School hall crammed for community cabinet
Posted 19 minutes ago
About 500 people have packed into a school hall at Penrith for the chance to directly question Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and his ministry in the first community cabinet meeting to be held in New South Wales.
Mr Rudd was cheered and given a standing ovation as he entered Jamieson High School's hall for the third of the Government's community cabinet meetings.
The Federal Government bills the meetings as a chance to interact with the community about the issues that concern them.
Mr Rudd has told the crowd it is easy for politicians in Canberra to lose touch and it was vital they consult communities around the country.
Tonight audience members have asked the government to do more on the issues of mental health, child care and reducing the cost of living for seniors and families.
I was impressed most by Julia Gillard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_Gillard) and the local member David Bradbury both of whom spoke well. Kevin Rudd is of course GOD and naturally falls into an entirely different category.
There was a long impassioned speech which Kevin Rudd took note of regarding the plight of carers. One impassioned speaker urged cabinet ministers to abandon the use of big cars and adopt the use of small cars to which Peter Garrett commented that he was a big man who presumably would find it hard to be seated inside a small car. Issues of mental health and the difficulty making ends meet were raised - and it was noted that was the reason why Kevin (otherwise known as GOD) was holding the community cabinet in this particular area of Western Sydney which one speaker pointed out has a larger population than Western Australia and possibly South Australia. Kevin Rudd mentioned this was to be one of many similar community cabinets around the country with the next one being held in an outback regions of the Northern Territory. I noted that Martin Ferguson wasn't present (his name had been removed from the list). If Simon Crean was present I didn't see him either. Both are associated with the Trade Union movement.
I sat in the third row almost directly opposite Stephen Conroy (who wants to censor the Internet) and Robert McLelland who looked exactly as he does in the photograph on Wikipedia. I noted Stephen Conroy and Robert McLelland greeting each other as they took their places. Neither spoke at the event as there were no questions raised that related to their portfolios. There were more people wishing to ask questions or make comments than could possibly be accommodated. Kevin Rudd (God) appeared to acknowledge every hand that was raised and pointed to people in "red or blue" polo shirts who could be contacted such that the Ministers were aware of the issues the people wished raised. A few people had fact sheets relating to their personal meetings with selected cabinet ministers the logistics of which Kevin Rudd admitted he wasn't sure about. I shuffled out tired and weary and even if I could have found a person in a red or blue polo shirt I was too exhausted to find them.
Kevin Rudd's proficiency in Mandarin was commented on a number of times with one speaker being impressed at the reaction of Chinese students when Mr. Rudd spoke to them in Beijing. Mr Rudd suggested this was possibly because he may have stuffed up as he isn't completely proficient in the language.