Nine Members of the Australian Labor Party Honoured with Life Membership

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (10:34): A fortnight ago, the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party had our state conference. One of the parts of the conference that I particularly enjoy is the time in which we celebrate party members who have received life membership. I'm sure my colleagues across the chamber will have local people in their party branches who don't seek anything out of their work but who just believe in our democracy and value their opportunity to participate in the political process. They get out there on rainy, cold elections and stinking hot elections, beating the path and doing all the work to make sure those elections can happen in a way that is really inclusive in this country. I really value and appreciate that.

I want to recognise nine locals from Illawarra who have, combined, given over 400 years of dedication to our party and also to our community and their democracy.

Firstly, I want to recognise Joseph Caruana, Joe, who's from the Balgownie branch. He's been nearly 50 years in the party and very active during all of those years assisting in campaigns and polling activities. He's also very involved in his local community. He was the secretary, during the 1980s, of the George Cross Falcon Club in Cringila, which supports the Illawarra's Maltese community. He's also been involved in attending Maltese conferences as a delegate of that community. He's very important to our branches and also as part of that very active Maltese community.

Stella Chapman from the Bulli-Woonona-Helensburgh branch has been in the party for 40 years. She's held all sorts of positions in party bodies. She's an important member who helped establish a new branch—Bay and Basin branch on the South Coast. I have to say that during her employment in the sixties and seventies she worked to start a union for women and was threatened with the sack, so she's been very active representing others and being a voice for others.

Kay Heffernan, from the Mt Kembla-Unanderra branch is another life member. She is not only a campaigner but a very active member of her local Catholic community parish, who has done a lot of community work.

I recognise Colin and Melissa Markham: Colin was a long-term state representative in our area, and both he and Melissa are very active party members. Also, they are, more broadly, very active community representatives. It was very sad that illness stopped them from being there, but it was great to see their work recognised. John Wark, from the Thirroul branch, is a fabulous local member and does a lot of history and research work for the party. In my colleague the member for Whitlam's area, can I put on the record Fay Campbell, a wonderful woman I have known for a long time from the Dapto branch; Ferdinando Lelli, a member of our Warilla-Mt Warrigal branch and a long-term member; and Hans Strecker of the Albion Park-Oak Flats branch. (Time expired)

Watch my speech here.