Wattle Festival in Hurstbridge - Speech in Parliament

I spent Sunday, 30 August in Hurstbridge, a particularly beautiful part of the Scullin electorate. The occasion was the annual Hurstbridge Wattle Festival. The festival marks the start of spring. Unfortunately, it was not a particularly spring-like day in Melbourne's north-eastern suburbs, but it was a fantastic day and a great event to be part of. At the Hurstbridge Festival, it is extraordinary to see a small community transformed, with thousands of people present and a range of community activities taking place. It is not just a family day out, it is an occasion where the community comes together to talk about things that matter. I saw Probus, the CWA and many of our emergency services groups engaging with the community, building support and building an understanding of the matters of concern to them. There was also a Labor stall, which I shared with my colleague and friend Danielle Green, the member for Yan Yean in the state parliament.

I was struck by the range of issues that attendees at the festival shared with me. They had a deep concern about the attitude of this government to the widening inequality in society. In particular, the government's failure to act on the crisis in jobs is a matter of great concern right across Melbourne's north. I was also struck by their concern about some other issues in the federal sphere. In particular, there was a deep concern in Hurstbridge around our failure to take meaningful action in respect of climate change and passionate calls from many community members for a more humane approach to be taken to those seeking asylum in Australia. I was pleased, however, to see how many people reflected with me and Danielle Green on the difference the Daniel Andrews Labor government is making in their community on issues such as the Yan Yean road duplication, which is underway. They said the leadership that Daniel Andrews has shown on issues of importance to them has made a difference to our standing as a city and as a state. It was telling that there was no Liberals stall at the festival this year, it not being an election year.

The festival was a wonderful event and I was pleased that I could share it with my daughter Alice. I think she enjoyed the Thomas the Tank Engine ride rather more than the time she spent on the Labor stall, but it was terrific to be out and about with her and with other families in the community. I would like to acknowledge all the sponsors—in particular, Nillumbik Shire Council—that made this event possible. Also, I would like to thank the volunteers, who did so much to create a great event that meant so much to thousands and demonstrated the tremendous strength of community spirit that is evident right across the Scullin electorate and, in particular, the wonderful community of Hurstbridge.

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