House debates

Wednesday, 27 November 2019


Shortland Electorate

7:30 pm

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

As the year draws to a close, I want to draw to the attention of the House some of the highlights I've experienced this year and to recognise some of the remarkable people and organisations that I am fortunate enough to represent in this place. Throughout the year, it's been fantastic to meet with and visit many groups and organisations, including, but not limited to, Caves Beach and Redhead surf lifesaving clubs; Belmont Neighbourhood Centre; Charlestown Junior Cricket Club; Valhalla Men's Shed; Cardiff District Men's Shed; Redhead Men's Shed; Kahibah Sports Club; Swansea Meals on Wheels; Nova for Women and Children homelessness and domestic violence service; Sing Australia, Belmont; Lake Macquarie PCYC at Windale; Camp Breakaway; Lakes United rugby club; Charlestown Scout Group and Belmont Baptist Church. They're just some of the countless volunteer and community groups that make me feel so humbled to represent the people of Shortland.

I was very pleased to again host the 'Shortland morning teal' to raise funds for ovarian cancer research, and I thank our inspirational local ABC journalist, Jill Emberson, for sharing her personal story and her strong advocacy on this issue throughout the year, including speaking at Parliament House. I also thank Associate Professor Nikola Bowden for her amazing research work and Carolyn Bear for her ongoing commitment to fundraising for this important cause. I'm pleased to continue the tradition begun by the former member for Shortland Jill Hall in holding this event.

It's been fantastic to have engagement once again with the various RSL sub-branches throughout Shortland, and I pay tribute to every single sub-branch for their care of and commitment to our veterans and their dedication in commemorating Australia's proud military history. Thanks to Lyle Dalton and the Boolaroo-Speers Point sub-branch and to Bill Duffy and the Swansea sub-branch for hosting me on Anzac Day, and to Joe Hayes and the Belmont sub-branch for inviting me to their service on Remembrance Day.

One of the highlights of my job is engaging with schools in Shortland, both locally and when they visit Canberra. It's always a great opportunity to meet years 5 and 6 students at parliament—they always have interesting, and sometimes difficult, questions for me. During STEM Week, I visited Charlestown East Public School, where it was great to hear Adrian Dawson, an engineer from CSIRO, talk with the students about his work. From the questions the students had for Adrian and for me, I'm confident there will be talented scientists, mathematicians and engineers from this cohort at Charlestown East.

I also want to acknowledge the 50th birthday of Charlestown Meals on Wheels. This is such an important organisation that really does play a vital role in providing a basic but fundamentally important service to people in their homes. I also acknowledge Charlestown Rotary for their contribution to this service. Thank you to all the Meals on Wheels groups in Shortland.

The Redhead Men's Shed has built a magnificent miners memorial, and I was privileged to speak at the official opening. The prosperity of the Hunter region is built on the sacrifices of generations of miners, and it's important that we have this memorial to commemorate that sacrifice.

Recently, I attended the Reclaim the Night march at Warners Bay with member for Charlestown, Jodie Harrison; the member for Swansea, Yasmin Catley; and the Mayor of Lake Macquarie, Kay Fraser. I thank the Lake Macquarie Domestic Violence Committee for organising this important event, which focuses our attention on the fact that we have such a long way to go in addressing this scourge on our society.

Another recent visit was to the Lake Macquarie PCYC at Windale. I also pay tribute to the contribution they make. Windale is a special place and has some real challenges, and it's great to have such a positive organisation and facility in Windale. I thank Martin Eddy and his team for what they do for this community and the broader region.

Finally, I'd like to draw to the attention of the House an event that occurred in my region today, a Newcastle community forum held by the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. Earlier this year I wrote to the commissioners asking them to come to the Hunter, and I'm very pleased this came about. I thank the commissioners for their interest. A community forum in Newcastle was important for my constituents and those in our region to provide feedback directly to Commissioner Lynelle Briggs about their experiences of the residential aged-care system and home care packages. The system is broken, and Scott Morrison's $537 million commitment this week is a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed. I want to thank my constituent Deanne Morris and others who attended the forum. Deanne has been a tireless advocate for reform to the aged-care system, given her mother's horrific experience in residential care. It's voices like Deanne's that are important for the commissioners, and for Scott Morrison, to hear.

In the coming weeks I'll be announcing the winner of the Shortland Christmas card competition for a Christmas card designed by a local student reflecting the great theme of Christmas with pets in the Lake Macquarie and Central Coast area. I look forward to announcing the winner.

Finally, I wish all my constituents a merry Christmas and best wishes for the new year, and thank them for their ongoing support.