Linda Burney, the newly elected MP for Barton, gave an historic, powerful maiden speech yesterday.
I enter this place as a representative of the people of Barton, a community I have been proud to live in for almost 20 years.
If there is a god of demography it is one of his great ironies that the seat named for the architect of the White Australia Policy has become amongst the most multicultural in the country. Over half of the people in Barton were born overseas; almost 10% in China; we have a well-established post World War II Greek Community; A thriving Arabic speaking community;
We have a rapidly growing Nepalese community and a small but active Indian community. People from every corner of the globe. Barton is a kaleidoscope of languages, ethnicities and cultures
I’m not sure what Sir Edmund would think of this ethnic wonderland being represented in this place by, of all people, me and a Koori woman to boot! From Campsie to Kyeemagh and from Beverly Hills to Brighton – this electorate couldn’t be a more shining example what our modern Australia looks like.
For the benefit of those in this house and in the other place who doubt it, I want to place here on the record;
We are a stronger community because of this diversity;
We are better for our differences, and;
We are richer for the broader cultural experience that it affords us.
… people in our community know that the invisible hand of the market cares little for the needs of the most disadvantaged. They recognise that the government’s job is to ensure services are provided – whether it is education, healthcare or social assistance – government cannot simply outsource its responsibility.
Rhetoric about the evils of government intervention mean nothing to a mother in Campsie escaping domestic violence and searching for a bed that night.
As a school teacher, as member of the NSW Anti-Discrimination board; as a Director General; a representative of first Peoples to the UN; Local member and as a Minister responsible for at risk children – I’ve seen why government intervention is necessary. We cannot sit on our hands in places like these this hoping for it to be so.
So Mr Speaker, why Labor? Well my story speaks for itself: raised by a drover and boundary rider; shaped by a combination of love and adversity; politically blooded in the Aboriginal rights movement; and embraced by the strength of Labor and the Labor movement. There was never a question of being anything else!