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Monday, 10 September 2018
Page: 8398


Mr GORMAN (Perth) (15:16): Mr Speaker, I am humbled to speak on the lands of the Ngunnawal people about my community of Perth, on the lands of the Noongar people. They are both parts of the oldest continuing cultures in human history, spiritual cultures that emphasise a love of land, love of environment and love of one another. Ultimately, the work of the Parliament of Australia is about love—love of the community you represent, love of your fellow humans, whatever their background, love of the values you and your party stand for, love of this country and what it can achieve. And, for me, having had the privilege to work in this building, the Parliament of Australia, meant I found love and met my wife, Jess.

The Australia that Jess and I love is a country that makes, creates and exports things, from arts to ore. The Australia that Jess and I love is a country that pays everyone a secure and fair wage, from cleaner to construction worker. The Australia we love is a country that builds a fair society through safety nets, adequate pensions, a fair tax system and a free and public health system. The Australia we love is a country that creates opportunity through unashamed investment in education. The Australia we love is a country committed to continuous reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples we have so badly wronged, dispossessed and ignored. The Australia we love protects our environment and our climate for future generations. The Australia we love is a country that believes gender equality is more than just an aspiration. The Australia that Jess and I love voted yes for marriage equality.

And, fortunately, Jess loves me—a failed pilot, a guitar hoarder, a former shift manager at McDonald's, a childhood member of the Double Helix Club, a former adviser to an Australian Prime Minister, and a pun-loving, ukulele-learning dad of one. Thank you to my Australian Labor Party family and to my community of Perth for allowing me to add 'Labor parliamentarian' to that list.

There is no greater agent for change, no volunteer organisation more effective, no cause more just than that of the Australian Labor Party. I'm incredibly grateful for the opportunities that this country has afforded me, grateful that the Whitlam Labor government opened up our universities, ensuring that my parents met at Claremont Teachers College, and grateful to have been surrounded by driven, independent women my entire life—my great-grandmother Rooke, who worked as a proud public servant at the Australian Taxation Office in Perth for many decades; my Grandma Pat, a working single mum who lived on Walcott Street just metres from where Jess and I now raise our son, Leo; and my grandmother Joan, who for some 50 years has run and still runs one of Western Australia's most successful family-owned farm-supplies businesses. As I was a chronically asthmatic child, my parents broke most parts of the traffic code at one time or another rushing me to Fremantle Hospital. I'm incredibly grateful for, and I'm here because of, Medicare and our public health system. I benefited immeasurably from a world-class education at Lance Holt School, Melville Senior High School, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia, and I'm indebted to the teachers of Australia.

That education drove me to have a career committed to delivering fairness. I worked for Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who delivered fairness in the wake of the global financial crisis, grew Australia's international development program and enacted reforms to give Labor Party members a real say and ensure stability of the leadership of the Australian Labor Party. This prepared me to serve as State Secretary of WA Labor, lead our 2017 state election campaign and work to elect Mark McGowan as Premier of Western Australia. Mark is a great Australian and a good friend, and I thank Mark for his support. Together we built a team that wrote new electoral history in Western Australia. We elected the greatest number of women ever seen in the state's parliament and delivered a landmark plan for jobs.

Both the Prime Minister and I have had the honour of serving as state secretaries of our respective political parties. Political parties are an essential part of our democracy, but right now our party system, this parliament and our executive government are being weakened—diminished by populism, racism and a sense that our institutions are no longer effective. Too often the Australian people look to this parliament and see the worst reflection of our society. It shouldn't be this way. I hope that one day in the near future people will again look here and see role models leading our country. This will take commitment from every one of the 226 members of this parliament. It requires us to protect and respect the institutions that made this country. One simple way would be to expand the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate to fully fund the costs for schools to visit our capital. We should also follow the lead of the former Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop and hold interstate and regional sittings of the parliament on a yearly basis. And, of course, we need to treasure our Public Service and those that hold us accountable in the media, new and old—institutional players like the ABC and TheWest Australian through to newer entrants like The Conversation and BuzzFeed.

The Australia I love would be nothing without Perth. Perth is the heart and the brain of Western Australia. Perth is Boorloo, on the banks of the Derbarl Yerrigan, home to Aboriginal leaders past, present and emerging; home to businesses, tiny and global; home to mighty trade unions, new and old. Perth is Australia's beacon to the Indian Ocean economies and the GMT+8 time zone. Perth welcomes new Australians and has a proud migrant history. Western Australians have a sense of fairness that helps us grow our national economy and create the opportunities of the future. It was these values that saw Western Australia's Carmen Lawrence become the first female premier of any state in Australia.

Western Australians are recognised for grasping opportunity and turning it into something bigger. We need to be equally ambitious in our approach to economic infrastructure. As a modern city, we must plan across local, state and federal government for a metropolitan light rail connecting our CBD to the Burswood Peninsula, Kings Park and the great universities of our inner metropolitan area. As an entrepreneurial city, we should commence a visionary redevelopment of East Perth Power Station. This building should be full of art, culture and history, not sadly decaying on the banks of the Swan River. And urgency should be applied to laying the track of the Perth Morley-Ellenbrook train line. We must fast-track the train.

To achieve my ambitions for Western Australia, we need stable policy when it comes to resources, energy, agriculture, a regulatory environment that encourages new business, and an environment that ensures our tax system is fair and seen to be fair, the most urgent being delivering a fair share of the GST to Western Australia. Every Western Australian is sick of debating the GST. I'm sick of debating and, equally, of seeing money that could fix such injustices go offshore through international tax avoidance.

Western Australia is one of the most diverse and beautiful places anywhere on earth, but it lacks a world-class built tourist destination. If Western Australia is serious about international tourism, then we have to seek investment for, or make investment ourselves in, new major tourist attractions. Western Australia has the time zone, location, climate, space and skills to host international theme parks with a uniquely Australian flavour.

When tourists and visitors come to Australia, they should see a progressive and welcoming country. We demonstrate this to the world through an Indigenous voice to our parliament, enshrined in our Constitution. We demonstrate this to the world when we stand as an Australian republic. We demonstrate this to the world by building the world's best education system from the earliest years right through to lifelong learning. We demonstrate this to the world by aiming to be the country with the highest living standards and best quality of life anywhere on earth.

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has welcomed me into his team to deliver a fair go for Australia. He truly understands the meaning of fairness. Both of our mothers were teachers and education lecturers. There is no greater grounding in social justice than having a teacher as a parent. Both he and I completed a Master of Business Administration, knowing education is the key to realising your vision. We both know that the safety of workers is paramount. He showed this as he represented workers in Beaconsfield. In Western Australia we live it every day. Jess works in the resources industry, as do thousands of Western Australians. We need to keep our workers safe. Together with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, he leads a united team; a team that truly reflects the Australian people and is committed to equality in this workplace and every workplace. Bill and Tanya, thank you for your support and for your leadership.

It's an honour to join the Western Australian members of the federal parliamentary Labor Party. Together with Senators Dodson, Lines, Pratt and Sterle, I am pleased to serve in this place alongside the member for Cowan, who I first met when my then boss launched her book in 2011; the member for Burt, who I first worked with when we served as president and secretary of WA Young Labor; the member for Brand, with whom I had the honour to work for the Gillard government during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth; and the member for Fremantle—both he and I are sons of Freo and, amongst many things, did our part as ambassadors for democracy as we observed the 2014 Afghanistan presidential election count in Kabul.

I pay tribute to my good friend Tim Hammond, who made an incredibly difficult decision to leave this parliament in the best interests of his family. Equally, I'm here, unashamedly, in the best interests of my family. I want Leo to grow up in a fair society full of opportunity for him and his friends Spencer, Isla, Ethan, Saul, Lincoln, Matilda and Meredith, and I want Jess to experience true gender equality in her lifetime. That's why I will proudly and publicly be a parent in this parliament and in my electorate of Perth. When Leo was born, I took three months paternity leave. I wish I had been brave enough to ask for and take more because every child, every parent and every community benefits from us building a workplace culture and workplace laws that enable all Australians to be fully engaged parents and have fulfilling careers. This is not an easy policy outcome to achieve, but the big economic reforms never are.

There is nothing more effective I can do for the parents and families of Perth than to build our education system. Australia's public, primary and secondary education systems are the envy of the world—government-run, well funded, accessible, free. Early childhood education is a fundamentally different story. It's a sector that boomed in response to the post-war economic needs of the workforce—a proud achievement of the feminist movement of the 1960s. But the wages in the sector are disrespectful to thousands of professional educators, and as a society we treat it as a purchased service in a $13.7 billion a year industry, not a public good. We know from many researchers, including the Murdoch Children's Research Institute, that the first 1,000 days of a child's life are 'the first and best opportunity we have to build strong foundations for optimal development'. It makes no logical or economic sense that we leave this to the free market. Early childhood education is the first step of our nation's education system.

There's a lot of discussion about free university education. We need a national discussion about free early education and free child care. We should work as a nation to bring child care and early childhood education more into line with primary school—government-run, well funded, accessible, free.

If early childhood education gives Australians the beginnings of the soft skills needed for the 21st century, then it's TAFE that delivers the economic grunt of our education system. Yet today TAFE fees are among the most regressive tax on the capability of our people—a stop sign on the road to economic growth. TAFE is how we support people through economic disruption and change of everything, from automation to blockchains to a low-carbon, clean energy economy that prevents catastrophic climate change.

The fees for TAFE across this country are embarrassing, with some courses having increased in cost by more than 510 per cent. Australia needs to urgently reverse this trend. Labor's plan to abolish up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE places is the start of a visionary restructuring of our TAFE system across the country. I am excited to be part of fixing our broken technical and further education system—a repair that only Bill Shorten, Tanya Plibersek and Labor can deliver. Our party has the persistence to implement creative, progressive policies—Bob Hawke did it with Medicare, Paul Keating did it with superannuation and Julia Gillard did it with the National Disability Insurance Scheme—because investing in our people is how we become the country with the highest living standards and best quality of life anywhere in the world.

'Freedom from fear and freedom from want' were the two rights of all Australians that Senator Dorothy Tangney highlighted in her first speech following the 1943 election. Freedom and a commitment to effective national security are fundamental Labor values. Thirty-seven years later, Kim Beazley reminded this place, in his first speech, of the constitutional obligation of the Commonwealth to protect the states from invasion. He outlined the posture needed for the protection of the vast coast of Western Australia, including the Pilbara, as key defence priorities. He delivered on this vision as a great defence minister and Deputy Prime Minister of this country. Today, the risks to our national security are amplified by disengagement with international institutions, ongoing economic instability and digital attacks we only learn about years after they occur. Australia cannot be relaxed and comfortable when it comes to digital national security. We cannot stand on the sidelines as a passive participant in the global and regional forums that deliver stability. We cannot expect a shared commitment to a rules based order where we've done nothing to ensure peaceful development. I'll be a voice in this parliament for growing our international development program because it fulfils our humanitarian obligations and our security necessities. It is only by fulfilling our mission as Australia, the good international citizen, that we truly protect freedom and achieve our ambitions as a nation.

The greatest achievement in my life is my family. I love Jess and the life we are building together. We love Leo—how he keeps us alert, grounded and excited about the future. And Leo and I love Jess and all she achieves as one part of the 18 per cent of women working in the mining industry in the resources sector in Western Australia. To my parents, Wendy and Ron Gorman, thank you for showing me that education and political action makes an overwhelming difference. Thank you for taking me on marches for land rights, peace parades and tree-planting excursions. Thank you for the middle name 'Possum'. And this possum thanks my younger brother, Joseph Anachie Gorman. Thank you to Jess's parents, Diane and Danny Bukowski, and her brother, Andrew, for welcoming me into their family and making Brisbane my second home.

It takes a village to raise a by-election candidate. Thank you to the former members for Perth Stephen Smith, Alannah MacTiernan and Tim Hammond. Thank you to the state members in Perth Lisa Baker, John Carey, Alanna Clohesy, Dave Kelly, Simon Millman, Samantha Rowe, Matt Swinbourn and Martin Pritchard. Thank you all. Thank you to the national secretariat, under the leadership of Noah Carroll, Sebastian Zwalf and my friend since I was a teenager Paul Erickson. Thank you to my campaign director, who I understand is having lunch and watching on the television screen in Perth, and successor as state secretary, Matt Dixon, and thank you to Ellie Whiteaker, who will shine in the male-dominated world of party officials. Thank you to my campaign manager, David Cann, a man who has enthusiasm for campaigning that cannot be curbed. Thank you to my field director, Lucy Morrison, who will make her mark on Western Australian politics. Thank you to my national organiser, Callum Drake, who became an honorary Western Australian over a three-month campaign.

I thank the state and federal Labor members, ministers and shadow ministers, and, most importantly, the grassroots Labor Party members and branches in Perth and further afield. Thank you to the union members who campaigned alongside us in the Perth by-election. A special thanks to United Voice, the AMWU, the CPSU and the SDA. Thank you to the community groups and local businesses engaged with our positive campaign. Thank you to the campaign team members and volunteers, including Marije Van Hemert, Phil O'Donoghue, Ben Latham, Alisa Shibalova, Owen Wrangle, Naomi McLean, Daniel Smith, Klara Andric, Julie Bogle, Sheena Cole Bowen, Mark Reed, Stacey Hearn, Clement Avenell, Dennis Liddelow, David Goncalves, Daniel Street, Stuart Aubrey, Brock Oswald, Lisa Tibbs, Jack Eaton, Fran Hickling, Tim Dunlop, Lex Guider, Steph Anderson, Toyah Shakespeare, Robert Williamson. And thank you to Ester Borcich who, after a 12-week campaign, will do it all again in a few months, but hopefully not too soon.

Thank you to the Leader of the Opposition's team, led skilfully by Ryan Liddell. Thank you to my first employers in state and federal parliament, Ken Travers and Melissa Parke. Thank you to all the staff I've had the privilege to work with in ministerial, prime ministerial and backbench offices—hundreds of dedicated people and lifelong friends. And to three women who have had faith in me for many, many years—thank you to current party president, Carolyn Smith; Deputy President of the Senate, Sue Lines; and the Western Australian government's cabinet secretary, Amber-Jade Sanderson. Thank you.

Finally, thank you Kevin, Therese and the Rudd-Rein family for your friendship and encouragement over many years. Kevin, thank you for the advice to discover and confirm what you believe in, why and what you are going to do about it. Therese, thank you for the well-timed and simple reminders to be myself. And a special thank you to Jess Rudd for her support of my wife, Jess, during what felt like a never-ending by-election.

This is as much a speech to the parliament as it is to my future self. Therefore, I end with the words of the greatest Western Australian to serve in this place, John Curtin. I do this to remind me, for however long I may be here, whatever capacity I may have the honour to serve, of the purpose of electing Labor members to the parliament of Australia. Curtin said:

Labor is a peace-loving party. Its struggle has always been on behalf of the weak against the strong; for the poor, for those who never had a chance as against those whose privileged positions enabled them to prosper—even though millions suffer.

Thank you.