for Public Works, Mr Ghazi Aridi, who welcomed me on my arrival and hosted a lunch with other business community leaders, and the Minister of Energy and Water, Gebran Bassil, to discuss infrastructure issues. This is the second time this year that I have met with Minister Aridi and we committed to strengthening maritime search and rescue operations at the Port of Tripoli with AMSA to provide their technical expertise.


Australia and Cyprus also share a close and longstanding relationship. There are over 80,000 Cypriot-born migrants and their families in Australia, making it the second largest Cypriot community outside Cyprus.

My visit to Cyprus was the second by an Australian government minister since 2007 and is my second visit to Cyprus since I entered parliament.

Australian peacekeepers have been in Cyprus since 1964. I had the honour of meeting with the men and women of the Australian Federal Police who are part of the UN Peacekeeping Force in Cyprus. I was given a tour of the buffer zone by the commander of our force, Superintendent Peter Bond. Our presence in Cyprus is greatly appreciated, and our men and women are covering themselves with distinction. As a long-term advocate of justice for Cyprus, I believe it is important that Australia retain our presence as part of the UN peacekeeping efforts.

During my visit I also met with the Minister of Communications and Works, Efthemios Flourentzou; the Secretary-General of AKEL, Andros Kyprianou; the Mayor of Limassol, Mr Andreas Christou; and the Mayor of Larnaca, Mr Andreas Louroutziatis. I also had the great honour of meeting His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus. Larnaca is one of the biggest cities in Cyprus and has been a sister city to Marrickville since 2005.

I was pleased that my visit helped to extend the friendship between our two countries.

(Time expired)

Jun 19, 2012

Statement of Indulgence – The Honourable Francis John (Frank) Walker

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (19:58):  On indulgence, today I had the honour of representing the Prime Minister at the funeral of Frank Walker. It was an extraordinary occasion, with speeches former High Court Judge Mary Gaudron about Frank’s legal legacy; from Frank’s brother Robert; from Michael Knight, who spoke about Frank Walker’s early years; from Michael Deegan, who spoke about Frank’s achievements as a state and federal minister; and Michael Gallagher, who represented the New South Wales government and was also the candidate against Frank for the seat of Robertson in 1993. He gave a very generous and humorous speech. He indicated that Frank would understand the humour of a former police officer speaking at his funeral, given the opposition that was there from the police to reforms such as removal of the Summary Offences Act and to other important progressive legislation that was championed by Frank Walker.

It was a great occasion. I thank the Premier of New South Wales, Barry O’Farrell, for his generosity in ensuring that it was a state funeral, particularly given that this was a great Labor event with Labor luminaries, including the former Prime Minister, Paul Keating. It was also attended by a number of former premiers, including Barrie Unsworth, Nick Greiner, Nathan Rees and Kristina Kenneally. It was indeed a great occasion at the Sydney Conservatorium and there were outstanding musical presentations.

Of course, if there was an overriding theme to the event it was Frank Walker’s record of being a champion of the marginalised, particularly his support for Indigenous rights. Tales were told, for example, about his being assaulted for daring to sit with the local Indigenous community on the Mid North Coast of New South Wales in a segregated theatre. It should be remembered that this happened in our lifetime. The police took him out of that theatre and he was assaulted for the crime of taking a stance on race relations, in favour of e   quality.

This was a great celebration of a great Australian. It was one in which there was a very positive spirit and it was an honour to be there today to represent the Prime Minister. In her absence, I thank her for bestowing that honour upon me.

Jun 18, 2012

Motion of Condolence – The Honourable Francis John (Frank) Walker

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (14:09):  I rise to add my support to this motion of condolence from the acting Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition.

Frank Walker was my friend. He was one of the most passionate, humble, loyal, dedicated and honest people that I had the privilege of knowing. He was absolutely committed to representing the interests of those who are the most marginalised in our society.

I first met Frank when I went along to a New South Wales Young Labor conference around about 1980—in Newtown, which now happens to be in my electorate. I was still at school. There I remember this minister standing at the front of the conference, talking about the action that he was taking to make New South Wales a more just society—changes such as repealing the unjust Summary Offences Act. The Leader of the Opposition has indicated the extent to which this drew opposition from some of the entrenched corrupt forces that were then in strong positions in New South Wales society. This angered many, particularly some sections of the New South Wales police force.

He drove through the most progressive Aboriginal land rights legislation at the time. He decriminalised homosexuality at a time when that was a radical notion, and where people were still the subject of being arrested for happening to be gay or lesbian. He had a commitment to public and community housing. He had a determination to help young people in particular who had got themselves into trouble with the law, not out of any flaw of character but simply due to the circumstances of their birth and family situations.

As happens in politics, in spite of being an extraordinary local campaigner, Frank lost his seat when Labor lost office in 1988. In 1989 I was his chief scrutineer in the preselection ballot for the federal seat of Robertson, where he defeated Belinda Neal by just three votes to be the Labor candidate after Barry Cohen’s retirement. He went on to win the seat of Robertson in 1990 and, of course, after 1993 to be a minister in the Keating Labor government.

Frank went on in post-parliamentary life to play a vital role in the judiciary, including helping victims of asbestos through the Dust Diseases Tribunal. He went on to make an extraordinary contribution as president of the Schizophrenia Fellowship of NSW from 1998 right up until his death. Schizophrenia, of course, was the condition that his two sons, Michael and Sean, suffered from—a condition which tragically proved fatal for both.

Right to the end, Frank was driven by his commitment to social justice. He remained an infectious personality even after he became very unwell. Every minute you spent with Frank Walker was a minute well spent. He was my friend, and I admired him deeply. He will be missed by the nation, the Labor movement, his many friends and by his family. Vale, Frank Walker.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (14:12):  As a mark of respect, I ask all present to signify their approval by rising in their places.

Honourable members having stood in their places—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER:  I thank the House.

Debate adjourned.

Jun 18, 2012

Statement of Condolence – Sonia Farah

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (13:58):  on indulgence—as a minister this would not normally be the case with 90 second statements, but as the member for Grayndler, which is home to Leichhardt Oval—the home of the Wests Tigers—I associate the government with the comments of the member for Bennelong and express condolences to Robbie Farah and his family, and indeed to all the Wests Tigers, on the loss of Robbie Farah’s mum, Mrs Sonia Farah.

May 31, 2012

Constituency Statement – Marrickville Golf and Community Club

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (09:36):  Last Saturday night I had the pleasure of attending the Newtown Swans trivia night at the Marrickville golf and community club. In my time as the member for Grayndler I have known Marrickville golf club to host many community and charity events for the benefit of thousands in my electorate and the local community.

Marrickville golf club was built in the 1940s by volunteer and community labour and is the largest single green space in Marrickville and Dulwich Hill. Since its opening, this 3.7 kilometre, 18-hole golf course has served as a community space and facility open to all members of the public. The golf club is supported by 775 active members and its facilities are enjoyed by hundreds of people each and every week, including many of the budding golfers of tomorrow through the Jack Newton Junior Golf cadet program that links the golf club with many local primary schools. Additionally, the Marrickville golf and community club has been the primary choice of the New South Wales Department of Ageing, Disability and Home Care as hosting venue for New South Wales Seniors Week events for the last three years. The club is also in the middle of extensive renovations and upgrades to modernise facilities for the needs of the local community.

A recent Marrickville Council commissioned ‘Recreation Needs Research Paper’ has suggested that the golf course is too big and is proposing that the golf course should be cut in half, to nine holes, with land to be used to develop ‘improved active transport and recreational access to the Cooks River corridor’. This is a nonsense proposal. The club president, Eddie Lakiss, has stated that, should the golf club be cut in half, then the entire facility and community clubhouse would be at risk of closing. Eddie says, ‘This club is not just a golf club, it is a community club and everyone is welcome whether they play golf or not.’

I reject these recommendations in the research paper which I assume are inspired by the Greens political party on Marrickville Council that seems to be opposed to active sport being conducted in the electorate. Marrickville golf club is a fantastic piece of local community infrastructure. It is an integral part of Marrickville’s history and future and the local community will fight these proposals. It is a shining example of the immense community spirit that can be fostered when you have a great public facility that works for the benefit of the entire community. I congratulate those people in the Marrickville golf and community club who are showing leadership on this issue and I will continue to argue their case as their representative in the national parliament.

Mar 20, 2012

Death of His Holiness Pope Shenouda III – condolence motion

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (19:31):  I rise to extend my condolences to Egyptian Coptics the world over and, in particular, in my electorate of Grayndler for the passing of their spiritual leader and the 117th Pope of Alexandria, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III. Born in 1923, and the youngest of eight children, Pope Shenouda graduated from Cairo University with a degree in history and taught high school English and social studies before graduating from the Coptic Theological Seminary in 1949. Pope Shenouda was appointed to the bishopric of Christian education and as Dean of the Coptic Orthodox Theological Summary in 1962 and, after seven years of his leadership, the number of students at the seminary had increased tenfold.

His Holiness was suspended from the church between 1966 and 1969 for his radical ‘campaigns for change’, which among other things called for the popular election of bishops and priests. In 1973, His Holiness was the first Coptic Orthodox pope to sit down with the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church in 1,500 years. Both men agreed they would encourage greater Christian unity between their faiths.

Pope Shenouda was passionate about social justice and equality, especially the need for peace in the Middle East and justice for the Palestinian people. After the cessation for several centuries, Pope Shenouda also reinstated the ordination of deaconesses and brought women into theological colleges and communal church councils. His Holiness devoted himself to bringing the people of Egypt together, no matter what their faith. In 2001, he said:

“Love generates love, and separation generates separation.”

His Holiness inspired the growth of churches outside Egypt, from seven in 1971 to more than 150 today. Indeed, the first Coptic church in Australia was established in my electorate of Grayndler—St Mary and St Mina’s Coptic Orthodox Church in Railway Road, Sydenham. He also empowered Coptic youth around the world and drew them into the church, declaring that ‘a Church without youth is a Church without a future’. Indeed, His Holiness was vital in setting up three Coptic Orthodox schools in Sydney. He was a scholar and a philosopher, authoring more than 100 books in his time as Pope of Alexandria on spirituality and theology. I like the words of Father Antonios Kaldas of the Archangel Michael and St Bishoy Coptic Orthodox Church in Sydney. Let me quote:

“The real Church is not made up of buildings and institutions. Those things are just tools we use to build the real Church, which is made up of the hearts and lives of every member of the Church. Where there is love, where there is truth, where there is wisdom, and nobility, integrity and honour, kindness and compassion—that is the real church.

These are not things that you can put numbers to get yet they are the things that really matter. They are the things that Pope Shenouda has a very special way of nurturing and inspiring in others.”

I certainly had the great honour of meeting Pope Shenouda on his sixth papal visit to Australia in November 2002. Prior to that I had travelled to Egypt. Included on that delegation were two Marrickville councillors, Morris Hanna, now the Mayor of Marrickville, and Morris Tadros, as part of the delegation from my local community to Egypt. There we met many Coptic Orthodox leaders and engaged in a dialogue that was extremely positive.

Pope Shenouda was indeed a special man, a man who led from the heart, promoting peace and understanding between Egyptians the world over. I offer my sincere condolences to the Coptic Orthodox community in this time of mourning and sadness.


Mar 14, 2012

Statement of Indulgence – NSW Floods

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (10:10):  Natural disaster declarations have been made in some 63 local government areas in New South Wales and Victoria, which gives an idea of the scale of these floods. I acknowledge the work that has taken place from the federal government, state governments, local governments and, most importantly, from volunteer organisations, particularly in areas such as the Riverina.

Today, though, I take the opportunity to recognise the work that takes place in urban communities. I would like to recognise the contribution of the Marrickville SES in the recent rain and flooding in the inner west of Sydney. In my electorate the Cooks River flooded; houses were affected and cars floated away. There was a devastating impact in a way in which I, who have lived in the area my whole life, have never seen. It was the worst I have seen occur.

During the storms last week and the flooding that occurred in the inner west of Sydney, the Marrickville SES unit was involved in 47 flood and storm operations which included flood response, tree and debris removal, local road closures and traffic response. The Marrickville SES unit services the entire Marrickville local government area and is led by local controller Michael Carney, who has served our local community for 22 years now. It is important to recognise that these people are all volunteers. They give up their own time to go out whenever there is an incident. In the past, it has been more storm damage that they have had to deal with, including major storm damage some years ago.

The unit is involved in many local community events and provides a wide range of local education programs—there are committed volunteers at every single local community festival and event. On Sunday I attended Bairro Portugues, the Portuguese festival in Petersham hosted by Marrickville Council. There it was quite evident that the local community were going up to the SES, who were wearing their traditional orange uniforms, and thanking them for the contribution that they make. The NSW State Emergency Service is dedicated to helping people when they are in most need. In NSW, the service consists of 231 units and over 10,000 volunteers. I take this opportunity to thank those people, whether they be in rural communities or in urban communities such as mine, who make such a great contribution to civil society.

Nov 24, 2011

Consideration of Senate Amendments – Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (11:46):  I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.

Today this chamber considers amendments to the Family Law Legislation Amendment (Family Violence and Other Measures) Bill 2011 passed by the Senate last night. This government is unequivocally of the view that family violence and abuse of children are entirely unacceptable. The amendments respond to recommendations of the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. These amendments will simplify the bill, deliver certainty for litigants and ensure relevant information about the risk of family violence and abuse of children can be considered by the courts.

Amendments (2) and (4) simplify the provisions outlining the relevant weighting to be given in assessing the primary considerations used to determine a child’s best interests. They continue to support the principle that the protection of children from harm should be given the most weight in decision making. They do not alter the focus on the child having a meaningful relationship with both parents, particularly where there is no risk of harm to the child. Amendment (2) amends the provisions which govern how the family courts determine what is in the best interests of a child. Amendment (4) ensures that people who are resolving their parenting arrangements outside the family courts, who are the vast majority of parents, also receive clear and consistent advice about how they should determine their child’s best interests.

Amendment (3) provides for the courts to look, in appropriate cases, at both current and past family violence orders that apply to the children or members of their family. It also recognises that the relevant evidence to consider in assessing a child’s best interests relates to the circumstances which led to the making of a family violence order rather than the mere existence of the order itself. Amendments (1), (5) and (6) will in combination deliver certainty to the litigants in the family law system about what law will apply to their parenting proceedings.

There will be a clear start date for the amendments in schedule 1 of the bill. This will be six months after royal assent. This time frame reflects the need of the family courts to update their rules and to allow the government to implement an education campaign on the effect of the changes in this bill. The other amendments to item 45 of the bill have the effect of applying the changes prospectively to those matters instituted on or after the commencement date. Without this amendment, only a very limited degree of certainty could be provided to litigants. These are important reforms to protect children and families from family violence and child abuse. I commend the amendments to the House.

Oct 13, 2011

Motion on Coptic Christians in Egypt

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (10:11): by leave—I very much want, on behalf of the Australian government, to express our outrage at the attacks that have occurred on Coptic Christians in Egypt.

The resolution that was just carried unanimously by the House had an action component to it. The government has already acted on each and every one of those action components. The Prime Minister and the foreign minister issued a strong statement. The foreign minister, I know, raised these issues in discussions at the highest levels at the United Nations when he was recently in New York. The immigration minister, I know, has had a number of discussions with the bishop and leaders of the Coptic community to ensure that there are appropriate understandings with regard to the circumstances in which Coptic Christians have found themselves.

The Australian government will continue to make the strongest representations that the Egyptian government provide equal rights and protection for all Egyptian citizens, regardless of their race or religion. This is a fundamental human right. As the federal member for Grayndler I can say that I have received strong representations, including from my local mayor, Morris Hanna—the Mayor of Marrickville—and from others in the community who have very strong ties.

Historically the first Coptic church in Australia was at Sydenham in my electorate. Indeed, my association with the bishop goes back many years, to the Marrickville District Hardcourt Tennis Club, when we were both very much younger. It is an association that goes back 35 years—that gives away our ages—in terms of our friendship and our dialogue.

I can say this on behalf of the government: we will not be shy about putting forward these principles in terms of human rights, which we regard as universal. We have not been shy up to now; we will continue with this course. I am very pleased that this is a position which unites everyone in this House of Representatives.

I congratulate the member for Hughes on his initiative in putting forward this motion that was unanimously agreed to and I assure the members of the community that this is an issue which continues to be discussed and acted upon at the highest level of the Australian government.


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