NEW Perth federal MP Tim Hammond delivered his inaugural speech to parliament this week.
Mr Hammond told of his long path to parliament as a lawyer representing asbestos victims and people in remote Aboriginal communities.
As a 20-something longhair he read the tale of Rex Dagi, a Papua New Guinean tribesman who successfully took on Australian miner BHP over its polluting of the Ok Tedi and Fly River that flowed past his home.
Force of will
“Right then I was convinced; with enough tenacity, with enough hard work, with more than a bit of luck and sheer force of will, victory for a just cause was achievable,” Mr Hammond said.
“Representing men and women dying of asbestos disease in the courtroom has taught me every second is precious and life is very short.”
Mr Hammond got a little choked up as he told parliament of clients dying from asbestos-related illnesses who’d hold his hand while he consulted with them bedside.
In that line of work he saw Labor party figures and the trade union movement go up against James Hardie on behalf of victims, and launch a special commission of enquiry to ensure the company paid victims.
“And that’s what brought me to the Labor party: A Labor government making decisions to keep James Hardie accountable, whilst having the welfare of ordinary working men and women at front of mind.”
He said the resource industry played a huge party in WA’s development but acknowledged the times they were a changin’ and we’d better start swimming.
“Our new world does not sit cosily alongside the old world. Our teenagers are more likely to use their spare time collaborating with 20 other programmers, artists and writers all over the world in real time to create new web-based computer games in their bedrooms in their spare moments. Globalisation is now.
“Our challenge is to embrace this change, not to chase after it in a clumsy attempt to catch up.”
He said a Labor government was best placed “to skill up workers transitioning out of traditional employment roles so they grab with both hands the opportunities our digital economy has to offer, to invest in our kids, to close the gap, to care for the most vulnerable and marginalised in our community, to make marriage equality a reality right now.”
He acknowledged the big job he’d been given as a newbie pollie, having been allocated the role of shadow assistant minister to three ministers (which mean’s he’s not technically, as our sub-editor supposed in our July 30 edition, in the shadow cabinet itself).
by DAVID BELL