Wills Electorate: Reflecting on 2020


Peter Khalil: I know many of us just want to forget that this year, 2020, actually happened. This last week of parliament of the year is an opportunity to reflect on serving and working with my constituents in the electorate of Wills. In January, the people of Wills came together to generously support communities directly devastated by the bushfires. Fundraisers sprang up in pubs, bowls clubs, cafes, sports clubs and small businesses. In February, urged by so many of my constituents, I spoke in this House about the need for urgent action on climate change. In early March, I attended a favourite local event, the Sydney Road Street Party—and little did we know that it would be the last such event for a very long time. In April, as COVID-19 hit Australia and we all entered lockdown, my staff and I helped hundreds of people to access support. We dropped off food packages, we did older people’s grocery shopping and even had to intervene to stop a resident from being evicted, just days before the ban on evictions came into effect. We also worked on the return of refugee Amir to Australia, after the Morrison government had snapped the borders shut and refused him entry even though he had valid travel documents. I hosted a Zoom meeting with school principals in Wills to hear from them about the challenges they faced as our kids began remote learning. In May, as the lockdown continued, we saw more people and businesses being left out of government support payments: temporary visa holders, casuals, people with disability and disability workers, charities, local governments, universities, and arts and entertainment workers. Labor advocated consistently in this parliament and in public for all of these people to be included. In June, I sent a thank you letter and chocolates to every childcare worker, disability support worker and aged-care centre in Wills.

In July, we hosted an online cuppa with every suburb in Wills to hear from people who were in local postcode lockdowns. I called for more investment in public housing and support for residents in nine public housing towers in Melbourne who were struggling through a very hard lockdown. We helped a local Coburg couple travel to Canada for the birth of their son and bring him home to Australia. In August, as Melbourne entered its second lockdown, we ran a series of small-business giveaways to support our local businesses who were doing it so tough. I hosted a Zoom event on racism in Australia, because that’s a conversation we must keep going. In September, we campaigned against this government’s cuts to JobKeeper and JobSeeker. Those cuts made no economic sense, especially as Melbourne was still in lockdown. In October, we hosted a Zoom town hall meeting with Labor shadow Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, to answer questions about the budget. In November, we launched a campaign to get Wills back to work by making things in Australia and by investing in renewable energy, affordable child care and public housing. On the first day of free travel between New South Wales and Victoria, Labor leader Anthony Albanese came down to Wills to visit public housing residents. In December, just this past weekend, I got back out there—at a safe distance—for a street stall event in Pascoe Vale. It was fantastic chatting to everyone at street stalls and events. I look forward serving the people of Wills in 2021 and wish everyone in my electorate a safe and happy holiday season. Let’s hope 2021 is a good one.