31 July 2019

 I rise today to speak on the appropriation bills and I appreciate the opportunity to speak today on a wide range of topics. I would like to start by thanking my electorate of Brand that covers the cities of Rockingham and Kwinana for once again electing me to the service of them as the federal member for Brand. It's an honour I take very seriously and I look forward to another three years of work in their service.

If I can reflect on the previous term starting in 2016—my first—some of the relationships I have formed and the friendships I have made with MPs and senators, many of whom have now retired or were ultimately unsuccessful at the last election. Politics is a tough business and it can be even tougher when, despite the best efforts, things don't go your way. But the voters decide on election day, and I will always respect the decision of our voters. Australian democracy is such a wonderful thing but, as members opposite know, it can be equally as heartbreaking, particularly in tight contests. In this light, I would like to acknowledge some of my friends and colleagues I was elected with on 2 July 2016 who did not return to this place this time around.

Susan Lamb, the former member for Longman, was a true warrior for her community in Longman. In one three-year term, she fought day in and day out for the interests of her electorate and for all Queenslanders. Susan chaired Labor's Australian jobs task force to call out the Turnbull-Morrison government on its lazy and uncaring approach to employment in Australia. In a time of rising insecure work and record levels of unemployment, Susan and other colleagues spoke with Australians around the country about their concerns. She worked hard every day in this place for hardworking Australians, and I thank her for the work she's done.

Justine Keay was the member for Braddon and, although she did not hold that seat in May, Justine remains a fierce advocate for the people of Braddon and for all Tasmanians. Justine was a wonderful colleague who served with great humour and also such passion for the causes she fought for. She also worked on Labor's Australian jobs task force as its secretary and held the Turnbull-Morrison government to account for failing to protect the penalty rates of over 700,000 workers and for failing to do anything about the stagnant wages growth in this country. In fact, as it happens, Susan, Justine and I, along with the member for Fremantle, shared the front of the Daily Telegraph once. Hopefully, that was my first and last time ever in that position. Susan, Justine and Josh fought hard in the by-election caused by the citizenship restrictions in the Constitution about a year ago. As we know, each of them won those by-elections, and I pay tribute to my friends Susan and Justine for their efforts in those by-elections. Those efforts were exhausting and placed extraordinary pressure on their personal and private lives.

Sadly, Ross Hart was not re-elected as the member for Bass. Ross was an active participant in one of the most important yet underrated and sometimes misunderstood parliamentary committees; I speak, of course, of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit, chaired very ably in the 45th Parliament by Senator Dean Smith with his very able deputy chair, the member for Bruce, Julian Hill. I served on this committee with Ross and, despite the sometimes overwhelming amount of paperwork, Ross would consistently put insightful questions forward and would raise matters important to good public administration for the benefit of all Australians. He was another exceptional Labor advocate for the state of Tasmania. The former member for Bass was a good and hardworking colleague in this place, and I wish him all the best in the future.

I was also elected in 2016 with the former member for Lindsay, Emma Husar. Emma is a rare and exceptional woman who would always stand up for causes close to her heart and for vulnerable people whose plight it is important to bring to the attention of this parliament. Emma spoke often in this place and outside this place about the critical need for this nation to face up to the extraordinary tragedy of family and domestic violence, which kills, on average, one woman a week by a man who is their former or current partner. Emma was a good friend and colleague who refused to let her own personal experiences of domestic violence hold her hostage, instead speaking out and using her position in this place to highlight the terrible plight of many women and children in what, sadly, is a very violent Australia that is unable to protect its vulnerable from aggression, mental torture, harm, homelessness and death.

Cathy O'Toole was another extraordinary Queenslander who spoke out time and time again for her local communities in the electorate of Herbert. Cathy and I served together on Labor's First Nations caucus committee for three years. She was a tireless advocate for Indigenous Australians in Herbert and across Australia but especially on Palm Island. Very importantly, Cathy O'Toole called out the excuses and lies of that rip-off merchant Clive Palmer. When Clive Palmer dodged his responsibilities to his workers in Queensland and left them without pay while he laughed it off and kept showing off about his millions and billions, Cathy fought for Queensland workers and held him to account in this parliament and, indeed, in the courtyards of this parliament. I'll never forget it. I was sitting in my office; I had the news going on in the background and I heard Cathy's very distinctive voice coming over television, demanding of Mr Palmer, whilst holding a media conference in a courtyard here, why he wasn't paying the Queensland workers that he had sacked through the closure of the nickel refinery and why he was allowed to get away with this. I pay tribute to the former member for Herbert for her excellent work in standing up for workers of Queensland.

I hope the current member for Herbert advocates just as strongly, but he may be swimming against the tide, because the Liberal Party failed time and time again to call out the rotten, divisive and racist fearmongering lies of Mr Palmer during the recent campaign. He is anti-Queensland and he's manifestly anti-Western Australian. He ran misleading attacks on our biggest trading partner, and everyone in this place needs to call out Clive Palmer for the charlatan that he is.

I would like to thank some of the amazing Labor candidates we had in Western Australia in the 2019 election campaign. Even though we will not see them here at present, I have no doubt this is not the last time we will hear from these very good and hardworking people. In Canning we had the wonderful Mellisa Teede, a strong advocate for regional funding and her community at large. It was a pleasure to campaign with Mellisa across the vast electorate of Canning. Everywhere we went—in schools, down at the local foreshore of Mandurah and at the Peel Health Campus—everyone knew Mellisa and everyone was grateful for her keen advocacy. Like most of Western Australia, Canning and its people have long been taken for granted by the Western Australia Liberal Party. Mellisa's commitment to this region and the campaign has ensured this won't happen again.

In Stirling, Melita Markey ran a fabulous campaign against a tough opposition. Melita is a vibrant and dedicated person that works hard to achieve social justice in her community. She remains a strong advocate for victims of asbestos-related diseases. I know we'll see Melita out in the public forum time and time again.

In Pearce, Kim Travers and her team knocked on just about every door. They pushed hard on infrastructure spending in the outer suburbs of Perth, particularly the Ellenbrook rail line. This is another community that was ignored by the former Liberal state government and had their promised rail line cancelled. This is just one example of how the Liberal Party of WA has taken the people of Pearce for granted in recent times. Kim Travers has assured that this will not happen again.

In Hasluck, the long-serving local government counsellor James Martin ran a strong campaign to advocate for working people right across Perth's eastern suburbs. Hasluck is a seat that has changed hands many times over the years, and it's always a hard fight to win. James and his team did exceptional work across the seat of Hasluck. I particularly want to mention his campaign manager, Brendan McShanag, for all the help he gave James in supporting him through that campaign.

In Swan, Hannah Beazley worked hard to promote the interests of small businesses and defend the Australian public health system that did no less than save her life. Her commitment to public policy in WA and Australia will endure, and she'll continue to make an exceptional contribution to the community. Swan is yet another seat the Liberals have taken for granted for a long time in Western Australia. Hannah and her team, alongside the larger WA Labor team, have changed that. I really want to thank Hannah and her family for all their efforts over that campaign. It was a long campaign for Hannah and all the other Western Australian candidates.

I want to thank again these candidates and recognise their sacrifices and those of their family and friends. Putting yourself in the public eye is a very difficult thing. It's challenging to the individuals and their family and friends. The campaign is unrelenting and the media and public scrutiny can be entirely overwhelming. All of our candidates stood up, were strong and tried their very exceptional best. I'm sure we'll see many of these candidates in the public eye again making some important contributions to public life.

I'm sad that these fine Western Australians will not be joining me in this place, but there are many new Labor faces that will join the federal parliamentary Labor Party: Josh Burns, the member for Macnamara; Libby Coker, the member for Corangamite; Senator Nita Green of Queensland; Daniel Mulino, the member for Fraser; Peta Murphy, the member for Dunkley; Alicia Payne, the member for Canberra; Fiona Phillips, the member for Gilmore; Senator Tony Sheldon of New South Wales; Senator Marielle Smith of South Australia; Kate Thwaites, the member for Jagajaga; Senator Jess Walsh of Victoria; Anika Wells, the member for Lilley; and David Smith, the member for Bean, who has joined us from the other place. I wish all of them the very best. I encourage all MPs from all sides to open their doors to new MPs from across all sides of this place. As always, we retain the highest standards of respect that were shown to all of us when we were new.

I haven't heard all of the first speeches. I don't know whether the member for Bean has a second first speech coming up. The speeches we've heard from our new parliamentarians have been exceptional. I observe that many of the new Labor MPs have paid a great deal of attention to the great effects of climate change and how we need to address and take action to reverse those effects, and show enthusiasm and willingness to commit to recognising Indigenous Australians and fighting for a voice for them in this parliament.

I also want to briefly acknowledge some retiring MPs from the other side. While we may have disagreed one or 700 times, their commitment to public service cannot go unnoticed. The former member for Curtin, the Hon. Julie Bishop, served for 20 years in this place. The former Minister for Foreign Affairs, her commitment to Australia is unquestionable, and never more seen than in the downing of MH17. I acknowledge the former member for Stirling, the Hon. Michael Keenan, who served for 14 years. He is another Western Australian and served as the Minister for Justice in this place.

I acknowledge a former member from South Australia, the member for Sturt, Christopher Pyne, who served for an eternity in this place—well, 26 years! He was the former Leader of the House, and he clearly did a magnificent job in that role. It's a rare role to get, and a very difficult and challenging role. Of course, he did it with great humour. It was sometimes hard to keep a straight face during his work in that. I acknowledge his great work in many ministries, but particularly as Minister for Defence more recently.

I'd like to acknowledge the former member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis, who served for five years. Her commitment to her constituents as a local member in a tough marginal seat is to be commended, and I really want to recognise Ann's work. She finalised the Report on the impact of inauthentic art and craft in the style of First Nations peoples by the Standing Committee on Indigenous Affairs. Ann, along with other members of the committee, did a terrific job finalising this report, and it will serve as a testament to her effort in this place in the committee system. I really hope members and senators across the board have a read of this report. There are good things that our lawmakers in this place can do to protect the visual and other evidence of a 65,000-year-old culture in this place. Best of luck to Ann for her future. We travelled together too, and we had good times; she's great company.

There are, of course, former members from the Labor side that retired at the last election. I won't reflect on them now—how could I possibly in just over a minute—but, at the next opportunity I have, I'll reflect on the legacy of the great Wayne Swan and the former member for Jagajaga, Jenny Macklin. In the meantime, I really want to acknowledge all those who stood for parliament in the last election—all those, across both sides of the House, who stood and fought and lost. It's a very challenging thing to do. It's taxing on one's family and friends, and some members of the community find it taxing as well. I acknowledge that and I want to congratulate each of you on stepping forward, putting yourself in the public eye and taking that risk. It doesn't always pay off, but I hope all candidates that weren't successful and who have since retired will continue to contribute to our communities and participate widely in public forums.