Cunningham Electorate Health Services

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:03): I want to report to the House today on an important announcement made in my electorate last Wednesday by me, the member for Throsby and Mr David Farmer, the General Manager of Wollongong City Council. This was an announcement around the Healthy Communities Initiative. It is a particularly important one in terms of the government's agenda on preventative health measures. The Commonwealth government announced that we will be providing $703,000 to Wollongong City Council. This funding was for a range of programs that the council was running in order to put in place health and lifestyle programs for local residents, particularly those who are least likely to be targeted by the general run-of-the-mill type of delivery—that is, those that are delivered through fee-for-service or where people actually buy particular diet or exercise programs. Many people miss out on that sort of access and these programs are particularly targeted at those who are the most at risk and the least likely to seek out such programs. Continue reading

Festa della Repubblica

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:5 4): I want to take the opportunity to note that today, 2 June, is Italy's national republic day—Festa della Repubblica. On behalf of the government, I feel it is important to extend our heartfelt congratulations to Italy and all Italians, who are celebrating this year the 150th anniversary of the country's unification. I am aware that the Prime Minister has put out a statement celebrating this anniversary also. Nearly one million Australians have Italian ancestry and have contributed to our society over many generations. Currently, we have around 200,000 Australian residents who were born in Italy and at least 30,000 Australians are today living in Italy. Our two countries have a friendly, robust and collaborative relationship with each other and we enjoy many mutual benefits from our warm and longstanding friendship. Italian culture, language and heritage is widespread across Australian communities, including my own. This has enabled us to share rich social, cultural and economic links with Italy. Today, for example, trade between our two nations is worth nearly $6 billion a year. As the largest migrant population in my electorate of Cunningham, Italo-Australians have had significant involvement in the economy and the culture of Wollongong and the Illawarra more broadly. The Italian Social Welfare Organisation of Wollongong have played a excellent local role in this development. Continue reading

Constituency Statement - Cunningham Electorate - Schools

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:25): I want to report to the House about a visit to my electorate on 13 May, a couple of weeks ago now, by Minister Garrett to two local schools. It was an opportunity to talk more broadly in the local area about the very important education initiatives that were in the budget. I have addressed those in the budget debate so I will not go directly to those. I want to take this opportunity to thank the schools that welcomed us into their facilities and showed us some of the work that their students were doing. We, firstly, went to Mount Ousley Public School and we were welcomed by Principal Peter Holmes and the school captains Layne Ireland and Joshua Brown. Peter is a local principal who has had a great commitment to introducing technology into the classrooms. I first met him when he was at Otford Public School in my electorate and he was running a program where the parents and fundraising in the school provided laptops for all the students. He had introduced the same thing at Mount Ousley Public School so we visited their year 6 class to see their one-to-one laptop program. Continue reading

Banking

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (19 : 55): I very much enjoy the opportunity to contribute to adjournment debates and as much enjoy listening to them. I have been enlightened today by the member for Indi, who suddenly discovered anti-dumping issues in the manufacturing section. She is obviously very worried about them, and I look forward to going back to look at all the speeches and motions she moved on that issue when the coalition were in government. I am also going to go back and check all the statements made by the member for Tangney about TPI pension indexation. Given that he does swim against the tide a bit, I give him credit for acknowledging that he may have been swimming against his own government at the time. But I will go and check to see how often he raised both issues when the coalition were in government. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Tobacco Products

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:11): My question is to the Minister for Mental Health and Ageing. As the minister responsible for medical research, why is evidence based policy-making important, and is the minister aware of any additional evidence to support the government's decision to move forward with the plain packaging of tobacco products? Mr BUTLER (Port Adelaide—Minister for Mental Health and Ageing) (15:12): I thank the member for Cunningham for her question. I spoke yesterday about 12 different research studies covering the issues of branding, design and the promotion of tobacco packaging. Today I want to bring the attention of the House to a review of the evidence released yesterday by the Cancer Council. The review pulls together the findings from 24 targeted studies over two decades and demonstrates very clearly that the look and the feel of tobacco packaging is a very powerful marketing tool, particularly for the recruitment of new smokers. Recruiting young Australians to smoking is important to big tobacco. If you want to make a profit in the tobacco business, you need new customers and you need them regularly. The shadow minister said on Sky yesterday: I just don't have the evidence one way or the other. ... I've asked the Government to produce the evidence. Continue reading

Appropriation Bill (No 1) 2011-2012

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18 : 43): It is a pleasure to follow the member for Kooyong. Perhaps he would like to take his philosophy of the market being the best option, apply it to consideration of the carbon debates in this place and reconsider the direct action policy of his leader as the most appropriate way to address the climate change challenge. I look forward to the reassessment, as I understand some of his colleagues would probably be keen to get in behind him on that. So I anticipate that with great pleasure. Continue reading

Education and Employment Committee

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (20:15): I want to take the opportunity to welcome the report School libraries and teacher librarians in 21 st century Australia produced by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Education and Employment given that I was the chair of the former House Standing Committee on Education and Training, which originally commenced the inquiry in the previous parliament. I was very pleased that post the election the Minister for School Education, Early Childhood and Youth asked the new committee to continue with the work of the previous committee and to produce this report. I commend the chair, Amanda Rishworth, the member for Kingston, for the work that has been done and all members of the committee in following up and producing this final report. I do so in particular because the issue was originally brought to my attention as a result of an online petition that had been running amongst teacher librarians. They were particularly concerned about the fact that in the digital age, for some reason— I think we gathered a lot of evidence that is reflected in this report about why this was happening—people were coming to the view that teacher librarians were not necessary in schools, where in fact quite the opposite could well be argued to be true. With the depth, complexity and breadth of information available to young people today, they need an experienced navigator more than ever to assist them in assessing the source, the legitimacy and the value of information that they are accessing, in particular, online. It was something that, particularly as a former teacher, caught my attention. We sought a reference from the minister, the current Prime Minister, and undertook to do a study into the matter. Continue reading

Private Members' Business - Science Curriculum

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (19:31): I welcome the opportunity to address the issues in the motion put before the House by the shadow minister on the broad issue of professional development support for teachers generally and, more specifically, for science teachers. I will address the broad issue first and then go to the specific issue of the continuation of the PrimaryConnections and Science by Doing programs. In doing so, I will address some of the issues raised by the member for Indi in her contribution to the debate, of which about half was related directly to the motion —the other half was the usual general diatribe against the government. We will ignore that bit and just deal with the part that was actually relevant to the motion before us. We should firstly acknowledge that the primary responsibility for the professional development of teachers sits with their employing authorities, either state or private. However, the federal government works in partnership by providing substantial funding for teacher professional development through the National Education Agreement for government school teachers and through the Australian Government Quality Teacher Program for teachers in nongovernment schools. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Budget

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:27): My question is to the Treasurer. Will the Treasurer outline the importance of delivering a fiscally responsible budget and how Australia compares internationally? How is this approach being received and what is the government's response? Mr SWAN (Lilley—Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer) (14:27): I thank the member for Cunningham for her question because we are seeing the quickest return to surplus on record and that is occurring well ahead of comparable countries. Countries like the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and Canada will not even have halved their deficits of a share of GDP by 2013. In 2013, the major advanced economies will still be in collective deficit of around five per cent of GDP and of course Australia will be back in the black. As I was saying before, we are doing that because we have put in place the essential savings—$22 billion worth of savings, two-thirds of those spending cuts. We are seeing the fastest fiscal consolidation on record. I have seen some of the statements from those opposite but there has also been a number of statements from the market economists and the rating agencies. This is what the credit rating agency Standard & Poors said: The deficits and additional borrowings do not alter the sound profile of Australia's public finances which remain among the strongest of its peer group. Continue reading

Tax Laws Amendment (2011 Measures No 2) Bill 2011

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:26): I take the opportunity to speak briefly to schedules 1 to 4 and 6, which have been covered quite extensively by the member for Casey and my colleagues the member for Dobell and the member for Greenway. I will just touch on those briefly; then I want to go to schedule 5 in particular. Schedule 1, as has been indicated, has added two additional organisations to the list of deductible death recipients in the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997—that is, the Charlie Perkins Trust for Children and Students and the Roberta Sykes Indigenous Education Foundation fund. As was indicated by the member for Greenway, both organisations are established in the names of significant and important Indigenous Australians with a very worthwhile cause at the heart of their activities, and I think this is something that will be well supported across all members of the House. Schedule 2 amends the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993, and that is to permit the regulation to impose rules on self-managed superannuation fund trustees that make, hold or realise investments involving collectibles and personal-use assets. As indicated, the intention was to ensure the appropriate use of assets within those trust funds and was a commitment in the election campaign. I would also commend that. I understand from the contribution of the member for Casey that it is also supported on the other side. Continue reading