Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Mar 4, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins












Thanks very much, Virginia and congratulations to you and to UN Women for organising this lunch. It’s a very important event.


It would be remiss of me, however, as we meet here today, not to acknowledge the shadow which overhangs and of course I refer to the fact that two young men, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, have been transported to the jail of their proposed execution. I’m sure I speak for this event and all of Australia, our thoughts are with them and their families.


I want to acknowledge my colleagues here – and so many of them. I’m really pleased to see you here.  We understand that an event like today, that sometimes annual events can bring with them the temptation of the familiar. Reciting the ritual words and reworking the same sentiments. I acknowledge Michaelia Cash’s comments which were not just the familiar.


Today I too want to offer more: a way forward on family violence.


Just consider this: tens of thousands of women flee their homes in fear, yet cannot find safe accommodation when they escape.


You don’t need me to rehash the numbers. They are shameful.


You don’t need me to tell you about fractured communities, broken homes, the hidden bruises, the scarred childhoods, the late-night police visits.


You know the reality of family violence.


You understand the price our nation pays: homelessness, poverty, trauma, injury and indeed worse.


And it’s been this way for far too long.


Today I’ve asked our Prime Minister to convene a national crisis summit on family violence.


If he believes this is unnecessary, I promise that within 100 days of a Shorten Labor Government getting elected we will convene this summit.


It will not be a government talkfest.


We will listen to people who have endured the faults and failings of our system.


The cracks you can only witness by falling through them.


The voices of the survivors.


It will be an assembly of the front line: community legal centres, researchers, academics, advocates.


The summit would involve State and Territory leaders but it would stand alone from COAG.


We would build upon and extend the national plan to reduce violence against women and their children.


The first national approach to family violence, homelessness and legal services, started by our previous Labor Government.


We understand that too often the first public warning sign that a woman is in danger is a report of her injury, or death.


Too little has changed, too slowly.


We need a national summit.


We need it to capture the remarkable momentum which is moving at last and is a credit to many in this room and many, many more beyond.


To continue the work of ANROWS, the Victorian Royal Commission, the South Australian parliamentary inquiry, the landmark Queensland report, just released, Not Now, Not Ever, which found that “listening, sharing and understanding” the experience of those affected by family violence, is the key to a solution.


And I believe we need a national summit because too many victims of family violence are at the mercy of a postcode lottery.


Right now, if you’re a woman at risk, the quality of support you receive will depend upon where you live.


Every woman is entitled to feel safe at home, secure in her community. And those who cannot find safety at home must be supported by the systems that governments establish.


Because family violence can happen to anyone.


Therefore, the right help must be available to everyone.


Today I offer Labor’s agenda for this summit and our immediate funding priorities. Housing, legal services and perpetrator accountability.


We’d welcome the government taking up these ideas and we will talk to them about them.


But Labor will fulfil these commitments in government.


On average, women affected by family violence move three times – three upheavals – away from your support network, your family, your friends, your community, your job.


Sometimes women are still paying the mortgage when the abuser is sitting in the family home.


As a starting point, Labor will invest $15 million in a Safe at Home grants program so that the abuser is not rewarded and that the survivor can stay.


Better security systems, alarms, locks and CCTV allow women to be safe in their home and children to sleep in their own bedrooms and not have to be moved from their schools and the dislocation that creates.


And when women seek legal protection from their abusers our court processes can be an emotional and financial gauntlet, intimidating, complex and slow.


Our systems should be built upon one fundamental principle: when forced to court seeking protection from family violence, you and your children should never walk alone.


To begin this process, we’ll invest $42 million in front-line community legal services.


And because Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women suffer the highest rates of family violence, we’ll initially invest $4.5 million in building the capacity of the family violence prevention legal services.


Security for our women in our courts and training for our magistrate, judges, court officials and police officers has improved, but there’s a long way to go.


And no act of family violence ever occurs in isolation. Each one is marked on an escalating continuum.


We must get better at spotting the patterns of dangerous behaviour, the perpetrators who abuse drug and alcohol, moving through our law enforcement, justice and child protection system.


As a first step, Labor will provide $8.4 million to develop this research and divert perpetrators from this path.


But prevention really begins with the fundamental question of gender equality.


Insisting on teaching respect in our schools, our sporting clubs, our military, our workplaces.


Family violence is an ongoing national tragedy.


And much of it is fostered in our broader Australian culture, including our media.


If leaders in business and politics and sport can play a role in changing this culture, then we can do so with the media.


Complaining about ‘political correctness’ is easy.


Dismissing offensive and outdated attitudes to women as ‘harmless fun’ is easy, but sexism and misogyny carries consequences for people, for women and children.


The struggle against family violence has been left too long for the women’s movement alone.


It is time for all men to admit it is men’s behaviour which is the problem, and that men have to change their behaviour.


Ladies and gentlemen, these are Labor’s immediate funding priorities, and they’re part of our agenda for a national crisis summit on family violence.


The summit isn’t about validating our views or supporting our choices.


Yes, we want immediate action.


We want to be guided by the people who’ve been disempowered through the acts of family violence.


The voices of survivors must be heard at our summit and in the media, I’m sure this can be a bipartisan commitment.


The women of Australia have waited long enough. It is time for all of us to act.



Mar 4, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins










Family violence is a matter of national urgency.


It is without a doubt one of the greatest contradictions in our society that an act of hate can be done by people who claim to love the victim.


It is not right in this country that Australian women are more likely to be badly injured, or worse, by partners who claim to love their spouse or their part.


For too long, family violence has been regarded as part of an uncomfortable outsider issue, best left to women’s groups, the police or homeless services.


The truth is that family violence does not have a race, class or ethnic background issue.


It is a gender issue.


We have responsibility, I believe, for all of us in this place, to make it a national political priority.


I know that this issue is of great importance to all who have the privilege of serving in parliament.


I know that we are all increasingly antagonistic to the notion that, whilst a neighbour might speak up if they thought a stranger was conducting an act of violence in the house next door, when it is between members of a family in the house next door, the convention is: it is not an issue which we should automatically involve ourselves in.


Today I have asked the Prime Minister to convene a national crisis summit on family violence as soon as possible.


I acknowledge that he has agreed to meet with Labor to discuss this idea.


In the event that a summit is not viewed by the government as the way to go—and we hope it is—we would convene one within the first hundred days of being elected.


The case for a summit is this.


It is not just a government talkfest.


It is not just state and territory leaders, as important as they are.


There can be no solution to family violence without the voices of survivors being central in the discussions.


We need an assembly of the front line—community, researchers, advocates, women’s groups, and community legal services.


I am very proud that in the previous Labor government—led by Tania Plibersek and many of my colleagues—we had the first National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children.


I acknowledge that the second plan has been adopted and advanced upon. But today I put before the House the proposition that we need to do more, and more urgently.


Too often the first public warning sign that a woman is in danger is a report of her injury at the casualty ward, or indeed worse. Too little has changed too slowly.


We need a national summit to capture this momentum.


Like every Australian I was proud that the 2015 Australian of the Year is Rosie Batty.


Her story of struggle is unimaginable to all of us, frankly.


I appreciate that—from the Victorian royal commission through to the Queensland government’s report, Not now, Not ever, released two days ago by Dame Quentin Bryce, the South Australian parliamentary inquiry, ANROWS, and work by the current government—work is being done.


Indeed this debate today stands on years and decades of effort by many people.


This parliament has an opportunity to add our effort collectively to something which many people have worked on.


I am proud, amongst many, to have Jenny Macklin serve alongside us in this parliament as she worked on the first Canberra women’s refuge many years ago.


Some years ago! But it is important that we end what is called the postcode lottery.


The quality of support that one receives should not depend on where you live.


It should not depend on the role of the dice or if you find a magistrate who is particularly in tune with working through the needs of a survivor and making sure that the system works.


Every woman is entitled to feel safe in her home and secure in her community.


If you cannot find safety in your home, then the system must support you.


That family violence can happen to anyone means that the right help must be available to everyone.


We offer this idea of a national summit to the government and we also encourage them to look at our other proposals.


On average, women affected by family violence will move three times—three upheavals: away from your support network, your family and friends, moving from your community and indeed your job.


Sometimes women are still paying the mortgage on homes that they have had to flee while the abuser sits in the house.


As a starting point, Labor would invest $15 million in a safe at home grants program so that the abuser is not rewarded and the survivor can stay—better security systems, alarms, locks and CCTV would allow women to be safe in their homes and ensure that children can sleep in their own bedroom rather than having to move from their school and their friends, adding distress upon trauma.


We also recognise that when women seek legal protection from their abusers our court processes can be an emotional and financial gauntlet—intimidating, complex and slow.


Our system should be built on one fundamental principle: when forced to court, seeking protection from family violence for you and your children, you should never walk through the system alone.


Labor will invest $42 million in front-line community services; and, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, who suffer the highest rates of family violence, we would invest another $4.5 million dollars in building capacity for family violence prevention legal services.


There is further to go, and I recognise that work has been done on improving security for women in our courts and that training for our magistrates, judges, court official and police officers has improved.


But no act of family violence ever occurs in isolation. Each one can be marked on an escalating continuum of rage.


Interrupt the pattern of dangerous behaviour, perpetrators who abuse drugs and alcohol, law enforcement, justice and child protection systems—as a first step, we would provide $8.4 million to develop research and divert perpetrators from the path which leads to escalating grief and harm.


Underneath all of this, the fundamental issue, which will assist, tackle and defeat family violence once and for all, has to be the pursuit of equal treatment for women in our society.


We believe that it is possible to teach respect in our schools, sporting clubs, workplaces and the military.


We also believe that, if leaders play their role in business, politics and sport, we can also do this in the media.


Complaining about political correctness is easy.


Dismissing offensive and outdated attitudes to women as harmless fun is easy.


But sexism and misogyny carries consequences for women, for children.


It is time for us to recognise that the problem is not women; the challenge is men and men’s behaviour.


Labor priorities are clear but we would seek a national summit not to validate our views or support our choices.


We want immediate action.


We want to be guided by the people who know.


The principle of having a summit and bringing people together—not just the states and territories, and the national government—is sound.


Let’s bring together all of the voices in one place at one time.


We have remarkable momentum built upon the shoulders of survivors and their supporters, advocates and research.


Fundamentally, we must also recognise that no discussion of family violence is free from the discussion of gender equality, economic empowerment, seeing women have financial control over their own lives, and women in leadership; work at the grassroots as well.


It is not inevitable that family violence will always be with us.


Labor does not accept that it is an inevitable course of society and life that women have to be the victims of family violence.


There are some things in life that cannot change, but violence against women in the family is not one of them.


We have the capacity to do this together.


Diversity and support for changing attitudes means that there can come a time in the future when people will look back at the debates we have today and look at the efforts of champions, from Ken Lay through to Rosie Batty, and through to so many others, including, unfortunately, so many about whom we have not heard names or their stories.


We can put an end to this.





Mar 3, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins











Thank you, Madam Speaker and I appreciate what you say, Madam Speaker, I do believe statements to the Parliament about committing our troops to a region in conflict that the Parliament is an appropriate forum to hear such matters and I thank the Prime Minister for a statement to the Parliament.


Our first thoughts, though, today are with our troops already in Iraq and the Middle East and their families.
The ADF mission in a region torn by violence under threat of attack from an aggressive enemy capturing weapons supplies and money as it advances, carries a deadly risk.


As the Prime Minister has said, all Australians admire the bravery that such actions demands.


I had the privilege of visiting Baghdad and bases in the Middle East where I was personally witness to the skill and the professionalism, the absolute commitment to task and as the Prime Minister has said, when you’re in the presence of our troops on a mission, on a posting, you do realise that these people make you feel proud to be Australian.


So on behalf of the Labor Party, I say to our men and women in uniform, all Australians are proud of you today and every day and we’re also proud of your families.
And I promise them that our nation stands shoulder to shoulder with the people who love you so that whilst you’re away and until you come home, everyone will do what they can to ensure that they are looked after.


The situation as the Government said, in Iraq is most serious.


Daesh are totalitarian zealots beyond redemption.


Their followers believe only in violence for the sake of violence and Australia is right to stand against them.


From the outset, Labor’s support for Australia’s current mission in Iraq has been bipartisan and our foundation of that is based upon the invitation of the Iraqi Government as part of an international coalition with responsibility to protect Iraqi civilians from Daesh.
It’s been underpinned by four key principles.


One, Australian operations to be confined to Iraq.


Two, that our involvement should continue only until the Iraqi Government is ready to take full responsibility for the security of their people and their nation.


Three, that we don’t support the deployment of Australian ground combat units to directly engage in fighting Daesh.


And four, if the Iraqi Government and its forces engage in unacceptable conduct, Australia would withdraw its support.


Now I thank the Government for the detailed briefing we received in the last hour before Question Time.


And it appears from the information that was provided to us that the commitment most likely accords with Labor’s principles and the scope of activities that we’ve outlined.
There have, of course, been some troubling reports regarding the behaviour of some Iraqi militia groups and of course we know that our military and our ADF and our Foreign Affairs Department is monitoring this most carefully.


So Madam Speaker, our mission in Iraq is about building partner capacity, providing training inside the wire to improve the military capacity of conventional Iraqi security forces.
This important work includes training Iraqi soldiers on ethical, lawful military operations.


We welcome the measures being put in place for force protection and will continue to seek reassurance in this respect.


I can appreciate the risk of green on blue and indirect fire and that is something which, of course, has to be managed and minimised but it is dangerous work.


I believe our work in Iraq is valuable and it’s important.
But of course we cannot put our faith in draining the swamp of terrorism by military means alone.


We need and to support a social, political and economic solution and I note some progress has been made by the Iraqi Government to achieve a settlement that holds on the ground, including working with a Sunni and Kurd communities to improve their safety.


But the sectarian politics in Iraq and the region are extraordinary and deep.
There is no doubt in my mind that as Daesh seeks to spread its horrendous franchise to Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, that we need to work towards a broader approach and a regional solution.


Australia’s mission in Iraq is not about pursuing territory or power but helping the displaced and protecting the vulnerable.


We do not seek to assert the supremacy of one faith or one people but defend the rights of all faiths and all peoples.


Labor believes that peace and tolerance can and will prevail over poisonous hatred and fanaticism, in Iraq, in the region and of course everywhere.


That’s our shared hope and our common cause.





Mar 3, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins








Good Morning everyone. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet, and pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

It is lovely to be here this morning, along with the Prime Minister, Senator Christine Milne and all of the distinguished guests.

I congratulate Julie McKay on this event and it’s fantastic that we’ll be hearing from our own Ambassador Natasha Stott Despoja on important matters this morning.

When Emma Watson delivered that remarkable speech at the United Nations, she posed two simple questions for us to ask ourselves:

If not me, who? If not now, when?’

Today, we answer: ending gender inequality is a job for all of us – and it’s right now.

This must begin with tackling family violence.

Family violence is no respecter of background, faith or race – it fragments communities across Australia.

Yet the definitive risk factor for victims of family violence – is being a woman.

And for far too many women, fleeing their home in fear is not the end of that nightmare.

It is only the beginning of a traumatic set of new trials, caused by the dislocation of the life they once knew:

Dealing with authorities and police, telling your fearful secret – to strangers.

Leaving behind your support network, your friends and family to escape the reach of the abuser.

Trying to find somewhere safe to live, looking for a park to run in, a café to sit in, a supermarket to shop in, without looking over your shoulder, without being stalked.

Having to look for a new job because your abuser knows where you used to work.

Realising the debilitating cost of it all, that sense of financial security evaporating, the plans you’d made for your family’s future, slipping from your grasp.

Knowing that this process if you weren’t already poor – will make you poor.

Seeking justice through the legal system, a process that can be torturous as it is long.

Dreading in those little moments, those unprotected moments on the step of the court, or standing in a corridor coming face-to-face with that angry person who has made your life a living nightmare.

Each and every one of these trials and tribulations is magnified for non-English speakers as the Prime Minister has said, for the elderly, for people with disability and of course, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women suffer the highest rates of family violence.

For every woman, picking up the pieces and starting again takes a tremendous toll, both emotionally and financially.

It is a demoralising and disempowering ordeal that can shatter the resolve of the most strong, the most resilient person.

And far too often, Australian women are forced to fight this battle on their own, in isolation.

This must change.

It is time to make family violence a national political priority.

Now, we have made progress, we have made quite a bit of progress – and inspirations like Australian of the Year Rosie Batty spur us to work harder and go further.

Many of my colleagues care about this deeply and I acknowledge members of the Government do this.

But I think I might be forgiven for acknowledging some of my own –  Tanya Plibersek, delivered the first ever National Plan, investing in legal and housing services.

Julie Collins, helped establish OurWatch; Jenny Macklin, who actually worked in Canberra’s first ever women’s shelter, has dedicated so much of her working life to this cause.

And current Shadow Minister for Women, Senator Claire Moore, and Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness, Jan McLucas, they’re carrying on this tradition.

Today, governments and political parties on both sides, on all sides are more involved, police training is better, judicial awareness is improving.

And more men are accepting that it is their responsibility to step up and speak out: to never remain silent in the face of violence, abuse or attitudes which shelter that behaviour.

But only some of this is true, in some places – and none of it is true in all places.

Victims of family violence endure a ‘postcode lottery’.

Right now, the coincidence of where a woman lives determines whether or not she gets the right help and support – or is left to go it alone.

In 2015, gradual and patchy progress really isn’t good enough anymore.

Family violence is a national crisis, it is our chance to seize a moment in the Australian story to find a solution.

The final, inescapable truth about family violence is that it is men’s behaviour to blame.

Not just for the acts of violence, but if we want to change family violence we must realise that at the core of it, it is a  culture of gender inequality that views cowardly and cruel attacks as a lesser crime, because they happen behind the front door of a family home, and the victim is a woman.

We have a responsibility to call this sexism for what it is, when we see it, when we hear it, when we read it online.

That is on us – the men of Australia.

Unless attitudes change, among young men and their role models, unless men change, nothing will change.

So friends, the gender equality is the pledge we sign today – and it’s a promise we have to live and  keep every day.




Mar 1, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins







Friends, it’s great to be here in Campbelltown.

I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet.

I acknowledge everyone here as people committed to the Labor cause.

But, I’d also in particular, like to acknowledge my remarkable deputy, New South Wales’ own, Tanya Plibersek.

Campbelltown, it is a community that shaped Gough Whitlam’s vision for Australia.

Before Whitlam, years of neglect meant that the people of Campbelltown, Liverpool, Fairfield, right across the streets and suburbs of Sydney’s West never had amenities that we take for granted: right from streetlights to sewerage.

Gough changed that.

Gough believed in using the power of government to uplift people’s daily lives.

And friends, this is the story of our Labor movement.

Creating opportunity, nourishing community, taking responsibility for the things that matter for working people.

That’s why I am so proud to support a new approach for New South Wales: A Foley Labor Government.

Of course, these days, Tony Abbott only comes to New South Wales to collect his mail and put out the bins.

Once again, the headlines are full of Liberal leadership turmoil. Not if, they say, but when.

It’s hard to watch, but you just can’t look away.

They’re stuck in a three horse race between a former leader they’ve never trusted, a Deputy they’ve never rated – and a Prime Minister who makes Billy McMahon look like a statesman.

Things have gotten so desperate, that I even heard someone talking up a Christopher Pyne – Bronwyn Bishop ‘dream team’.

Mind you, it was Christopher Pyne.

Friends, let me cut through the gossip and speculation and tell you straight, the only thing that matters about all the contenders and the pretenders: is that they’re all Liberal-Nationals.

And this is why it doesn’t matter if they choose the has-been, the could’ve-been or the never-was.

They all sat at the same Cabinet table.

They are all on the same page.

They were all unanimous for all the same decisions.

And they all stand for the same thing.

The same society-dividing Liberal-National policies, the same bleak and narrow view of an unfair Australia, shrinking our way into a lesser future.

So it doesn’t matter if Tony Abbott is driving the Liberal bus – or if his colleagues throw him under it, they always go down the same road.

It’s true in Canberra and its true here in New South Wales.

That’s why, when Tony Abbott cut billions of dollars from hospitals in Westmead and Blacktown, Liverpool and Campbelltown – Mike Baird said nothing.

That’s why, when Tony Abbott cut funding from schools from Mosman to Maitland, from Macquarie Fields to Moree – Mike Baird did nothing.

That’s why, when Tony Abbott talks about cutting penalty rates, driving down wages, putting a new GST on fresh food oR school fees – Mike Baird is missing in action.

My message to Mike Baird is simple today.

When families are under pressure and rising unemployment is on the march…

When TAFE is being wrecked and young people in our regions can’t find an apprenticeship…

When nurses are being sacked and hospital beds are being closed…

When teachers and students are forced to go without the resources they need…

When the Liberals in Canberra are making life harder here in New South Wales…

Silence is not good enough from Mike Baird.

Standing back, folding your arms and smiling just doesn’t cut it.

The people of New South Wales deserve better.

You deserve, the people of New South Wales deserve a Premier who will stand up for this great state.

A Premier with the courage to put the interests of New South Wales ahead of his own political allies in Canberra.

And friends – I know just the man; Luke Foley.

Luke Foley as you know is a person of integrity, and ideas.

As he said in last week’s debate – he leads a team ‘focused on the future’.

He’s got a true Labor vision for the state which he loves.

A plan for education, a plan for jobs and opportunity, for practical change to uplift the lives of people.

And it’s a plan that keeps public assets, in public hands.

He is not selling off the jobs of tomorrow – with no Plan B.

A deliberate choice to use the profits they make to fund the health and education services for the people of New South Wales that they rely upon.

Luke and his team have a great Labor story to tell.

And we need you all to help tell it – today and every day.

There’s only 28 days to go now – until the election.

No-one should ever doubt however, the power of the true believers with great ideas.

Together, we here assembled can make the difference; you can change the Government and change the future.

So let’s get on and do it.



Feb 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins












I move that so much of standing and sessional orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition from moving the following motion forthwith – that the House censures the Attorney-General.


One, for launching an unprecedented attack on the Australian Human Rights Commission, designed to undermine its independence. Two, for treating an independent statutory office holder with contempt, and, three, for directing the Secretary of the Department of Attorney-General to an offer an inducement to the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission in return for her resignation.


Prime Minister of Australia, lying is not insider nonsense. It is proof of the Attorney-General and his Government have failed the test of leadership. Yesterday, you plumbed a new depth in using the power of the executive branch.


Yesterday, and today, we have seen a shocking attack by the most powerful man in Australia upon the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission.


Yesterday, and today, we’ve seen the Attorney-General and the rest of his government reach a new and shocking low.


When people like the Attorney-General or the Prime Minister of Australia, with all of the power of government, use their positions to bully and intimidate independent statutory office holders, then we should suspend Standing Orders to discuss this matter.


The actions yesterday – and as much as the Prime Minister and Attorney-General want to say ‘it’s not the real issue’ – when powerful men in remarkable positions of strength use their authority not to lead the nation, but to attack critics, then we have a severe problem with the strength of our community and our government in this country.


I understand that the Prime Minister, the Attorney-General and members of the Government may not approve of the President of the Human Rights Commission’s report.


But what I don’t understand is, rather than dealing with the issues in the report, what they have done is attack her character. They have attacked her character.


What we also see is that yesterday we saw the embarrassing and scandalous situation where the President of the Human Rights Commission was forced to sit two people down from the Attorney-General, a target, as the Attorney-General turned on her and attacked her.


Then what we see is she’s had to put up with the assassination of her character by the Attorney-General and by this man.


We have seen an assassination of character. This is the tool in trade. I believe Australians are sick and tired of an angry Tony Abbott.


I believe Australians are sick and tired of the constant overreach of the Prime Minister of Australia.


Being Prime Minister of Australia is a remarkable privilege. It is a bully pulpit to be able to advocate ideas.


But what we need is, whilst it is a bully pulpit it is not a pulpit for bullies and that is what we are seeing with this Government.


We should suspend Standing Orders because what we’ve seen with this attack on the President of the Human Rights Commission is a new low by the most powerful man in Australia against an upright, proper and decent woman.


We have seen in this attack by the Prime Minister, the classic overreach of the angry Prime Minister.


He says that he doesn’t like what she has written, so therefore she must resign.


We have seen word games played by this Government.


When is a resignation not a resignation? When Tony Abbott and George Brandis ask for it.


When is an inducement and not an inducement? When these ministers and the Attorney-General offer it.


The President of the Human Rights Commission understood perfectly well what was happening, when the secretary of the department came along and said, ‘I’m sorry to tell you this, but the Attorney-General’s lost confidence in you, the Government’s lost confidence in you.’


You cannot sack this statutory office holder so the clear implication is that if you say to this independent statutory holder that the government has lost confidence in you and you can’t be sacked, there is only one course of action being asked for by these powerful people the Attorney-General and his leader the Prime Minister.


It was clear pressure on her to resign.


Then we hear the embarrassing spectacle that no job was offered.


Now today the Foreign Minister gave a strong and appropriate Defence for the Secretary of the Attorney-General she certainly defends the secretary of the department and she said he is a very truthful person.


Well we agree. We think he is a truthful person. But what we don’t believe is that we are hearing is the truth from the Attorney-General or this Prime Minister.


What we actually see, is you can just see the decision-making in the inner sanctum to this government, at least the bits that we have not seen already leaked.


And what we see is they would have sat around and said “We want this woman gone, we want this woman gone. We want her out of the position,” they would have said.


You can see them saying: “George, send a messenger to get rid of the messenger. Send her the message that we no longer have confidence but if she does the right thing and fits in with the agenda of this government we will find her a job somewhere else.”


But unfortunately for this government and its bullying ways the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission wasn’t playing ball.


I cannot believe and I think many Australians, and I think Prime Minister you underestimate many Australians when you dismiss this matter as an ‘insider issue’.


I think there are a lot of Australians who’ve been appalled by your conduct and your character assassination of this President of the Human Rights Commission.


I think you have reminded a lot of Australians what they deep down feel about you. That you are a person who cannot control –


It is important to suspend standing orders because Australia has been reminded of the character of this Prime Minister and of this Attorney-General.


Never could we have imagined a scenario, I know, I know there are good members of the Government – perhaps not those who are yelling out – but there are good members in this government who are deeply uneasy, deeply uneasy at the open attack on an independent statutory officeholder.


I congratulate the Member for Wentworth who has come out and been supportive of Gillian Triggs.


I also acknowledge that the Foreign Minister seems to have some quite confidence in Gillian Triggs and I know there are more of you out there, probably even more than supported the spill motion.


This is why we have to support the suspension of standing orders.


No government minister should be proud of the last 48 hours.


No government minister should be proud of the absolute plumbing of the depths and this attack on this respected, independent person.


What is it about the Abbott government and the Attorney-General that they do not understand separation of powers?


What is it about this government that when the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission comes down with a report that the government does not like, then all of a sudden the independent officeholder must go?


Please members of the government, Attorney-General and Prime Minister, do not treat Australians as mugs and say no resignation was sought and that no alternative job was offered.


We can play the word games. You can talk about ‘no inducement was given’. Your messenger sent to the President of the Human Rights Commission, that the government no longer has confidence in you.


But then what they did also is in saying that they know they could not sack this officeholder, so the clear implication of saying to Gillian Triggs that the government has no confidence in you, is you must resign. That is the clear implication.


And then, what they also said is: “We will look after you, we will find you a special role.”


Now the government has said today in parliament there was no special role offered.


Yet yesterday the secretary of the Attorney-General’s Department said there was a role offered.


Now I agree that the Foreign Minister was left to hang out a bit today when she said no special role was offered.


Yet it was in Hansard yesterday that the secretary of the department said there was.


Someone is not telling the truth here and I believe it starts at the Attorney-General and it starts with the Prime Minister.


What the government needs to understand is that rather than shoot the messenger as they are doing here, take heed of the message.





Feb 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins













Good morning.

This event reminded me to ring a friend of mine who I worked with for many years, and it’s about 9 years since his wife died of ovarian cancer, and Di would now be 61. She was then 52.

And since then her children have got married, she would have been a grandmother. She was a very warm person and she was the centre of this particular family, they lived down in Rosebud on the Mornington Peninsula.

So when we think about ovarian cancer, it’s very real. It makes me angry that a beautiful mother never got a chance to see her grandchildren. She was very much the person who held that family together, and I’ve seen their travails since then. Things are ok for the family, but ovarian cancer left an empty place at the table which can never be replaced.

So this morning we rededicate ourselves to ending this sadness – to finding a better system of diagnosis, better care and ultimately, a cure, that does begin with research.

I want you to know that Labor is determined to deliver a medical research policy informed by the smartest experts based on the very best evidence.

Instead of perhaps fruitless discussions between practitioners, patients and researchers, we should unite and have broader conversations – a discussion where we look at every option for medical research funding – translating that research into new treatments and delivering those treatments to patients in Australia and around the whole world.

This could mean:

Alternative debt finance such as a special-purpose bond issuance program or social bonds akin to those used in the United Kingdom and California.

Further and targeted R&D tax incentives or possibly research prizes such as DARPA’s Grand Challenge.

We could look at leveraging private finance and public investment in partnership. Working together for a competitive, efficient system for less tragedy.

We could investigate equity co-investment arrangements where the government and investors commit capital to medical research. A model that has been used in other contexts to support many leading firms like Seek, Bionomics and Benthic Geotech.

I don’t need to tell the people here, but supporting world-class medical research depends upon so much more than just money, as important as money is.

We need a smart and skilled workforce, clear pathways to commercialisation and an environment that rewards innovation, inquiry and improved health care.

People may or may not be aware but I’ve had my colleagues Andrew Giles and Anna Burke, working alongside our Shadow Health Minister Catherine King, undertaking an extensive consultation process with the medical research sector.

Soon, they will have met from representatives from every member of the Australian Association of Medical Research Institute.

Hospitals, health practitioners, universities, start-ups have all been a part of this process.

Labor believes in a national conversation as the basis for supporting Australia’s scientists in their search for the cures of tomorrow.

The Australian Ovarian Cancer study has shown us that without world class, locally-based medical research, not only will we reduce the chances of great discoveries being made – we have little chance of bringing discoveries made overseas to our own patients.

Medical research works – it will work for ovarian cancer.

But we cannot rely on chance, or a lone genius.

We need a deliberate, focused effort.

That’s what Labor is committed to.

Above all, that’s why we’re here this morning, it’s why we wear a teal ribbon.

It is to think about all the brave women who like my friend Diane who have not had the chance to see their grandchildren or to watch their children grow old. This is the real shame.

This day inspires me, as I’m sure it inspires our Prime Minister, to honour their memory in the most meaningful way possible.

The most meaningful way possible, to make sense of what we have lost, is to cure ovarian cancer – once and for all.




Feb 23, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins









No-one is more familiar with the changeable, unpredictable nature of Australian weather – and the dangers it can pose – than the people who call the tropical north home.
Even by their rugged standards, this was a dramatic event.
When Cyclone Marcia made landfall near Shoalwater Bay, it was a category five storm – one of only five in more than two centuries of record-keeping.
Cyclone Lam also threatened homes and livelihoods as it made landfall in the Northern Territory.
We give thanks today that no-one lost their life in this wild weather.
I’ve visited coastal Queensland frequently and I’ve visited Gove and its surrounds many times.
Everywhere you go in these places you meet warm and welcoming people, Australians happy to have a chat and share a laugh.
And in the face of adversity, in the midst of hardship, when disaster strikes – the great character of those Australians shines through.
We see it in the calm and cheerful courage of the SES, responding – already – to over 4000 calls for assistance.
We see it in the dauntless optimism of those returning to homes and businesses badly damaged by torrential rain, preparing to repair, rebuild and carry on.
We see it in the instinctive generosity of Queenslanders and Territorians – reaching out to help their neighbours, people whose first concern is for the welfare of others.
And, once again, we are all reminded that there is nothing quite as humbling as the resilience and resolve of everyday Australians.
Labor wishes all those affected by these Cyclones a safe and speedy return to their normal lives.
On that note, in Government, I was grateful for the co-operation of the Coalition in working to resolve insurance issues created by flood damage – and Labor stands ready to assist if help is required on the vexed issue of storm damage.


Feb 23, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins







Faith Bandler’s passing on 13 February closed a chapter in one of the most remarkable and inspiring stories of our national life.

Faith spent her life, not battling her own injustices, but the injustices she saw inflicted upon others.

Surely that is humanity at its purest – a life spent in the service of others.

Faith was an activist, a fighter, a warrior – but her weapons were compassion, respect and intelligence.

In her leadership of the 1967 referendum campaign, she changed hearts and minds – and she changed the nation.

Madam Speaker, Robert F. Kennedy once said:

“Few will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each of us can work to change a small portion of events.

And in total, of all those acts will be written the history of this generation.”

For Faith Bandler, bringing meaningful improvement to the lives of the First Australians was an all-consuming mission – it was the test of a generation.

As she recalled of the1967 Referendum:

“I used to get very emotional about it because it possessed me. I became totally obsessed with that campaign.”

Madam Speaker

All of us in the Labor party offer our heartfelt condolences to Faith Bandler’s family and loved ones.

Let us promise to honour her memory, by carrying on her work.

Let us vow not to rest until Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are honoured and recognised in our nation’s founding document.

Let us make Faith Bandler’s lasting memorial a full life of equal opportunity for every Australian.

In Faith’s words:

“It would be a wonderful thing.”

May she rest in eternal peace.



Feb 17, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins


Good evening everyone, it’s fantastic to be here. I’d like to acknowledge some of my Parliamentary colleagues who are here. There is Mark Dreyfus who is modern Labor’s answer to Isaac Isaacs, and of course there’s state members of parliament here, and I know they teach in politicians school either mention everyone, or mention no one, but I’ll acknowledge Mark McCouller, Philip Dalidakis and David Southwick and to the others who are here, I acknowledge you too. I acknowledge of course the Publisher, Robert Magid and Zeddy Lawrence the Editor.

I was thinking as I came to this building that there’s not a lot of things which are 120 years old. Of course there are the traditional owners of the land, who have a continuous connection here for 40,000 years and I acknowledge their elders both past and present.

Certainly 120th birthdays are rare – for people and for newspapers – so it’s a privilege I think for all of us to be here at a 120th.

Now 120 years ago this paper was originally known as the Hebrew Standard of Australasia. They chose an auspicious year for their first edition, 1895.

In London, audiences were queuing for Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, in St Petersburg audiences were applauding Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and in Winton in outback, colonial Queensland, they raised a glass to Banjo Paterson’s Waltzing Matilda.

Now of course, comparing the founding of this newspaper to these three geniuses is somewhat unfair, because after all – Paterson, Wilde and Tchaikovsky haven’t produced  anything in decades, whereas this paper has been delivering every week for 120 years.

Now tonight in launching this important commemoration of an enduring cultural touchstone, we celebrate a great newspaper, but indeed a magnificent community.

In 120 years, under several banners and owners, through hard times and good, the Australian Jewish News has constantly strived to seek and speak the truth.

Proudly and wholly independent throughout its history, the newspaper has been a powerful voice and a conduit for the Jewish community in Australia.

As a longstanding and forthright advocate for an independent Jewish state, the Hebrew Standard ran the banner headline: “World Jewry Hails New Israel” in May 1948, rejoicing in what it called and I quote:

undoubtedly one of the happiest events in Jewish history…the realisation of a two thousand year old dream’.

And ever since, the AJN has provided comprehensive coverage of uplifting, and sometimes troubling news from the Jewish community’s ancient homeland and its modern hope.

Because this newspaper, like all of us, understands that Israel will always be at the core of the Jewish diaspora and its sense of self.

Australia can be proud that when the United Nations Assembly considered the resolution to create an independent Israel, we Australia were the first nation to cast its vote in favour of the proposal.

As its been mentioned as a Minister, I had the privilege of leading a Parliamentary delegation to Israel in 2012 – and I was inspired.

In Israel, innovation, science and entrepreneurialism drive a thriving venture capital industry. It’s an economy where people are rewarded for their ideas and encouraged to take the risks. An economy where failure isn’t automatically written down as the end of the story but merely another lesson in life.

It is an agile, creative and adaptive economy and a society which I believe Australia can learn much from.

In 2015, a glance at the lead stories on the AJN website, remind us that this is indeed a challenging time for social cohesion in our world.

Across the globe, the ties that bind us: faith, family, community and nation are being tested by violence, extremism, prejudice and hatred.

In the last two months alone, in Paris and in Copenhagen, Jewish people have been amongst those murdered by extremists.

And I am sure that as a people who have endured centuries of prejudice, of persecution and atrocity, that every act of violence that affects people of the Jewish faith casts a long shadow and carries the echo of darker days.

In these challenging times, and amidst this uncertainty, it is common for us to talk about ‘how lucky we are’ in Australia.

How ‘lucky’ we are to live in a peaceful, multicultural society where everyone is welcomed, valued, respected and equal.

But tonight, as I look out on an audience of remarkable achievers in every field, I see proof that ‘luck’ has nothing to do with the success of modern Australia.

Our great and diverse society is not a lottery prize, nor is it the product of happy accident or fortunate circumstance.

The open, tolerant, harmonious nation that we know and we love has been built and cared for by successive generations and people of every faith: Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism – and many more, and indeed by people of no particular faith.

And ever since the First Fleet, the Jewish community have been amongst the most significant and most influential contributors to our national success and our national progress.

National leaders in war and peace: Sir John Monash, Sir Isaac Isaacs, and Sir Zelman Cowen, generations of business titans and philanthropists: Frank Lowy, Richard Pratt and Victor Smorgon, just to name some.

And of course, modern Melbourne, indeed modern Australia, owes so much to the Holocaust survivors who came here in the 1940s.

People who brought with them the memories and the texts and the traditions, the song and the sorrow, the music and the ritual and the family obligations of a remembered way of life that were smashed and burnt in the great aberration that was briefly Hitler’s Europe.

That generation settled here and built their networks.

Their children studied hard, as always, and passed their exams with distinction.

And as academics, doctors, lawyers, business people, musicians, artists, actors, directors, entrepreneurs, they refreshed again the European habits of mind and joy and pursuit and of honour of achievement which had nearly been wiped out by atrocity and war.

Restoring a tradition and building a new life, here in a very faraway land. That great generation, in many cases the parents or the grandparents of people here, they set up the charities, underwrote the scholarships, funded the university departments and that study of the past from which all understanding flows.

Having seen the worst of times they proposed to build, with diligence and honour and mercy, the best of times for their children, and the coming generations of their new home, Australia.

They paid their dues, and did the work, they joined our politics and argued the issues.

This gang of survivors and strugglers played their part in the amazing creation of this proud multicultural city and nation and they wrote their chapter in our ever-evolving national story.

Celebrating the contribution that people from every race and faith can make to our national shared adventure has long been a tenet of this newspaper, whose birthday we celebrate.

Indeed, the second page of the very first edition of this newspaper made a powerful argument for ‘toleration’: respect for difference and diversity.

The words are worth recalling, especially when we consider that they were printed six years before the White Australia policy of our  Federation – was adopted in a far less enlightened, far more suspicious, insecure age.

On 1 November 1895, this newspaper wrote:

 ‘the sympathetic bond which is generated among the followers of a particular worship, often becomes a motive of exclusion, hatred and war between those of other denominations’

And it condemned the ‘odious’ sentiments of those who wrote:

‘under the pretext of religion, separating human beings who ought to love and assist one another’

This was 120 years ago and it rings true now as it did then. It is a timeless truth.

It reminds us of our shared humanity and our common goals, our duty to look after one another – our responsibility to respect everybody’s right to be their best, and to be themselves.

I congratulate to all of you who have played a part in the enduring success of The Australian Jewish News.

I cannot, as is traditional for a Jewish birthday, wish this paper, I apologise for what I’m about to do to the Hebrew language, this is written “ad meah v’esrim”, I’ll get someone to translate that.   

Because tonight we don’t celebrate 120 alone, we look beyond 120.

So, I would like to offer the Jewish News a blessing from my own Irish ancestors, for the journey ahead:

May the road rise up to meet you.

And may the wind always be at your back.

It is my great pleasure to launch this commemorative book: a reminder of a very proud past – and an inspiration for a brighter future.






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