Delivered 10 September 2018 to the House of Representatives.

PATRICK GORMAN MP MEMBER FOR PERTH   

FIRST SPEECH CANBERRA  

MONDAY, 10 SEPTEMBER 2018  

 

Mr Speaker, I am humbled to speak on the lands of the Ngunnawal people about my community of Perth on the lands of the Noongar people. Both parts of the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

Spiritual cultures that emphasise a love of land, environment and one another.

Ultimately, the work of the Parliament of Australia is about love.

Love of the community you represent.

Love of your fellow humans whatever their background.

Love of the values you and your Party stand for.

Love of this country and what it can achieve.

And for me, having had the privilege to work in this building, the Parliament of Australia, meant I found love and met Jess.

The Australia Jess and I love is a country that makes, creates and exports everything from arts to ore.

The Australia we love is a country that pays everyone a secure, fair wage from cleaner to construction worker.

The Australia we love is a country that builds a fair society through adequate pensions, a fair tax system and a free and public health system.

The Australia we love is a country that creates opportunity through unashamed major investment in the education of our people.

The Australia we love is a country committed to continuous reconciliation with the Indigenous peoples so badly wronged, dispossessed and ignored.

The Australia we love protects our environment and climate for future generations.

The Australia we love is a country that believes gender equality is more than just an aspiration.

The Australia Jess and I love voted “yes” to marriage equality.

And fortunately, Jess loves me. A failed pilot, a guitar hoarder, a former shift manager at McDonalds, childhood member of the Double Helix Club, a former adviser to an Australian Prime Minister, and a pun-loving, ukulele learning dad of one.

Thank you to my Australian Labor Party family and my community who have honoured me to add Labor Parliamentarian to that list.

There is no greater agent for change, no volunteer organisation more effective, no cause more just than that of the Australian Labor Party.

I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities this country has afforded me.

Grateful the Whitlam Labor government opened up our universities, ensuring my parents met at Claremont Teachers College.

Grateful to have been surrounded by driven, independent women all my life.

My great grandmother Rooke who worked as a proud public servant for decades at the Australian Taxation Office in the Perth CBD.

My Grandma Pat, a working single mum who lived on Walcott Street just meters from where Jess and I now raise our son Leo.

My grandmother Joan who for more than 50 years has run one of Western Australia’s most successful family-owned farm supplies businesses.

As a chronic asthmatic child my parents broke most parts of the traffic code at one time or another rushing me to Fremantle Hospital. I am here because of Medicare and our public health system.

I benefited immeasurably from a world-class education at Lance Holt School, Melville Senior High School, Curtin University and the University of Western Australia and am indebted to Australia’s teachers.

That education drove me to have a career dedicated to delivering fairness.

I worked for Labor Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who delivered fairness in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis, grew Australia’s international development program, and enacted reforms to give Party members a real say and ensure stable leadership of the Australian Labor Party.

This prepared me to serve as State Secretary of WA Labor, lead our 2017 State Election campaign and work to elect Mark McGowan as Premier of Western Australia. Mark is a great Australian, a good friend and I thank him for his support.

We built a team that wrote new electoral history in Western Australia, elected the greatest number of women ever seen in the State’s parliament and delivered on a landmark Plan for Jobs.

Both the Prime Minister and I share the honour of having served as state secretary of our respective political parties.

Political parties are an essential and precious part of our democracy.

INSTITUTIONS

But right now, our party system, this Parliament and our executive government are being weakened.

Diminished by populism, racism and a strong sense that our institutions are no longer effective.

Too often the Australian people look to this Parliament and see the worst reflection of our society. It shouldn’t be this way.

I hope, one day, people will again look here and see role models.

This will take commitment from every one of the 226 members of this Parliament.

It requires us to protect and respect the institutions that made this country.

Some 30 years after it was built - we need to reengage people with this building and the work done here.

One simple way would be to expand the Parliament and Civics Education Rebate to fully fund the costs for schools to visit our Capital.

We should also follow former Western Australian Premier Geoff Gallop’s lead and hold interstate and regional sittings of the Parliament on a yearly basis.

And of course, we need to treasure our Public Service and those that hold us accountable in the media new and old – institutional players like the ABC and The West Australian through to newer entrants like the Conversation and BuzzFeed.

VISION FOR PERTH

The Australia I love would be nothing without Perth.

Perth is the heart and the brain of Western Australia.

Perth is Boorloo on the banks of the Derbarl Yerrigan and home to Aboriginal leaders past, present and emerging.

Perth is home to businesses tiny and global. Home to mighty trade unions new and old.

Perth is Australia’s beacon to the Indian Ocean economies and the GMT +8-time zone.

Perth welcomes new Australians and has a proud migrant history.

Perth is a city full of ambitious and entrepreneurial people.

Western Australians have a sense of fairness that helps us grow our national economy and create the opportunities of the future.

It was these values that saw Western Australia’s Carmen Lawrence become the first female Premier of any state in Australia.

Western Australians are recognised for grasping opportunity and turning it into something bigger.

We need to be equally ambitious in our approach to economic infrastructure.

As a modern city we must plan across local, State and Federal government for a metropolitan Light Rail connecting our CBD to the Burswood peninsula, Kings Park and the great universities of our inner metropolitan area.

As an entrepreneurial city we should commence a visionary redevelopment of East Perth Power Station. This building should be full of art, culture or history – not sadly decaying on the banks of the Swan River.

And urgency should be applied to lay the track of the Perth - Morley - Ellenbrook Metronet rail line as soon as possible. We must fast track the train.

VISION FOR WESTERN AUSTRALIA

To achieve my ambitions for Western Australia we need stable policy when it comes to resources, energy, agriculture and a regulatory environment that encourages new businesses.

An environment that ensures our tax system is fair and seen to be fair – the most urgent being delivering a fair share of the GST to Western Australia. Every Western Australian is sick of debating the GST just as I am sick of seeing the money that could fix such injustices go offshore through tax avoidance.

Western Australia is one of the most diverse and beautiful places on earth yet lacks a built world class family tourist destination.

If Western Australia is serious about international tourism then we have to seek investment for, or make the investment ourselves, in new major tourist attractions.

Western Australia has the time zone, location, climate, space and skills to host international theme parks with a uniquely Australian flavour.

VISION FOR AUSTRALIA

And when tourists and visitors come to Australia they should see a progressive and welcoming country.

We demonstrate this to the world through an Indigenous voice to Parliament enshrined in our Constitution.

We demonstrate this to the world when we stand as an Australian Republic.

We demonstrate this to the world by building the world’s best education system from the earliest years through to lifelong training and learning.

We demonstrate this to the world by aiming to be the country with the highest living standards and best quality of life anywhere on earth.

LABOR LEADER BILL SHORTEN

The Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten, has welcomed me into his team to deliver A Fair Go For Australia.

He truly understands the meaning of fairness. 

Both of our mothers were teachers and education lecturers. There is no greater grounding in social justice than having a teacher as a parent.

Both he and I completed a Master of Business Administration, knowing education is the key to realising your vision.

And we both know that the safety of workers is paramount. He showed that as he represented his members in Beaconsfield.

In Western Australia, we live it every day. Jess works in the resources industry, as do many Western Australians. We need to keep our workers safe.

Together he and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, Tanya Plibersek, lead a united team that truly represents the Australian community and is committed to equality in this place and every workplace.

Bill and Tanya, thank you for your support and for your leadership. 

MY LABOR FAMILY

It is an honour and privilege to join the Western Australian members of the Federal Parliamentary Labor Party.

Together with Senators Dodson, Lines, Pratt and Sterle I am proud to serve in this place alongside;

The Member for Cowan who I first met when my boss, the then Foreign Minister, launched her book in 2011.

The Member for Burt who I first worked with when we served as President and Secretary of WA Young Labor.

The Member for Brand and myself both had the honour to work for the Gillard Government during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting held in Perth.

The Member for Fremantle, both he and I are sons of Freo, and amongst many things, found ourselves as ambassadors for democracy as we observed the 2014 Afghanistan Presidential Election count in Kabul.

And I pay tribute to my good friend, Tim Hammond, who made an incredibly difficult decision to leave the Parliament in the best interests of his family.

Equally, I am here, unashamedly, in the best interests of my family.

Because I want Leo to grow up in a fair society full of opportunity for him and his friends Spencer, Isla, Ethan, Saul, Lincoln, Matilda and Meredith.

Because I want Jess to experience true gender equality in her lifetime.

That is why I will proudly and publicly be a parent in this Parliament and in my Electorate of Perth.

When Leo was born I took three months paternity leave. I wish I had been brave enough to ask for and take more.

Because every child, every parent and every community benefits from us building a workplace culture and workplace laws that enable Australians to be fully engaged parents and have fulfilling careers.

This is not an easy policy outcome to achieve.

But big economic reforms never are.

EDUCATION

There is nothing more effective I can do for the parents and families of Perth than build our education system.

Australia’s public primary and secondary education system are the envy of the world. Government run. Well-funded. Accessible. Free.

Early childhood education is a fundamentally different story.

It is a sector that boomed in response to the post-war economic needs of the workforce.

A proud achievement of the feminist movement of the 1960s.

But the wages in the sector are disrespectful to thousands of professional educators.

And as a society we treat it as a purchased service in a $13.7 billion a year industry, not a public good.

We know from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are the “first and best opportunity we have to build strong foundations for optimal development”.

It makes no logical or economic sense that we leave this to the free market.

Early childhood education is the first step of our nation’s education system.

There is lots of discussion about free university education.

We need a national discussion about free early education and free childcare.

We should work as a nation to bring childcare and early childhood education more into line with primary school.

Government run. Well-funded. Accessible. Free.

If early childhood education gives Australians the beginnings of the soft skills needed for the 21st century, then it is TAFE that delivers the economic grunt of the education system.

Yet today, TAFE fees are the most regressive tax on the capability of our people - a stop sign on the road to economic growth.

TAFE is how we support our people through economic disruption and change of everything from automation, to blockchains, to a low carbon, clean energy economy that prevents catastrophic climate change.

The fees for TAFE across the country are embarrassing - with some courses having increased in cost more than 510 per cent.

Australia needs to urgently reverse this trend.

Labor’s plan to abolish upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places is the start of a visionary restructuring of TAFE across the country.

I am excited to be part of fixing our broken TAFE system.

A repair that only Bill Shorten and Labor can deliver.

Our Party has the persistence to implement creative, progressive policies.

Bob Hawke did with Medicare.

Paul Keating did with superannuation.

Julia Gillard did with the National Disability Insurance Scheme.

Because investing in our people is how we become the country with the highest living standards and best quality of life anywhere in the world.

THE WORLD

“Freedom from fear and freedom from want” were the two rights of all Australians that Senator Dorothy Tangney declared in her first speech following the 1943 Federal Election.

Freedom and commitment to effective national security is a fundamental Labor value.

37 years later Kim Beazley reminded this place in his first speech of the Constitutional obligation of the Commonwealth to protect the states from invasion.

He outlined the posture needed for the protection of the vast coast of Western Australia, including the Pilbara, as key defence priorities.

He delivered on this vision as a great Defence Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of this country.

Today the risks to our national security are amplified by disengagement with international institutions, ongoing economic instability and digital attacks that we only learn about years after they occur.

Australia cannot be relaxed and comfortable when it comes to digital national security.

We can’t stand on the sidelines as a passive participant in the global and regional forums that deliver peace and stability.

And we cannot expect a shared commitment to a rules-based order where we have done nothing to ensure peaceful development.

I will be a voice in this Parliament for growing our International Development program because it fulfils our humanitarian obligations and our security necessities.

It is only by fulfilling our mission as Australia, the Good International Citizen, that we truly protect freedom and achieve our ambitions as a nation.

THANK YOU

The greatest achievement in my life is my family.

I love Jess and the life we are building together.

We love Leo and how he keeps us alert, grounded and excited about the future.

And Leo and I love Jess and all she achieves as one part of the 18 per cent of women working in the Western Australian resources sector.

To my parents Wendy and Ron Gorman. Thank you for showing me that education and political action makes an overwhelming difference.

Thank you for taking me on marches for land rights, peace parades and tree planting excursions.

Thank you for the middle name Possum. And this Possum thanks my younger brother, Joseph Anachie Gorman.

Thank you Jess’ parents Diane and Danny Bukowski and her brother Andrew for welcoming me into their family and making Brisbane my second home.

It takes a village to raise a by-election candidate.

Thank you to the former members of Perth, Stephen Smith and Alannah MacTiernan and the State members in Perth, Lisa Baker, John Carey, Alanna Clohesy, Dave Kelly and Simon Millman for their support. 

Thank you to the National Secretariat under the leadership of Noah Carroll, Sebastian Zwalf and my friend since I was a teenager, Paul Erickson.

Thank you to my Campaign Director and successor as State Secretary Matt Dixon and to Ellie Whiteaker, who will shine in the male-dominated world of party officials.

Thank you to my Campaign Manager, David Cann – a man who has enthusiasm for campaigning that can never be curbed.

Thank you to my Field Director, Lucy Morrison – who will make her mark on Western Australian Politics.

Thank you to my National Organiser, Callum Drake who became an honorary West Australian.

I thank the State and Federal Labor members, Ministers, Shadow Ministers and most importantly the grassroots Party members and branches of the Perth electorate and further afield.

Thank you to the union members that campaigned in the Perth by-election and a special thanks to the members of United Voice, the AMWU, the CPSU and the SDA.

Thank you to the community groups and local businesses that engaged with our positive campaign.

Thank you to the campaign team members including Marije Van Hemert, Phil O’Donoghue, Ben Latham, Alisa Shibalova,  Owen Wrangle, Naomi McLean, Daniel Smith, Klara Andric, Julie Bogle, Sheena Cole Bowen, Mark Reed, Stacey Hearn, Clem Avenell, Dennis Liddelow, David Goncalves, Daniel Street, Stuart Aubrey, Brock Oswald, Lisa Tibbs, Jack Eaton, Fran Hickling, Tim Dunlop, Lex Guider, Steph Anderson, Toyah Shakespeare, Matt Rogers, Robbie Williamson and thank you to Ester Borcich who after a 12 week campaign will do it all again in a few months’ time.

Thank you to the Opposition Leader’s team, led skilfully by Ryan Liddell.

Thank you to my first employers in State and Federal Parliament Ken Travers and Melissa Parke.

Thank you to the staff I have had the privilege to work with in Ministerial, Prime Ministerial and Backbench offices – hundreds of dedicated people and lifelong friends. 

And, to three women who have had faith in me for many, many years Carolyn Smith, Sue Lines and Amber-Jade Sanderson – thank you. 

Finally, thank you Kevin, Therese and the Rudd – Rein Family for your friendship and encouragement over many years.

Kevin – thank you for the advice to discover “What do you believe in? Why? And what are you going to do about it?”.

Therese, thank you for the simple and well-timed reminders to be myself. 

A special thank you to Jess Rudd for her support of my wife Jess during a never-ending by-election campaign.

CONCLUSION

This is as much a speech to the Parliament as it is a speech to my future-self.

Therefore, I end with the words of the greatest Western Australian to serve in this place, John Curtin.

I do this to remind me, for however long I may be here, and in whatever capacities I may have the honour to serve, the purpose of electing Labor members to the Parliament of Australia. Curtin said:

Labor is a peace-loving party. Its struggle has always been on behalf of the weak against the strong; for the poor, for those who never had a chance as against those whose privileged positions enabled them to prosper—even though millions suffer.

Thank you.