Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
Oct 28, 2014

Communities – Millers Point and Leichhardt

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (21:00): Last weekend I was very honoured to attend once again the Norton Street Festa, an Italian community festival at Leichhardt in my electorate. As I wandered among the stalls and greeted old friends and constituents, I was reminded of the immense strength that resides with vibrant, dynamic, strong and healthy communities. Australian communities are tightly bound by a powerful collective spirit—a sense of shared experience and history and a feeling of belonging. People in communities like Leichhardt care for each other and their common wellbeing. They understand there is an inherent value in their community. They want governments to respect and build upon that value.

I am concerned that the current government is devaluing the concept of Australian communities. Through its policies and its rhetoric, the government seeks to trigger a shift in our national culture—one that gives the concept of individualism absolute priority, to the exclusion of any concept of common interest. We see it throughout a range of policies, particularly in the budget—regarding cuts to pensions and health and the deregulation of higher education that sees it as an individual commodity that can be bought and sold rather than as a benefit to the nation. This trend is also illustrated when the Treasurer claims that Australians are either lifters or leaners and when government ministers routinely attack disability pensioners as bludgers. This rhetoric is designed to make many Australians think more about themselves and less about the many.

This is a government that does not like public education. It does not like public health, public broadcasting or public services—in fact, it simply does not like the public. And it is not just in Canberra. There is no better example of this conservative campaign to devalue communities than what is happening in the public housing precinct at Millers Point in Sydney. New South Wales Premier Mike Baird is selling about 300 public housing units which for many decades have formed the basis of a vibrant community. This is housing that was formerly controlled by the Maritime Services Board. People who live in the community either worked on the waterfront themselves, or their parents—or even their grandparents—did. So far, six of these homes have been sold. Because of this injection of private investment, the New South Wales Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton, recently said:

… the future for Millers Point is optimistic.

There is not much optimism among those being thrown out of their homes.

It is easy to put a reserve price on a house in Millers Point, but no-one seems to weigh that value against the lost value involved in dismantling the existing community. No-one is asking how much it will cost the government to move these residents to other areas—presumably on the edge of town, away from services, public transport and their support groups.

When Mike Baird looks at Millers Point he sees dollar signs. When I look at Millers Point, I see a living, breathing community which deserves respect and care. Many conservatives seem to hold the view that, while wealthy people should be applauded for accumulating property, the public sector has no right to be a property owner. The fact is this: vibrant communities are part of our nation’s complex tapestry. It is not good enough for state or federal ministers to know the price of everything but the value of nothing. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of any government selling public housing stock when there is a public housing shortage. I am concerned that the logic the state government is putting forward would see it sell public housing in precincts like Pyrmont, Ultimo, Woolloomooloo, Glebe and North Sydney. This will change the nature of these communities.

Successful cities are not disconnected enclaves of advantage and disadvantage—they are diverse and vibrant. Successful communities are collections of individuals bound together by threads of history, common humanity, common experience and friendship. We should not toss people aside as if they are disposable. A government that seeks to engage with its community will find the community a willing partner and the entire community will benefit, regardless of its income. That is why the state government’s approach is so short-sighted. I call upon them to reconsider this attitude.

Oct 28, 2014

Constituency Statement – Norton Street Festa, Public Housing

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (21:00): Last weekend I was very honoured to attend once again the Norton Street Festa, an Italian community festival at Leichhardt in my electorate. As I wandered among the stalls and greeted old friends and constituents, I was reminded of the immense strength that resides with vibrant, dynamic, strong and healthy communities. Australian communities are tightly bound by a powerful collective spirit—a sense of shared experience and history and a feeling of belonging. People in communities like Leichhardt care for each other and their common wellbeing. They understand there is an inherent value in their community. They want governments to respect and build upon that value.

I am concerned that the current government is devaluing the concept of Australian communities. Through its policies and its rhetoric, the government seeks to trigger a shift in our national culture—one that gives the concept of individualism absolute priority, to the exclusion of any concept of common interest. We see it throughout a range of policies, particularly in the budget—regarding cuts to pensions and health and the deregulation of higher education that sees it as an individual commodity that can be bought and sold rather than as a benefit to the nation. This trend is also illustrated when the Treasurer claims that Australians are either lifters or leaners and when government ministers routinely attack disability pensioners as bludgers. This rhetoric is designed to make many Australians think more about themselves and less about the many.

This is a government that does not like public education. It does not like public health, public broadcasting or public services—in fact, it simply does not like the public. And it is not just in Canberra. There is no better example of this conservative campaign to devalue communities than what is happening in the public housing precinct at Millers Point in Sydney. New South Wales Premier Mike Baird is selling about 300 public housing units which for many decades have formed the basis of a vibrant community. This is housing that was formerly controlled by the Maritime Services Board. People who live in the community either worked on the waterfront themselves, or their parents—or even their grandparents—did. So far, six of these homes have been sold. Because of this injection of private investment, the New South Wales Minister for Family and Community Services, Gabrielle Upton, recently said:

… the future for Millers Point is optimistic.

There is not much optimism among those being thrown out of their homes.

It is easy to put a reserve price on a house in Millers Point, but no-one seems to weigh that value against the lost value involved in dismantling the existing community. No-one is asking how much it will cost the government to move these residents to other areas—presumably on the edge of town, away from services, public transport and their support groups.

When Mike Baird looks at Millers Point he sees dollar signs. When I look at Millers Point, I see a living, breathing community which deserves respect and care. Many conservatives seem to hold the view that, while wealthy people should be applauded for accumulating property, the public sector has no right to be a property owner. The fact is this: vibrant communities are part of our nation’s complex tapestry. It is not good enough for state or federal ministers to know the price of everything but the value of nothing. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of any government selling public housing stock when there is a public housing shortage. I am concerned that the logic the state government is putting forward would see it sell public housing in precincts like Pyrmont, Ultimo, Woolloomooloo, Glebe and North Sydney. This will change the nature of these communities.

Successful cities are not disconnected enclaves of advantage and disadvantage—they are diverse and vibrant. Successful communities are collections of individuals bound together by threads of history, common humanity, common experience and friendship. We should not toss people aside as if they are disposable. A government that seeks to engage with its community will find the community a willing partner and the entire community will benefit, regardless of its income. That is why the state government’s approach is so short-sighted. I call upon them to reconsider this attitude.

Oct 23, 2014

Constituency Statement – Multicultural Services

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (09:48): Recently, I was contacted by Sydney Multicultural Community Services about an important issue: the shortage of services to help older people from non-English speaking backgrounds remain in their homes. Like so many of the dedicated non-for-profit associations who support ethnic communities in this country, this organisation has a long and proud record of serving and advocating for migrant communities.

My electorate of Grayndler is, in many ways, the heart of multicultural Australia. Generations of migrants have come from Greece, Italy, Portugal, Vietnam, China, Lebanon, Syria and every continent on earth to make the inner west of Sydney their home. Together we have built a tolerant, harmonious and vibrant community. That is why it is so important that the people who built our nation are not forced out of their homes because of a lack of support.

In-home services for older people with limited English work best when they are provided by someone who can speak their language and understands their culture. The relationship between aged-care workers and their clients is built on trust, and rapport can only be established through communication and understanding. The sad truth is that, in Grayndler and across the country, when older migrants cannot access culturally appropriate services they often cannot access any services at all. While it is acknowledged by all that the population is ageing, we need to ensure that older Australians from multicultural communities are properly catered for. As people age, they are more inclined to use the language of their birth and lose their second language. It is important to acknowledge that there is a genuine need for home-care services to be available to people whose first language is not English. The waiting lists for home-care assistance are growing. For those from multicultural communities the need is even greater. Simply put, without appropriate care the health of these people is compromised. Governments should do all they can to make sure that the citizens who have given so much to Australia are not isolated in their homes or institutionalised and separated from their families and communities unnecessarily—especially not when there are dedicated, professional and reputable organisations already working in local communities and wanting to expand their operations.

In government, Labor made aged-care more accessible and fairer, and more sustainable into the future. We understood the challenges of an ageing population and the impact that that would have on aged care. The government should commit to increasing home-care packages to multicultural-specific aged-care.

In the inner west of Sydney there is now a severe shortage of packages for Italian, Spanish and Portuguese speakers in particular, and only a small number of packages allocated for other languages. As I have said, many people in my electorate from non-English-speaking backgrounds have contributed a great deal to this nation and to our community. I call on the government to do the right thing by them and commit more funds to multicultural home care.

Oct 20, 2014

Statements by Members – South Sydney Rabbitohs

Federation Chamber

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (16:27): Two weeks ago, I went with my son to see South Sydney win their 21st premiership—a 30-to-six victory over Canterbury Bankstown. It was a special celebration, particularly for all the people who campaigned for South Sydney’s right to play—the 80,000 people who marched in the streets of Sydney to declare that football was not just about sport; it was about community identity and a sense of belonging. It was a great night. I got to go with my friend, the chairman, Nick Pappas, and former board members. I was on the board during the period in which we were excluded from the competition. There was Andrew Denton, Ray Martin, Nick Hatzistergos and other members of the South Sydney family. I also had a chat with the Burrow—salt of the earth people for whom that victory, particularly for the Indigenous community based in the South Sydney area, was so important. To watch John Sutton’s leadership, Sam Burgess’s courage and Greg Inglis’s skill, capped off with him doing the goanna after the last try, was a great evening indeed. It was great that it was versus Canterbury, also a club based in their local community. The leadership of Michael Maguire, Souths’ coach, and Shane Richardson, the CEO, has made this possible. I am sure that the 22nd premiership is not far away.

Sep 30, 2014

Statement by Member – Rugby League

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:54): This Sunday night I will follow in the footsteps of many South Sydney supporters in going to see South Sydney play in the grand final at the ANZ Stadium. This is 43 years after I was taken by my mother in 1971 to see Souths beat St George on the SCG Hill. It is also a tribute to those people in the community who stood together so that Souths could stand alone when they marched for South Sydney’s readmission into the National Rugby League comp. Institutions such as Souths are the fabric that binds a community together, and I pay tribute to all those who fought for their club to be allowed to play in the National Rugby League competition. Go the Rabbitohs!

Sep 24, 2014

Constituency Statement – Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (09:30): Two weeks ago I opened the annual Dulwich Hill festival in my electorate of Grayndler. It was not the same. As much as it was a joyous occasion, I was deeply saddened by the absence of my friend the former Marrickville Councillor Emanuel Tsardoulias. This gave the day a solemn undertone for me and for many of Emanuel’s friends and colleagues who were also there.

Emanuel Tsardoulias passed away at the youthful age of 38 on Saturday, 16 August this year. He leaves an enormous legacy as a deputy mayor, councillor, Dulwich Hill ALP branch activist, leader of Grayndler FEC and Canterbury SEC of the Labor Party, executive member of the local government association of New South Wales, SES volunteer, Rotary activist and community member.

Local festivals like the Dulwich Hill festival meant a lot to Emanuel. It was more than just part of his job as a councillor. This is because Emanuel was part of his local community. Our festivals in Dulwich Hill and Marrickville were always abuzz with the enthusiasm of hundreds of people. And enthusiasm is what Emanuel Tsardoulias had in spades.

He was a true champion of the inner west who was passionate about improving the lives of local residents. He was particularly proud and committed to Dulwich Hill, attending both Dulwich Hill Public School and Dulwich high school. He campaigned strongly against the high school’s possible closure more than a decade ago. He was proud of the improvements that he instigated to Jack Shanahan skate park and Arlington Oval. He was one of the instigators of the Dulwich Hill street fair.

A small business man, he was active in the Greek-Australian community and was particularly concerned about providing opportunities for young people in the inner west. Emanuel approached every task with enthusiasm, optimism and commitment. This was reflected in his support and passion for the Labor Party, where he was a loyal comrade and exceptionally hard worker. Election time will not be the same without him.

Emanuel showed enormous courage while dealing with cancer and related illness over recent times. My heart goes out to his beloved wife Zoi and his beautiful 18-month-old twin boys, Stephen and Dimitri, who were his pride and joy. I will never forget his pride at their christening just last year.

His funeral at the Greek Orthodox Parish of St Nicholas saw many hundreds of people come to farewell one of Marrickville’s finest citizens. We will miss his infectious laugh, love of life, friendship and loyalty. At 38 years old, Emanuel had so much more to give, and this is a tragic loss for his family and for the community.

May Emanuel rest in peace.

Sep 22, 2014

Private Members’ Business – Mr Peter Greste

Federation Chamber 

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12:03): I rise to support this important resolution moved by the member for Werriwa—important because it is an opportunity for us to show as a parliament our absolute unity in support of Peter Greste’s release and our support for freedom of the press. Peter Greste, of course, has been detained in Egypt since December of last year. Peter was charged with defaming Egypt and having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. In June of this year he was convicted of these charges and sentenced to seven years in jail. Peter is detained with his colleagues Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, who have also been convicted of defaming Egypt and having ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. Baher Mohamed was also sentenced to an additional three years in prison for possession of ammunition. This referred to a spent bullet casing he found on the ground during a protest in those tumultuous times in Egypt.

Freedom of the press is something that we take for granted here in Australia. Our governments do not always like what they read in newspapers, nor do we as parliamentarians. But we accept that openness is a part of our democracy. I welcome the idea that Egypt has gone down the path of democracy with an independent judiciary. But, when a journalist simply going about his duties finds himself breaking the law, it is very clear that Egypt has much more work to do to adopt all of the institutions that are essential to democracy. I find it unfortunate that the Egyptian government cites one of these institutions, the independence of the judiciary, to justify its failure to protect another: the freedom of the press.

There is no doubt that the work of journalists, particularly in the zones that Peter Greste worked in, is challenging and takes great courage. It is courage based upon the principle that people have a right to know what is going on in the world. Every day journalists place their own safety behind the principle of getting access to information and informing the citizenry of what is occurring. Around the world, many journalists—too many journalists—are killed each year or imprisoned for simply doing their job. The Peter Greste case brings home to Australia that this is the case.

It is a fact that, as Thomas Jefferson said, you cannot limit freedom of the press without destroying it. What we have here is a case where that freedom of the press is being restricted. The press are being intimidated by the fact that not just Peter Greste but also his colleagues from Al Jazeera have gone through what has been described as a farcical trial. The Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance report that according to the International Federation of Journalists 88 journalists and media workers have been killed so far this year. That is an extraordinary figure! It is an extraordinary figure which shows the danger that people put themselves in.

Peter Greste is someone who left Australia in the 1990s to pursue his dream of becoming a foreign correspondent. He worked for the BBC and Reuters, where he covered Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. In 2011 he started with Al Jazeera and, in that year, he also won a prestigious Peabody Award for a BBC report on Somalia.

One of the lawyers for the Al Jazeera journalists concluded their final argument by saying:

This is not a trial for these defendants alone—this is a trial of all journalists.

Our entire parliament stands, as well as with Peter Greste, with the Greste family, who have shown such courage. On behalf of the opposition, we give every support to the government in its endeavours to ensure Peter Greste’s early release.

Jul 14, 2014

Private members’ business – Cyprus

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:40):

This Sunday, 20 July 2014, marks 40 years since the invasion of Cyprus.

Forty years later we still have no peaceful resolution. Cyprus is still divided, 37 per cent of the landmass is still occupied, over 200,000 people have been displaced and families’ lives have been torn apart.

But the hope of peace and justice lives on: here in this place; in the hearts and homes of 80,000 Cypriot Australians; written in the resolutions of the United Nations. In 1998 I said in this chamber:

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

Nothing has changed. Peace is possible—I know that because I see it every day in my electorate of Grayndler.

My electorate is a microcosm of our great nation, an example of making multiculturalism work.

In Grayndler I see peace is possible: Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots live in harmony, side by side.

I see it in the actions of people like Michael Christodoulou, a tireless champion of peace and harmony, in the spirit in which the Cyprus Community Club in my electorate brings together our community to celebrate life in our multicultural community; in the sister-city relationship between Marrickville and Larnaca which we have had since 2005.

So today let this be a reminder to us and to the world that we have not forgotten Cyprus.

Let this bipartisan motion, moved by the member for Calwell and seconded by the member for Hindmarsh here in our national parliament, be a call for each of us to renew our hope in the future, to direct our energies to promote peace and justice and to call on the Australian government to support the implementation of United Nations resolutions.

I am proud to have been a longstanding advocate of justice for Cyprus. In 2012 I returned to Cyprus for the second time as a parliamentarian but my first as a minister in the government.

During my visit I had the honour of meeting some of our Australian Federal Police officers serving as part of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. I was given a tour of the buffer zone by the commander of our force, Superintendent Peter Bond.

Australian police officers have served continuously as part of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus since 1964.

There are currently 15 serving in the force. I am proud that Australia is playing its part in the peace process in Cyprus. I acknowledge and thank them for their work.

I also met the Minister of Communications and Works, Efthemios Flourentzou; the Secretary-General of AKEL, Andros Kyprianou; the Mayor of Limassol, Mr Andreas Christou; the Mayor of Larnaca, Mr Andreas Louroutziatis; and His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nova Justiniana and All Cyprus.

It was a great visit. However, amongst the warmth of the people, I was struck by the tragedy of that divided island.

Let me be clear about where Australia stands on the substance of the motion that is before us today.

Australia supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Cyprus. We recognise the republic as the only legitimate authority on the island.

Any solution must ensure that there is a single sovereignty in Cyprus; a single international personality; and a single citizenship, with independence and territorial integrity safeguarded. Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots need to once again live side by side under the government of the Republic of Cyprus.

I am proud to support this motion today. In two weeks’ time I will again gather at the Cyprus Community Club in my electorate to commemorate the invasion.

Importantly, events at the Cyprus Community Club have brought together people of Greek Cypriot and Turkish Cypriot backgrounds to recognise the cultural benefit that comes from mutual respect and understanding.

I witnessed when I was in Cyprus the fact—as the member for Calwell has said—that the people of Cyprus as a whole are suffering from the fact that the island remains divided.

I look forward to going back there to a unified island under the circumstances in which that can occur.

I think this parliament as the Australian parliament has an important role to play through measures such as this motion today, but also in support of justice for Cyprus through the multilateral forums, including through the United Nations.

I commend the motion to the House.

 

Jul 14, 2014

Constituency statements – Ms Beryl Winter

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:02): I rise to pay tribute to the late Beryl Winter, who died last Thursday at the age of 94. Beryl was a life member of the Australian Labor Party; a former drama teacher; employee of Film Australia, the ABC and Sydney Festival; volunteer with 2RPH radio for the blind; member of Marrickville Heritage Society; and the wife of the former member of the ACTU executive and Conciliation and Arbitration Commissioner, Terry Winter, who was also a life member of the ALP before his passing.

Beryl brought light and love into the lives of many people in my local community. I celebrate her life, mourn her passing and pay tribute to her today. I wish her family and friends all the best for her send-off, which will be a celebration conducted this coming Thursday.

Jul 14, 2014

Constituency statements – Survivors & Mates Support Network (SAMSN)

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:59): Today I rise to recognise one of the many great community organisations in my electorate of Grayndler, SAMSN, which was started by one of my constituents, Craig Hughes-Cashmore and his mate Shane McNamara in 2011. SAMSN—the Survivors & Mates Support Network—provides critical support for male survivors of childhood sexual abuse and makes a phenomenal difference in the lives of the men who participate. The biblical story of Samson tells of how his strength helped him overcome his demons and oppressors. This is what SAMSN the organisation does. It is Australia’s first NGO committed to helping male survivors of childhood sexual abuse. To date it has run seven, eight-week psychologist-led support groups in Erskineville and a successful first workshop for men and their families in the Hunter region. The organisation hopes to expand their service provision throughout regional Australia.

In January 2013 Labor set up the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. At the same time Labor also recognised that there was a need to ensure those who spoke up about their past had access to the support services they might need. To address this we set aside $45 million for community-based organisations that provide support for those suffering from childhood sexual abuse. This has occurred.

In round two of the funding process under the coalition government, SAMSN’s application for funding was rejected. This is despite the fact that 64 per cent of people presenting to the royal commission are men and 38 per cent of institutions under investigation by the royal commissioner are based in New South Wales. Last year in the November Community Affairs Legislation Committee we were told that the department had left some funding unallocated for later years. Simpson’s eighth eight-week group commenced in May. It is full, with 12 men ranging in age from their late 20s to their early 60s. They have had to put another nine men on a waiting list and over 100 men and their families from around the country have expressed interest in doing one or more of the workshops. If this is not sufficiently indicative of the need for more support services then I don’t know what is. I want to recognise the tremendous work that SAMSN does and call upon the government to ensure that any remaining money is spent on organisations such as SAMSN who deliver this vital service.

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

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

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