Parliamentary speeches

Diverse voices in our politics

July 29, 2019

I rise to talk about extraordinary young women who I have the very great pleasure of representing in this place. Their names are Ola and Zahara. They're sisters. They are both still at school. They come from refugee backgrounds. They are articulate, passionate and inspirational young women. They came to see me the other week about a range of issues, in particular, our response as a nation to conflict in Yemen, a conflict, shamefully, I knew less about than I should have. They wanted to speak to me more broadly about human rights, Australia's moral responsibility to be a leader in the world and to share with me their experiences—the experiences that formed them in Iraq and here in Melbourne's northern suburbs. They asked me hard questions and they didn't let me get away with easy answers. I want to say here that I predict very big things for Ola and Zahara, and I know they will hold me, as their representative, very effectively to account. As Labor's multicultural spokesperson, I also want to make clear in this place that I take so much heart from this meeting, but all of us here must take on the responsibility of seeing more diverse voices in our politics, more diverse experiences reflected in our public policy and, especially, greater diversity in this place.