Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 4 July 2019
Page: 327


Mr GORMAN (Perth) (12:54): I first thank the Governor-General for his remarks in opening the parliament as well as for the comments at his swearing in, where His Excellency said, 'Australia is not a finished product.' Whatever your views in this place, wherever you stand on the political spectrum, you would have to agree there is still so much work to do for our nation.

To represent my community here in the 46th Parliament is an honour, so I start by thanking the people of Perth for the honour of representing, advocating and being your voice in this, the 46th Parliament. Indeed, they have chosen to elect me twice in the space of less than 12 months and that is a special honour which I am particularly grateful for. Equally, I want to thank those who helped in my election campaign and congratulate all members on their election, especially the newest members of this parliament. Equally, I congratulate the Prime Minister on his election and I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition and their respective teams.

Much has been said that this is the aspirational parliament. Like the word 'reform' or the word 'innovation', there is no doubt that, come the end of the 46th Parliament, we will almost be sick of the word 'aspiration'; it will have become overused and will possibly have lost some of its meaning. But what does aspiration mean for us here and now? My aspiration is for our country. I aspire for more Australians to achieve their hopes and dreams. An aspiration is nothing without education. Without learning, you cannot achieve. So in the spirit of that, in the opening of this parliament, I want to share some of my hopes, my aspirations and some of the lessons I've learnt from my electorate as we enter the 46th Parliament.

The land, the community and the history of the land on which the Perth electorate sits goes back to the Dreamtime. Boorloo existed for uncounted centuries, sustaining the oldest continuing culture in human history. Every time I am welcomed to any part of this country we now call Australia, I'm grateful for how First Nations people have chosen to share their experiences with us. Imagine for one moment if First Nations people had not chosen to share their culture, not chosen to bring us in. Recently I was at a City of Perth citizenship ceremony, 5.30 in the evening, the sun was setting. As he welcomed us to his land, an elder, known across Perth as Uncle Ben, a delightful man, reminded us that, in his lifetime, he had gone from being banned in the City of Perth as the sun set to now welcoming us as the sun set on to his land.

We indeed have come have a very long way. It is a journey Perth will continue to make and we will discuss even more as we approach 12 August 2029. That date is the bicentenary of the founding of Perth. It was at the location where the Perth Town Hall now stands that a tree was cut down as a symbolic gesture to found the city. So much has changed. For a start, if you walked into the centre of Perth and started chopping down a native tree, I'm pretty sure you'd be arrested. I'm pretty sure my colleague the member for Fremantle would be there protesting saying, 'You cannot cut down one of these beautiful trees.' But the bicentenary is a chance to celebrate the country we continue to build—that great unfinished project. It will be a date that focuses our minds towards further reconciliation, on making Perth a truly world-class city, on building our sense of what it means to be a West Australian and on Western Australia's contribution to the great Commonwealth of Australia. It will also be an opportunity to celebrate and discuss our future.

My wife, Jess, is a bicentenary baby born in 1988. As many know, as a nation, we really did celebrate that moment. Indeed, some of those celebrations have been noted as we've celebrated the great life of Bob Hawke in recent days. The federal government invested incredibly heavily in those celebrations, which were driven by the arrival of the First Fleet in Sydney in 1788. At the time, there was a feeling from other states that the celebrations were too focused on Sydney and New South Wales. It's not the only thing where we might feel that things are too focused on Sydney or New South Wales, but Sydney was the heart of the action. The New South Wales government received more than $18 million from a $63 million pool for national celebrations of state and territory governments. Other projects that happened in New South Wales received funding of more than $200 million.

Over the course of the next two decades, we are going to have a large number of these celebrations—not just in Perth. We're going to have towns and cities across Australia recognising their bicentennial. We have Brisbane and Perth holding their celebrations before 2030 and Melbourne and Adelaide before 2040. In Western Australia, Albany, Fremantle, Augusta and Busselton will all mark 200 years of settlement over the next 12 years. The federal government—indeed, this parliament itself—needs to be involved in all of these celebrations, and the one I'm particularly passionate about is that celebration that will happen in Perth. I hope that, as we come towards that date of 12 August 2029, we have walked further towards true truth-telling and reconciliation. I hope that, by that date, we have a voice to this parliament from our First Peoples and that we continue to celebrate the project that we continue to build together, Australia.

My more modest aspirations when it comes to the Perth electorate are long, and I will not fit them all in this speech, but there are a few that I hope are completed by the time we get to 2029. One of the critical pieces of missing infrastructure is the Perth-Bayswater-Morley-Ellenbrook train line. This project, a flagship of the McGowan government's METRONET program, will deliver jobs in the short, medium and long term. By 2029, this project, I hope, will be up and running—or up and rolling, as you would say—creating an important transport route for locals in the north-east of Perth. But, if we want those jobs to come earlier and that economic activity to start, we need to fast-track the train. The Leader of the Opposition has already outlined his call to bring forward infrastructure investment to create jobs, to continue to support the great Australian economy. This project could and should start this year, and I urge the Deputy Prime Minister to make this so.

Other infrastructure projects I'm passionate about include the redevelopment and revitalisation of the East Perth Power Station, following in the steps of the Sydney and Brisbane Powerhouses. I'd be happy to assist any member of this place who may wish to visit the East Perth Power Station, some 8.5 hectares of prime riverfront land in the inner city. It is a beautiful site, and it has an incredibly exciting future. In May of this year, I was proud to stand alongside Premier Mark McGowan as he announced intentions to bring forward some of the capital works necessary to be able to revitalise that land and, hopefully, hand over to someone with more creative ideas than me the ability to take that East Perth Power Station and give it a new life for the 21st century. Whether it hosts art, culture, business or community activity, it will be a great asset for all people in Western Australia and visitors to our state. It will also generate huge numbers of jobs—local tradies, architects, artists and hospitality workers all working on this great project in our inner city. It'll be a beautiful connection from the old to the new.

As we talk about the inner-city developments needed to continue to make sure Perth is a world-class city, I also note that soon Perth will be the only mainland capital without a light rail or rapid transit system. Light rail is a necessary building block to ensure Perth remains a functional and modern city. I always encounter great enthusiasm for the debate about light rail. Some of that enthusiasm is to debate the absolute non-necessity of light rail, looking at examples in Sydney, where it has, indeed, been a very difficult process to bring that tramline back to life. But I also look at places like the Gold Coast, where there's been a very successful, very quick build of a much-loved new light rail system. I congratulate the City of Perth commissioners and the staff of the City of Perth for including in their recent draft planning strategy the action to identify the city's preferred mass rapid transit routes and to work with the state and federal governments to advance proposals for the funding and delivery of mass rapid transit in Perth. I commend the city. I commend their staff. That is a very exciting thing to read in their planning documents.

One of the smaller challenges we face in the electorate of Perth is the need to ensure that, where we have a city that is struggling—that has a large number of vacancies—which we know all too well in places like Beaufort Street and in the CBD of Perth, we continue to invest in community activation. I commend the work of Activate Perth, which is following in the steps of Renew Newcastle and Renew Adelaide in activating the Perth CBD. I believe that, in the steps of the Stronger Communities Program and the Local Sporting Champions program, there is a space for a government led community activation fund for every electorate in the country. Every member in this place has parts of their community and their electorate that would benefit from investment in community activation. Space activation makes sure that, where a community is not able to fully enjoy all of the assets that they have, the energy and enthusiasm that comes from people who say, 'I want to create a festival. I want to create something. I want to bring life back to my community,' is given that opportunity, because great ideas and great energy sometimes need just a few dollars to bring them to reality.

Across Perth, we have much-loved but ageing sporting facilities. The wave of investment 30, 40 and 50 years ago is starting to become a liability for many struggling sporting clubs in my electorate. Multimillion-dollar repairs are daunting for the small community sports clubs who lease or own these assets. We have the birthplace of the careers of many great Western Australian cricketers at the Western Australian Cricketing Association, or the WACA, in East Perth. We have the homes of two West Australian Football League clubs in my electorate. We have smaller venues like the Mount Lawley Bowling Club and the Bayswater City Soccer Club. They are all in need of serious investment so they can continue to be the community assets that have been loved for so many decades. I'll continue to fight to make sure that they can get the sort of investment they need to continue to service my community.

During the recent election campaign and in my time in this place, I was also proud to advocate for a number of projects that I believe still deserve consideration by the government that has been elected. I note they didn't make many commitments in the electorate of Perth, but at least they ran this time, so that was a step in the right direction. The coalition government should consider the project of the Maylands Waterland, originally invested in by the Whitlam government and opened by the Fraser government. It is a great place for young people of preschool age to learn how to swim and how to be safe around water. It's a fabulous asset on the banks of the Swan River. There is also the Bayswater urban forest. Urban forestation is going to be something that we are going to talk about more and more in this place as people seek to protect the tree canopy in the inner city. It's a great project that is reducing local greenhouse gases and driving visitors to that part of Bayswater that once was beautiful bushland, that became a tip and a dump for many years and that is now returning to its former glory. I've already mentioned the WACA. It's a great project and I commend all who have advocated for it. I know that many on the government benches are passionate about seeing the WACA become the community hub that it can be in coming years. During the campaign, both the Labor Party and the Liberal Party made commitments, following meetings with the Jewish Community Council of Western Australia, for upgrades to the Jewish Community Centre. I welcome the commitment of the government and I look forward to that funding being brought forward so that the upgrades to that important community asset just on the border of my electorate can be completed soon. We should also ensure that we release the funds from the Safer Communities Fund. I welcome the commitment of the government to invest more in that fund, but we need to release those dollars. I look forward to working with my neighbouring colleague, the new member for Stirling, to ensure funding for some of those community assets that I've just mentioned.

If we're serious about aspiration then we need to be serious about education. It's the great transformer. My parents were both teachers, and I'll take this opportunity to congratulate them on their 25-year membership of the Independent Education Union and their recent professional recognition by the Australian Council for Educational Leaders. My mum, Wendy, was awarded the ACEL(WA) Fellowship, and Ron received the Pre-eminent Educational Leader Award. Congratulations, Mum. Congratulations, Dad. In Dad's speech, he noted that the teachers of today sitting in classrooms across the country are preparing children for a world in 2100. That is not a future that is scary or worrisome but a future we ought to be thinking about. The people they are educating today will still be around in 2100.

When you consider that great responsibility of teachers and educators and the role they play, then we have to be serious about doing the work that educators do. There are some 80 childcare centres in the Perth electorate minding, educating and growing the minds of some 4½ thousand young people in Perth. There are 14,566 students who study at TAFE in the electorate of Perth. The wages and job security of those who educate are far too disparate. TAFE lecturers and university tutors lack the job security to focus on their important academic and training work. Early-childhood educators lack the pay equity that they have sought for so long. And we need to make sure there are career pathways and professional development for the teachers of our nation. In that theme of education, the people of Perth are not just my constituents but my educators, and I thank them for the lessons that they teach me every single day.

I want to thank the team that I was lucky to work with in this election. Elections are a team sport. I couldn't have met my aspirations without the support of a team of absolute champions. Thank you for the counsel and advice of the honourable Amber-Jade Sanderson, Ester Borcich and Naomi McLean. I want to thank my team in the office: Dylan Caporn, Liesa Gibbs, Melinda Perks, Marissa Williams, Marcus Podyma, Lincoln Aspinall and Dylan Perkins. Of course I thank Jess, Leo and my family for their ongoing support. And I want to thank every single one of the volunteers of the great Australian Labor Party. The reality is we didn't feel that great on the evening of 18 May 2019, but I assure you that the Australian Labor Party is not a finished project either.

I now conclude by making some condolence remarks. On Tuesday I walked out of the Governor-General's address to the devastating news from my dad that Charles—otherwise known as Chuck—Bonzas had passed away. Chuck was an activist and a life member of the Australian Labor Party in the great Fremantle branch. He was a founder of the Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group, otherwise known as FANG, which is where he met my parents. He was one of the most genuine, passionate people you would ever meet, and you were almost guaranteed to have met him over a beer, if not multiple beers. He was a founding member of what was known as 'project iceberg', leading the campaigns against nuclear power and nuclear weapons in Western Australia.

He also served this country in the Vietnam War. He served in the 1st Field Squadron, Royal Australian Engineers. He helped sweep and clear what was then known as the barrier minefield. He was part of what became known as the tunnel rats, investigating, mapping and ultimately destroying tunnels across Vietnam. Chuck only truly embraced his identity as a Vietnam veteran in the last decade of his life, but I know many of the veterans and friends he gained and reconnected with in recent years would also share in the loss of him and will miss him greatly.

Chuck wasn't the biggest fan of children—he didn't even call them children; he used to refer to them as 'sproglets'—but he made an exception for a few, including me and my brother, Joey. We've known him like an uncle my entire life. He was a sometimes drunk uncle who would from time to time rock up at our house late at night uninvited, including one Christmas dinner. After that we figured it was easier to invite Chuck along to the Christmas dinner, which he did for many years. It was my absolute pleasure to have him at our family Christmas just last year.

Chuck didn't tolerate idiots. He didn't dodge a fight. His arguments within the Labor Party are legendary. I reckon Chuck probably got a few extra years of life just because he was determined to fight the Right at one more conference. One of his passions was the environment, working in the renewable energy space. The other was his rejection of nuclear industry.

I was privileged to have Chuck at my campaign launch last year. He saw it fit to try to help the campaign along by insisting on slipping a few $50 notes into my hand. I explained to him politely that that was not an appropriate thing to do, but Chuck did not believe that the Labor Party's fundraising code of conduct should apply to him!

Indeed, it was one of many rules in the Labor Party that he didn't necessarily think should apply to him!

We're going to miss Chuck greatly. He was a great friend of mine, the member for Fremantle and the former member for Fremantle, Melissa Parke. His loss is a very sad thing for the Labor family in Western Australia. I'm pleased to have been able to honour his life in this place, and I look forward to a beer with some of his friends at Clancy's Fish Pub in coming days.