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Katie Law - Maiden Speech (1992)
#1
Madam Speaker, 

As this is my first speech in this House, I'd like to take the opportunity to congratulate you on your elevation to the high office of Speaker of the House of Commons. I am sure you will meet the high standards which come with the office.

Madam Speaker,

It is a great honour to be standing in this House giving my Maiden Speech as the Member for Newcastle Upon Tyne East. I'd like to pay tribute to my predecessor Nick Brown who not only served my constituency with distinction, but was also a valued mentor of mine in the years leading up to my election to this House. I wish him well in what ever may come next for him.

Madam Speaker,

If you looked at my start in life on a sheet of paper and the economic conditions with which I was born into back in 1956, you would not predict that I would end up in this House. I was born to a coal miner as an only child and my family lived in a 2 bedroom apartment. After all the essentials were paid for, my family had hardly enough left over to put away for a rainy day. I went to the local State school, where my parents picked up all my supplies second hand. In 1971, my father died while working in the pits after the mine he was working in collapsed. It was later found that the owner of the mine was negligent in safety procedures. 

It was this tragedy Madam Speaker that stirred in me a passion to stand up for workers like my Dad. From that point on, my goal was to become a workplace relations lawyer to ensure workers were protected from shonky employers. In 1974, I applied for a scholarship to Newcastle University to study a combined Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts (Majoring in Politics) and I commenced studying in 1975. During my first year of the Politics side of my degree, I was lucky enough to spend 6 months in Australia and gain experience in the Labor Member for Robertson Mr. Barry Cohen's office in the Australian Parliament. It was a humbling experience witnessing such a tumultuous time in Australian history at the coal face, and an event which probably won't be seen again. For those members who are unaware of the event to which I refer, I am referring to the Australian Constitutional Crisis of 1975 which ended with the dismissal of the Prime Minister Edward 'Gough' Whitlam by the Queen's representative in Australia the Governor General Sir John Kerr. This event stirred in me a passion for politics, and set me on a course to eventually end up in this place in some capacity.

After the 6 months in Australia in 1975 studying my degree at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, I returned to Newcastle Upon Tyne and resumed my studies at Newcastle University. I completed both my BA and Bachelor of Laws in 1978 and immediately began practising in workplace relations law taking on the cases of many mine workers who had reported negligence by their employer similar to the negligence which led to my father's death. During this time, I was working closely with unions representing all different industries. I was also working closely with the Member for Bolsover, given his former life as a miner, to secure reforms to improve safety of mining sites. During this time, the Member for Bolsover became a close mentor of mine and a friend and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him in this House.

Madam Speaker,

While practising, upon graduating I immediately undertook my Master's of Law from 1979-1981 and given my high achievement in my Bachelor's degree, I was given a scholarship for the Master's. In 1982, upon attaining my Master's, I became a Barrister specialising in Workplace Relations which increased the closeness of the working relationship which I had with various unions. During this time, I tried numerous high profile cases of exploitation and negligence cases and in 1990, I came to this place and became a Policy Advisor to Neil Kinnock on Industrial Relations until my election to the House of Commons this year.

Madam Speaker,

With all due respect to you, I made the decision to stand for Parliament because after being back home in Newcastle and coming here to Westminster, I felt like that I had entered parallel universes . The people making decisions in this place have absolutely no connection with the people out there in the working class towns like Newcastle. It is because the people who are in this place are of a different class and have no idea of the struggles that the working class have out there. 

Madam Speaker,

That's why I came to parliament. To stand up for the working class which has been my aim since I was 15. I say this to my constituents, and to all MPs in this place. I will endeavour to represent everyone, but when I'm faced with the choice of standing up for those on the lower rungs of the economic ladder or those on the higher end of the economic ladder, I will always stand up for those lower on the economic ladder. Because that's who is currently voiceless.
Member for Newcastle Upon Tyne East - 1992-Present
Member of the Labour Party
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