Matter of Public Importance - Special Minister of State

Over the last two weeks, and perhaps most especially in an odd last five minutes, we have seen the truth behind the rhetoric about a new politics. We have had a close look at the new Prime Minister's new politics and it is not pretty. It is not good to look at, at all. The Prime Minister today in question time took great pleasure in quoting Billy Hughes. This was funny for a variety of reasons, not least that, of course, the Prime Minister has often been a bit flexible about which party he wishes to attach himself to. Perhaps it is the start of his long journey away from integrity. It is a sad journey for him, and a sadder one for this place and for our country.

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Islamic Community - speech in Parliament

As members of parliament, what we say matters. It carries consequences. This was brought home to me when I read an article in The Age today entitled 'Abuse a fact of life for many Muslims'. It highlights the pervasive impact of Islamophobia in recent months on members of the Islamic community and confirms what members of the Islamic community in Scullin have been saying to me: they feel under pressure, they feel under siege and they feel that comments made about the Australian way of life belittle them and exclude them from full participation.

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Andrews government anniversary

As you would be well aware, Mr Acting Deputy Speaker Broadbent, this week marks the first anniversary of the election of the Andrews government in Victoria. It is an important occasion to mark, not least because it is in the company of the minister at the table, who I enjoyed listening to in respect of his commentary on that election night. I am pleased to see things have improved for him in some regard, and he should consider himself very fortunate to live in the state of Victoria under the Andrews government. It is an important anniversary to mark in this place—

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GST threat at Christmas

Last Christmas the Abbott government sought to attack the wages and conditions of Australian workers. The then Treasurer sent his Christmas wish list off to the Productivity Commission, putting at stake everything that matters for everyone who works for a living. What has changed in a year? This year, they want to beef up the GST to make sure that families pay more for what they put under the tree and, indeed, for everything else. This Prime Minister's Christmas wish is to play the Grinch: to raise and broaden the GST and to cut benefits for families, especially single-parent families. In my electorate of Scullin, over 12,000 families will be $700 a year worse off due to family tax benefit A cuts, and nearly 11,000 families will lose $350 a year because of family tax benefit B cuts. If the Prime Minister gets his way, average families will be working harder and ending up with less in their bank accounts, while his mates—the mates of all of those opposite—will get off without paying their fair share. Let's make no mistake about this whatsoever: this Prime Minister, whatever he says, is just as committed as his predecessor to making Australia a less equal place. Let's also be clear about this: the Labor Party stands resolutely opposed to this agenda. It is resolutely opposed to raising and broadening the GST and to these unfair, regressive family payment cuts.

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The Coalition's inherent unfairness

One thing is apparent since the member for Wentworth, Malcolm Turnbull, wrestled the prime ministership from his rival, the member for Warringah: the national mood has changed. That is, there is a palpable sense of relief in the communities. But this is misconceived. While it is certainly nice to hear that we are living in the most exciting time to be Australians, let us not confuse questions of style with questions of substance, and let's be very clear about this: is relief really as good as it gets? The problem is that this is apparent particularly in the communities I represent in this place. Under our new Prime Minister, there has been very little, if any, meaningful policy change. The Prime Minister's new politics simply use kinder language to pursue the same Abbott agenda; the same unfair, regressive agenda. This obscures but cannot conceal the realities of what this government is doing to people. The Australian people will see through this cynical approach to politics from a deeply cynical politician. People in Scullin already do.

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Bubup Wilam - Speech in Parliament

Bubup Wilam is an Aboriginal child and family centre established under the former national partnerships, located in Thomastown in the Scullin electorate. I have often spoken about Bubup Wilam in this place because it is so important to the Indigenous communities of Melbourne's north. I am incredibly proud of the work that Bubup Wilam does not only in terms of supporting early childhood education and young families but also as a hub for Melbourne's north's expanding Aboriginal population.

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Whittlesea Community Connections budget cuts

 

This evening I rise to speak about the important work being done by an organisation in my electorate that is also active in the electorate of my great friend the member for McEwen. That is Whittlesea Community Connections. I would like to talk about the need for this organisation to retain an appropriate level of funding and the support it needs to continue doing the great work it does in providing services and, equally importantly, building community. While I have spoken about this organisation on several occasions in the House, I rise to speak about it now as the organisation is about to go into its annual general meeting and also because it is facing some particular challenges at the moment. I want to take this opportunity to place on the record my strong support for the work it does.

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Integrity in Parliament - matter of public importance

Whoever leads it, this is a deeply cynical government which has done much to undermine trust in politics and government, and has done much to pull apart the Australian people's faith in the integrity of our political processes. It is not just our assessment that makes this case. It is the words of government members, including the Prime Minister, that make this very clear—and not just the Prime Minister, I should say, also the Special Minister of State. Just this week, in this House, he said, 'Integrity in all things parliamentary is essential.'

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Multiculturalism in Scullin

On Sunday the news brought into households around Australia had some confronting images courtesy of a group that calls itself Reclaim Australia. They brought to towns across the country a protest characterised by hatred, bigotry and, in many cases, violence. It was pleasing to see a level of political condemnation of these attacks on the fabric of our multicultural society, with leadership from people from across the political spectrum standing up for all Australians. It is right that these violent protests are condemned, but it is not sufficient if we are mindful of supporting a genuinely diverse and inclusive society.

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Diamond Creek East Primary's Anzac excellence

On Monday I had the very great pleasure of attending Diamond Creek East Primary School in the Scullin electorate for their regular assembly. It is always a pleasure to be with Diamond Creek East—their principal Rob Rostolis does a fantastic job—but it was a particular privilege to be there on Monday, because my attendance was to present a couple of certificates to the school and a particular teacher. The school was awarded the Victorian Anzac Day schools award for this year, which was a tremendous achievement. It follows on from also winning in 2011, showing the real strength of the school community. I was thrilled that there was a recognition not only of the community at large but also of the contribution of teacher Shane Nelson, who received an individual award. This was, I think, just recognition for the extraordinary work Shane put into organising quite a spectacular event that involved not only Diamond Creek East Primary school but a wide range of primary schools—and a high school as well—across that part of the Scullin electorate, bringing together more than 2,000 students for what was a very moving and entirely appropriate tribute to the Centenary of Anzac and its connection to the communities of Melbourne's north-east. The Diamond Creek East school community deserves to be congratulated and the leadership of Rob Rostolis and Shane Nelson acknowledged. It was a real privilege to be there to share in the journey they undertook through their Anzac heritage and the journey they will continue to undertake in connecting the past of their area to its bright future.

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