Let's send Tony Abbott a message that WA won't stand for his Cuts and Attacks

Senator PRATT (Western Australia) (13:49): As the nation knows, Western Australia has a historic senate election underway. It is an unprecedented event in our nation's political history. I am very pleased to be a candidate, proud to be a Western Australian Labor senator here to stand up for my home state, a place I grew up in and have lived in all my life. This election gives Western Australia a chance to send a strong message to Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Premier Colin Barnett that Western Australians will not stand for their broken promises. With the mining boom slowing, the Abbott and Barnett governments should be investing in Western Australia to build more rail, road and energy infrastructure, not cutting jobs and services as they are doing. Western Australia is already paying its fair share. The people of my great home state should not have to put up with two Liberal governments breaking their promises and commitments. This election cannot change the government, but it is a very real opportunity to vote for a Senate that can hold Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his government to account. Continue reading

Speaking Up for Australia's Clean Energy Future

The Labor Party and Labor senators oppose the Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill and related bills. Why? Because Labor's position on climate change is very clear. It is a clear position based on scientific evidence and sound economic principles. We on this side of the chamber understand the need to reduce the risk of dangerous climate change by cutting dangerous greenhouse gas emissions. We on this side of the chamber understand that the best way to do this is to recognise the real cost of pollution in the bottom line of our nation's polluters, and this is best achieved through a market based mechanism. Labor established such a mechanism and in the short time of operation this mechanism has delivered cuts to emissions with no negative effect on inflation and continued employment and economic growth. Continue reading

Adjournment Speech - Stop the WA Shark Cull

A couple of weekends ago it was a terrific privilege to stand side by side with thousands and thousands of Australians—in particular, West Australians—at Perth's Cottesloe Beach to protest against the Western Australian shark kill policy. This is an appalling policy of Premier Barnett. The majority of Western Australians understand that the ocean is the natural habitat of sharks, yet Premier Colin Barnett and minister Greg Hunt are mutually complicit in this bad policy. Greg Hunt has approved it with absolutely no evidence that it will prevent any deaths. He signed an exemption to the relevant act on 10 January, but he waited 10 days before making it public. I am not sure about the reason for this secrecy. Maybe it is another example of the general veil of secrecy which we are used to with the Abbott government, but I suspect that he felt that, without the delay, he would have been exposed for having made the decision in a rush without any evidential basis for having done so. Continue reading

Adjournment Speech - ACT Marriage Equality

I am very proud and honoured to be able to rise this evening to acknowledge the marriage of my close friends the Hon. Stephen Dawson MLC and his husband, Dennis Liddelow. They are Western Australians, but they were very proud to come and be the very first couple married under the new ACT laws. Theirs was one of some 20 marriages that took place over the weekend. It took place right here in Canberra, outside Parliament House, at one minute past midnight on Saturday. It was particularly pleasing for me to be there as an official witness at their wedding, because I was unable to travel to their civil union in Ireland more than a year ago because it was a parliamentary sitting week. It is a good indication of what Australian couples and their families and friends miss out on when they cannot get married on Australian soil or in their home state. It was an absolute thrill for me to be able to be their official witness. Their marriage not only marks the significant love shared between Dennis and Stephen but it also marks the fact that marriage equality in our nation is possible. It is possible if we, as law-makers in this great country, have the moral belief that all people in this land of ours are equal. Continue reading

Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013

I begin my contribution to the second reading debate on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (Abolition) Bill 2013 by acknowledging the discussion that we had yesterday in this place when we separated the package of bills out to be debated separately. The Leader of the Government in the Senate, Senator Abetz, said he had a mandate for this package of legislation. Well, I can tell you there is no mandate. We can repeal the carbon tax without abandoning the important principles of a holistic framework to manage carbon emissions in this country. We can have an ETS that commits us to binding targets and lets business work out the most efficient ways of cutting emissions. We can do this without abandoning the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is in fact the most efficient form of direct action that I have seen. We can also keep transparency, independent advice and good governance by retaining the Climate Change Authority. Continue reading

Adjournment Speech - Education Funding

I rise this evening to talk about the great responsibility a government has to the nation to provide a quality education to the next generation. This is something Labor takes very seriously. On this side of the parliament, we have always stood for a fairer, more accessible and higher quality education system. A good education is the best creator of opportunity in our society. It is why as a government we put forward the $15 billion Better Schools Plan so that our children could get more of the individual attention they need from their teachers to be able to reach their full potential. Continue reading

WA Senate Poll Declaration Statement

It’s a humbling thing to be an election candidate. To have been put forward to be the agent of so many others – to represent the people of our great state of WA in the Parliament. I am especially humbled to be a candidate for the ALP which has such a long and significant history in fielding candidates and electing MPs who are committed to delivering prosperity and equality to all in our great nation. On that note I would also like to acknowledge the 348,000 people who voted labor in the Senate here in WA. I understand that in declaring a result today that AEC is operating within the requirements of the Electoral Act. I also know the AEC takes very seriously the issue of the more than 1300 electors who have been disenfranchised by these missing ballot papers and the potential subsequent impact on the election outcome. Continue reading

Adjournment Speech - This election.

I rise this evening to talk about the forthcoming election. It is an opportunity for me to reflect on the things that I have been part of. They are things that have been delivered by two great Labor leaders: Prime Minister Gillard and Prime Minister Rudd. I know not, as I speak at this time, which one of them will lead us to the forthcoming election but I know that both leaders, and this great party of ours, have a wonderful legacy which we are all here to fight for. It is a grave reminder to me of what is at risk for this nation should Labor not have the opportunity to implement its future agenda and it gives me an opportunity to reflect on how we formed government in minority and how, despite those nay-sayers opposite, we have delivered a full term and a very full agenda in the best interests of the nation. Continue reading

Marriage Act Amendment (Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2013

I rise today with somewhat mixed emotions to offer a few comments on the Marriage Act Amendment (Recognition of Foreign Marriages for Same-Sex Couples) Bill 2013, because it does bring me a great deal of distress that this parliament has failed to make progress on this issue and that we are debating today a somewhat compromised version of what should be full marriage equality. My views that all couples, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, should have access to marriage are well known. I have repeatedly stated my strong support for full marriage equality both inside and outside parliament and have campaigned on this issue in the community. I have argued passionately for equality on this issue on the basis of both my personal experience and equal treatment and fairness for all Australians. That equal treatment and fairness for all Australians is the driving force behind my political engagement. Continue reading

Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013.

I am very pleased to give my support to the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Intersex Status) Bill 2013. This bill is the latest in a very long list of reforms delivered by this federal Labor government to support the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians. These reforms have included recognition of same-sex couples and parents; improving the processes by which transgender and intersex Australians have their identity recognised on Commonwealth documentation; providing Australians who want to get married overseas with access to certificates of no impediment; and introducing specific health and aged-care strategies for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex Australians. Continue reading