Fremantle By-election

Published on Mon 13 August 2018 7:50pm

Mr Wilson (7:50pm) — I am glad, grateful and humble to have been re-elected as the member for Fremantle. It is a great privilege, and it brings with it a great responsibility. The trust placed in me as a representative will continue to shape my work, it will drive me forward and it is a trust I will strive to keep earning as I go.

I’m looking forward to again pouring myself into the work of this parliament, and I’m rapt to share that task with my new old colleagues in this place, the member for Mayo and especially the members for Longman and Braddon. I’ll share that work with an old and dear friend, the new, new member for Perth.

One thing about campaigning is that you have the opportunity to encounter firsthand the issues that matter to the broad and diverse Australian community. I can tell you that the people of Fremantle know we live in a time of significant challenge, and I can tell you they don’t trust the approach of this government. They know instinctively that you don’t address falling real wages, insecure employment and inequality by cutting penalty rates and giving away billions in tax cuts to profitable banks and multinationals. They know that cutting funds to the ABC and the Australian Public Service and running down Australian shipping are all acts of profound self-harm. They know that inaction on climate change puts Australia’s future at enormous risk and prevents us from achieving our potential as a renewable energy superpower. They know that government leadership to take us out of live sheep export is not only possible but sensible and necessary, and they know a sensible, compassionate, rules based approach to humanitarian migration is entirely possible and, at the same time, that such an approach is utterly incompatible with the interminable detention and grave neglect of asylum seekers.

More than anything, they want government to have the capacity to create, support and maintain the things we share together, our hospitals and schools, our public transport and community infrastructure, our environment and our social safety net. Those are the foundations of our shared wellbeing. They are the foundation of our egalitarian and Australian way of life.

In the course of the by-election, I’m happy to say that we ran the most extensive person-to-person campaign we’ve ever run in the division of Fremantle. We made more than 22,000 phone calls. We knocked on more than 12,000 doors. I campaigned for 79 days straight, and I enjoyed it. It was a reminder that Fremantle is an engaged community and that Australians are welcoming, thoughtful people. I enjoyed it because I was never alone. I was part of a campaigning endeavour that was not a means to an end but a great thing in itself, an expression of Labor’s commitment to grassroots engagement, to participatory democracy and to collective action. Those are our values, and we live them when we listen to people and when we explain our approach to policies and programs as we ask for their support and their trust. I’m glad to have been re-elected on that basis.

I want to acknowledge and thank the many people who contributed their time and energy to the Fremantle campaign, which was only possible through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers, many of them campaigning for the first time. I’m grateful to my state and federal and labour movement colleagues who gave me their practical and moral support through the winter months. I want to particularly mention the Leader and Deputy Leader of the Opposition and also my fellow member for Fremantle, Simone McGurk. Special and enduring thanks go to my campaign manager, Matt and the fieldwork maestros, Joe, Kerry, Millie, Emily and Zoey. I love your work.

Finally, there are two groups of people who require special mention—first, my staff: Kath, LeeAnne, Zita, Kerry, Nick, Joe and Peter. They shared with me the wonderful but also unrelenting work of serving the people of Fremantle until I resigned in May, and now we will share that work again. Representative work is often a team effort, and I’m very lucky to have a brilliant and big-hearted team.

Most importantly of all, I want to thank my family: my wife, Georgia, and our three children, Abby, Priya and Oscar. The all-encompassing work and life of a representative is an enormous privilege. As a family we know that, yet it is all encompassing, it does require sacrifices, and those are made by all of us. I campaigned hard and without break for the last three months, but I was at home; I was able to do some of the ‘dad’s taxi’ stuff, be the short-order breakfast cook, pitch in with my residual maths skills on the homework front, and Georgia and I got to walk the dog on the beach, but now I am here. I feel blessed to be here, and I know how fortunate I am to do this work, but still I am away, and the reason I’m away is to contribute to the work of this parliament, to represent the people of Fremantle, to fight for their interests and for a fairer Australia, which in turn requires a concerted and paramount focus on the things we share.

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