FAMILIES, HOUSING, COMMUNITY SERVICES AND INDIGENOUS AFFAIRS AND OTHER LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (EMERGENCY RESPONSE CONSOLIDATION) BILL 2008

There is no watering down in this legislation. I rise in support of the Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs and Other Legislation Amendment (Emergency Response Consolidation) Bill 2008, and wish to say straightaway, in response to the repeated suggestions that were made by the member for Murray—suggestions that were also made earlier today and on Monday night in this House by the member for Warringah—that the legislation waters down the Commonwealth response in respect of the present difficulties being faced by Aboriginal communities in the Northern Territory, that those suggestions are wrong.

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CROSS-BORDER INSOLVENCY BILL 2008

I am pleased to speak in support of the Cross-Border Insolvency Bill 2008. The purpose of this bill is to give effect to the model law of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law, UNCITRAL. The enactment of the model law in Australia should encourage other nations, particularly our neighbours and trading partners, to adopt this reform. Enactment of the model law in other countries will enable Australian creditors to pursue more easily corporate miscreants such as the infamous Christopher Skase.

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Isaacs Electorate: Surf-Lifesaving

I rise to speak about some of the unsung heroes in my electorate of Isaacs. These are the fantastic men and women who volunteer as lifesavers on the magnificent beaches in my electorate from Mentone to Carrum, along Port Phillip Bay. Isaacs has seven lifesaving clubs: Mentone LSC, Mordialloc LSC, Aspendale LSC, Edithvale LSC, Chelsea Longbeach SLSC, Bonbeach LSC and Carrum SLSC.

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COMMONWEALTH AUTHORITIES AND COMPANIES AMENDMENT BILL 2008

I rise also in support of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Amendment Bill 2008, which is a bill to amend an important piece of Commonwealth legislation, the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act 1997. This act is an act that governs reporting and management requirements that are imposed on a range of statutory authorities and a number of Commonwealth companies in which the Commonwealth has a controlling interest. By way of illustration, among the statutory authorities are important bodies such as the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the Australian Government Solicitor, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Australian Industry Development Corporation, the land councils in the Northern Territory and a range of other bodies—the Australian War Memorial too is an authority that is governed as to its reporting and management requirements by the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act.

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Isaacs Electorate: Friends of Braeside Park

I want to pay tribute to the work done in my electorate by the Friends of Braeside Park.

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Broadband

Late last year, a number of residents of the Epsom estate of Mordialloc in my electorate contacted me about the lack of availability of high-speed broadband in their area. Working with Janice Munt, the member for Mordialloc in the state parliament, I was able to bring this to the attention of Telstra and the then shadow minister for communications, Senator Conroy. The failure to upgrade the local exchange meant that residents in this area were unable to access what hundreds of millions of people in developed countries around the world take for granted. It was with some satisfaction that recently I was able to inform local residents that Telstra had agreed to upgrade the local exchange to make it ADSL2+ enabled.

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Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands

I would like to speak today about the Edithvale-Seaford wetlands, a large part of which are in my electorate of Isaacs, as well as the work of the Friends of Edithvale-Seaford Wetlands, a dedicated community group. The wetlands are listed under the Ramsar convention as being of international significance.

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Lunar New Year

Today I wish all Australians who have recently celebrated the lunar new year a happy and prosperous Year of the Rat. On 9 February I celebrated the Tet festival with the Vietnamese community at the Sandown Racecourse in Springvale as the guest of the Victorian chapter of the Vietnamese Community in Australia. Many people at the festival told me that the Year of the Rat is a good year to begin a new job, being the first year of the 12-year cycle, and that it is an auspicious year for the first year of the new Rudd Labor government.

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Dental Health

I want to speak about two very important election commitments the Rudd government has made to the Australian people in the area of dental health and what this will mean for my electorate of Isaacs. I want to start by recalling the actions of the former Liberal government in this area. In one of its more miserable acts, the Howard government scrapped Labor’s Commonwealth Dental Health Program on taking power in 1996, which ripped more than $100 million from public dental services. This had an enormous impact on the lives of ordinary Australians in need of dental health care. The Howard government followed this act of meanness with more than a decade of blindness to the problems affecting dental health.

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Apology to Australia's Indigenous Peoples

I strongly support this apology. It is a decade late but its lateness makes it all the more welcome. State and territory governments apologised following the delivery of the Bringing them home report in 1997. The Australian Labor Party, in opposition in 1997, moved to apologise in this place but the motion was lost. It gives me a particular personal satisfaction to stand in this House and see the fulfilment of a promise made by the Australian Labor Party to offer the apology that was made last Wednesday, 13 February, 2008, which will be a historic day for our country.

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