Excerpts from the Maiden Speech of Dr Gordon Reid

Dr Gordon Reid was election the Labor Member for Robertson at the 2022 Federal Election

"As your member for Robertson, I will work to protect our most vulnerable, to grow our region and to unite our community, because together we are healthier, together we are better, and together we are stronger."

Health is not simply a state of being free from illness or injury. Health is the strength of a society and a community. Health is a community having access to affordable and equitable care and services. Health is having the freedom to go about our daily lives with the reassurance that those elected to represent us are held to account. Health is having a strong, clean, protected and sustainable environment. Health is having a sense of belonging through cultural acceptance and representation. Health is having the ability to participate in the workforce all while knowing your children are being cared for and educated to the absolute highest standard. Health is having a safe and secure place to call home.

The health of our nation and, indeed, the Central Coast is front and centre to what we must achieve. I am so honoured to be part of a government that will change lives for the better. I have been particularly fortunate to serve my community through our health service, in particular, in our emergency departments.

Our hospitals are a place where it does not matter who you are, where you come from, or the circumstances leading to your presentation. You will be cared for because of a hard-fought Labor initiative that saw a little, green card come into the lives of all Australians, brandished with the word that represents complete and universal access: Medicare.

From inside the hospital, you can hear the sirens. The ambulance drives up to the resus bay, having to slow down because of the many other ambulances that are ramped and filled with unwell patients. The doors to the resus bay open, and paramedics are doing chest compressions and rescue breaths on the 55-year-old male that was found unresponsive on the floor of his home by his wife and young children.

With his heart now beating properly again, he needs to be transferred to the intensive care unit for critical care – but there are no beds. The stroke and the heart attack need immediate attention, but there are no beds—no beds and not enough staff.

While all of this is occurring, others come through the door: the five-month-old child with a femoral fracture as a result of domestic violence; the 17-year-old in crisis due to a deterioration of their mental health; and the 80-year-old presenting unwell—someone's mother—and yours will be the last hand they ever hold. The people that come through the door on their feet, in a chair or in the arms of a loved one all know one thing: that we will be there for them.

The emergency department, however, can surprise you. It can be a place of love and a place of new life: the healthy baby boy born in the resus bay; that Saturday sporting injury that, after an X-ray, turned out not to be a fracture; and the child presenting in the middle of the night as unwell, who just needed an ice block, some medicine and lots of hugs from mum and dad.

Shifts like this formed a turning point for me. I stand before you today not because I no longer want to be a doctor—I love being a doctor, and I will always love being a doctor—but because, by undertaking this most important role, my skills and my experience will no longer be limited to the bedside. At the bedside, I have the opportunity to help one family at a time. Here, in this place, I have the opportunity to be part of something that can change the lives of everyone in our community for the better. I have the opportunity to use my experiences to bring about informed systemic change.

When people come through the doors of the hospital, they put their absolute trust in those caring for them. They know that you will do your absolute best for them against all odds. The decisions that you make will make a difference in their life and for their life. And that is what I want to help bring to this place. The public must be able to trust us. We have been given an incredible honour of representing our communities, and the people need to know, and need the guarantee, that they can trust us to do the right thing.

I will fight day and night to ensure that those in power—every person in this place, including myself—are held to account, because the health of our nation depends on it. A healthy democracy has at its core accountability, and I see it as my responsibility—in fact, our responsibility—to ensure that we safeguard and protect it for future generations.

Our future generations should be at the heart of every decision we make. Without them, we are nothing, and this great Australian story ceases to exist. Therefore, we must provide them with an environment, with a planet where they can continue to grow, to love and to become whoever they want to be.

In the afternoon, with the sun setting and an orange glow filling the sky, if you look out from Umina Beach, you will see a small island, Lion Island, and on it a colony of penguins. Surrounding it and the remaining coast are rolling waves and rolling ocean teeming with marine life. It is truly something beautiful to behold.

Many families across this country and across my electorate, own and operate small businesses, which are the backbone of this nation. To have a small business is not to just have holidays when you want or to have an easy life, like some people believe. It is to risk everything because you want to aspire to something better, to provide for your family, and to have the capacity and ability to provide local jobs for local people. That is small business, and Labor supports it.

For myself, family is everything, as is my community. Part of that story is my nan, Aunty Robyn Reid, an incredible Aboriginal elder and leader. Nan has spent every waking moment being part of and supporting the local Aboriginal community on the Central Coast, and I am so proud to be a part of that. One of seven children, she spent her childhood in what was inhumanely branded 'the camps'. Nan grew up where severe abuse and poverty were the norm. The threat of not sleeping or of not living somewhere safe and secure was real. The threat of not eating was real. But she was able to escape this cycle with social housing.

The provision of social housing, which my nan refers to, to this day, as a blessing, was a pivotal opportunity in her life—an opportunity that gave her safety, security and support to strive for something even bigger. With her perseverance and incredible resilience, she was able to go on to be the first person in her family to own her own home.

My nan loves being able to use her story to help support and inspire members of our local Aboriginal community and let them know that, if they are struggling, they have the whole community behind them supporting them. I am so proud of my Aboriginal heritage and couldn't be prouder of the incredible role that my nan plays in our local community as a strong female Indigenous elder.

Our movement has always been one of opportunity and access. Whether it be the health of our loved ones, the education of our people, the acknowledgement of the past, housing our most vulnerable, making sure employment becomes more secure, or the expansion and modernisation of our economy, our movement is one that has and will continue to improve the lives of all Australians.

These are the pillars of the Labor Party, and they are the foundations of our society and they are who I am.

As your member for Robertson, I will work to protect our most vulnerable, to grow our region and to unite our community, because together we are healthier, together we are better, and together we are stronger.

Dr Gordon Reid was elected the Labor Member for Robertson at the 2022 Federal Election