Tuesday 21 October 2014

Vale Edward Gough Whitlam - Our greatest Australian

Today Australia lost its greatest ever leader. A leader that inspired Australia. A leader that captured Australians imagination. A leader that made all Australians proud to be an Australian.

Elected on 2 December 1972 with a campaign entitled; "It's time" the television add shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jykIqQxEOw still inspires me today as it did 39 years ago.

I must confess like so many other "Baby Boomers" from working class families that I was able to obtain a tertiary education as a result of Gough Whitlam's free education policies. I did not have to participate in the conscription lottery as the Whitlam Labor government was elected only months before I would have been considered for conscription.

However, it is not about the benefit I received from Gough Whitlam and his government. It is about the benefit to all Australians. It is hard to imagine today how opposed the vested interests were to universal health insurance. Labor had to go to a double dissolution election and have the bills passed by a historic joint sittings of the Federal Parliament for Medibank to be introduced. His visit to China at the height of the "cold war" sent the US Nixon Administration and the reactionary forces in Australia "tropo." Mr Whitlam changed Australia forever in its treatment of  Australians,  Family Law, human rights, foreign policy, health, and immigration.

I remember his bringing Australia's security services to heel with Attorney General Lionel Murphy's visit to ASIO Headquarters in Melbourne reminding them they service Australia through its democratically elected parliament.

Interestingly his dismissal during the constitutional crisis by Governor General John Kerr was predicated on what was known as the "loans affair" as the Whitlam government wanted Australia's resources owned and developed by Australians. Mr Whitlam was a great parliamentarian who demonstrated enormous respect for the parliament and its its conventions.

In his short 3 years as Prime Minister from 2 December 1972 to 11 November 1975 he transformed and inspired a nation with legacies that will last forever. Only great leaders do that. Gough was the greatest. Vale E G Whitlam.

Monday 20 October 2014


NSW Labor has announced the largest ever funding boost to Community Language Schools across NSW which will provide the more than 30,000 students, as well as teachers and volunteers who attend and operate the schools more support and resources.

Under a Labor Government, funding for these schools will be boosted by more than $75 per student to $200 per student – leaving NSW Community Language Schools with the largest funding package of any state in Australia.

Community Language Schools offer classes in 56 different community languages and are open to any school-aged student from a government, Catholic or independent school. The classes are held outside normal school hours and help students learn and use their community language or learn a new language.

Labor’s funding commitment represented a 62 per cent increase in funding and would bring the total investment to $6.5 million a year.

Labor is committed to ensuring that students from different cultural backgrounds have the chance to develop skills in another language.

Labor’s $2.5 million funding boost will help Community Language Schools attract and retain teachers with specialist language skills to continue educating the thousands of students who attend these schools.

Thousands of young people around the state attend a community language school outside of regular school hours each week, because students and their families know the importance of being multilingual.

These schools not only to help young people connect with their cultural background and communicate with older relatives, but also help students who are preparing for the HSC or learning a language for the first time.

The community in Heffron benefit from NUMBER of schools where students are learning Greek, Turkish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Czech and Slovak - and I am proud to confirm that a Labor Government will increase support to these schools that our communities in Heffron rely on.

Labor’s $2.5 million funding commitment will mean that these and the other Community Language Schools across the state will be the best funded in Australia.

I am proud that under Labor, our community language schools will be the best-funded in the country, to reflect the importance of our multicultural communities.

Sunday 19 October 2014

Pedestrian Crossing for Beaconsfield & Rosebery residents and employees

After a considerable amount of lobbying to the Minister for Roads, a pedestrian crossing on Botany Road between Queen Street and Morley Avenue will finally be installed.

Not long after my election in 2012, a local resident contacted me and took me to stand with her as we watched pedestrians play chicken with the heavy traffic on Botany Road as they tried to get to and from the bus stop, or make a purchase from the IGA or the chemist.

I didn’t take much convincing that the community’s concerns were totally justified and something had to be done. 

From that day, with the support of the community, I constantly lobbied the Minister for Roads, asking for a crossing along Botany Road. I extended an invitation for him to personally visit the site so he could see for himself the danger that residents and local workers face every day. The RMS obliged and inspected the area.

Truthfully, I guenuinely feared for pedestrian safety. It is the only road that I am frightened to cross at that location.

This is why I was so delighted when it was confirmed that a crossing with traffic signals will be installed on Botany Road at Beaconsfield Street, this location will minimise traffic interruption and allow cars on Beaconsfield Street to finally turn right safely onto Botany Road.

It will provide a significant amount of relief to both local residents and the many workers employed by local businesses in the area.

This is a great community win in the name of common sense and safety.

Friday 17 October 2014


As the one year anniversary of the bushfires that devastated the Blue Mountains community is upon us, I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the emergency service men and women who assisted those affected by the disaster.

It was a community-wide effort and whether it is the service men and women who faced the wrath of the fires, those who assisted with evacuating residents or those who provided emergency assistance in the form of shelter, food or clothing, their contribution was appreciated and invaluable during the crisis.

I commend the efforts of the emergency service personnel who were present in the Blue Mountains community and assisted with the clean-up long after the last of the fires was extinguished. As the reality hit for many of the residents who lost everything, it was the support of the Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service and many other groups that provided peace of mind for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

Our hearts broke every time we heard news that another home had been destroyed and in true form, Australians united and donated money and goods at an unprecedented rate. 

The rebuilding effort of the Blue Mountains community and their tenacity during what has been described as the worst disaster in their history is astounding. I praise the Blue Mountains community for rallying together during the recovery period. It is a testament to the Blue Mountains community and their strong sense of community spirit that many have decided to rebuild and begin a new chapter in the very place that they lost everything. 

NSW Labor will continue to support the residents of the Blue Mountains as they go forward with their recovery efforts.