Browsing articles in "Grayndler Hansard"
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.

Oct 11, 2011

Clean Energy Bill 2011 and Related Bills Second Reading Speech

After decades of debate, the time for talking is over.

The science is in.

It’s now time to get this critical reform in place.

Other nations are already acting.

They know that in a competitive, globalised 21st century world, successful economies will be those that adapt early to a carbon constrained future.

Labor is not prepared to ignore the threat, ignore the science and ignore the economists.

We cannot say it is someone else’s problem.

We all share the one planet.

We are all citizens of the world.

It would simply not be fair to leave it to our children and grandchildren to deal with the consequences of our inaction.

Because if we do nothing, dangerous climate change will impact on this and future generations.

 

TRANSPORT AND CLIMATE CHANGE

As Minister for Transport, I feel a particular responsibility.

Here in Australia, transport accounts for around 15 per cent of total greenhouse emissions – a little lower than the global average of about 18 per cent.

The vast bulk of this is from road transport and light vehicles, responsible for around 87 per cent of emissions.

That is why the Government is taking action to reduce greenhouse emissions from our vehicles.

But we are doing this in a measured and fair way.

 

Light Vehicles

Under the Government’s climate change plan businesses which use vehicles of less than 4.5 tonnes such as cars, utes and light commercial vehicles will be permanently excluded from paying the carbon price when they fill up at the bowser.

This means that the carbon price will have no direct impact on the fuel bills of many small and larger businesses – the couriers, taxi drivers, tradesmen, hire car companies and minibus operators.

The Government is also excluding the family car and ute.

Families in the regions don’t have a bus or a train station down the road like families in capital cities do.

Similarly, tradies can’t replace the work ute easily.

So, light vehicles will be permanently excluded from the carbon price.

 

Rail and Maritime 

Looking at rail and maritime sectors, the carbon price will have only a modest impact.

To offset the effect of any rises, nine out of ten households will receive assistance.

This means more than four million households will receive assistance via tax cuts for any increased prices they may pay.

 

Heavy Vehicles 

In the case of heavy vehicles, operators will have a two year transitional period to reconfigure their fleets and re-negotiate contracts with customers.

From 1 July 2014, a carbon price will apply to the fuel used by trucks over 4.5 tonnes.

The Government has already stated that the agriculture, forestry and fishery industries will be permanently excluded.

Trucks powered by CNG, LNG, LPG or biofuels will be permanently excluded. Once in place in 2014, the carbon price will have only a marginal impact on fuel bills.

In fact it will tiny, compared with the fluctuations we regularly see at the bowser from variations in world oil prices.

The Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Economics has calculated that the extra cost of driving a B-Double from Sydney to Melbourne under the carbon price, at today’s diesel prices, will be about $35 – or 7 cents a litre.

 

Aviation

Let’s look now at how a carbon price will affect air travel.

From day one – that is, 1 July next year – an effective carbon price will apply to the fuel used by domestic airlines.

To maintain the competitiveness of Australian carriers, it won’t apply to the fuel they use when flying internationally, at least until there’s a global carbon price.

We are also allowing large liquid fuel users, such as airlines, to voluntarily opt in, in 2013.

This is because a carbon market already operates in the EU and our international carriers may want the ability to trade across markets.

It is worth repeating: a market for the price on carbon already exists and Australian companies competing internationally want the ability to trade across markets.

The carbon price will have only a small impact on domestic airfares – less than many of the extra fees airlines already charge.

For example, it’s expected to add about $2 to the cost of a seat on a flight between Sydney and Melbourne – and around $1 on a flight between Sydney and Armidale.

Qantas and Virgin have put the average fare rise across their entire domestic networks at $3.50 and $3 respectively.

Any increase would occur against a backdrop where flying is today FIVE TIMES more affordable than it was two decades ago as a result of earlier Labor reforms such as the deregulation of domestic aviation market.

 

Public Transport  

Once fully implemented in 2014, the Carbon Price will have little impact on the cost of the daily commute.

The expected rise is only half of one percent, significantly under the eight percent that was added by John Howard’s GST.

 

Complementary Measures

But we are doing much more.

We are also working to reduce the sector’s footprint through smart regulations and by empowering consumers.

Already we are:

  • Introducing the first ever mandatory CO2 emissions standards for all new cars and light commercial vehicles sold in Australia. We are working with local manufacturers to set the emission levels – and these will apply from 2015. This will be a big saving for motorists through better fuel efficiency.
  • We are also requiring all new cars sold in Australia to display fuel consumption labels, spelling out their emissions and fuel consumption in both city and highway conditions. Coupled with our Green Vehicle Guide, consumers will be able to make more informed choices about the environmental performance of the car they buy.
  • We are investing in new technologies to better manage the flow of traffic along some of our busiest roads. By using this so-called Smart Motorways technology we can substantially reduce congestion and carbon emissions, while making our roads safer and smoother for motorists.
  • And we are restoring national leadership when it comes to the growth of our major cities. After all, that is where three in four Australians live. Our recently published national urban policy – Our Cities, Our Future – supports locating new jobs and future employment precincts closer to where people live, thereby minimising the daily commute.

 

LABOR’S RECORD 

Labor has long recognised the risk of climate change to future generations and to the nation’s economic wellbeing.

Indeed, the first official act of the Rudd Labor Government was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

Personally, this was a proud moment.

I had campaigned long and hard for Australia to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

When I was the Shadow Minister for the Environment and Heritage, I introduced a Private Members Bill in an effort to get the then Prime Minister John Howard to take action.

In 2006, I worked with Kim Beazley on Federal Labor’s policy paper -entitled Protecting Australia from the Threat of Climate Change.

This was Labor’s blueprint for tackling climate change.

It is worth remembering some of the practical measures in that blueprint:

  • a commitment to 60 per cent cuts to Australia’s year 2000 level of greenhouse emissions by 2050;
  • a commitment to ratify the Kyoto Protocol;
  • ensuring Australia realised the economic benefits of sustainable industry, by supporting carbon-friendly technologies and emissions trading;
  • a commitment to sustainability by increasing and extending the Renewable Energy Target to 20 per cent by 2020;
  • the development of commercial solar, wind and geothermal energy technologies by Australian research, including a commitment to “rebuild the CSIRO”, and
  • the establishment of a National Sustainability Council to monitor the performance of the entire country against agreed sustainability targets.

The similarity of the Beazley Blueprint, and what is now contained in the Bills currently before the House, is striking.

Unlike those opposite, Labor has always been committed to practical, real and fair action on climate change.

The Liberal Party once was too.

On 14 February 2005, while introducing my Private Members Bill that would ratify the Kyoto Protocol, I stated:

“We must start working actively on climate change because it is an issue affecting Australia’s future prosperity.”

Six years ago I stood in this Place and argued that we needed a planned approach to shift Australia towards a modern, clean-energy economy.

That the potential for innovation and therefore business investment and growth, would be immense.

In six years nothing has changed, except the urgency of the need to act.

Australian companies and our economy will be disadvantaged if we exclude ourselves from carbon markets and the growing market in renewable energy technology.

Just as science and technology have given us the tools to measure and understand environmental problems, they also help us solve them.

The potential for innovation, scientific discovery and hence business investment growth is immense.

With the right policy framework, the very act of addressing our challenges can unleash new commercial forces and unimagined opportunities.

New jobs, new technologies, new markets.

Think of the potential economic benefits – and jobs – for this nation.

The global trading market for carbon will be worth billions of dollars.

If we don’t act, our businesses and the national economy will be simply left behind.

It is not just a question of economics.

The Opposition puts at risk more than just our future economic prosperity.

By pretending the world is not taking action, by pretending that climate change is not real, by ignoring the science, the Opposition risks the health and indeed future of Australia.

There is only one planet.

Let’s treat it, and all of us that depend on its health, with respect.

We must not be condemned by history as the generation that knew but did nothing.

The time for words is over.

Now is the time for action and delivery.

That is what the Gillard Government is doing with these Bills.

I commend the Bills to the House.

[ENDS]

Aug 24, 2011

Constituency statements – Same-Sex Relationships

Mr ANTHONY ALBANESE (12:02): The Australian Labor Party, of which I am a very proud member, has a long and proud tradition of advancing the cause of equality and social justice in our society. We recognise that all men and women are born equal regardless of their sexuality. In my very first speech in this parliament in 1996 I talked about the need to remove discrimination where it existed, whether it be on the grounds of race, gender, class or sexuality. In my first term in June 1998 I introduced a private member’s bill to give same-sex couples equal rights aimed at removing discrimination with regard to superannuation in terms of the parliament. I introduced this same bill a further three times without success. I could not even get it debated on the floor of the House of Representatives. Indeed, when I first raised it in the ALP caucus there was some shifting of people on the seats; people were uncomfortable with even a discussion about the issue of sexuality and discrimination.

The world moves on very quickly, and indeed I am very proud that in our first term of office the Labor government amended some 84 Commonwealth laws to eliminate discrimination against same-sex couples and their children in a range of areas—reforms that meant people were treated equally in line with that great Australian tradition of a fair go for all, reforms that it took a Labor government to deliver. At the last ALP national conference the party platform was changed and further progress made. In addressing the conference I acknowledged that history was moving forward on this issue. I said this to the conference:

I have a view that my relationship, because I happen to be heterosexual, is not undermined by someone else’s relationship because it is homosexual.

I remain very much of that view. The Australian Labor Party will be debating the issue of marriage equality at our upcoming national conference later this year. There are widely held views within the Labor Party, as a broad based political party, as there are in society. Each and every person is entitled to their opinion and entitled to have their opinion respected. I have long been an advocate of change, but I have also been an advocate who has stressed the need to bring the community with us. This is about inclusion and the debate must be conducted in an inclusive way, one that respects different opinions that are deeply held. I also want to make it clear that I do not support the state imposing its will on particular religious communities in relation to these issues. I think that particular groups of people, if they have that view, have a right not to have the state impose their views on them.

I certainly did not need a motion from the parliament to discuss these issues. I have been engaged with the community, whether they be people from the gay and lesbian community or people from the heterosexual community, who have views on these issues for a very long time. I did not need the motion; I have been doing this for 15 years across a range of issues and I am very proud of the fact that I think people see me as being open and accessible.

In recent times, of course, the number of people wanting to make representations to me has increased. I have met with people, whether they be advocates of marriage equality or opponents, and I respect their views. I have made my views clear at ALP conferences as is appropriate under our rules and I will continue to do so. People know the position that I will take at the ALP national conference. But I think change is difficult for people, and that has to be respected. As the debate goes on, I look back at same-sex superannuation and say, ‘Who today says that was a bad reform?’ There is now consensus on something that was radical when I introduced that bill in 1998. I think that society is moving forward in terms of giving people equal rights and I look forward to further debate in this parliament.

(Time expired)

[ENDS]

Contact Anthony

(02) 9564 3588 Electorate Office

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

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