Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (17:14): These are the words of one of my constituents, Dr Evangelia Axiarlis:
The Australian mainstream media portrays a skewed stereotypical and overly negative image of the Muslim community. The pervasive representation of Muslims as a monolithic, homogeneous entity is both inaccurate and harmful to our social cohesion. Australians of Muslim faith have much to contribute to the broader society and should be welcomed. Constantly referring to and identifying Muslims in terms of their religion is patronising and belittling.
Evangelia lives in Broadmeadows with her husband Ismail and their three young children. She and Ismail teach at our local Ilim College and she recently published a book on political Islam and the secular state in Turkey. Dr Axiarlis grew up in Melbourne's south-eastern suburbs. She is the daughter of Greek and Greek Cypriot migrants, a dedicated teacher, who converted to Islam, and by all accounts is a typical Aussie of migrant extraction, just like me and lots of other people in this country, and indeed in this chamber.
This past week has been a very big week in my electorate. Of course 11 November, yesterday, marked the 40th anniversary of the sacking of the Whitlam government, and I got the opportunity to be reminded of the dramatic momentum of that tumultuous period when I attended the 40th anniversary of the opening of the Broadmeadows Sporting Club last Sunday afternoon. Sunset Boulevard Jacana is the site of the Broadmeadows Sporting Club. Set in the Jacana Valley and surrounded by sprawling wetlands, Broadmeadows Sporting Club is an iconic presence in our local community. The club is a non-profit organisation. It runs sporting and social events and sponsors local community groups, and its longstanding service and committee have seen the club successfully service the Jacana-Broadmeadows area and the surrounding suburbs for the last four decades. It also enjoys a very special footnote in Australian political history, for it was here on 10 November 1975 that the then Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, came to lay the foundation stone for the club. This event in Broadmeadows was to be the last official function conducted by Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. He would later of course return to Canberra where, on 11 November 1975, he would be sacked by Governor-General John Kerr. This memorable piece of history has forever linked the club with Prime Minister Whitlam and the 1975 constitutional crisis of the dismissal.
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.