Nov 29, 2018

Constituency Statement – Tom Uren AC Memorial Lecture – Thursday, 29 November 2018

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (10:54): This Sunday I will host the second annual Tom Uren AC Memorial Lecture at Petersham Town Hall at 2 pm. The guest speaker is Gareth Evans on the topic ‘It’s time for Australia to punch our weight in foreign affairs’. Of course, Gareth Evans was the foreign minister in the Hawke and Keating governments. He was an activist minister who used his time to make a real difference, lifting Australia’s international engagement to a new level as a creative middle power.

He promoted peace and stability in our region, in Cambodia in particular. His service didn’t end there. He headed the International Crisis Group, the independent global conflict prevention resolution organisation, for the decade following 2000. Gareth is now the chancellor of the Australian National University. The former UN secretary Kofi Annan described Gareth Evans as ‘one of the world’s great internationalists’. He went on to say:

Gareth Evans’s career serves as an inspiration on how a spirit of optimism coupled with a keen insight for the art of the possible can create real positive change.

He was critical in promoting Australia’s role in peace and nuclear disarmament issues, including the Canberra commission.

Last year, the guest lecturer at the inaugural Tom Uren lecture was Jose Ramos-Horta, the Nobel laureate and former president of Timor-Leste. This Sunday, Gareth Evans will be introduced by our shadow foreign minister—and the person I hope is Australia’s next foreign minister—Senator Penny Wong. I’m very pleased Senator Wong is giving up her time to be a part of what is an important community event. It’s a community event in honour of, I believe, one of the greatest Australians: Tom Uren, a friend, mentor and father figure to me. He was a giant of the Australian progressive political movement, a campaigner for international justice and a former prisoner of war, who was not embittered about that traumatic and terrible experience during the Second World War. He was someone who came out of that experience committed to ensuring and promoting peace throughout the world, someone who was a principled advocate who always treated people with respect. I’d encourage all people in the inner west to come along on Sunday to Petersham Town Hall for what will be a momentous event.