Browsing articles in "Speeches"
Jan 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

BRIMBANK AUSTRALIA DAY CELEBRATIONS AND CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY

SPEECH

BRIMBANK AUSTRALIA DAY CELEBRATIONS AND CITIZENSHIP CEREMONY

MELBOURNE

MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015

 

 

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I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet – Australia’s first historians, our first artists, our first lawmakers, our first citizens – and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

My fellow Australians, new and old, one and all, it is a great pleasure to be here with you at Brimbank for a national day of celebration.

On Australia Day, we give thanks for the country we love – and the people we share it with.

We all celebrate this day differently.

In London and in Beijing, in New York and New Delhi – at all the hours of the day and night – Australians far away will be Skyping home for a glimpse of their loved ones and sunny southern skies.

Here at home there are annual fun runs and family camping trips, picnics in the park, cricket on the beach and the hottest one hundred on the radio.

And in our capital cities and in country town halls,  in suburban parks and civic squares, in gatherings great and small, nearly twenty thousand people will pledge their loyalty to this land, their new home.

In accents from every nation on earth, they will declare and affirm their rights and responsibilities as Australian citizens.

It is a privilege for me to share this proud moment with you and the people you love.

And let me be the first to say, welcome home.

Today, you stand on the shoulders of more than 4 million migrants who have taken the oath of citizenship before you.

You join your story with ours and our ancestors, with all those who have come from across the seas to make a new start beneath our Southern Cross.

And you continue a tradition more than two centuries old.

Because apart from the very first Australians, we are all migrants.

And whether our forebears came in chains or in comfort.

Whether they were seeking gold, or freedom from persecution.

Whether Australia was their dream, or their last resort, today we honour their contribution – and yours.

It is never easy to leave behind the land of your birth and the home of your ancestors.

To depart the place where you first spoke, learned, laughed and loved.

It is a sacrifice that demands incredible courage.

It is the courage of every generation of migrants, the courage to start a new life and the courage that renews our nation.

Every generation has given our nation new enterprise, industry, energy and enthusiasm, driving our national prosperity.

Every generation has nourished our national soul, with new art and architecture, new songs, new ideas, new ways of looking at the world.

And every generation has given back to the land that gave them their second chance, through volunteer work, community service and caring for others.

Every generation has given us a new and richer sense of what it is to be an Australian.

And so today, as we celebrate in our different ways we also celebrate our differences.

In Australia, we do not just ‘tolerate’ diversity – we cherish it.

We give thanks for our enlarged, enriched and emboldened Australian family.

Our country and our people  are at our best when we include everyone, when we empower everyone, when we respect everyone’s right to be their best and to be themselves.

That’s what binds us.

Because even though our citizens hail from every flag and faith on earth, we are not a patchwork country capable of being torn along old seams.

We are an alloy, a stronger and better nation because we are forged from the best of every culture and tradition.

That is the miracle of modern, multicultural Australia.

And as citizens – Australians by birth and Australians by choice – it is our solemn duty to preserve this.

To jealously guard the harmony and social cohesion that keeps us happy and safe.

It is a responsibility that has never been more important – and it is a job for all of us: political leaders, community leaders, parents, role models – Australians one and all.

In 2014, our world and our nation were often tested by tragedy.

But we endured, we prevailed, together.

In 2015, let us vow, all of us, to stand united against those who would seek to divide us.

Let us not shirk from the truth – let us learn from it.

Let us speak out against hatred – and overcome it.

Let us promise to confront ignorance and prejudice with truth and tolerance.

Let us reach out to the margins of our society with compassion and understanding.

Let us speak up for the victims of family violence.

Let us do everything we can to get children out of detention.

Let us, in 2015, be brave enough to breathe new life into the dream of an Australian head of state.

Let us embrace a modern diverse Australia – and have a mature debate about an Australian Republic.

114 years ago, Australians found the courage and goodwill to transform this continent into a Commonwealth.

This century, we can live up to their example and declare that our head of state should be one of us.

An Australian Republic – a model that truly speaks for who we are: our modern identity, our place in our region and our world.

Together we can fulfil the promise of Australia, the land of the second chance and the home of the fair go.

Together there is much for us to celebrate, today and every day.

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT:     RYAN LIDDELL 0427 225 763

Jan 26, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

3AW – Australia Day awards; Australian Knighthood for Prince Philip

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

RADIO INTERVIEW

3AW MORNINGS WITH NEIL MITCHELL

MELBOURNE

MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Australia Day awards; Australian Knighthood for Prince Philip; Australians travelling to Iraq and Syria.

 

NEIL MITCHELL: On the line Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, good morning.

 

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning.

 

MITCHELL:  What do you think about the Knighthood – the Australian Knighthood – for Prince Philip?

 

SHORTEN: Well I agree with what you just said before. Angus Houston- outstanding, and Prince Philip’s been very distinguished ever since he married the young Queen, I mean he’s had six decades of public service. My reservations are not about him, but I just think that he already has a lot of Knighthoods and awards, I just wonder if they couldn’t have picked someone who is Australian in character and activity. You know, I just, I don’t get the priorities that the Government have by nominating him. Today we should be focusing on Rosie Batty. She’s a remarkable Australian. I don’t want this Prince Philip and Tony Abbott’s Knights and Dames overshadowing what I think is our national day.

 

MITCHELL: No  I was speaking to Rosie Batty earlier and I certainly agree with you on that, but is it a symbolism here that you’re concerned by?

 

SHORTEN: Yeah I – we should be taking about the future. Look Prince Philip is distinguished. The Queen, remarkable person, the Head of our State. But it’s a time warp where we’re giving Knighthoods to English royalty. I think that on Australia Day, where we’re talking about Australia, Australian identity, the Government’s managed to find a British royal to give a medal to, a Knighthood to. I’ve just been at citizenship functions, local breakfasts- some people there wondered whether it was an Australia Day hoax.

 

MITCHELL: Really?

 

SHORTEN: I just think that people think it’s an unusual priority, it’s outside the mainstream of Australian thinking, I think, to have done this.

 

MITCHELL: Do you have a policy on the Knighthoods? If elected, will the Knighthoods go?

 

SHORTEN: Well, Federal Labor since 1918 has had a view about imperial honours. We don’t believe- if we were to be elected I don’t think that we would continue the tradition of Knights and Dames. But that takes nothing away from Angus Houston or indeed Prince Philip, they wouldn’t lose theirs. But I think when we look at Australia in the 21st Century, it’s about who we’re going to be as a people and I just think giving our top award to a British royal is anachronistic. To be honest it’s a bit of a time warp, I wasn’t quite sure it was serious until I realised it was.

 

MITCHELL: Oh you were that surprised by it yourself?

 

SHORTEN: Yeah, I really was actually. I guess you shouldn’t be- the Government created Knights and Dames so I shouldn’t be surprised at who they give them to. But Sir Angus Houston, excellent choice. And Prince Philip is distinguished, it’s not about him but he’s a British royal. Why would we give him our top Australian honour? He’s already got a lot of them.

 

MITCHELL: Well of course last year it was the Governor-General and Dame Quentin Bryce wasn’t it, too?

 

SHORTEN: Indeed.

 

MITCHELL: Can I just ask you about something else- are you involved in this case in the Northern Territory? Matthew Gardiner, a Northern Territory Labor official who has gone off to Syria to fight ISIS?

 

SHORTEN: No, I heard about it last night. Whatever the guy’s motivations, he’s not going to solve anything by going there, and my thoughts are with his family actually. I think it’s come out- and his work colleagues- I think it’s come out as a bolt out of the blue. He’s served in the military previously, he’s been a union organiser, he obviously feels very strongly about fighting ISIL but I don’t think that’s the right way to go about it, just to up sticks.

 

MITCHELL: Do you know him personally?

 

SHORTEN: Oh I will have met him, yes.

 

MITCHELL: Does it sort of, does this mean he can’t- he needs to be expelled from the Labor Party? I know he’s been suspended, but does he need to-

 

SHORTEN: Well I think he’s made a mistake. First things first, let’s find out that he’s safe and get him home.

 

MITCHELL: Yeah.

 

SHORTEN: And his family will be I think going through quite a bit of shock and confusion so, I don’t know what’s triggered this even but he needs to come home.

 

MITCHELL: Thank you for your time.

 

SHORTEN: Good morning and happy Australia Day Neil.

 

MITCHELL: Thank you.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT:     RYAN LIDDELL 0427 225 763

Jan 25, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

LAUNCH OF MATESHIP: A VERY AUSTRALIAN HISTORY

 

SPEECH

LAUNCH OF MATESHIP: A VERY AUSTRALIAN HISTORY

MELBOURNE

SUNDAY, 25 JANUARY 2015

 

 

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I’m here, in the true spirit of this book, to do a favour for a mate.

As Nick points out, ‘mate’ is a much-loved and extremely versatile word – in our country and certainly in the Australian Labor party.

I’ve got a simple rule when it comes to mates in politics – the more times the letter A is used, the better.

If I pick up the phone and hear a long ‘maaaaate’ it’s probably a vote sought, good news or just a funny story.

But if it’s just one, short, crisp ‘mate’…I tend to sit down and brace myself for some constructive feedback.

In Mateship, Nick takes us on an affectionate romp through two centuries of Australian history.

There is an easy flow to this book, a subtlety of argument that Nick has always wielded with great effect.

It’s a skill that puts Nick a cut-above the ordinary tenure-track professor or the garden-variety palace intriguer.

And it was certainly a gift that served him well when we worked together.

I remember it clearly.

I would start out skeptical, sometimes even opposed to Nick’s point of view.

But steadily Nick builds up the evidence, he gets into his stride.

You find yourself throwing in a couple of nods here and there, just to keep things moving.

And before you know it, you’ve been carried along by the momentum.

If you’re not careful, Nick leaves the room not just with your grudging respect – but your firm support, in writing.

I’m pleased to report though, that in Mateship, Nick uses his considerable powers for good.

Nick’s book is a celebration of our national character – but it’s far from a obsequious Labor hagiography.

The book acknowledges – at every important turn – that as much as we extoll its virtues, Australian ‘mateship’ has rarely included everyone.

For example, at the turn of the 20th Century, the Australian Workers Union could urge: “all men to become co-operators – mates – instead of antagonists”

And declare itself open to all workers: “no matter what their occupation or sex may be”.

Yet at the same time say: “No Chinese, Japanese, Kanakas, Afghans or coloured aliens…”

Without seeing the hypocrisy at the heart of their call for ‘universal’ solidarity.

And of course, for a long time, mateship was very much a man’s business.

It thrived in the front bar, the betting ring, the slip cordon and the shearing shed – as well as the boardroom, the gentlemen’s club and the cabinet table.

And even today ‘mate’ as a term still retains something of that edge, a sense of men giving ‘a good bloke’ a better-than-fair go.

The fact is, mateship has not always been there when our nation, our people needed it.

After all, where was mateship at Myall Creek?

Or at Lambing Flat?

Where was mateship when governments and institutions worked together to take children from their mothers – because the mother was unmarried, or black?

And where was mateship when we denied these crimes?

Where was mateship when we turned our back on historical truth in favour of the ‘Great Australian Silence’ – a silence that was neither great, nor Australian.

This book asks these hard questions.

It casts a critical eye over one of the most widely invoked and least thoroughly examined words in our national vocabulary.

But Mateship is analytical and incisive – not disparaging.

After all, as Nick confesses in the book’s Afterword, he likes mateship, he values it, he admires the comfort it has brought to Australians in tough times – never more than in times of war and natural disaster.

Mateship has endured through gunfire and bushfires, flood and drought – at Anzac Cove and on Black Saturday, on the Burma-Thai railway and in Queensland floodwaters – and Nick celebrates that.

His affection and optimism is ever-present in his work – and that adds to the power of his argument.

It means that Mateship never wallows, or gets becalmed.

This is an important book, but the narrative never disappears up its own…sense of importance.

This book is not without controversy, but it never falls hostage to the perception that the author is seeking sensationalism, rather than writing history.

Why does this matter?

Well, I believe Australians have had our fill of polemics masquerading as analysis.

We’re tired of people claiming victory in the ‘history wars’ – as if the Australian story has to be fought ‘to the last man and the last footnote’.

I believe Australians are smart enough and generous enough to know that our national story is not a ‘choose-your-own adventure’ where we pick and mix the chapters that portray us in the best light.

We gain nothing from boiling down our history to a bland mish-mash myth of the Rum Rebellion and Burke and Wills, Bodyline and the stump-jump plough, the Victa Mower and Olympic gold.

There is nothing wrong with celebrating those moments and achievements – but it is wrong to pretend that they represent the limit of our national capabilities – or our national ambitions.

It is wrong to imagine that we can only gain and grow from revelling in past glory.

Nick’s book also reminds us of the contradictions at the heart of mateship.

An egalitarian creed, enthusiastically promoted by the author of WorkChoices.

A profound and unifying national value, with a lingering essential maleness that makes it irrelevant or alienating to half the population.

And in the face of these contradictions, we must take on a dual role.

We should be sceptics and advocates.

Sceptics, alert to inherent silliness, empty jingoism and the potential for hypocrisy.

And advocates, for the undeniable power of the idea in war and other tough times.

In other words, if we are to say that mateship defines us, let us decide what elements of the creed make sense and which ones are barmy or moribund.

And let us think about what other notions of nationhood and ‘Australian-ness’ are apt and useful: tolerance, openness, fairness, kindness and respect.

Let’s reflect on what makes for a good society in a modern world.

When he introduced the Racial Discrimination Act to Parliament in 1975, Gough Whitlam reflected that, ‘the main victims of social deprivation and restricted opportunity’ have been the ‘oldest Australians, and the newest’.

In finding the courage to face this truth, modern Australia has enjoyed its finest moments, we have built our greatest monuments.

Not monuments of marble or stone, not a statue in a park or a plaque on a building – but institutions of fairness, respect and progress.

Progress that fulfils the Australian promise, the guarantee of a fair go for all.

Land rights, Native Title, a National Apology, a commitment to Closing the Gap and ending more than two centuries of disadvantage – that’s inclusion, that’s real mateship.

Welcoming people from every culture and country on earth – building a society that celebrates difference and respects diversity – that’s real mateship.

Medicare, a national declaration that the health of any one of us, matters to all of us – that’s ‘kindness in another’s trouble’, that’s real mateship.

Universal superannuation, ensuring Australians who work hard all their lives don’t retire poor – that’s the fair go in action, that’s real mateship.

A National Disability Insurance Scheme, breaking down the apartheid of disadvantage that exiled hundreds of thousands of Australians to a second class life in their own country – a success spurred by generations of national failure, that’s real mateship.

And, in the 21st Century, supporting the march of women through the institutions of power – striving for true gender equality: in pay, in opportunity, in public and private sector leadership and in the elimination of family violence.

For me, this is the real test of what it is to be an Australian.

And it is also the duty of progressive parties.

A mission that will endure as long as there are Australians denied the opportunity to fulfil their potential.

Our Labor mission is a responsibility that brooks no delay, it is a calling that allows for no complacency, no inaction.

Change in our society is never finished – and the work of our movement is never finished.

There are always new threats to our security, new competitors for our economy – and old unfairness emerging in new forms.

And there is always more to learn about the Australian story.

John Howard used to say, with no small measure of pride, that his time in office put an end to the ‘perpetual seminar’ on Australia’s national identity.

In a speech welcoming UK Prime Minister David Cameron to our Parliament last year, Tony Abbott declared that Howard had ‘settled’ a ‘largely sterile debate’ over Australia’s place in the world.

But no leader can ‘end’ a conversation about our nation’s sense of self.

No leader can ‘settle’ the question of Australia’s global role and responsibilities.

And no leader should take pride in trying.

Pulling up the drawbridge of our identity, of our place in the world, shuts out the contribution of the next generation, the evolution of self that every people has undergone with joy and trepidation, in every century, and in most decades of that century.

There is no last word in this conversation – and that is something we should celebrate, not shrink from.

We are the product of our past – but never its prisoners.

So, today, let us dispense with the idea that every time we talk about national identity it is unproductive ‘navel-gazing’.

Let us put paid to the notion that all historical introspection is intrusion and the exclusive preserve of ‘cultural elites’.

Let us have the confidence to examine the meaning behind the values we so frequently invoke.

And let us have the courage to ask ourselves if we measure up to more than just a grab-bag of clichés.

Let us be brave enough to demand Constitutional recognition for the First Australians.

And let us breathe new life into the dream of an Australian head of state.

114 years ago, Australians found the courage and goodwill to transform this continent into a Commonwealth.

In the 21st Century, let us live up to their example – let us declare that our head of state should be one of us.

Let us rally behind an Australian Republic – a model that truly speaks for who we are: our modern identity, our place in our region and our world.

This book reminds us of a timeless truth: real patriots don’t try and justify or excuse their nation’s flaws and failings and anachronisms – they get on and fix them.

Patriots don’t shrink from historical truth – they welcome it, they learn from it.

Patriots know that until a nation includes everyone – in its history, in its society, in its economy – then there is always more to do.

That’s our challenge, that’s our mission, that’s the patriotism of progress we strive for.

Nick, it is my great pleasure to launch Mateship today.

Congratulations on your fine contribution to our national debate – well done, mate.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT:     GERARD RICHARDSON 0427 349 655

Jan 20, 2015
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE QUEENSLAND LABOR 2015 CAMPAIGN LAUNCH


THE HON. BILL SHORTEN

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

SPEECH TO THE QUEENSLAND LABOR 2015 CAMPAIGN LAUNCH

 

TUESDAY, 20 JANUARY 2015


IPSWICH CIVIC CENTRE

 

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Thank you very much. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which we meet and I pay my respects to their elders both past and present.

 

I think that this is the perfect place to launch the 2015 Queensland Labor campaign.

 

When you think about it, the Ipswich Community Centre, opened by the great Gough Whitlam, at the heart of a vibrant community of Queenslanders working hard to build a better future for their children and their grandchildren.

 

Queensland is indeed a beautiful state, blessed with some of the world’s great natural wonders.

 

But I have to say that today, nothing can top the view from here. A sea of Labor faces, a congregation of true believers.

 

And on behalf of our national Labor movement I want to thank Annastacia and Queensland Labor.

 

What you have done to rebuild the party right across this state is truly remarkable.

 

But I’m also here to say don’t stop now.

 

You’ve got 11 days to go. Every conversation, every door knock, every telephone call, and you can help change the government of Queensland.

 

You can make Queensland a great destination again.

 

And I have to say it is great to have Roisin Goss here today.

 

Roisin, your remarkable husband lived a life dedicated to the state that he loved and serving the people.

 

We in Queensland and Australia will never forget Wayne and his achievements.

 

We will always be inspired by his truth, his belief that a strong economy and a fair society go hand in hand.

 

And friends, we are privileged to have two more generations of Labor icons here with us today, Peter and Heather Beattie and Bill and Dallas Hayden.

 

Peter, you led a government that delivered for all Queenslanders.

 

A government that delivered new jobs, new infrastructure, new hospitals and a new commitment to making Queensland the smart state in its schools, in its universities and research centres.

 

Poor old LNP, they couldn’t even keep it on the number plates.

 

And you convinced Queenslanders to trust Labor after just one term in Opposition.

 

And Bill, when you became our federal leader, Labor was at one of its lowest ebbs in our proud history.

 

You rebuilt our party into a fighting force, laying the foundations for an era of nation-changing reforms.

 

And you helped build another great Australian institution, universal health care.

 

We don’t forget.

 

Bill, we don’t forget that 40 years ago the number one cause of personal bankruptcy in Australia was medical expense.

 

For hundreds of thousands of Australians then, a sudden illness or injury in the family meant poverty.

 

Getting sick meant going broke, and our Labor changed this.

 

Our Labor movement to which we belong changed this.

 

We built Medicare because we believe that the health of any Australian matters to every Australian.

 

We believe in an Australia where it is your Medicare card, not your credit card, which determines the quality of your health care in Australia.

 

But the Liberals have always hated Medicare.

 

Now we see in the middle of the Queensland election Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey squabbling over the best way to trash bulk-billing and to put a new tax on the sick and the vulnerable.

 

Today, let me give Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey a message.

 

Even if both of you live to be 150 Labor will still keep fighting for Medicare and we will prevail.

 

And again, let us declare that we will stand strong too against a GST on fresh food, a new tax to hit working families, working harder than ever to make ends week.

 

And how do we know in the middle of a Queensland election that a bigger and broader GST is irrefutably in the mix?

 

Because Tony Abbott has promised that it’s not.

 

What we know in Queensland, and what we know after 500 days of the Abbott Government, we know this one thing about the Liberal Party.

 

When they say something is off the table, we know it’s on the menu.

 

Now Newman’s LNP in Queensland have tried to turn Tony Abbott into the invisible man.

 

But we are all witness to the very visible harm that that government is causing in Queensland.

 

And even if Campbell Newman can’t do live acts with Tony Abbott anymore, they’re still a double act.

 

They are still working together to sack nurses, to close hospital beds, to ruin our health care system.

 

They’re still teaming up to sack teachers, to cut money from our children in the classrooms and to rob our students of a great education at school, in TAFE and at university.

 

With unemployment on the rise and youth unemployment at dreadful record highs, Queensland cannot afford another three years of LNP tax and cut.

 

Queensland cannot afford another three years of slash and sack.

 

As I’ve travelled around Queensland these past two weeks, I’ve heard the same message again and again and again.

 

Queenslanders want a Premier who will stand up for their state and all of their state.

 

Queenslanders don’t want a Premier acting like a vaudeville magician trying to hypnotise people by the repetition of the word ‘strong’ 20 times a day.

 

They want the real deal, someone who’ll stand up on the side of Queenslanders every day.

 

Queenslanders want a Premier who will do more than just try and save their own seat.

 

Queenslanders want a Premier with a plan to save the reef, with a plan to revitalise our regions.

 

Queenslanders want a Premier who will govern for the whole of Queensland.

 

For families in Cairns, for students in Townsville, apprentices in Rockhampton, pensioners in Gladstone, small business owners in Toowoomba and teachers in Mackay.

 

Friends, I’ve been lucky, I’ve known Annastacia Palaszczuk for a long time.

 

It has been great in this election campaign to see so many Queenslanders get to know her as I do.

 

Annastacia has a detailed plan for the Queensland economy, a list of actions to create jobs.

 

Campbell Newman only has a list of assets he wants to sell.

 

He splashes the cash, but his only real plan is a fire sale in an uncertain market.

 

He talks about getting the best price, but he’s already declared that everything must go and he’s spent the money.

 

That’s not a policy, that’s an ad on Gumtree.

 

That’s not a strong plan, it’s a manic panic.

 

Queenslanders can do better than this.

 

Queensland can choose a better way on 31 January.

 

And it is my pleasure and privilege to introduce the leader who’s been working every day to get us there, and every day Queenslanders get to know her, the more they see the more they like.

 

Please welcome, friends, the next Premier of Queensland, Annastacia Palaszczuk.

 

ENDS

 

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

Dec 11, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Recognise

 

 

SPEECH TO RECOGNISE

SYDNEY

THURSDAY, 11 DECEMNER 2014

 

 

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Good evening, everyone.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Prime Minister, it is good to be here with you tonight supporting a cause that we both genuinely believe in.

 

 

 

To Tanya Hosch and to Tim Gartrell and all the sponsors, thank you for hosting us here this evening, and thank you for everything that you and Recognise have done to advance this national conversation.

 

 

 

Earlier this year at the Garma Festival in East Arnhem Land, Chloe and I saw our children dance in a circle of people from all over the peninsula.

 

 

 

We saw through the sea of legs and arms and rising dust our precious four year old daughter, on her hands and knees, in the red dirt playing with two little Aboriginal girls.

 

 

 

As a parent, it was quite a moment.

 

 

 

It reminded me that there is no such thing as instinctive prejudice, that no-one is born in Australia or anywhere else frightened of someone else, disliking someone else because of the colour of their skin.

 

 

 

No person is born that way, no baby of any race.

 

 

 

But our country, Australia, was born that way.

 

 

 

As Bulgun Warra man Harold Ludwick from Cape York said:

 

 

 

“If the Constitution was the birth certificate of Australia, then we are missing half the family”.

 

 

 

It is an omission, and a deep forgetting that speaks to our oldest national failure, the failure to fully include in our national definition the First Australians.

 

 

 

The people who cared for this continent 40,000 years before the first ghost-white sails navigated through the entrance to Sydney Harbour.

 

 

 

Friends, if we had come here tonight to draft our Constitution anew, the first paragraph would be a respectful acknowledgement of the First Australians.

 

 

 

If we were crafting our Constitution in 2014, we would not accept the omission of the first four hundred centuries of our national history from our national definitive document.

 

 

 

Nor tonight would we ignore the dispossession, the tribulations, the discrimination, the various forms of injustice inflicted on the First Australians by those who have followed.

 

 

 

As Yorta Yorta woman Sharon Sowter said, our task is to: ‘put right what has been wrong for too long’.

 

 

 

The exclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from our Commonwealth’s foundation document is a constitutional fault line we must mend, an historical injustice we must address, a national test that we for too long have failed to pass.

 

 

 

I see tonight, friends, as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to our guiding belief that our Constitution belongs to every Australian and it should hereafter speak to every Australian.

 

 

 

The Prime Minister was right tonight to say that we cannot allow this debate to be run off the rails by extreme views, by a fracturing of national consensus or political games that we have no time for.

 

 

 

Recognition is simply too important for that.

 

 

 

That’s why tonight I’ll be focusing on the process for framing the referendum question, because once we have an agreed process in place, moving towards a concrete proposal, then we can take the politics out of the issue, for the benefit of everyone.

 

 

 

We can campaign together for a change that we all believe in.

 

 

 

We have an opportunity as leaders here to advocate for the general will of the great, generous, silent majority of Australians who want recognition to succeed as soon as possible.

 

 

 

Your movement Recognise has raised awareness that’s helped build the groundswell of support that successful change always depends upon.

 

 

 

You’ve built the community partnerships with the not-for-profits, you’ve reached out to corporate Australia, to our national sporting codes, the AFL, NRL, cricket.

 

 

 

But more importantly you’ve taken the message directly to Australians.

 

 

 

A quarter of a million Australians have already signed their name to this cause.

 

 

 

The journey of recognition, 28,000 kilometres on foot, on bikes, in four-wheel drives, in kayaks, on surfboards and paddle boards – everywhere.

 

 

 

238 events so far, 187 communities.

 

 

 

All of this, though, I submit, has been done in a sense, so far, with both hands tied behind your back.

 

 

 

Because I believe that without a form of words to explain, without that arresting, rallying cry, without a specific change to advocate, it is just not possible to raise awareness beyond the abstract.

 

 

 

Without a concrete proposal, we cannot turn the national goodwill into meaningful momentum.

 

 

 

We cannot engage diverse organisations and millions of Australians eager for change.

 

 

 

Until we have an agreed question, we cannot confront the other things which are hobbling our progress to recognition.

 

 

 

If we allow a vacuum on recognition, the misinformation and misunderstandings will fill that vacuum.

 

 

 

Let’s be clear, there will always be in any generation, a tiny minority who will never support constitutional recognition for the First Australians in any form.

 

 

 

There are a small number keen to exercise political veto, to re-boot the old rhetorical weapons of the history wars, rather than play a constructive role in our national conversation of the future of our country.

 

 

 

Well, that is people’s prerogative, but in advancing the cause of recognition, we cannot afford to submit to the tyranny of low expectations of those who would prefer our Constitution to remain the last bastion of the ‘great Australian silence’.

 

 

 

We cannot allow ourselves to be put off our stroke by those who propose nothing and contribute nothing.

 

 

 

I understand that there are some who believe recognition doesn’t go far enough, if it doesn’t discuss a treaty.

 

 

 

And to those we must make clear that the past injustices of settlement and occupation and dispossession are not thwarted or extinguished by the recognition process.

 

 

 

Recognition is not the end of the road, but one step in the ongoing journey of reconciliation and closing the gap.

 

 

 

We cannot, however, deal with any of the legitimate big questions if we are to work in a vacuum and have no positive, clearly defined proposal to articulate and to advocate.

 

 

 

It is time for Australia to be debating what sort, what form of referendum to support – not whether or not we support recognition, but what form of recognition to support.

 

 

 

I do agree with Catherine Tanna that setting a date for a referendum is a positive step, and of course it is.

 

 

 

But I also believe that deciding, and we must not shirk the hard questions, deciding what we will ask Australians to vote for is the tougher part of the equation.

 

 

 

Recognition cannot be a fact of our nation until we have crafted a process, a machinery for change.

 

 

 

Change that is genuine, meaningful and born of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, silent no longer.

 

 

 

Change that is substantive, not a nod to symbolism or the lazy paternalism that says that something is better than nothing – there has been too much of this.

 

 

 

Recognition is an opportunity for real reform.

 

 

 

An opportunity to help and empower Australia’s First People to be better off than they are now.

 

 

 

It is an opportunity to empower our Parliament to do better and be better, at making fair and just laws for the traditional owners of the land which we all now enjoy.

 

 

 

Laws underpinned by the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people – and their free and full participation and advice.

 

 

 

This means addressing the First People’s lack of voice, their enforced silence no longer, to shape the strategies and policies that affect people.

 

 

 

I know that many including Pat Dodson through to Noel Pearson and many others here have ideas on how we can achieve this.

 

 

 

I believe that recognition must include acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’:

 

 

 

– continuing relationship with the lands and waters

 

– their enduring cultures, their languages, their heritage

 

– and their ancient ownership of this land, their foremost place in our national history

 

 

 

And the other consistent message from the Expert Panel, the good work of the interim and progress reports of the Wyatt-Peris Committee, reporting finally in the first part of next year – and I also learn from the consistent conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, be they elders, leaders, powerful women, is that we must ensure that there is no place, no refuge for discrimination in our founding document.

 

 

 

I believe that the view of the great and generous silent majority of Australians is there is no home for discrimination in our Constitution, and we should not be rejecting this ambition out of hand.

 

 

 

In particular, if we acquiesce to the ongoing presence of the so-called race powers, we risk rendering recognition meaningless, as the Prime Minister has said, for the very people to whom it should mean most.

 

 

 

And whatever form that recognition takes, we can all affirm, we can all declare there is no place for discrimination in our laws, and in our democracy.

 

 

 

I believe we can find a way forward by building consensus, by bringing justice home, not by drifting down the path of least resistance, because change that challenges no-one is unlikely to inspire anyone.

 

 

 

Above all, the referendum question must involve the complete representative and empowered participation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.  And this is where the idea of a constitutional convention offers one important, constructive way to ensure that more voices are heard.

 

 

 

And perhaps building upon what we’ve heard, I can suggest the establishment of a formal referendum council to help guide the convention’s important deliberations, to make sure that the convention isn’t captured by one interest or another and provide that broader community level leadership.

 

 

 

A council of elders, if you like, that will ensure that the recognition question is one that all Australians can proudly own and advocate.

 

 

 

Friends it was here in Redfern 22 years ago that Prime Minister Paul Keating said that with some noble exceptions in their treatment of Aboriginal people, white Australians failed to make the most “basic human response”. We failed to ask “How would I feel if this was done to me?”.

 

 

 

As our generation prepares for our one chance to get constitutional recognition correct, we cannot risk repeating our forebears’ lack of imagination, their lack of sympathy.

 

“We cannot simply sweep injustice aside.”

 

 

 

We cannot presume that we know best. We must have faith in the ability of the Australian people, that generous and great goodwill of the silent majority, to appreciate the strength of the argument of recognition.

 

 

 

We should not presume failure. We must be guided by the people to whom this means the most. Labor will work with the Government every step of the way.

 

 

 

Let us settle the question before the next election, let us have the referendum following that, let us have the constitutional convention guided by a referendum council.

 

 

 

Let us assume and believe in Australians that we are capable at last of rectifying this national failure.

 

 

 

I believe then we will be ready and I do most certainly believe, then, we will succeed.

 

 

 

Thank you.

 

 

 

ENDS

 

 

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 06 6277 4053

 

Dec 11, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO RECOGNISE

SPEECH TO RECOGNISE

SYDNEY

THURSDAY, 11 DECEMNER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

Good evening, everyone.

 

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

 

Prime Minister, it is good to be here with you tonight supporting a cause that we both genuinely believe in.

 

To Tanya Hosch and to Tim Gartrell and all the sponsors, thank you for hosting us here this evening, and thank you for everything that you and Recognise have done to advance this national conversation.

 

Earlier this year at the Garma Festival in East Arnhem Land, Chloe and I saw our children dance in a circle of people from all over the peninsula.

 

We saw through the sea of legs and arms and rising dust our precious four year old daughter, on her hands and knees, in the red dirt playing with two little Aboriginal girls.

 

As a parent, it was quite a moment.

 

It reminded me that there is no such thing as instinctive prejudice, that no-one is born in Australia or anywhere else frightened of someone else, disliking someone else because of the colour of their skin.

 

No person is born that way, no baby of any race.

 

But our country, Australia, was born that way.

 

As Bulgun Warra man Harold Ludwick from Cape York said:

 

“If the Constitution was the birth certificate of Australia, then we are missing half the family”.

 

It is an omission, and a deep forgetting that speaks to our oldest national failure, the failure to fully include in our national definition the First Australians.

 

The people who cared for this continent 40,000 years before the first ghost-white sails navigated through the entrance to Sydney Harbour.

 

Friends, if we had come here tonight to draft our Constitution anew, the first paragraph would be a respectful acknowledgement of the First Australians.

 

If we were crafting our Constitution in 2014, we would not accept the omission of the first four hundred centuries of our national history from our national definitive document.

 

Nor tonight would we ignore the dispossession, the tribulations, the discrimination, the various forms of injustice inflicted on the First Australians by those who have followed.

 

As Yorta Yorta woman Sharon Sowter said, our task is to: ‘put right what has been wrong for too long’.

 

The exclusion of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from our Commonwealth’s foundation document is a constitutional fault line we must mend, an historical injustice we must address, a national test that we for too long have failed to pass.

 

I see tonight, friends, as an opportunity to re-dedicate ourselves to our guiding belief that our Constitution belongs to every Australian and it should hereafter speak to every Australian.

 

The Prime Minister was right tonight to say that we cannot allow this debate to be run off the rails by extreme views, by a fracturing of national consensus or political games that we have no time for.

 

Recognition is simply too important for that.

 

That’s why tonight I’ll be focusing on the process for framing the referendum question, because once we have an agreed process in place, moving towards a concrete proposal, then we can take the politics out of the issue, for the benefit of everyone.

 

We can campaign together for a change that we all believe in.

 

We have an opportunity as leaders here to advocate for the general will of the great, generous, silent majority of Australians who want recognition to succeed as soon as possible.

 

Your movement Recognise has raised awareness that’s helped build the groundswell of support that successful change always depends upon.

 

You’ve built the community partnerships with the not-for-profits, you’ve reached out to corporate Australia, to our national sporting codes, the AFL, NRL, cricket.

 

But more importantly you’ve taken the message directly to Australians.

 

A quarter of a million Australians have already signed their name to this cause.

 

The journey of recognition, 28,000 kilometres on foot, on bikes, in four-wheel drives, in kayaks, on surfboards and paddle boards – everywhere.

 

238 events so far, 187 communities.

 

All of this, though, I submit, has been done in a sense, so far, with both hands tied behind your back.

 

Because I believe that without a form of words to explain, without that arresting, rallying cry, without a specific change to advocate, it is just not possible to raise awareness beyond the abstract.

 

Without a concrete proposal, we cannot turn the national goodwill into meaningful momentum.

 

We cannot engage diverse organisations and millions of Australians eager for change.

 

Until we have an agreed question, we cannot confront the other things which are hobbling our progress to recognition.

 

If we allow a vacuum on recognition, the misinformation and misunderstandings will fill that vacuum.

 

Let’s be clear, there will always be in any generation, a tiny minority who will never support constitutional recognition for the First Australians in any form.

 

There are a small number keen to exercise political veto, to re-boot the old rhetorical weapons of the history wars, rather than play a constructive role in our national conversation of the future of our country.

 

Well, that is people’s prerogative, but in advancing the cause of recognition, we cannot afford to submit to the tyranny of low expectations of those who would prefer our Constitution to remain the last bastion of the ‘great Australian silence’.

 

We cannot allow ourselves to be put off our stroke by those who propose nothing and contribute nothing.

 

I understand that there are some who believe recognition doesn’t go far enough, if it doesn’t discuss a treaty.

 

And to those we must make clear that the past injustices of settlement and occupation and dispossession are not thwarted or extinguished by the recognition process.

 

Recognition is not the end of the road, but one step in the ongoing journey of reconciliation and closing the gap.

 

We cannot, however, deal with any of the legitimate big questions if we are to work in a vacuum and have no positive, clearly defined proposal to articulate and to advocate.

 

It is time for Australia to be debating what sort, what form of referendum to support – not whether or not we support recognition, but what form of recognition to support.

 

I do agree with Catherine Tanna that setting a date for a referendum is a positive step, and of course it is.

 

But I also believe that deciding, and we must not shirk the hard questions, deciding what we will ask Australians to vote for is the tougher part of the equation.

 

Recognition cannot be a fact of our nation until we have crafted a process, a machinery for change.

 

Change that is genuine, meaningful and born of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander voices, silent no longer.

 

Change that is substantive, not a nod to symbolism or the lazy paternalism that says that something is better than nothing – there has been too much of this.

 

Recognition is an opportunity for real reform.

 

An opportunity to help and empower Australia’s First People to be better off than they are now.

 

It is an opportunity to empower our Parliament to do better and be better, at making fair and just laws for the traditional owners of the land which we all now enjoy.

 

Laws underpinned by the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous people – and their free and full participation and advice.

 

This means addressing the First People’s lack of voice, their enforced silence no longer, to shape the strategies and policies that affect people.

 

I know that many including Pat Dodson through to Noel Pearson and many others here have ideas on how we can achieve this.

 

I believe that recognition must include acknowledgement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’:

 

– continuing relationship with the lands and waters

– their enduring cultures, their languages, their heritage

– and their ancient ownership of this land, their foremost place in our national history

 

And the other consistent message from the Expert Panel, the good work of the interim and progress reports of the Wyatt-Peris Committee, reporting finally in the first part of next year – and I also learn from the consistent conversations with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, be they elders, leaders, powerful women, is that we must ensure that there is no place, no refuge for discrimination in our founding document.

 

I believe that the view of the great and generous silent majority of Australians is there is no home for discrimination in our Constitution, and we should not be rejecting this ambition out of hand.

 

In particular, if we acquiesce to the ongoing presence of the so-called race powers, we risk rendering recognition meaningless, as the Prime Minister has said, for the very people to whom it should mean most.

 

And whatever form that recognition takes, we can all affirm, we can all declare there is no place for discrimination in our laws, and in our democracy.

 

I believe we can find a way forward by building consensus, by bringing justice home, not by drifting down the path of least resistance, because change that challenges no-one is unlikely to inspire anyone.

 

Above all, the referendum question must involve the complete representative and empowered participation of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander brothers and sisters.  And this is where the idea of a constitutional convention offers one important, constructive way to ensure that more voices are heard.

 

And perhaps building upon what we’ve heard, I can suggest the establishment of a formal referendum council to help guide the convention’s important deliberations, to make sure that the convention isn’t captured by one interest or another and provide that broader community level leadership.

 

A council of elders, if you like, that will ensure that the recognition question is one that all Australians can proudly own and advocate.

 

Friends it was here in Redfern 22 years ago that Prime Minister Paul Keating said that with some noble exceptions in their treatment of Aboriginal people, white Australians failed to make the most “basic human response”. We failed to ask “How would I feel if this was done to me?”.

 

As our generation prepares for our one chance to get constitutional recognition correct, we cannot risk repeating our forebears’ lack of imagination, their lack of sympathy.

“We cannot simply sweep injustice aside.”

 

We cannot presume that we know best. We must have faith in the ability of the Australian people, that generous and great goodwill of the silent majority, to appreciate the strength of the argument of recognition.

 

We should not presume failure. We must be guided by the people to whom this means the most. Labor will work with the Government every step of the way.

 

Let us settle the question before the next election, let us have the referendum following that, let us have the constitutional convention guided by a referendum council.

 

Let us assume and believe in Australians that we are capable at last of rectifying this national failure.

 

I believe then we will be ready and I do most certainly believe, then, we will succeed.

 

Thank you.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 06 6277 4053

Dec 4, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

THURSDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

2014 is the year that Tony Abbott wants us to forget.

 

Unfortunately for him this is a year Australians will remember for the rest of their lives.

 

The proposition which I advance today as a matter of public importance is this is not what the Prime Minister says is a year of achievement, laughable as that is.

 

This has been a year of underachievement from a government that has let the Australian people down.

 

Every government gets elected with the goodwill of the Australian people – but no government has burnt its bridges so quickly.

 

When we think back to 12 months ago the Treasurer had just goaded Holden into going, losing thousands of jobs and now we find out that was so he could clear the decks for a Free Trade Agreement.

 

But the list of job losses in this country is far longer than just Holden. Rio at Gove, Toyota, Alcoa, Forge in Western Australia – thousands more jobs in smaller business, in manufacturing, defence construction and the renewable energy sector at risk.

 

And when the Australian people were beginning to worry at the start of this year about the issue of jobs – sadly confirmed in the last few days by the National Account figures and unemployment numbers, we discovered in March of this year that the Prime Minister’s plan for jobs was to came up with that idea of knights and dames.

 

It has been a most extraordinary year.

 

But just for the record – the Labor Party will have no problem debating this curly question at our national conference, we have opposed the Imperial Honours system since 1916.

 

Today is the end of a shocking week, in a dreadful year, of a terrible Government.

 

This bunch opposite behave in a dishonest fashion, they have no fidelity between their election promises and what they do in government.

 

They are out of touch – a point I will come back to – and clearly they are incompetent.

 

And let’s think about 2014, some of the earlier months of this year, because the problem with this government is an embarrassment of riches to oppose and every week of problems make you go, maybe it’s a cunning strategy by the government to make bigger blunders the following week so you forget about their blunders the previous week.

 

But remember the Commission of Audit. Indeed it was their plan B, they put it out before their plan A.

 

But I do not expect a single Victorian Liberal member to be saying ‘it’s a good document’ because at least when it came to defending their Senate position in Western Australia, defending the Liberal Party in South Australia, and indeed Tasmania, the Commission of Audit, they sat on it and sat on it and sat on it so as not to compromise their electoral chances.

 

They did not show that same courtesy to the former jewel in the Liberal Crown, Victoria.

 

They couldn’t wait in the first week, they thought ‘dear Denis, just before I come down and hug you I want to put a petrol tax on’.

 

But of course, when you look at the issue of underachievement no discussion of the underachievement of this government can possible go without looking at who gets the trophy of the member of this gang for the biggest underachiever.

 

Possibly, possibly the Minister for Foreign Affairs, gets the top banana – easily the best performed woman in the Abbott Cabinet – she’s going so well that the PMO decided to make her take excess baggage to Lima – the Minister for Trade.

 

Joe Hockey—what a year he has had! Two great publications—he launched a budget and he launched his book. It is hard to know which one his colleagues like more.

 

Then of course we have had his John Farnham style tour—trying to one more time sell his rotten budget. Then we will never forget the gig he had with Jacqui Lambie—that did not end so well!

 

And of course Joe Hockey has memorably given us the arguments that the strong economic reforms need.

 

‘A GP tax? That’s just a couple of beers’— that line worked! ‘Pensioners have never had it so good’—I would not go there again, Joe! And don’t worry about the petrol tax because ‘poor people don’t drive cars’!

 

And in the other house there are some contributors. Senator Brandis made two noteworthy contributions. The first was ‘the right to be a bigot’!

 

And then there was the interview on metadata, which was the most awkward piece of television since the 70-second staring competition the Prime Minister had with Mark Riley!

 

And then of course we had ‘old charm offensive’ himself, Senator Abetz—more offence than charm—bobbing up on the project. That must have been a set up. I have heard the expression first time guest, but this was a first-time viewer. And he gave us some 1950s medical science.

 

And then there was the Minister For The Environment—whose title is sheer irony.

 

He has defended the Antarctic walrus, the Tasmanian tiger and any other animal he finds on Wikipedia!

 

We had of course the Minister for immigration, who was working relentlessly on ‘operation self-promotion’.

 

And then there was the Minister for Communications. He is cutting the ABC and the SBS. I think it might be time to hang up that leather jacket, Malcolm!

 

And speaking of communicators, there is Christopher Pyne. He has been texting in his CV to be the Minister for Communications —or perhaps the minister for unsolicited communications!

 

And this is the mob who want to put the adults back in charge!

 

Of course, 2015 promises to be a potential follow on from this year of underachievement.

 

Will Senator Johnston be the Minister for Defence?

 

Will he keep his rhetorically flourishing canoe up his unparliamentary creek? We know what Stuart Robert is cheering for!

 

Will Barnaby Joyce visit Shepparton? Or has he wiped it off his mental map like Whyalla? And then of course there is the longest ‘position vacant’ stint—will we have an Assistant Treasurer again in Australia?

 

So we look then at the promising contenders.

 

There is the colt from Kooyong, there is the member for Moncrieff or there is that fast-finishing country thoroughbred the member for Wannon.

 

All of this would be even funnier if the following were not true: Australia cannot afford a year like the one that has just passed.

 

We cannot afford to have unemployment at 6.2 per cent went Labor left it at 5.7 per cent.

 

We cannot afford to have a 13-year high in youth unemployment, which is now at 14 per cent.

 

There are 42,000 more unemployed people around the country following the government’s damaging budget.

 

We certainly cannot afford to have another year of the Prime Minister’s broken promises.

 

Australians are better than this government. Australians deserve better than this government.

 

We need a government with vision and a plan for the future, not a government that is adrift both domestically and internationally.

 

Labor in 2014 is standing strong for fairness. We have been standing very strong.

 

We have been defending Medicare.

 

We have been fighting for families who are under pressure from the increased costs of living.

 

We are fighting for a fair pension—and we will keep fighting to we make sure that your cuts do not go through.

 

Dignity in retirement, we believe, is the birthright of all Australians. And yes, despite faux mini-me Churchill on the other side, we will keep fighting the government’s unfair changes to universities.

 

Throughout the course of 2015 we will outline our plan for the future—a plan for inclusive growth and a smart, skilful and fair Australia.

 

We do not believe that growth and fairness are mutually irreconcilable; in fact, each drive the other.

 

We certainly cannot afford to have the destruction of confidence that we have seen.

 

The national account figures yesterday are a most concerning development.

 

This government has slammed us into an income recession. We are dangerously reliant on iron ore and minerals with very little else in our economy to help us.

 

We are seeing wages and profits contract in this country under this government. How long will this government keep blaming everything and everyone else for their inability to do their day job?

 

We have seen higher taxes under this government.

 

Even some of the blue blood supporters of the Liberal Party, surely, are not excited by the fact that they now pay over 50c in the dollar in tax because of this government.

 

Above all, nobody believes in the multi-millionaire paid parental leave schemes.

 

I know that in their beating hearts the government desperately want us to succeed in convincing the Prime Minister to drop that unloved scheme of his.

 

Let’s look at the real challenges of next year. Under this government the deficit has doubled and all the projections are looking grim. The government have colluded with the Greens to extend the credit card.

 

They laugh! They probably do not even know what their leader is doing. They are cutting public investment.

 

The reason why we regard it as a matter of public importance to debate the Prime Minister’s year of underachievement is that I do not believe there is a single Australian who is not disappointed by the Abbott government—from their conservative boosters, right through the spectrum of Australian opinion.

 

We on this side understands that growth comes from extending opportunity—from making sure that kids can go to university, right through to making sure that pensioners get a fair deal—and we will promote this next year.

 

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT – 02 6277 40

Dec 4, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Valedictories

 

SPEECH

 

Valedictories

 

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

THURSDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2014

 

Thank you Madam Speaker – and I begin by wishing you and all those who sit in the big chair a very Merry Christmas and a relaxing break from standing order 94A. I’m deeply conscious there’s still one more Question Time.

At this time of year, our first thoughts are with the Australians who will not be spending Christmas with the people they love.

Our Defence Forces – stationed around the world, our emergency services personnel on duty through the day and night; ambos, firies, nurses, police.

And the heroes who don’t wear a uniform – everyday Australians who are working unsociable hours to make ends meet and to make our society function.

I wish to record my appreciation for the work of all of our Commonwealth Public Servants. We are most fortunate with the quality and calibre of the Commonwealth Public Service.

I also want to mention Peter Greste who is – most unjustly – spending this Christmas in his Cairo prison cell.

Australians began this year celebrating an Ashes whitewash, we approach it’s end mourning the passing of Phillip Hughes.

In between, there was joy and sadness.

In an unknown wheatfield in Ukraine, and somewhere in the remote ocean depths, two Malaysian Airliners met a tragic end – and our world grieved for all those on board.

For their families, this was more than a significant international event, it was a life-changing tragedy – and our thoughts are with them, now and always.

In Iraq and Syria, sectarian hatred and evil threatens the vulnerable – and both sides of this chamber worked together in a co-operative spirit, because the safety of our people and the security of our nation unites us all.

Corporal Cameron Baird, from 2 Commando Regiment, became the 100th Australian to be awarded the VC, sadly, like so many of his brave predecessors – it was posthumous.

We welcomed a new Governor-General and we thanked Her Excellency Quentin Bryce and Michael Bryce for their sterling service to our country – you don’t need to be their son-in-law to recognise their greatness.

Our athletes did us all proud at Sochi, Glasgow and in Brazil.

Richard Flanagan became just the third Australian to win the Man Booker Prize, for his harrowing tale, The Narrow Road to the Deep North.

The Hawks went back-to-back and after 43 long years it was glory, glory for South Sydney – well done Albo on the redevelopment of Heffron Park.

We lost Doc Neeson, an angel who never pretended to be a saint, and the author of one of our unofficial national anthems.

A generation of movie-lovers mourned the loss of Robin Williams and Phillip Seymour Hoffman – and we celebrated no less than three Australian Oscar winners.

Brisbane shone for the G20 and this Parliament hosted a cavalcade of world leaders.

Someone introduced a Budget at some stage, but not to worry – we’ll get another practice run again in a couple of weeks and a re-run in six months.

Madam Speaker, as you well know, managing this house and this Parliament depends upon the work of hundreds of intelligent, dedicated, professional people – and none of them are politicians.

To the Clerks, the Sergeant-at-Arms and their office, the Tabling Office, the Parliamentary Library and  Hansard as well as all the attendants in this chamber— this place runs on your patience, your skill and your goodwill. Is there really a Facebook page for Luch.

And this building, our home for 20 weeks of the year, could not operate without the people who come to work here every day.

The security guards, plumbers, printers, switchboard operators, gym staff, nurses and IT support team.

To the Australian Federal Police who look after MPs and Senators – and on occasion our families, thank you for your dedication.

And a special thank you to the officers who keep an eye on the Melbourne CPO.

I want to thank all the Parliament House cleaners, especially Joy, Maria, Anna and Lucia – and I wish them well in their campaign for a modest 85 cent per hour pay rise.

And of course, Dom and his most excellent friendly crew at Aussies who keep the caffeine flowing as the week goes on.

In a building sometimes more known for melodrama and squabbling over the limelight – or indeed problems with the skylight – all of you work backstage to make sure the show goes on we are grateful.

In the same way, I want to thank all the Comcar drivers.

A special mention for my drivers in Melbourne: Steve Smith, Peter Taylor and formerly Bill Foster.

They’re both always willing to listen to my new ideas for short-cuts and navigation, who needs a Navman, or, when the kids are on board, the ‘Frozen’ soundtrack on repeat.

And although Steve was on the wrong end of about five dud tips for this year’s spring racing carnival, he’s kept his sense of humour.

I also want to acknowledge our friends in the Press Gallery – we all benefit from your hindsight, but our democracy is most certainly improved by your diligence and tenacity, and let me not forget the photographers.

Madam Speaker

In 2014, our party – and our nation – lost three political giants.

In mourning the death, and celebrating the life of Neville Wran, Gough Whitlam and Wayne Goss, everyone who shares affection for our movement has been reminded of the timeless Labor values that bind us.

To every member of our party, Australia’s most venerable political movement, I say thank you for keeping the light on the hill burning bright.

I especially thank our National Secretary, George Wright, National President Jenny McAllister and their hardworking team for all their help this year.

And I promise every member of the ALP that all of us will give our very best to live up to the progressive, reforming, bold, reforming legacy of those who have gone before us – to make you proud to be Labor.

To my marvellous Deputy Leader, the Member for Sydney and her family, thank you very much.

Tanya, you mean so much to our party – and your support means so much to me, thank you.

To our leadership team in the other place, Penny Wong and Stephen Conroy – thank you for the wonderful work that you have done standing up for Labor values in the upper house.

To our Shadow Treasurer, the member for McMahon and the Manager of Opposition Business, the Member for Watson, I thank you for your good humour, your ready wit and your wisdom.

To all my Shadow Cabinet and Caucus colleagues –I pay tribute to your hard work here and in the community.

2014 was the year Labor stood strong – we stood strong, because we stood together.

Every day in this job I count myself lucky to be surrounded by people of such talent, people of social conscience and I wish you all a relaxing break with the people you love.

And, as we know, behind every good politician is a surprised and relieved staff member.

Working in politics – at any level – is more than a job, it is a vocation.

Our staff make tremendous sacrifices on our behalf and we thank them for that.

I seem to have been provided with several extra paragraphs of praise for my own staff here – time will not permit me, unfortunately I can’t work it all through and name them individually.

I simply offer a heartfelt thank you to everyone from my office and my electorate office for their effort, their energy and their enthusiasm this year.

Even at the most difficult and high-pressure moments, my team can always find a reason to laugh –sometimes it’s not even at my expense – I am especially grateful for that.

Madam Speaker

In his final speech in this place Kim Beazley said that what our families put up with is the ‘hard secret’ of public life.

Like everyone, I am only here because of my family’s support, their patience, their guidance and their love.

Chloe, Rupert, Georgette and Clementine – I love you, I cannot wait to see you.

Madam Speaker

Last month, David Cameron remarked that sometimes this is a place where ‘the brickbats fly’.

Yes, ours is a chamber of robust exchange.

It has always been that way, it always should be.

Our democracy depends on upon disagreement, on the contest of ideas, on each of us speaking on behalf of the people who elected us.

But perhaps, in 2015, we can all do better, we can all work harder to separate the personal from the political.

In that spirit, I want to acknowledge the work of the crossbenchers for their work in the House of Representatives and the Senate, very important work.

And in that spirit I wish the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Government and their staff a safe and happy holiday.

Madam Speaker

Earlier this year I lost my mother, a wonderful woman who taught me and my twin brother, Robert, so much. The Prime Minister sent me a very kind message of condolence.

In one of those unscripted moments in public life, Prince William was ahead of the Prime Minister, Princess Kate behind, the Prime Minister in between and my wife was talking to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge was talking to Madam Speaker, and there was the Prime Minister and I, within handshake range, as we did.

I thanked him for his thoughtful words and his message to my mother.

I said that every so often, just when I am at the point of complete frustration with the Prime Minister, he does something nice to surprise me.

I think the Prime Minister was sufficiently surprised at this comment, but he paused and said, ‘Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll find a way to frustrate you soon.’

Prime Minister, thank you for your generosity.

Please send my very best to your remarkable wife, Margie, and your clever and capable daughters.

I am sure that as you savour a shandy or two this summer, pondering your year of achievement, you will miss us, but do not worry, we will be back, we will be here, ready for the political battle in the year ahead, whatever it may bring.

Merry Christmas everyone and a happy New Year.

I thank the House.

ENDS

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 677 4053

Dec 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech: Peter Greste

SPEECH TO THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

PETER GRESTE

 

MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014

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Today is Peter Greste’s 49th birthday.

 

Instead of celebrating it with the people he loves – he will mark this day, as he has the last 337 days – in an Egyptian jail cell.

 

Our first thoughts today are with Peter, and his family.

 

His parents Juris and Lois and his brothers Mike and Andrew have won millions of admirers for their optimism and character throughout this ordeal.

 

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I wrote to Peter in June and we were touched to receive a reply from Peter from his Cairo prison cell, thanking Parliament, press and the Australian people for their overwhelming support.

 

The imprisonment of Peter Greste is a grievous injustice.

 

As Peter himself put it: ‘it is an affront to the freedom of expression’.

 

No journalist, no servant of the free press, should be put in jail for doing their job.

 

Until Peter Greste – and more than 200 other journalists around the world who currently languish in jail – are free – the freedom of all of us is diminished.

 

Let us all rededicate ourselves to the persistent and consistent diplomacy that will deliver Peter Greste’s freedom.

 

Let us all resolve that Peter Greste will spend his 50th birthday a free man.

 

ENDS

 

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

Dec 1, 2014
Kieran Barns-Jenkins

Speech: Phillip Hughes

SPEECH

PHILLIP HUGHES

MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

 

On the weekend, at grounds around our country, the Australian cricket family wore black armbands to mourn the loss of one of their own.

From the manicured wickets of the first grade to the local synthetic…from young Kanga cricketers just beginning their love affair with the game to wily old veterans putting their backs through one last test of optimism…everyone paused to remember Phillip Hughes.

In our suburban streets and country towns, tens of thousands of Australians ‘put their bats out’ to remember the piercing cut shot, the fantastic cheeky grin and the fighting qualities of a country boy who loved playing for his country.

In Sharjah, New Zealand and Pakistan took a day off from their Test – and when they resumed, they played in a very different way.

The players didn’t celebrate their personal victories; their thoughts were with Phillip’s family and friends, that was what was most important – not the Test match.

At Twickenham, the Wallabies and the English fans celebrated Phillips’ life with a minute of applause.

In the A-League game between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory, the crowd rose as one at the 63rd minute.

What is it about Phillip Hughes, his career, his passing that captured worldwide attention?

This morning I spoke with Dave O’Neil, the President of Western Suburbs Cricket Club at the time Phillip joined as a boy from the bush, chasing his dream.

He paid tribute to Phillip’s brilliance and his potential – the records he holds and the records he would have set.

Dave also told me something of Phillip’s qualities and his values – and the wonderful family who gave them to him and to whom we offer our heartfelt condolences.

Phillip Hughes had courage, he had resilience, he had an extraordinary work ethic – dropped four times from the Australian side but bouncing back, piling on the runs in the Shield competition.

A fantastic team man – a quality obvious from the universal reaction of his devastated teammates.

And – perhaps unusually in the ultra-competitive world of ultra-professional modern sport –Phillip was deeply admired and respected by his opponents.

Madam Speaker

In remembering Phillip Hughes, Australia and indeed the world cricket family has been at its generous, compassionate best.

But perhaps for Australian Captain Michael Clarke this has been his finest hour in a very distinguished career.

He has found the words to describe our sadness, to speak for Phillip’s family, for his teammates and for his country.

And we commend Michael for the way he reached out, on behalf of all Australians, to Sean Abbott, offering to pad up and face the first ball that Sean bowls on his return.

Our nation will remember Phillip Hughes not for how he died – but for how he lived, for what he loved.

And perhaps today all of us should remember to tell the people we care for, how much we love them.

Because life is bigger, more precious and more fickle than any game.

May he rest in peace.

ENDS

 

MEDIA CONTACT: LEADER’S OFFICE MEDIA UNIT 02 677 4053

 

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