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?

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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.'

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Adult Migrant English Program

 

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (17:14): I want to start off by saying that I appreciate the sentiment with the member for Berowra brings with this motion to this chamber, the commitments that he made and the importance he placed on the Adult Migrant English Program in his contribution. I also would like to endorse very strongly the comments of my colleague the member for Cowan on the very great importance of having properly qualified teachers working in these programs. Teaching language literacy and numeracy is actually one of the most demanding teaching tasks. I am a former TAFE teacher myself, and I can assure you that the qualifications and professionalism are significantly important to successful outcomes. So I endorse the contribution by the member for Cowan.

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Priorities in Cunningham

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (18:43): I start in my contribution to this cognate debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2016-2017 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2016-2017 by commending my colleague the member for Macarthur. The issue of housing affordability is a very significant one, and it is no different in my electorate. The Wollongong area has seen a significant increase in the cost of housing and, flowing from that, the cost of rental accommodation. That has put great pressure on young people in particular trying to get into reliable permanent housing. Very sadly, many young people in my area are now expressing to me the view that they will never own their own home. I think that is a very sad state of affairs. The member is right: we have not seen any real action or determination by this government to address this matter. Simply buck-passing it off to this states as state issues is not sufficient. Simply buck-passing it off to parents saying, 'You should dip into your life savings to help you kids onto the housing ladder,' does not reflect the reality that many parents are not in a position to do that. So the member's contribution, I think, was very important to this debate.

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Thereapeutic Goods Amendment Bill 2016 - Fast Access to Life Saving Drugs

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (12:39): I rise today to speak on this important bill, the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Bill 2016. As did my colleague the member for Makin, I indicate my support for this bill, with a number of reservations. Firstly, I would like to touch on aspects of the bill and what reservations I hold. Secondly, I would like to talk about some important examples where this is a significant local issue in my electorate.

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Matters of Public Importance - Education Funding

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (16:04): It is interesting to hear those opposite as they twist and turn and try to change the facts on what has happened in the school funding debate. The member for Boothby, for example, is putting forward an argument that she is quite happy that the schools in her electorate will be getting $25 million less than they would have been if her government had kept the promise that they made to people in the election. Indeed, in South Australia there were posters up at polling booths: 'We will match dollar for dollar what Labor has committed on schools.' The reality is a significant decrease in the funding in her electorate. It is the same story in my own electorate and in electorates all across the country. Our schools across the Illawarra and Southern Highlands will lose $59 million in the next few years alone.

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Private Members' Business - Workplace Relations

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (17:18): I rise to support the motion moved by the member for Lyons which is before the House today. Recently I have spoken in the House about issues of generational unfairness which are increasingly impacting on young Australians. This government have continued to attack young Australians from all angles—letting housing affordability get out of control, watching the youth unemployment rates skyrocket and attempting to slash income support for those under 25 at the same time as the cost of living continues to rise. Their sustained attacks—and we have incurred more today—on penalty rates are just another stark example of their unfair attacks on young Australians.

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Malcolm Turnbull and the Liberals making it harder for young people

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (16:49): The young people of today have every right to be angry. They should be angry that they have a federal government and a Prime Minister who are completely out of touch with their lives and unconcerned about the challenges that they are facing. My generation, our generation, should not be saying to the generation following us, 'You will not be better off than your parents.' We must not accept a passing-on of a lower standard of living to the next generation.

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STATEMENT: Centrelink Robo-Debt Debacle

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (16:38): I would like to take the opportunity to report to the House an initiative that has had a significant impact on many, not just in my electorate but across the country, and that is the government's cruel, unfair and unnecessary Centrelink robo-debt disaster. I have been contacted by a large number of my constituents who have been very unfairly subjected to threatening letters from the government demanding they immediately repay a debt that they often do not actually have. These are not people who have been rorting the system, as the government has attempted to accuse them of; they are people who went to Centrelink for help in a time of need—as they are, and should be, entitled to do—and they reported their earnings when they were asked to do so. The stress that this has caused to many people in my electorate is severe. For many, the task of having to prove their income and earnings from upwards of six years ago has been very difficult. Even those who are able to obtain records are forced onto repayment systems while a review occurs.

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Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee Report

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:02): It is a pleasure to be able to speak on the report before the chamber by the Infrastructure, Transport and Cities Committee, Harnessing value, delivering infrastructure: inquiry into the role of transport connectivity in stimulating development and economic activity. I would like to start by indicating that I came onto the committee as the deputy chair for this report in this parliament, and so I would like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the work of the previous committee and all of those who contributed through submissions and attendance at inquiry hearings, as well as the secretariat. This report makes some very important recommendations, and I want to deal specifically with three of them in my contribution today.

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