Special Guest of the Month : Julie Owens, MP for Parramatta


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On Saturday 2 July we have an historic opportunity to send a strong message to the greater community.

In Western Sydney we welcome people from the sub-continent who proudly call Australia their new home – building a new life for their families and contributing to our economic growth and cultural diversity.

Our community consists of 56.9% of households that speak more than one language at home, with 22% speaking only a language other than English.  Many citizens take their rights and responsibilities for granted.  I am proud to say that this is not the case in the Parramatta area. The Indian community is central to Parramatta. We are culturally aware and the heart of a vibrant and tolerant community we call our own.

To truly recognise this contribution, we need to understand that our education system must be flexible and able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.  Only Labor will restore vital education funding that has been slashed by more than $230 million in the Parramatta area alone.  Similarly, we need to protect our rights to a fair higher education system – no-one should pay $100,000 for a university degree.

Vocational Education and Training is under threat, with only Labor recognising that for too long private education providers have had free reign to operate as they wish. Labor will cap the amount VET providers can charge for training to $8,000, particularly in the service sectors such as hospitality and hairdressing.

Our rights to universal healthcare are also under attack as the Federal Government cuts more funding from our public health system and Medicare.  Labor created Medicare and only Labor will continue to support our universal public health system.

Everyone deserves access to the best possible health care when they need it – determined by their Medicare card, not their credit card.  A Bill Shorten Labor Government will provide additional support to the states and territories to reduce hospital waiting times through an additional $2 billion funding over four years. This is an investment in frontline care for local hospitals like Westmead.

We recognise the unique contribution of people from around the globe make our society a better place. Many of these people are hardworking and want to contribute, working to ensure a prosperous future for their families.

Until recently, the shocking examples of worker exploitation at household companies such as 7-Eleven and Myer had been met with silence and inaction by the Abbott-Turnbull Government. It is only because Labor announced a policy to address worker exploitation that the Liberals decided to also announce a policy in this space. The exploitation of workers is not new and for three years the Abbott-Turnbull Government did not enact one single law which would stop workers from being exploited by dodgy employers. Worker’s rights are paramount – for too long we have seen the most vulnerable in our community have their rights trampled.

Everybody deserves the right to a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work.  Only Labor can be trusted to crack down on employers who underpay their staff, increasing penalties and levelling the playing field for employers who do the right thing. Labor will also introduce reforms to stop the exploitation and underpayment of overseas workers. The Liberals policy is likely to just be another election stunt – say one thing before the election and cut and run from it after the election.

Australia is proudly multi-cultural and as a first-world nation we have first-world responsibilities.  It is deeply disturbing that the Abbott-Turnbull Government has cut $11.3 billion from the foreign aid budget, turning their back on the world’s poorest people. In 2016–17 the Liberals plan to spend just 23 cents in every $100 of our national income on overseas aid—our lowest spend ever. Over the next decade, that is set to fall further to 17 cents in every $100.

Labor supports a strong aid program because as a good global citizen Australia has a duty to help reduce poverty and inequality, and respond effectively to humanitarian crises.

We support a strong aid program because it benefits Australia’s economy when countries go from being aid recipients to trading partners.

I am proud to have represented our community since 2004 and will continue to work on your behalf, representing the needs and wishes of everyone in the wonderful diverse community we call home.

The Indian Telegraph Sydney Australia

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