Federation Chamber 01/12/2021
Mr KHALIL (Wills) (10:24): This could be my last speech in this place for 2021—a year a lot of us would like to forget. I’m going to stick to non-COVID content because we don’t need another politician telling us how hard the year was. We all know. Here are just a few highlights from my year representing my electorate of Wills and the people of Wills.
In January, I met with the Wills Grandmothers for Refugees group to discuss 500 refugees who were released from community detention with no financial support and how to help them out. In February, I campaigned to save independent cinema, along with the Palace Pentridge Cinema in Coburg in my electorate. In March, I presented members of the Coburg Lions FIDA club, a footy team for people with intellectual disabilities, with new jumpers designed by Indigenous artist Teddy Chessells. I also joined Brittany Higgins and thousands of other people to march for justice, equality and safety for women. In April, I launched a policy paper about how Australia can crack down on multinational tax avoidance and make big multinationals pay their fair share.
May was a busy one. With Labor leader Anthony Albanese and the member for Werriwa, who’s here in the chamber, I launched Labor’s Multicultural Engagement Taskforce report and I called very strongly for more ethnic diversity across Australian politics. Labor’s shadow minister for education and shadow minister for women visited Wills and spoke to a huge crowd of passionate locals at the Retreat Hotel in Brunswick. A few days later, Labor’s shadow minister for the arts came and spoke at a gig at the Moldy Fig, a New Orleans style jazz club in my electorate. Fortunately, he didn’t bring his guitar! Let’s hope he doesn’t watch this speech.
June was a big month for sitting weeks. In this House, I called the government out on their woeful response to the Tatmadaw, the perpetrators of Myanmar’s coup on 1 February. In July, the deputy Labor leader visited Wills to check out the great work of some local manufacturers—Aerochute; Mouldbuster; and Softmed, a PPE manufacturer.
In August, I hosted a community meeting on the situation in Afghanistan with Afghan Australians. Way back in May, I called on the government to urgently provide visa pathways for Afghans who worked with Australian personnel. The government’s failure to act represents one of the biggest moral and strategic failures of any government in our history.
In September, I hosted a Wills youth forum to hear from young people in my electorate on the issues that matter to them. In October, I spoke on Labor’s alternative vision on climate change at Per Capita, a think tank on Australian diplomacy, in the lead-up to the COP26 conference. In November, I hosted a housing forum with the shadow minister for housing and some passionate constituents to discuss the great need to invest in public housing and how a good home can ensure a great start in life, as it did for me and my family. Just last week, the shadow minister for climate change and energy visited Wills and announced two community solar batteries for solar storage in Brunswick and Coburg—practical, real action on climate change.
That’s it. I got there throughout most of the year. Goodbye, 2021. May next year be nothing like you! I hope to work with my constituents of Wills and I look forward to working for them in 2022.