Hong Kong Chamber: A Letter from Canberra (Oct 2014)

As my first column for austcham news, I’d like to start by introducing myself.

I’m the Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Federal Member for Canberra and co-chair of the Friends Of Hong Kong Group.

Before entering Parliament, I worked in the foreign affairs, national security and defence arenas, both as a public servant and the owner of a private communication consultancy. I’ve represented Australia in India and Indonesia, worked on Middle East policy and researched North East Asian attitudes to Australia. My public policy interests include defence, foreign affairs, education, small business, superannuation, financial literacy and public administration.

It’s been a big month in Canberra – with the Budget and National Security dominating talks in Parliament. Security has been stepped up across airports and national institutions, and we have certainly noticed an increased security presence at Parliament House. Australia has contributed fighter and support aircraft and 600 personnel to provide humanitarian assistance to the international effort. The age old question of parliamentary approval for the deployment of troops has once again emerged.

However over the past week, Parliament has been dominated by the death of Australia’s 21st Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam. It was great to see Politicians from both sides stop down on Tuesday, to speak about the effect Gough has had on their lives.

Tributes for Gough have been flowing from Australians far and wide – with hundreds leaving flowers on the steps of Old Parliament House. The same steps where Gough made his famous “nothing will save the governor-general’’ speech in 1975 after being dismissed by governor-general Sir John Kerr.

Personally, Gough has had a profound impact on my life and the lives of my sisters. By abolishing university fees, he helped my family escape a cycle of disadvantage by giving us access to an education that was otherwise unobtainable.

Vale Gough Whitlam!

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