Of the new crop of members in the House of Representatives delivering maiden speeches on Tuesday evening, Labor’s Sally Sitou was up first, as Independent Zoe Daniel closed the evening.
As the newly-minted Member for Reid in New South Wales, Sally Sitou called for action on climate change and more support for university research. Prior to her election win, Ms Sitou was a communications adviser at the University of Sydney, and has previously worked as a doctoral researcher at the University of Sydney Business School focusing on the finance industry.
Before Ms Daniel entered politics at the end of last year, she worked as a sessional lecturer in Journalism at RMIT University and as a communications and public relations consultant. This capped her three decades as a reporter and foreign correspondent at the ABC.
Ms Daniel, who unseated Liberal Tim Wilson to become the Member for Goldstein in Melbourne, said the urgency of the climate change task had been highlighted by the degradation identified in the State of the Environment report released last week.
“To our young people, our kids, our babies: I’m sorry. I’m sorry that your generation is going to pay the price for the failure of those who have come before you, for failing to make the government take the action we need to futureproof our nation and the globe from the devastating impact of climate change on your lives and those of your children,” Ms Daniel said.
She said she arrives in parliament with determination and optimism, and looked forward to opportunities for Australia.
“Australia has a chance to lead and to take our place in the world as a nation of innovation. In doing so, we must implement an effective integrity system a corruption commission, transparency of political donations, ministerial diaries, whistleblower protection and truth in political advertising.”
And we must hold the government to account on safety and economic empowerment of women and girls.
“Let us shift the focus from hard infrastructure like roads and bridges to hospitals and schools and give women and girls their best opportunity to participate in the economy, taking into account their multiple competing priorities. Higher productivity is critical and timely, universal, cheap, and flexible. Childcare is central to this to cater for women working fragmented shifts,” Ms Daniel said.
Ms Sitou’s put a clear emphasis on the government’s concept of education.
“We have allowed our university and TAFE sectors to languish, and, worse still, the previous government actively undermined tertiary education. They oversaw the most job losses the sector has ever seen – estimates of around 12,000 jobs lost in the higher education sector because of the pandemic,” Ms Sitou said.
“And the sad irony is that it was our university researchers we relied on to help us manage the pandemic: epidemiologists, virologists, public health experts. But it’s not just applied research that matters. We also need research in our arts, mathematics and basic science to be valued, because they provide the essential foundations for all future applications.
“If we can get this right, there is a kingdom that awaits us all, one made up of highly skilled and fulfilling jobs, an economy that is productive and makes the most of our talents and where imagination is valued.”
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