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Agitating for the Future

I have spent the last twelve months in the ‘Future of Work’ portfolio focusing on technological change and the profound impact it will have on employment through automation, alteration and addition. Automation will change a number of jobs fundamentally, often to the point where they no longer exist. Alteration means that time will be ‘freed up’ through the use of…

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Community Integration and Universal Values

Politics, essentially, is about the expression of values. A large party like the Labor Party encompasses a number of different traditions, whereas smaller parties might draw on a single tradition, but whatever the case, we’re all driven by values. I was raised in a household where my mother had us quite young. She was nineteen when she had my brother…

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I’ll Have The Salad Thanks!

My portfolios of Citizenship & Multicultural Australia, Environment & Water and the Arts capture much of the conversation about national identity. They cover the land and its people and the creative ways in which we express who we are. Add in Indigenous Affairs and I’d probably have the lot. The stories that we tell help to form and shape our…

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True and Substantive Equality

When I think about the values I bring to parliament, I think about my upbringing and the experiences I had as a child. For each of us, it’s typically those early experiences that are pieced together to form our adult selves. It’s funny what you remember from your childhood that hasn’t healed or faded with time. When I reflect on…

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Listening to Unheard Voices

One of the beauties of civilisation is learning from geniuses. For millennia, people have been imparting useful knowledge through song lines and storylines. Life is a personal journey, with personal battles, but you can pick up some battle skills by reading and listening. Reading enables us to better understand the world and gain insights into human nature; our own mortality,…

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Taking Your Chances For Reform, The Labor Way

I came into parliament in 1996, after Labor suffered a terrible election defeat. Even though we were in opposition, as a new member of parliament, it was an exciting time for me. Being in opposition meant that I had time to learn; to understand how parliament works, and how to be an active member of parliament. Prior to that, I’d…

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The National Interest

I came into parliament in 2001 as the Labor Party’s member for Calwell, the same year as Sophie Mirabella, the Liberal Party’s former member for Indi. Sophie and I quickly developed a good rapport which we maintain to this day. We have a very different way of seeing things but there are elements of commonality, partly due to our shared…

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Values, Climate Change and the Suspension of Rationality

When I came into Federal Parliament I brought with me a commitment to justice and to fairness, and a commitment to achieving change in Australian society. I think that Australia can be made a fairer place. We have a great starting point, which is a shared understanding in the Australian community that fairness is worth striving for. I’m happily part…

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Literature that Nourishes the Soul

Books matter a great deal to me, both professionally and personally. There was a time when I wasn’t prioritising reading in my life as much as I knew I valued it so I started to treat reading like exercise and built it into my routine. That discipline also encompassed reading broadly, not just political histories and policy tomes, but literature…

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Australia and the Anti-globalisation Movement

The people of Australia know, as a fact, that we have an open, competitive economy; that our prosperity depends on selling stuff to other countries. First and foremost, we are a trading nation. We even have a grudging acceptance that we benefit from importing cheap stuff from other countries. In America, the situation is different and it has enabled an…

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Old and New Australia

I grew up in country Queensland and my family tree is about as ‘Old Australia’ as you can get, straight from the pages of Russel Ward’s ‘The Australian Legend’. My ancestor, John Watts, came to Australia in the 1840’s and by the 1860’s was a member of the first Queensland Parliament. Growing up, I was schooled with stories about our…

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Inner City Politics

I was born and bred in the inner city and educated locally at Melbourne University. I take the view that for everything you could possibly want, by way of lifestyle, you don’t need to cross a river. No need to cross the Maribyrnong in the North West and no need to cross the Yarra in the South East. It’s all…

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Camaraderie Across The Benches

Joe Hockey is a friend of mine and like many of us he had a dual personality. When parliament was sitting it was on for young and old! When we were in the House we were combatants, but then we’d meet on the touch football field where we played together in the Parliamentary World Cup in 2003. Sometimes I liken…