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Mr CARBINES (Ivanhoe) — Deputy Speaker, I congratulate you on your election. I am sure the people of the Evelyn electorate will be pleased.

… if I think a thing is worth fighting for, no matter what the penalty is, I will fight for the right …

So said Labor Prime Minister Ben Chifley. I come to this place as the Labor member for Ivanhoe to fight for people’s rights. I commit to do so with decency and integrity. To me politics is about people. I was raised by parents who taught me to value differences and to treat people with respect, no matter their background, views or circumstances.

To my father, Shane Carbines, and my mother, Therese Brophy, I am forever grateful for the opportunities you have provided to me. For all of us in the Carbines and Brophy families contributing to your local community and strengthening the society in which you live is part of leading a fulfilling life and meeting your obligations to share what you have with others.

I was born at the Preston and Northcote Community Hospital. You will not get health care there today, but that is another story! My parents were very young. They worked hard. For most of their working lives they have been state school teachers. We moved from Preston to Viewbank in the Ivanhoe electorate because my parents were determined to provide me with a good school education. My parents were also active in their union, the various incarnations of what is today the Australian Education Union.

I joined the Australian Journalists Association, now the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance, while I was at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology studying journalism. I thought it was important to join a union that would one day represent me in the workplace. In 1995 I started my working life as a journalist at the Geelong Advertiser. I am glad there are a couple more journalists and perhaps a few less lawyers in the Parliament today. For several months I did the mail and tried hard not to mix up the death notices with the livestock column. Believe me, I have seen it done!

As I saw it, journalism was a way to tell people stories; it was a way to highlight injustices in the community; and it was a way to badger governments, bureaucrats and shonky bosses. It was about standing up for minorities and those who had been wronged. It was a way to shine a light on the good work of our volunteers in the community that often goes unnoticed. It also involved my standing on my first picket line.

It was Geelong Cup Day, and we walked out just before the cup was run. Pens were down. Journos covering fashions on the field and photographers at the finish line returned to the Ryrie Street offices and stood on the picket. It was a gutsy move. We were all in. We then watched a string of executives and advertising representatives in their cup finery return in a panic to see if they could get the paper out. Naturally they crossed the picket line, but our point was made. I acknowledge my friend and colleague David Saunderson, who would remember these times well.

I look back today and realise the sacrifices that many of my Geelong Advertiser colleagues made for young journalists like me in negotiating better wages and conditions. It was only later when I was older that I noted how many of them had missed out on opportunities in their careers and how some of the hardest working and most respected staff were sometimes overlooked. These were the people on the front line of our union disputes and negotiating teams.

I look back and publicly thank them for the sacrifices they made for their profession, their union and their colleagues in the workplace. We always walked taller together.

Ultimately, some years on, I realised that in the end journalists are observers and that if I wanted to right wrongs before they happened and did not want to just write about the aftermath I would need to look elsewhere. The election of the Bracks government in 1999 provided that opportunity. It means a lot to me that my father’s wife and my stepmother, Elaine Carbines, was here for my swearing in. I was her campaign manager for the former Geelong Province in 1999 and came to the opening of Parliament to see her sworn in. Last December she returned the favour. Many parliamentary staff and MPs have asked after Elaine, and I have many good wishes to pass on to her. It is clear to me that people here hold her in the same high regard as the Geelong community continue to hold her.

In 2000 I worked in the office of the member for Geelong. He was elected by 16 votes, and we had a lot of work to do! I have learned much from his humility and tenacity, and I am pleased he has got the seat next to me in this place, although I am not sure who is keeping an eye on whom — at least we both support the Cats.

In early 2001 the member for Melbourne asked me to join her staff, and for nearly nine years I worked with many dedicated people across the Bracks and Brumby governments.

Working for the member for Melbourne, Victoria’s longest serving female minister, gave me the chance to help many people in the policy areas I am passionate about such as housing, aged care, disability services, health and education. Across three terms in government I was able to meet and help many people and organisations in our community who have devoted their working lives to these issues. Many of us are just passing through, but I commend them all.

Bronwyn Pike tempered some of my political attitudes with a determination to see that we helped everyone we could: Labor, Liberal, Nationals — anyone anywhere. That was her way, and she is right. I will be a better member of Parliament for the years I spent with her as an adviser and chief of staff. As one of the first people to be labelled anti-Victorian in a different era, the member for Melbourne continues to make a contribution to social policy in Victoria.

In 2005 I decided to run for local government.

Sometimes you realise that you can complain or you can nominate. I have been fortunate to be elected twice to represent the Olympia ward of Banyule City Council, and I am grateful for the support of those residents. Together we achieved some great results for the community. A highlight for me was the redevelopment of Malahang Reserve in West Heidelberg. Funded through the neighbourhood renewal program and employing local people, we have a park and a festival for families that makes you wonder where people went before. The reality was they had nowhere to go.

For the past year I have worked at the Victorian School of Languages. The VSL celebrated its 75th anniversary in 2010. It is a state school system provider of language classes, and its results in the Victorian certificate of education are second to none. To the principal, Frank Merlino, and the dedicated staff, my thanks for your commitment to our young people and the multicultural community we all value.

It has been a long journey to this place. My great-great-grandfather, Richard Carbines, stepped off the boat in Sydney from our ancestral home in Cornwall, England, in 1863. My great-great-great-grandfather on my mother’s side, John Joseph Brophy, came out from County Laois in Ireland in 1855. I should note that he came under his own steam. The Brophys have always fought for an Irish republic, and where there is a cause worth fighting for I can assure you that a Carbines or a Brophy will not be too far away.

I thank the people of the Ivanhoe electorate for their support. I acknowledge their frustration and disappointment with Labor. They want us to do better for them. I think of many of the constituents who have been in my office in recent times and the struggles they have. This distresses me and should distress many people in the community — particularly the plight of those who struggle for basic needs such as housing. We must do better for more of our fellows.

I pledge to defend the gains of Labor in government that have benefited my constituents. I will also fight and advocate to see that the commitments Labor made to the Ivanhoe electorate are delivered by the new government. People voted Labor in Ivanhoe because they want the Olivia Newton-John Cancer Centre at the Austin Hospital to be completed. They voted Labor in Ivanhoe because they want the Olympic Village Primary School rebuilt and the children’s hub funded. People voted Labor in Ivanhoe to fix Rosanna Road and get the trucks off it. People voted Labor in Ivanhoe to rebuild the Ivanhoe Library and the sporting facilities at Cartledge Reserve. People voted Labor in Ivanhoe to keep the West Heidelberg police station open, and people voted Labor in Ivanhoe to complete the Charles La Trobe P-12 College. That is why I have been elected and I will pursue these commitments.

The Ivanhoe electorate includes some areas of great disadvantage.

Labor must do better for many of its core supporters who have not had their fair share of the benefits of a strong economy.

I look forward to working with the member for Mulgrave and new Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Andrews. We have worked together many times over the years.

My thanks go to the former Premier, the former member for Broadmeadows, for always doing the hard jobs for the Labor Party at the hardest times.

I take this time to congratulate the member for Hawthorn and the new government.

I thank my campaign manager, Kate Dunn, formerly of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. What a hard slog it has been: a job well done but just begun. My thanks also to her partner, Christian Bombig, and her daughter, Rose.

I thank those regulars who made our converted former denture clinic into a thriving campaign office — with a very leaky roof. They include Irene Magoulas, Emma Henderson, Warren Bransgrove, Lisa Stilo, James Russell, Brian Kane, Betty Dodd and Mem Suleyman. I thank postal vote coordinator Rob Carter; Arthur Kenny, who is the best letterboxing coordinator going around; and his son, Antony Kenny, who never stopped campaigning.

I also thank Claire McClelland, Noah Carroll, Emily Abrahams, Nathan Legge and Michael Hollman. There were so many helpers committed to the Labor cause.

My thanks to the members of the Ivanhoe and Heidelberg ALP branches who advocate for Labor on the street stalls and at the polling booths. That is why we win: passionate people walking the streets, banging on doors, day in, day out.

I thank a casualty of Labor’s poor election performance, a former member for Northern Metropolitan Region, Nathan Murphy. Together we fought hard for the north. He recently returned on a boat from tackling Japanese whalers. All power to him, I say: get into them.

While talking about the north I thank the member for Bundoora, Colin Brooks. The great respect the electors have for their local MP stood him in good stead at the election.

The member for Eltham has been a tenacious fighter for the green wedge, and I have valued his very strong support for the nearly 20 years I have been a member of the ALP. I thank the member for Yan Yean; the member for Bellarine, in particular for her support over many years; and I pay tribute to the former member for South Barwon, Michael Crutchfield — he always took on the hard jobs. I thank the member for Lara, John Eren, for his support; the member for Narre Warren North, Luke Donnellan; and John Lenders, a member for Southern Metropolitan Region in the other place.

In the federal Parliament there are many colleagues who have been part of my journey to this place. The member for Jagajaga, Jenny Macklin, and I will do great work together in the Ivanhoe electorate. I thank the member for Corio, Richard Marles, and the member for Maribyrnong, Bill Shorten, who have never wavered in their support of me or the need for our party to constantly renew and have standard bearers for the future.

The member for Batman, Martin Ferguson, and the member for Gorton, Brendan O’Connor, have been good Labor friends along the way.

There are some former members of the federal Parliament who have helped shape my values. The former member for Casey, Pete Steedman, is one. He is always reminding me to tackle, advocate, challenge government and never get comfortable. Steeds never lets anyone feel too comfortable!

I thank my great friend and mentor, the former member for Diamond Valley and Jagajaga, the Honourable Peter Staples, who was a minister in the Hawke and Keating governments. He gave me my first job. That 1992-93 GST election taught me a lot about who Labor’s friends are and what we stand for. I have learnt a lot from you, Peter, and while politics can throw up easy options, I can assure you that I will take the hard road. To have you there on election night was a great moment for me. Thanks for giving me the self-belief to see this through.

To former Premier and my local constituent the Honourable John Cain, I have appreciated your support and encouragement. We have had good discussions about Labor values, and they will always be at the heart of my decision making.

Within the ALP there are many people who have helped guide my development and who have shared the ups and downs of being a member of the Labor Party. To the late Gary McAlpine and to Mick Blair, Derek Rollins, Sigmund Jorgensen, Cath Duane and Carole Taylor, I say thanks for staying true. Thanks to Julie Ligeti, who is always fighting for the Labor movement, and to Shane Lucas, Caitilin Markby, Bree Grenfell and so many over the years who were part of Team Pike. To the tireless Gayle King and Andrew Herington, I say thank you for the work. To my friend and work colleague Davydd Griffiths, a great campaigner who has seen off the Greens challenge in the Melbourne electorate these past two elections and has managed other campaigns too: they said we would never make it, but you always said we would, thanks for believing, brother.

To Grant Poulter and the passionate hardworking members of Victorian Young Labor: I am very humbled by your strong support.

Thanks to my union, the Australian Workers Union, and to the Victorian secretary, Cesar Melhem, and his colleague Ben Davis in particular. They never wavered in their support of me or the cause. To the Plumbing Trades Employees Union secretary, Earl Setches, and assistant secretary, Tony Murphy, I say thanks for all your support and hard work for the Ivanhoe campaign. To Lloyd Williams at the Health and Community Services Union and the team at the Australian Services Union, my thanks indeed. To those at the Australian Education Union, the Victorian Independent Education Union and the Transport Workers Union, I also extend my thanks.

To my mother’s partner, Peter Leyden: thanks for your support. Thanks to my brothers, Nicholas and Scott, and my sister Hannah — my great friends and campaigners. I also extend my thanks to my parents-in-law, Bill and Glenda Brown of Bendigo. To the Carbines and Brophy families go my thanks. It sure helps to cover the booths when your mum is the last of 11 children.

Thanks to my darling wife, Anita Brown. Anita has supported me through everything politics has thrown up over the last 11 years, and we are still here, stronger than ever.

I will finish with a couple of quotes. D. W. Brogan has been quoted as follows:

… Labour politicians ‘can usefully be divided into those who think of the Labour Party as a going political concern with good prospects, and those who think of it as –the labour movement–, something sacred, to be cherished in ill-repute even more than in good, to be clung to as members of an evangelical sect cling to their –connection–.

More than ever, I believe the Labor Party has to fight for the labour movement. If we do not stand for something we will fall for anything.

In his book I Remember, former New South Wales Premier Jack Lang wrote:

Labor must remain militant. Without militancy there can be no progress. We must accept the inevitability of the political cycle. It seems to be the function of the Labor Party to make social gains, and that of the anti-Labor Party to accept those gains and consolidate them.
This then is the story of such gains as child endowment, workers’ compensation, widows’ pensions and other great Labor social experiments. Today, nobody disputes their necessity. … If we are to continue to progress, then the social laboratory of the Labor movement must continue to develop its own scientific advances, which will be of far greater use to humanity and the future of civilised living …

The big fella, as he was known, was right.

The time for talk is over. The Ivanhoe electorate has waited long enough for representation and a voice in this place — six months in fact! I am ready, and it is time to get to work.