Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


New South Wales State Election

5:39 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise in the chamber today to speak about the upcoming state election in New South Wales. I am proud as a Labor senator for New South Wales to also be the Labor duty senator for Parkes, Calare, Farrer, Riverina, Lyne and Hume. One of the greatest parts of my work is my travel to the rural and regional parts of our great state, which this past weekend took me to Dubbo, Warren, Wellington and Koorawatha Show, across three of my electorates. I'm not the only person who spent this weekend working. I got paid, but the people who are standing for the election do it for absolutely nothing. Many Australians don't seem to understand that.

Over this weekend and for the past few months, I've had the great privilege of meeting and doing my best to support, from a distance, candidates running for Labor in the upcoming state election in areas that overlap with my duty seats. While most people consider their ideal weekend to be spent relaxing and spending time with family or friends, these candidates have decided to devote themselves wholly to their communities, often travelling huge distances, as rural New South Wales necessitates. I feel it's only right that I recognise them and their efforts in this place today. For people who aren't so clear I will just repeat that none of these citizens who are standing for election are putting themselves forward with any sense of recompense. They are doing it as a gift to our democracy.

Josh Black, Labor's candidate for Dubbo, is a high school teacher and a councillor in Dubbo. I was privileged to join Josh on Saturday night and Sunday morning as he spent his weekend hosting politics in the pub and participating in Clean Up Australia Day with other volunteers.

Michael Pilbrow, who has spent his lifetime volunteering in and supporting his local community, is Labor's candidate in Goulburn. Last weekend, Michael met with local stakeholders. He held a stall at the Goulburn Show and travelled to Sydney for the official launch of the Labor for New South Wales campaign.

Sally Quinnell, Labor's candidate for Camden, is a popular local school teacher who spent her weekend out and about hosting street stalls, speaking to locals and consulting her community about what they want and need to see from a Minns Labor state government.

Max Buljubasic is Labor's candidate for Murray. He spent his weekend meeting locals and consulting with his team as he begins to get his campaign on the ground.

Chris Dahlitz, Labor's candidate for Cootamundra, lives in Narrandera, but he spent his weekend travelling to the Koorawatha Show to attend the annual show and provide service to local people. I was lucky enough to join him there and talk to locals about the issues that truly matter to their communities.

Mark Vanstone is a community nurse and Labor's candidate for Myall Lakes. He was at the Black Head markets, talking to members of the community.

Keryn Foley is a mother of three, a mediator and family counsellor, and also Labor's candidate for Wagga Wagga. Keryn spent her weekend at the Tumut Show, talking to locals and ensuring that voices of all within her community were heard.

Keith McMullen, a former high school teacher and our candidate for Port Macquarie, hosted a politics at the pub event and held a stall at the Sunrise Markets in his electorate.

Heather Dunn, a remarkable young accountant and university student, is Labor's candidate in Orange. She spent last weekend running street stalls, talking to locals and engaging with federal MP Susan Templeman, talking about the importance of arts in education.

Joshua Roberts-Garnsey, Labor's candidate for Barwon, is a public school teacher in Narrabri. Josh spent his weekend travelling almost 500 kilometres between his home and Cobar and Broken Hill to host his campaign launch and consult with members of the community. He then travelled under 500 kilometres home.

Cameron Shaw, along with his wife and campaign manager, Keira, is the proud father of their six-month-old son, Ronin. He's also our candidate for Bathurst, and he spent the weekend travelling to Sydney to attend the official launch of Labor's New South Wales campaign.

Marcus Rowland, Labor's candidate for Albury, is a local primary school teacher who was born and raised in the Albury community. He spent his weekend travelling through electorates to towns like Mulwala to make sure he is consulting all members of that vast and diverse electorate.

And all of this was in addition to doorknocking and letterboxing, which also occupies these courageous candidates' free time. I am extremely proud to support all candidates standing for Labor in the upcoming election. As a former teacher and university lecturer myself, I'm particularly proud that five of the 12 candidates running in these seats are current or former teachers. There will always be more work to be done, and we're continuing to strive to improve representation and participation of women and First Nations Australians in politics, especially in the regions. Labor is strong and has an ever-growing presence in the regions— (Time expired)