A.C.T. A.L.P. Audio David Smith first speech Maiden Speeches Senate Tech Video

Sen. David Smith (ALP-ACT) – Maiden Speech


Senator David Smith has delivered his maiden speech to the Senate.

Smith, 48, is a Labor senator, representing the Australian Capital Territory. He was elected in a particular recount of votes from the 2016 election, following the disqualification of Katy Gallagher for twin citizenship beneath Part 44 of the Structure. He was declared elected by the Excessive Courtroom on Might 23, 2018 and sworn in on June 18.

Previous to his election, Smith was the ACT Director of Professionals Australia. He beforehand labored as an advisor within the Division of Employment and Office Relations, an industrial relations supervisor for the Australian Federal Police Affiliation and a coverage advisor within the ACT Chief Minister’s Division.

Smith’s time period expires with the subsequent dissolution of the Home of Representatives. Katy Gallagher was this week endorsed by the Left faction to contest an August preselection towards Smith, a former convenor of the Proper faction.

Hansard transcript of maiden speech by Senator David Smith.

The PRESIDENT (17:03): Order! Earlier than I name Senator Smith, I remind honourable senators that that is his first speech and, subsequently, I ask that the standard courtesies be prolonged to him.

Senator DAVID SMITH (Australian Capital Territory) (17:03): Let me start by acknowledging that we meet on the land of the Ngunawal and Ngambri individuals and pay my respects to elders previous, current and rising. It’s a specific honour to have the ability to serve in the identical Senate as Senators Dodson and McCarthy. Let me additionally word my because of the Clerk of the Senate, the Usher of the Black Rod and others for the nice and cozy welcome I acquired once I arrived at this place final month. We right here within the Senate are holding you busier with inductions than you can ever have imagined.

The response of my daughter Stella when she realised I used to be coming to work on this place was one among pleasure and concern that I may need to attend too many conferences. I want to acknowledge the extraordinary private sacrifices that folks on this chamber make to characterize their electorates and the impression that this will have on their household lives. I’m lucky to have the chance to characterize the ACT understanding that the majority nights of the week I can return residence.

I’m honoured to turn out to be solely the ninth senator for the ACT to characterize all individuals of the Australian Capital Territory on this chamber, and to take action as a member of the Australian Labor Get together. Within the ACT, Senate illustration solely got here in 1975. Strolling these corridors, I’m conscious that I stroll amongst giants, in addition to standing upon the shoulders of giants which have gone earlier than me. I recognise those that have come earlier than me, from Susan Ryan and John Knight via to Bob McMullan, Margaret Reid, Kate Lundy, Gary Humphries, Katy Gallagher and Zed Seselja. Particularly, I want to recognise Bob for the clever counsel he has offered in my early days on this place. That recommendation and help, alongside that offered by Annette Ellis, Gai Brodtmann and Andrew Leigh, has been invaluable.


In mid-February this yr I commenced a journey, a journey I didn’t anticipate to steer me right here. For the final 4 years I’ve participated within the Vinnies CEO Sleepout. It’s an essential strategy to increase consciousness and lift funds to deal with a critical situation within the capital area and throughout the nation, and one we’re typically insulated from inside the Parliamentary Triangle: homelessness and poverty. Earlier this yr The Canberra Occasions reported that one in three individuals have been being turned away by ACT homelessness providers due to a scarcity of funding and assets. In a metropolis as affluent as Canberra, this shouldn’t be the case.

This yr I made a decision to do one thing a bit totally different that took me past the 12 hours of the sleep-out. So, in mid-February, I commenced a 790-kilometre stroll, a Camino de Canberra, from Corridor to Gordon and to all of the locations in between. I walked with different Canberrans and talked about points that mattered to them and their communities, not simply within the capital area however throughout the nation. I walked with faculty academics, group legal professionals, social staff, union organisers and on a regular basis mums and dads. Whereas we talked about a few of our present challenges—insecure employment, housing affordability, rising utility payments in a metropolis the place heating is a should and making certain youngsters are getting breakfast earlier than faculty—we additionally talked concerning the alternatives and the capability to construct coalitions throughout communities regardless of variations.


I made the 790 kilometres by the pores and skin of my tooth and final week, when the parliament rose, I joined with greater than 140 group and enterprise leaders throughout the capital area to sleep out within the grounds of the Nationwide Museum of Australia. The thermometer dropped to minus 5 levels, however we have been nonetheless in an surroundings that was momentary and protected, with the information that a scorching bathe and a heat mattress weren’t that distant. This isn’t the case for greater than 100,000 Australians on any night time of the yr.

As I stated earlier than, this isn’t the place I anticipated this journey to show, however the alternative for me right here is to work with you all to deal with rising inequality throughout our communities and areas, and to work with organisations like Vinnies to convey dignity and hope to each member of our group. That work is completed on the again of the extraordinary community of volunteers throughout this area. Anybody who thinks Canberra has no soul is unaware of the hundreds of unpaid contributions made by Canberrans throughout so many various organisations day by day.


One of many first individuals I met on this place was the opposite Senator Smith. Senator Dean Smith knowledgeable me, in that early week, that there had solely been three Smiths within the Senate since Federation and that we have been two of them. But I’m not only a Smith; I’m a Grealy, a Walsh, a Lloyd, a Centenera and a Garcia. Like nearly all of Australian households, my household’s story has roots elsewhere: in Eire, Wales, the Philippines and Spain. The Smiths got here from Meath, the Grealys from Galway, the Walshes from Cork, the Lloyds from Brecon, the Centeneras from Bicol and the Garcias from Manila.

My maternal grandmother got here to Australia within the 1890s underneath a false surname, escaping the poverty of rural South Wales to a tough, distant land. My great-grandmother’s portrait of Robert Emmet, the Irish patriot, had satisfaction of place within the Grealy house for greater than half a century: a reminder of the battle for freedom and the generations of Irish households that migrated to interrupt the chains of poverty.

My in-laws left the Philippines within the early seventies for each financial alternative and to flee the Marcos regime. This story of dislocation, political unrest, poverty and unhappiness is the overwhelming worldwide narrative of the final 150 years. But right here in Australia, whereas struggling homesickness and worry, they discovered hope, alternative and compassion.


This stays a crucial and troublesome problem. We have now a duty to these dealing with the identical challenges our mother and father and grandparents confronted to deal with them with dignity and compassion and be sure that their human rights are upheld. We will do higher however we gained’t until we work throughout the aisles with out worry of an errant quip getting used on Sky Information. Australia must be a pacesetter in human rights inside this area—not simply in the best way we deal with those that search refuge, but in addition in talking up for human rights throughout our area. I commend the work of my colleague Chris Hayes MP in highlighting the humanitarian disaster in Myanmar, with the pressured displacement of over 600,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, the destruction of a whole lot of villages and the extrajudicial killings carried out by the safety forces. In such circumstances we shouldn’t be sustaining a army help program funding the coaching of officers of the Myanmar army.

My mother and father journeyed to Canberra for public service—not simply the notion of doing a job, however being a part of one thing greater and dealing for the widespread good. Their story is just like hundreds of Australians which have moved to this area to play their half within the nationwide story. My mom educated as a instructor, working with youngsters in Collingwood earlier than coming to Canberra to work for the bureau of stats in a constructing that had additionally been moved from Melbourne. She had needed to resign due to the wedding bar. She threw herself into household and group life, working with the Caroline Chisholm Society, the Catholic Ladies’s League and beginning and operating the clothes pool at Marist School Canberra.


My father misplaced his mother and father younger and put himself by means of night time faculty earlier than finishing levels in commerce and economics. Work took him from Brisbane to the mines within the Northern Territory earlier than he made the fateful choice to take up a Public Service job supply in Canberra. In a 30-year profession he labored throughout the business and science portfolios earlier than spending the final decade of his profession within the tax workplace. Dedicated to an neutral Public Service, he left his Labor leanings on the door and solely actively engaged in politics publish his Public Service profession.

My brothers and I had that notion of service strengthened throughout our schooling at Sts Peter & Paul and Marist School. My brothers too have dedicated their lives to the widespread good and public service, if in several methods. My brother Paul is a senior lawyer with Authorized Assist. After 20 years of economic follow, he determined he needed to offer one thing rather more substantial again to the group. My brother Bernie went from the store flooring of Woolworths Mawson to work for the SDA, and he’s labored for them for greater than 20 years preventing for a good go for retail staff for issues that many people take as a right—with the ability to share public holidays with your loved ones, getting a reward for working unsociable hours and inspiring the general public to deal with them with some primary respect.


Concentrating on public servants has been straightforward recreation for a variety of governments regardless of the criticality of a robust numerous public sector to ship the federal government of the day’s coverage packages and reply to complicated rising challenges. It has all the time horrified me how those that dedicate their life to public service can have their work belittled, notably by these whom they serve. I noticed this firsthand as a junior public servant within the previous Division of Employment and Office Relations with the outsourcing of the Job Community and cuts on the office relations aspect that noticed one in 4 of my colleagues with no job. The experience and expertise we misplaced might have benefitted different organisations however it punched a generational gap in our capability to offer complete high quality coverage recommendation and positioned immense strain on the general public servants that remained.

In engineering and science areas of the general public sector it was the start of a substantial decline, accompanied by the removing of recognition for skilled experience within the classification construction modifications of 1999. Within the final 10 years, I’ve labored within the labour motion for and alongside science, engineering and know-how professionals throughout the private and non-private sectors. It’s straightforward for politicians to speak concerning the significance of our youngsters learning STEM topics at college after which via our TAFE and college techniques—costly and troublesome programs. There isn’t a level if there isn’t real funding in jobs value doing and profession paths with affordable reward.

Within the public sector, in any respect ranges, we now have seen a big devaluing of science and engineering experience and rising gaps at a time when the challenges we face require extra, not much less, experience informing our infrastructure, well being, communications, defence, agriculture and water coverage areas, with vital cuts to the CSIRO, Australia’s flagship science and engineering analysis organisation.


In areas comparable to defence that is staggering, given the billions of dollars invested in complicated know-how and its upkeep. In defence the lack of engineering functionality was a key issue that led to the upkeep failure and decommissioning of the Manoora and Kanimbla, at a price of each the sensible lack of essential functionality and a capital value of near $500 million. And, regardless of critiques urging the rebuilding of the engineering workforce, as an alternative we’ve seen additional untargeted job cuts and the outsourcing of essential engineering roles.

Robust authorities must be pushed by a workforce motivated by the general public good somewhat than business pursuits. Limiting the dimensions of the general public sector workforce by synthetic staffing ranges after which blowing out the finances on contractors and consultants is nonsense, however it’s a nonsense that we’re all paying for by means of alternatives misplaced and thru the creation of serious, ongoing conflicts of curiosity.

Rebuilding public sector functionality and integrity gained’t be straightforward, however it’s a mission that’s required if we’re to have good authorities. And relatively than depend on a ‘cargo cult’ mentality that thinks investing in STEM schooling alone will result in innovation and financial progress, we have to lead by instance and spend money on rebuilding a authorities engineering and science workforce and supporting a nationwide analysis workforce.

I’m a Smith. Worse I’m a David Smith. There are a couple of of us, so there’s a want for some disambiguation. Firstly, I’m not Sir David Smith, the previous secretary to the Governor-Basic. Sir David lives in a suburb close to mine, and his epistles to The Canberra Occasions supporting the monarchy confused acquaintances of mine. For the document, I firmly help an Australian republic with a head of state that’s one among us. Our little kids throughout the capital area, and throughout the nation shouldn’t be denied the chance to aspire to positions of public service on the idea of birthright, faith or gender.

Additionally it is necessary to differentiate me from different David Smiths within the labour motion. When the information broke that I had grow to be the brand new senator for the ACT I used to be variously described as a union hack or a union boss. A lot as I may need appreciated to have thought my position in Professionals Australia led to the latter description, it was a confusion between me and the Nationwide Secretary of the Australian Providers Union, David Smith. Thankfully The Canberra Occasions didn’t additionally confuse me with David Smith, the AMWU Nationwide Car Division Secretary.

I’ll accept union hack, although, if what meaning is working with and for working individuals and their households of their workplaces at business degree for the final 14 years and if it means appearing as a consolation when issues go flawed, advocating towards rising inequality, and making the case that each one working individuals ought to be handled with dignity and respect. Pope John Paul II famously said that unions have been an ‘indispensable component of social life’ and ‘advocates for the wrestle for social justice, for the simply rights of working individuals’. This can be a wrestle that we’re engaged in now: the undermining of collective bargaining, the restrictions on union illustration and exercise, and the deterioration within the rights and circumstances of working individuals throughout their nation. We have to change the principles; we’d like a Shorten Labor authorities.


There are numerous individuals I have to thank for the help that they’ve offered me on this journey—my blood brothers Daniel and Stuart. We began our Labor journeys collectively at college and proceed them immediately. I can solely hope to stay as much as the requirements that you’ve each set. And due to these family and friends that we’ve got bored to tears with our obsession however who’ve supported us nonetheless. It brings me pleasure to see lots of you right here as we speak.

It wasn’t exhausting to be impressed to make a distinction in an area Labor Get together that included Terry Higgins, Ros Kelly, Terry Connolly, Bob McMullan and lots of others. I’m notably indebted to Paul Whalan, Don McCallum, John Hargreaves and Craig Simmons and the cohort of comrades that joined across the similar time as me. I’ve met so many good individuals on the best way from the start in 1990 to now.

Within the Public Service I used to be fortunate to study from a robust group of Public Service leaders that believed that serving the federal government of the day didn’t imply leaving your ethics and values on the door, together with Paddy Gourley, James Smythe, Bernie Yates and Kate Bosser. And I labored for senior managers that handled their staff with care and decency. Their instance is one which could possibly be the idea for rebuilding religion in public service management.

For the final 14 years I’ve labored within the labour motion with the Australian Federal Police Affiliation and Professionals Australia. It was an honour to work alongside Jon, Mark and Craig and the various delegates and members in that remarkably numerous, difficult and sophisticated organisation—the Australian Federal Police.

In my 10 years with Professionals Australia I’ve labored with nice individuals throughout our membership, inside the union and throughout different unions. In Chris Walton, I had as a mentor one of many nice, considerate, caring labour motion leaders. Chris all the time made us take into consideration the important worth and contribution our members made to creating our communities higher, however this might solely work nicely once they labored collectively. He helped me stability work with the challenges introduced by modifications in life, notably juggling household commitments with younger youngsters after which the challenges brought on by my father’s deteriorating well being. I additionally owe a debt to all my colleagues in Professionals Australia, notably people who have labored with me within the ACT. The work we did was nothing, although, with out the superb work of our delegates and members throughout all our workplaces—a job that’s getting more durable in an unnecessarily adversarial industrial relations setting.

Throughout the labour motion there are too many to call, however I need to point out Neville Betts, Athol Williams, Bev Turello and Mike Nicolaides.

I want to notably acknowledge my employees: Chris, Kim, Karl, Nick, Mikey and Bryce. They’ve made a big sacrifice, understanding that their determination to hitch me is at an unsure time. In these previous couple of weeks they’ve gone above and past in a difficult surroundings.

I thanks and need to remind you that I’m a North Melbourne supporter. ‘Shinboners’ battle, and I’ll battle!

Lastly, I couldn’t be right here with out the help of my household and associates, however particularly I couldn’t be right here with out the help of my fast household: Liesl, Marcus, Eamonn and Stella.


Marcus, Eamonn and Stella make us immensely proud. Our focus group of a 14-, 12- and nine-year-old is invaluable. It’s superb how typically youngsters see issues extra clearly than we do.

Coming to Liesl Maria Centenera. I met Liesl within the late nineties within the Division of Employment and Office Relations. The primary time we met I assumed I had made a superb impression. I used to be incorrect. Nevertheless, time and perhaps persistence modified that view. We shared comparable values concerning the significance of household and group, equity on the planet of labor and dedication to creating a distinction. And to make a distinction, typically sacrifices need to be made and alternatives deferred. Whereas in the UK, I labored for Slough Borough Council whereas Liesl was the chief authorized counsel for the Fee for Racial Equality. In returning to Australia, whereas we each labored half time to raised stability our rising household, the reality is that Liesl all the time lifted the heavier load. In the course of the time Liesl was a senior government in ACT authorities and I held senior roles within the native labour motion, we ensured there have been no conflicts of curiosity in relation to the problems for which we had duty. Integrity is prime to good public life. To help my choice to run in 2016 after which be positioned to serve on this chamber, Liesl stepped away from her Public Service job and as an alternative threw herself into group and household life. I couldn’t take this chance with out the help of the neatest, most loyal and respectable individual I do know. I sit up for the time once I can do the identical for Liesl.


I didn’t anticipate to be supplied with the chance to serve the individuals of the ACT on this chamber, however it is a chance I take critically for there’s work to be finished.

The battle towards rising inequality is actual however, as Springsteen sang, ‘I consider in a promised land’.

I want to depart you with the ultimate public phrases of one other Smith, John Smith, the previous chief of the UK Labour Celebration, a person who would have been more likely to be Prime Minister if it weren’t for his premature dying: ‘The chance to serve—that’s all we ask.’