Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today announced that the 2016 Volunteer Grants program is now open for applications. Grants of between $1000 and $5000 are available to local volunteer organisations to purchase small equipment items, contribute towards the cost of training courses and background checks, and to help to reimburse volunteers for the cost of their fuel or transport. Continue reading

Minister sneaks into town with nothing

Illawarra MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, today slammed Industry Minister, Greg Hunt, following his empty-handed visit to the Illawarra today. Labor has been lobbying the Government to get serious about securing the future of steel.  Continue reading

Illawarra children saved from loss of the dental scheme

Hundreds of children across the Illawarra will continue to receive access to dental services as a result of some tough negotiations in Parliament this week. That’s because Labor MPs and Senators stood up against Malcolm Turnbull’s plan to force over five million children onto long public dental waiting lists by opposing the Government proposal to axe the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS). Continue reading

Community kitchen garden funding for healthy kids

Sharon Bird today met with the P&C and visited Mt St Thomas Public School to announce funding of $19,591 under Round 2 of the Stronger Communities Programme (SCP) for the Mount St Thomas Community Kitchen Garden project. Continue reading

One year of Turnbull means nothing but cuts for the Illawarra

One year of Malcolm Turnbull has meant nothing but cuts for the Illawarra.   Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today said that the Illawarra has continued to be ignored by the Liberals. Continue reading

Steel report requires action from coalition government

Illawarra MPs Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird have called on the Turnbull Government to act decisively to secure the future of Australian steel.   Late on Friday afternoon the Government finally released the Anti-Dumping Commission’s report into the impact of overseas steel on the nation’s steel industry. Continue reading

Helensburgh Men's Shed - almost there!

Sharon Bird today visited the new site for the Helensburgh Men’s Shed and met with local coordinators to discuss their plans for the refurbishment of the shed to get it established and up and running. Continue reading

Sporting facilities upgrade for cool kids

Sharon Bird today visited the Bulli PCYC to announce funding of $7,694 under Round 2 of the Stronger Communities Program (SCP) for the upgrade of the sporting courts on the upper level of the Bulli PCYC. Continue reading

Time for Minister to take action on steel

Sharon Bird, Federal Member for Cunningham and Stephen Jones today backed Kim Carr and Nick Champion’s calls for Industry Minister, Greg Hunt, to release the “updated” Anti-Dumping Commission’s report on the impact of overseas steel makers in the Australian market prior to Friday’s International Trade Remedies Forum (ITRF) to allow the ITRF to properly do its job. Continue reading

GP tax by stealth puts pressure on hospitals

  Illawarra MPs Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird have warned that more patients will continue to flood into already over-crowded hospitals as a result of the federal Coalition’s attack on primary care. The latest figures from the Bureau of Health Information show that hospital staff are under pressure to manage record numbers of admissions, emergency department presentations and elective surgeries. The quarterly numbers (April – June 2016) reveal: New South Wales EDs experienced a 76,000 increase in presentations compared to the same period last year. The Wollongong hospital elective surgery waiting list is growing.  It has swelled to 2,019 by the end of June 2016, a 16.6 per cent increase on the same period last year. Wollongong hospital is also experiencing worrying delays. 3.5 per cent of semi-urgent surgical procedures and 12.8 per cent of non-urgent surgical procedures are not being performed within clinically recommended timeframes. The delays in Wollongong hospital surgical procedures is particularly concerning when a comparison is made to the same period last year. At that time just .7 per cent of semi-urgent surgery was not seen within clinically recommended timeframes. There has also been a slight increase in non-urgent surgery being undertaken outside of clinically recommended timeframes. Stephen Jones said that the numbers should be a wake-up call for the Turnbull Government. “In this year’s federal Budget the Turnbull Government extended the Medicare rebate freeze, a GP Tax by the backdoor, all the way to 2020. As a result more and more GPs have been forced to hike their fees and stop bulk billing. “In the electorate of Whitlam alone two GP clinics in Bowral - the Walker Street General Practice and the Bowral Street Medical Practice – have both terminated their bulk billing services. “Patients are avoiding trips to see their Doctor because they simply can’t afford it; instead they are ending up in hospital.” Sharon Bird said the mounting pressure on public hospitals was bad news for the entire healthcare system. “The Coalition’s continued assault on primary care is negatively affecting the health of patients, particularly older people with multiple chronic diseases who really need to have their conditions carefully monitored. “It is also leading to higher costs as hospitals treat patients who should have had their health problems seen to by a GP much earlier. “A single night in a hospital bed can cost $3000, so if we want to reign in health costs putting more pressure on hospitals is the last thing we should be doing.”  WEDNESDAY, 7 SEPTEMBER 2016