In the News

Thursday, 18 March 2010


The Federal Member for Mitchell, Alex Hawke, is encouraging local residents affected by the Rudd Government’s Green Loans Program to consider making a submission to the Senate Inquiry into the scheme.


“The Green Loans Program has greatly affected many local residents and I strongly encourage those who have had problems to make a submission to the Senate Inquiry,” Mr Hawke said.


“There clearly have been failings both for those seeking to participate in the Program, and to those who went through much time and expense in becoming an assessor.


“The Green Loans Program is a part of a suite of Rudd Government environment programs which have experienced serious failures of process and administration. It is vital that all problems are considered as part of the Senate inquiry.”


Information about the inquiry and how to make a submission can be found at:


Please note in particular that submissions should be received by the Senate committee by 14 April, to assist with its reporting by 21 June.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


The Federal Member for Mitchell, Alex Hawke, is encouraging local non-profit organisations to apply for grants of up to $5,000 to purchase equipment, cover the cost of petrol, provide training courses and undertake background checks under the 2010 Volunteer Grants program. 


“Since 2001, non-profit organisations in the Hills have been able to apply for grants to support their work,” Mr Hawke said. 


“This funding provides welcome support to local voluntary organisations who contribute so much to help our community.” 


Local community organisations can apply for a grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 to help purchase a variety of equipment to assist the work of volunteers. 


In previous years, organisations have used the grants to purchase items such as computers, first aid kits, gardening equipment, microwaves and printers. 


Further information on the 2010 Volunteer Grants program and an online application form can be found at


Organisations can also request paper-based application forms by calling 1800 183 374 or by emailing


Applications close at 2pm on Friday 16 April 2010 AEST. 

Thursday, 18 March 2010

17 March 2010


 Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (7:17 PM) —I rise tonight to support the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Bill 2010. The bill is important and does a number of things that I think many in this place would agree are worthy. However, I do want to address some of the points made by the member for Brisbane. In his remarks he made a number of important points about this bill and the lead-up to this bill. However, he did speak about the member for Kooyong and his motives.


I am glad that he raised the member for Kooyong in relation to the development of this piece of legislation before us tonight, because for a member in this chamber to label the member for Kooyong’s proposal for bill for a national security legislation monitor as a political stunt would be doing the member for Kooyong a great disservice. He is a passionate believer in this particular bill, and in what this bill means, and I think all members of this House know that. So I think it is unfortunate for the member for Brisbane to accuse the member for Kooyong of engaging in some sort of political chicanery in something that he is passionate about.


There is no doubt that, when the member for Kooyong attempted to introduce and speak on the Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Laws Bill 2008, the actions of the government and the Leader of the House in gagging the member for Kooyong were extremely unfortunate. There is no doubt today, looking at the provisions of this bill we are examining tonight, that if it were not for the member for Kooyong introducing that earlier bill, and attempting to push this very important and worthy cause, we may not now be facing this worthy development in legislation in Australia today.


In examining what this bill provides for, it comes with a series of amendments which the opposition supports. The amendments make the bill resemble the member for Kooyong’s bill in almost every regard. I just want to make that clear to the member for Brisbane: the amendments almost make this bill identical to the member for Kooyong’s Independent Reviewer of Terrorism Laws Bill 2008. So I think to assign some sort of ill motive to the member for Kooyong in developing or speaking on this bill is poor indeed.


These amendments are important because the other point that the member for Brisbane made was that, in appointing a national security monitor, independence was one of the most important concepts. The key difference between the government’s original bill and the bill that was proposed by the coalition and the member for Kooyong was the notion of independence. It was one of the things that the member for Kooyong was particularly keen to ensure was in the final legislation. That is why we can support this bill now—independence is the hallmark of the monitor in the current bill before the House.


Having a monitor subject to the direction of any executive would lead to bad outcomes. I think having a monitor responsible to the Prime Minister or having any ad hoc inquiry subject to prime ministerial approval would be a weak outcome. Therefore, the amendments that have been proposed do give genuine independence to the monitor, and that is significant in what we are proposing.


What we are talking about in this legislation is having a monitor on laws that seek to limit the freedoms and the rights of citizens. The parliament has taken the view in recent times that, due to the dramatic security and other threats to the ongoing stability of Australia from terrorism, we should limit the rights of citizens in our country. That is something that we would only do in the most extreme circumstances, where the most extreme threats were faced. It is something that I think most of the Australian public has been willing to accept and accede to as long as parliament takes those measures appropriately and has oversight and monitoring of those powers.


There has been no experience of how these new developments in international terrorism and international antiterror laws will play out in the long term in relation to civil liberties, citizens’ rights and ongoing issues of government having too much power or authority over the individual or an individual’s life. The United Kingdom created an office of an independent reviewer of terrorism laws some time ago with that very view in mind. That was the motivation of the member for Kooyong, taking inspiration from the United Kingdom, to put forward a bill that would ensure that we have some monitoring and some safeguard against laws that may well be used aggressively in the future. So, as we progress through this period where terrorism is a major threat in world terms, we do need to constantly monitor and assess the efficacy and adequacy of and the need for laws such as security and terror laws in Australia. That is what the Independent National Security Legislation Monitor Bill 2010 attempts to do and establish. It is our answer to the UK legislation.


The standing function of the monitor will be to review the operation, effectiveness and implications of the counterterrorism and national security legislation. The monitor will have to report findings and recommendations to the Prime Minister on an annual basis, which of course is a worthy objective. I do want to endorse what the member for Brisbane said about bipartisanship in relation to this bill. Regardless of who is in government, I think it is important that the Leader of the Opposition be consulted in relation to who the monitor is and who the appointment is. Bipartisanship in relation to these matters is something that is worthy and that is to be lauded and it is a good objective of this bill.


The bill provides for the appointment of the monitor and prescribes the functions and framework for reviewing the relevant legislation. The bill also provides the monitor with the power to compel a witness to take an oath or an affirmation that the evidence given will be true. Further, the monitor has the power to hold both public and private hearings, which I think is another important feature of this bill—that indeed there is the capacity for public hearings—and to compel the production of documents and things. This is supported by criminal offences for conduct in the nature of contempt. Again, obviously the monitor will require certain powers in this regard.


The fundamental difference between the bill as presented in its initial form and the bill as amended following the urgings of the coalition is that we were strongly of the view that, if you have a reviewer, it is important that you strongly support the apparatus of an independent reviewer of terrorism laws. I do think that if you had your so-called independent reviewer set up as a bureaucrat or in a similar vein as with other agencies, you would of course not have that independence. So it is very important that this amended legislation provides for that. I think it is worthy that they have allowed for an independent monitor to be in place.


In concluding, I do not want to speak for a long time on this bill tonight, because it is a worthy bill. I do want to say that the member for Kooyong’s motives are that he has followed this issue for some time, both in the United Kingdom and here, and he is well known as a person who has a passion for these issues. In relation to national security legislation it is important that we do have ongoing monitoring of the efficacy, the adequacy and the ongoing development of these laws and how they impact upon citizens in Australia. Having an independent monitor—I stress the word ‘independent’—as we as a coalition urged the government to do is a worthy and laudable objective. With the amendments, this is a bill that we can support.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

17 March 2010


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (9:47 AM) —I rise this morning to bring awareness of motor neurone disease in Australia. Motor neurone disease is a devastating neurological illness that affects around 1,400 people across Australia. Of course, motor neurone disease is the name given to a group of diseases in which the nerve cells controlling the muscles that enable us to move around, speak, swallow and breath fail to work normally. With no nerves to activate them, the muscles gradually weaken and waste. The patterns of weakness and the rate of progression vary from person to person. I rise this morning in particular to note the case of Vanessa Khan in my electorate, in the suburb of Bella Vista. This family was hit by motor neurone disease in July 2009 and it was a mere eight months from the diagnosis to the death of Mrs Khan—a very tragic situation. I want to congratulate the courage of her daughter, Jemila Khan, and her husband, Marcus Khan, who have become passionate advocates for the cause of motor neurone disease in Australia. I want to join them in their advocacy today.


I note that federal funding does exist for various elements of motor neurone disease, including research into what causes it and what can be done about it. It was first discovered in 1869 and there is still no known cause and no known cure for this devastating disease and treatment options are very limited. I had the unfortunate experience of seeing Vanessa deteriorate on a monthly basis and it was quite horrific to note the marked deterioration and loss of control of bodily functions from her diagnosis to her death, which severely affected and impacted her family. The Motor Neurone Disease Australia network comprises six associations and it is there to research and develop a potential cure. Some of the needs they describe that are pressing in Australia today include things like early diagnosis; early access to MND associations for information; support and referral to services; early intervention, which of course in so many cases often reduces the overall service needs; flexible and timely respite for carers; urgent response; and regular review. I note that timeliness is the key here in so many ways in treatment options for people.


Many famous people of course have, unfortunately, lived with or died from motor neurone disease, including Australian athletics coach Percy Cerutty, painter Pro Hart, mathematician, physicist and author Professor Stephen Hawking and even Mao Zedong. Within Australia today each week 10 people are diagnosed with motor neurone disease, and 1,400 people are estimated to have it at any given time.


I want to record my sympathy for the Khan family. Their suffering was our community suffering. Vanessa was a notable figure within the Bella Vista community, working for charity groups and giving of her time freely to so many. At her funeral many neighbours, friends, families and community groups recognised her efforts. I want to encourage the government to do everything that it can to fund motor neurone disease research in Australia.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

 16 March 2010


Mr HAWKE (Mitchell) (8:50 PM) —I rise tonight to speak on behalf of the hundreds of residents of Rouse Hill in my electorate of Mitchell who were threatened by yet another government failure in New South Wales. Last week more than a hundred residents rallied at Sunningdale Place in Rouse Hill after receiving letters from the New South Wales Department of Planning which were sent to residents in streets like Spring Mill Avenue, Glen Abbey Street, Sunningdale Place, Greensborough Avenue, Pinehurst Avenue, Green Hills Drive and Clower Avenue asking to make their properties available for soil testing and survey work. This letter raised immediate fears that the residents would have their properties compulsorily acquired by the state government. Attached to this letter was a brochure that outlined a new transport corridor which would go through their houses. Indeed, the transport corridor would also go through the local school, Rouse Hill Public School. The transport corridor proposed by the New South Wales Department of Planning would also go through a preschool. This caused immense concern and distress to residents of Rouse Hill. Immediately on becoming aware of this proposal, I went out to meet with those residents. There were hundreds of them gathering in the streets of Rouse Hill. Some of them, including many mothers, said to me that they had not slept in many nights as they had moved to this area of Rouse Hill because of its great family values. The area is just seven or eight years old and many of the houses have been there less time than that. My electorate of Mitchell has the most number of couples with dependent children in Australia, according to the census. It is a very homogenous society.


So, when the New South Wales state government proposes to put a transport corridor right through the houses and the local school, this understandably causes great consternation and concern. A rally was held on Monday morning, where a further 200 to 300 residents turned up at Rouse Hill Public School. Being here in Canberra, I was unable to attend. Channel 9 news, who turned up to cover the story, then went to see Tony Kelly, who is the Minister for Planning in the New South Wales government. Minister Kelly outlined to Channel 9 that there had been a mistake in the placement of the corridor through houses and through the local primary school—a departmental error that would be rectified urgently. Once again we see in New South Wales an example of government failure—incompetence and mismanagement—threatening livelihoods and the ability of people to get ahead in New South Wales.


It is now Tuesday close of business and there has still been no written apology to the landowners and property owners in Rouse Hill. It is because of a government error—we are advised through Channel 9—that these properties were under threat. Their values are now in question because of this serious bungle by the New South Wales Department of Planning. It is outrageous for the government not to have apologised. It is outrageous for the government not to have immediately moved to correct that error and provide certainty to the residents and landowners in Rouse Hill. I rise here tonight to call urgently on the New South Wales state government to remove from its websites any reference to this incorrect transport corridor and immediately write and apologise to the landowners in my electorate.


I have risen in this chamber before to speak about property rights in New South Wales. I remind the House about the episode of the landowner in Parramatta who was to have his business and property compulsorily acquired by the council and who took his case to the High Court. He won his case in the High Court. One week later, the New South Wales state government changed the law in New South Wales and enabled the council to compulsorily acquire his property.


The callous and lax attitude of the New South Wales state government to property owners’ rights in New South Wales must be stopped. It is completely outrageous. I want to record my thanks to the residents who brought this to my attention and to David Catt, the editor of the Rouse Hill Times, who has been invaluable in highlighting the errors that the state government has made. I call specifically on the New South Wales state government to formally apologise to each and every property owner and to provide them with certainty about their land values and their property rights going forward.