Freo's View

GREAT FIRST SPEECH BY NEW FREMANTLE MP

Posted in community, democracy, election, federal government, fremantle, politicians, politics, western australia by freoview on September 14, 2016

As promised here some more excerpts from the very good first speech by new Fremantle MP Josh Wilson in Parliament House, Canberra on Monday. The entire speech is too long to fully publish it on Freo’s View, but you can hear it on Josh’s Facebook page.

I have the honour of being sent here to represent the mighty federal electorate of Fremantle, the place where the Swan River, or Derbarl Yerrigan, meets the Indian Ocean, in the land of the Whadjuk Noongar, the place known for thousands of years as Walyalup.

I am proud to say that I have been shaped by Fremantle, by its landscape and its culture; by its function as a place of industry and trade and the arts; a port city; a place of arrival, whose multicultural diversity and cohesion has been hard won and is precious; a place that looks out into the world and welcomes people, whether they come for a short or a long time, with open arms; a place defined by the heat and by the sea.

Representing Fremantle is a great responsibility. There is no role or task that I can imagine being more meaningful to me in this life, and I am going to pour myself into this work—at home, in my electorate, and here in this place. I relish the fact that this work spans the full range: from helping a person who has come to you when every other door is closed to working in this place to shape national laws and policy, and I think one should inform the other. If you are from WA, it is work that literally spans the continent, and I look forward to all of it. I hope I can undertake the task with energy, humility, dedication and good humour. My constituents in Freo and my children will let me know if I do not.

……..When Carmen Lawrence gave her first speech in this place in 1994 she remarked on the centenary of universal suffrage. My daughters are here today and I am glad they are able to see a parliament, especially on this side, that is replete with women who are ready to make a contribution and take their place here on merit, because women have been ready to make their contribution on that basis for a long time, and that process is not finished. Let’s remember there are 72 seats in this place that have not yet been represented by a woman.

Good government, responsive and reforming government, is not just important, it is necessary, but there is more to be done. There is a danger, I think, when you come to participate in the work of parliament, not that you will be deluded into thinking that we happen to exist at an especially crucial moment in history but that we might be deluded instead into thinking that all the big changes have been won; that what is left is only marginal, asymptotic progress along the curve. On any reasonable assessment, that is not the case. There is in fact a great deal more to do.

The Fremantle electorate is bound up in a number of those challenges: in the need for action on climate change and renewable energy; in the need to hasten the too-slow progress to close the gap between Indigenous and non- Indigenous Australians; in relation to the future of work in this country, its forms, quantity and conditions; in regional leadership and our engagement with the wider world; and in the need for smart and forward-looking urban design and planning, and the delivery of matching transport and communication infrastructure.

Granted, city planning sounds boring and technocratic, but unless we get it right we will consign families in outer metro areas to lives limited by unaffordable housing, dislocated from jobs and services and characterised by congestion in suburbs where people struggle to feel connected to their neighbours because there is no reason to walk or ride through the streets, no local shops or community centres and poor public transport. The local governments in my electorate—Cockburn, Fremantle, East Fremantle and Melville—are seized by this challenge but they are frustrated at not being met halfway by state and federal governments. There is no better example right now of that frustration than the Perth Freight Link. My community is fighting to be on the right side of a decision that divides between two very different futures.

…..One of the most distinctive things about Fremantle is its loud and proud arts and culture workforce—the ordinary, everyday presence and production of musicians, architects, artists, writers, dancers, street performers and even circus performers. Arts practitioners and businesses are the very definition of the creative economy, and you would be hard-pressed to find leaner and meaner enterprises or people and organisations that do more with less, so it is incredibly disappointing that in my electorate of Fremantle arts funding and support bodies have been subject to so much chaos in the last couple of years.

….To bring my slightly damp first speech in this incredible place to an end—that will not make sense to people reading this in the future!—I am happy to say that I am a romantic when it comes to representative democracy. I think it is one of the best things. I do not agree with Winston Churchill; I think it is one of the best things. It deserves to be valued. It deserves to be performed with maximum effort, and cultivated with great care, with its essence and structure respected and its live parts allowed to flourish and be renewed. As a new member in this place I intend to listen and learn, to not hold back for fear of making the odd mistake or the odd joke, to participate and work hard in good spirit and good faith, to make a difference and always to apply myself in dedicated service to the people of Fremantle.

 

 

 

 

 

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