The Nobel laureate and former President of Timor-Leste, Jose Ramos-Horta, will deliver the inaugural Tom Uren AC Lecture on May 7 to commemorate the life of the former Australian politician, prisoner of war and peace activist.
Mr Uren, who served as a minister in the Whitlam and Hawke Governments, died on Australia Day, 2015, after an extraordinary life of progressive activism.
Labor Party branches in my electorate have established the annual Tom Uren AC Memorial Lecture to build upon Tom’s intellectual legacy and lifelong commitment to peace and justice.
Dr Ramos-Horta is the perfect choice to deliver the inaugural address given Tom’s dedicated advocacy for independence for Timor-Leste.
In 2013 the Timor-Leste Government awarded Tom the Order of Timor-Leste Medal for his long-standing support for self-determination for the East Timorese people.
On the occasion of Tom’s death, the Timor-Leste Government released a statement which described him as “a man of dignity and courage’’.
“Tom spoke powerfully many times over the years of struggle about what was happening in Timor-Leste and consistently gave support to Australian activists working in solidarity with the Timorese people,’’ the statement said.
Dr Ramos-Horta will focus this inaugural Tom Uren AC Lecture on justice for Timor-Leste with regard to the disputed gas fields in the Timor Sea.
The lecture is being inaugurated with the active involvement of Tom’s family.
It will take place at the Balmain Town Hall, in the suburb where Tom was raised and lived his final years.
For ticket information: https://tom-uren-lecture.eventbrite.com.au
I welcome today’s announcement by Westconnex Minister Stuart Ayres ruling out creating a construction site next to the Leichhardt campus of Sydney Secondary High School.
This reckless proposal would have caused considerable disruption to the education of the almost 1000 students at the High School.
I congratulate the P&C, staff, students and the broader school community for their strong campaign against this absurd idea.
I am proud to represent an active and spirited community prepared to work together to defend its interests.
This outcome follows wins for the community with the saving of Blackmore Oval in Leichhardt, Ashfield Park and Rozelle’s Easton Park from being sacrificed for the Westconnex project.
Sydney needs infrastructure. But it should not be done at the expense of proper community consultation and the best possible outcome.
The craft brewers forum which Joel Fitzgibbon and I hosted last night was a great success, with more than a dozen businesses coming together to discuss how to boost the industry across Australia and make the Inner West the craft brewing capital of Australia.
The forum, hosted by Wayward Brewing Company in Camperdown, included representatives from successful brewers including Willie the Boatman, Young Henry’s, Batch and Grifter.
The brewers identified a range of policy challenges at the federal, state and local government levels which are holding back the growth of the industry.
Joel Fitzgibbon and I intend to take up the cause of the craft brewing industry through the Parliament and to advocate for solutions to the problems they face.
The growth of the craft beer industry in recent years and the emergence of new breweries across the nation has been exciting.
The industry already makes up approximately 9 per cent of the Australian beer market and was estimated to be worth $400 million in 2015-16.
I want to develop a practical plan for how government can better assist this growing industry which is already boosting the national economy and cultural life of Australia.
I share the ambition of brewers in my electorate to make the Inner West of Sydney the craft brewing capital of Australia.
I will work with them, and others in regional areas, to deliver the support required to build their breweries as tourist attractions as well as to grow the industry including realising the potential of Australia craft beer as an export product.
The decision by the NSW Government to propose the former tramsheds next to the Leichhardt campus of Sydney Secondary College as a potential construction site for WestConnex is almost beyond belief.
In recent days the Government informed residents it wanted to use this piece of land as a dive site for the construction of the tunnel for the Westconnex tollway.
This Government dumped this absurd and reckless proposal on residents last week in a letter that exemplifies the appalling lack of proper community engagement that has caused so much resentment.
This crowded school has argued for years the tramsheds should be incorporated into the school to take pressure off the overcrowded space.
Instead, the Government is proposing it as a dive site for the construction of the tunnel for the WestConnex tollway.
This site is entirely inappropriate.
The letter to residents highlights why the planning for this project will be regarded as worst case practice. It declares that “Sydney Motorway Corporation will soon release a design report that includes the latest tunnel route, all shortlisted M4-M5 Link potential construction sites and other details”.
It is remarkable that they have begun to dig a tunnel without knowing where it is going.
They are literally making it up as they go along.
Sydney needs infrastructure. It does not need utter contempt for communities while it is being built.
The motivation for using NSW Government land which should be a part of the Leichhardt school site is simply greed. If they turn this into a construction site it will save them from purchasing private land for the construction site.
Premier Berejiklian should intervene and rule out this proposal. Today.
Today I have joined with victims from my electorate of Grayndler to speak out about of the Turnbull Government’s Centrelink debt debacle.
Over the Christmas and New Year period I have been inundated with calls from constituents distressed because they have been issued debt notices and threats of debt recovery action for debts that they never incurred.
Thousands of people with disability, students, pensioners and people recovering from life threatening illnesses are being told by the Turnbull Government that the onus is on them to prove that they have not acted fraudulently.
These people represent the human cost of the Government’s actions.
They deserve to be treated with dignity, which is why Labor’s Shadow Minister Linda Burney has today called for the Commonwealth Auditor General to investigate this fiasco.
Today Paul Shetler, the handpicked head of Malcolm Turnbull’s own digital transformation office has described this bungle as “cataclysmic”.
He has rightly stated that any commercial entity that that was sending incorrect debt notices to 20 per cent of its customers would go out of business.
This Government is treating vulnerable people with no respect.
Whenever this Government feels it is losing control of the agenda, it makes a huge show of targeting people on welfare, for purely political purposes.
In this case they are sending threatening letters to people who have done nothing wrong and whose only crime is that they have at some point received welfare benefits.
Of course we should require people who have been overpaid to repay their debts but there is never any excuse for politicians exploiting vulnerable people for political gain.
It is time for the Prime Minister to intervene and make sure that Australians are treated fairly and respectfully by Centrelink and not denigrated by his Government.
Today I was pleased to attend the opening of the Food Pantry at Addison Road Community Centre. The event also served as the launch of the Mind the Gap Report into increasing inequalities faced by multicultural communities in the Marrickville area.
The Food Pantry will provide quality groceries and household products at affordable prices, plus free fruit, vegetables and bread for disadvantaged and vulnerable people in the Inner West.
Earlier this year I helped deliver a $20,000 grant for Youth off the Streets, located adjacent to the Food Pantry, to fix their outdoor deck and provide a community BBQ and shade sail.
I am going to continue to work with the team at Addison Road to make the Centre becomes an even more welcoming place for all local residents.
Diversity is the strength of our Inner West community and to protect that we must always offer a helping hand to people who are doing it tough.
I am very pleased to have been able to support the establishment of the Food Pantry which will help make sure that low income families have access to affordable nutrition.
Subjects: Parallel imports, nuclear waste, Malcolm Turnbull
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Well it’s great to be here at the launch of a book by Gavin McCormack, a local author of children’s stories, a teacher who has written stories to teach young people morals about life. In this case, the moral is about kindness. It’s a great example of Australian authors and the contribution that they make to the Australian story. The fact is that if we allow wholesale importation of books we will see a diminishing of Australian stories being told. And that’s why the flourishing of Australian authors is so important and Labor is opposing the freeing up of the wholesale importation of books, because we know that in New Zealand that led to less authors, less books being published locally and it cost jobs. The Australian book publishing and printing industry creates some 20,000 jobs and here we have Australian authors, Australian publishers, Australian booksellers and Australian printers, all saying that we need to protect our Australian industry so that Australian stories can be told.
JOURNALIST: So obviously you were saying that it’s going to challenge the Australian book publishing industry, but wouldn’t you already say that that importation pressure is already there, on the internet and other places, re-sellers and things like that?
ALBANESE: Well individuals can now import whatever book they want. They can buy a book on Amazon and they can engage in that so that the current rules are that if a book isn’t published in a short period of time here in Australia then the importation is allowed. So it is, we believe, a system that has its balance right. What it doesn’t allow is for the mass importation of books and what that would do is to diminish the presence of the Australian book industry that’s been so important, which is why authors, be it Anna Funder, Tom Keneally and others, have been opposed to this change, because they know that the Australian stories being told is so important. I learnt about Western Australia and its landscape by reading Tim Winton’s book. So many Australians have learnt the Australian story based upon published books and it’s important that we cherish that because we do have a unique Australian culture and that’s worth protecting.
JOURNALIST: Also comments made yesterday by pretty much a living legend, Bob Hawke, about nuclear waste and the need for Australia to embrace that as a renewable resource, what would you say as far as Labor stands on nuclear waste, and disposing of it in the country?
ALBANESE: Well Australia has, up to this point of course, been opposed to further engagement in the nuclear fuel industry and the nuclear (inaudible) and there is of course a study that’s underway in South Australia that was rejected by the group of people who were appointed to examine this proposal. So any proposal could only succeed with public support and up to this point in time that public support hasn’t been there.
JOURNALIST: The papers today have been talking about what a tough week it’s been for Malcolm Turnbull, have you got any comments on that?
ALBANESE: Well it has been a diabolical week for Malcolm Turnbull, Malcolm Turnbull said himself that if you stand for nothing, the public will wonder why you’re there. And people will wonder what is the point of Malcolm Turnbull’s Prime Ministership. Here we have a report by the Council of Australian Governments saying that if you adopted the Emissions Intensity Scheme for energy, would result in lowering prices for households and for businesses of $15 billion, and that was rejected by Malcolm Turnbull. One wonders how he can continue, given he is Prime Minster in name only and is a captive of his Party’s right wing.
The long standing problem of dangerous air pollution from cruise ships in White Bay will at last be solved through a new federal regulation requiring the use of low sulphur fuel.
The regulation, which I officially proposed last week in the Parliament, will be implemented by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport through the Australian Maritime Safety Authority.
All cruise ships berthed in Sydney Harbour will be directed to adhere to a strict 0.1 per cent limit on sulphur content in the fuel they use.
Since becoming the federal member representing Balmain at the July election I have met repeatedly with departmental officers and Minister Chester to insist on a solution to this long standing problem.
Balmain residents have been fighting for more than 5 years for proper protections against cruise ship emissions.
Five months after being elected to represent these residents for the first time I am very pleased to have been able to deliver a proper solution.
Last Sunday I addressed a meeting of Balmain residents who have been affected by emissions from Cruise Ships in White Bay for many years.
I gave a commitment to those residents that if the Government had not issued a directive to fix this problem by the end of this parliamentary sitting week that I would introduce a private members bill to force through this overdue environmental protection.
I thank the Minister for working with me in a bipartisan fashion to achieve this outcome.
This order will achieve the precise protection NSW Government had previously sought to enact for berthed ships.
Ship to shore power, which can eliminate the need for berthed ships to burn fuel at all, can and must also be provided by the NSW Government at White Bay.
I will continue to fight hard to force the NSW Government to implement this common sense solution as well.
In a welcome outbreak of political bipartisanship the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Tony Smith, will join me today in visiting Birchgrove Primary School in my electorate of Grayndler to help encourage democratic participation amongst young students.
At a time of hyper-partisanship overseas and often vitriolic political debate in Australia and abroad, it is vital for politicians to put aside their differences and work together in the national interest.
This is the second time this year that the Speaker has joined me at Birchgrove Public for discussion with Year 5 and 6 students about how our Parliament and government works.
We were both so energised by the first event that we wanted to follow up Mr Smith‘s earlier visit, particularly given that the students have travelled to Canberra and visited Parliament House since that visit.
For the Speaker of the House to travel twice from his home state of Melbourne to help make sure our local students have the skills and knowledge to become active citizens is a testament to the dignity and seriousness with which he carries out his role.
I’m pleased Mr Smith is making this effort. The community is crying out for politicians to work together.
It is important that we don’t just talk about working together, but get out into the community to lead by example.
Parliament House in Canberra is the most visited destination by school groups across Australia.
But it is indeed far too rare for students to receive a visit from Labor and Liberal politicians at the same time.
Last week I met in Parliament House with inner west representatives of Rainbow Families, a national advocacy group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex parents.
I pledged to fight alongside them to oppose an unnecessary and divisive plebiscite on marriage equality.
Hearing first-hand the fears of local parents and children about what a plebiscite will mean for them has reinforced my view that politicians must do what we are paid to do and legislate marriage equality now.
Grayndler is one of the most diverse electorates in the country and there are literally thousands of rainbow families in the inner west who are concerned they will be denigrated during a plebiscite campaign.
Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to give millions of dollars to opponents of marriage equality for negative advertising will have a human cost for local parents and children.
Delivering marriage equality will extend to one group of Australians rights that are already enjoyed by other Australians. It will take no-one’s existing rights away from them.
We don’t have plebiscites on the economy or infrastructure or the other issues governments deal with and we don’t need a plebiscite on marriage equality.
When all of this is over, people will wonder what all the fuss was about.