Which side of politics owns the Eureka legend?
An after-dinner debate for the conference on “Eureka’s significance, then and now”
Australian National University
3 December 2014
My thanks to John Moloney for his introduction, Dave Headon for organising tonight’s debate, and the gathered historians for being here on this, the 160th anniversary of Eureka. Let me pay my respects to the Ngunnawal people, the traditional owners of the land and their elders past and present.
I want to particularly thank my three parliamentary colleagues: Nick Champion, Michael McCormack and Lucy Wicks. We don't do enough in parliament that is bipartisan. These three parliamentary colleagues are people who enjoy talking about the role of history in our national conversation, and recognise that history isn't just the stories gone by, it is part of the golden threads that link the past to what we do in the future.
Matter of Public Importance: The Budget
In this annus horribilis for the Abbott government: they have given Australia back knights and dames; they have taught us that the name of our North American friend is pronounced 'Canadia'; they have suggested that the US is at risk of default—and I am sure the member for Riverina would not have made a mistake like that. They have shown their common touch by smoking cigars just before handing down the most unfair budget in living memory; enlightened us about the link between breast cancer and abortion; taken to the barricades to defend the rights of bigots; told us that poor people do not drive cars; said that the Australian Submarine Corporation, despite being headed by Sophie Mirabella, still cannot build a canoe; and shown us that demon dialling is the way to every crossbenchers heart.Read more
Yesterday the government finally brought the bill to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission forward for debate. I kicked things off for the Opposition by explaining exactly why we need to keep this important, effective agency.
Speech: Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Repeal Bill (No.1) 2014
House of Representatives
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:
“whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House is of the opinion that the Government’s plan to abolish the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission is an insult to the good work of the charitable sector, and to all Australians who want accountability and transparency when it comes to their generous donations.”
What the charities commission does
Let me start with a story of great concern. It is about some scammers who set up charities with names such as Friends of the Disabled Children's Task Force, Friends of the Underprivileged Children's Task Force, and Chronic Constructive Pulmonary Disease of Australia Incorporated. Australians, inspired by a deep sense of generosity, donated more than $1 million to them. It turned out that there was not much evidence of the money going to the disadvantaged or needy, and those charities have now been shut down.
All scammers are dodgy, but I have always regarded charity scammers as a particular form of low-life. Other scammers exploit greed or lust or ignorance, but charity scammers prey on our goodwill; they take that great Aussie tradition of wanting to help the vulnerable, and they use it to line their own pockets.
Speech at the opening of the Eugene Anchugov Chinese art exhibition
Parliament House, Canberra
3 December 2014
I acknowledge Philip Ruddock and other members of parliament, Eugene Anchugov, David Fang and Kevin Lui.
Thank you for bringing this extraordinary exhibition to the Great Hall.
When I was in Beijing recently I took some time to enjoy the street-life.
I found myself looking on as a bystander to an unusual calligraphy lesson.
Using water from a small plastic bucket, two men were taking turns painting characters on the pavement squares with a long handled brush.
The brush was about three feet long, so they could paint directly onto the pavement without crouching or bending.
It was in no way clear who was the master and who was the pupil.
As it becomes increasingly clear that the Abbott Government cannot get some of its most unfair policies through the Senate, I joined GetUp! on the lawns of Parliament to wave farewell to federal budget.
Bon voyage Budget!
Speech to the GetUp! rally - Parliament House, Canberra
I’m sure I speak for the other two politicians here with us – Clive Palmer and Christine Milne – when I say that this is definitely the coolest event we’ll attend today.
Today is the 160th anniversary of the Eureka uprising – a demonstration of how people power can change Australia. Now, I’m not urging you to burn your mining licences – those of you who have them – but it is a reminder that people committed to building a better Australia can ultimately prevail.
Friends, Tony Abbott’s unfair budget needs to go. This Budget represents a shift in the burden from the poor to the rich: Robin Hood in reverse.
Today I tabled the Fluffy Families and Residents First Group Impact Statement in the federal parliament. It was a privilege to share these families' voices and let them know that our community stands behind them.
Constituency statement - Mr Fluffy families
27 November 2014
I seek leave to table the Fluffy Owners and Residents Action Group Impact Statement ‘Hope in grief: confronting Mr Fluffy’s toxic legacy in Canberra and Queanbeyan’.
For people outside the ACT, the name ‘Mr Fluffy’ probably calls to mind something fun and frivolous. But fun and frivolity have been pretty scarce over the last few years for over 1,000 Canberra families who discovered their homes had been pumped full of crushed raw asbestos by a dodgy contractor trading under the name of ‘Mr Fluffy’.
More tax transparency for a more informed debate
House of Representatives, 24 November
In the tax evasion trial of Leona Helmsley, a prominent American businesswoman from the 1970s and 1980s, a former housekeeper testified that she heard her employer say, 'We don't pay taxes. Only the little people pay taxes.'
These 'little people' are the hardworking men and women of Australia.
For too long, the 'little people' have been forced to pick up the slack left behind by large multinationals with complex accounting arrangements.
For too long, large multinationals have been able to hide behind a veil of secrecy. For too long, Australians have been left in the dark on the issue of multinational profit shifting. Now, for the first time, Australians will know which companies are paying their fair share of tax.
Companies which follow the rules have nothing to fear from opening their books to the Australian public. Once and for all, this bill before the House today will provide a comprehensive set of figures on how much companies are earning and how much tax they are paying. Recent reports pointing to large-scale instances of multinational profit shifting and tax avoidance suggest that
this information is needed now more than ever.
This morning, I spoke to a ‘Save Our ABC’ rally, joining many other Canberrans to speak out against the five per cent cut to our national broadcaster.
One of the extraordinary things about the ABC is the sheer breadth of its programming. In fact, its contributions to Australian public life are so vast that I decided I could give a speech in defence of the ABC based entirely on the titles of ABC programs.Read more
Speech at the launch of 'A new Australia-China Agenda: Experts on the Australia-China Relationship'
28 October 2014
This week and last, federal parliament has been resounding with tributes to the late Gough Whitlam. Many people have noted his bravery – more than four decades ago – in travelling to China to announce that a Labor Government would initiate ties with the mainland.
At the time, Whitlam’s critics said of the visit that his Chinese hosts had ‘played him like a trout’.
I thought of this recently when looking at statistics on our exports to China – now our number one destination for Australian fisheries exports.
There are many ways of summing up the importance of the Australia-China relationship.
Condolence motion for the Hon. Gough Whitlam, AC, QC
House of Representatives
28 October 2014
GK Chesterton once said that "Tradition means giving a vote to the most obscure of all classes, our ancestors. It is the democracy of the dead."
Progressives are at our best when our reforms draw out the golden threads of history.
The notion that society is a contract between the past, the present, and unborn generations is as powerful a guide for progressives as it is for the other side of politics.
No-one better understood the value of tradition than Gough Whitlam.
When Prime Minister McMahon set the date for the 1972 election as December 2, Whitlam noted that it was the anniversary of the 1805 Battle of Austerlitz, when Napoleon defeated the Russian and Austrian armies. It was, he said, "a date on which a crushing defeat was administered to a coalition - another ramshackle, reactionary coalition".