COVID-19 LOCAL HEALTH RESPONSE

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (13:48): Parliament needs to resume a more regular meeting pattern. All members need to be able to bring to the attention of this parliament, as we face an unprecedented national challenge from the pandemic, the concerns and feedback of our local electorates and constituents. Even this week's sitting provides extremely limited opportunities for this to be done. In my electorate, I wish to record feedback, in a constructive way, on issues with people who miss out on the JobKeeper scheme and on the need to understand the pressures on casual and other irregular workers, such as those in the entertainment industry. There are also serious issues in the childcare sector and for our universities. I will try to raise these in the limited opportunities we are provided. Continue reading

VALE CR VICKY KING

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (10:07): While the parliament was sitting last week I received devastating news about a wonderful local lady and Wollongong City Council Labor councillor who passed away suddenly. Vicky King was a very well-regarded local and it was just devastating to hear the news that she had passed away last Tuesday. My thoughts and I'm sure the thoughts of the community I represent are with her family: her husband, Charlie; their children, Peter, Sylvia, David, Clare, Hanna and Matika; and their seven grandchildren. As a grandparent, Vicky and I would often share grandparent-boasting stories. Vicky served and advocated for our community for 19 years as a councillor. She joined council in 1987 and remained a councillor until 2004. She was re-elected to council in September 2017. She was a passionate advocate for our community, and in particular the residents of the ward she represented in the southern suburbs. The Illawarra Mercury has told great stories about Vicky taking her children to council with her. She was a trailblazer not only for women but also for mums in public life, and that was a groundbreaking action. She has always been a proud mum with funny stories about her children and grandchildren, who she loved very dearly. Continue reading

FAMILIES FORCED TO QUIT WORK TO PICK UP THE GOVERNMENT’S SLACK ON AGED CARE AND HOME CARE

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (18:19):   I thank the member for Macquarie for putting this issue on the debate list today. It's not new for me, in speaking in this parliament, to talk about the experiences of constituents in my area waiting for home-care packages. It is a persistent issue and a persistent problem in electorates right across this country. It is indeed an issue that was raised in the interim report of the royal commission, to which the government responded by releasing, I will acknowledge, an additional 10,000 home-care packages. The problem is: that's less than 10 per cent of those who are actually on the waiting list, and, when you consider the way our community is ageing, there are as many people coming onto the waiting list as the bandaid of a small percentage of new packages addresses. So the problem we've got now is that the waiting list is just not being tackled. The repercussions of that are not just numbers and figures. They are people who are making really difficult decisions in their homes and their families. Continue reading

FAIRYTALE SURPLUS MUST NOT COME AT THE EXPENSE OF NDIS RECIPIENTS

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (19:40): There has been much commentary today around the government's promised surplus. In fact, one would increasingly have to call it the surplus that dare not speak its name anymore. After handing down six budgets, all deficits, the government have now resorted to desperate measures to try and continue the fairytale that they are good economic managers. One of the measures that this government has resorted to in desperation—in order to try to hide that economic mismanagement—is to withhold funding from some of the most vulnerable people in our community: people with disabilities. Continue reading

FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO FOCUS ON THE NEEDS OF AUSTRALIANS

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (15:56): I congratulate you on your accession to your position, Mr Deputy Speaker. We come to the end of the first sitting fortnight for 2020. I think we would all acknowledge that we came back here very conscious that the nation needed a great deal of us. But I have to say that people could only look at what's happened in this last fortnight in this parliament with a great deal of disappointment. Continue reading

CONDOLENCE MOTION - BUSHFIRES

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (17:58): Summer is an evocative word for Australians. We anticipate Christmas functions with family and friends gathered; holidays at the beach on golden sands and crisp, blue waters; caravan parks full of kids on bikes; backyards taken over for riotous cricket games; and sizzling sausages on barbecues in the evenings. This summer, across our nation, we were watching emergency apps over Christmas. Our beaches were either on fire or blanketed by smoke and covered in the blackened remnants of fires burning elsewhere, sometimes hours away. We couldn't sit outside for a meal as smoke choked us in our towns and our capital cities. It was nothing like we had ever seen before. It was unprecedented and so was the extraordinary response of communities across the country as people desperately wanted to do something to help, and this included my community. Continue reading

LIBERAL SPORTS RORTS RIPS OFF COLEDALE WAVES

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (13:52): I am really angry on behalf of volunteers and sporting organisations across the country who went into a competition that they thought had rules and would be played fairly, not knowing that this government would break rules, would not play fairly and would engage in industrial-scale rorting of Australian taxpayers' moneys through the Community Sport Infrastructure grants. The Coledale Waves Football Club have increased their membership from 500 to 600 players in the past few years. Another 10 young people turned up recently because they'd heard how great the club is.   Continue reading

WOLLONGONG EMPLOYERS ENCOURAGED TO HIRE AN APPRENTICE OR TRAINEE

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:23): I have on many, many occasions in this place—and, indeed, in my electorate—been very critical of the record of this government on apprenticeships An opposition member: For good reason. Continue reading

GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO DO BETTER ON NBN

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:54):  I want to take the opportunity in this debate today to touch on some of the matters raised in the motion moved by the member for Mallee and talk more generally about major regional cities and the NBN rollout in my area. When the Labor government proposed the rollout for the seat of Cunningham there was no requirement for the satellite based technology. All of my area was being covered by the rollout of fibre. Continue reading

GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO DO MORE FOR OUR ELDERLY

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:03): In recent weeks the government has made a call for Australians to work longer and is encouraging people to stay in the workforce until they are in their 60s and perhaps their 70s. I want to point out to the government that the most significant problem for that is that many constituents—generally women, but also men—at that point in life are looking after elderly relatives. I want to raise today that issue in the context of the government's announcement today in the aged-care sector. I'm sure members across this place have almost daily contact from constituents who are waiting for home care packages. Continue reading