Vocational Education

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (18:32): I rise to speak in the cognate debate on this bill, the National Vocational Education and Training Regulator Amendment (Annual Registration Charge) Bill 2017 and the related bill. As indicated by the shadow minister, I will indicate up-front that I also support these bills before the House today. Continue reading

Community Volunteers - Vision Australia

MS BIRD (Cunningham) (19:48): Like, I am sure, many of my colleagues in this place, when we are not here but back in our electorates we are often going out to a variety of groups in our community, participating in special events with them. In this past month, as is quite often the case, it particularly struck me how many of those organisations that we were visiting, either to celebrate an occasion or to talk to them about grant funding opportunities, were driven by volunteers. It is quite extraordinary when you look across your electorate and see the organisations that are in the community doing the job of supporting their fellow local community members. I often reflect that, if governments had to fund the work that so many volunteers do, we certainly would have a significant budget challenge on our hands. Continue reading

Dud Budget that smells of unfairness

MS BIRD (Cunningham) (15:46): I am very pleased to speak today on this MPI on the government's tax priorities, and I thank my colleague for putting it on the agenda. The other side has a problem, and it is a stench around this budget that is lingering from 2014. In 2014 the smell of unfairness in the budget created such a backlash in the community that the government is now trying to pedal away from it. The problem they have is that there is the same smell in this budget, and it is a smell of unfairness. And I can guarantee to those opposite that if there is one thing the Australian population are really good at it is sniffing out unfairness, and they can sniff it very clearly in this budget. Continue reading

Budget is unfair for young people in the Illawarra

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (2:46): I rise to speak today on the budget bills, Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2017-2018 and Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018. I have to say, like my colleague the member for Calwell, that there is a great deal of detail that needs to be addressed in terms of the issues and concerns that I have with the budget, but I will take the opportunity in various specific pieces of legislation to go through those in more detail. Already having spoken on the schools funding bill about my concerns in that area, I will do the same on a variety of other issues, including the broader education field, which includes TAFE and university, and health, in particular the changes that are in place around Medicare and the very, very, very slow winding back of the freeze and the impacts that is having on my electorate. Continue reading

Gilmore "Guesstimate" on Gonski - Question Without Notice

Ms Bird (Cunningham) (14:33): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, this week the member for Gilmore said about the reaction of school principals to the government's funding: 'They have certainty of funding going forward—for as far as they know, four years. There is guesstimate there for 10, but no government can absolutely commit to that.' Is the member for Gilmore correct? Isn’t the only certainty for schools a $22 billion cut? Continue reading

Liberal's Gonski Funding - It's a Cut, It's a Con

Ms BIRD»(Cunningham) (12:39): I thank the member for Petrie for his contribution, which he made just before me, and also the contributions of others on that side of the House to the Australian Education Amendment Bill 2017. I am sure we will hear more speeches flogging the dead horse of a claim that they are going to increase funding to schools. Mr Howarth interjecting— Ms «BIRD»: I would suggest to the member for Petrie that so many of them went to the 2013 election on a promise, and maybe that is why they are feeling some pain now, because that promise was that if you elected them you would get all the Gonski funding, dollar for dollar, equivalent to what Labor was providing. So despite running through school names and claims of amounts of money, the problem they are going to have when they campaign on this at the next election, as the member for Petrie referred to, is that people in every one of those schools will be saying then, as they are saying now, 'That's not what you promised and we are not happy with the cut that is being delivered in the piece of legislation before us today.' Continue reading

Adult Migrant English Program

  Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (17:14): I want to start off by saying that I appreciate the sentiment with the member for Berowra brings with this motion to this chamber, the commitments that he made and the importance he placed on the Adult Migrant English Program in his contribution. I also would like to endorse very strongly the comments of my colleague the member for Cowan on the very great importance of having properly qualified teachers working in these programs. Teaching language literacy and numeracy is actually one of the most demanding teaching tasks. I am a former TAFE teacher myself, and I can assure you that the qualifications and professionalism are significantly important to successful outcomes. So I endorse the contribution by the member for Cowan. Continue reading

Priorities in Cunningham

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (18:43): I start in my contribution to this cognate debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2016-2017 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2016-2017 by commending my colleague the member for Macarthur. The issue of housing affordability is a very significant one, and it is no different in my electorate. The Wollongong area has seen a significant increase in the cost of housing and, flowing from that, the cost of rental accommodation. That has put great pressure on young people in particular trying to get into reliable permanent housing. Very sadly, many young people in my area are now expressing to me the view that they will never own their own home. I think that is a very sad state of affairs. The member is right: we have not seen any real action or determination by this government to address this matter. Simply buck-passing it off to this states as state issues is not sufficient. Simply buck-passing it off to parents saying, 'You should dip into your life savings to help you kids onto the housing ladder,' does not reflect the reality that many parents are not in a position to do that. So the member's contribution, I think, was very important to this debate. Continue reading

Thereapeutic Goods Amendment Bill 2016 - Fast Access to Life Saving Drugs

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (12:39): I rise today to speak on this important bill, the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2016 Measures No. 1) Bill 2016. As did my colleague the member for Makin, I indicate my support for this bill, with a number of reservations. Firstly, I would like to touch on aspects of the bill and what reservations I hold. Secondly, I would like to talk about some important examples where this is a significant local issue in my electorate. Continue reading

Matters of Public Importance - Education Funding

Ms BIRD(Cunningham) (16:04): It is interesting to hear those opposite as they twist and turn and try to change the facts on what has happened in the school funding debate. The member for Boothby, for example, is putting forward an argument that she is quite happy that the schools in her electorate will be getting $25 million less than they would have been if her government had kept the promise that they made to people in the election. Indeed, in South Australia there were posters up at polling booths: 'We will match dollar for dollar what Labor has committed on schools.' The reality is a significant decrease in the funding in her electorate. It is the same story in my own electorate and in electorates all across the country. Our schools across the Illawarra and Southern Highlands will lose $59 million in the next few years alone. Continue reading