COWAN MP Anne Aly has vowed to fight for better opportunities for outer suburbs residents in her first speech to Parliament.
She told the House of Representatives she would dedicate her Parliamentary career to establishing a national strategy focused on delivering the benefits of growth for Australia’s outer suburbs.
Calling economic inequality Australia’s “next great challenge”, Dr Aly said Girrawheen residents were five times more likely to be unemployed than the average West Australian, Wanneroo children were 30 per cent less likely to finish year 12 than those in Perth, and the number of homeless young people in Cowan had risen by 22 per cent over the past five years.
“These aren’t just statistics, they’re a reality and this is not just a matter of justice, it’s a matter of extreme national importance,” she said.
“We need to talk about how we plan to distribute our wealth just as much as we talk about how we are going to grow our wealth.
“We have to have an eye to growth and fairness, economy and society.”
She also took aim at the “ugly tactics” used by Liberal Party MPs Michael Keenan and Julie Bishop during the election campaign, which she called “desperate, dangerous and undemocratic” and should be pledged never to be repeated.
Dr Aly attributed the backfiring of the plan to a lack of understanding of the “essential decency” of the electorate.
“Instead of division it voted for a different sort of nation; a tolerant nation, a unified nation, peaceful nation,” she said.
“This is a critical time in Australia’s political history. A time when our only chance to move forward as a nation is to come together, regardless of where we sit on the political spectrum.”
She spoke about her background in counter-terrorism, where she had worked mentoring young people and helping their families to divert them from a “destructive path”.
“I’ve seen the worst of humanity and I’ve often despaired,” she said.
“But I’ve also seen its best through the eyes of people like Phil Britten, Louisa Hope, Jarrod Morton-Hoffman, Gill Hicks and Michael Gallagher, all who have survived terrorist attacks.
“The fight against terrorism is a fight for reason and we can’t afford to let it be hijacked by populism or by party politics.
“We have to get this right because the currency here is people’s lives.”
Dr Aly paid tribute to her family, including her Egyptian grandfather who pushed his daughters to be university educated, and spoke about her school life, where she attended Catholic, Anglican and public schools while being a practising Muslim.
“I learnt that the values that make us Australian are not measured by the colour of our skin, or of our religion or where we were born,” she said.
“But by our dedication to the fundamental principles of equality and fairness.”