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Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Page: 12900

Mr FLETCHER (Bradfield) (09:42): Earlier this year, the Prime Minister engaged in some remarkable attacks on the people of Sydney's north shore, including the constituents of Bradfield, my electorate. On 9 May 2012 on Sky News, she said:

Mr Abbott's got to get off Sydney's North Shore and go and talk to some real families and get himself in the real world.

In the parliament, later that same day, she repeated her attack, saying:

It is only those who are cosseted on Sydney's North Shore that could fail to realise that working families need relief, working families face the costs of getting kids to school.

I thought it was important to gauge the views of the constituents of my electorate, squarely in the centre of Sydney's north shore, on these frankly offensive comments about Sydney's north shore. Accordingly, I sent out this postcard to many thousands of my constituents and I received an overwhelming response, which I am pleased to report to parliament on today.

The response of my constituents was largely one of shock, offence and disappointment that the Prime Minister of the nation would specifically attack one particular part of the country. In fact, 80 per cent of the postcards I received were critical of what the Prime Minister had to say. I will quote some of the responses I received from constituents. One constituent in Wahroonga wrote:

We on the North Shore are just as real as those living elsewhere.

Another constituent, from Lindfield, wrote:

I think it is extremely offensive for you to stereotype residents of the North Shore.

Obviously, that comment was addressed to the Prime Minister. A constituent in Turramurra wrote:

The majority of families on the North Shore have both parents working full time to be able to provide for their children. What would you call us if not "working families" facing "the costs of getting kids to school"?

As these comments—and the many others in the hundreds of responses I have received—demonstrate, my constituents are disappointed at this attack on them and on their part of Sydney. I again call on the Prime Minister to apologise for her offensive comment. Indeed, I invite her to come to the north shore and meet some of the real people, some of the ordinary people and some of the hardworking people in my electorate, rather than perpetrating this slur and this outdated stereotype. I will be writing to the Prime Minister giving her more formal and detailed feedback I have received from the postcards, and I will offer to brief her personally on the attitudes in my electorate to her outrageous slur against our part of Sydney and against the people in my electorate who work so hard to provide for their children and their families.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Hon. BC Scott ): I call the member for Kennedy and remind him, as he takes his place, that the use of mobile phones is not allowed in this chamber or the main chamber.