Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
Jun 25, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Local Government – Monday, 25 June 2018

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (18:56): Indeed, the week after we had the Australian Local Government Association here in Canberra, it is somewhat ironic that the member for Mackellar has brought forward a motion to this parliament supporting the role of local government. What used to happen when the Australian Local Government Association gathered here, when I was the minister for local government, was that we would have them meet with the entire cabinet, as well as members of parliament, and we would have discussions with the Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the finance minister, as well as the local government minister and people directly involved. They would meet for two days, with a function in the evening which would involve every single mayor and shire president around the country, regardless of what their politics were.

This was an initiative that was welcomed by local government, and in spite of some reticence, it must be said, from some of my colleagues when it was proposed. They recognised that it was extremely valuable to get that direct input here in Canberra over that period of time. We also created the Centre of Excellence for Local Government to drive best practice. We created the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, whereby every single council in the country benefited, including—in the council which the member for Mackellar spoke about—the upgrade around Narrabeen Lakes, the upgrade around the Manly foreshores, and the upgrade of the cricket pavilion at Manly in the electorate of Warringah.

We actually delivered infrastructure funding for communities, not just in marginal electorates as electoral fodder, but in every electorate around the country. We treated local government with respect. That’s why we wanted to recognise local government in the Australian Constitution. To give credit where its due, Barnaby Joyce strongly supported that, as the then federal shadow minister for local government. But the Liberals we couldn’t get across the line to recognise and enshrine respect for local government so that they didn’t exist solely at the whim of state governments, who now can cut their funding and can amalgamate councils without any reference to the actual constituents.

That’s what happened to my council, the Inner West Council. Three effective local governments in Marrickville, Leichhardt and Ashfield were amalgamated without any reference to the voters whatsoever. Indeed, we had an appointed administrator of that council, elected by nobody—no previous involvement in local government—who was effectively a dictator for the Inner West for 18 months before elections were held. That was of course under the New South Wales Liberal government, of which Mr Falinski, the member for Mackellar, is of course a great supporter.

This motion also supports the Black Spot Program, which we support, but there’s a 33 per cent underspend in that program. It mentions the Bridges Renewal Program but doesn’t mention that there’s a 53 per cent underspend in that program. It also mentions the Roads of Strategic Importance initiative. What it doesn’t mention though is that 85 per cent of that funding flows after 2023. So it will be this term, the next term and really even most of the term after that before all but 15 per cent of that funding flows.

I am a genuine supporter of local government. I think that local government, as an area of government that is closest to local communities, can play a great role in determining what the priorities of those local communities are. That’s why, under our program, the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program, projects had to be nominated by local government. Under this government’s regional program, a few cabinet ministers sitting in a corner—three cabinet ministers—get to determine where all the funding went. There is no reference to the community whatsoever. Local government deserve proper respect. They deserve the sentiments in this motion, but they deserve much better from this government.

Jun 25, 2018

Private Members’ Business – Cyprus – Monday, 25 June 2018

I had the honour of convening a meeting on behalf of the Australia-Cyprus parliamentary friendship group with two Australian friends, Stavros Protz and Yalcin Adal, from Greek- and Turkish-Cypriot backgrounds respectively. These two great friends in Australia are examples of the fact that, in our multicultural nation, people live not just in harmony but with its diversity being a great strength. Stavros and Yalcin began the Journey into Cyprus: East2West initiative. Together, over 16 days beginning on 21 March and ending on 5 April, the two friends walked 400 kilometres through the middle of Cyprus to inspire reconciliation and support for a united island nation. Stavros and Yalcin, having successfully completed their journey, walking up to 30 kilometres a day over very rugged terrain, are here in Canberra today continuing to promote the common interest and harmony between all Cypriots. After reaching the St Hilarion Castle on top of the Kyrenia mountain range in Cyprus, the two friends found a window and announced their wish for the future of the island:

We wish that one day the people of this island regardless of age, colour, ethnicity, gender and religion will be able to live freely.

This echoes the message of a peaceful resolution that I put forward in my first speech to this parliament about Cyprus, way back in 1998. I said this 20 years ago:

What is clear is that the Cypriot people, regardless of their origin, do want a peaceful resolution to this crisis.

The sentiment has been demonstrated in an extraordinary way by these two friends through their East2West initiative. Their journey has quite literally brought the two sides of the conflict together to advocate for a peaceful resolution that has eluded the island nation for far too long.

However, a solution, when it comes, must of course support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus, a single legitimate authority on the island: one nation, one citizenship, one international personality, one people. While the nation continues to be divided, its people—both those of Greek-Cypriot background and those of Turkish-Cypriot background—will suffer.

Each year I attend a commemoration of the invasion of Cyprus at the Cyprus Community Club in my own electorate of Grayndler. Each year the crowd gathers and hopes for a peaceful resolution to the conflict that should come sooner rather than later. The journey of Stavros and Yalcin, taken together, has encouraged this peace to be brought forth. They exemplify two courageous people who are saying: ‘Enough is enough.’ It is in the interests of all of the people of Cyprus for the conflict to be resolved, for us to live in harmony side by side, just as people of Greek-Cypriot background and Turkish-Cypriot background live side by side in harmony right here in Australia, particularly in my electorate in the inner west of Sydney. I commend the motion to the House and I pay tribute to these two fine young Australians.

May 10, 2018

Hansard – Constituency Statement: WestConnex – Thursday, 10 May 2018

Federation Chamber
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:20): I rise again to express concern at the lack of proper planning by the New South Wales government for the WestConnex project. This project has been characterised by bad planning and incompetence, and inferior and sometimes, quite frankly, misleading community consultation processes. Perhaps uniquely, it is a project in which they started building the tunnel without knowing where the tunnels would come up, something that will be studied by governments in future years. The bad planning was exemplified by the New South Wales Supreme Court’s decision last week that the New South Wales state government’s acquisition of property in the Rozelle goods yards was invalid. The Desane Group, whose property was located at 68-72 Lilyfield Road, had taken action. This is a massive blow to the state government. It undermines their future acquisition powers and shows that the government simply does not have its act together.

It follows a series of debacles: the underpayment of residents who had their properties voluntarily or, in some cases, compulsorily acquired; changes to the route and to where the dive sites for the project would be, including the quite extraordinary proposal to have a dive site almost on the grounds of Sydney Secondary College Leichhardt Campus; changes to where the stacks are and a refusal to filter the stacks, unlike what the state government said about stacks for roads near schools on the north shore of Sydney, which should be filtered; and proposals to use parks or ovals for the project. Ashfield Park, Petersham Oval and Blackmore Oval have all been threatened at various times. Good infrastructure requires you to plan first, then get the financing, then start construction. This has happened in the opposite direction. The fact that Infrastructure Australia had this project on its priority list calls into question its processes as well, because it goes neither to the port nor to the airport, which were the objectives of this project.

May 9, 2018

Hansard – Statements by Members – Detour House and The Girls Refuge – Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:53): I rise to support Detour House and its sister organisation The Girls Refuge, which are crisis centres for young women and girls located in the inner west. Detour House provides up to 15 months support to young adult women recovering from drug and alcohol dependency and other complex problems, while also providing support for independent housing transitions after a stay at the house. Since 1975 The Girls Refuge, based in Leichhardt, has cared for over 200 girls at a time aged 13 to 15, either on site at the refuge or within the local area. The refuge helps girls who are at high risk of homelessness due to family breakdown, domestic and family violence, trauma, abuse or other problems related to drug and alcohol misuse or problems with mental health. The refuge is a supportive home-like environment where the girls are able to receive assistance to stabilise their lives. I’m pleased to be supporting these organisations at a fundraiser on Monday, 11 June 2018 at the Leichhardt bowling club. The main attraction is a performance by the Day Street Band, a group of musos from Day Street, Leichhardt, who will give up their time, as they have for the last few years. I’ll be providing a bit of support at the event, DJ’ing as the warm-up act to support these women and girls— (Time expired)

Feb 12, 2018

Statements by Members – Broadband

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:28): I rise today to report on the results of the NBN survey that I undertook over the summer in my electorate of Grayndler. I did that because there is such frustration about the move from fibre-to-the-premises high-speed broadband to the government’s ‘fraudband’ proposal, a hybrid of copper, HFC cables and fibre to the node. The survey asked residents what they thought about the NBN currently and whether they wanted it. I received more than 3,000 individual responses to that. They included Fergus, who said, ‘I want the fibre-to-the-premises NBN that was originally proposed’. Alyssa said, ‘I’ve seen zero improvement since converting, had more daily drop-outs and have no phone or internet at all this week, which won’t even get looked at until next Tuesday.’ Brett said, ‘Don’t have NBN, want it, but not in current form—FTTP or nothing.’ Sharon said, ‘I want the NBN that Labor planned, fibre to the premises, not the shambles that the LNP is foisting on people.’ Tina said, ‘Very expensive and limited satellite NBN.’ Overall, just 11 per cent of customers who had the NBN said they were satisfied with the service. Only Labor will deliver the infrastructure that people need. (Time expired)
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.

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