Thank you, Mr Speaker, and congratulations on your election as Speaker. Your energy, your kindness and the tone you have set will help our parliament be dignified and respectful. I acknowledge the traditional owners of the land on which we meet, the Ngunnawal people, and also of the lands of the Cunningham electorate, the Wodi Wodi people of the Dharawal nation.


Today is a significant day for the Illawarra. It is the day that the late Fred Moore would have turned 100. Fred was a fierce local unionist, activist, teacher, mentor, feminist, miner, musician, boxer, husband, father, grandfather and honorary elder of the Jerringas tribe. He cared about people, social justice and equality. A foundation member of the Illawarra Aboriginal Advancement League, Fred would be so proud that we are enacting the Uluru Statement from the Heart and moving quickly to create an Indigenous voice to parliament. One of Fred's five daughters, Sue, who is here with us today, said to me when I was preparing this speech, 'You have the right principles and sense of social justice; you can't go wrong with that.'


In paying tribute to Fred Moore, I gratefully acknowledge the work over many years of union members and leaders in the Illawarra. Their activism has led directly to changes in policy in response to industrial accidents like the 1887 Bulli mine disaster and the 1902 Mount Kembla mine disaster, battles like the Dalfram dispute in 1938 and the campaign by migrant women to work at the BHP steelworks in the 1980s known as the Women of Steel dispute. I thank Robynne Murphy for her support and for telling the story of these women through the Women of Steel documentary. These events shaped our community and our workplaces, contributing to the Illawarra's unique character.


I thank wholeheartedly my good friends in the Illawarra union movement for their support and friendship over the years: Arthur Rorris and Tina Smith, from the South Coast Labour Council; Rob Pirc and Brad Gibson, from the TWU; Tara Koot and Ellen McNally, from the ETU; Paul Farrow, Chris Newbold, Joe Hutchings and Laurie Gripton, from the AWU; Rudi Oppitz and Mick Jones, from the USU; Bob Timbs and Andy Davey, from the United Mine Workers Union; Mick Cross and Mich-Elle Myers, from the MUA; Rob Long and Lorraine Watson, from the TAFE teachers association; Duncan McDonald, Henry Rajendra, Maurie Mulheron and Angelo Gavrietalos, from the Teachers Federation; Anne Knight, from the SDA; Chris Christodoulou, formerly of Unions NSW and now CEO of Greenacres disability care; and my very good friend Narelle Clay, president of the ASU and CEO of Southern Youth and Family Services, and her amazing team at SYFS.


I also thank Gerard Hayes, Adam Hall, Lynne Russell, Lauren Hutchins, Meri Bosevski and Renee Sheridan, from the HSU, for their tireless support of our local aged-care workers, allied health staff and paramedics. It has been a privilege working with you to develop Labor's aged-care policies—policies we are now implementing due to the hard work of previous shadow minister Clare O'Neil and our new minister, Anika Wells. I would also like to thank Andrew Dettmer and Ian Curry, from the AMWU; Mark Burgess, formerly of the ETU; and Brad Parker, from Mates in Construction, for their friendship and sharing their knowledge of apprentice policy.


My mum, Petronella—or Pem, as she is known to everyone—has a familiar story of the Illawarra. She migrated from Holland when she was in primary school, starting her life at the Scheyville migrant centre before moving to Bondi, where her parents operated a delicatessen, and then on to Coalcliff seven years later. I grew up in Woonona, a typical Australian suburb, and I went to Woonona Public and Woonona High. We grew up in a house that my late father, Ron, was converting from three old flats. Like painting the Harbour Bridge, it was an ongoing project. For much of my childhood we had no proper flooring and no plaster on the walls, and electricity switches hung out of the walls—Dad was a sparky. Dad worked in the mines and was in and out of work, a common experience as the Illawarra suffered the harsh economic winds that blew through coal and steelmaking in the 1980s. Mum and Dad often struggled to keep our home, and Mum would try to convince us that lambs fry was steak when stretching the family budget—not terribly well!



At times it was really tough, and it's an experience you don't forget. It is why, throughout my working life, I have stood up and helped workers and vulnerable people. Worrying about the future of your job, paying the mortgage and putting food on the table can become overwhelming. I will always work for more jobs and investment in the Illawarra. I want people to be secure in their work and able to take up opportunities as they arise.


Dad dreamed big. He loved innovation and new technology. When he could afford it, he was an early adopter. Sometimes he got it right. We were one of the first houses in Woonona to have solar panels, in the 1980s, and we had an Apple IIe computer. Sometimes he missed the mark, like choosing Beta over VHS! He argued passionately that Beta was technically superior. Many hits with the occasional miss: it's the story of human progress.


My formative years were a mix of school, surf, sun, work at McDonald's and some standard teenage rebellion. In reflecting on my upbringing, I couldn't help thinking of Puberty Blues, by great Australian author Kathy Lette. It was a coming-of-age story, and I saw myself in it. I could never understand why as a young woman I was encouraged to do sewing and home economics, why when I came first in computer studies in years 9 and 10 the boys I beat were still lauded as computer geniuses. We girls could never understand why we had to wear scungies for school sport, effectively running around in a T-shirt and underwear. When confronted with leaking lights, we organised and forced teachers to teach us outside. We drew attention to the problem and worked together to get it fixed in what would now be described as student activism. At the time, we didn't have a label for it. We were simply looking for fairness.


The determination for a better deal and fairness are things I have pursued throughout my life. I am not willing to see people treated poorly just because they are vulnerable. Socially, my experience was relatively smooth, but not all of my classmates could say the same. I watched the struggles of three of my friends, who were gay and could never dream of coming out in high school. Thankfully, we have made progress. They are all now out and proud and living their best lives. They include Daniel Mahe and his partner, Patrick, who are here in the gallery today.


Others in this place typically left school to go to university. I left school early in year 11. My parents were clear, though: leaving meant going into training or getting a job. I did a business administration course and got my first full-time job as the accountant's assistant for New South Wales Labor. After a year and a half of commuting to Sydney, I was fortunate to obtain a job as an electorate officer with the then federal member for Macarthur, Professor the Hon. Stephen Martin AO. Stephen went on to represent Cunningham, and I also acknowledge Stephen's predecessor in Cunningham, my friend Stewart West, and his wife, Mary Paris. It was in Stephen's office that I learned the importance of good local representation, and I thank him for the opportunities he gave me. They led me here today.


It was also where I learnt the importance of punctuality, a good work ethic and fixing problems. It's been said that I'm like a dog with a bone when it comes to fixing people's problems—sometimes as a compliment, sometimes not! It was that determination which equipped me for the role, being willing to advocate hard for people who needed help from government. Constituents are often angry, distressed or both when they approach their local MP for help, because they have been let down by the system. If people come to me for help or advocacy, they get it in spades. For example, my good friends Professor Justin Yerbury AO, a recent Eureka Prize recipient for his MND research, and his amazing wife, Dr Rachel Yerbury, have fought so many exhausting battle toss get access to decent services and support for Justin, who has motor neurone disease and is manually ventilated and in a wheelchair. These were fights they should not have been forced to have. Or there are Susan, Mark and Sophie Wallis, who I met with their gorgeous Gracie—forceful advocates for a better deal for people with a disability. It has been a privilege to advocate for you. I share your stories to demonstrate our need to fix the system so people can concentrate on caring for loved ones, not bureaucratic battles.


I will work hard to improve the NDIS to make it work for Australians with disability. Minister Bill Shorten has already started this work. I will work hard to implement our reforms to aged care to provide better care for older Australians. I will work hard to improve access to primary health care with an Illawarra Medicare Urgent Care Clinic. It will give people a bulk-billed service and help reduce waiting times at Wollongong Hospital ED. I will work to implement our housing policies so that more people have a roof over their head. My motto as a staffer was always 'Apologise for the failure of the system, empathise and act, but never overpromise.' As my close friend Chris Lacey says, 'Be a good human, know your stuff and get good stuff done.'


For the past 17 years, I worked for Sharon Bird in her electorate and ministerial offices. Sharon is one of the most phenomenal people I know. She cares about people, cares about her community and has a unique way of



bringing people together. My approach will also be working to bring people together. I thank Sharon for her support, encouragement and being one of my best mates. She hated it when I called her my boss. The opportunity she provided also led me here.


I also thank my former colleague and mate of 30 years Gino Mandarino. Gino is a strong supporter of women, pushing us to do better, aim higher and not take rubbish from people. Your friendship and support are valued and appreciated. I also thank Sharon and Gino's grandchildren, Anton and Sienna, two of my youngest supporters. Gino and my husband, Paul Scully, are my toughest critics but also my strongest supporters, a powerful mix. I have known Scully for 30 years. We grew up in young Labor together and were great mates before we fell in love in 2004 and married in Las Vegas in 2008. I'm sure I'm going to regret saying this, but Scully is one of the smartest, most caring and passionate people I know! He both infuriates me and inspires me, sometimes simultaneously. He is also my best mate, and I am pleased we will work together with our community to help set up our region for the decades ahead.


Now, my very long list of thankyous. As Hillary Clinton said, it does take a village. Firstly, the people I have called on for support daily over the past year and shared adventures with prior to that: Kathryn Conroy, loyal, fun, smart and one of my best mates. I am so very grateful for your advice and friendship. You, your sister, Paula, and your mum, Margarete—or Mrs C—make a very formidable family of strong women.


To Richard Brooks and Nelson Tang—Nelson, like Madonna or Kylie, only needs one name, as everyone knows Nelson: I appreciate your very frank advice, particularly from Richard, who is never shy with his opinion. You are my two fiercest fashion critics but also two great mates.


To Thomas and Libby Moorhead: your friendship and support over many years is so very much appreciated and cemented over problem-solving with bubbles and burgers. I thank Thomas for fighting with me for better pay and conditions for staff and for helping me set up my office.


To Mitch O'Dwyer and Caitlin Roodenrys, my campaign director, field director and great friends: thank you so much for your time, your kindness, your advice and your support. A huge thank you to Monika, Marta and Ellen for giving up your husband and dad to help me and for bringing the fun to the campaign meetings. Caitlin is a fearless young woman with strong ethics and has a great future in front of her.


Thank you to my campaign team: Geordie Horan, Nathan Brown, Kate Pasterfield and Izzy and Sam Cork. I really appreciate the time you invested in me. I especially thank my new office team: Chris Bird, Frances Kerkham, Idalina Guerreiro, Callum Bain, Hanaa El-Bashir and Cheyne Howard. I'm forever grateful to you for all of your work in setting up the office and the long hours and commitment you are already devoting to our constituents.


I also want to thank my local parliamentary colleagues and their teams who stood on pre-poll and street stalls with me: Stephen Jones; Fiona Phillips; Ryan Park, whose wife, Kara, and son, Preston, are here today; Tania Brown, Janice Kershaw, Richard Martin, David Brown, Ann Martin and Linda Campbell. Thank you also to Bianca Goncalves and Adam Devereaux for your friendship, support and encouragement. Bianca has been my best mate since primary school where we were known as 'the shadows' as we were rarely apart. Thank you to Kiley Martin for being another best mate over so many years. Kiley is another provider of full and frank advice. I seem to have quite a few of those in my life!


A huge thank you to our local branch members and the mighty Illawarra Young Labor. You phone banked, and you stood in shocking weather on street stalls, pre-poll and that rainy cold election day. There are too many of you to name individually—many of you are in the gallery today—but you and I know who you are, and I'm forever grateful to you.


To a few that have provided strong friendship and support over many years and have campaigned with me almost daily include Nick and Judy Whitlam, Lynne Fairey, Ian Turton, Jim Allen, Paul and Kay Tuckerman, Bob and Ann Bower, Bev and Kev Reed, Neil Barnett, David Campbell, Michael Meurer, Kristen Wall, Carol Martin, Tim Coombs, Elizabeth Osbourne, Graham Kahabka, Chris Lacey, Kerryn Stephens, Naomi Arrowsmith, Ron Watt, Blake Osmond, Elisa Delpiano, Therese Smith, Tom Ward, Bill and Michele Stephens, and Michael and Norma Wilson. And I would particularly acknowledge two of my favourite branch members: Annie Wilcox and her great mate Stella Chapman.



I also want to thank Bob Nanva, Dom Ofner, Alex Costella and Liam Rankine for working hard to ensure that New South Wales Labor is a respectful, ethical and fair organisation—and a winning one.


To Amanda Fazio, Cassandra Wilkinson, Paul McLeay and David Latham: thank you for being fearless and always standing up for what is right.


Thank you to Jessica Malcolm-Roberts and to Kaila Hollywood for sending me beautiful pictures of your lovely baby girls, Alexis Malcolm-Roberts and Ella Hollywood, during the campaign.


I also thank local oncologist and champion for local cancer services Professor Phil Clingan and his wife, Margaret, for their strong support. Also thanks to Fay Campbell and Michele Saunders, whose fight for our hospitals reminds us all about the true nature of care. These champions work hard to try and stop people being taken by cancer too young, like my good friends Toni Neuman, Campbel Giles and Louise Biggs were.


Thank you to my friends at Bellambi Surf Club, including Craig Kershaw, John Hobbs and Tara Robertson; Paul Boultwood, from Corrimal Chamber of Commerce; Renay, Bruce and the whole Horton team from All Occasions Flowers; Kevin Crane and Nat Smith from Broken Glass Hair; Kylie Montgomery from One Cake Down; Wayne and Jane Henderson from Tonnito's Cakes; and Ash and Charlie from Port Beirut for their strong support as well. And I can't forget the support provided by my long-time friends Michael Crowe, Bec Lea and their children Tara and Ewan.


I also thank some of my colleagues who gave me advice and support over many years. Julia Gillard has been a friend and an inspiration. I will never forget her leadership advice and kind messages of support. And I am thrilled that Anthony Albanese, who I have worked with during my entire time in the Labor Party, has become our Prime Minister. Like me, he doesn't forget where he comes from or the life experiences that have instilled the values he brings to the prime ministership.


I also thank my long-term friends Michelle Rowland, Milton Dick, Joanne Ryan, Tanya Plibersek, Tony Burke, Tony Sheldon, Jim Chalmers, Brendan O'Connor, Sharon Claydon, Mike Freelander, Anne Stanley, Amanda Rishworth, Jason Clare, Emma McBride, Meryl Swanson, Matt Thistlethwaite and my new class of 2022.


I also thank former members Chris Hayes and his wife, Bernadette, Gai Brodtmann, Wayne Swan, Laurie Brereton, Leo McLeay, Peter Garrett, Craig Emerson and Tracey Winters, and Laurie Ferguson and his wife, Maureen.


I thank friends from the New South Wales parliament, Anoulack Chanthivong and his wife, Anna, and children Audrey and Christopher, Aaron Rule, Greg Warren, Lynda Voltz, Trish Doyle and Yasmin Catley. I also thank former senator Kim Carr and his fabulous staff who taught me so much with a lot of fun along the way.


I thank Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith, Emily Forrest, Fiona Scott, John Byron, John Angley, Gary Moorhead, Christopher Anderson, Ray Cassin and Ellie Hughes, and also Fiona Bastian and Sam Cardwell and their super cool son Hamish Cardwell. And there's another special shout-out to Justine Elliot and Team Tweed—Craig, Alex and Joe Elliot, Kylie Rose, Reece Byrnes and Gerry Ambrosine.


I would also like to thank my family—my mum, Pem, and late father, Ron. Unfortunately, mum is not in the gallery today but she is watching at home—thank you for your love and support. I also thank my brother Colin, Karen, Kimberley and Caelan, and my in laws, Inta and Ian, Jane, Boyd, Annabelle and Max, and Glen, Rosie and Timothy.


A special thank you to my aunt Edith and cousins Leah Marley and Laura-Jean Gulley, and campaign dog Fabian. Leah has travelled from America to be here today. Edith and I are early risers and our early morning chats are very much appreciated.


I absolutely loved my career as a staffer—all 29 years and 11 months of it. I was proud to represent staff as a USU delegate and staff representative.


I thank USU secretary Graeme Kelly for his support in helping the amazing staff here in the parliament. I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support, good wishes and volunteers from hundreds of current and former colleagues.



It was suggested to me that it would be easier to table this list, but, given the contribution these talented, kind, hardworking and fun people have made to this place, our community and our country, they deserve to be acknowledged and thanked individually: Angie, Michael and Riley Sidonio; Andrew 'Bigtop' 'Topper' Moore; Cora Trevarthen; Andrew Reeves; Ben Rillo; Tania Drewer; Lou Cullen; Bernie Shaw; Christina Valentine; Nimfa Farrell; Koula Alexiadas; Andrew Downes; Owen Torpy; Laura Ryan; Odette Visser and her husband, Andrew Greene; Michelle Fitzgerald; Vicki Fitzgerald; Shannon Threlfall-Clarke; Ryan Liddell; Ann Clark; Denise Spinks; Debra Biggs; Drew Eppelstun; Hayden Gray; Sav Chirumbolo; Liz Bateson; Maree Edwards; Erin Smith; Kylie Jenkins; Anna George; Nina Gerace; Barb Pini; Jennilyn Mann; Samantha Miles; Theresa Lane; Kim Pagan; James Bartlett; Nicole Duffy; Adam Boidin; Mitch Wright; Arley Black; Jennifer Light; Todd Pinkerton; Chris Fry; Meredith Horne; Georgie Slater; Zach Alexopoulos; Brydon Toner; Bryce Wilson; Nick Melas and Poppy Melas; David Voltz; Jane Shelton; Justin Lee; Vicki Meadows and Anthony Cawthorne; Gai Coglan and Greg Sweeney; Simon Zulian; Rose Tracey; Jeff Singleton; Alex Sanchez; Phoebe Drake; Jarrod Dellapina; Simon Tatz and Amanda Bresnan; Matt and Elsie Ryan; Jim Middleton; Darrin Barnett; Leigh Heaney; Katana Smith; Polo Guilbert-Wright; Ross Neilson; Dave Britton—I'm nearly there!—Jamie Snashell; Simon Banks; Chris and Antony Brereton; Helen Nezeritis; Kirsten Andrews; Brett Gale; Korena Flanagan; Sarah Michaels; Amber Setchell; Prue Mercer; Sandra Webber; Dimity Paul; Trish Marinozzi; Chris Parkin; Darren Rudd; Jenelle, Rod, Jordan and Cameron Rimmer; Mel and Nick Haskew; BJ Roberts; Dionne Garcia; and Donna Tetley; as well as Tate, Tahlea-Rose and baby Oliver; and Gail Morgan, Jason Smart and Amelia Cossey. I was with Amelia's parents on the night she was born and have watched her grow into a gorgeous, smart and sassy young lady. Her mum and I are both terrified and excited to see what her future holds.


We have come a long way since I started here in the 1990s. Staff are having their voices heard—particularly female staff. I am confident that, under Prime Minister Albanese, Special Minister of State Don Farrell and the Prime Minister's Chief of Staff, Tim Gartrell, this will continue to improve.


For years I have advocated passionately to get outcomes for people. I care about people. I care about their jobs. I care about our environment. And I promise to work hard to kick goals for our community. I will never let the Illawarra be ignored.


Our community is suffering from nearly 10 years of a government that gave up on us. It left us in a terrible state, with debt, inflation and stagnant wages, having failed people and ignored action on climate change. Addressing the gender pay gap and women's workforce participation were reduced to a talking point—if that.


To much relief, the election of the Albanese Labor government has ended that sad era. We pushed for a pay rise for low paid workers. We'll put humanity back into aged and disability care and train Australians for the jobs of the future. And I'll make sure the Illawarra gets its fair share. I support action on climate change, structured to create jobs while reducing emissions.


The Illawarra has long been a place of steel, mining and heavy industry. Our deep-water port and world-class university provide enviable connections to the globe. We stand ready to be leaders in achieving net zero emissions by 2050. We stand ready to use our skills to produce high quality steel in a more sustainable way. It will be used to build the renewable energy and transmission infrastructure we need to power homes and industries. The government's early actions to rebuild Australia's global reputation sends clear signals to business and industry.


Wollongong community, business and union leaders understand the importance of workers and businesses having the skills for the modern economy. We have a skills crisis in renewable energy. Three in four solar companies struggle to recruit electricians. Experience in renewables is the main obstacle. Wollongong can play a major role in supplying that highly skilled workforce.


To support this aspiration and build workforce and small business capacity, I have secured an Energy Futures Skills Centre for the University of Wollongong and a renewable energy training centre for Wollongong TAFE. They will cooperate to put the Illawarra front and centre of our cleaner economy and jobs future. I thank the University of Wollongong Vice-Chancellor, Patricia Davidson; Canio Fierravanti; Ty Christopher; and the Executive Director of Business Illawarra, Adam Zarth, for their help and advice.


I also thank Stephen Ferguson from the Australian Hotels Association. He recently came to Wollongong and met with Ryan and Nikki Aitchison from the Illawarra Hotel and saw some of the amazing things our local businesses are doing to repair the environment. They have just employed a sustainability officer at the pub.



We also need to focus on education—from early childhood education to primary and high schools, TAFE and universities. As I said earlier, my educational path was not the traditional one. After a sizeable gap, and with the encouragement of my friends at the university, I completed a master's degree. It was daunting, but I am the better for it and proof that education is a lifelong project.


My commitment is to deliver for our region. I have secured a community battery for Warrawong, a community with low household incomes, allowing those who cannot afford to invest in their own solar panels to share in the benefit. I have fought for our area to become one of six potential offshore wind generation zones, which can help make Wollongong a jobs powerhouse, providing opportunities and further investment. I thank Minister Chris Bowen and his team, including Andrew Garrett and Tom Skladzien, who are setting a cracking pace to get our grid to 82 per cent renewables by 2030. The Illawarra is innovative, tough and clever, and I am optimistic about what we will achieve. Combining renewable energy training centres and our manufacturing skills with offshore wind generation prepares our region to be a centre of energy and economic innovation—a place which attracts, trains and retains the brightest minds.


I have often been asked why I wanted to enter parliament. People thought, having worked here and seen some of the worst elements, I might be turned off. But it is for that very reason that I am here—because we can and should do better, much better. Australians don't expect us to agree all the time, but they do expect us to get on with the job of being decent people and achieving good outcomes. I do not shy away from my history as a staffer or from the things that made me the determined person I am today. Together we can provide better opportunities for workers and their families. We can do so in a way where economic and environmental sustainability are at the heart of our actions and in a way that makes sure people are not left behind. We can elevate our influence on the world stage.


Wollongong has changed since I was born, but our community values endure like hardened steel. They are founded on the need to trust your mates in dangerous workplaces, to understand your neighbour who was born in a different part of the world and to know that fairness should guide decision-making. To continue this, to fix it, to build on it, to harness it and to grow it are the reasons I sought election. When I was elected, my good friends Luke and Renee Toy sent me a quote from President John F Kennedy's inaugural speech. I cannot think of a better way of ending my first contribution: 'But let us begin.' I thank the House.