Labor's Shameful Political Games on Nepean Hospital

  Labor hides their Shadow Health Spokesman Walt Secord in the NSW Upper House, where he does not have to go face to face with the formidable and highly respected Minister for Health Jillian Skinner. From his protected perch he regularly bullies the Minister and tries to undermine the confidence and morale of our health system and its workers. Last week's stunt on Nepean hospital is a typical example. As an MP actually born at Nepean hospital I took a very personal interest in calling out Labor's shameful political games. Continue reading

SPEECH ON THE SUBCONTINENTAL COMMUNITY IN NEW SOUTH WALES

I recently gave a speech in the Legislative Council on a Private Members Motion congratulating the sub-continental community on the enormous contributions that they have made to New South Wales through hard work and determination for a better life. In doing so, I also paid tribute in particular to the Indian communities in South-West and Western Sydney and their local members Melanie Gibbons MP and Dr Geoff Lee MP, who are both doing an incredible job engaging, representing and embracing the wonderfully complex diversity of those parts of Sydney.I also highlighted the importance of events like Parramasala and Starry Sari Night which underpin the good faith that we have built with the diverse communities in our State. They also help others of non-subcontinental backgrounds to understand and share in all that the subcontinent has to offer.I look forward to events like Parramasala in 2017 and hope that the future holds even greater diversity and cultural offering from all those who look to make New South Wales their home. Continue reading

Adjournment Speech: NSW Harm Minimisation Summit

I was pleased to take an adjournment speech as an opportunity to report to the parliament on the recent NSW Drug Harm Minimisation Summit. The community expects their elected representatives to be open to all points of view on complex issues like drug abuse.  I have attached Hansard of the speech and a video below.  Continue reading

2016 United Nations Day of Vesak

Every year millions of Buddhists around the world celebrate Vesak Day, an officially recognised United Nations holiday that celebrates the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. This year I was privileged to deliver the official message from the Premier, the Hon. Mike Baird MP, at an event to celebrate this auspicious occasion at Sydney's Town Hall on Sunday 15th May. My speech from the day is contained below. Continue reading

Adjournment on Arts in Western Sydney

Recently I spoke in the Parliament in support of the planned relocation of the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, known to most people as the Powerhouse Museum, to Parramatta.In doing so I wanted to highlight the funding deficit for the arts in Western Sydney and the need for fundamental reform to the distribution of cultural investment in New South Wales, of which the relocation of the Powerhouse is a part.Nearly one-third of NSW's population live in western Sydney, but the region receives just 1% of Commonwealth arts program funding and 5.5% of the state government's arts budget.  Continue reading

Speeches on the NSW Lock-out Laws

Recently I spoke on Adjournment in the NSW Upper House to give some context and share my views on the controversial ‘Lock-out’ laws currently in place across parts of the Sydney CBD and Inner-east. The laws are currently being independently reviewed by the Hon. Ian Callinan AC QC.  Over two nights, I spoke about the history of the night-time economy in the Kings Cross area, from my perspective as a Councillor representing the area from 2000, and as a local resident and business-owner. As I said in my speech, there is no doubt the laws have been successful in reducing alcohol-related violence and re-establishing authority on the streets.  The government now needs to think carefully about what we do next to make sure that Sydney continues to be a thriving, creative, world-class city; a city that is safe for everyone to venture out to in the evening. You can read the two short speeches from hansard here, and as always I would be pleased to hear your views on this important issue. Continue reading

International Day of Sport for Development and Peace

Across the developing world, the 6th of April this year -‘International Day of Sport for Development and Peace’- was greeted with celebration. In Rwanda it was marked by a government announcement that a film production crew would soon start filming video stories by ‘Football for Hope, Peace and Unity’ an organization aiming to use sport to raise awareness and commemorate the genocides in Africa. Closer to home, in Tonga, it was cause for a mass Aerobics session at the Queen Salote Memorial Hall, supported by the Tongan Health Ministry and the Australian Federal Government. Whilst we face different challenges here in Australia, we need look no further than our own backyard to see the valuable role that sport plays in developing a sense of community, keeping communities healthy and active, and overcoming social and economic barriers. I was invited to represent the Minister for Sport the Hon. Stuart Ayres MP at the Sports for Social Change Youth Leaders Forum held at Fairfield Community and Youth Centre. Together with Anne Bunde-Birouste, Founder of Football United, and Mike Brown, Brad McCarrol and Assmaah Helal from Creating Chances, we discussed with a group of young leaders, how sport could help enable the next group of young leaders in their communities. We reflected upon role of sport in social change and peace at both a local and international scale. Continue reading

2016 Blake Prize

  The Blake Prize, one of Australia’ oldest art prizes, celebrates art of a religious or spiritual nature. The Prize is not necessarily about artefacts or iconography like the Crucifix or the Menorah, though such references are often involved. Moreover, it celebrates art which tackles the subject matter of spiritual life, ethics and themes such as life and death in a meaningful way. The prize is open to all faiths and cultures and so it’s no surprise that it fits perfectly within the community that it now calls home, the dynamic and fast-growing cultural hub of Liverpool in Sydney’s South West. I was fortunate to have the privilege of representing the NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for the Arts, Troy Grant at the exhibition and celebration of the Blake Prize at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre (CPAC) on Friday the 12th of February. I was joined by Councillor Ned Mannoun, Mayor of Liverpool City Council, as well as the Director of CPAC, Ms Kiersten Fishburn. Continue reading

40th Anniversary Launch of Tenants’ Union of NSW

I want to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land, the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, and their elders past and present and thank them for their centuries of stewardship of this land.   Thank you to the Tenants’ Union of NSW for this opportunity to participate in today’s very special event – the launch of the Tenants Union’s 40th Anniversary. It is an honour for me to be here representing Minister Brad Hazard – one of the most experienced and senior ministers in the parliament today. Your sector is in good hands within the government. My congratulations to all those  who have worked with the Tenants’ Union during the past 40 years, for your important contribution in advancing the interests of tenants in this State. In particular, I want to acknowledge your work in support of social housing tenants in NSW, including some of the most vulnerable members of our society. I say this as someone born and raised in public housing in Penrith in 1960’s. Continue reading

The importance of the community housing sector

The community housing sector is a vital part of the NSW housing market and is well placed to partner with government and non-government actors to deliver profit for purpose homes for NSW. To give you an idea of the scale that community housing providers and the NSW government are operating at, presently, around 28,500 social housing properties, including over 1500 crisis and transitional properties, are either leased or funded by government to community housing providers for management, or had their ownership transferred to providers by government. Of these, 98 percent are managed by 32 providers, with the largest 10 providers managing a combined 17,500 properties. Community housing providers are our great partners in the overheated property market of Sydney. Hence it was a great honour and a privilege to speak to the NSW Federation of Housing Associations Annual General Meeting this morning on behalf of the Minister for Community Services and Social Housing, the Hon. Brad Hazzard MP. Click here to continue reading my speech. Continue reading