By Sarah Hanson-Young, Senator for South Australia
It has been another unforgettable year in the Federal Parliament for the South Australian Greens and my team.
I was thrilled to welcome my colleague Robert Simms to the Senate in September of 2015 and was then deeply disappointed to farewell him after the double dissolution election that was held in July. Robert was a competent, eloquent and courageous Member of Parliament and I look forward to seeing his next contribution to public life and working with him on that.
The international community's compassionate response to the increasing Syrian crisis has thrown the cruelty of the Abbott/Turnbull government into stark relief. At a time when we should be opening our hearts and helping people to rebuild their shattered lives, the Coalition government continues to insist on dumping people, by their thousands, in island gulags on Manus Island and Nauru.
The mood in the Australian community is turning however and I am very proud of my contribution, and that of my team, to making sure the true hell of life in those camps has been revealed. The time to close the camps has well and truly come and I will continue to fight for those people who need a voice, whether they're in Australia or locked up offshore.
Looking ahead to the challenges that lie before us, I see great opportunity in the new portfolios that I have been given carriage of following the election. Education, from child care to university, is an essential part of the Australian way of life and our social fabric that is currently under threat. I will defend our right to affordable, high quality education, regardless of your gender, postcode or income.
On Finance and Trade issues, I will work with my colleagues in the Senate, across party lines, to establish a Senate inquiry that will lift the lid on secretive trade deals like the TPP.
In South Australia I'll take up the 'Fight for the Bight' — the campaign that will see BP banned from drilling for oil in the Great Australian Bight. I will also continue to support our state's remarkable transition to renewable energy and oppose the price-gouging fossil fuel companies that are squeezing household budgets to breaking point.
The future is bright and I'm looking forward to another year of challenge and opportunity, so there's just one thing left to say — let's get on with it!