Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (15:44): On a more serious note, I am very pleased to have been given the opportunity to speak on this MPI today because the last two federal budgets have been very difficult for the majority of the people living in my electorate. These budgets have been very harsh and very unfair, and the cuts that have been associated with them have affected a very large number of the people that live in Calwell. The news for them, unfortunately, has not been good news, and it continues to be very bad news.
The cuts to carers' payments and the loss of the schoolkids bonus—to mention just a couple—have taken their toll on already stretched and stressed household budgets. Now, of course, there is the additional prospect of further cuts to the family tax benefits. Cuts to services such as child care, health and welfare payments and benefits are tough enough, but when you add these to the huge problems of job losses, industry closures and underemployment that have disproportionately affected people in the north-west of Melbourne, the claim by this government that they want the burden of economic reform to be shared fairly becomes absurd and unbelievable.
I was delighted to be involved in the Roxburgh College Year 10 Sociology project, exploring the issues of forced marriage through active theatre. The theatre workshop was led by Thoiba Saeedh, a University of Melbourne intern who has been working in my office for the past few weeks (pictured here with me in Canberra). Thanks to Roxburgh College Principal, Mr Fernando Ianni, staff members Tony Wakefield, Yolande Suffern, Denise Rimoni, Angela Greet, the students from Roxburgh College, and Elizabeth Payne who worked with the students on behalf of ACRATH.
Yesterday I had the pleasure of welcoming to Parliament House Mr John Salisbury, who had just completed a 10-day trek in support of recognition of Palestinian statehood. John is a passionate advocate for the rights of the Palestinian people and, like the majority of Australians, he believes strongly that this parliament should follow the lead of the 136 of the 193 member states of the United Nations who have now recognised the state of Palestine.
That this House:
(1) notes that:
(a) October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and that Monday, 26 October 2015 is Pink Ribbon Day; and
(b) breast cancer remains the most common cancer in Australian women and the second most common cancer to cause death in Australian women;
(2) calls on the Government to:
(a) support Breast Cancer Awareness Month;
(b) promote early detection; and
(c) encourage women, especially women aged 50 to 74 years, to have a mammogram every two years; and
(a) the invaluable work done by the National Breast Cancer Foundation and the Breast Cancer Institute of Australia, especially in supporting important research into treatment and a cure;
(b) the fundraising efforts of the broader community and pays tribute to the significant contribution the Australian public makes to the overall fundraising effort; and
(c) the heroic efforts of the women, men and their families who have experienced the breast cancer journey.
I am very privileged today to congratulate a very special constituent of mine from Keilor Downs, Mr Bharpur Singh, who recently celebrated his 100th birthday. I had the honour of meeting Bharpur the other day, when he came into my office just to say hello. Bharpur was born in India in 1915 and married the love of his life, his wife, Gian Kaur, in 1934. Together they have six children, four boys and two girls, all of whom are, I am told, professionals with postgraduate university degrees. Three of the children are citizens and permanent residents of Australia. They have 16 grandchildren and 23 great-grandchildren. Bharpur Singh is multilingual and he can fluently read, write and speak English, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu and Persian.
In July 1985 Bharpur migrated to Australia with his wife, Gian. He was 70 years of age. On his arrival Bharpur wasted no time in dedicating himself to his local community and helping others, irrespective of race, culture or origin. In fact, he has thrived in Australia's multicultural community and is very happy to have made the decision to come here. Mr Singh was also involved in establishing a number of senior citizens clubs and associations, and he served on the foundation committee of the Sikh gurdwara in Craigieburn in my electorate of Calwell.
He is very technologically savvy. When I asked him what the secret to life and longevity was, he said to me that he actually has no secret. He simply believes in peace of mind, living, obeying the law and just basically being very happy. Congratulations, Mr Singh.