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Speech given by Steve Fielding to La Trobe Politics Society Inc.

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Speech given to La Trobe Politics Society Inc, La Trobe University, 18 April 2005 1

Speech given to La Trobe Politics Society Inc

La Trobe University

18 April 2005

Senator-Elect Steve Fielding

Religion is an important part of life for many Australians. If we ponder why, it is

because religion - whatever religion it may be - provides meaning, hope and joy in that

person's life. And that is a great thing.

We should remember however that religion is not important to everyone.

If we asked the wider community what provides meaning, hope and joy in their lives,

they would say their families and loved ones.

I am sure if I asked you what is the most important thing in your life - what gives you

meaning and joy and hope - you would say, your family and loved ones.

Family is where we find our identity - it is our place of comfort and strength, where we

feel most accepted and valued, most encouraged and, most importantly, most loved.

That is why families are at the heart of Australian society; because they provide hope,

meaning and purpose in our lives. And that is why there is a great need for families to

have a greater voice in parliament.

I am a proud family man - my wife Sue and three children are my life and reason for


My role in the Australian Parliament will be to champion the needs of Australian

families and I will never resile from that. My job will be to put the needs of Australian

families first in the Parliament, because families have been forgotten by the major

political parties.

Australian families face tremendous pressures as the pace of modern life becomes more


Australian parents have the most important job of all - raising children, the next

generation. That is also the toughest job of all. Sadly, that work goes largely

unrecognised and is devalued. Parents make tremendous sacrifices and need to be

supported and helped as much as possible.

One of the main reasons families are suffering is because of the growing tension between

work and home.

Speech given to La Trobe Politics Society Inc, La Trobe University, 18 April 2005 1

For some reason we have anointed the paid workforce as the place where the really hard

work takes place. The paid workforce has become the shrine we bow to - at the cost of

our precious family life. That price is too high - the number of marriage and family

breakdowns is tragic and the social, financial and emotional costs are enormous.

Why is so much more value placed on the workplace than the home? It is sad that the

workplace has become the source of our identity - what we do has become more

important than who we are, more important than our relationships with our families and

loved ones.

My identity was once completely tied to my work - but fortunately I have learned what

really matters - Sue, my kids and other family and friends. And so I definitely put my

family first and intend to lead by example. I encourage others to follow suit.

Too often the paid workforce assumes workers do not have family responsibilities - it

demands the full commitment of its workers but there is little acknowledgement of

workers' other roles - as parents, family members and citizens.

Change will only happen when many workers challenge this culture - when workers put

their families first and seek their employers support that decision.

A culture of longer working hours, increased work intensity, more stress and rising job

insecurity is not efficient, it's not healthy and it's got to change.