Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:54): Women’s homelessness services in the electorate of Grayndler are at great risk. The state government’s Going Home Staying Home initiative has changed the tendering for these services. The New South Wales Department of Family and Community Services has released only one tender package for the entire inner city of Sydney to cater to women-only services. These services help more than 2,000 women every year. However, the combination of reduced funding and the release of only one tender package will mean only 505 women and their children will be able to be assisted. The new tender process, apart from reducing funding by $6 million, aims to provide services to men and women in the same facilities. It is vital that women and children escaping domestic violence are assisted in an environment of trust, and the establishment of the necessary trust is impossible in mixed gender environments. There are presently a number of services that can assist women in my electorate of Grayndler, but the changes proposed by the state government will have a huge impact on the ability of these services to continue.
This year is the 40th anniversary of the Leichhardt Women’s Community Health Centre. In the last 40 years not one of the local centres providing specialist services to women has had its funding threatened by governments of either persuasion. As things stand, many of these services will have to start closing their doors as soon as June. I urge the state government to reconsider the tender process that is underway in inner Sydney. It is causing great distress. Just over the weekend I was contacted by people from Blackwattle Bay Secondary School—it is part of Sydney Secondary College—about the threat to funding for the Lillian Powell project. This is causing a great deal of angst and it should be something that is not a party-political issue.
Secondly, in my electorate there are a number of organisations that run Youth Connections programs. Youth Connections helps young people who have not completed or are at risk of not completing year 12 or equivalent qualifications and have barriers that make it difficult to participate in education, training or employment. I have seen firsthand Rosemount, in Marrickville, which is run by the Catholic Church. It provides a fantastic service, taking young people and giving them opportunities. As it stands at the moment, young women who are in year 10 will not be able to go to year 11 and year 12 next year as a result of these funding cuts. Youth Connections provides an alternative education program for young people who are or have been at risk of being alienated from not just education but society as a whole. This is a program that must receive funding. I call upon the government to reconsider these mean-spirited cuts to this essential service.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (11:29): I am pleased to support the motion that has been moved by the member for Makin, which brings World Elder Abuse Awareness Day to the attention of the chamber. It is true that we have an ageing population and in these circumstances it is the case that there are tragic reminders from time to time about the isolation in which many elderly people find themselves. There was a time when I was the shadow minister for ageing and seniors—now many years ago— and when I had the opportunity to visit nursing homes and other facilities that look after elderly Australians right across the country. During that period I was heartened by the hard and passionate work of the staff in those aged-care facilities—everyone from the doctors and nurses to the cleaners and those who maintained those facilities. The compassion they showed for elderly Australians was, indeed, inspirational.
We know too that for many elderly people their later years in life are extremely difficult. As the motion indicates, they suffer from physical, mental, emotional, financial and medical neglect from time to time. This is something that occurs throughout the world, and this is why this day is recognised internationally. Abuse of the elderly shocks our community. I certainly come from a culture which respects and puts elderly people up on a pedestal. That is the case throughout Australia, but, unfortunately, we have a circumstance whereby some of our elderly are left very isolated. In my community there are more boarding houses than any other electorate in Australia. These are largely people who do not have family support and do not have friends to call on. That is why it is important that governments continue to play a role in this issue.
The World Health Organisation defines elder abuse as follows:
Elder Abuse is a violation of Human Rights and a significant cause of injury, illness, lost productivity, isolation and despair.
That is why, since the mean spirited budget was handed down in May, the recent debate about carers is of such concern. Those who are carers in our community should receive the gratitude and support, not just of those they are caring for, but also of the community as a whole. That is because they are looking after their loved ones and they are treating them with the respect they deserve. In addition to that, of course, they are also saving the government money through that care, which reduces the pressures on our formal aged-care facilities. I take this opportunity to pay tribute to our carers. I conclude by congratulating the member for Makin on this important initiative and say that World Elder Abuse Awareness Day is a day for all of us to re-affirm the respect that we have for older Australians.
Mr Albanese (Grayndler) (11:29): I want to join with the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition and other members on this condolence motion to a great Australian and a champion of the Australian Labor Party, Mr Neville Wran. Neville Wran was educated at Nicholson Street Public School and Fort Street High School, in my electorate. He went on to study law at the University of Sydney and became a prominent lawyer prior to entering the upper house of the New South Wales parliament in 1970. In 1973 he moved to the electorate of Bass Hill. He became leader of the Australian Labor Party and was elected premier in 1976. That was just after the very significant defeat of the Whitlam Labor government in 1975. It was a time when the Australian Labor Party was going through considerable difficulties. Neville Wran mobilised public support. Neville Wran understood that it was vital that politicians be aware of issues such as costs of living and the concerns of people in their local communities.
At Neville Wran’s quite extraordinary send-off at Sydney Town Hall just a month ago, the contributions of former Prime Minister Paul Keating, former Premier Bob Carr, Justice Michael Kirby, Labor historian Rodney Cavalier and members of Neville’s family—his wife, Jill, and children, Kim, Harriet and Hugo—were quite remarkable. In addition to those family members, I also give my condolences to Glen Wran, his son, who was the president of the Ashfield branch, in my electorate, of longstanding note, during the time in which I have had the honour of serving in this House as the member for Grayndler. I well recall the extraordinary state conference of the New South Wales ALP at Sydney Town Hall when Neville Wran announced his resignation in June 1986. As I entered the magnificent Sydney Town Hall that morning, the loyal deputy to Neville Wran, Jack Ferguson, pulled me aside and said, ‘Take a seat, son; you’re about to see history.’ I did not know at that time what was coming.
We all know in this place that there are very few secrets in politics. It is indeed remarkable that Neville Wran was able to resign from that high office after serving for a decade as premier of the largest state in Australia and it was kept a secret. The gasps from delegates at that conference were an emotional reaction that will stay with me for as long as I live. It was fitting that Neville Wran chose the floor of a New South Wales ALP conference to announce his resignation. He was of the view that no individual is greater than the movement of which they are a part. From time to time you hear that individuals might like to think that they get here on their own. They do not; they get here because of the support of their family, their community and the political party they represent.
Neville Wran, a giant of the labour movement, never put himself above that movement. His achievements were quite remarkable: the economic transformation of New South Wales into a modern economy, the new railway infrastructure out to the Eastern Suburbs, the electrification of the rail lines to Wollongong and Newcastle, new infrastructure in Sydney’s western suburbs and support in regional New South Wales. Those achievements led to the remarkable ‘Wran slides’ in 1978 and in 1981. This was a time when Labor won seats like Manly and Willoughby, and many seats in regional New South Wales. A two-party preferred vote of higher than 60 per cent is something I suspect might never be seen again.
It was a remarkable performance, which did not come about by doing nothing. It was an endorsement of a reforming, forward-thinking government. It was reforming in terms of the great achievements in infrastructure and economic development and also in the environment whereby, thanks to Neville Wran, the great national parks of the North Coast of New South Wales were saved and protected. He created the Land and Environment Court. He understood that development needed to be balanced with appropriate outcomes in environmental protection. He rebuilt the inner areas of Sydney through the Darling Harbour project and the Sydney Entertainment Centre. The Darling Harbour project on the old Pyrmont sites was very controversial. It was a dilapidated area, which he subjected to urban renewal. As someone who was born during and lived through Neville Wran’s premiership, living on Pyrmont Bridge Road, Camperdown, I am very familiar with that area.
Neville Wran established the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs and the most significant land rights legislation anywhere in Australia up to that point. He introduced the Anti-Discrimination Act. He removed the criminalisation of homosexuality. In our time, when there is a modern debate about marriage equality, it is remarkable that just those few years ago to be gay was to risk being jailed because of your sexuality. Neville Wran had the courage to take that on and to lead the nation, to make a real difference to people’s lives.
Neville Wran was ahead of the nation on women’s rights when he introduced legislation concerning the appointment of women. Before Neville Wran’s government, the idea of a woman being appointed to a court was seen to be remarkable and not really appropriate. Neville Wran made sure that women were appointed to all of the highest offices in the New South Wales regime.
Before Neville Wran, the Legislative Council of New South Wales was a bit like the House of Lords in the UK, where the Lords were not elected by the people; they were appointed by each other. Neville Wran went to a referendum and won it to transform, more than a century after the New South Wales parliament was formed, the legislative council into a democratic body. Neville Wran introduced public funding and disclosure laws. Pecuniary interest registers for members of parliament did not exist before Neville Wran in New South Wales.
Regarding some of the laws that were still present in New South Wales before his premiership, the death penalty was still in place in New South Wales prior to it being abolished. The Summary Offences Act, whereby people were picked up and put into jail for the crime of being homeless or for other issues of poverty, essentially, was removed. He was, of course, the longest serving Premier of New South Wales until Bob Carr broke that record.
Neville Wran was someone whom I had the honour of having contact with as the president of Young Labor. At the time, Young Labor was not always compliant with the government of the day. Neville Wran had a wit but also a very sharp way of taking a young fellow, as I was in the Labor Party in those days, and giving him the benefits of his wisdom in a very direct fashion about the need to support his government. He was someone who was larger than life. He was someone who went on to have an extraordinary career in business. He was someone who was prepared to take a young fellow like me aside and give him good advice about the Labor Party.
I am very honoured to be a member of the Australian Labor Party like Neville Wran. Because of my membership of the Labor Party I have enjoyed a better life and privileges that I could not have dreamed of when I was growing up just a few kilometres from where Neville Wran grew up and went to school in our local community. I pay tribute to him and I honour him in this parliament today. I conclude by once again giving my condolences to Jill, who gave such as remarkable eulogy at his farewell, and to his children and all of his friends, colleagues and comrades.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (13:54): I have recently been approached by the Joint Committee for the Commemoration of the Anniversary of the Battle of Crete and the Greek Campaign in regard to federal government support for the visit to the Hellenic military delegation. This delegation is a well-established tradition, having visited various cities across Australia since 1978. Over that time and up until 2010, the military delegation was recognised as an official visit and received consequential support from the federal government. Unfortunately, due to the global financial crisis, they did not visit in 2011 and, therefore, that support has ceased.
In Australia there are more than 350,000 people of Greek descent and the commemoration at the Battle of Crete and the Greek campaign is most relevant for those with this heritage, as well as for many other Australians who have Anzac ancestry. During the First World War, nearly 60 Australians of Greek origin served overseas with the Australian armed forces, many of whom lost their lives. These men were from a range of towns and cities such as Tamworth, Melbourne, Mackay, Adelaide and Bendigo. These Anzacs, along with many other Australians, are buried in Crete and in Athens, something the Hellenic military delegation seeks to commemorate this visit.
This is an important acknowledgement of the ties between Australia and Greece. I believe they should receive federal government support. I have written to the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, asking that the support be reinstated. I believe that everyone in this House would support such a measure.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (21:10): I rise tonight to acknowledge the fact that this Saturday will be one of many times—almost every year—out of the last 30 years that I have participated in the Mardi Gras march in Sydney.
It is a celebration of the diversity which makes Sydney a great global city. It is also a time to recognise that discrimination continues to occur against the gay and lesbian community in a range of areas, including the recognition of their relationships. I have always believed that equal rights for all people—regardless of sexuality, race or gender—are a fundamental right.
Through Labor governments we have seen significant advancement in this area. In every election since 1996 Labor has committed to removing important areas of legal discrimination against same-sex couples. This has included taxation, superannuation, social security, health, aged care, veterans’ entitlements, workers compensation and employment entitlements. Most recently, we successfully extended Labor’s Paid Parental Leave scheme to include same-sex couples. These are important steps forward, but we must recognise that there is still some way to go.
I am proud to be part of the Australian Labor Party, whose support through our platform for marriage equality is now entrenched. Labor’s national policy platform now reads:
Labor will amend the Marriage Act to ensure equal access to marriage under statute for all adult couples irrespective of sex who have a mutual commitment to a shared life.
It is important also that we have a conscience vote on this issue. I respect those who disagree with this position; I also, though, believe that by giving one group of Australians equal rights does not diminish the existing rights that people have.
I know that there are people, also, in the coalition who support equality for all, regardless of their sexual orientation. I believe that it is important that everyone in this parliament be allowed to participate in a conscience vote on the issue of marriage equality. I recall when I moved the Superannuation (Entitlements of Same Sex Couples) Bill in this parliament—it was controversial. We could not even get debate in this chamber in terms of a vote. Today I do not believe that there is anyone in this chamber who does not believe that it is appropriate for people who are asking for access to their partner’s superannuation—that is, their own contributions—that that is not an appropriate reform. That shows that progress occurs.
I think that quite often, many of those, particularly on the progressive side of politics—to which I am proud to belong—often romanticise about the past. I believe that history does move forward, that support for tolerance does move forward, and that in terms of this reform we will see full equality very soon.
In recent times I have participated in Mardi Gras with people including New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell, which is important. There has been a message sent for Saturday from the leader of the Labor Party, Bill Shorten, from the deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, and from many other members of parliament.
What we see also in the celebration on Saturday is that it is a major tourism event for Sydney. It is a major economic activity that creates jobs and creates a sense of wellbeing in the community. At this time when on many unfortunate occasions there have been incidents that have caused violence on the streets of Sydney, one of the things that has always characterised Mardi Gras is a sense of community and a sense of respect for each other.
I assure my constituents in Grayndler, and many others who have written to me that I will continue to be a strong campaigner for equal rights, regardless of sexuality.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:24): When we review the lives of the great men and women of history, the people who are remembered well beyond their lifetimes, their common characteristics are their commitment to justice and their level of connection with their own humanity. Whether they were politicians, preachers, peace campaigners, writers or entertainers, those who are remembered best are those who speak to the human soul. They slice through the political white noise of the day to appeal to the human heart.
Think of Abraham Lincoln, who taught America that slavery was an affront to humanity; Martin Luther King, who reminded his nation that real freedom required genuine equality; or Mahatma Ghandi, who taught India that the road to justice was also the road of peace; John F. Kennedy, who taught the world to ask what the individual can do for his or her country, not to ask what their country could do for them.
Nelson Mandela is the great voice of freedom in our time, a man whose contribution to humanity has no peer. He began his adult life fighting for freedom. He was so committed to freedom that he was prepared to endure 27 years in prison to demonstrate his commitment. The whole world watched when news came through that he would be released from prison. It was a time of massive celebration, as Mr Mandela walked free with the words, ‘Free at last.’ This was an extraordinary time. It is important, I think, to pay tribute to those people in South Africa, as members of the African National Congress, but also around the world: those citizens of Australia and the globe who campaigned for an end to apartheid. The labour movement, I believe, has much to be proud of for the role that we played. I well remember getting criticism for inviting Eddie Funde, the ANC representative in Australia, to speak at a Young Labor conference. It was seen to be controversial at the time in terms of support for the ANC. Eddie Funde, while he was here in Australia, was subject to violent attacks including a shooting at his home in Ultimo in Sydney. This was not an issue of consensus. This was an issue on which the forces of right, however, prevailed substantially and people from across the political spectrum—people like Malcolm Fraser and others—were prepared to engage in support for sanctions against South Africa, to send the message. And, not to send it in a rhetorical way but to send a message by crippling the economy and crippling those who gained economic advantage from the apartheid system, that they would not continue to be able to profit from the misery of the majority of citizens of South Africa on the basis of their race.
It was quite extraordinary that just eight months after his release, Nelson Mandela came to Australia. As someone who was active in the anti-apartheid movement, I had the honour and the privilege of meeting Mr Mandela face to face and having conversations with him at meetings that were held at Sydney Trades Hall and at the major event that occurred at the Sydney Opera House where people in their tens of thousands came to see this great man. What struck you, and everyone who met him, was his humility. He was genuinely effusive in his response to people. This was someone who had been locked up on Robben Island—and I have seen the cell in which he was kept for 27 years—who genuinely engaged with people and was prepared to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
He had an extraordinary ability to project a positive vision for the future, not just in what he said but how he said it. How he danced onto the stage that had been established at the Sydney Opera House forecourt made people cry with joy at being in his presence, at having that honour. To him though there were no airs and graces. He came to thank us for our support in the ending of apartheid. It was us who should thank him for making the world a better place by his example.
What I also think was quite extraordinary was that Mandela emerged from incarceration prepared to forgive his oppressors. In this building, where so many things that do not matter a jot inspire bitterness and division, his example is one that is a lesson to all of us involved in politics, and to the world. The reserves of inner strength that this required! He could have emerged from prison bitter—most people would have, frankly, and it would have been very difficult to have any criticism of anyone who would. But Mandela was a leader, a great leader who examined his heart, thought about the future and came up with a better way.
He understood that the way to end decades of hatred was not to promote still further hatred but to embrace forgiveness and reconciliation. Mandela talked the talk but he also walked the walk. He walked all the way to a new South Africa. We can only marvel at his example; it is an achievement of the kind that we only see once in a lifetime. People of my generation came to adulthood aware that Mandela was in prison and bewildered by the institutionalised racism of South Africa. But we did not know Mandela until he was released, and it was only after he emerged from prison with his spirit of humility and reconciliation that we truly saw his greatness. This is because his life showed us that even though some of our human instincts tempt us to respond to injustice with vengeance, ultimately anger gets us nowhere. The real answer to injustice is to work together towards its elimination. This was the genius of Nelson Mandela.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (09:30): I rise today in the House to acknowledge the passing of a constituent, friend and comrade, Peter Bulger. I came to know Pete through his deep commitment to the Labor cause, his passion for activism and ongoing contribution to the community in which he lived. Like a lot of people who get involved in political activism, Pete cared about his local community and about the nation. He imagined a better Australian society and he invested his time and his energy into making his vision real. Politics was his interest, but people were his passion—the people he met and the people he wanted to help by pursuing his vision for a better and fairer society, one in which opportunity was extended to all and progress would be achieved with equity. Pete lived by two personal mottos: ‘Never give in, never surrender’ and ‘Life is short, so enjoy it while you can.’ Those maxims summed him up perfectly; he was passionate about his beliefs, but also passionate about life and his family and friends.
Pete was born in Queensland in 1965, the son of Alan and Nola Bulger. He earned a Bachelor of Business Studies in 1985 and become a certified practicing accountant 10 years later. In 2003 he was awarded an MBA at Deakin University. Pete moved to Sydney in 1988 and settled in St Peters, in my electorate. Over the years, he worked for a range of companies, including Caltex and the Sydney Futures Exchange, as well as the New South Wales Department of Education. After arriving in Sydney, he also became involved in the Labor Party. Pete was Secretary of the St Peters-Tempe Branch for many years and strongly believed in standing up for his neighbours and surrounding community.
Pete was also a family man, the husband of Min for 17 years and the proud father of Lilly, Ruby and Ivy. In November, 2011, Pete was diagnosed with glioblastoma multiforme, an aggressive brain cancer. Despite this devastating news, Pete would not be bowed and staged a 14-month battle against his condition. After treatment, when friends asked him how he was, he would say: ‘All right for someone with half a brain’.
Despite his suffering, Pete continued to fight for the things he believed in, notably for the Labor cause in Grayndler. His death came too soon—during the 2013 election campaign. His tenacity, at such a challenging time, was truly admirable. Having had the privilege of knowing Pete for many years, I can say he was a true believer, a fighter and a Labor man lost too soon.
We need to increase the research into GBM as there has been little change in diagnostic methods in the recent decade. I want to publicly express my sympathies to those closest to Peter and put on record my thanks for the support he has given me and the Labor movement in Grayndler over the years. Peter will be sorely missed.
I wish Min, Lilly, Ruby and Ivy, his three school-age children, all the best for their future.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (20:24): Everyone in this chamber, indeed everyone in this entire country, knows that they have a personal interest in the health of our environment. This is not just about the environment—of course good environmental policy is good economic policy—it is also about sustainability. We must ensure that we have a sustainable economy that acknowledges that we do live in a carbon constrained future; we must prepare ourselves for that future. We should always strive to be ahead of the curve, to be alert to global environmental issues and at all times to give the environment the benefit of the doubt.
This is also good economic policy. It is called fundamental risk management. And that is where climate change, and all issues which this parliament will consider over this year and years to come, needs to be considered. Indeed Australia being the driest continent on the planet means that we have an extra responsibility. We know what the risks of inaction are and, if we are doing our job as legislators, we should heed expert advice from the scientists and act upon it. Indeed, on the issue of climate change, I do not think there is any doubt about the need for action; there is no doubt that human activity is contributing to changes in the environment. I do not want to reprosecute that case for action today; I will leave it to the scientists who have put through the various forums—through the CSIRO in Australia or through the scientists involved in the IPCC—the facts on the table.
We must act, and we know through economic analysis and reports such as the Stern report in the United Kingdom, or indeed the work that Peter Shergold did here in Australia, that the earlier we act the cheaper the cost of action is. The alternative that has been put forward by the previous speaker, the member for Ryan, and those on the coalition benches, the so-called Direct Action plan—planting trees and storing carbon in the soil—is inadequate to address the problem. It is a bandaid on a bullet wound.
I am all for planting more trees and for soil sequestration and any other type of mitigating action that can be taken to reduce carbon emissions, but based upon what the scientists are telling us, it simply will not be enough. That is why I support a market based solution. That used to be a consensus in this parliament. John Howard campaigned in 2007 in favour of an ETS as a result of the work that was done in the Shergold report. Labor also campaigned in the 2007 election for an ETS. We did so because we understand that it is the power of the market that can drive change in our economy.
The alternative plan, the command style economy plan of the so-called Direct Action plan, simply will not be enough. Earlier this year senate officials told a Senate estimates committee hearing that the coalition’s carbon farming initiative would reduce carbon emissions by fewer than four million tonnes—that is if it is all put in place. The coalition claimed that it would reduce emissions by 20 times this amount. Based on CSIRO research, the coalition would have to utilise two-thirds of the Australian land mass to achieve the emissions reduction targets they say they support.
So let us have none of this nonsense that we have heard opposite about their wanting to get rid of the price on carbon. Indeed, under the legislation that is before this House, the price on carbon will continue up until 1 July next year. If they were fair dinkum at all, they would move so that, once this legislation is carried, then the carbon price would go. But they are not fair dinkum. It is all about politics, as it always has been with those opposite.
The Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme, which we attempted to implement after our election in 2007, consistent with the mandate that was given not just to the Labor government but to the coalition opposition, was designed as a market based solution. Indeed, Malcolm Turnbull remains a supporter of that position, because he knows that the so-called Direct Action Plan is a farce, and he has said so very clearly.
It is not just the coalition, though, who bear some responsibility for walking away from action needed for this and future generations. If the five Australian Greens senators had got up off their butts and walked across the chamber to vote for action on climate change with the Labor senators and the two Liberal senators who had courage in December 2009, we would have had a price on carbon implemented through legislation then, and today it would have been accepted as a consensus in this parliament.
In the last term, we were able to pass legislation for an emissions-trading scheme with a fixed price until 1 July 2015. Earlier this year, when Kevin Rudd returned as the Prime Minister and I was Deputy Prime Minister, we committed to the abolition of the carbon tax and a move to emissions trading from 1 July 2014, embracing the power of the market in order to drive that change through the economy. That is the position that Labor took to the election and it is the position that we hold today, and yet those opposite are not only sceptics when it comes to climate change; they are also market sceptics. That is absolutely extraordinary. From time to time, the Liberal Party likes to talk about the power of the market, but on this critical issue with such serious implications for our economy, for employment and for our environment, the Liberal Party, instead of using a market based mechanism to drive that economy, prefers to subsidise the big polluters. It is a ‘pay polluters’ scheme that they want.
And where does that money—the billions of dollars that is going to be used to subsidise the big polluters—come from? It comes from taxpayers. So what they want to do is slug ordinary Australian working families in order to subsidise the big polluters. That is their plan—rather than embracing the need for a price signal, one that is understood by the business community and one that would put in place a driver of that change through the economy. Those opposite pretend that they have a mandate for this and that somehow we should just agree with their position. I say this to them. We were elected in 2007 with support for an emissions-trading scheme, which they were also elected upon, and yet they walked away from that commitment.
Yesterday, thousands of Australians marched and demonstrated their desire for action on climate change. Fair Australians who have looked at the science and considered the issues know that our responsibility to this and future generations requires more than just mitigation. They know that taking action to prevent dangerous climate change is far preferable to spending money to alleviate the result of climate change. Common sense tells you that that is the case.
This is a fundamental issue between a political party that understands our responsibility to the future, our responsibility to look ahead, our responsibility to prepare for the change that is required, and those opposite, who say, ‘There is a cost to carbon pollution, but we’ll pass that on to future generations.’ It is reminiscent of those in earlier times in our great nation who built industrial warehouses and factories alongside rivers. Why did they do that, in our capitals and regional cities? They did that because if the pollution from, for example, the sugar mill on the Cooks River, in my electorate, expunged its waste into the river then it was someone else’s problem. They passed on the cost to what is now this generation for the pollution in the Cooks River, the rivers going into Sydney Harbour and other rivers right around our great nation. We see the impact of their saying, ‘We will not worry about waste and externalities’—to put it in economic terms—’we will just pass that on to future generations.’
That is exactly what the coalition would have us do when it comes to carbon pollution. There is a cost to carbon pollution and we need to accept responsibility, not out of any bleeding heart position but because we know that the cost of acting will be far, far cheaper if we act now.
During the 43rd Parliament the Leader of the Opposition at the time, the now Prime Minister, sought power with a political strategy of just being negative. He just said, ‘We will oppose everything.’ In the hung parliament Mr Abbott was so desperate to create the appearance of chaos he refused to back anything put forward by our side of politics. The problem with that is that you now have an incoming government that does not have a plan for the future. It is just what they are against. In all of their measures—repealing the price on carbon, repealing the Mineral Resource Rent Tax, stopping various infrastructure projects going forward—there is nothing positive. It struck me when the Governor-General gave her speech to the opening of parliament last week that this is a government based upon what it is against, not what it is for.
Government requires actual solutions. It requires something more than just being negative. According to the scientists across the nation, we know that when it comes to climate change we need a positive solution—a solution that understands we must be part of international action, yes, but we also have responsibility as the highest per capita emitter in the world to take action ourselves. That is why I support Labor’s position of moving from the fixed price on carbon to a flexible price mechanism through an emissions trading scheme.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (09:57): I rise today to congratulate Father Joachim Rego from the parish of St Brigid’s Marrickville in my electorate of Grayndler for his election in Rome at the Superior General of the Passionist Order of the Catholic Church.
Father Joachim was born in Myanmar in August 1954 and migrated to Marrickville with his family as a teenager. He attended high school at De La Salle College in Marrickville, which is now Casimir Catholic College, before joining the Passionists in 1975. He professed his first vows in 1976 and was ordained a priest in 1981.
Joachim worked for 18 years in Papua New Guinea as regional Vicar, Novice Master and Formator, and was President of the Conference of Major Superiors of Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. He worked as Novice Master in the Indian Vicariate of the Passionists Congregation and also in the parish of St Brigid’s Marrickville prior to his election as Provincial Superior in 2007.
Joachim is the eldest son of Mr and Mrs George and Celina Rego of Marrickville. His brother, Father Aloysius Rego, is the regional Vicar of the Discalced Carmelite Friars in Australia-Oceania. His sister Bernadette and brother Valerian live in Marrickville with their spouses and children.
St Brigid’s church is just a short walk from my electorate office in Grayndler. It is well known throughout the community of the inner west for its charitable works and its commitment to social justice. My son was baptised there.
At the end of last year, I attended a function at Marrickville Town Hall to celebrate the 125th Jubilee of the arrival of the Passionists at St Brigid’s in Marrickville. It was a wonderful community celebration attended by members of the parish but also members of the wider community. This is a wonderfully inclusive community that goes out of their way to celebrate the multiculturalism that makes Marrickville such a diverse, interesting and vibrant community.
In addition to the church, the parish also includes St Brigid’s Primary School and Casimir Catholic College—two schools that have provided a quality education to many thousands of local families in my electorate over the years, including to Father Joachim himself.
I congratulate Father Joachim on his achievement and wish him the best of success as he embarks on a new chapter of his life in Rome.
Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler—Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport) (16:04): Last week I was in Italy for high-level discussions on infrastructure and infrastructure financing and tomorrow in the House I will be welcoming the leaders of 35 infrastructure companies from Italy, many of whom are investing here, including on the Legacy Way in Brisbane and the Superway in Adelaide. The purpose of the visit was to advance that agenda and the association that we have had with Italian infrastructure companies and also have meetings about the air services agreement between Australia and Italy.
The trip also involved a visit to the City of Giovinazzo. Giovinazzo is a port city on the Adriatic Coast in the region of Apulia. It has a population of some 20,000 and is a seaside destination for Italian tourists, with its own local fishing industry. In 1989 Leichhardt in my electorate of Grayndler formed a twin city relationship with Giovinazzo in recognition of the large number of migrants from the city and other parts of the region of Apulia who have settled in the Leichhardt area. I am also half Apulian and was very pleased to be able to represent my electorate at Giovinazzo. It was an extraordinary Italian welcome. The mayor and all of the council turned up, as well as what appeared at times to be most of the city of Giovinazzo, to show us around. Meetings were held at the Town Hall and at the local community centre where school children had three walls covered with their drawings showing their feelings about Australia. Kangaroos, koalas, the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House featured prominently in those drawings.
The local band played the Australian national anthem as well as the Italian national anthem at Piazza Leichhardt, which is a magnificent piazza in Giovinazzo. There were many people there, all of whom seemed to have a relative in or a connection to Australia. It was indeed a very proud moment. I note that Leichhardt has established the Giovinazzo Grove within Leichhardt Park that overlooks Iron Cove. It was a great moment and I thank the mayor, Tommaso Depalma, and other dignitaries including the carabinieri commander, municipal police commander and others who participated, including the Giovinazzo Municipal Orchestral Band, for the fine welcome. Our muliculturalism was celebrated with this event and it was indeed a proud moment and a celebration of the connection between Australia and Italy.