This Sunday I will join people from across the inner west at the Bairro Português Petersham Food and Wine Fair.
A vibrant street celebration of Portuguese culture, the fair plays an important role in bringing our diverse community together.
It also recognises the ongoing contribution of the Portuguese community to Sydney.
I count myself very lucky to live in the inner west of Sydney, a multicultural heartland where neighbours live side by side in harmony.
We are stronger because of our diversity, which is why festivals like the Bairro Português Petersham Food and Wine Fair are so important.
In a testimony to its success, Sunday also marks the 14th edition of the Bairro Português Petersham Food and Wine Fair.
I will be nominating for preselection to contest the next federal election as the Labor Candidate for Grayndler.
This follows the federal redistribution which has changed the boundaries and removed parts of Marrickville, Tempe, Dulwich Hill and Hurlstone Park as well as Camperdown and Newtown from the current electorate that I am proud to represent.
In its place, the seat boundaries have moved north to contain the entire Balmain peninsula as well as Annandale.
I have chosen the Unity Hall Hotel in Balmain, the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party, where the first ever branch meeting took place 125 years ago as the place to announce my intention.
I am proud to have been a part of my local community my whole life and I look forward to continuing to deliver real solutions for the inner west.
The inner west has suffered during the period of the Abbott and Turnbull Government as it did under the Howard Government, with little support given to our local community.
The people of the inner west want a federal government which will fund quality education and health services, rollout a fibre NBN to the premises, invest in public transport, take real action on climate change and make marriage equality a reality.
They know that only a Federal Labor Government will deliver on these commitments and I will be campaigning hard to ensure my re-election as the Member for Grayndler and for the election of a Federal Labor Government.
Mark Ely and Simon Shaw, representatives from the Newtown Precinct Business Association and I met today with the NSW Minister for Roads, the Hon Duncan Gay MLC to discuss the impact of the WestConnex project.
The Minister gave an absolute commitment that there would be no extension of clearways on King Street, Newtown.
Consideration is also being given to altering the intersection of the Princes Highway and King Street, near St Peters’ Station, to encourage traffic away from using King Street as a thoroughfare.
As the Member for Grayndler I have been concerned about many issues the local residents and businesses have raised with me about WestConnex and I have continued to make strong representations direct to the Minister and in the Parliament on their behalf.
When I met with the Newtown Precinct Business Association last month they were particularly concerned about the possibility of a clearway on King Street pointing out it would be disastrous for the thriving businesses in the area and would have a big impact on the atmosphere of the local community.
Newtown is a vibrant and interesting shopping precinct and I am anxious to ensure that the area is not damaged by the construction of WestConnex.
The Business Association also raised with Minister Gay the impact on local businesses of the proposed five year period between Stages 2 and 3 of the project and the importance of proper traffic management during construction.
Minister Gay agreed to further consultation between the Association and the managers of the project around the implications on local roads of the WestConnex Project.
I will continue to make representations to the NSW Government on behalf of the local community.
Thursday, 10 December 2015
Media contact: Kris Cruden 0439 261 552
Last week I spoke in the Parliament about the Cooks River, and the important role urban waterways such as this play in our local community.
I told Parliament:
The Cooks River winds its way through the inner west as the southern boundary of my electorate of Grayndler.
On a pleasant day, the local parks neighbouring the river overflow with families and friends.
People walk their dogs, cycle down the designated park which runs alongside the riverbank or take their kids to the water park that was established by Marrickville Council just a short time ago.
But it was not always this way.
For a long time the Cooks River had a reputation as one of the most polluted rivers in Australia.
Restoration began in the 1990s, and there has been a great deal of progress since then.
Indeed, I was proud when in 2010 we delivered, in government, $2 million to assist with funding to help revitalise the river.
Today the Cooks River is growing in health, and I want to congratulate in particular the councils—Marrickville Council and Canterbury City Council—the Cooks River Alliance, the Cooks River Valley Association and the Mudcrabs, for their determination in restoring this waterway.
For decades these organisations have coordinated clean-up efforts, educated our local community and advocated for funding to revitalise the river.
These organisations and particularly those volunteers in them have spent literally years of their lives dedicating themselves to improving this natural environment.
It is an example of how hard work by the community can make a difference. It shows the immense value that local communities attach to their urban waterways.
As our cities continue to grow we need to give more thought to our waterways and to the role that they play in our neighbourhoods.
Waterways make up the veins of our cities and contribute to the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our local communities.
This was something that former Prime Minister Gough Whitlam recognised as part of his vision for Western Sydney and other cities.
He ensured that each house had access to a sewerage system.
This was a tremendous equaliser, and it also meant that as Sydney’s population grew the city became more liveable.
In a speech at Melbourne University in 1969 Whitlam, as then Leader of the Opposition, said this:
… urban man is diminished by any final severance of his links with nature and the countryside …
Some years later, at his successful campaign launch in Blacktown in 1972, Whitlam said:
A national government which has nothing to say about cities has nothing relevant or enduring to say about the nation or the nation’s future.
Whitlam’s assessment of the importance of cities to life in this country is even more relevant today than it was in 1972.
It has now been just over a year since I put forward Labor’s urban policy agenda at the National Press Club.
I spoke about 10 ways that the national government can provide leadership in urban policy in cooperation with other levels of government, with industry and with the community.
One of the ideas I put forward is that we need to enhance sustainability and resilience of household and industrial water supply and rehabilitate our urban waterways.
For too long these urban waterways were used for industrial waste, and I do find it concerning that the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, has given the water portfolio to Barnaby Joyce.
While water management in rural and regional Australia is of the utmost importance, our inland waterways matter too.
I am of the view that water policy should be determined on the basis of science and outcomes, not abandoned as part of a political horse trade.
The federal government must advocate for an integrated approach across planning, transport and infrastructure when it comes to dealing with the challenges of urbanisation, but part of it has to be dealing with water.
That is why, when Labor launched Australia’s first national urban policy in 2011, Our Cities, Our Future, the policy spoke about water management and waste management as a critical part of the bigger picture.
Labor’s policy platform adopted at our national conference provides a strong framework for improving the productivity, sustainability and liveability of our cities, where four out of every five Australians live.
Management of our urban waterways, water recycling and water management in our cities is a critical part of making sure that Australia becomes the sustainable place that it should be, particularly as our cities grow into the future.
(Hansard, Thursday, 15 October 2015)
Today in the Parliament I seconded a Bill which, if passed, will make reporting on child abuse in detention facilities mandatory.
This Bill will require persons working in Australian funded facilities to report any form of child abuse to the Australian Border Force Commissioner.
In turn the Australian Border Force Commissioner must report this information to the relevant police authority and child protection agency.
The Bill also ensures there is absolutely no doubt that staff in these facilities have not only the freedom to report abuse, but also a legal obligation to do so.
The Australian community rightly expects the Turnbull Government to make sure people seeking protection are treated appropriately.
Children currently in detention, however, need action to be taken right now, which is why I have seconded this Bill.
Immigration detention is absolutely no place for children and I support every effort to move children and their families out of detention and into the community as soon as possible.
I also want to voice my support for the rally held yesterday by health professionals at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne, calling for the removal of all children from immigration detention.
These health professionals are dealing with complex cases involving children who have gone through exceptionally difficult experiences fleeing persecution and war.
These doctors and nurses have raised legitimate concerns and deserve more than a one line response from the Turnbull Government.
The Turnbull Government must speed up processing of refugee claims so that children and their families are not left to languish in detention centres.
Labor has consistently condemned the Turnbull Government for its management of offshore processing.
Last year the Moss Review found allegations of abuse within the detention facility on Nauru were credible, which is why Labor established the Senate inquiry to allow these issues to be appropriately examined.
Labor will continue to hold the Government to account for its role in the management of detention facilities, including its response to the Senate inquiry recommendations.
Today – people with disability in the inner west have cause for celebration – the NDIS is coming in 2017!
People with disability, their carers and families across Ashfield, Marrickville, Leichhardt and other inner west suburbs will benefit from the rollout of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) from July 2017.
This is great news for people with disability in the local community, their carers and families.
I will be visiting the Ella Centre next Wednesday with the Shadow Minister for Disability Reform, Jenny Macklin, to celebrate this announcement.
As a former Minister in this area, Jenny worked tirelessly to see the NDIS legislation pass the floor of Parliament.
I know many local residents with disability have waited their whole life to get the care and support they need.
This announcement is a huge breakthrough for people with disability in the inner west.
Now they have the certainty of knowing when they’ll be able to access services as part of the NDIS.
Finally, people with disability will have their needs met in a way that supports them to live with choice and dignity.
The current system of disability support is broken and needs to be fixed.
I look forward to seeing the NDIS continue to change the lives of people with disability in my local community.
To check eligibility for the NDIS visit: www.ndis.gov.au/ndis-access-checklist.
This week I spoke in the Parliament against the extraordinary decision of the Arts Minister George Brandis to take funding responsibility from the independent Australia Council and give it to himself.
I told Parliament:
In 1963 John F Kennedy said: ‘I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist. If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his or her vision wherever it takes him or her.’
Indeed, here in Australia, I believe that our arts and creative industries are a critical part of our vibrant social tapestry.
They nourish our communities and provide opportunities for local artists to perform, create and cultivate.
Those more like me who are not artists have the opportunity to learn from, appreciate and engage with this talented and multifaceted industry.
Yet our federal government has lost its way when it comes to nourishing and promoting arts and culture.
It has forgotten that the best communities are diverse and in order for talent to flourish it must first be cultivated or, as John F Kennedy explained, ‘society must set the artist free’.
That is why it is very disappointing to see George Brandis, our Arts Minister, take an axe to funding for the Australia Council.
After attacking the arts in their first Budget the Coalition have continued on their crusade.
This year they have cut another $104.7 million from the independent Australia Council and transferred it to Senator Brandis and his department to oversee.
Over the next year, grants to individuals and groups and small arts organisations will total just $12 million.
To put this into perspective, the Australia Council allocated $46.2 million in grants and initiatives, just two years ago, in 2013-14.
The Australia Council has a proud history of independence and is well-known for its work in supporting emerging artists, yet Senator Brandis seems to think he knows better than they when it comes to championing artistic excellence.
My own electorate of Grayndler is home to many theatres and spaces where local artists perform and display their work.
Live music venues thrived, including the Factory Theatre, the Enmore Theatre, New Theatre and Camelot Lounge as well as Lazybones and Gasoline Pony just down the road from my office in Marrickville.
The Chrissie Cotter Gallery in Camperdown features regular exhibitions and events and the Addison Road Community Centre gallery is joined by the extraordinary work of students at Dulwich High School of Visual Arts and Design and Newtown High School of the Performing Arts.
This diversity contributes to our inner-west community, giving people opportunities that might not otherwise exist.
The government has a role to play when it comes to arts and creative industries, providing support not trying to control it.
Cutting funding is certainly not what is required.
The Minister and the Prime Minister must restore independence to arts funding. That is what the arts community expects and that is what the Australian community supports.
(Hansard, Wednesday 9 September 2015)
It is with great honour that I have accepted an invitation from the Friends of Millers Point to be their patron.
Miller’s Point is a community – a living, breathing mixture of people that adds to the diversity of the broader Sydney community.
Successful cities are not disconnected enclaves of privilege and disadvantage.
They are diverse and their people come from a mixture of backgrounds.
Yet the Baird State Government is selling the properties on the seemingly rational economic basis that the proceeds can be used to build more public housing elsewhere.
Economic rationalists know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
No-one in the Baird Government has considered what is being lost in this transaction – a living, vibrant, caring community.
When Mike Baird looks at Millers Point he sees dollar signs.
When I look at Millers Point, I see a community made up of people who deserve respect and care.
However, elderly residents of some of these homes have received eviction notices slipped under their doors.
The message being sent is that these people are disposable – that you can just put them out like the rubbish.
Never mind that many have lived in these homes for their entire lives and have established strong and effective support networks within their community – networks that have value.
We might not be able to express that value in dollars and cents, but we are fools if we pretend it does not exist.
Community organisations in the inner west could be eligible for a funding boost as part of the Commonwealth’s Stronger Communities Program.
Up to $150,000 of funding will be available in Grayndler for small capital projects which improve community participation and contribute to the vibrancy and viability of our local community.
Grants of between $5,000 and up to a maximum of $20,000 are available, with applicants required to confirm matched funding in-cash or in-kind on at least a dollar-for-dollar basis.
The inner west is home to a number of hardworking community organisations that do what they can to make our area a better place.
For more information on submitting an application or to find out about the eligibility criteria call the electorate office on 9564 3588.
I look forward to joining students tomorrow at Canterbury Public School to kick off National Science Week.
Tomorrow’s event, coordinated by the CSIRO through its Scientists and Mathematicians in Schools program, is one of many taking place across the nation.
It aims to reinforce the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education for Australia’s future.
STEM professional Marc West, from the Defence Science and Technology Group will also attend and students will be teaching me more about the science of light.
Glow in the dark slime, bending lasers and light refraction through mirrors are all on the table as part of tomorrow’s lesson.
It’s a timely reminder that investing in education and research is critical for our future.
We know that 75 per cent of the fastest growing occupations today require skills in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM), and employment in STEM occupations is projected to grow at almost twice the pace of other occupations.
Yet in 2012 only 16 per cent of higher education students in Australia graduated in STEM-related subjects, compared with 52 per cent in Singapore and 41 per cent in China.
Labor is committed to investing in STEM, research and innovation to build and sustain the jobs of the future.
Labor has announced initiatives that will prepare our children, our workforce and industries for the changing economy.
- Establish a STEM teacher training fund to support 25,000 primary and secondary school teachers over five years to undertake professional development in STEM disciplines.
- Encourage STEM graduates to teach, by offering 25,000 Teach STEM scholarships over five years, to address the shortage of qualified teachers. Recipients will get $5000 when they commence a teaching degree, and $10,000 when they complete their first year of teaching.
- Provide 100,000 STEM Award Degrees – 20,000 a year for five years – which will provide a financial incentive for students to enrol in and complete a STEM undergraduate degree, in recognition of the significant public benefit of growing Australia’s STEM capacity. STEM Award Degree recipients will have their HECS debt written off upon graduation.
- Give every child in Australia the opportunity to learn coding and computational thinking in school.
I congratulate the CSIRO on their work in coordinating tomorrow’s event and thank Canterbury Public School for hosting me.