What an incredible crowd, and what incredible speakers I follow. Gillian Triggs is an absolute hero of mine and so I feel very humbled and very proud to be getting up on stage after her.
I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful, beautiful faces that I see in the room. Many of you I know, and many who I don’t, which is incredibly exciting.
I finished my speech this morning and I realised that it was lacking something – and that was talking about two people who are noticeably absent from this room today
My father Rod who many of you know from my 2016 campaign as the deep voiced giant in a leather jacket.
A local mayor and diplomat with little patience for bureaucracy, a speechwriter for his daughter and most of all, a proud organic farmer and conservationist.
My earliest memories are of planting trees with my dad and later of attending water catchment authority meetings with him.
Two decades ago he was protesting the demands of greedy irrigators and demanding greater reserves for the environment. The recent fish deaths would have devastated him but in no way surprised him.
Then my mother Vivien, a proud media and theatre studies teacher in the public system for most of her short life, who was staying on the coastline of Samoa when a magnitude 8 tsunami hit the Pacific ocean triggering a tsunami that claimed her life and the lives of 150 others almost 10 years ago.
She taught me the value of education, about compassion and about why we must invest in young people.
Our upbringing was mostly humble but my sister Carla and I got to experience the world from a young age. Staying in dormitories across Vietnam, Africa and Europe.
On these travels we saw life’s lottery first hand. Those who lucked in and were born into lives of safety and security, and those who weren’t.
People often ask me why on earth I want to be a politician. There are many reasons but I think it comes down to the worldview that we developed as children, the sudden loss of my mum which jolted me out of my daily grind as a commercial lawyer, dad’s unwavering confidence in my ability to become a federal Greens politician, and politics as an avenue for real and lasting change.
So here we are.
Today we are here to kick-off the campaign for Macnamara.
It is an opportunity to set out our agenda, our ideas, our beliefs and our policies for the federal election.
Macnamara is named in honour of one of Australia’s most inspiring women, Dame Annie Jean Macnamara DBE.
Jean Macnamara, as she was known, was a renowned medical scientist.
Jean Macnamara said she was duty bound “to be of some use in the world”, and so she enrolled at the University of Melbourne, aged just 17.
She graduated in 1922 and became a resident medical officer at the (Royal) Melbourne Hospital.
Jean devoted her life to the research and treatment of polio virus and was a ferocious advocate for people with disabilities.
In her biography, Jean Macnamara is described as “rather shabbily dressed, quick-witted and blunt in manner.”
It is perhaps unsurprising that even back then, women were judged on their appearance and behaviour!
Jean was also a woman of the land and had a hobby farm in the Romsey district, not too far away from my family’s farm near Daylesford.
And Jean belonged to what has to be the best named group ever – the Compost Society!
I was also inspired to read that she battled against the indiscriminate use of pesticides and was passionate about preserving our native flora and fauna.
Jean Macnamara may well have been a Green if we were around back then.
And her life mirrors much of what I and the Greens stand for –
- improving health care,
- preserving our national environment,
- and greater social equality
I am tremendously proud and honoured to be a candidate in a seat named after such an inspiring woman.
The seat of Macnamara
Let me say a bit more about the seat of Macnamara.
The boundaries have changed.
Windsor has recently joined us, and this seat also takes in Port Melbourne, Albert Park, Balaclava, Elwood, Middle Park, Ripponlea, South Melbourne, Southbank, Elsternwick, part of South Yarra and my home suburb of St Kilda.
We have an enviable coastline, beautiful parks and playgrounds, and are arguably the artistic and cultural epicentre of Australia.
Macnamara is now a unique three-way contest between the Greens, Labor and Liberals with a margin of just 0.3 per cent following our recent inclusion of Windsor!
In 2016, we got a swing of 4.9 per cent, and came within 477 votes of winning the seat of Melbourne Ports.
Let me just put this in historical context.
Melbourne Ports has always been a Labor seat.
The Labor Party won Melbourne Ports for 43 elections in a row.
They’ve held it for over a century.
But this area is changing. And the Labor Party is no longer the Party it was back then either.
Labor is the party that turned its back on refugees and asylum seekers and vowed that no person fleeing war or persecution by boat would ever set foot in Australia.
It was Kevin Rudd who started this inhumane race to to bottom, and it is Labor who still refuse to close down the detention camps that are factories of despair and pain.
It is Labor who voted against raising Newstart.
It is Labor who won’t speak out against Adani and coal mining and the fossil fuel industry.
So many of my Greens friends who once voted Labor say to me – my politics haven’t changed, it’s Labor who’ve moved to the right.
And as for the Liberal Party – well, what can I say?
When Abbott became Prime Minister, I thought surely this is the worst it will ever get for modern Australia.
Then Turnbull proved to be the ultimate empty vessel – a hugely disappointing, stand-for-nothing, shallow leader who allowed the Liberals to move even more to the extremes.
And now we have Morrison – a mini-me Trump. An unelected leader whose goals are to build coal fired power stations, and to divide this nation through fear and prejudice.
Tony Abbott said recently that the battle lines are drawn for this election and we must take sides.
Well, let me tell my Liberal and Labor opponents that we have a couple of not-so secret tools in this campaign – they are called people and fact-based policies.
These are the tools we will use.
This election will be incredibly close.
It will likely come down to the votes in just a few booths.
We know that the only way you beat a well-funded machine is with a movement – when we organise, we win.
This is why I am asking you all today to help me and the Greens take this seat so we can continue to lead the change this country needs.
We will win this election booth by booth. Street by street. Door by door. That is the power of the Australian Greens. We are a party of people, and each and every one of you has the power to change this country for the better.
Let me spend a few minutes talking about the Greens issues and policies.
Richard Di Natale said that if we don’t get climate change right, nothing else matters.
At recent doorknocks, we have had 16, 17 and 18 year olds join us.
Their message? Don’t mess with our future.
When it comes to climate, it’s all our lives at stake. The younger you are, the more consequences you’ll see. It’s life and death for us. And Alice, Elouise, Ed and Nina. We will fight like it!
As an environmental lawyer, and more recently a parent, I know that our absolute priority must be creating a sustainable future and phasing out coal.
This is why stopping the Adani megamine is so significant.
Adani represents more than a single mine – it is a symbol of where the political parties see our future.
The truth is that neither of the major parties have committed to stopping this mine.
The Greens have never given up on stopping this incredibly risky project, and we never will.
As an environmental lawyer and committed activist, I am determined and well placed to make sure we can stop Adani and phase out coal.
When I am elected, I will make it my mission to rid our democratic system from the influence of grubby corporate donations, and I will fight with every ounce of energy to bring in laws to arrest climate change.
And when the Government and Opposition talk about our policies being anti jobs, I will show them how investment in green energy will create the jobs of the future.
Stopping Adani is more than just one action; it is symbolic of the wider movement to protect our country from being dug up and destroyed.
Of course it’s not just the environment that separates the Greens from the major parties.
I am so proud to be a member of a party that sees human rights as fundamental to who we are.
Sadly, we have all seen the consequences of abandoning human rights, equality and equity.
We see the suicides, trauma and ruined lives of refugees and asylum seekers.
We see growing numbers of people sleeping rough on our streets, including an alarming number of older women.
We see the unprecedented incarceration of indigenous peoples
We see our so-called leaders are complicit in racism, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and misogyny.
We see the LBGTIQ community constantly under attack.
We see complex issues reduced to childish slogans and racist rhetoric.
What separates the Greens is our belief that human rights come first.
How we treat each other and manage very complex and long-standing problems is what makes us unique.
I’m proud of the Greens record in leading change on getting children off Nauru. On marriage equality. On the banking royal commission, and hopefully soon a royal commision into the institutional abuse of people with disabilities.
I’m proud of our work creating world leading climate laws, and I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and do it again.
In less than 90 days we will change the government.
In less than 90 days, with the help of every one of you in this room, we can make sure the next government is the best it can be. A government with a vibrant and hardworking crossbench to keep it on track.
In less than 90 days we will celebrate what is possible when people come together in the collective realisation that all our actions, no matter how small or how large, are powerful and capable of lasting change.
This seat is named after a woman of courage and conviction.
A woman who cared about people, and the land.
A woman who was up against entrenched prejudice – judged on her appearance, her manners and her gender.
If I am elected to represent the Australian Greens, I would honour the legacy of pioneers like Jean Macnamara, and indeed Gillian Triggs.
I ask you to change the nation by volunteering and voting for your values.
We’re starting here in our community, in this room, in Macnamara, and if elected I’ll work everyday to make our vision a reality.
Will you join me and help win this seat for the Greens?