Speech - Adjournment - Mr Neil Preston OAM

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (21:04): I acknowledge a very important local leader in our community who is retiring. Unfortunately, I will not be able to make his retirement function, but I have taken the opportunity to put a message through to him for that event. His name is Neil Preston. Neil is the manager of the Greenacres Disability Services in the Wollongong area and is very, very well known to many in our community and indeed to many in this place as a fierce and constant advocate for those with a disability. Only the other week, I and the member for Throsby hosted Senator Jan McLucas, as the parliamentary secretary for disabilities, into the area on a surprise visit to Neil at work to present him with a certificate of appreciation for his years of public service and advocacy in the disability sector. Senator McLucas acknowledged in that presentation and on the certificate that was given to Neil that he was an agitator and an advocate of the first order. It is certainly something that many in our community are going to miss, in terms of the tremendous work Neil has done, not only in running a very important disability service in our community but for his determination to make work in the disability sector a valued, remunerated and important component of the lives of the people with a disability that he was working with. Whilst Neil talks about retirement, I am sure that that retirement will involve ongoing advocacy and engagement on an issue that has been very dear to his heart for 16 years and to which he has been such a tremendous asset. Continue reading

Speech - Cabin Crew Ratios on Australian Aircraft

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:31): On behalf of the Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, I present the committee's report entitled Finding the right balance: cabin crew ratios on Australian aircraft, incorporating a dissenting report together with the minutes of proceedings. Ms BIRD: I acknowledge my deputy chair in the chamber as we present the report. On 2 March 2011, the committee resolved to inquire into the ratio of cabin crew members on aircraft following a request from the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. In particular, we were asked to inquire into and report on: the current aviation safety regulatory system for aircraft operators in relation to the application of the cabin crew to passenger ratio, including current exemption provisions; the role of cabin crew in managing both passenger safety and security; the factors that determine the cabin crew to passenger ratio; domestic and international practice in respect of the cabin crew to passenger ratio; and finally measures to enhance aviation safety that may be considered in future requirements on aircraft operators for a safety risk management plan covering the cabin crew to passenger ratio. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Mining

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:39): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Will the minister update the House on the strong performance of the resources sector and why the government is making sure the government is making sure the benefits are shared by other sectors of the community? Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Batman—Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (14:40): I thank the member for Cunningham for the question. In doing so, I remind the House that this week we must finally determine whether we as a community are prepared to support a tax that the mining industry now supports. In doing so, this House has an opportunity to share the benefits of the resources boom that Australia is currently experiencing. The coalition, in their determination to vote down this tax, have to face up to the fact that they are voting against taxation relief for small business. I must say that that is very important to a broad section of small businesses in the Australian community. They must also face up to the fact that they are voting against the opportunity for small business to have an automatic capital write-off of $6,500. As Minister for Tourism, I remind the House that that is exceptionally important to the almost 280,000 enterprises in the tourism sector. It is also about making sure that where we are experiencing the pressures of the resources boom in the key petroleum areas, we have the capacity to invest in infrastructure and, in doing so, to ensure Australia's opportunity to grasp every available increase with respect to export opportunities. Continue reading

Private Members' Business - Meals on Wheels

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (20:41): I also want to take the opportunity tonight to participate in this important matter before the House moved by the member for Shortland, recognising the work that Meals on Wheels does in our communities and indeed has done for a very long time. As the member for Paterson said, all communities would be well aware of the Meals on Wheels services. They have a long, well-established reputation and are greatly valued. In fact, before being elected to this place, I got a job working in Sydney. I had been doing some volunteer work over the years, mainly, I have to say, for organisations associated with my children, and I was a bit disappointed that, having to commute to Sydney, it would be difficult to continue some sort of community volunteerism and involvement. I was working in a job where I had a flex day a month and it was drawn to my attention that Meals on Wheels might be a good option because you can actually commit to doing it just the one day a month if that is all you have available. I thought it was a great idea to get out at lunchtime on my day at home and go round and do that. It was an hour or 1½ hours once a month. So I enlisted as a volunteer with Meals on Wheels for a couple of years before I was elected to this place. It was a service that I had been aware of and had valued as a general member of the community. But once you actually do it you get a whole new appreciation for how significant and important it is, and the motion by the member for Shortland reflects that. It is about providing nutritious food to people who are frail, elderly or isolated and unable to access the family connections and so forth that some of us would take for granted to provide that sort of support regularly, or indeed they may have just decided to be a bit more independent and to find ways to provide for themselves without putting that pressure on their families. There are a whole range of reasons for which people choose to use that service. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Mining

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:35): My question is to the Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism. Minister, how is the government ensuring the benefits of the mining boom are spread throughout the Australian economy? Mr MARTIN FERGUSON (Batman—Minister for Resources and Energy and Minister for Tourism) (14:36): I thank the member for Cunningham for her question. She, more than most members in this House, understands the importance of the mining boom and also appreciates, due to the diverse nature of the South Coast of New South Wales, the impact it is having on other sections of her local community. The member for Cunningham is very supportive of the fact that, at the moment, mining industry companies in Australia are actually making record profits. The message she has received from the Australian community, which was under the pump because of the impact of the resources sector on the broader community, is that the rest of the community actually needs a helping hand. That is what the debate on the mining tax is about. It is about how we spread the benefit of this boom to the broader Australian community. That is not about stifling investment. Continue reading

Speech - Treaties Committee Report

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:43): On behalf of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, I present the committee's report entitled Report 121: treaty tabled on 16 August 2011, incorporating a dissenting report. I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report. Leave granted. Ms BIRD: This report contains the committee's view on the agreement between the government of Australia and the government of the United States of America relating to the operation of, and access to, an Australian naval communications station at North West Cape in Western Australia done at Washington on 16 July 2008, which was tabled on 16 August 2011. The proposed agreement is intended to replace the agreement between the government of the Commonwealth of Australia and the government of the United States of America relating to the establishment of the United States naval communications station in Australia done at Canberra on 9 May 1963. The 1963 agreement provided for the establishment, maintenance and operation by the United States of a naval communications station in Australia. This agreement was terminated in May 1999 and since then an interim arrangement applied until a new treaty was concluded. The proposed new agreement will remain in force for an initial period of 25 years and, unless terminated, shall continue for subsequent periods of five years. Continue reading

Prime Minister - Speech to the Third Illawarra Regional Leaders Summit

THIRD ILLAWARRA REGIONAL LEADERS’ SUMMIT NOVOTEL WOLLONGONG NORTHBEACH TUESDAY 18 OCTOBER 2011 Eddy De Gabriele, Chairman of the RDA Illawarra committee.Rev Fr Chris Riley.Our distinguished guest, Professor Howard Armitage.Local business and community leaders.I thank Sharon Bird for that generous introduction.Sharon and Stephen Jones are outstanding advocates for this region– and I pay tribute to them today.I honour the traditional owners of this land, the Dharawal people.They wrote the first chapter of this region’s development and we’re going to write another great chapter in that very long and proud story.Friends, it’s a great honour to be back so soon after my last visit and I’m here for one reason: To keep faith with this region and its people.As you undergo this process of change and transformation, you will not walk that road alone. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Carbon Pricing

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:4 1): My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. Will the minister update the House on the Steel Transformation Plan Bill? Why is this legislation important to the Australian steel industry and what would be the impact on workers and industry if the steel transformation plan is not established? Mr COMBET (Charlton—Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency) (14:41): I thank the member for Cunningham because she certainly has a very keen interest in seeing the steel transformation plan implemented. Of course, it was passed by the House of Representatives yesterday along with the other clean energy bills and it was opposed—astonishingly—by the Liberal and National Parties. As is well known, the steel industry is facing very difficult times in this country. Global markets are struggling. The high value of the dollar has made steel exports less competitive and imports cheaper, and iron ore and coking coal prices are high. The two major companies have been losing money in their steel production and we are already seeing job losses and the closure of a blast furnace in Port Kembla because of these factors. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation - Consideration in Detail

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (20:11): I take the opportunity to speak in the consideration in detail stage of the clean energy bills, having already spoken in the second reading debate, to do two things that have developed since I last spoke. The first is to address the disgraceful vote today on the Steel Transformation Plan Bill 2011, which those opposite, who claim to be concerned for the welfare of people in the steel industry, failed to support and which would provide very important, strategic and needed support to the steel industry. In particular, I could not believe my colleague Joanna Gash, the member for Gilmore, sat on the other side of the House and voted against the Steel Industry Transformation Plan, and no doubt Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, who has an office in my area, will also vote against that bill. The reality is that the steel industry at this time needs those opposite to support this bill. I point out to those opposite that BlueScope as a company have made it quite clear that the carbon tax is not the issue that they are confronting. They are confronting the international circumstances and the level of the Australian dollar. Continue reading

Clean Energy Future legislation - Consideration in Detail

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (21:53): I rise to oppose the opposition's amendment to the Clean Energy Bill 2011 and related bills before us tonight. It is an amendment about timing. I want to reiterate some important words to the House. I will quote the policy to be accurate. It says: We have an obligation to manage climate change responsibly on behalf of future generations, so that our prosperity today is a legacy they too can enjoy tomorrow. The Australian economy depends more on fossil fuels for its wealth generation and power supply than most developed economies and we are a significant supplier of energy to the world. Adjusting to a carbon-constrained economy will entail costs. We cannot change the structure of our economy overnight and we need to manage the transition with care. Yet, as well as costs, the same transition will also present new opportunities. We are richly endowed with natural assets that will be valuable in a carbonconstrained world— (Quorum formed) I will continue as I was quoting: We are richly endowed with natural assets that will be valuable in a carbon-constrained world, including high-quality geological and biological sequestration sites, large uranium reserves and abundant renewable energy resources, including geothermal energy opportunities. An important component of Australia’s climate change policy is developing key low emissions technologies to realise these opportunities. Continue reading