New Heathcote MP Maryanne Stuart spoke from the heart in her inaugural speech in parliament, mentioning the passing of her parents and her struggles to become a mother.
"We have been blessed with two happy and healthy children," Ms Stuart told the parliament.
"I have had many personal challenges keeping pregnant, with two miscarriages and one stillborn. I share this very personal and painful story to let other women know who I am and that I understand.
"[Husband] Russell and I cherish our two cherubs: Sarah, our creative, talented and very bright young woman; and Max, who is currently studying in the United Kingdom, making new friends and new memories."
She also spoke of her mother and father, who passed away over a four-year span, and she noted the decline in aged care services in that time.
"Mum did not enjoy good health in her later life, but she always remained selfless. Upon visiting her, she would always ask after everyone else. She would never complain; she was strong and resilient," she said.
"In 2020, four years later, our father passed away. The difference in care was stark over those four years. The nurses at the Sutherland public hospital intensive care unit were incredible to dad and to us every time dad was admitted. The last time, when we were told there was nothing more they could do, dad wanted to go home.
"Dad was in the same nursing home as mum but this time there was no palliative care team flying squad. His experience was very different and extremely painful. Thank goodness dad had us close by to advocate for him.
"It was a privilege to be there for dad; however, it was obvious how health and aged care over those four years had deteriorated. We had aged care workers in tears and apologising. Those same workers had looked after mum and they knew the care at every level was not as good for dad as it was for mum."
The youngest of seven children, and the only girl, Ms Stuart paid tribute to her mother having to make seven lots of school lunches despite "absolutely detesting Vegemite".
Her father was a train driver and an employee representative on the State Rail Authority Board, which fostered in her an awareness of workers' rights.
"I have been a lifelong union member since I was 14 and nine months in my first job at Woolworths Engadine," she said.
"We must never forget the struggles of those who came before us. I stand on the shoulders of great people: unionists who have battled for the right to have safe workplaces and to be paid fairly, and for conditions such as occupational superannuation, which is now often taken for granted."
Ms Stuart won the seat of Heathcote on her third attempt - "it has been a long journey to arrive here", she said.
"The Heathcote electorate is extremely diverse," she said.
"It consists of traditional mining towns and some of the most creative and artistic communities throughout NSW. Four generations of my family reside there.
"This community really does mean the world to me. It has been an aspiration of mine for a very long time to be here on the floor of this chamber in Australia's oldest parliament. It is an honour and a privilege to serve the people of Heathcote and NSW in this House over the next four years.
"Rest assured, I do not - and will not - take this responsibility and opportunity lightly."
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