48TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE WEST GATE BRIDGE COLLAPSE

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:53): I want to take the opportunity to support the comments made on this motion that was put before the House by the Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition, in particular recognising the 48th anniversary of the West Gate Bridge collapse—an extraordinarily tradition occurrence that affected so many families so dramatically and, no doubt, for so long. There were 35 killed and 18 injured. The flow-on effects of that through a family and a community are significant. As I listened to our leaders speak about this in the chamber, it very profoundly reminded me of occasions in my own electorate where we come together to commemorate, sadly, the significant number of lives lost in work based disasters. That's why I wanted to endorse the sentiments that were expressed on the anniversary of his particular disaster. Whilst it occurred in Melbourne and not in my own state of New South Wales, I think the repercussions and the feelings that people are reflecting in supporting the motion occur in any area where we've seen this sort of terrible tragedy occur. I absolutely heartily endorse the comments of both of our leaders. Continue reading

MOBILE BLACK SPOT PROGRAM

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (17:20): Thank you and I thank the chamber for the opportunity to make a few comments in this debate. It is the case that we're having this conversation in the context of the most recent round, round 4, of the Mobile Black Spot Program having closed just last week. I have taken the opportunity to put submissions in to that website and also to write directly to the minister about the issues in my electorate, and I appreciate the opportunity to do that. Continue reading

LIBERAL CUTS TO AGED CARE ADDING PRESSURE TO FAMILIES

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (19:03): I would like to indicate, at the beginning, in speaking to these bills—recognising that we're dealing with two cognate bills—that I support the amendment that has been moved by the shadow minister, but I also indicate that I think, as many of my colleagues do, that, if that amendment is to not succeed, these bills need to be supported. That is because we are in a really critically important time for the aged-care sector. In my electorate, this is certainly one of the most pressing issues that I and my staff deal with on a regular basis. These bills before us, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bill 2018 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018, are enacting some of the recommendations of the Carnell Paterson review of aged care. In particular, the first bill is establishing a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, intended to be operational from 1 January 2019. That will bring together quality assurance and complaints procedures in the aged-care sector. That's obviously as a result of the review. It's a worthwhile thing to do. Continue reading

LOCAL SUICIDE PREVENTION INITIATIVES RECOGNISED

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:39): Suicide rates in my region, very sadly, remain higher than the New South Wales average, with 40 to 60 suicides reported each year. I just want to take the opportunity today to talk about the very critical, important work that is being done by organisations and individuals in our region to address this problem. First of all, I want to acknowledge the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative. This was established three years ago this month. It consists of representatives of more than 20 local community organisations, which include the local health district; the University of Wollongong; the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute; Grand Pacific Health; Lifeline Southcoast; COORDINARE, the south-eastern New South Wales primary health network; all four local councils and all education sectors. Continue reading

LIBERAL DYSFUNCTION AND DISUNITY AFFECTS LOCALS

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:29): It is increasingly obvious to all of us, I'm sure, in our local electorate offices that the dysfunction and the disunity that have been the hallmark of this government over recent times are having a direct impact on their ability to do their day job and deliver the services that our local constituents need. This level of dysfunction is having real impacts across a number of portfolio areas, and we are seeing it in our offices. In this section of the parliament, where we get to talk about the issues that our constituents are raising, I want to highlight just four of those issues, where my constituents are, quite honestly, at their wits' end with the incompetence of the government in their programs. Continue reading

SICKNESS AT THE HEART OF THE LIBERAL PARTY

E&OE TRANSCRIPTDOORSTOPPARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRATUESDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2018SUBJECT: Sickness at the heart of the Liberal Party. BIRD: I just wanted to come out this morning on the back of some fairly extraordinary contributions by Ann Sudmalis yesterday about the culture within the Liberal Party. Continue reading

BUILDING UP AND MOVING OUT

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:15): I take great pleasure in commending this report to members of the parliament; to the government; as the esteemed chair of the committee said, to the departments that have contributed to it but also, we would hope, will work with the government to respond to the report; and, in particular, to all of those various organisations and individuals across the country who, through the period of time, took the time and effort to put submissions in and raise their issues. I won't canvass again some of the key issues that the chair of the committee, the member for Bennelong, has just addressed, other than to say I think the report brings together a very in-depth, well-considered proposition for the government to look at ways in which, at a federal level, we can go beyond the national planning of infrastructure—which is something that we believe is critically important—and take into consideration a national plan of settlement as well so that, across our great country, we can actually get better, more effective and more committed to looking at population growth and its disparity across the nation. Some places—including, clearly, our two major capital cities Sydney and Melbourne—are struggling under the pressure of that, while other places have potential that's being unrealised. Bringing those two things together—population settlement, whether it's internal movement or new arrivals, and infrastructure planning—in a way that fosters the opportunities across the nation is a really solid proposition, and there are a number of recommendations in this report that go to that issue. Continue reading

TOURNAMENT OF THE MINDS

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:29): On 26 August, on a Sunday afternoon, I had the great joy to attend Tournament of Minds in the Hope Theatre at the University of Wollongong in my electorate. I thank the university for their support of this great program. Tournament of Minds is a problem-solving, challenge based program for primary and secondary students. It's designed to foster creative, collaborative and critical thinking. Continue reading

ONLY LABOR WILL RESTORE PENALTY RATES

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (11:13): I'm very pleased to rise today to support the Fair Work Amendment (Restoring Penalty Rates) Bill 2018. This private member's bill was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition quite some time ago now, but it remains increasingly evident how important this bill actually is. We were faced with the decision by the Fair Work Commission to cut penalty rates for some of the lowest-paid workers across our communities. In response to that, Labor called on the government in a bipartisan way to legislate to protect penalty rates so that the Fair Work Commission had guidance from the parliament about not cutting the penalty rates of workers, particularly unilaterally. We're all aware that there's a better-overall test and sometimes a negotiated outcome is reached where someone gets the offset of an improvement in a benefit for a change in penalty rates. That's a process that legitimately goes on in bargaining. This was not that. This was a unilateral cut to an entitlement that so many workers needed to make ends meet. The government was incapable of coming to an agreement that we should do something about it, so we persevere with this private member's bill. Continue reading

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