Wollongong small businesses and workers to benefit from Australia's mining boom

23 November 2011 The Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, today welcomed the passage through the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth Government’s Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) despite opposition from the Liberal-National Party. “Thousands of small business operators and workers in the Illawarra region will finally share the benefits of this unprecedented boom in Australia’s mineral and energy resources. “The MRRT recognises that Australia’s minerals and energy resources belong to every Australian. “In opposing the introduction of the MRRT, the Liberal-National Party simply confirm that they stand up for vested interests, not all Australians”, Ms Bird said. She said that 15,100 small businesses in the Cunningham electorate would benefit from the $6500 immediate write-off of assets, and cut in the company tax rate to 29 percent. “The boost in superannuation from 9 percent to 12 percent will help 45,500 workers in Cunningham enjoy a higher retirement income. “Expanding superannuation concessions to income earners earning less than 37,000 per year will help increase the retirement income of another 22,900 low-income earners. “This is real change and real reform for small businesses and workers in my electorate ensuring they share in a $430 billion pipeline of investment in the Australian mining industry”, Ms Bird said.

Expanded GP services for the Illawarra and Southern Highlands

18 November 2011 Stephen Jones MP and Sharon Bird MP have welcomed the announcement of over $1.6 million in health infrastructure grants for Illawarra and Southern Highlands GP clinics and frontline healthcare providers. The Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, said that the new health infrastructure would increase capacity and access to local primary healthcare providers. “Making sure families can access the healthcare they need close to home is a key part of the Gillard Labor Government’s health reform agenda. These grants are helping to make this happen,” Mr Jones said. Sharon Bird, the Member for Cunningham, said that as well as increasing capacity, some providers would offer new or expanded services. “This bricks and mortar health investment will make a real difference to local community health care,” Ms Bird said.   Continue reading

Paying tribute to a disability champion

SENATOR JAN MCLUCAS Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers SHARON BIRD MP Member for Cunningham STEPHEN JONES MP Member for Throsby The Parliamentary Secretary for Disabilities and Carers, Senator Jan McLucas, today paid tribute to long serving Chief Executive Officer of Greenacres Disability Services, Neil Preston OAM. At Greenacres today, Senator McLucas joined Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird and Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones in a surprise celebration for Mr Preston to thank him for his service to the disability sector. “Neil is an accomplished CEO, he is a recipient of an Order of Australia, he has been a contributor to our country’s public policy; he has many hats and a long list of achievements that have made a difference to the lives of people with disability,” Senator McLucas said. “Thank you Neil, for your relentless energy and commitment, for defending the rights and well being of people with a disability, for delivering real change in our community. Your knowledge of the sector has informed many government decisions.” Ms Bird said that under Neil’s leadership, Greenacres had grown from having 205 service users, operating 6 services from 6 sites when he commenced in 1996, to now working with 950 people with disability providing 18 services from 16 sites in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven regions. Continue reading

New Research Centre for Wollongong

Hon Anthony Albanese MP Minister for Transport and Infrastructure Leader of the House The University of Wollongong will produce world-class research and teaching in infrastructure development with the opening of its new $62 million SMART Infrastructure Facility. This state-of-the-art facility consists of 30 specialist research and teaching laboratories that focus on a wide range of infrastructure services such as electricity, energy, water, gas, transport and rail. It will ensure that large scale infrastructure investments in Australia and public policy development are based on evidenced-based research. The laboratories will include a simulation centre which can generate scalable models of various infrastructure services and how they interact. This will be of great benefit to more than 5000 students who are expected to take classes at the facility each week. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation

The Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, has this afternoon welcomed the passage through the Senate of the Clean Energy Future legislation.“The pricing of carbon from 1 July 2012 by introducing a fixed three-year carbon price will cut greenhouse gas emissions by Australian industry and households, encourage innovation by increasing energy efficiency, and investment in clean energy technology.“Low and middle-income households in my electorate will benefit by receiving income tax cuts, higher Family Tax Benefit payments, increases in pensions and other benefits and allowances.“In historic tax reform, one million part-time workers, the majority of them women, will no longer pay any income tax meaning what they earn will be tax-free for the first time, increasing their take-home pay.“The Illawarra’s industry will benefit from the Commonwealth Government’s $9.2 billion Jobs and Competitiveness Program, the $300 million Steel Transformation Plan and the $1.3 billion Coal Sector Jobs Package”, Ms Bird said.She said that the Government’s legislative package was a balanced approach to reducing Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, protecting emission-intensive trade-exposed industry, and ensuring fairness for low and middle-income households.

Cash rate cut by RBA

The Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, today welcomed the decision of the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) to cut the official cash rate by 0.25 percent to 4.5 percent effective from tomorrow.“This is a good decision by the RBA for Illawarra mortgage-holders and small businesses.“A family in my electorate with a $300,000 will save about $50 a month in interest repayments, which will save around $590 per year.“I welcome the fact that some banks have already announced that they will pass on the full extent of the cash rate cut. I encourage all banks to do the same”, Ms Bird said.

$5.8 million in research grant funding for University of Wollongong

The University of Wollongong will benefit from $5.8 million in new research grant funding, the Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, announced today.17 research projects will receive funding under the Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects, Linkage Projects and Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities program.“These funding programs are extremely competitive and I am very pleased that once again the University of Wollongong has been awarded grant funding for significant research projects.“These research projects will build on knowledge and applications, and in many cases, research will be commercialised to create new products and services.“Research and innovation are a key part of the Illawarra’s economic and regional development”, Ms Bird said.Over the last 2 years, the Commonwealth Government has invested $213.5 million at the University of Wollongong. For further detailed information on the research projects, please contact the University of Wollongong directly.

Health reform delivers over 40 beds for Illawarra and Shoalhaven

Patients in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven will benefit from better access to more subacute hospital beds including improved rehabilitation, palliative care and mental health services as a result of the Gillard Government’s historic national health reforms. Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon today joined Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, and Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones at Wollongong Hospital to announce new beds and equipment for local hospitals. “The new beds and services will deliver a better deal for patients right across the Illawarra and Shoalhaven,” Minister Roxon said. “Health reform will deliver over 40 beds to the region – 20 rehabilitation beds and 5 palliative care beds for Wollongong Hospital and 20 subacute mental health beds at Shoalhaven. “On top of the beds announcements, the Government’s health reform has delivered new anaesthetic machines for both Shoalhaven and Shellharbour hospitals. Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said that the Government’s health reform was delivering over $100 million in health investments for the Illawarra. Continue reading

Shellharbour GP Super Clinic opens

The Gillard Government is delivering more health services to Shellharbour with the official opening of the Shellharbour GP Super Clinic. Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon, Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird today welcomed the boost to Shellharbour health services. "The Shellharbour GP Super Clinic is making it easier for locals to access the health services they need, all under the one roof, since opening its doors on Wednesday 6 July 2011," Minister Roxon said. "GP Super Clinics, like this one here in Shellharbour, are part of the Gillard Government's commitment to ensure Australians can see a doctor, close to home. "The Shellharbour GP Super Clinic is supported by a large multidisciplinary team of health professionals, including a medical director; five part-time GPs; GP educator; GP registrar; senior practice nurse; practice nurses; practice manager; exercise physiologist; clinical psychologist; dietician; speech therapist and medical students and has a strong focus on delivering team based patient care and training the medical workforce that will serve and work in the Illawarra over the years to come,” Minister Roxon said. Continue reading

$2 million in health and medical research grant funding for University of Wollongong

The University of Wollongong has been awarded just over $2 million for three projects in health and medical research, the Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. “This important funding investment in health and medical research is part of an overall $673.7 million package for over 1000 grants to support the work or researchers, research projects and research institutions across Australia. “I am absolutely delighted that researchers at the University of Wollongong have been recognised for their outstanding research into a range of areas to address improvements in diagnosis, treatment and cure of illnesses that affect all Australians”, Ms Bird said. Continue reading