Tribute to Neil Preston OAM

I'm very sad to report to the parliament that our region lost a wonderful gentleman, Neil Preston, last week. I got to know Neil very well during his time as Greenacres chief executive. He was a determined and well-respected advocate for people with a disability. His advocacy led to him being named Wollongong Citizen of the Year in 2014 and also earned him an OAM. Continue reading

Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No 2) Bill 2017

I will just shake the dust off these speaking notes! They've been sitting on my table for a while, waiting for the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No. 2) Bill 2017 to come before the parliament for further debate. The optimist in me would take from that that perhaps the government was reconsidering the wisdom of this particular bill, but the realist in me recognises that it's probably more a reflection of their lack of faith in their capacity to get support across the parliament for the bill. Regardless, when this proposed enterprise tax plan was first announced, my Labor colleagues and I made it very clear that we would oppose it, and that position has not changed. Continue reading

Real and Immediate Action on Climate Change Needed

I want to, first of all, record my thanks to my colleague the member for Moreton for putting this particular issue on the agenda. I just want to take a bit of time to go through the points that the member for Moreton has made in his motion to the House, and talk about why I think they are so significant. I also want to report to the House on some very significant activity in my own electorate on these very issues in the few weeks during which we have been away from this place. Continue reading


MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (13:39): This Prime Minister needs to grow up. We need a leader in this country on energy. We do not need somebody who resorts to name-calling—and I have to say pretty pathetic name-calling at that, as my colleague the member for Hunter would know too well—and blame-shifting on energy. Continue reading

Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017

I want to indicate to the House it's my attention to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this bill and to oppose the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017. I'd like to first of all go through some of the detail of the bill and why I think it should be opposed and also address how that will impact in my own local area. This particular piece of legislation has been debated around not only this place for a while now but also in our communities. I can assure the parliament that it is very hard to find anybody on the grounds of my own university at Wollongong who has any affection for these particular so-called reforms that the government has encapsulated in this bill, the 'triple-whammy bill'. Continue reading

Private Members' Business - Higher Education

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (19:03): I thank the member for Indi for bringing this matter before the parliament. She very accurately reflects the fact that, for regional areas, the presence and activities of our universities are very significant to us. In my own area, the University of Wollongong is a world-class provider of education and research, and that is critically important. But, just as importantly to us as a region, it's also a major employer—in fact, it's one of the top five employers in our region now. It's a place of a significant number of small businesses, in terms of the sorts of facilities that are provided there. It's a partner with many other industries and businesses in developing emerging opportunities in our region to make sure that innovation and new opportunities are grasped across the region. Continue reading

Tribute to Dean Mercer and Bill Seay OAM

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (16:49): Last Monday was a very sad day for my electorate. On that day we lost two wonderful people—one who'd grown up as a young man and then left our region to go onto the national stage, and the other who came to our region as a young man and then stayed for his lifetime, contributing to our local community. Both were extremely important to the surf lifesaving movement of the Illawarra. Continue reading

Two more weeks of government chaos

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:07) We have reached the final sitting hours of an extraordinary two weeks in this place. The MPI before us goes to the heart of what the problem is with the way this parliament is operating. Members opposite say that they want to talk about the things that really matter in their electorates. Well so do we. Last week, we had to deal with the fact that we had a government which, in its throes of division, decided the answer to the problem of resolving marriage equality in Australia was to throw $122 million at a non-compulsory, non-binding postal survey, for which we can't even be sure that they have the process tied down in a correct way that will deliver a fair say to all people. Continue reading

Liberal Double Standards - one rule for them, a different rule for everyone else

Today we sit in this place on the last sitting day of this week of parliament and what a week it has been. We have seen this week the blatant display of the absolute double standard of the government in how they apply rules when they are involved, as opposed to how they apply rules when ordinary constituents in my electorate are affected. We started this week on Monday with the most extraordinary outcome of the parliament having to unanimously carry a motion to refer the Deputy Prime Minister of this nation to the High Court for a determination on whether he is actually eligible to sit in this place. The rules in that circumstance are in the Constitution. The Deputy Prime Minister said, when he was happy to jump on the bandwagon on the back of Greens senators having to resign: 'They are black and white. It's just sloppiness that would mean that you weren't complying with them.'       Continue reading

Protecting our Retirees

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (11:14): I thank the member for Lalor for putting this very important motion before the chamber and I reflect that, like both the member for Lalor and the member for Groom, when the Four Corners program recently aired I also had a lot of locals contacting me very distressed by what were quite shocking and appalling expose in that particular program. Continue reading