House debates

Thursday, 8 September 2022



4:39 pm

Sam Lim (Tangney, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Australia's future is built upon shared values and the colourful diversity of its many citizens and guests, and their many stories. But I may suggest that the very cornerstone of Australian democracy and the greatest test of other democracies is the provision, accessibility and use of social infrastructure. It's not difficult to find things that divide us: the way we walk, the way we talk, where we came from and where we live, whether we store our Vegemite in the pantry or our shoes at the front door. If we look past our noses, we will find many differences between us, so where in our society do we find places that can bring everyone together? There is social infrastructure, our shared space—our parks and their barbecues, green spaces, schools and child care centres, places of worship, markets, countless beautiful beaches and wonderful rivers—but none of these are more glorious than our libraries.

I love the library. What other place can people leaving prison go to access a computer to find a job? When a new family arrives in Australia and can't speak English, where else do they know to go to learn? When you are studying for an exam to build a better future for yourself or print your CV for a job application—or maybe you are looking for an opportunity to find out about activity in your community and how to be involved—you have the library. Libraries provide so many functions, and they are tailored to fit the needs of their own communities. Whether people want to start a business, wish to research or are a new mother who feels isolated and wishes to meet other mums to share their many difficulties and also their many joys and triumphs, the library is there to support the community.

The library is the intersection of communities and a meeting place for people looking for a better life. It is a joy to know that the people in community in Tangney are so well serviced by so many libraries, staffed with very wonderful librarians. Be it in Willagee or Willetton, Bull Creek or Riverton, there is a library for you. My constituents can also visit AH Bracks, Civic Square, Geoffrey Bolton and Canning Bridge Express libraries. My community is only made stronger through their contribution and assistance. I must thank them for the work they do and the role they play in our community.

Libraries provide a vital service. By design, libraries are dynamic and create resilient communities, because libraries are not about books; they are about people. Libraries do not discriminate between old or young, rich or poor, citizen or guest, black or white, purple or pink; all are made welcome. Our libraries are best when they are supported to do their jobs. The last government did not support librarians well enough to retain their jobs and keep food on the table when libraries were closed, particularly when our libraries across Australia contributed resources for public health awareness and support activities. The libraries in my electorate had support activities in response to the pandemic. I look forward to having a library membership with all the libraries in my electorate. Of course, I must thank the Parliamentary Library here in Canberra for assisting even with this speech and with the work of my office.

Where else can the public get these institutions, sometimes with high ceilings and beautiful windows and other times small and close to home, places where the public is welcomed warmly and given opportunity to leave with so much more than they entered with? Andrew Carnegie had a phrase he used to describe libraries. They are 'palaces for the people'. Palaces for the People is also the title of a fantastic book, which you will be pleased to know you can borrow for free from your local library.