Epping Community Cabinet Meeting
On Thursday 15 April 2010, the Australian Government held its 22nd Community Cabinet meeting at Epping Boys High School in Eastwood, New South Wales. This was the sixth Community Cabinet meeting held in New South Wales. Around 363 community members attended a public question-and-answer session with the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers, followed by a series of meetings between individual ministers and members of the public.
The Acting Principal of Epping Boys High School, Mrs Cassy Norris, welcomed the community to the meeting, and Darug Elder, Mr Greg Sims (Uncle Greg) gave the Welcome to Country. The Epping Boys’ High School Wind Ensemble and Stage Band entertained the community prior to the public forum with some wonderful performances. Mr Hayden Tonazzi, a pupil of the school, sang the Australian National Anthem.
The Federal Member for Bennelong, Ms Maxine McKew MP, introduced the Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, who then addressed the public forum, emphasising the Government’s continuing commitment to the Community Cabinet process, and its desire to hear about the problems on the ground. The Prime Minister said that the local community represented the modern face of Australia, with its diversity of ethnic backgrounds. He noted that North Sydney, as a vibrant business epicentre, has featured in the first ventures to be funded through the newly established Commercialisation Australia. This is an initiative that will assist researchers, entrepreneurs and innovative companies to convert ideas into successful commercial ventures.
The Prime Minister touched briefly on the Government’s major focus of investing in the future through Building the Education Revolution, social and transport infrastructure, and health and hospitals reform.
The Prime Minister and ministers then answered wide ranging and thoughtful questions in the public forum. Issues raised included Australian Government support for disability services, lack of community engagement in the discussion on population growth in Australia, increased opportunity for second language learning through high school, the Government’s plans for climate change action since Copenhagen, audio description on Australian television to facilitate participation by the blind community, and the Government’s five point plan for aged care.
Following the forum, ministers moved to 56 pre-arranged one-on-one meetings. These meetings provided individuals with an opportunity to discuss a personal matter or an issue of concern directly with the relevant minister.