ALL AUSTRALIANS DESERVE A RETIREMENT OF DIGNITY AND QUALITY

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (4:15):  I thank the member for Whitlam for putting this very important matter of public importance on superannuation and retirement incomes before the chamber. I acknowledge the previous speaker, the member for Chisholm, has indicated that she believes her government will always put improving the retirement income of Australians first. I look forward to her crossing the floor when the government attempts to freeze the superannuation increase that's coming up—an increase that will clearly improve the retirement incomes of Australians. I was pleased to hear her make that commitment, and I look forward to her following through on that. Continue reading

FROM RUBBISH TO RESOURCE: BUILDING A CIRCULAR ECONOMY

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (11:57):  by leave—I thank the House and add my words to my esteemed chair colleague in commending this report to all members of the House, but also to the broader public who may have an interest in the challenges and opportunities posed by managing the various streams of waste in our communities and across the nation. It was a challenge for the committee in interrogating the evidence presented to the inquiry over the last year as the necessary restrictions imposed by coronavirus severely curtailed the normal round of public hearings and inspections that we would have had. Having recognised this, I would like to sincerely thank the many witnesses who persevered with the committee through video and audio hearings and all those who provided written submissions for our consideration. Continue reading

QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE: MINISTER FAILS TO ANSWER ON ROBODEBT

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:50):  My question is to the Minister for Government Services. Can the minister confirm the Administrative Appeals Tribunal first determined that robodebt was illegal in March 2017, and on at least 75 other occasions, but the government persisted with its illegal scheme right up until December 2019? Continue reading

ILLAWARRA BUSINESSES IN 2020: A YEAR OF HARDSHIP, INNOVATION, ACHIEVEMENT AND COMPASSION

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (19:28): A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to attend a function that I regularly go to in my electorate, the Illawarra Business Chamber's annual business awards. For so many businesses in my electorate, as in all of my colleagues' electorates, I'm sure, it's been a really tough year. This was an opportunity to particularly acknowledge a range of businesses who, even in the toughest of times, have been able to really make significant achievements in their businesses. The Illawarra Business Chamber has a very rigorous process to determine the winners of the categories. A panel with very esteemed local people goes through a whole process of application and interview to decide who the winners are. Continue reading

NAIDOC WEEK

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (10:50):  I want to start my contribution today by acknowledging the First Nations people of this country and, in particular, the original owners and custodians of the land on which this parliament meets and the original owners and ongoing custodians of the land that encompasses my electorate, around Wollongong. They are owed our acknowledgement and respect, in particular because this is NAIDOC Week. In my electorate, there are many, many people and organisations taking the opportunity to acknowledge and pay respect to our First Nations people. Of course, NAIDOC Week is normally earlier in the year but, due to the COVID pandemic, we have seen it moved to this week. Continue reading

A BUDGET OF EXTRAORDINARY DEBT BUT MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (18:26): I have on very many occasions spoken in the appropriation debate each year in which a budget has been brought down and I have been the representative of the electorate for Cunningham. But I will say that it has been an extraordinary year, and we have, as a result of the extraordinary events that our nation has faced, a later budget than we would normally have. We of course have been through the terrifying and devastating fires, the damaging floods and now the coronavirus pandemic, which is something that none of us, I think, could have envisaged at this time last year. It's something that we have, as a community, as a nation and as a parliament, had to deal with. Continue reading

YOUNG PEOPLE NEED A GOVERNMENT WHO LISTENS TO THEM

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (13:21): I'm pleased to support this motion before the Chamber today. For context, the motion discusses the importance of understanding the impacts of the COVID pandemic on young people and calls on the government to take an holistic national strategy around dealing with that, but I'll make the point here that for many young people there were already issues that were playing out significantly for them that they were talking to members of parliament and attempting to get messages to government about pre-pandemic. Continue reading

MORRISON GOVERNMENT MUST DO BETTER ON AGED CARE

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (16:06): Aged care has quite rightly been the priority of this parliament both this week and last week. I know that the experiences of our older Australians during this pandemic are front and centre in the minds of many members in this place. In the time available to me today I want to really press the government to do much more and be much more effective in the home-care side of aged-care services as well. We know that, if people are supported to stay in their own home longer, they feel more settled, have happier lives and are able to have some dignity in their life. I acknowledge the great work done by so many of our residential care providers, but home care is an important option. Continue reading

GLOBAL MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE AWARENESS DAY - QUEEN’S BIRTHDAY HONOURS

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (16:48): GLOBAL MOTOR NEURONE DISEASE AWARENESS DAY I'm wearing this blue flower as Sunday is Global Motor Neurone Disease Awareness Day. Motor neurone disease affects more than 350,000 people across the world, and 2,100 Australians are currently living with it. One of those is the Wollongong man I've spoken about many times in this place, Professor Justin Yerbury. Justin works at the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute and the University of Wollongong School of Chemistry and Molecular Bioscience. While living with MND, he has spent the last decade trying to understand the underlying causes of MND, along with his colleagues—and I particularly acknowledge Dr Luke McAlary and Senior Research Assistant Natalie Farrawell.   Continue reading

VOCATIONAL EDUCATION BILL

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (12:47): Can I indicate at the outset that I support the amendment moved by Labor and also that I don't oppose the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Governance and Other Matters) Bill 2020 that is before us today, just as Labor doesn't oppose it. As has been outlined by many speakers, the bill's intention is to amend the governance structures of ASQA, the Australian Skills and Quality Authority, and also to enhance its information sharing with the National Centre for Vocational Education and Research. These are both commendable intentions in and of themselves. The bill seeks to do this with two key amendments. The first one revises ASQA's governance structures, replacing the chief commissioner, chief executive officer and two commissioners with a single independent statutory office holder—a CEO. Secondly, the bill establishes the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Advisory Council, which I'll just refer to as the advisory council, which is intended to provide ASQA with access to expert advice regarding the functions of the regulator. Continue reading