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

Nine Members of the Australian Labor Party Honoured with Life Membership

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (10:34): A fortnight ago, the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party had our state conference. One of the parts of the conference that I particularly enjoy is the time in which we celebrate party members who have received life membership. I'm sure my colleagues across the chamber will have local people in their party branches who don't seek anything out of their work but who just believe in our democracy and value their opportunity to participate in the political process. They get out there on rainy, cold elections and stinking hot elections, beating the path and doing all the work to make sure those elections can happen in a way that is really inclusive in this country. I really value and appreciate that. Continue reading

Laser Beak Man and Mum reply to Hanson ignorance

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (10:42): Last night I left this place sick with anger. I was furious about the comments made by Senator Hanson in the education debate about children with autism. I was so angry about it that I did not trust myself to be able to speak about it; I was really, really hurt on behalf of people. When I opened my Facebook, a very good friend of mine, Judy Sharp, had put up a post. Her son Tim is an internationally famous artist; he is better known as Laser Beak Man. If people want to look at his work, it is laserbeakman.com. He has an amazing life story. I sent Judy a message and asked her if she would you like to put her words on the record in this parliament because you have so much more to offer than what the senator had to say. Continue reading

Liberal's funding cuts to schools

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (14:14):  My question is to the Prime Minister. Data released by the New South Wales government shows that, because of the Prime Minister's $22 billion cut to schools, in the electorate of Gilmore over the next two years over $1.3 million will be cut from Nowra East Public School and over $890,000 will be cut from Sanctuary Point Public School. Has the member for Gilmore made any representations at all to the Prime Minister about these cuts to schools in her electorate? Continue reading

Local health services angry about Liberal's failure on Medicare rebate freeze

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (11:27):  There is an opportunity in this parliament quite often to talk about the issues that are of real concern to your local constituents. Today I want to address an issue that has been consistently raised with me for a long time now. Before the election, we had a real debate happening about the future of Medicare in this country. I think, absolutely accurately, serious concerns were expressed about what this government, if they were returned, would do to continue the attacks that they had been launching on Medicare. Continue reading

Society is judged on how we treat our most vulnerable - Liberal's robo-debts debacle event affects Santa

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (18:16): I am probably more sad than anything else to be speaking to the motion on this report, which is before the chamber. I want to heartily endorse the comments made by my colleagues the member for Bruce, the member for Paterson and, just prior to me, the member for Hindmarsh in talking about how significant the issues raised in this report are. A truth that many of us should keep at the forefront of our minds is the sentiment—I do not remember the exact quote—that a society is judged by how it treats its most vulnerable. It is something I believe should lead the principles with which we—both those of us in this parliament and those who hold an executive position in the government—approach public service. This report tells us very clearly that there has been a significant failure—in particular, in this case, by the relevant ministers—to protect some of the most vulnerable people in our community. My colleagues outlined many examples of the difficulties and challenges these people are already dealing with in their lives, particularly those who have a disability—whether they were born with that disability; whether they acquired it through one of a variety of unfortunate circumstances, such as a car accident or a workplace accident; or whether it was the result of some form of illness or a required medical intervention that then had a traumatic impact on them. These people are already dealing with challenges in their lives, and they are seeking to have quality and dignity in their lives. They should have no doubt that in our community they have every right to expect dignity and respect. That means that when, as a government, we engage with people we should do it in a way that sustains dignity and respect, not in a way that not only takes away dignity and respect but adds to the trauma and difficulty they are experiencing in their lives. Continue reading