IT’S TIME THE LIBERALS COMMITTED TO PRESCHOOL FUNDING

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:43): There's much enthusiasm on this side of the House to participate in this debate. As a teacher by training, I think for many, many decades there's been a fundamental and profound understanding by anybody who works in the teaching profession—and I suspect by many parents, and the previous speaker acknowledged his new insight into education as a new parent. But there is a fundamental truth in all education, and that is: the earlier you invest, the better the return you get on that investment. Continue reading

WHY DOES MALCOLM TURNBULL HATE YOUNG PEOPLE?

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:43): Young people across this nation must look at this government and think, 'What did we ever do to you?' This government is trading off the future of young people time and time again across significant portfolio areas, making it more and more difficult for them, and it comes into this place with a bill like the one before us, which adds to that burden. Young people in my community—and, I'm sure, the communities of many of my colleagues across the board—are facing challenges in getting, firstly, into postsecondary education opportunities. We know the impacts of the freeze on higher education funding and what that will do to universities and the offerings that they can make to students. We know that that will put pressure on them to decrease the opportunity to get a university qualification if that's where your interests and your ability lie. Continue reading

LIVE SHEEP LONG HAUL EXPORT PROHIBITION

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (17:02): I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this private member's bill brought forward by the member for Farrer, the Live Sheep Long Haul Export Prohibition Bill 2018, and to acknowledge that this is not a partisan debate. In fact, there are people from both sides of the House who support this bill. I understand why. In my area, I have had over 1,600 individual constituents email me with their great distress and concern about what is happening in this industry. I'm sure many of my colleagues around the chamber have had similar levels of contact. In fact, I've never seen that level of engagement on any issue during the time that I've been here. In total, I have had over 4,800 emails on this subject, so some people have emailed me on more than one occasion, generally speaking first when they've seen a round of reports in the media, and images that have caused them distress, and then again when they see that repeated. I think that's what's taken its toll on people's patience with this particular aspect of the industry. I want to acknowledge each and every one of those individuals, many of whom took the time to write quite extensive personal comments in their emails about why they felt that this live sheep long-haul export trade, particularly in the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, has to stop. I don't know that anybody could have seen the vision that was reported, including, I know, many in the farming industry, without feeling it was a completely unacceptable reflection of what we as a modern nation should see as an acceptable part of the industry sector. Continue reading

LIBERAL GOVERNMENT FAILS OLDER LOCALS

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (11:11): I am very, very pleased to second this motion by my colleague on the aged-care crisis. I want to talk to the Chamber about three ways in which it is having a very real effect on older people in my electorate at this very moment. The first aspect is obviously the issue around home care packages. I've had a lot of families contacting me in great distress because their elderly relatives have been assessed as needing a high-level care package, and they have been waiting months, some up to a year, to get that service. Imagine what that means in reality for those families. They have an elderly family member, living at home, who they are trying to support, and, at the same time, the elderly family member has been assessed as needing a package that they can't get. What that means is: those families are stepping in, trying to provide that support to their elderly relative, often when they're managing their own work, life, children and so forth. I've had people in tears because it's really awful and they feel terrible complaining about having to support their elderly relative, but the pressures on their family are enormous. Continue reading

MASSIVE 2,353 DROP IN APPRENTICES IN OUR REGION SINCE THE LIBERALS WERE ELECTED

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:42): Across my region, since the government was elected, we have lost 2,353 apprentices. I'm sure members of this chamber appreciate that an apprenticeship, the opportunity to train in a traditional trade, is a really important, worthwhile pathway for young people to employment and to a good career. Many of us would know that many of those trades—plumbing, construction, hairdressing and so forth—set young people up very well for a great future. So it is very, very concerning to see this level of loss of apprenticeships across the years since the government was elected. It is perhaps not surprising, given that the government has cut significantly out of the vocational education and training budget. Indeed, another $270 million was cut in the most recent budget. Continue reading

NATIONAL TAFE DAY

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (13:50): Today is National TAFE Day. TAFE is a great national asset, and it has been for decades and for generations of Australians. It is our vocational education public provider, and we know so well that the words 'public provider' leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those opposite—as, for example, the ABC knows only too well. TAFE needs to remain a national asset—there for young Australians, there for restructured workers, there for regional and rural communities, there to ensure that people have a future in an ever-changing world—and it has had nothing but attacks from those opposite. They can barely bring themselves to say the word 'TAFE', to be honest with you, unless they're cutting funding from it—$3 billion since they came to government. TAFE must be sustainable. Continue reading

HIGH FEES, HUGE GAP PAYMENTS – WHY 70 PER CENT OF PEOPLE FEEL PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE ISN’T GOOD VALUE

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:15): I indicate to the House that I rise to support the amendment moved by the shadow minister. The bill before us, of course, is the Health Insurance (Approved Pathology Specimen Collection Centres) Tax Amendment Bill 2018. It's intended to change the frequency of the tax paid by approved pathology collection centres, known as ACCs. At present, each of Australia's 5,500 to 6,000 ACCs pay a tax of $1,000 when approved. That has to be renewed each year. Under this bill, they'll pay a tax of $2,000 every two years instead. The intention of the bill is to reduce the regulatory burden for government and industry and to maintain the revenue raised from the tax. Continue reading

MALCOLM TURNBULL’S CLOSURE OF WARRAWONG CENTRELINK AND MEDICARE OFFICE

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:52): Thank you Deputy Speaker. This is an opportunity for Members to talk about issues of concern to constituents in their electorates. Well let me tell you, the constituents in my electorate are very, very angry today. Just over a week ago, the Member for Whitlam and I were informed by Centrelink management that they were shutting the office in Warrawong – an office in amongst some of the most disadvantaged suburbs in the State with elderly people who need assistance, with unemployed who need assistance, young mums with toddlers and babies who need to be able to put forms in for child care payments and so forth. Continue reading