Good riddance Joe Bullock – where to next for Labor?

A few thoughts about recent events in Canberra.

First and foremost, I’m passionate about seeing more Indigenous Australians in our Federal Parliament. Therefore, I was absolutely stoked to hear yesterday that talented NSW State MP, Linda Burney would be seeking preselection to run against the Liberal’s Nickolas Varvaris in Barton. If Linda, a Wiradjuri woman wins Barton, she will become the first indigenous woman to become a Member of the House of Representatives. This is a significant and considerable milestone. We need more indigenous voices in our National Parliament and we especially need an indigenous woman in the House of Reps’. Regardless of political persuasion; we should all agree on this.

I was also very relieved also to hear that Joe Bullock would resign as a Labor Senator for WA. As an ALP member, I have signed a pledge to support all Labor candidates in public office. Yet, I have never hidden my views on Mr Bullock’s position as a Labor Senator within the Labor Party. Mr Bullock’s views on a wide range of critical matters have no place in the modern Labor Party. I am particularly proud of my local branch, the Flemington-Kensington Labor branch who in May 2014, passed this motion calling for the ALP National Executive to intervene in the preselection of Mr Bullock and remove him and to reinstate Louise Pratt to the number 1 Senate spot. In 2014, Louise Pratt was dumped from the top of Labor’s WA Senate ticket in favour of Mr Bullock as part of a dodgy factional deal between the Left aligned WA branch of United Voice and the conservative SDA union.

In the wake of Mr Bullock’s resignation, Labor have a wonderful opportunity to acknowledge the mistakes of the past and listen to the membership by restoring Louise Pratt to the Senate. Louise Pratt is a talented, hard-working and effective advocate for Labor and for LGBTI Australians. Let’s replace a homophobic conservative with a passionate supporter of equality in Louise. That’s what a modern and progressive Labor Party should be all about.

Labor Leader Bill Shorten has made an announcement this morning that widely respected Indigenous leader, Pat Dodson is his preferred candidate to fill the casual vacancy. Mr Dodson is seen by many as the father of the reconciliation movement and like Linda Burney in the House, he would make a terrific addition to the Australian Senate.

However, I am torn by this latest development.

Good riddance Joe Bullock and hooray for more Indigenous voices in our National Parliament. But I do not believe Mr Dodson should fill this casual Senate vacancy over Louise Pratt. 

My view that Louise Pratt should be returned to the Senate immediately. If Mr Dodson wants to become a WA Labor Senator – which would be magnificent, he should join the Labor Party and then run for preselection in Western Australia. There is a compelling case for Mr Dodson and it may very well be that Labor members would choose him over Louise Pratt in such a scenario. Nevertheless, Ms Pratt should fill the casual vacancy until such time. That would be a just outcome. Again, that’s what a modern and progressive Labor Party should be all about.

Let’s give grassroots Labor members in WA the power to determine who should lead their Senate ticket.

 

 

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Adam Goodes: I will call racism out whenever and wherever I see it.

Feeling pretty disheartened by the racist and derogatory commentary relating to AFL player, Adam Goodes both in the wider community and disappointingly, more closer to home.

I don’t give a fig about AFL football. However, I care deeply about our multicultural society. Australia is uniquely defined by its people, its land and its indigenous heritage. The things that bind us together and our respect for diversity enriches us all.

Mr Goodes is a proud indigenous man and a former Australian of the Year. I am not interested in a debate about his conduct as a football player. He is a role model for many young indigenous people and Australia is a better place because of people like him.

If you are my friend and you post or ‘like’ material on social media that is racist, I don’t care what your reason for doing so is, you’re wrong and I will call you out. I don’t care how long we’ve been friends, you’re wrong and I will call you out. Moral courage is the courage to take action for moral reasons despite the risk of potential adverse consequences.

The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. I will call racism out whenever and wherever I see it.

I recommend Celeste Liddle’s piece in The Guardian yesterday: ‘So an imaginary spear is more terrifying than racism. Really?’

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A note to my Bendigo friends

Dear Bendigo friends,

Many of you would be familiar with Mr Alan Howard. Alan is a marriage celebrant operating in the Central Victoria area and by way of background he was also the Family First endorsed candidate for Bendigo at both the 2010 and 2013 federal elections.

Mr Howard has proven himself to be a staunchly conservative, homophobic and misogynistic person. I first encountered Mr Howard on the campaign hustings in Bendigo back in 2010 and again last year when I took issue with him publicly over his crude and sexist commentary regarding former Governor-General of Australia, Quentin Bryce (His remarks:http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/2193364/former-g-g-failed-crucial-test/ and my response: http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/2217889/governor-general-should-be-admired/?cs=84).

In recent years I have also attended several wedding ceremonies in Bendigo which Mr Howard has presided over and on each occasion I witnessed him take particular glee in reciting the current wording required by law for a marriage to be considered legal in Australia: ““Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others..”

Mr Howard recently embarked on a campaign against marriage equality in the Bendigo area and has been critical of local businesses who have come out in support of marriage equality following Federal Labor’s move to bring on a fresh vote on this issue. Last month, Mr Howard was the lead protagonist who aggressively confronted my cousin’s partner in his workplace which I know upset him deeply (http://www.bendigoadvertiser.com.au/story/3141696/cafe-manager-shocked-at-anti-same-sex-marriage-discrimination/).

In my view, Mr Howard has no legitimate role to play in public life, especially on significant occasions in people’s lives such as their weddings. So if you’re planning to get married in Bendigo, I urge you to consider boycotting Mr Howard. if you are attending a wedding ceremony in Bendigo, consider asking your friends/ family getting married to not engage Mr Howard to perform the ceremony.

Bendigo is a thriving, diverse and modern city and Mr Howard’s anachronistic and deeply misguided views have no place in it’s future.

Related post: Former Governor-General exhibited modern Australian values

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I am proud to be supporting Mark Butler for ALP National President.

To my friends and colleagues in the Australian Labor Party who will be receiving ballot papers in the mail this week for the ALP National President election,

I am proud to be supporting Mark Butler MP for ALP National President.

Labor needs leaders like Mark Butler. Mark is a fiercely intelligent, progressive and genuine individual who has a vision for our Party and the nation’s future.

I had the pleasure of working for Mark when he was the Federal Minister for Mental Health, Ageing and the Minister for Social Inclusion in the Gillard Labor Government. There, I saw firsthand Mark’s incredible devotion, energy and passion for everything he did. As Minister, Mark was able to achieve meaningful and lasting reform in both the mental health and aged care sectors, improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in our society. He has since carried this good work over to the climate change portfolio.

Mark is deeply passionate about building a stronger, more democratic Labor Party. He gets it. He gets it because he has devoted 25 years of his life to the Labour movement. Mark knows that the Labor Party’s greatest strength is its membership.  Throughout his career, Mark has been a consistent, strong and effective voice for rank and file participation and democratisation within the Labor Party. Mark has the courage, vision and leadership skills to undertake the further reforms Labor needs if we are to remain the preeminent vehicle of social change in Australia in this Asian century.

Mark is standing for ALP National President to empower rank and file members and drive Party reform. He has the leadership skills, vision and commitment to drive progressive policy reform on the national stage.

I hope he can count on your support.

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Vale Rt. Hon. Malcolm Fraser AC

Malcolm Fraser was a significant and popular figure in Australian conservative politics over many years and he played a key role in shaping our modern Australian identity.

While many on the Left are rightly critical of Mr Fraser’s role in the dismissal of the Whitlam Labor Government and the policies of his 8 year Liberal Government, in the latter years of his life he won respect and admiration from all sides of the spectrum for his passionate advocacy for issues he cared deeply about. Mr Fraser’s strong belief in the traditions of small ‘l’ liberalism often put him at odds with the modern Australian Liberal Party and he was deeply uncomfortable with the ideological shifts in Australian conservatism.

In recent times, I deeply admired Mr Fraser’s staunch defence of international human rights, advocacy for improving health and literacy standards for Indigenous Australians, support for an Australian head of state, an independent foreign policy and many other issues.

Australia is a poorer place without Malcolm Fraser.

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The seventh anniversary of the National Apology to the Stolen Generations

The National Apology to the Stolen Generations was an opportunity for a new relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous Australia. It was a landmark moment in modern Australian history and the beginning of a new partnership between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians based on mutual respect and mutual responsibility. The Apology transformed the way in which the nation thought about itself. It was a profound re-appraisal of our collective belief system and brought to reality the genuine prospect of true reconciliation.

Today is an important anniversary in our nation’s history and one which should encourage both reflection and renewal among contemporary policy-makers and activists.

Building on the Apology was the Closing the Gap initiative. Closing the Gap is an ambitious but absolutely vital framework agreed to by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) at a meeting in 2008 to address indigenous disadvantage. Unfortunately, the latest Closing the Gap report shows that little or no progress has been made on reaching many of the closing the gap targets agreed to at COAG. Sadly, indigenous Australians are still dying younger, going to jail more often, earning less, experiencing disability more frequently and attending school less regularly than their non-indigenous counterparts.

It’s 2015 and this is not okay.

On this, the seventh anniversary of the Apology, it’s time we as a nation, re-committed ourselves to the big challenge of reconciliation that lies ahead. Closing the Gap requires an intensive, long term sustained commitment from all of us and we cannot afford to waiver. To quote former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s famous Apology speech: “There comes a time in the history of nation when their peoples must become fully reconciled to their past if they are to go forward with confidence to embrace their future. Our nation, Australia, has reached such a time”. Good work has and continues to be done, but we must to do more to close the gap on life expectancy, educational achievement and employment opportunities for indigenous Australians.

In addition, we must undertake the next step toward national reconciliation by changing the Australian Constitution to fully recognise our First Australians. Like the Apology, this is more than just an important symbolic step, it is about equity, it is about justice.

As Bill Shorten recently said, Closing the Gap is our national responsibility, it is a shared journey. The job will not be done, the reconciliation journey will not be over, until our two Australia’s are one.

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Only Labor will deliver Melbourne Metro Rail

There is a misleading report on the front page of today’s Age newspaper alleging that Victorian Labor is not committed to the Melbourne Metro Rail Project (read here).

This is nonsense.

An Andrews Labor Government is committed to delivering Melbourne Metro Rail. This is Victoria and Australia’s number one public transport infrastructure priority.

$300 million has been allocated to kick start the project in this term of Government. A further $3 billion will follow (together with investment from federal government and private enterprise) in the next term, as the project moves to the construction phase.

The Former Federal Labor Government set aside $3 billion for this project in 2012. The current Abbott Government is now playing hard ball with the new Victorian Government about releasing the funding for this project.

Clumsy attempts by the Liberal and Greens Party to paint a different picture about Labor’s commitment to delivering this vital transport project are false and misleading.

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Read my previous blog on Labor’s Melbourne Metro Rail commitment here.

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