For years, the community has been calling for the regeneration of Yeramba Lagoon.

Shadow Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Mark Butler, alongside Labor candidate for Banks, Chris Gambian, have heard their calls and today announced that Labor will commit $300,000 towards its restoration.

The ongoing disrepair of the lagoon demonstrates a lack of action by both state and federal Liberal Governments, despite growing concern from local residents.

“Delivering a commitment to fix this longstanding issue shows that Labor doesn’t just talk about representing the community – we listen and get things done,” Mr Gambian said.

“The Yeramba Lagoon is choked with weeds and there are now fears it poses a safety risk for local families.”

Mr Butler said the new funding of $300,000 to the National Parks and Wildlife Service will return the lagoon back to its previous natural state.

“By removing the weir and carrying out restoration works we will restore the natural tidal flow, improve water quality and reduce the aquatic weeds.”

This funding will repair the environmental damage to the lagoon and restore the area to its former glory.

What we can learn from modern Australian dining

On a rainy day in January 1975, a little over a year before I was born, my dad walked four and a half miles along King Georges Road in Sydney to apply for a job as a motor mechanic.

A bloke at the CES in Hurstville said there was a job going at a service station workshop in Wiley Park.

So my dad, on his second day in Australia, set about finding work.

Dad had come first in the state in his trade qualification back in India and having just married my mum, he was ready to work hard to start his life in his adopted homeland.

He need not have bothered.

On first glance the owner of the service station told him he couldn’t have the job because he “didn’t have his own tools.”

The workshop was already well stocked with tools - but that was that.

In 1975, Mum and Dad were pretty much the only brown people in Mortdale.

You went to the RSL for Chinese, and curries came out of a tin of Keen’s curry powder.

Times have certainly changed.

Fast forward 40 years and Mortdale, along with the rest of the seat of Banks, is among the most culturally diverse areas in Australia.

But we have failed to make the most of the opportunities our cultural diversity presents – and in this instance there are lessons to learn from Australian chefs who have taught us to embrace the flavours and tastes of other cultures over the past few decades.

Modern Australian chefs don’t just tolerate difference – they learn from it to produce something unique and wonderful.

As I spend time campaigning in Banks, it is clear to me that we can learn from this approach.

On one hand, I get to see our community for all of its diverse beauty, but on the other hand I see the untapped potential that could be unlocked if we move beyond ‘tolerance’ and ‘harmony’ to instead leverage the strength of our many cultures.

Food festivals are great, but there is so much more we can do.

We can teach our children diversity through language.

Making language lessons in schools a priority would strengthen our understanding and connection with other cultures and improve learning across the board.

Australians who speak Mandarin should not be a curiosity — it should be commonplace, as should fluency in a whole host of other languages.

We should also promote cross cultural networking in the business community.

Language can be a barrier to cross cultural connection in business, but is easily overcome with a modest amount of effort.

This networking could open up business opportunities and create spaces for more shared problem solving and knowledge exchange.

Curiosity and a desire for creative problem solving are at the heart of innovation.

Innovation is driven by a willingness to draw from many ideas and traditions – no tax incentive can substitute for a good new idea.

Perhaps most importantly, we can do more to tell the full Australian story.

Australia is no longer a place of dusty outback roads and meatloaf with a side of mixed veg and Gravox.

Australia’s story is rich, diverse and interesting, but all too often many of its characters are either missing or drawn in caricature.

If we are to succeed on the world stage, we must embrace our diversity as a strength.

Just like our top chefs, we can use our cultural diversity to produce something unique, wonderful and distinctly Australian.


A Federal Labor Government will contribute a third of the cost to build east facing ramps on both sides of the M5 at Belmore Rd.

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition announced in Riverwood today that Labor will split the cost 3 ways with the NSW Government and the toll company which operates the road.

“This project is long overdue and frankly should have already been completed by various State Governments of both political sides. But there have been years of talk and no action,” Mr Dastyari said

“Our local Federal candidate Chris Gambian has a fresh idea to break the log-jam by asking a Federal Labor Government to provide a third of the funds as a way to get things moving.”

“This is a co-operative and innovative way to get this much needed project underway”.

 “When the M5 was first built, provision was made for the ramps to be added later.  The geo-tech work has been done, and now all that remains is to lay tarmac on the ramps.”

The estimated cost of the project is between $6 and $9 million, with the Commonwealth’s share coming from existing road improvement budgets.

Labor’s candidate for Banks, Chris Gambian, said that the proposal is “a way to ensure that local residents finally get the road they deserve”. 

“People in Riverwood, Peakhurst, Mortdale, Oatley, Lugarno, Penshurst and Narwee will save precious minutes off their commute every day,” Mr Gambian said

“There’s no point in widening the M5 if people are in gridlock while they wait to get on it.”

“Building this missing link will also ease traffic on local roads, particularly near King Georges Road and the surrounding back streets”.

Banks candidate wants every kid to reach their potential

“I am the product of parents who worked their whole lives to educate me; and teachers and schools that went beyond the call to help me reach my potential” said Chris Gambian, who was preselected unopposed as Labor’s candidate in the federal seat of Banks last week.

Chris, 39, whose parents migrated to Australia in 1975, grew up in Penshurst and Peakhurst, and attended Mortdale Public School, then Penshurst and Kogarah Marist Brothers.  He has worked as an advocate and campaigner in the union movement, and more recently has owned his own small consulting business.

“Labor says every kid should get the best possible education: more teachers, better text books, more 1:1 attention for kids who need it.  I think that’s a pretty basic Australian value, but the Turnbull Government have pulled real dollars out of our local schools.”

“What could Padstow Park Primary, or Narwee Public, or my old schools, Mortdale Public and Penshurst Marist Brothers do with 4 extra teachers?  That’s roughly the equivalent of what Mr Turnbull has pulled out of every one of our schools in the area.”

‘That’s $15 million gone from the area in school funding: that’s a lot of lamington drives to make up the shortfall”

“Our young people are struggling to get a job, and they need more and more qualifications to even get a look in; kids growing up in our area have to move away if they’re to have any chance at buying a house; and families are still struggling with the cost of living, especially on things like childcare” Chris said.

“Government’s job is to help every Australian reach their full potential: because that’s good for all of us in the end.

When my little girl is old enough to go to school I want her to have teachers who have the time and resources to help her achieve her best.

And in that, I don’t think I’m all that unusual” he said.

I want to get to know every citizen

“Things are only going to change when the voices of everyday people are heard.”

Chris has spent his career speaking up for others, as a union organiser and through community organisations.  He was very active in the campaign to save St George Bank from takeover by Westpac, which resulted in conditions on the sale being imposed to protect jobs and services.

“Our young people are struggling to get a job, and they need more and more qualifications to even get a look in; kids growing up in our area have to move away if they’re to have any chance at buying a house; and families are still struggling with the cost of living, especially on things like childcare” he said.

Chris said he hoped to have a conversation with every person in the electorate, to genuinely understand what makes them tick. 

“It’s an ambitious goal, but I don’t think you can claim to represent a community without really understanding it. I want to know what keeps you up at night.  I want to understand your hopes for the future.  That’s what should be front and centre in the national political discussion.  I think politicians sometimes lose sight of that.”

I think an MP’s job is to go to Canberra and amplify the voices of everyday people, not just do the bidding of those who already have a lot of money and power.”

Chris and his wife Kate have one daughter.