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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 245

Mr HAYES (7:19 PM) —I start by congratulating you, Mr Deputy Speaker Scott, on your re-election as the Second Deputy Speaker of the House. Well done. You do have the confidence of this side of the parliament. It is indeed a great honour today to be speaking as the newly elected member for Fowler. While I have changed electorates, I assure you my philosophy and attitude as a member of parliament remains the same. I will represent the people of Fowler in the only way I know: diligently and with determination.

During my previous two terms of parliament I have prided myself on having an open-door policy with all my constituents. I know the reason I am here is to give voice to the people and the communities of my electorate. This is something I am definitely committed to. I want the people of my electorate to know that I am available to them whenever they need my help. I want people to know that I will be an active member and will pursue their interests in the federal parliament.

I was recently asked by a local journalist about what my priorities might be as I came into the electorate of Fowler. I told her that I had five ambitions in establishing myself as a local member committed to the people of Fowler. My ambitions include ensuring that I am available to the community, and I will run an office dedicated to servicing the needs of both individuals and the community alike. I will work with organisations that particularly support the disadvantaged, the homeless, the disabled and the aged to assist them in their vital role. Through government, I hope to help create local employment opportunities, particularly for the young—and unfortunately we do have a very high youth unemployment rate. I also like to think that I will bring greater awareness to the issue of domestic violence and the impact it is having on our community. I also indicate that wherever possible I will support our police in the vital work that they do in protecting our community. I am prepared to be judged against these personal ambitions and the results that I achieve for the people and community of Fowler.

It would be remiss of me not to mention some of the organisations that make up the fabric and spirit of Fowler. I am very indebted to those organisations that have made me feel most welcome. Firstly, there is the New South Wales chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia, which I know to be an extremely professional organisation led by Thanh Nguyen. The interests of the Australian Vietnamese community are certainly in good hands through the diligent work of that organisation.

The VCA’s hospitality and kindness is matched by many other organisations and people in Fowler, including the south-west Chinese association, which incorporates 40 individual Australian-Chinese associations operating in the area; Julio Gruttilini and the Cabramatta Community Centre; Ricci Bartels and the Fairfield Migrant Resource Centre; Kamalle Deboussey and Dr Vincent Ogu from the Liverpool Migrant Resource Centre; the Bonnyrigg Men’s Shed; the Liverpool Women’s Health Centre; and the Joan Harrison Support Services for Women, just to name a few. These organisations have indicated their preparedness to work with me. My position is to not simply go out into the community and pretend to reinvent the wheel but to work with all those organisations that are doing good work in the community. In Fowler we are blessed with organisations and people who are prepared to respond to the diverse needs of the community.

It is obvious from the list I just read out that Fowler is a culturally diverse community. In fact, Fowler has the highest proportion of people born overseas than any electorate in this country. Nearly 70,000 people or 49 per cent of the current electorate of Fowler were born outside the country. As a consequence, we celebrate various cultural events such as the recent Moon Festival, the Multicultural Eid Festival and Fair, the Vietnamese and Chinese lunar New Year and NAIDOC Week. It is a culturally rich community with a patchwork of extended communities that are nurtured by various organisations committed to maintaining the value of their heritage and their culture.

This country has been welcoming migrants from all over the world for many years now. We are a diverse nation and, quite frankly, we are all the better for it. People from various countries who now call the electorate of Fowler home have helped make this community in the south-west of Sydney far more vibrant, dynamic and inclusive. Migrants come to this country for various reasons. Some seek safety; others want to buy into the freedoms this country has to offer. But all of them come here with a view to building better lives for themselves and for their families. Whatever the reasons are that they come to our shores, the contribution they make to our community deserves to be recognised. They bring their customs, languages and some of their traditional recipes and foods. They also bring their skills, courage and determination, which combine to build a better future not only for themselves but also for the community as a whole.

The presence of a multicultural community should be celebrated as it enriches us as a nation. I am certainly looking forward to learning more about the diverse cultures in Fowler over the coming years. I will be proud to work with each community support organisation to help them achieve what they set out to do—to preserve their culture whilst participating in the general framework of Australian life.

It is not only the traditions and the cultures that I intend to honour as the member for Fowler; I will also honour the election commitments I made and those made by the federal Labor Party. One such commitment was $15 million for the Liverpool GP superclinic. This is a fantastic win for the people of the south-west of Sydney. It will offer after-hours GP services as well as facilities to train future health professionals in the region. I personally lobbied the Minister for Health, Nicola Roxon, for one of Labor’s GP superclinics to be located in this area to take the pressure off the Liverpool and Fairfield general hospitals. I understand the government expects to put out an invitation to tender very shortly for the construction and operation of this superclinic.

Health reform was a common topic during the mobile offices I conducted during the nine months leading up to the last election. This superclinic is welcomed by the community as a whole. The community know that we need to take pressure off the current health system in the south-west of Sydney. Through this $15 million investment in the superclinic, the Labor government have made it very clear that we are not prepared to leave the health system in a business as usual situation. The commitment to a GP superclinic follows the $47 million federal Labor commitment to the Ingham Health Research Institute in Liverpool and the $106 million commitment to local schools to improve their infrastructure and provide the tools for quality education for local kids.

Federal Labor are also responsible for the new autism-specific childcare centre that was recently opened in Liverpool, one of six funded nationally. All of us with children know the difficulties and challenges involved in raising kids and helping them realise their full potential. However, the families of children with disabilities face many more complications and worries. Through this specialised early childhood centre, parents will have access to early childhood intervention at the time when they need it most. I pay specific tribute to Grace Fava from the Autism Advisory and Support Service whom I worked with to ensure that this particular centre was built in Liverpool. Her dream has now been realised.

Debate interrupted.