House debates

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


Petition: Imports, Page Electorate: The Bridge

7:15 pm

Photo of Janelle SaffinJanelle Saffin (Page, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I have two things I want to raise tonight. One is a petition that has been before the Petitions Committee, which has given me a letter saying that it is in order. The principal petitioner was Mark Zirnsak from the Uniting Church Centre on Little Collins Street in Melbourne. This issue impacts on us right across Australia and in the region.

The petition read as follows—

To the Honourable The Speaker and Members of the House of Representatives

This petition of certain citizens of Australia draws to the attention of the House:

Research by the US Department of Labor and UN bodies has identified goods being imported into Australia where slavery and human trafficking have been involved in their production. These goods include cocoa, seafood, clothing, bricks and rugs from some countries.

While it is an offence for any Australian company to engage in any financial transaction involving a slave, regardless of where it occurs in the world, no effort is currently made to identify Australian companies importing goods that involve the use of slavery in their production.

As citizens of Australia we should be able to purchase goods without having to do our own extensive research to determine if the goods are free of slavery and human trafficking.

Your petitioners therefore ask the House to:

1. Introduce legislation that requires:

(a) Government to undertake research to identify goods imported into Australia where there is a risk slavery or human trafficking have been involved in their production.

(b) Industries, where this risk exists, to take all reasonable steps to minimise the possibility of slavery or human trafficking being involved in the production of goods they import.

2. Amend the Financial Management and Accountability Act 1997 and the 'Commonwealth Procurement Guidelines' to require suppliers to provide guarantees that their supply chains are free of slavery and human trafficking.

from 7,119 citizens

Petition received.

I was happy to present the petition, but I equally wanted to make sure that this was recorded in Hansard. This is such an important issue.

I now turn to a more local issue. Last Friday night I attended a musical event at the local Lismore bowling club. It was performed by the Bridge. I want to tell honourable members about the Bridge. The Bridge is a project to build on an ongoing collaboration between musicians and multimedia artists of varying abilities. Mike Smith, Doug Snug, Michael White, Jackson Reid, Mark Dein and Zeb Schulz are the Bridge. Playing a range of acoustic and electronic instruments and using sound, image and text the Bridge create an ever-changing sound and light show of non-song based experimental, contemporary, popular music.

Why support the Bridge? Three members of the Bridge have a disability, although you do not see it when they perform. The band has been invited to Poland and the Ukraine in September this year to play music and workshop with other musicians who also have disabilities. They have been invited to stay as artists-in-residence at Ukraine's Palace of Arts. They have also been invited to Poland on a tour called the MOST project. It is being supported by the Tone Foundation in Krakow and an arts organisation called Unsound, an appropriate name.

Jackson Reid, Mike Smith and Mark Dein of the band are positive role models for the disability community. It is a chance for them to showcase the talents that people with disabilities possess in countries—and I am talking about Poland and the Ukraine—where those with disabilities are often institutionalised. I know that they will be talking about the NDIS and showcasing DisabilityCare Australia and the wonderful development here.

This unique opportunity of overseas skills sharing is supported by the local volunteer arts group Real Art Works. Real Art Works is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to developing creative arts projects utilising the skills of artists of varying abilities to interact with marginalised groups, either culturally or geographically, to create multi-artform outcomes with a high level of quality that foster creative culture and encourage social awareness. Real Art Works is a registered charity with deductible gift status.

I am quite proud of the Bridge collaboration. It is a wonderful thing that they are doing locally. When I asked how I should describe them they said, 'As an inclusive band.' I think that is the appropriate language. I wish them well in Poland and the Ukraine.