SENATOR KRISTINA KENEALLY
DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOME AFFAIRS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR IMMIGRATION AND CITIZENSHIP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR GOVERNMENT ACCOUNTABILITY
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
SATURDAY, 11 SEPTEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: FOWLER PRE-SELECTION; COMMUNITY OF FOWLER; COVID-19 VACCINATIONS; MULTICULTURALISM; TREATMENT OF WOMEN; MORRISON GOVERNMENT’S FAILED TEMPORARY MIGRATION SETTINGS AND EXPLOITATION OF TEMPORARY MIGRANTS.
PAUL HUY NGUYEN, PRESIDENT, VIETNAMESE COMMUNITY AUSTRALIA, NSW: Good afternoon everyone. Today is our great pleasure to have the Senator Kristina Keneally come and visit our Vietnamese culture centre. And visiting Fowler. Welcome Senator. And today is a great day - our culture centre is a pop-up vaccination hub. This is our first day, today. We're welcoming all of our community members to come here and take up the vaccine. And today, it's a great honour to have our Senator and come and visit us. And the great news, well, hopefully, first of all, I want to wish you best of luck, in-coming Federal Member for Fowler.
KATE HOANG, NATIONAL VICE-PRESIDENT, VIETNAMESE COMMUNITY AUSTRALIA: Hi, I just would like to welcome Senator Keneally to visit Cabramatta, and also the Fowler area. This is a great honour for the Vietnamese community to have the very first Federal MP to be in the cultural centre - especially our pop-up vaccination hub. This is wonderful news for the community. And thank you for her visit and attention to the Vietnamese community.
SERA YILMAZ, COUNCILLOR, FAIRFIELD CITY COUNCILLOR: Good afternoon, everyone. My name is Sera and I'm delighted to be here as a local councillor, particularly for this ward of Parks area. First of all, I'd like to thank the Vietnamese Community in Australia, and Paul Huy Nguyen and Kate Hoang - the VCA executive - for finally having a very successful bid when it comes to getting a vaccination hub here in the heart of, let's say, Bonnyrigg.
I would like to say that our local community has expressed their concerns to me over a number of periods. Whether it's over the last two months or every single hour of the day. Many of our community residents are struggling to put food on the table. There’s economic hardship happening right now. A lot of the government grants don't apply to a lot of our businesses. There's a massive loophole there. There's a lot of our health services that have no resources, to a point where they're struggling to cope with this pandemic. So, we need someone who is really strong, to take the fight to the government.
And I must say, as a local councillor, I would like to be truthful without fear or favour, to endorse Senator Keneally. And I brought this list along because I just really wanted to point out how extremely deserving she would be for this role.
Senator Keneally was the former State Minister for Aging, Disability Services, Infrastructure, Planning, the first ever female Premier of New South Wales, which is fantastic. And I say this, as the Secretary of the Australian Local Government Women's Association, New South Wales branch.
She's the current Federal Senator of New South Wales, the Deputy Leader of the Labor Party in the Senate, Federal Shadow Minister for Home Affairs, Immigration and Citizenship, and the Shadow Minister for Government Accountability. I would like to also add Superwoman there as well.
So, without further ado, I'd like to welcome Senator Kristina Keneally and hopefully the future Federal Member of Fowler.
KRISTINA KENEALLY, DEPUTY LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE, SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES: Thank you so much, Sera. And I do want to begin by acknowledging that we meet on the land of the Cabrogal people of the Darug nation and pay my respects to elders past and present.
I'd also like to thank the VCA for inviting me here today and pay tribute, particularly to Paul and to Kate and the VCA members and volunteers for putting this vaccination pop-up hub on. It is incredibly important. The fact that vaccination rates here in southwestern Sydney are on par with the rest of Sydney is a real tribute to the community leaders, like Paul and Kate.
Because it's the community leaders that have ensured that their community members had access to information in language, had a place they could go where they felt comfortable to get a vaccine, had the information they needed, and the encouragement they to get vaccinated.
And, so I thank them, and pay tribute to them, as well as all the community members who have come forward for vaccination. And all these people who have made it so possible for our communities to keep functioning, whether it be transport workers, the retail workers, the frontline police and ambos, the nurses.
The fact is, we would be lost without these key crucial workers, and so many of them live here in Fowler and I pay tribute to them.
I want to thank Sera, for her very kind words of welcome here today, and say that it's great to be joined by such a strong, formidable female local representative serving her local community. Thank you for all you do, Sera.
Now, the thing about this vaccination hub, and why it is so crucial - is because the local government areas of Fairfield and Liverpool have been doing it so tough. They have been let down by a state Liberal government and by a tired eight-year Morrison Federal Liberal Government.
They have been let down by Mr Morrison. Who failed on his job on vaccination. Didn't secure enough supply. Who failed on his job with quarantine. Let this deadly COVID third wave breakout into southwestern Sydney.
And, failed by Mr Morrison again when his own Health Department left community information sheets, in community language, languish on websites with information that was months out of date. And that is why the work that people like Paul and Kate are doing is so crucial. Because they're stepping in, when Mr Morrison stepped away.
The communities in Fairfield, and in Liverpool have also been let down by the Berejiklian Government. A Liberal state government that didn't lockdown Bondi fast enough, allowing this deadly COVID outbreak to come to southwestern Sydney, and then imposing some of the harshest restrictions on these communities.
They've also been let down by the Berejiklian Government for not getting the isolation payments in place fast enough. Those workers I just spoke about in Fowler - many of them are in insecure, casual work. They had no choice but to go to work - just to put food on the table and pay the bills.
And again, the communities in Fairfield and Liverpool have been let down by Gladys Berejiklian, who is still refusing to meet with the mayors here in southwestern Sydney.
The people of Fowler, the families of Fowler, deserve better – they deserve a government that is on their side. And so, this is why I want to step forward and be their local representative.
I acknowledge last night that the New South Wales branch the Labor Party endorsed me as the candidate for Fowler. Now I want to thank people like Sera, and other branch members in the local community, including Kate, who have encouraged me to run and supported this candidacy.
I want to talk a bit about why I made this choice. Why I chose to move to Fowler. To move both physically, and I hope, representationally. And, that is because the reason I've gone into politics is to stand up for social justice, for community, and to use every ounce of energy I have to get a fair deal, particularly for communities who are being left behind.
I know what it is to work with a local community, to organise, to advocate, to agitate and to deliver results.
And after eight years of this tired Liberal Government, this, "I don't hold a hose mate", too little, too late attitude of Scott Morrison, the communities in Fowler need a voice at the highest level of Government. And I want to step forward to be that voice.
These are communities I know well from my time as a minister and as a Premier. I think Paul, we first met some 10 years ago. And so, to come here, to work with the Vietnamese community, with the Chinese community, with the Serbians and the Croatians and Muslims, the Italians, this is a diverse multicultural area. One that I want to advocate for, fight for, and deliver for.
I want to address a couple of other things. This community here in Fowler - while it is geographically different to the place I represented in the state parliament – in the state seat of Heffron in South Sydney. It's actually very similar in many ways. My seat of Heffron, was one of the most challenged economically. It had the highest proportion of public housing. For a period of time, several years, it had one of the most disadvantaged postcodes in the country. And it was incredibly diverse.
Like Fowler, it had people, nearly half of the electorate born overseas, another 75% of the electorate was one parent born overseas. It was a community I lived in, I loved and I represented.
This is a community I will live in, I will love and I will represent. I know how to fight for communities like this, it’s why I’ve gone into politics.
And that is why, come the next election, I want to go into the House of Representatives as the voice of every family, every small business, every faith community in Fowler, and stand up for them in every possible way as a senior minister in an Anthony Albanese led Federal Labor Government.
I’m happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Senator, your colleague Anne Aly has been very critical of Labor this morning essentially about this whole situation, moving aside Ms Tu Le to make way to for you. Do you think that this whole scenario stands?
KENEALLY: Let me just that it’s great to be here with the Vietnamese community. I welcome their support and endorsement, and I pledge they will always have me as a friend and most importantly, always have me as a fierce advocate. And I'm proud to be part of a party that gets culturally diversity. And let me take this head on because I'm a little bit disappointed in some of the media coverage here. If you look across southwestern Sydney, you've got MPs: Ed Husic, Michelle Rowland, Mike Freelander.
Let's look at the state level; Nick Lalich, Guy Zangari, Tania Mihailuk, Jihad Dib, Daniel Mookhey, Shaoquett Moselmane.
I'm proud to be part of a party that supports gender diversity, and supports multicultural diversity. And by the way, I'm also proud to be part of a party that at the state and federal level, has elected Linda Burney to parliament. That has Pat Dodson and Malarndirri McCarthy in our ranks.
I’ll stand our commitment to multiculturalism up against our Liberal opponents any day of the week. And with a leader, with a name like Albanese, you can be sure that a commitment to multicultural Australia sits at the heart of his government.
JOURNALIST: Senator we’re a long way from Scotland Island, right. What do you actually have to offer the people of southwest Sydney here, instead of someone from the local community with strong local ties?
KENEALLY: You know, I get why you ask the question. Sure. But I remind you, I have represented New South Wales, and all of Sydney as the Minister for Disability Services, as the Minister for Planning, and as the Premier of New South Wales.
I hit the ground running here. I’ve already got relationships in place with people like Paul, with the local Imams councils, and other community groups. I know how to organise, I know how to bring people together and I know how to deliver results.
In fact, here in southwestern Sydney, it was state Labor governments, it was my state Labor government that was responsible for delivering things like the Parramatta to Liverpool T-way, the M5 extension, the southwest rail links, the upgrades to Liverpool hospital, the upgrades to Cabramatta and Fairfield stations.
Fairfield is in my neighbouring seat of McMahon, but nonetheless, here in southwest Sydney. it is has been Labor governments that have delivered. And it will be an Albanese Labor Government, and I put myself forward to be the voice for southwestern Sydney, particularly the seat of Fowler, in that government. And I joined some fantastic representatives here and good friends in Jason Clare and in Chris Bowen.
JOURNALIST: Just on, you spoke of diversity in relation to the party. Some of the major pillars of that is cultural diversity. How do you think this will be received today? [inaudible] someone from the Senate, knocking off a local, grass roots member.
KENEALLY: Actually, I’m going to ask someone who is from the local community and does have a multicultural background, and is represented, to maybe answer that question.
YILMAZ: I’d like to express personally, my disappointment in the arguments about multiculturalism because I, for one, am someone who actually spoke at one of the ‘Politics in Colour’ forums recently for people in local government running. I support all kinds of multicultural backgrounds. I, myself, have a Turkish background, and I know how it feels to be discriminated. But I think what we need to really look at right now in this situation is who has the capacity and the experience and the fight to take on the government.
If we have a look at the polls and how we're doing, I think we're faring pretty well. I think Kristina has what it takes, and I'm saying this as a local of this area who was born and who still lives here. I think, when I heard about Kristina, interested in the seat of Fowler, I was extremely happy. And it's because I know she's got the fortitude, she's got the conviction, she wants to sit on the fence. I know she's got what it takes.
And it's really sad, because unless you're in Indigenous Australian, everybody here is pretty much a migrant. I don't think it's fair to constantly use ethnicity as a reason as to why people should be in leadership positions. They don’t use that when it comes to workplace employment. And I for sure, don't want to be discriminated against because of who I am, or not be able to run for something because of who I am.
I think it should be based on merit, I think we really need to push out this emotion. And all of these ridiculous articles trying to pull the Labor Party apart, and focus on the goal, which is fighting this government with someone who has the conviction and the power to do so.
JOURNALIST: Senator, on that note and on that point, this isn’t articles pulling the Labor Party apart, your colleague has said that this move is essentially is just paying lip service to multiculturalism. What do you make of that claim?
KENEALLY: I think I've addressed those issues quite comprehensively.
JOURNALIST: Do you think that anything like this should go to a rank and file vote at all?
KENEALLY: Oh, look I think that's a fair enough question. But it's probably a little bit of history for some of the media who probably haven't paid as much attention to Fowler over the years. And really can I say, this is probably the most media you've seen in Fowler in a long time. So, we're already bringing some much needed attention to this part of Sydney. But Fowler has had some special provisions in place now for many, many years. In fact, Mr Hayes, when he was endorsed, did not go through a rank and file pre-selection. But we're also in the middle of a pandemic, and making pre-selections more challenging. And with Mr Morrison doing his whole wink and nod, is he going to have an election before Christmas? Really, we need to ensure that our pre-selections are done as quickly as possible.
JOURNALIST: There’s a photo circulating this morning, of Kate, campaigning for the Liberal Party. Firstly, I guess Kate, if you don't mind addressing that photo. Can I ask you about that photo? I just wanted to ask your history with that photo, when it was taken and when did you join the Labor Party as well?
HOANG: Sure. I was the Vice President, and I’m still now the Vice President of the Vietnamese Community. So, the Vietnamese Community is a bipartisan organisation, so we do support all parties and all political parties. So, that photo is one of the support that VCA given to the MP supporting us. So, we also supporting other Labor member. I think that was admitted in the article and just only focus on the Liberal Party. So, I think it's very unfair for people like myself who work in the community, wearing the hat of the community, and also a party member. So, I think that’s all my comment. I wasn’t acting in the capacity of a political member.
NGUYEN: Can I just add to Kate’s answer to that question? Actually, I am a Liberal member, and at this very place before the election in 2019, we have invited three federal members of the Labor Party - Jason Clare, Chris Bowen come here to explain, if they win the election how they're going to give back to the electorate? But at the same time, we’re always supporting David Coleman. He's a member of Banks, who looks after our Vietnamese constituents. So, our job is a bipartisan organisation. And we support both parties. Kate was there, with me, to help David Coleman because the photo one at the time was promise us to flash an amount acquire a significant amount of money for our Vietnamese museum. So, you know, that's, that's a support we give to every member that look after our constituent. So, you know, to have an article, presumably this is quite a bullying tactic to against a member, a young member of the Labor Party, and that's very actually unfair, outrageous.
KENEALLY: Kate is a member of the Cabramatta branch of the Australian Labor Party and a member of the Centre Unity faction. She spoke up last night and I thank her. She spoke up and supported my candidacy, she spoke up on behalf of the local community in which she lives. And for that, she has been treated with some pretty low, intimidatory tactics. And really, we in the Labor Party, in 2021, we’re much better than that.
And so, I’m going to say this right out loud. To Kate, to Sera, and to all other young woman in the Labor Party, I'm calling that behaviour out on your behalf, and I'm backing you in. And I just say to anyone who thinks, that that is still an OK way to behave in politics, and in political parties, have another think, have another long look in the mirror and wake up to the fact that it’s 2021.
JOURNALIST: Just on [inaudible]. You’ve got Bowen backing you and some other senior Labor people backing a local candidate, how are those positions going be healed, can they be healed over the next few months?
JOURNALIST: By you?
KENEALLY: By all of us working together. The main game here is the removal of this dreadful, tired, eight-year-old Liberal Government and a Prime Minister who doesn't take his job seriously.
Who thinks everything's a matter for the states. He doesn't “hold the hose mate,” the vaccine is not a race.
Right here, in this community, we are seeing, living, the reality of that attitude. The complacency has led to people losing jobs, their children not going to school, them being locked down in the harshest conditions across the state, across the country.
So yeah, that’s the main game, and that’s what we’re all focussed on. Changing government so we can change lives for the people in this community. Change them for the better.
JOURNALIST: Last year you wrote an op-ed on immigration. Looking at, reflecting on the intake post COVID. Do you support, your comments last year, do you think that could be a bit of an issue in the upcoming election given where you’ll be for the campaign?
KENEALLY: No, I don’t think they will. Because what my comments were about was the fact that this Government has allowed temporary migration to grow to historically high levels. We have the second highest temporary migrant intake in the OECD. We have the largest temporary migrant workforce behind the United States. And let’s be clear what that means.
It means shocking exploitation of temporary migrants. It means creating a two-tier society, where some people have access to services and rights and others don’t. It’s the Americanisation of our society and trust me I know what that looks like and it’s not what I want to see happen here.
We need to restore the link between temporary and permanent migration. We need to restore the focus in our migration program on permanent migration.
It’s families like Kate’s, like Paul’s, like Sera’s, and indeed like mine, I came here as a permanent migrant. Who came here to settle down, to create families, to build businesses, to contribute to their community. That’s what our migration program used to look like.
Under the Liberals, it has been vastly changed, leading to exploitation, a two-tiered society and, yes, impact on wages. Don’t take my word for it. Take the word of the Reserve Bank Governor, Phil Lowe, who has made the point now, over and over, that the increasing reliance on temporary migration, where you can bring in workers, pay them less and exploit them, has a negative impact on the rest of the economy.
It depresses wages in the rest of the economy. That is the Reserve Bank Governor’s argument.
So, I think what we’ve seen in this pandemic, where this Government refused to provide support to temporary migrants, and frankly has done nothing about wage stagnation or exploitation, yeah, we do need to fix the migration program, absolutely. This community is proof of the success of what the migration program used to be, and what it can be again.
Great, thanks everyone.