Laser Beak Man and Mum reply to Hanson ignorance

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (10:42): Last night I left this place sick with anger. I was furious about the comments made by Senator Hanson in the education debate about children with autism. I was so angry about it that I did not trust myself to be able to speak about it; I was really, really hurt on behalf of people. When I opened my Facebook, a very good friend of mine, Judy Sharp, had put up a post. Her son Tim is an internationally famous artist; he is better known as Laser Beak Man. If people want to look at his work, it is laserbeakman.com. He has an amazing life story. I sent Judy a message and asked her if she would you like to put her words on the record in this parliament because you have so much more to offer than what the senator had to say. Continue reading

Liberal's funding cuts to schools

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (14:14):  My question is to the Prime Minister. Data released by the New South Wales government shows that, because of the Prime Minister's $22 billion cut to schools, in the electorate of Gilmore over the next two years over $1.3 million will be cut from Nowra East Public School and over $890,000 will be cut from Sanctuary Point Public School. Has the member for Gilmore made any representations at all to the Prime Minister about these cuts to schools in her electorate? Continue reading

Local health services angry about Liberal's failure on Medicare rebate freeze

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (11:27):  There is an opportunity in this parliament quite often to talk about the issues that are of real concern to your local constituents. Today I want to address an issue that has been consistently raised with me for a long time now. Before the election, we had a real debate happening about the future of Medicare in this country. I think, absolutely accurately, serious concerns were expressed about what this government, if they were returned, would do to continue the attacks that they had been launching on Medicare. Continue reading

Society is judged on how we treat our most vulnerable - Liberal's robo-debts debacle event affects Santa

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (18:16): I am probably more sad than anything else to be speaking to the motion on this report, which is before the chamber. I want to heartily endorse the comments made by my colleagues the member for Bruce, the member for Paterson and, just prior to me, the member for Hindmarsh in talking about how significant the issues raised in this report are. A truth that many of us should keep at the forefront of our minds is the sentiment—I do not remember the exact quote—that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. It is something I believe should lead the principles with which we—both those of us in this parliament and those who hold an executive position in the government—approach public service. This report tells us very clearly that there has been a significant failure—in particular, in this case, by the relevant ministers—to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community. My colleagues outlined many examples of the difficulties and challenges these people are already dealing with in their lives, particularly those who have a disability—whether they were born with that disability; whether they acquired it through one of a variety of unfortunate circumstances, such as a car accident or a workplace accident; or whether it was the result of some form of illness or a required medical intervention that then had a traumatic impact on them. These people are already dealing with challenges in their lives, and they are seeking to have quality and dignity in their lives. They should have no doubt that in our community they have every right to expect dignity and respect. That means that when, as a government, we engage with people we should do it in a way that sustains dignity and respect, not in a way that not only takes away dignity and respect but adds to the trauma and difficulty they are experiencing in their lives. Continue reading

Vocational Education

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (18:32): I rise to speak in the cognate debate on this bill, the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Annual Registration Charge) Bill 2017 and the related bill. As indicated by the shadow minister, I will indicate up-front that I also support these bills before the House today. Continue reading

Community Volunteers - Vision Australia

MS BIRD (Cunningham) (19:48): Like, I am sure, many of my colleagues in this place, when we are not here but back in our electorates we are often going out to a variety of groups in our community, participating in special events with them. In this past month, as is quite often the case, it particularly struck me how many of those organisations that we were visiting, either to celebrate an occasion or to talk to them about grant funding opportunities, were driven by volunteers. It is quite extraordinary when you look across your electorate and see the organisations that are in the community doing the job of supporting their fellow local community members. I often reflect that, if governments had to fund the work that so many volunteers do, we certainly would have a significant budget challenge on our hands. Continue reading

Dud Budget that smells of unfairness

MS BIRD (Cunningham) (15:46): I am very pleased to speak today on this MPI on the government's tax priorities, and I thank my colleague for putting it on the agenda. The other side has a problem, and it is a stench around this budget that is lingering from 2014. In 2014 the smell of unfairness in the budget created such a backlash in the community that the government is now trying to pedal away from it. The problem they have is that there is the same smell in this budget, and it is a smell of unfairness. And I can guarantee to those opposite that if there is one thing the Australian population are really good at it is sniffing out unfairness, and they can sniff it very clearly in this budget. Continue reading

Budget is unfair for young people in the Illawarra

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (2:46): I rise to speak today on the budget bills, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2017-2018 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018. I have to say, like my colleague the member for Calwell, that there is a great deal of detail that needs to be addressed in terms of the issues and concerns that I have with the budget, but I will take the opportunity in various specific pieces of legislation to go through those in more detail. Already having spoken on the schools funding bill about my concerns in that area, I will do the same on a variety of other issues, including the broader education field, which includes TAFE and university, and health, in particular the changes that are in place around Medicare and the very, very, very slow winding back of the freeze and the impacts that is having on my electorate. Continue reading

Gilmore "Guesstimate" on Gonski - Question Without Notice

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (14:33): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, this week the member for Gilmore said about the reaction of school principals to the government's funding: 'They have certainty of funding going forward—for as far as they know, four years. There is guesstimate there for 10, but no government can absolutely commit to that.' Is the member for Gilmore correct? Isn’t the only certainty for schools a $22 billion cut? Continue reading

Liberal's Gonski Funding - It's a Cut, It's a Con

Ms BIRD»(Cunningham) (12:39): I thank the member for Petrie for his contribution, which he made just before me, and also the contributions of others on that side of the House to the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017. I am sure we will hear more speeches flogging the dead horse of a claim that they are going to increase funding to schools. Mr Howarth interjecting— Ms «BIRD»: I would suggest to the member for Petrie that so many of them went to the 2013 election on a promise, and maybe that is why they are feeling some pain now, because that promise was that if you elected them you would get all the Gonski funding, dollar for dollar, equivalent to what Labor was providing. So despite running through school names and claims of amounts of money, the problem they are going to have when they campaign on this at the next election, as the member for Petrie referred to, is that people in every one of those schools will be saying then, as they are saying now, 'That's not what you promised and we are not happy with the cut that is being delivered in the piece of legislation before us today.' Continue reading