House debates

Thursday, 4 April 2019


Batman Electorate: Cooper Chronicles

11:40 am

Photo of Ged KearneyGed Kearney (Batman, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Every week or so I do a little video for my constituents of Cooper that updates them on what I've been up to in the electorate and what has been keeping the people of the electorate activated. I decided that I would bring that to parliament and do my 'Cooper Chronicles' update from here.

As you would know, it's budget week. I'm sure you've noticed that there is not much in the budget for the good people of Cooper. There are certainly no ideas, no great vision for this country. Laura Tingle had it right when she wrote recently for the ABC:

A tumultuous six years of declared debt and deficit crises, culture wars and internal warfare, the Coalition's sixth Budget seems to reflect a government that has collapsed, exhausted, in on itself.

Nothing that you, the good people of Cooper, care about has had a budget boost. That's including our beloved ABC, which I know the people of Cooper care very greatly about.

A couple of weeks ago, the wonderful Linda Burney visited Cooper and she met with some families and individuals struggling with the NDIS. She met parents of children with really complex care needs who cannot get their packages updated in a timely manner to deliver the rapidly changing care needs of their children. They cannot get crucial updates for their houses, like ramps, and assistance with bathing their children.

We spoke to two families in particular. I have to say they were at the very limits of managing. I could see the tension and anxiety in their eyes. I could hear the exhaustion in their voices from the frustration of inaction by the agency, and I felt the tension and pressure that this situation had put them under. To think that the delays and underspending had been by design, to think that this government has willingly put those poor people through that to save money for a fake surplus is beyond belief. You deserve better than that.

Then there are jobs. There was a major dispute in Cooper that ended just last week. Workers at the distribution centre for Chemist Warehouse went on strike. They had major concerns about casualisation, worker harassment, poor wages. They won their dispute after a long and bitter battle, and I congratulate them and their union, the NUW. I was proud to go down and support them at their protest, to support the workers and the other community members of Cooper who went down to help. Just imagine what your life is like if you have to wait for a text message at night-time to tell you that you have a shift the next day at work. The anxiety and insecurity that that creates is unbelievable.

This is a situation for so many, and if you are not in a workplace that is highly organised with your union, it is almost impossible to just go up and ask for a pay rise. You may not get that text that night; you may not get that next shift; you may not get that next pay packet. Insecure work, low wages and few rights—it's a story that I hear over and over again from people in my electorate. There is nothing from this government to help raise wages. There is nothing from this government to ensure decent jobs and a living wage.

Now, I know also for the people of Cooper that climate is a huge issue. We have many wonderful activists in my seat who come and see me almost on a daily basis. They want action. They want urgent action. They want us to be on an emergency footing to deal with climate change. Labor will address this on a large scale. We have a large plan; we have a plan that is achievable. We have a plan that will make a difference, and it is ambitious.

There's so much that can be done on a local level in Cooper. Did you know, for example, that Cooper has some of the least canopied streets in the state—yes, less trees means higher temperatures and adds to global warming. We need to do something about that. We have some wonderful creeks in Cooper—Darebin Creek, Merri Creek, Edgars Creek—and they are screaming out for care, for extra resources, to make sure that they stay clean. The management associations do a great job, but I'm pleased to say that we will commit $1 million to the waterways of Cooper to make sure they are clean.

We have committed $4 million to the Moreland Energy Foundation to help establish community-run sustainable energy providers. We will put $40 million into extending the Gilbert Road tram. We will have Indigenous rangers. We know that these things are important to the people of Cooper, and I'm proud to say that I am in the Labor Party. Should we form government, we'll provide action on all of these things and make life better for the people in my electorate.