Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Oct 25, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Australian Christian Lobby National Conference

SPEECH
Australian Christian Lobby National Conference
THE HYATT, CANBERRA
SATURDAY, 25 OCTOBER 2014

**PLEASE CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY**

[Acknowledgements Omitted]

I think I’m like many Australians, I don’t usually talk publically about my faith – and I shall not make a habit of it.

As a member of parliament and as the leader of a great political party, I am not in the business of preaching to others, and of course like most Australians, neither do I take kindly to being preached at when I am going about my business in the public square.

Today, I hope we can share our hopes and ideals robustly – respecting each other’s dignity and conscience.

I spoke with my local priest at St Thomas’ in Moonee Ponds two weeks ago when I was organising my thoughts for this speech, and he suggested I begin with something from the scriptures.

The passage I’ve chosen is from Matthew:

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

I am sure you recognise the beatitudes, the beginning of arguably the most famous speech in human history.

In the Sermon on the Mount,  Jesus shares the universal love, tolerance and service that underpins his Gospel which is the core of the Christian message.

He rejects the empty vengeance of an ‘eye for an eye’ and tells us instead to ‘turn the other cheek’.

Judge not, Jesus tells us:

 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

And above all, he tells us to love our neighbour as we love ourselves.

To treat people as we would like to be treated.

In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you

When I was at school we were taught that this was the ‘golden rule’.

It was at the heart of the Jesuit call to be a ‘man for others’.

And I have spent my working life, both representing workers and as parliamentarian, trying to measure up to this standard of compassion and empathy.

To answer the clarion call to care for the vulnerable, to speak up for the powerless, to reject hatred and intolerance, to help the poor and to pursue peace.

Of course, none of these virtues belongs to Christianity alone.

Nor does a belief in social justice necessarily depend upon the teachings of Christ.

No faith has a monopoly on compassion.

No religion ‘owns’ tolerance or charity or love.

Australia is a remarkable country, full of decent and generous people of good conscience, drawn from all faiths and none.

And Australians rightly expect our national leaders, to respect the constitutional separation of Church and State.

Remember John F Kennedy’s famous response to allegations that he was the ‘Catholic candidate’?

He declared that as President he would be: ‘responsible to all faiths, but obligated to none’

That’s the only religious test Australians apply to their leaders.

Sometimes people describe modern, multicultural, multi-faith Australia as ‘tolerant’.

But the society we have built beneath the Southern Cross goes beyond that.

We do not just ‘tolerate’ difference, we celebrate it.

Of course, we expect people to leave behind their old conflicts, respect our laws, uphold our values.

But we do not endure diversity under sufferance – we embrace the contribution that all those who’ve come from across the seas have made to their new home.

And the greatness of our nation is that every person is free to be proud of what they believe.

For Australians of faith, religion is a base to build upon in public life – even if it is also a destination for retreat, solace and sustenance in private life .

And no faith, no religion, no set of beliefs should ever be used as an instrument of division or exclusion.

As you know, far better than I, the Bible teaches us that we are all immutably imperfect.

Condemning anyone, discriminating against anyone, vilifying anyone is a violation of the values that we all share.

A violation that can never be justified by anyone’s faith or belief.

Not yours, not mine.

Not anyone’s.

Freedom of worship does not mean freedom to vilify.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to express prejudice or hatred.

In our society, under our laws, whether we be Christians, Hindus, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or atheists – we are all Australians and we are all equal.

First, last and always equal under the law of the land.

So when I hear people invoking the scriptures to attack blended families like mine…I cannot stay silent.

I do not agree.

When I see people hiding behind the bible to insult and demonise people based on who they love…I cannot stay silent.

I do not agree.

When I hear people allege that ‘God tells them’ that marriage equality is the first step on the road to polygamy and bigamy and bestiality…I cannot stay silent.

I do not agree.

These prejudices do not reflect the Christian values I believe in.

They paint the accusers as people who would rather judge than understand.

People all too willing to cast the first stone.

And it sends a broader message, it feeds a perception that Church and faith are somehow incompatible with modern families, with modern life, with modern Australia.

And I reject that.

Christian values can still guide us in our journey through the modern world seeking optimal conditions for raising and educating children, whatever their economic circumstances and whatever the personal circumstances of their parents

There is nothing old-fashioned about compassion or respect.

Nothing out-dated in the idea of seeking peace, caring for others, contributing to society and loving your family.

Nothing obsolete about treating everyone as we would wish to be treated.

Indeed, it has never been more relevant, never more important.

MARRIAGE EQUALITY

Friends, if we can agree on these things, if we agree that our duty is to help the vulnerable, to speak up for the powerless, to gather in those who feel marginalised and excluded -

I wonder how we can continue to draw a line based on who people love?

How can compassion, charity, love, recognition and endorsement continue to be restricted to heterosexual Australia and the nuclear family?

I believe in God and I believe in marriage equality under the civil law of the Commonwealth of Australia.

I know that many of you do not share my view – and I recognise that for some people of faith, this is a most vexed question.

It is one of the reasons Labor has made marriage equality a conscience vote in previous Parliaments, and today.

We are a free society, you are entitled to your views – and I am happy to share mine with you.

I am a Christian and a supporter of marriage equality under the law.

At its heart, marriage equality is a question of legal recognition and legal support for couples committed to each other regardless of their gender.

That’s why my reasons for voting for change are based upon the broad ideal of equality – an Australia that includes everyone.

However our current law excludes some individuals.

It says to them: your relationships are not equally valued by the state, your love is less equal under the law.

It excludes couples that are already together in loving relationships – have been for many years – and are entitled to have that love recognised equally under the law.

And it excludes young same-sex attracted Australians.

Young people who look at their government, look at their own society and then look at themselves – and see a system, a nation that will never accept them or the person that they one day hope to love.

Whatever our religious views about marriage, and whatever our social views about how best to raise and educate children, we have to change this law which discriminates against adult couples on the basis of who they love.

ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT

We must all be committed to building the foundation for a fairer, more equal society, a more decent and more generous world.

As Pope Francis said in an open letter to UK Prime Minister David Cameron on the eve of the G7 summit:

“Every economic and political theory or action must set about providing each inhabitant of the planet with the minimum wherewithal to live in dignity and freedom, with the possibility of supporting a family, educating children, praising God and developing one’s own human potential.”

There is nothing uniquely Catholic, nothing exclusively Christian about that statement.

Yet it is also entirely Christian.

A view of the world that looks beyond ‘treasures stored up on earth’, that rejects the ravages of unfettered mercantilism and empty materialism.

Of course, governments also have a material responsibility.

A responsibility to seek prosperity, to create jobs, to deliver the revenue that supports our great and generous social democracy.

But the distance and difference between a focus on creating wealth for the nation and accumulating wealth for individuals is vast indeed.

HOMELESSNESS. POVERTY. PROSPERITY.

There is a view in some quarters of Australia that we have to choose between growth and equality.

That they are mutually exclusive.

Labor knows that equality is not the child of growth – it is the twin of growth.

Equality does not just depend upon prosperity, it generates prosperity.

Everyone benefits, when we include everyone.

So while in the proud history of our party Labor’s understanding of the means for creating equality may have changed and evolved, our objective remains unaltered.

We still believe in fairness – we always will.

We still believe that a great nation gives everyone equal opportunity to fulfil their potential.

A nation that reaches out a caring hand to those felled by the shafts of fate, that sees homelessness, poverty, loneliness and exclusions as wrongs to be righted, not problems to be avoided.

To borrow an analogy from one of my heroes, the Reverend Martin Luther King, a country should not tell a bootless man to pull himself up by his bootstraps.

That’s the Labor project, the big picture, the higher ground we strive for.

INDIGENOUS CONSTITUTIONAL RECOGNITION

We believe in an inclusive Australia – an Australia at peace with its past, seeking to right the grievous wrongs of our history.

An Australia that accords Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people a meaningful place of honour in our Constitution.

And an Australia where constitutional recognition marches alongside Closing the Gap – extending opportunity and ending disadvantage.

Where constitutional change brings new energy, new urgency, new vigour and new enthusiasm for economic, social and legal change.

And I am pleased to see that the ACL has given its full support to one of the defining political challenges of our generation.

FOREIGN AID

The Labor mission has always been an international mission.

We look outwards, we see and seek a role for ourselves in the world.

As Ben Chifley said, more than 60 years ago:

We have a great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind not only here but anywhere we may give a helping hand.

Anywhere we may give a helping hand.

That is a trait your members share with the Labor movement, whatever your politics  – a moral code that goes beyond lines on a map, a duty of compassion that reaches beyond those who carry an Australian passport.

And it’s why we have all been shocked by the harshness, the savagery of this Government’s cuts to Foreign Aid.

Amidst all the regressive unfairness of the Abbott-Hockey Budget – the single biggest cut was to foreign aid and international development assistance.

One dollar in every five cut from Commonwealth expenditure came at the expense of the world’s most vulnerable people.

And $7.6 billion dollars is not just a line in the Budget.

$7.6 billion dollars is the difference between:

  • · 600,000 people having access to basic sanitation and sewerage – or the disease and sickness that come from going without, and
  • It’s 180,000 kids going to school – or missing out, and
  • · It’s 300,000 births attended by a trained healthcare professional – or 300,000 mothers at risk.

$7.6 billion dollars is all those things.

Bipartisanship is important in our national politics – and the Government has broken bipartisanship on Foreign Aid.

They have fractured a consensus that reaches back to the Howard Government.

Making the deepest cuts to those most in need is wrong.

Taking the most from those who have the least is cruel.

Most disappointingly, there is the hubris that some in the Liberal ranks take in this decision – and I acknowledge there is discomfort among others.

There can be no satisfaction in walking away from our international humanitarian responsibilities.

I believe Australia is a more generous, more decent country than this.

I believe “injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere.”

And I am sure you feel the same way.

Australia cannot choose to pass by on the other side of the road.

IRAQ

Just as we could not choose to stand by and watch ISIL and their like inflict their barbarous, medieval murder upon the vulnerable people of Iraq.

Australia’s new involvement in Iraq, as part of an international humanitarian effort, is an act of conscience.

The men and women of our defence force are not in Iraq to pursue territory or power but to protect the displaced and help the vulnerable.

Australia’s mission is not to assert the supremacy of one faith or one people but to defend the rights of all faiths and all peoples.

We cannot negotiate with poisonous fanaticism, we cannot ignore the scale and savagery of their atrocities and we cannot co-operate with evil by refusing to support the innocent.

HUMANITARIAN RESPONSE

Just as the swamp of terrorism cannot be drained by force of arms alone, the good we can do, the humanitarian aid we can offer goes beyond military assistance.

As a generous, prosperous nation – made great in part by migration – Labor believes Australia can play a greater role in the international effort to provide refuge to the persecuted.

Nearly two million Iraqis have fled their homes in the face of the ISIL advance – and millions more have been displaced by the conflict in Syria.

200,000 people have been driven from the Syrian town of Kobane alone – joining the hundreds of thousands already displaced by civil war: Yazidi, Assyrians, Manicheans, Turkmen, Kurds and Shiites.

And I acknowledge the work of the ACL, organising ‘Solidarity Sunday’ with more than 400 Churches around Australia praying for the persecuted.

In Government, Labor increased Australia’s refugee intake under the Humanitarian Program to 20,000 places a year.

Upon coming to office, the Coalition reduced that to 13,750.

The Minister for Immigration has recently announced that Australia will accept 4,400 refugees from Syria and Iraq – but this number is included in the existing allocation of 13,750.

Given the scope and scale of the current crisis gripping the region, Labor believes that, as a starting point, those seeking refuge from the current crisis in Iraq and Syria should be taken in addition to the existing allocation – and we hope that the Government arrives at that view.

The same humanitarian calling that compels us to act in Iraq, demands that we make a meaningful contribution to the fight against Ebola.

Desperate people need our help, our resources, our expertise – we cannot stand by and watch.

And waiting until the problem comes closer to our shores is not a strategy.

CONCLUSION

These are challenging times – for our nation and for our world.

In 2014 terrorism has a new face and a new flag – but beneath it march the same enemies: war and death, hatred and suspicion, fear and distrust.

The new scourge of Ebola threatens Africa but we can trace its roots to the old afflictions of poverty, injustice, want and deprivation.

Extremism threatens our social cohesion – seeking to inflame the prejudice and intolerance that it feeds upon.

For all of us, the way forward is clear- and so is our responsibility.

I understand that not all the views I have outlined today will be accepted by the Australian Christian Lobby.

But I also believe the tenets of our shared faiths and philosophical world views can help us shape a free and confident nation in which the dignity of all persons is enhanced by laws and policies determined after mature political deliberation.

My wife Chloe suggested I conclude with a quote we both find personally inspiring, from John Wesley – it’s one we share with our children:

Do all the good you can.

By all the means you can.

In all the ways you can.

In all the places you can.

At all the times you can.

To all the people you can.

As long as ever you can.

That is perhaps our shared vocation, our calling – the cause for all of us.

Today, tomorrow and always.

Now and forever.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT  02 6277 4053

Oct 21, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR GOUGH WHITLAM

SPEECH
CONDOLENCE MOTION FOR GOUGH WHITLAM

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2014
*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

Today our Parliament has some every sad news, and I think regardless of political affiliation, it is very sad news for all Australians.

Edward Gough Whitlam has passed away.

Today our Parliament and our nation pause to mourn the loss of one of Australia’s greatest sons.

I offered my condolences to Gough’s son Nick this morning, he told me that the great man had passed in peace and comfort.

He kept that ‘certain grandeur’ to the very end.

The Honourable Edward Gough Whitlam AC QC means a lot to the story of our country, the story of modern Australia, our home.

Gough’s was a truly Australian life and a life truly lived for Australia.

In uniform, in Parliament, in the Prime Ministership and around the world.

Gough Whitlam was a man for the ages – and a giant of his time.

No-one who lived through the Whitlam era will ever forget it – and perhaps nobody born after it can ever really imagine it.

Gough’s ambition went beyond his desire to serve our nation; he wanted to transform it – completely, permanently – and he did.

Today I submit that like no other Prime Minister before or since, Gough Whitlam redefined our country – and in doing so he changed the lives of a generation – and generations to come.

Think of Australia in say, 1966.

Ulysses was banned.

Lolita was banned.

It was the Australia of the six o’clock swill, with no film industry and only one television drama – Homicide.

Political movements to the left of the DLP were under routine surveillance.

Many Australians of talent: (Clive, Barry, Germaine, Rupert, Sidney, Geoffrey) as a matter of course left their home native country to try their luck in England.

Yet Gough reimagined Australia, our home, as a confident, prosperous, modern, multicultural nation, where opportunity belonged to everyone.

The Whitlam Government should not be measured in years- but in achievements.

Whitlam defined patriotism as seeing things that were wrong about Australia and trying to change them.

In 1970 he was referring to:

-        Our unacceptably high infant mortality rate among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians.

-       Our immigration policy based on race

-       Our support for the Vietnam War.

Whitlam said that a true patriot does not seek to justify unfairness, or prolong unfairness – but to change it.

And change it he did.

Our country is most certainly different because of him.

By any test is our country is better because of him.

Gough Whitlam spent his political life reaching for higher ground.

Think of all that he changed, forever and for the better.

Healthcare changed – because of him.

Education changed – because of him.

Land rights for Aboriginal Australians – because of him.

Our place in Asia, particularly our relationship with China changed – because of him.

Our troops home from Vietnam, the birthday ballot ended – because of him.

The death penalty abolished and discrimination banished from our laws – because of him.

No fault divorce and the family court – because of him.

Our suburbs, for the first time, at the centre of national debate – because of him.

Everywhere we look in our remarkable modern country, we see the hand and word of Whitlam.

‘The Program’ lives on.

Gough Whitlam opened the doors to our universities.

He lifted up our schools and training centres.

He said that every Australian should have a choice in education.

But, Whitlam said, this must be a choice between:

systems and courses; not between standards, not between a good education and a bad one, an expensive education, or a poor one, a socially esteemed education or one that is socially downgraded.”

He indeed believed that the health of any one of us, matters to all of us.

And with Medibank, he brought the peace of mind that is Medicare to every Australian.

He was determined to end what he called the ‘inequality of luck’ for Australians with a disability – and his vision is writ large in the National Disability Insurance Scheme now.

He understood that:

“The main sufferers in Australian society –  the main victims of social deprivation and restricted opportunity – have been the oldest Australians on the one hand and the newest Australians on the other.”

And he sought Land Rights for Aboriginal Australians, the end of the White Australian Policy and the passage of the Racial Discrimination Act.

He tried always, to do good.

He strove like the conscientious Fabian he mostly was to leave behind a better world.

His speechwriter and confidante Graham Freudenberg reminded me this morning:

“There are some who say he did too much too soon, but few can say what he did that could have waited longer.”

Gough never lacked the courage for the good fight.

It was this courage, this determination that made him the great reformer of the Labor party – the greatest in Labor’s history.

Gough Whitlam loved the Labor Party, and the Labor Party loved Gough Whitlam, and Gough Whitlam changed the Labor Party.

He shook Labor up, he made our party relevant to the modern, multicultural, fair and reconciled country of his grand vision.

In 1964, Gough entered Trades Hall in Melbourne.

He had a speech prepared for the Labor party – but he said he could not deliver it because there were two Labor parties.

There were the men: the delegates and the candidates.

And the women: making the tea, preparing the meals out the back.

Gough declared then that we did not deserve to be called the Labor party, until we were one Labor party.

Gough declared that until we were one Labor party, we did not deserve to govern.

The result was the women stopped making the tea, they were no longer consigned to the back of the room.

And so began the making of modern Labor.

Gough refashioned our party, he drew it out of its narrow, quarrelsome, partisan divisions into an inclusive social democracy, and stirred with his wit and his capability many brilliant citizens into public service.

Gough presented to the nation and largely delivered a hearty, refreshing, merciful, forgiving, exhilarating New Order.

He was an unusual figure to be doing such things.

Large and regal, with an accent both broad and aristocratic, and a cadence so emphatic, it seemed you dare not oppose him, he appeared both prim and episcopal – and hugely conservative while changing society forever.

Francis James knew him as a schoolboy, when his aim was to the Archbishop of Canterbury, and they truanted from Canberra Grammar to watch the young R.G. Menzies dominating Parliament House. ‘Gough admired Menzies’s lucidity,’ Francis said, ‘but found him insincere.’

He was judged by his acquaintances and political contestants in very different ways. The former Victorian Trade Union Defence Committee  swore blind he was a closet Liberal or, more frankly, a spy.

The Melbourne Establishment believed he was a class traitor, one who had sullied his boots, and his family name, by seeking an easier rise in the stupider party.

The DLP saw him as their bridge over troubled waters back to anti-Communist Chifleyism.

To his friend Jim Killen he was ‘as obnoxious a by-product of the upper middle classes as has ever grafted itself leechlike on the egalitarian movement.’

To Sir John Kerr he was a dangerous megalomaniac.

To Sir Laurence Olivier a hero of the age.

To Gore Vidal the nation’s most intelligent man.

Above all, Gough was an agent for democracy, an agent for tolerance.

Democracy and tolerance are defining features of our country, great leaders can make national character, can actually make national values.

These are very important qualities, democracy and tolerance, that do depend upon the country’s leaders.

Of all leaders, none had arguably more cause to carry an anvil of political hatred – but he actually did not.

In defending democracy, defending tolerance – Whitlam defined his values and his character – and indeed our nation’s.

There will be more to say about the loss of this great man – I know that so many of you will have personal stories and memories of inspiration to share.

And in remembering Gough, we remember his wife Margaret, a great Australian in her own right and their life together – a great Australian love story.

Our thoughts are with his family – a family that has given so much to our nation.

Their long line of public service did not begin with Gough – and it has not ended with him.

I believe that perhaps there will be more tears shed for Gough Whitlam today than perhaps any other leader in Australian history.

And his beloved men and women of Australia will long remember where they were this day.

‘It’s time’ Gough, once told us.

A phrase that captured the imagination of a nation.

A rallying cry for change, for a confident, progressive, fair and modern Australia.

It’s time, he said.

And because of Gough, because of his life and legacy, it’s always time.

It’s always time for a more generous and inclusive and progressive and confident Australia.

It’s always time to help our fellow Australians rise higher than their current circumstance.

It’s always time for courage in leadership and to create and seize opportunity.

It is always time.

On his 80th birthday, Gough Whitlam said

With all my reservations, I do admit I seem eternal.”

He warned, however: “Dying will happen sometime. As you know, I plan for the ages, not just for this life.”

And “You can be sure of one thing,” he said of a possible meeting with his maker, “I shall treat Him as an equal.”

Madam Speaker

The men and women of Australia will mourn Gough Whitlam as a legend – and we shall treasure his legacy.

Gough’s light shines before him – and the memory of his good works will live long in the heart of our nation.

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053

Oct 21, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Remarks to Caucus – Gough Whitlam

REMARKS TO CAUCUS
GOUGH WHITLAM

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 21 OCTOBER 2014

I have some very sad news for all of you. And I think very sad news for all Australians.

A giant of our movement, a great leader of our nation Edward Gough Whitlam has left us.

I rang and offered my condolences to Gough’s son Nick this morning, he told me that the great man had passed in peace and comfort.

He kept that ‘certain grandeur’ to the very end.

Gough’s was a truly Australian life and a life truly lived for Australia.

In uniform, in Parliament, in the Prime Ministership and around the world.

Gough did not just want to serve our nation; he wanted to transform it – utterly and permanently – and he most certainly did.

Like no other Prime Minister before or since, Gough Whitlam redefined our country – and in doing so he changed the lives of a generation – and generations to come.

He reimagined Australia – as a prosperous, modern, multicultural nation, where opportunity belonged to everyone.

The Whitlam Government should not be measured in years- but in achievements.

Our country is different because of him.

By any test is our country is better because of him.

Gough Whitlam spent his political life reaching for higher ground.

Think of all that he changed, forever and for the better.

Healthcare changed – because of him.

Education changed – because of him.

Land rights for Indigenous Australians changed – because of him.

Our place in Asia, in particular our relationship with China – changed because of him.

Our troops home from Vietnam, the birthday ballot ended – because of him.

The death penalty abolished and discrimination banished from our laws – because of him.

Our suburbs at the centre of national debate – because of him.

His speechwriter and confidante, Graham Freudenberg once observed:

There are some who say he did too much too soon, but few can say what he did that could have waited longer.

Gough never lacked the courage for the good fight.

It was this courage, this determination that made him the great reformer of the Labor party – the greatest in our history.

Gough Whitlam loved the Labor Party and Gough Whitlam changed the Labor Party.

He shook Labor up, he made our party relevant to the modern, multicultural, fair and reconciled country of his grand vision.

In 1964, Gough entered Trades Hall in Melbourne.

He said he had a speech prepared for the Labor party – but he could not deliver it because there were two Labor parties.

The men: the delegates and the candidates.

And the women: making the tea, preparing the meals out the back.

Gough declared than that we did not deserve to be called the Labor party, until we were one Labor party.

Gough declared then that until we were one Labor party, we did not deserve to govern.

The result was that the women stopped making the tea, they were no longer consigned to the back of the room.

And so began the making of modern Labor.

Gough refashioned our party, he drew it out of its narrow partisan divisions into an inclusive social democracy.

And he stirred with his wit and his capability many brilliant citizens into public service.

He was indeed an agent for democracy, an agent for tolerance.

Democracy and tolerance are defining features of our country.

Great leaders can make national character, can make national values.

These are very important qualities, and their strength depend at every turn on the capacity of great leaders.

He was sacked. Unprecedented in Australian history.

But of all leaders, therefore, none more cause to carry an anvil of hatred – but he did not.

In defending democracy, defending tolerance – Whitlam defined his values and his character – and the nation’s.

There will be more to say about the loss of this great man – I know that so many of you will have personal stories and memories of inspiration to share.

And in remembering Gough, we remember his wife Margaret, a great Australian in her own right and their life together – a great Australian love story.

Our thoughts are with his family – a family that has given so much to our nation.

Their long line of public service did not begin with Gough – and it has not ended with him.

There will be more tears shed for Gough Whitlam today than perhaps any other leader in Australian history.

And his beloved men and women of Australia will long remember where they were this day.

‘It’s time’ Gough told us.

Because of him, because of his life and legacy, it’s always time.

It’s always time for a more generous and inclusive Australia.

It’s always time to help our fellow Australians rise higher than their current circumstance.

It’s always time for courage in leadership and to create and seize opportunity.

It is always time.

Gough’s light shines before him – and the memory of his great works will live long in the heart of our nation.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 4053

Oct 4, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH – EID AL-ADHA CELEBRATIONS

SPEECH – EID AL-ADHA CELEBRATIONS

LAKEMBA MOSQUE


SATURDAY, 4 OCTOBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

My fellow Australians

 

Eid Mubarak!

 

It is an honour to share in your celebrations today.

 

It is an honour to stand here in Lakemba, the heartland of Australia’s great and dynamic Islamic community.

 

Friends, I acknowledge that even as you gather in Sydney for joyous celebration, many present will have family on the other side of the world.

 

People you love who live in countries and communities torn by strife unimaginable here.

 

Our thoughts are with them today.

 

Right now, we face challenges at home too.

 

The challenges of division and exclusion.

 

I am sure – that from time to time – you have to deal with the shouting of ignorant intolerance, the ugly face of racism and prejudice.

 

These challenges have occurred before in Australian history.

 

Just ask Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Just ask the Southern Europeans arriving here after the second Word War.

 

The Vietnamese boat people.

 

Even the Irish Catholics.

 

My mother grew up an Australian Catholic, but barely 60 years ago she was refused work at her local supermarket because of her religion.

 

Times change but challenges will always occur.

 

So let us distinguish light from dark, understanding from ignorance.

 

There is hope in the promise of tolerance, love, harmony and peace.

 

There is no hope in the promise of racism, intolerance and condoning bigotry and violence, no matter how that promise is seductively offered.

Today in Lakemba, let us declare that the bigots, the racists, the haters, the extremists, do not speak for people of faith in modern Australia.

Modern Australia is our home, it is testament to what good can happen when we unite.
This weekend, tens of thousands of Australians will celebrate Eid Al-Adha – a feast marking a story of sacrifice shared by all three of the Abrahamic faiths: Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

 

Last week tens of thousands of Australians celebrated Rosh Hashanah – the Jewish New Year.

 

And later this month, tens of thousands of Australians will celebrate Deepavali – the Hindu festival of lights.

 

That is our modern Australia.

 

When Australians can come together we form an indivisible host of moral strength which gives Australia a better future.

 

A better future found upon love, understanding and peace not conflict and division.

Friends, tradition tells us that Eid Al Adha marks a fresh start – a chance to make new promises and new resolutions.

 

Let us today resolve that you have every right to have faith and pride in your Muslim heritage, not to isolate from Australian society and laws and customs.

 

But as a guide to show that Australians come from many cultures and cultures and religions.

Let us resolve today that every Australian, no matter what their faith, country of birth or gender should believe that their background is as equal as every other Australian.

 

Not superior or more worthy, but simply equal.

 

An Australian’s religion can be a base to build upon, not a destination to retreat into.

Let us resolve that prejudice and bigotry are illnesses which we treat by our commitment to citizenship, tolerance and understanding.

 

Friends, I have a powerful belief in Australians.

 

Australian Muslims, Australian Christians, Australian Jews and Australian Hindus, and Australians indeed of no faith.

 

Let us resolve however, that we should never surrender our faith in Australia.

 

To paraphrase what someone said, never lose faith in Australia.

 

Its faults are ours to fix, not to reject.

 

From the diversity of our people let us draw strength and not cause weakness.

 

Thank you.

 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053

Oct 2, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – SOCIAL COHESION

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – SOCIAL COHESION

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

 

Right now, more than ever our Parliament needs to promote social cohesion, and confront prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism and fear.

 

Because right now, we’ve asked our skilled and brave men and women of the Australian Defence Force to confront prejudice, ignorance, sectarianism and fear in the middle east.

 

So today I shall ask the Parliament that we too measure up to do our part at home to match the efforts of our defence forces, who are preparing to engage as we speak an enemy of humanity, committing crimes against humanity.

 

For ISIL and the like – the enemy is not one nation, one faith or one people.

 

Their enemy is the presence of peace, their enemy is the presence of justice, their enemy is the presence of religious tolerance.

 

Their target is freedom of worship, freedom of association, freedom of speech – freedom itself.

 

We cannot negotiate with this hateful, poisonous ideology – just as we cannot ignore their mass atrocity crimes.

 

And so, Australian forces are joining an international coalition going to the aid of vulnerable people.

 

Labor has always put the security of our nation above politics.

 

And at a time when we face renewed threats of terrorism in our own streets, our number one priority is and always will be the safety of the people of Australia.

 

We should listen to the experts and be guided by them as to how we best protect this country, our people and our way of life.

 

In confronting the threat of fanaticism and extremism on the other side of the world and here at home, we cannot ignore the dangers of prejudice and racism.

 

We must guard against dangerous division – we must recognise that we are stronger and better and safer when we stand together.

 

Madam Speaker

 

On Monday evening in Melbourne, a 26 year old woman on the Upfield train was subjected to a stream of racial abuse from another passenger.

 

The abuser then grabbed the young woman by the hair and neck and drove her head into the wall of the carriage multiple times.

 

As the train was approaching Batman Station, the attacker forced the carriage doors open and pushed the woman out onto the platform.

 

That young woman somehow walked away on Monday with only grazes and bruises.

 

But how does she board that train on Tuesday?

 

How does she face the world, knowing that the way she looks makes her less safe?

 

How does she cope with the fear, the terrifying doubt, the sense that everywhere she goes she is a target for ignorant bullies?

 

Madam Speaker

 

Every manifestation of prejudice does damage, it dents confidence – it undermines our great, inclusive Australian social democracy.

 

It jeopardises our safety and it threatens our security.

 

This exclusion, this denigration can drive the isolated and unwell into the arms of extremism.

 

That is the danger that Australia must confront – and act against.

 

As leaders, we owe no less to our people and our troops going into harm’s way, on our behalf.

 

The tiny handful of our citizens who have been drawn to the radical ranks of ISIL and their like were not born full of hatred and rage.

 

They were not raised for a life of death – but now they feel as if they have nothing to live for, only a radical cause to die for.

 

We have to ask ourselves whether we as a Parliament, as a nation, as a people, can do more to moderate the angry and engage the disaffected.

 

To temper the prejudice that feeds radicalisation.

 

This is the vigilance that Australia needs.

 

A vigilance to jealously guard the safety, cohesion and harmony that has long been a cherished part of our society.

 

To gather in those shunted to the margins and bring them to the centre.

 

This is the obligation we, as parliamentarians, owe all our citizens.

 

It is the duty we, as parliamentarians, owe Australia.

 

It is the social contract of our unique, modern, multicultural country.

 

We are a nation enriched, emboldened and enlightened by mass post-war migration.

 

People who come to Australia should leave their old conflicts behind.

 

People who come to Australia should obey the one set of laws that govern us all.

 

But those who’ve come across the seas, from every country on earth, should not have to abandon their religious and cultural practices.

 

But Australia’s greatness comes from learning that more contact and respect we have with people of different faiths and cultures, the more we learn that our similarities are greater than our differences.

 

We learn that what we have been told to fear is a lie.

 

We know that our differences are not mysterious or fundamental – they are differences in clothing, experience, custom and culture.

 

I warn those who are engaged in strident and offensive language: if we surrender to intolerance, if we submit to prejudice – we betray the very qualities and liberties that we seek to safeguard and protect.

 

Section 18C

 

That is why Senator Bernardi and Senator Smith’s attempt to water down legal protections against hate speech could not have come at a more ill-advised time for our nation.

 

Repealing Section 18C risks creating a foothold for divisive and hateful abuse.

 

It sends an insidious signal, that somehow the need to guard against discrimination is reduced.

 

It tips a wink to the purveyors of prejudice.

 

And tampering with protections against racial discrimination also threatens to derail the referendum on Constitutional Recognition for Indigenous Australians.

 

For all these reasons, Labor joined with hundreds of community groups of all cultures, ethnicities and faiths to fight and defeat these backward-looking, divisive changes.

 

And we will do so again if required.

 

On behalf of the people of Australia, let me give Senator Bernardi, Senator Smith and their supporters the message the Prime Minister should have delivered.

 

No-one has the right to be a bigot.

 

Bigotry and racism have no place in modern Australia.

 

Banning the Burqa

 

The security of our nation and our citizens is above politics.

 

And attempting to use ‘national security’ to justify intolerance, to advocate banning the burqa is beneath contempt.

 

Let’s be clear.

 

When Senator Bernardi describes the burqa as a ‘flag of fundamentalism’, that is not a security argument.

 

Wrapping a call to ‘ban the burqa’ around national security is an attempt to make ignorance sound truthful and intolerance respectable – an attempt to give an appearance of solidity to hot air.

 

Diminishing the real and important security debate to a conversation about an article of clothing, diminishes us all.

 

And it makes Muslim women a target for bullying and intimidation.

 

Today, I urge the Prime Minister to follow the example of the Foreign Minister and the Member for Bowman – to stand up to this ignorance.

 

Martin Luther King once said:

 

‘there comes a time when silence is betrayal.’

 

For weeks, a noisy few Liberal and National members have been fanning the flames of this prejudice – and Tony Abbott has been silent.

 

Yesterday, Labor called upon the Prime Minister to finally show some leadership on both 18C and this ill-informed, hurtful and harmful ‘ban the burqa’ debate.

 

We asked the Prime Minister to lead his party room, not to follow his party room.

 

He refused, instead he said:

 

“The private member’s bill in question is something that is highly unlikely to proceed.”

 

Yet it came into the Senate this morning.

 

And on the question of banning the burqa, he could only dismiss concerns, before going on to say:

 

“I find it a fairly confronting form of attire. Frankly, I wish it was not worn”.

 

The Prime Minister cannot afford the luxury of ‘discomfort’ about what some women of religious custom wear.

 

Leadership requires different action.

 

Leadership requires that majorities respect minorities.

 

The Prime Minister cannot preach tolerance, while allowing his colleagues to practice intolerance.

 

A true leader cannot unite our nation, while urging division.

 

The Prime Minister owes our country better than this.

 

A true leader has a responsibility to govern for all Australians – of all faiths.

 

A true leader has a responsibility to build unity and cohesion, not division and exclusion.

 

To lead by example – not with empty rhetoric or personal opinions.

 

He has a responsibility to tackle the fear-mongering of his colleagues.

 

Madam Speaker, these are indeed times that try nations’ souls.

 

But we will not overcome hatred with hatred.

 

We will not overcome intolerance by being intolerant.

 

We cannot ask our men and women to go into harm’s way to confront intolerance, prejudice and sectarianism – if we are not prepared to do the same here at home when we have the opportunity to do so.

 

Australia cannot face the challenges of this moment, divided.

 

We are stronger nation, we are a better nation, we are are a safer nation, we are a more noble nation when we stand together.

 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: MEDIA CONTACT 02 6227 4053

Oct 2, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SOCIAL SERVICES AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT SENIOR SUPPLEMENTS CESSATION BILL 2014

SOCIAL SERVICES AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT SENIOR SUPPLEMENTS CESSATION BILL 2014

SPEECH TO THE PARLIAMENT

CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 2 OCTOBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

In rising to speak on this bill, I can advise the people of Australia of good news and bad news.

 

Let me turn to the good news first of all.

 

Nearly five months ago, in my Budget reply on behalf of the Labor Party and the people of Australia, I gave a solemn pledge to Australia’s pensioners.

 

At this very despatch box, I said:

 

Labor will not surrender the security of your retirement.

 

We will fight for a fair pension – and we will prevail.

 

Today, we have most certainly prevailed.

 

Today, Labor keeps faith with 3.7 million pensioners.

 

We’ve kept our promise to Australians who have worked hard all their lives, who’ve paid their taxes all their lives – who have made a contribution to our communities, to our nation, to their own families.

 

In the five months since the Hockey-Abbott Budget, my colleagues and I have travelled the nation talking with older Australians.

 

And they are worried.

 

They are deeply worried about the effect of this Government’s plan to cut up to $80 a week from their pension.

 

They know this Government lied to them before the last election. They promised, right up to the very end of the election period, there would be no cuts to pensions.

 

Now they are worried that because of Prime Minister Abbott and Treasurer Hockey and the gang who sit in government, they won’t be able to afford to cool their home in summer and heat their home in winter.

 

They’re worried that they won’t be able to buy their grandkids a treat, take their pet to the vet.

 

Let’s be clear, these Australians that Labor fights for don’t think that the world owes them a living.

 

They don’t seek a life in the lap of luxury.

 

They don’t live on a king’s ransom.

 

These Australians that Labor fights for have worked for everything that they have got – and it’s their hard work which has made our nation great.

 

They have stood up to the Abbott Government’s plan for cruel cuts to their security and to their dignity.

 

They have prevailed.

 

I say on behalf of Labor to the pensioners of Australia – this is your victory over Minister Kevin Andrews and Tony Abbott.

 

This is your victory – and this is the Government’s defeat.

 

Today the Government has finally faced up to the reality.

 

They have faced the facts – this Prime Minister has no mandate for his cruel cuts to pensions, and no amount of head shaking from the Minister can make black, white. There is no mandate.

 

Tony Abbott’s broken promises to Age Pensioners, Disability Support Pensioners, Carer Payment recipients and Veterans have been exposed and defeated.

 

And let me just say at this point, my congratulations to our Shadow Spokesperson for Pensions and Families, Jenny Macklin, Member for Jagajaga.

 

Every political party in Australia wishes they had one like her, but Labor does. Thank you and well done.

 

And what she and all my colleagues behind me have done, is expose the plot of the Abbott Government to take $23 billion away from the age pension over the next 10 years.

 

They have exposed this plot. Question Time after Question Time, the Opposition has asked the Prime Minister – why are you cutting the indexation rate of pensioners?

 

And all this mealy-mouthed mob opposite ever do is they say, ‘pensions go up’. What a cheap stunt this mob opposite are, they think the people are as stupid as they believe them to be.

 

We all know that by reducing the indexation rate of pensions, they are cutting the real pension up to $80 a week.

 

And no matter how often that rotten bunch of twisters opposite say these things, it doesn’t make it true.

 

And I love this mob opposite – they are always saluting the flag, they’re at every parade possible. They love our veterans, they say, except when it comes to the veterans’ pensions.

 

It is Labor who has stopped a $65 million cut to war pensioners.

 

There are 280,000 people receiving a pension from the Department of Veterans Affairs; 140,000 service pensioners; 84,000 war widow and widower pensioners.

 

These pensioners were going to be up to $80 per week worse off over the next 10 years but Labor has won the battle for them.

 

Just as they’ve represented this country, we’ve kept faith with the contract that we should be looking after them in their later years.

 

And we’ve stopped the plot to increase the age pension eligibility age to 70.

 

This mob opposite say ‘well, we’re all living longer, so everyone should work longer.’ What a bunch of rotten twisters.

 

The biggest injury this mob opposite will ever face will be a paper cut. And yet they ask every other Australian whose bodies may be weary and worn out to keep working.

 

To show the rottenness of increasing the minimum retirement age to 70, it will mean that we’ll have the highest pension age across the OECD.

 

Why is it that this is a Government who always asks the most vulnerable to do the hardest and heaviest lifting?

 

If we’d used this tortured analogy of that windbag Treasurer Hockey about ‘lifters and leaners’, the lifters are everyone in Australia, except the Liberal Party – they’re just the leaners, sitting opposite.

 

And when they talk about lifting the eligibility age to 70, they’re so incompetent that they can’t even work out that most workers compensation jurisdictions only go to the age of 65 or 67.

 

So they want people to work til 70, yet they’ve made no provision to lift workers comp, making it impossible to employ many people to the age of 70.

 

But that’s a mere detail for these dilettantes opposite – they would know how real people earn their money.

 

And then of course there’s the Family Tax Benefit B changes.

 

Because of Labor more than 700,000 single income and single parent families will not lose their Family Tax Benefit B over three years as a result of these savage cuts Tony Abbott tried to inflict upon families, merely because their youngest child is over 6 years old.

 

There are 700,00 single income and single parent families who are going to have their payments kept safe because of the Labor party.

 

And of course, one of the meanest dog-whistles, and this is again a Government addicted to dog-whistles – they’ve never seen an issue they can’t get the dog-whistle out on – their attack on young job seekers.

 

We know they love to demonise and stigmatise groups in this community. That’s a topic, I suppose, for a later time.

 

But what they’re doing with young job seekers under the age of 30, is they’re so enamoured with dividing this society they want young people to go six months without an income.

 

We saw people desert the sinking ship of this idea on the weekend. We don’t know if it was an elegant leap from the Minister Social Services, where he said it wasn’t him.

 

Well, who was it? Who was it? This is not a game of Cluedo Government.

 

We know who it was, we don’t need to have the guessing games.

 

It was the Treasurer and the Prime Minister.

 

I don’t know if they’ve sent the Minister for Social Services up as a patsy, if he’s their bunny, or if his their brain surgeon.

 

Whatever the description, the outcome’s the same.

 

They wanted to attack young job seekers.

 

So there’s 100,000 young people who will not have to face six months of poverty.

 

We know that their plan is not earn or learn – it’s earn or learn or starve.

 

They want to create a divided society where our young are sleeping over the grates to get warm, where they’re begging, where they’re forced to do even worse things to make ends meet.

 

They love families so much they want to privatise the cost of people back to families to the age of 30.

 

It is an absolute disgrace and Labor has stood them up.

 

What I said though is there is good news and there is bad news.

 

The good news is that Labor, being a strong opposition, has looked the Government in the face and we have not blinked.

 

We have seen the worst they can throw at Australian pensioners and we have prevailed on behalf of Australian pensioners.

 

But unfortunately there is one dirty deal that is still sneaking through because of the Liberal’s addiction to lecturing us on working with the Greens, but they can’t wait to slip out behind the bike shed and do a deal with the Greens.

 

And the dirty, dirty deal they’ve done with the Greens – and you don’t have to look too sad, Kevin, it’s probably not your brainchild either – but they’ve done a deal with the Greens, I’m afraid to say, to scrap the seniors supplement.

 

That’s anyone who has a Commonwealth Seniors card.

 

This is a Government who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing.

 

As of last month, annual payments for people who are eligible for Commonwealth seniors health card were worth $886.60 for singles and over $1,300 for couples.

 

Just so we clear up who these forensic detectives are chasing down the welfare burrow: to be eligible for this you have to earn less than $50,000 a year; you are not someone who is getting a pension, but people earning less than $50,000 a year in their older years who do not get a pension are not that well off, but they are obviously too rich for the taste of these Liberals opposite.

 

What a shame they don’t have $2 million in super, then they would get a kickback from this Government.

 

And what is happening is that the couples who earn less than $80,000 a year, do not get a pension.

 

There are 280,000 people – once upon a time this arrogant mob opposite might have said, ‘These are the Liberal heartland.’ Not any more, ladies and gentlemen, not any more.

 

The next payment was due on 20 December. This is a Government who has succeeded with the Greens – because the Greens do not necessarily understand how middle-income Australia lives; their voting base sometimes is the well-off too.

 

But what we see here is an unholy coalition of the extreme right and the Greens combining to mug 280,000 Australians.

 

Don’t you love this silent Minister for Immigration at the table, head buried in his notes.

 

What a disgraceful deal, and no doubt there are people in your electorate, courtesy of your deal with the Greens, who are going to be losing money.

 

Well done, Scott; another good day at the office.

 

As I said, there is good news and there is bad news.

 

We have the dirty deal done with the Greens and the Liberals.

 

I know they do not do—of course, why did I know they would do a deal with the Greens? Because Tony Abbott promised they would not do it before the last election.

 

How do you know Tony Abbott is making a promise he is going to break? You watch his lips move.

 

What we say to pensioners in Australia is that unfortunately Joe Hockey, a bit like that Japanese lieutenant who was found in the mountains of the Philippines in 1974, he’s never going to give up the war.

 

He is never going to give up the war against the pensioners.

 

The Treasurer sees his Budget as a war on pensioners.

 

I am afraid to say that this morning this arrogant Government, this most arrogant, out of touch Government, this most arrogant and out of touch Government, has again tabled legislation seeking to resuscitate all of these dreadful cuts, which we have stopped this time.

 

They want to bring it on again. They are an arrogant Government.

 

They are refusing to accept the verdict of the Australian people.

 

If Labor were being selfish, we would say it is a good thing they have brought them on because it keeps reminding Australians what they are like.

 

But I actually wish this Government would stop torturing and hurting 3.7 million pensioners and making them unsure about their income security.

 

Now the Treasurer has said that he will not give up his war.

 

Give up his war? Who is this man to say he is at war with Australia’s pensioners?

 

That is not why people voted for him.

 

The Prime Minister yesterday in Question Time—not once, not twice, but on eight different occasions—said he was committed to all of his broken promises.

 

He was committed to making sure that they would try this stunt of attacking ordinary people, average-income earning people, pensioners; he would keep trying it and trying it.

 

And of course the Finance Minister did not want to be left out of this farce. He stands by it too.

 

But when the Government unveiled their attacks on pensions, we said that if they wanted to rip away the pension they would have to come through the Labor Party.

 

You would have to come through the Labor Party, we said.

 

All Australians know that the Liberal Party and their country proxies, the Nationals, have tried their best to come through the Labor Party to attack 3.7 million pensioners.

 

But I can report to the Parliament and to Australia, they have failed on this occasion.

 

We have met them and we have defeated them.

 

And we will make clear again that this Government’s retreat on this destroys the credibility of the Budget and it destroys the credibility of the Prime Minister.

 

It has taken the Prime Minister more than four months to realise that this unfair Budget was not going to wash with Australians.

 

It took Labor four minutes; it took Australians four minutes.

 

But make no mistake: these arrogant characters who sit opposite, who believe they have a born to rule mentality to make whatever decisions they can, inflicting pain and hurt on ordinary Australians, are introducing these measures again.

 

Tony Abbott wants to cut your pensions.

 

Tony Abbott wants to cut the funding to schools and the funding to hospitals.

 

He wants to cut billions from schools and hospitals.

 

He wants to increase your taxes.

 

He has not given up on his GP tax.

 

He wants to make you pay more for going to the doctor when you are sick.

 

The real solution to defeating these people and their rotten measures is not just defeating their legislation, as we have on this occasion, it is to defeat Tony Abbott.

 

As long as Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party occupy the benches of government and occupy the seat of the Prime Minister, Australians will always have to fear these people coming after their pensions.

 

We did not ask the Liberals to make pensions an election issue. We did not ask them to do that, but they have and so we will answer them and we will prevail.

 

Do not look at what this Prime Minister says, look at what he does.

 

He breaks his promises. He lied to people before the election.

 

They have their plans for Australia—their rotten, nation-dividing, impoverishing plans, picking on the vulnerable, unfair changes without a mandate—they have them in the top drawer.

 

They have not put them in the bin.

 

What Australia needs to do is put Tony Abbott and the Liberal Party in the bin of election politics, because that is the only way we will stop these people.

 

Look at the Minister for Immigration giving me one of his stares. Is it the ‘Minister for Homeland Security’ now—whatever your title. We had better check with the Foreign Minister, sunshine.

 

Returning to the topic, the current Prime Minister— we could call you the alternative Liberal Prime Minister—whatever you want to be called.

 

But what I say to you here is that we will fight these changes.

 

Today we have had a victory and pensioners have had a victory.

 

Today the Government has retreated in the face of public disapproval and the combined weight of outrage and the voice of ordinary people, and if we want to defeat these pension changes again—which they are so eager, so hungry to bring on—then we will defeat them at the election.

 

Make no mistake, Australia, this Government wants to cut the indexation rate of pensions.

 

They want to cut the rate of pension payments to veterans.

 

They want to change the payments which go to young people under the age of 30 looking for work.

 

They want to go after family tax benefit payments to hundreds of thousands of Australians.

 

This is a Government that has no plans for the future other than dividing this country, making the vulnerable pay more, and creating a lack of confidence in the high street of Australian small businesses, by their attacks on the pensions.

 

The good news is that we have won today, and the better news is that at the next election we will hold this Government to account and we shall succeed in our arguments there too.

 

 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053

Oct 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Statement to the House of Representatives – Iraq

IRAQ

STATEMENT TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
WEDNESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2014

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I thank the Prime Minister for updating the Parliament.

Once again, I would take this opportunity to place on the record Labor’s admiration for the bravery, professionalism and skill of the men and women of our defence force – and the resilience of their families.

Our defence forces have our complete support as they prepare for this humanitarian mission, and we promise to look after their families that they leave behind here in Australia.

As my colleagues and I have consistently said, Labor’s support for Australia’s involvement in Iraq is underpinned by four principles:

Firstly, we do not support the deployment of ground combat units to directly engage in fighting ISIL.

Secondly, Australian operations should be confined to Iraq.

Third, our involvement should continue only until the Iraqi government is in a position to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.

Fourth, if the Iraqi Government and its forces engage in unacceptable conduct or adopt unacceptable policies – we should withdraw our support.

These four principles represent the conditions we have set for our support.

I do note and welcome the Prime Minister’s comments regarding the negotiations underway on the legal and diplomatic framework to support our operations in Iraq.

Labor has taken a strong interest in ensuring that Australia meets its international legal and diplomatic obligations.

And in guaranteeing that the appropriate force protection measures are in place for Australians serving in the region.

This is part of Australia’s responsibilities as a good international citizen – as well as providing important legal protections for our defence personnel.

These decisions are too important to be rushed, and we support the Government taking the time to get it right.

In the days ahead, our thoughts are with the men and women of the ADF.

We wish them a safe and successful mission and a speedy return to the ones they love.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 405

Sep 27, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

NORTH MELBOURNE GRAND FINAL BREAKFAST

REMARKS TO NORTH MELBOURNE GRAND FINAL BREAKFAST

SATURDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER

***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***

Good Morning Everyone

To Mike Fitzpatrick and James Brayshaw, thank you for selecting me for my Grand Final breakfast debut.

Lovely to see Julie Bishop here, I’d say she’s been best on ground for the Government – makes you think how much better the Abbott Cabinet would be if it had two women.

It’s great to stand here in the middle of Etihad Stadium, just a few kilometres and a few hours away from the high point of what has been another fantastic AFL season.

Not many people know this, but in my student days, I actually spent a lot of time on-field for my team, Collingwood.

I was a blue coat – a ground attendant for at Victoria Park.

That was back in 1990 – so I prefer to describe myself as a premiership ground attendant.

Sitting in front of the Collingwood cheer squad certainly taught me a lot of new words and expressions.

Though, I can’t repeat half of them.

And I still don’t really understand what the other half mean.

How could an umpire possibly do that to himself? 

And even on the sunniest day at Victoria Park – it was always a good idea to wear your official blue raincoat.

Seemed like there were a lot of Pies’ supporters with nasty ‘bronchial infections’ – especially near the visitors’ race.

But dodging the odd ‘surprise shower’ was a small price to pay for a close-up view of a magnificent team: Darren Milane, Micky McGuane, Tony Shaw, Peter Daicos…there were legends on every line.

It was like watching a black and white cavalry charge.

There’s still plenty of characters at the Pies.

Just this week we saw Dane Swan miss the Brownlow Medal count because he was busy getting a tattoo of Sam Newman on his…bottom.

I’ve heard that back in May the Prime Minister made a very similar bet with Clive Palmer about passing the whole Budget.

I imagine that somewhere in East Brunswick there’s a tattoo artist getting very nervous.

This isn’t a day for long speeches, so I’ll leave you with my tips:

The Hawks are a great side and a generous one too –they kindly pre-trained Sydney’s three top Brownlow vote-getters.

But I’ve decided to keep the faith and back the Old Xaverians – my old school.

The Swans have got three Old Xavs [Daniel Hanneberry, Ted Richards and Josh Kennedy] – the Hawks have only got one [Matt Spangher] – plus they’ve also got one Jeff Kennett.

So I’m tipping Sydney.

As for the Norm Smith, the son and grandson of Hawthorn royalty – JPK – gets my vote.

Most importantly, I reckon Tom Jones will have Meatloaf covered.

Have a great day everyone.

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053

 

Sep 22, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE BURNET INSTITUTE

SPEECH TO THE BURNET INSTITUTE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2014

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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, and I pay my respects to their elders past and present.

 

Thank you, Professor Brendan Crabb, for bringing this issue to our national Parliament – and for allowing me the opportunity to say a few words tonight.

 

To Michelle Hendel, thank you for making me a little bit more proud to be an Australian.

 

I pay tribute to Alistair Lucas, who recently stepped down as chair.

 

I spoke with Alistair a few days ago, he’s currently dealing with devastating news.

 

He is a special, remarkable person – modest and generous.

 

And I know he will be surrounded by friends and goodwill in the tough battle ahead of him.

 

On a happier note, it’s a great pleasure to see Natasha Stott Despoja, our outstanding Ambassador for Women and Girls here this evening to lend her voice to this noble cause.

 

And, of course, I acknowledge my wife Chloe.

 

Chloe has been a longstanding friend and supporter of the work of the Burnet Institute, she cares very deeply about this area.

 

And she has been very influential in my thinking about medical research and science more generally.

 

One of my favourite writers, speakers and thinkers, Martin Luther King once said:

 

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

 

That’s the principle that underpins your work, and it has long been the foundation of Labor’s approach to healthcare.

 

Labor believes in universal Medicare because we believe that the health of any one of us, matters to all of us.

 

We believe everyone should have access to the healthcare they need – not just the healthcare they can afford.

 

Yet for far too many people in countries like Papua New Guinea, it not just a question of affordability – it’s also very much a question of access.

 

Right now, the four kilometres that separate Australia from Papua New Guinea represents a 20 year gap in life expectancy – that’s injustice.

 

More than 1500 mothers in PNG lose their lives each year – that’s injustice.

 

More than 5,000 babies in PNG will die in the first month of life and another 10,000 will be a sad memory before the time of their fifth birthday – that is tragic, senseless, injustice.

 

Worst of all – much of this loss is avoidable.

 

We can prevent these deaths – and because we can, we must.

 

That is the call of our network of mutuality, the binding thread of our common humanity.

 

It is the responsibility that we owe our friends and neighbours as a smart and prosperous nation.

 

That is why all the work you do, and the Burnet Institute’s Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program in particular is so important.

 

The project we support tonight will see life-saving care given to women and children in Papua New Guinea through targeted evidence-based community research.

 

Burnet Institute has long been a national and international leader when it comes to turning medical research into practical action, with meaningful benefits.

 

You have a distinguished record of helping to achieve better health for poor and vulnerable communities in Australia and internationally.

 

And we need to urgently address those issues that directly impact on women and their newborn babies in Papua New Guinea – issues that result in such a huge loss of life: anaemia, malaria, TB, malnutrition and postpartum haemorrhage.

 

Labor believes the Commonwealth has a role, indeed a responsibility, to support this kind of life-saving, hope-giving research.

 

This is not a question of replacing private sector investment, or crowding it out.

 

It’s about nurturing Australian genius and investing in Australian brainpower.

 

Fostering and supporting medical research – specifically, translational medical research – has the potential to improve the lives of millions of people.

 

I’m passionate about the importance of innovation and research to our nation’s future – and I’m a strong believer in Australia’s scientific potential.

 

But I do not accept that Australia has to choose between a thriving medical research sector and a world-class universal healthcare system.

 

No-one wins when we pit practitioners against researchers, but there is no doubt our nation loses.

 

The McKeon Review which was commissioned by my deputy leader, Tanya Plibersek, as health minister, noted the importance of strong healthcare systems which facilitated research through embedding it in delivery.

 

Indeed, the review said “levies probably do not present a suitable mechanism for funding health and medical research”.

 

There are many of other ways to fund important medical research – alternative debt finance such as a special-purpose bond issuance program or social bonds akin to those used in the United Kingdom, further and targeted R&D tax incentives or research prizes such as DARPA’s Grand Challenge.

 

Another way is leveraging private finance and public investment in partnership. Working together, rather than robbing Peter to pay Paul.

 

We have previously supported equity co-investment arrangements where the Government and investors commit capital to medical research.

 

This kind of model has been used in other contexts to support the growth of Australian firms like Seek, Bionomics, Pharmaxis and Benthic Geotech.

 

You all know that medical research is not just about dollars and cents.

 

It is also about the system which underpins it – research excellence, commercialisation pathways, clinical environments, enabling infrastructure and workforce capabilities.

 

That’s why, under my leadership, Labor will take the time to get this right.

 

We will listen to the experts.

 

Our Shadow Health Minister, Catherine King and I have asked Andrew Giles, the Member for Scullin and Anna Burke, the member for Chisholm to kick-start this process.

 

They will be sitting down with health sector leaders, with clinicians and researchers as part of a proper and thorough consultation process.

 

We’re looking forward to hearing more from you and to working closely with you to achieve the important goals we dedicate ourselves to tonight.

 

I congratulate Brendan, the Burnet Institute and everyone involved with the Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies program.

 

You inspire us, you make us proud and we wish you every success on the road ahead.

 

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 6277 4053

Sep 22, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech to Parliament – Iraq

SPEECH

IRAQ

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, CANBERA

MONDAY, 22 SEPTEMBER 2014

 

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I thank the Prime Minister for updating the house – and I am grateful for the direct dialogue he and I have shared in recent days and weeks.

Last Thursday, at RAAF base Williamtown and RAAF base Amberley, the Prime Minister and I together farewelled some of the brave men and women of the Australian Defence Force who were leaving for the Middle East.

That is as it should be.

Keeping our people safe is above politics.

The security of our nation runs deeper than our differences.

We all admire the courage and dedication of the Australian Defence Forces.

And we are all committed to supporting the families of those serving overseas.

We will stand by these families while the people they love are far from their sides.

 

As we did last Thursday, again I promise those serving overseas or due to be rotated to service overseas, that the Parliament will stand by the families of the people whilst they are far away from them serving us overseas.

 

Labor fully supports Australia’s contribution to the international humanitarian mission in Iraq.

We do not offer this lightly.

Sending Australians into harm’s way is the most serious of decisions.

Our support for the Government on this issue is not a matter of jingoism or nationalism – it is a calculation of conscience and national interest.

There are four key principles that underpin Labor’s approach.

Firstly, we do not support the deployment of ground combat units to directly engage in fighting ISIL.

Second, Australian operations should be confined to the territory of Iraq.

Third, our involvement should continue only until the Iraqi government is in a position to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.

Fourth, if the Iraqi Government and its forces engage in unacceptable conduct or adopt unacceptable policies – Australia should withdraw its support immediately.

These four principles will guide our response to the evolving situation in Iraq.

They represent the conditions we have set for our support – and the line we have drawn for Australia’s engagement in the region.

Again, this is consistent with Government’s approach.

We want Australian military personnel to carry out a clearly defined mission in Iraq, at the request of the Iraqi Government – and then come home safely.

Madam Speaker

Military involvement to achieve humanitarian objectives is not our first instinct, and it is never our preferred solution to geo-political problems.

But we recognise that sometimes there is simply no alternative.

Put plainly, we cannot negotiate with ISIL, because there is nothing rational about what they seek to do.

ISIL and their like wish only to do harm, to spread the bitter hatred that fuels their genocidal intent.

And they are a breeding ground for terrorists bent on causing havoc not only in the Middle East but throughout Australia, throughout the world and in Australia and our neighbouring countries.

 

 

They are intent only upon desecration and destruction – with an insatiable appetite for crime and sectarian violence.

 

 

Right now, across Northern Iraq, families are being driven from their homes.

 

 

Innocent people are being murdered.

 

 

And women and girls are being oppressed, raped and forced into sexual servitude.

 

 

The vulnerable communities of Iraq must be protected and it is right and proper for Australia to make a contribution to this international endeavour.

 

 

Let us be clear about the differences between the situation in Iraq today – and the conflict Labor opposed in 2003.

 

 

The 2003 Iraq war was based on a flawed premise and false information.

 

 

It was a war embarked upon without a meaningful plan to win the peace.

 

And in part, it created some of the conditions that have necessitated this international response.

It was a war against a hostile Iraqi Government without the support of the United Nations and the international community.

As Labor said at the time, the foundations for possible military intervention were simply not there.

Today, a democratically elected national unity government of Iraq is seeking help from the international community to protect its people from genocide and other mass atrocities.

Today, we are part of an international effort that includes countries from the region.

We are fulfilling our responsibility as a good international citizen, our duty as a humanitarian, peace-loving nation.

By our involvement, Australia declares that we will not tolerate the spread of hatred.

We will not allow the contagion of hatred – the disease of fanaticism and extremism – to afflict the innocent.

We will not meet the brutality and ruthlessness of ISIL with silence.

But we face a long and difficult task.

Labor understands we can never drain the swamp of terrorism by military means alone.

Defeating jihadist terrorism requires extensive international cooperation in intelligence sharing and criminal law enforcement, and strong domestic homeland security measures backed by strong community support.

We go to Iraq not to topple a dictator but to support a democracy – to exercise our global responsibility to protect men, women and children at risk of mass atrocity crimes.

Our mission is not to pursue territory but to protect the vulnerable.

Our goal is not to assert the supremacy of one faith, or to advance the interest of one people.

It is to defend the rights of all people, to preserve the freedom of all faiths.

Ultimately, building enduring peace in Iraq, depends upon the people of Iraq.

No matter the size of the coalition, our involvement cannot, by itself, guarantee the stability of this region.

If freedom and democracy are artificially imposed from the outside – they will not last.

Above all – a stable Iraq depends upon an inclusive unity government.

A government that rejects sectarianism and the alienation of minorities.

A government able to move past ancient hatreds – and unite the nation.

Helping the Iraqi Government protect its citizens from the threat of ISIL is vital to the long-term security and stability of Iraq, the broader region and the international community – including Australia.

The humanitarian assistance we offer should not be confined to military aid.

As a safe and prosperous nation, made great by immigration, Australia should take more refugees from Iraq and Syria.

We should reach out a caring arm to people who have been traumatised by this brutal conflict.

For more than two centuries we have given those who’ve come from across the seas a second chance.

We should be part of an international effort to offer safety and security to vulnerable people who have been displaced by the ravages of this conflict.

Madam Speaker

These are uncertain times and that uncertainty can breed suspicion.

That is always the insidious goal of terrorism.

To spread division and to nurture intolerance.

To create a world where people fear the unknown – and resent difference.

They want to change the way we live, the way we see ourselves, the way we treat each other.

We cannot allow this.

Prejudice and bigotry jeopardise the harmony of our society, and they feed the fanaticism that it thrives on.

We must jealously guard our diverse, tolerant, welcoming and caring society.

Multiculturalism is one of our nation’s greatest gifts.

It is a miracle of modern Australia.

And we should never make the millions of Australians or people who have become Australians – people of every nation and every faith – feel less safe, or less welcome.

We will not overcome hatred, with hatred.

We will not overcome intolerance, by being intolerant.

Ill-informed and inflammatory comments about Islam are as unhelpful as they are unfair.

Muslim-Australians should not be stigmatised for the crimes of ISIL.

And ISIL have no right to use the name of Islam.

The medieval barbarity that they are inflicting upon the innocent has nothing to do with religion.

The twisted ideology of ISIL bears no relation to a faith of peace and tolerance followed by millions of people.

And that point should be made, time and time again.

Labor will study the government’s new security legislation in detail – and we will continue to be constructive.

Because the safety of our people, of our nation, is a priority that unites us all.

Like the Prime Minister, I clearly reject the assumption that our engagement in Iraq has made us more of a target – I accept, however, that Australia must always be vigilant in the face of extremist threats.

Very few Australians, poisoned by fanaticism, travelling to this warzone with the intention of participating in this conflict, represent a threat to our national security.

We will give legislation that addresses the problem of these foreign fighters the careful consideration it deserves.

Labor believes that our security agencies and national institutions should have the powers and resources they need to keep Australians safe from the threat of terrorism.

But we also believe in safeguarding fundamental democratic freedoms.

We must ensure that in legislating to protect our national security, the Parliament is careful not damage the very qualities and liberties that we are seeking to defend from terrorist threat.

As we work through the Government’s legislation, Labor will continue to ensure that the national security imperative is appropriately balanced against the importance of protecting our democratic freedoms.

Parliamentary scrutiny and oversight of these proposals is essential.

I welcome the Intelligence and Security Committee’s recommendations to improve the first bill dealing with national security law reform, which is due to be debated in the other place this week.

I thank the Government for accepting the Committee’s 17 recommendations to improve scrutiny and oversight of that legislation.

I know that this constructive approach will be maintained as we finalise this bill and deal with further national security legislation.

Madam Speaker

All Australians would have been shocked by the events of last week.

Shocked by the closeness of a threat that is often seen as remote.

Shocked at the thought of the scenes from the towns of Northern Iraq and Syria being played out in our streets.

We do take a certain comfort in our distance from other parts of the world.  But we should also take comfort from the success of our security agencies.

 

 

Their professionalism, their expertise keeps Australia safe.

 

Their response to these threats has been swift and sure.

Our police and our security agencies are more committed and better equipped than the people who would seek to threaten our way of life.

This should reassure us – it should give Australians the confidence to enjoy their lives, without anxiety.

Australia will not be intimidated by the threat of terrorism.

We will be true to ourselves.

Australians never give in to fear – and we will not start now.

We do not back down to threats.

Whenever we are challenged, we prevail.

Our values of peace and tolerance and love will overcome hatred.

They always have, they always will.

ENDS

 

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