House of Representatives Speech- Legal Assistance Services

Over the last year, I have spoken often about the importance of legal assistance services in ensuring access to justice. It is well recognised that the Attorney-General has a special responsibility to uphold the rule of law. Sir Anthony Mason has said that it is 'a responsibility of the first importance' and a responsibility an Attorney-General is obliged to uphold, even against his own colleagues. It is often said, for instance, that an Attorney-General should speak out in defence of the judiciary. Certainly that is true, but the rule of law goes beyond that. As former Federal Court judge the Honourable Kevin Lindgren said, 'The rule of law and a strong independent judiciary are empty ideals if people cannot access the courts.' If the Attorney-General is to truly defend the rule of law, he must foster real access to justice.

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House of Representatives Speech- Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014 is another shameful part of the government's attack on the renewable energy industry and on the renewable energy policies of the former Labor government. ARENA, which is the subject of this bill, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, was established by the former Labor government in 2012. It was established as an independent agency, designed to improve the competitiveness of renewable energy technologies in Australia and to increase the supply of renewable energy to Australia's electricity market. It was a part of a comprehensive set of policies designed to reduce Australia's carbon emissions, to reduce Australia's reliance on fossil fuels and to make sure that Australia can play its part with the community of nations in tackling what is, of course, a global problem—that being the global problem of reducing carbon emissions so as to reduce the effects of dangerous climate change, the effects which we are already experiencing here in Australia.

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House of Representatives Speech- Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014

This bill will enable employers to undercut basic award entitlements—a move that even former Prime Minister John Howard admitted was a key mistake of Work Choices. And of course former Prime Minister John Howard subsequently reinstated the no-disadvantage test in 2007.

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Equity and Prosperity in Australia. What is the role of egalitarianism in our future prosperity? - Fifth Renate Kamener Oration

What is the role of egalitarianism in our future prosperity?

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House of Representatives Speech- Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014

I rise to speak to the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014. Australia has a long history of participating in intercountry adoptions, dating back to the immediate aftermath of the Second World War. Going forward a couple of decades, a dramatic example of Australia's history of participating in intercountry adoptions was Operation Babylift in the final days of the Vietnam War that saw approximately 280 children from orphanages in Saigon adopted by Australian families. Australia has a long history of participation in intercountry adoptions and a growing interest, since the Second World War, in intercountry adoptions. That interest ultimately culminated in Australia signing in 1998 the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in respect of Intercountry Adoption, which is known by the short title of the Hague convention.

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House of Representatives Speech- Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2014

The Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2014 is, in effect, an initiative of the last Labor government. A bill in substantially identical terms was introduced into the parliament by the then Attorney-General, the Hon. Nicola Roxon MP, but it lapsed at the end of the 43rd Parliament. That bill had the same name. It was the Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2012.

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House of Representatives Speech- Regulatory Powers (Standard Provisions) Bill 2014

As I as saying before question time, there is a need to cut through this government's empty rhetoric about supposed red tape and deregulation and to look always at what is actually proposed. In that regard, the inaugural Independent National Security Legislation Monitor, the eminent Australian lawyer Bret Walker QC in his final report, tabled last week, cut through the government's rhetoric with a few pithy statements about the proposal to abolish his office and the legislation which created his office. He said there was no prior consultation with the INSLM before it was announced that repeal of the INSLM Act would be sought by the government as part of the reduction of red tape. Mr Walker went on to say:

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House of Representatives Speech- Environmental Defenders Offices

Prime Minister Abbott recently described himself as a conservationist. This absurd claim would be hilarious if the damage the Abbott government is inflicting on the environment were not so serious. Callous disregard for the environment extends to all corners of this destructive government, and the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis, is no exception.

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House of Representatives Speech- Isaacs Electorate: City of Greater Dandenong

I would like to congratulate the City of Greater Dandenong, which last night in Parliament House was presented with the National Award for Local Government in the category of Multicultural Australia—Strength in Diversity. The National Awards for Local Government are an annual celebration of Australian local government achievements. Through the awards, the Australian government celebrates local government projects that are innovative, deliver better outcomes for communities, have the potential to be rolled out across the country and make a meaningful difference. In particular, I would like to congratulate Mayor Jim Memeti and Councillors Youhorn Chea, Angela Long and Matthew Kirwan, who, together with Jackie Gatt, the council's officer, were in Canberra to receive the award for the council's 'Racism. Get Up. Speak Out' program. It was a pleasure to see them all here.

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House of Representatives Speech- Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2014-2015

I want to address some questions to the Minister for Justice about section 18C, but first I want to mention the comments that have just been made by the member for Higgins and responded to by the minister in relation to the Secure Schools Program. What was missing from the minister's answer and, indeed, what was missing from what was said by the member for Higgins was any acknowledgement—and one was due—about the fact that there is bipartisan support for the Secure Schools Program and that there was $20 million in the 2008 budget for three years for the Secure Schools Program to fund security works not just in Jewish schools but in schools at risk from racially and religiously motivated violence, which we deplore, not just in Melbourne but throughout Australia. And there was a further $15 million in the 2011 budget over three years, which I had assumed had bipartisan support.

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