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Wednesday, 11 November 1998
Page: 71

Ms HOARE (11:09 AM) —I congratulate the Speaker, the member for Wakefield, on his election to this high office in this chamber. I congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on your election to this position and I congratulate the member for Cowper on his election as Deputy Speaker of this House. I know you will all continue to maintain the respect for your positions as others have done before you. I look forward to a good relationship with all of you.

First, I would like to express my appreciation to all the ALP members in Charlton and to my campaign committee for a herculean effort over the past 18 months: in particular, Mark Williams, who is the president of the Charlton Federal Electorate Council and the Charlton campaign director, and the committee members Bill Attwood, Bobby Bozinovski, Phil Cooke, Maureen Vickery, Marcus Mariani, Liliana Rixon, Chris Harrison, Peter McLeish, Michael Buckley, Marjorie Gissane-Clark, Christine Finlay, Rowley James, Joshua Brown and Bert James, a former member of this place who provided valued advice and treasured friendship before, during and after the election campaign.

I sincerely thank my husband, Reg, and my two children, Naomi and Bobby, for their continued love, support and patience and for sharing their time with me with the Australian Labor Party and with the Charlton electorate. Thank you.

I take this opportunity, too, to pay a well-deserved tribute, as you have done, Mr Deputy Speaker, to the former member for Charlton, the Hon. Bob Brown. I know honourable members who enjoyed the opportunity to work with Bob both as a colleague and a political opponent will join me in paying this tribute. Bob is well respected within the ALP, within this parliament and within the wider community for his skill, intelligence, passion, belief and pursuit of social equity and justice for all members of our community and for the pursuit and maintenance of decent working conditions and wages for all Australians.

I thank Bob also as my father and my mum, Joy, for the invaluable support and guidance they have given me which enabled me to pursue those values of equity and social justice I grew up with. My position here now as the member for Charlton representing coalminers and workers and their families and communities is a culmination of my idealism within the trade union movement, my workplaces, my communities and mostly the Australian Labor Party.

It is also significant, as the member for Fowler referred to, that we are delivering our first speeches to this House on Armistice Day, 11 November. I do not need to remind honourable members or you, Mr Deputy Speaker, of the travesty which occurred in this city on that day in 1975. It is a great personal honour that on 15 August this year Gough Whitlam officially launched my campaign in Charlton at the Cardiff Workers' Club. So I take this opportunity to thank two of the great living legends in this country, Gough Whitlam and his wife, Margaret, for the honour they bestowed upon me and ALP members and supporters in Charlton.

As one of 12 women out of 27 new members on this side, I know I join my women comrades in thanking the wonderful efforts of Emily's List. Emily's List is an organisation which was formed in 1996 and guided by the Hon. Joan Kirner OAM to help support women entering politics financially, practically and morally. In my own situation, I would like to thank Jo Anne Bierne for being there whenever I needed her, at any time and for whatever reason.

I mentioned before that I represent coalminers and workers and their families, as well as the broader community. I also represent the Australian Labor Party. As an integral part of that representation, I will be joining my colleagues on these greatly expanded opposition benches to remind government members of the basis of their representation here. This government has been elected with a 12-seat majority in this House to govern and to govern well—and that is all. We heard yesterday the Governor-General detailing and outlining the government's legislative program for this term and we will all hear, over the coming months, its claim of a mandate for introducing a GST or for selling Telstra. Let me turn our attention to this whole issue of whether this government has a mandate for anything else but to govern and to govern well.

This is a government that was re-elected with less than 49 per cent of the two-party preferred vote. Only 34 per cent of electors voted for the Liberal Party as their first preference. Less than six per cent voted for the National Party as their first preference. What this result says is that less than 40 per cent of electors voted in favour of a GST, less than 40 per cent of electors voted for the full sale of Telstra and less than 40 per cent of electors voted for further attacks on workers' rights, conditions and wages. These are three of the core promises that the government will claim it has a mandate to implement. I will expand on each of them, as I and my colleagues will continue to do over the course of this term of parliament.

The scrutiny and debate that the opposition will bring to these issues in this parliament are what Australians were entitled to over the course of the election campaign. Scrutiny and debate of these issues were denied them because the Prime Minister chose to call the federal election on a long weekend in most of the country, during the school holidays in most of the country and surrounded by the Commonwealth Games and sporting grand finals, which took priority over a federal election in most of the country.

In this parliament we will be pursuing the debate that should have been pursued during the election campaign: the debate to which all Australians were entitled before they cast their vote on 3 October—the debate which those Australians were denied. At this point I will indicate, for the record of Hansard, my preference for fixed term parliaments, which would deny prime ministers of either political persuasion the opportunity to time an election for purely political purposes.

Three of the issues I mentioned that we will be opposing vehemently in this House are those of the GST; the sale of Telstra; and the member for Flinders's capitalist agenda of attacking workers' rights and conditions, and further exploiting workers and their families to make way for increased profits for those whom the Liberal Party supports—the top end of town.

Firstly to the GST. This is a tax that places an increased burden on low and middle income earners and reduces that burden on high income earners. This is a tax which is grossly unfair whichever way it is packaged. We on this side of the House, and the opposition in the Senate, will oppose it all the way. It is interesting to note that a recent report by five of Australia's leading economists has recommended to the Prime Minister that tax credits, similar to those that were promised by the Labor Party were we to win government, be introduced to help reduce unemployment. I will be very interested to see whether the Prime Minister accepts and implements this advice or whether he pursues his narrow agenda of a GST, which 60 per cent of Australians clearly do not want.

Second, there is the proposed 100 per cent sale of Telstra. Telstra is our national telecommunications carrier. Prior to this government selling one-third of it, Telstra—a large and hugely profitable organisation—was 100 per cent owned by all Australians. Now it is only two-thirds owned by all Australians. And this Prime Minister wants to sell it all, putting it in the hands of an elite few who can afford to buy and then maintain their share investment. For what? The government states that the money will go towards rehabilitating and protecting our natural environment. I believe that our natural environment is our greatest resource, which we hold in trust for our children and our grandchildren and for many more generations. It should not be held to ransom or be used as a pawn in the debate about Telstra.

Telstra is a communications carrier. Communications and the environment are poles apart on the legislative agenda, which is highlighted by the fact that this government and previous governments have seen fit to have them as two distinctly different areas of responsibility within cabinet. They are not linked in this way, and nor should they be. The idea is absurd and preposterous, and it should be abandoned now.

During my representation in this place, I will be pursuing vigorously the rehabilitation and protection of our natural environment. It will be an issue, I am sure, that will also be pursued by my good friend and colleague, Jill Hall, the member for Shortland. Our electorates adjoin the waters of Australia's largest coastal lake, Lake Macquarie. The member for Shortland was a great and effective environmental campaigner in the state during her time in the New South Wales parliament as the member for Swansea, a tradition I am sure she will continue admirably.

Finally, I refer to the issue of workers rights and family security and opportunity for all those who seek it. This is really the heart and soul of the Labor Party. Our party was founded on these principles over 100 years ago and we should never and will never forget our roots.

I take this opportunity to thank my local trade union branches and their members for the tremendous support afforded to me over the past 18 months during which we have been campaigning—in particular, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Electrical Union and John Maitland as the national secretary; the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union and Doug Cameron; and the Maritime Union of Australia. My deep appreciation goes to every single trade unionist who maintains the struggle and continues to stand by the mottoes of `United we stand, divided we fall' and `Workers united will never be defeated'. I will be honoured to continue in the tradition of defending and representing Australia's workers, both in this parliament and in the wider community, a tradition which was proudly set and admirably pursued before me by my father, Bob Brown, the first member for Charlton.

As honourable members know, it is a great privilege to be elected to our national parliament. I am one of 148 members, and we collectively represent the interests of over 18 million Australians. In my electorate of Charlton there are over 85,000 voters. Well over 60 per cent of them elected me as their representative here. But I will just clarify that point further: there may have been a handful of voters who voted for me because I am Kelly Hoare, but the vast majority of the voters in Charlton voted for the Australian Labor Party and they voted for me because I represent the Australian Labor Party.

To represent our party is a great honour and I pay tribute to the members of the Australian Labor Party—that great team of men and women who have affirmed their commitment to the policies, the principles, the philosophy and the traditions of the broader labour movement by becoming members of its political arm. Our party is made up of many diverse men and women—young people, old people, people from varying backgrounds and cultures, high school students and life members. Life members are people who have been members of the Australian Labor Party for over 40 years. Most members do not seek public office and they are always there at every election for every level of government: they fold leaflets, they `letterbox' and they hand out Labor how-to-votes on election day come rain, hail or shine.

There are nine Labor Party branches located in Charlton. They meet every month. There are thousands of these groups of people meeting across the country every month. They meet in halls, clubs, pubs, schools, backyards, lounge rooms and tin sheds. Labor Party members debate issues with belief and with passion. They support the party and they defend it to the hilt. I am proud to be a member of the Labor Party and I am honoured that my comrades in the party selected me to represent it in Charlton and ultimately in this parliament.

I will also express my appreciation to the two other candidates for ALP endorsement in Charlton, Councillor Alan Hunter and Ms Sonia Hornery. While recognising with all my colleagues that preselection campaigns are occasions of some tension, I want to acknowledge the goodwill with which the campaign was conducted. In particular, I must give special acknowledgment to Alan Hunter. Alan was and is the personification of goodwill, good humour, honour and principle and he reflects the best qualities of Labor activists.

I conclude by making a brief statement about this parliament and its role. Too often this parliament has directed an inappropriate share of its time, effort and legislative resources to the interests and concerns of the rich and powerful, those interests and people within the community who are already at the top of the pile doing very well from the system and are capable of looking after themselves. An inadequate share—as significant as it often is—of the effort and time of this institution is applied to the interests and problems of the people in the community who need to be defended, who are unable to advance their own interests, who are in need of assistance and protection, and who are often pushed aside and left behind.

The chief role of this place should not be to preserve the privileges of those whose interests our social and economic system mainly benefits but to seek to redress the imbalance between those who have wealth, status, influence and power and those who do not. This parliament must be a vehicle for the achievement of equity, to strike down unfairness, to redress injustice and to deliver security and opportunities.

Opposition members —Hear, hear!

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Jenkins) —Before I call the honourable member for Shortland, I remind the House that this is the honourable member's first speech. I ask the House to extend to her the usual courtesies.