Two members of Parliament from very different parts of Sydney delivered their inaugural speeches this week. Member for Newtown Jenny Leong and Member for Ku-ring-gai Alister Henskens both took the floor to outline their goals and commitments to their respective communities. Christian Berechree reports.


Alister Henskens, Liberal Member for Ku-ring-gai

Mr Henskens’ speech began on a deeply personal note, recounting a chilling story about his father’s experiences during WWII. Mr Henskens explained how his father held German officers at gunpoint and ordered them to surrender.

“It took about 65 years after those events for my father to fully tell me that story,” Mr Henskens said. “My father was motivated to risk his life that day because of the love of his family, his community and his country. I come to this place with different risks but with the same motivations.”

Mr Henskens thanked his parents, friends and family for their motivation and support throughout his pre-selection campaign and onwards. He also spoke of his love for music, saying the Government has a responsibility to support the arts.

“Government is not only about economic efficiency but also needs to facilitate the human soul, the advancement of humanity and the continuous investigation of the human condition by which societies advance,” Mr Henskens said.

Closer to home, Mr Henskens spoke about the challenges facing local business owners, and committed to supporting them.

“The butchers, fruiterers and other shop owners in our local shopping strips in Ku-ring-gai say that they are on the edge of oblivion after having traded successfully for 20 years or more,” Mr Henskens said.

“Despite their better products they need the help of government and, critically, the backing of our community if they are going to survive. If we want to keep the character of our suburbs intact, the community needs to consciously support our local retailers and take more time to shop with them.”


Jenny Leong, Greens Member for Newtown

Ms Leong used her inaugural speech to address a number of contentious issues. On the matter of same-sex marriage she referred to her own relationship.

“We declined to have our wedding recognised in law. One day, when the institution of marriage is no longer tainted by discrimination, we will get legally married; until then, we will continue to live in sin,” she said.

Ms Leong also had some challenging words to say about Australian politics.

“It is pretty clear that simply trusting the government of the day to do the right thing is not going to be enough. Slippery words and excuses that continue to allow human rights to be violated are a tacit endorsement of racism, sexism and discrimination,” Ms Leong said.

“It is clear that for too long, under successive governments in New South Wales, the priorities have been wrong.”

To view the speeches, visit Ms Leong’s website and Mr Henskens’ YouTube channel.