Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link on track for the Illawarra

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today announced an additional $25.5 million to advance the Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link project for the Illawarra. The announcement follows a recent feasibility study which concluded a new rail line would support the rapidly expanding resources sector in New South Wales by giving the mining sector more direct access to Port Kembla. The study found the railway line would also free up capacity along the existing Illawarra Line for additional passenger services. The final project would involve laying 35 kilometres of standard gauge track connecting the Main North South Line directly to Port Kembla via Dombarton. This new piece of rail infrastructure would also consist of two passing loops, bridges over the Nepean and Cordeaux Rivers and one of Australia’s longest tunnels (see attached map). Commencing this financial year, the pre-construction activities will include: • preparation of detailed design work for civil, structural, geotechnical and track work necessary for the future construction of the project • finalisation of a realistic construction timetable and cost estimate for the project. This preparatory work will ensure that the Illawarra region and NSW more broadly is well positioned to act quickly to meet any increased future freight demand. The additional $25.5 million in Federal Government funding will ensure that this important project is “shovel ready” for the Illawarra. Continue reading

Prime Minister - Transcriot of Interview (ABC Illawarra)

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW WITH NICK RHEINBERGER ABC ILLAWARRA 18 OCTOBER 2011 E & O E – PROOF ONLY   HOST: Julia Gillard joins us now, good morning. PM: Good morning. HOST: Can you confirm that the NBN is coming to the Illawarra and we’re going to be the first major metropolitan area to be wired with fibre optic cable? PM: Yes, I can confirm that I’m here today to make an announcement about the NBN and that the NBN will be coming to you, to Dapto and the Wollongong areas. This is great news for the region. The NBN is about transforming our economy because it literally bring the world to your door, as well as about transforming the way we provide health and education services. So, this is good news for the long-term economic future here. It’s also good news because people will be employed in the construction, and around 500 jobs will be created at the peak of the construction of the NBN in the Illawarra. Continue reading

Illawarra Job Creation Fund open for business

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Innovation Minister Senator Kim Carr today announced that the Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund was now open for business. From today, businesses with innovative projects in and around Wollongong can apply for financial assistance that will help strengthen the local economy and create new high-skill high-wage job opportunities. The $30 million fund is jointly funded by the Australian Government ($20 million), the NSW Government ($5 million) and BlueScope Steel ($5 million) over three years to 30 June 2014. The fund will also be matched by at least $30 million in private sector investment. Focussing on the manufacturing industry, the Innovation and Investment Fund will favour projects which offer long-term growth potential in order to grow the Illawarra’s industry base. This support will help offset the effect of BlueScope Steel’s decision to de-activate one of its blast furnaces at Port Kembla, which will result in the loss of 800 permanent and 200 temporary jobs. The minimum grant under the Fund is $50,000, matched dollar-for-dollar by the successful applicant. There is no maximum funding limit. Funds will be available for applications received through up to three rounds. The first round opens on 18 October 2011 and closes on 16 December 2011. Further information is available from the AusIndustry hotline on 13 28 46, by emailing and from the Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund page at Information is available from AusIndustry’s Illawarra and South Coast regional manager, Peter Masterson, who is based in Wollongong and can be contacted on 02 4254 5534 or 0451 632 141 or by email at

Prime Minister - Transcript of Press Conference (Wollongong)

PRIME MINISTER TRANSCRIPT OF JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE WOLLONGONG 18 OCTOBER 2011 E & O E – PROOF ONLY Subjects: National Broadband Network; Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link; Jobs; Clean energy future; Carbon price; Vietnam; Sri Lanka; Visit by Her Majesty The Queen PM: Thank you very much, I’m joined this morning by our local Members, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones and I’m also joined for the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Anthony Albanese.  We also have available to answer any technical questions the CEO of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, and I thank him for being here. I’m here today in the Illawarra and I’ve got three important announcements to make. One is the announcement you’ve just seen made about the next stage of the roll out of the National Broadband Network. This is an announcement for the nation. It is the 12-month rollout plan of the National Broadband Network Company, of NBN Co. This plan will be updated on a quarterly basis so Australians can see where the National Broadband Network is going to be rolled out next. Continue reading

Prime Minister - Speech to the Third Illawarra Regional Leaders Summit

THIRD ILLAWARRA REGIONAL LEADERS’ SUMMIT NOVOTEL WOLLONGONG NORTHBEACH TUESDAY 18 OCTOBER 2011 Eddy De Gabriele, Chairman of the RDA Illawarra committee. Rev Fr Chris Riley. Our distinguished guest, Professor Howard Armitage. Local business and community leaders. I thank Sharon Bird for that generous introduction. Sharon and Stephen Jones are outstanding advocates for this region– and I pay tribute to them today. I honour the traditional owners of this land, the Dharawal people. They wrote the first chapter of this region’s development and we’re going to write another great chapter in that very long and proud story. Friends, it’s a great honour to be back so soon after my last visit and I’m here for one reason: To keep faith with this region and its people.   Continue reading

Bright NBN future for the Illawarra

Prime Minister Julia Gillard today confirmed the Illawarra is set for a major expansion of the National Broadband Network, bringing enormous economic and social benefits to the region. Visiting the Illawarra today, the Prime Minister announced that construction of the NBN will begin in Dapto and Wollongong within the next 12 months. Nearly 11,000 premises across the two sites in Dapto and Wollongong are set to gain access to NBN fibre services under NBN Co’s new construction schedule in the coming year. The announcement complements the Gillard Labor Government’s strong and detailed plan for the Illawarra region to keep the local economy strong by providing new job and economic growth opportunities. The NBN is forging ahead in the Illawarra and it is expected that more than 500 jobs will be created by the rollout of the NBN in the region at its peak construction. The residents in Wollongong and Dapto will soon be on track to receiving this essential infrastructure that will help us build a strong future for the region and Australia. Today’s announcement builds on the NBN rollout that has already connected 2,500 premises in Kiama Downs and the Minnamurra region, and is now currently connecting 5,200 premises in Jamberoo and Kiama. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation

The Federal member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, has welcomed the passage of the Commonwealth Government’s Clean Energy Future legislation through the House of Representatives. “The introduction of a fixed three-year carbon price will cut greenhouse gas emissions, encourage innovation by increasing energy efficiency, and investment in renewable energy technology. “The passage of the legislation through the House of Representatives today will also provide extensive support for local jobs in the steel and coal industries. “Illawarra families and pensioners will also receive income tax cuts, higher Family Tax Benefit payments, increases in pensions, benefits and other allowances. “The region’s industry will benefit from the Government’s $9.2 billion Jobs and Competitiveness Program, the $300 million Steel Transformation Plan, and the $1.3 billion Coal Sector Jobs Package”, she said. Ms Bird said that the Government’s legislative package was a balanced approach to addressing the need to reduce Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions, protecting emission intensive trade exposed industries, and ensuring fairness for low and middle income households.

Gash and Fierravanti-Wells betray steel workers

Joanna Gash and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells have no credibility as they both walked away from steel workers, their families and the Illawarra community, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, told the Parliament last night. "The Liberal-National Party has betrayed workers in the Illawarra by voting against the Steel Transformation Plan. "This $300 million Steel Transformation Plan is supported by BlueScope Steel, major employer groups and the trade union movement. "Tonight's vote against the Steel Transformation Plan by the Liberal-National Party, and particularly Joanna Gash, only confirms that Tony Abbott is a hypocrite when it comes to caring about the manufacturing industry and it's workers. "I absolutely indicate my support for the National Day of Action in support of steel jobs in Wollongong. "Steel workers have one final opportunity this morning to try to persuade Senator Fierravanti-Wells to do the right thing when the Steel Transformation Plan comes before a vote in the Senate. "Given Joanna Gash's stance in voting against support for steel workers last night, I have little confidence that the Senator will be prepared to stand up for the region she claims to represent", Ms Bird said.

Prime Minister to visit Wollongong

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, will visit Wollongong on 18 October to present the keynote address at the Illawarra Regional Leaders’ Summit, Federal Labor MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones announced today. Sharon Bird said “Stephen and I are really pleased that the Prime Minister is coming back to Wollongong on her second visit in less than a month.   “The Prime Minister told us very clearly that she would stand shoulder to shoulder with the region.” Stephen Jones said, “Sharon and I have been working closely with the Prime Minister on the Gillard Labor Government’s response to the BlueScope Steel restructuring.   “The Prime Minister has a strong commitment to ensuring that the Illawarra region meets the immediate challenges ahead of us and continues to make the transitions necessary to ensure job and business opportunities are available in the regional economy.” The theme of the third Illawarra Regional Leaders’ Summit is Transforming the Illawarra: Infrastructure, Technology and People.   Continue reading

$147,000 in local community volunteer grants announced

The Commonwealth Government will invest $147,000 in 43 local community volunteer groups in the Cunningham electorate, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, announced this morning. “I am absolutely delighted that so many local community volunteer groups in my electorate have been recognised for the great community work they continue to do in our local areas. “Volunteer community organisations will receive up to $5000 in funding support under the Commonwealth Government’s Volunteer Grants Program. “The funding will allow these local community volunteer organisations meet the costs of purchasing much needed equipment to continue with their important community volunteer activities. “The funding will also allow these community organisations to cover fuel, training and other certification costs, such as child protection checks’, Ms Bird said. Examples of local community volunteer organisations which have received funding under the Volunteer Grants Program for 2011-12 include: Aspect South Coast School P&C Cancer Patient Support Group Illawarra Coniston Junior Soccer Club Corrimal Junior Rugby League Football Club Lions Club Wollongong Rotary Club of Corrimal Thirroul Mens Shed Woonona Surf Life Saving Club