(The Commons, Darlinghurst)
I would firstly like to acknowledge the Gadigal people of the Eora nation, the traditional custodians of this land, and I pay my respects to the Elders, both past and present.
Welcome and thank you for coming along tonight in support of the campaign to keep Sydney Independent.
Parliament is a depressing place. The major parties have become dysfunctional. Their focus is party political power - they feed the headlines and the polls to appease vested interests and the talkback shock jocks.
They fear bad press; they are gutless; they are fearful of committing to a vision in case it gets someone off side.
The State seat of Sydney is the only Sydney seat not represented by a party. This is the seat of Sydney's heart, its hub, the global financial centre of Australia and the seat of Parliament and the State Government!
The inner city is special - it's home to villages, art galleries, bars and restaurants, live music venues, markets, eclectic shops and concept stores. Inner city residents care about social issues, fairness, the arts and our future. I have long and proudly claimed that the State seat of Sydney has the most progressive constituency in the country.
Boy would the parties love to get hold of this seat and I sometimes wonder what would happen if they did.
Would the laws have changed to allow the small bars renaissance we are now experiencing in Sydney, given my bill was fiercely opposed by the Australian Hotels Association - a large donor to both major parties?
Would a government or opposition member been allowed to introduce a private member's bill to allow same sex couples to adopt their children, given it passed in what was a nail biting conscience vote?
Would a party representative have campaigned against animal cruelty in the pet industry, proposed new laws to ban cat and dog sales in pet shops, and attracted extensive media attention on NSW's appalling annual toll of 60,000 cats and dogs destroyed, given I am the only Assembly member who speaks about animals?
And as for building bike paths - would a party representative have dared in the face of extreme opposition from petrol heads in marginal electorates?
Party members tow the party line. If they don't, they're out!
As a progressive independent, I take up the tough issues important to city communities that the parties won't.
I have had the guts to:
- Stand up for gay and lesbian communities when the parties didn't want to know;
- Moved the motion at the drug summit to set up the medically supervised injecting centre;
- Put in cycleways;
- Fought the sale of the showgrounds;
- Stopped demolition of the Finger Wharf;
- Took on the liquor industry with small bars and a safe night time economy;
- Stood up for animal welfare while the parties cave in to the pet industry interests;
We need courageous principled leadership.
We don't want the Sydney electorate to go to the parties and dumb it down.