Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 September 2014


Falls, Miss Claire, Steel, Mr Kurt

7:05 pm

Photo of Kate LundyKate Lundy (ACT, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Last week my colleagues Tanya Plibersek, Bernie Ripoll and I met a local constituent with a difference. Claire Falls is a 12-year-old Canberra girl with a love for playing soccer who is fighting to restore the $175,000 in funding that has been cut from the Australian Paralympic soccer team, the Pararoos. Claire has made an impassioned and compelling case and has a full diary of meetings as she continues her campaign, including meeting with Football Federation Australia CEO David Gallop last week.

While she is only 12 years old, Claire has taken on this issue with the dedication and sophistication of a seasoned professional. I urge my colleagues opposite to take Claire, and the message she carries, seriously. Her message to the federal health and sport minister is to restore this funding, and she has a compelling case. The Pararoos are ranked in the top 10 in the world and without this financial support they are unable to train or compete. But knowing Claire, she will not sit back and wait. She is seeking support. You can help by adding your signature to a petition and you can follow her on her blog at

I also have another issue I would like to raise tonight and it is a very sad one. I would like to speak tonight about something that has rocked the ACT Labor family and the ACT community this week: the tragic loss of Kurt Steel. Our community and our cause have lost a young man of tremendous talent, passion and integrity—a young man who always had a sparkle in his eye and an enduring, positive approach to everything he was involved in. It is never easy to lose a member of our Labor family like this, but to lose a young man of Kurt's outstanding calibre, dedication and potential is an unspeakable tragedy. Our movement was immeasurably enriched for his work and I was lucky to have known Kurt for many years through our shared appreciation for both sport and, of course, Labor. His genial nature and zest for life cannot be overstated. It was always a genuine pleasure to encounter him as I did many times at a sporting event or through his tireless involvement in the ACT branch of the Australian Labor Party.

His contribution to our community and party was considerable, whether it was in his professional role as advisor to my colleague Andrew Barr or his voluntary roles throughout the party organising for the annual conference and various policy committees, and his work and interests across all of those entities.

The many eloquent and kind words that others have written about Kurt's life are justly deserved and certainly appreciated amongst the community. Our movement and our Canberra community will not be the same without him. We will be inspired by his memory. Our thoughts are with Bryce Logan, who was his best mate and his travelling companion just days earlier, and of course Gemma Barnes, who is recovering in hospital from the accident. Our thoughts go to her as well.

Finally, I would like to offer my deepest and heartfelt sympathy to Kurt's family: his parents, Jayne and Phillip, his brother, Chris, and his sister, Yasmine. Also, his friends and colleagues and all those whose lives he touched. It is such a sad loss to our community, to all of us, but particularly, of course, to his family. Our thoughts are with them right now.