Liberals fail to invest in infrastructure in the Illawarra

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:27): Like shadow minister Mr Albanese, I agree that the member for Forrest's sentiment in the original motion before the House is correct. I also agree that investment in infrastructure is critically important to regional development, economic diversification and jobs. However, I was very pleased to second the amendment moved by the member for Grayndler because I think this government, to be quite honest, has a lot to answer for when it comes to infrastructure in regional areas. It wouldn't surprise people to hear me say that, because they've been absolutely appalling in my area—in fact, absolutely absent from all of the issues and challenges we have around infrastructure. Continue reading

Another unfair Liberal Budget - nothing has changed since 2014

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:51): There are occasions in the government's life when a particular budget epitomises everything that they stand for and what their priorities are. We saw such a budget in 2014, when those opposite were first elected to government under former Prime Minister Abbott, and we well remember the legacy of that budget —and so we should because so much of it still exists in the budget we're confronted with in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2018-19 and the related appropriation bills today. The budget had at its heart unfairness and it did not pass the test not only of this parliament but of the general public's opinion of what it was trying to do. This budget is exactly the same as that previous budget. Plainly on display are the priorities of the government. I'm sure people will excuse me for borrowing the analogy of the member for Gilmore last week—and the member for Gilmore might be surprised to know that most members of the public probably consider that, if the horse is the government, the jockey would be considered to be the Prime Minister, not herself. You can change the jockey on the horse, but, if that horse is running the same race, you're not going to have any different outcome. That's exactly what is happening with the budget that is before us now. The priorities, the wrong values and the wrong approach to the challenges facing the nation that were encapsulated in that very unfair, discredited 2014 budget are still there in all their tarnished glory in the budget that was announced this month by the Prime Minister. It is both sneaky and unfair, and I want to address some of the most significant concerns that I have with the budget. Continue reading

Malcolm Turnbull arrogant and out of touch on TAFE

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:03): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will this arrogant and out-of-touch Prime Minister support Labor's plan to cover upfront fees for 100,000 TAFE places to train Australians for jobs that have been languishing on the business skills shortage list for years and years? Continue reading

BUDGET CRUEL ON HOME CARE PACKAGES

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:44): I'll take the opportunity in the speeches that follow the budget being handed down on Tuesday night to talk more broadly about the budget, but there's one aspect of it that has made me really angry, and I want to take this short opportunity to put it on the public record. In December last year, I went public in the local Illawarra media about the great frustration, indeed, distress, being caused to older people in my community and their families and also the service providers who work with them. Continue reading

Dr Justin Yerbury

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:31): All of us in our constituencies would regularly meet people who are fighting various diseases and who are inspirational to us in their efforts to bring attention to the sorts of causes that many of us will go to functions and events for, but sometimes you meet a person whose personal story is so inspirational that, to be honest, it leaves me to some extent lost for words about that individual. I want to share one of those stories with the House today. Many of you may have seen last night the Australian Story program on Justin Yerbury. Justin's a constituent in my area, 44 years old. The program told the story of not only his own but his family's battle with motor neurone disease. It's a marvellous story. Justin was not a science or medical student and not someone who started early in his life with a great determination to work in that space. A division having been called in the House of Representatives— Sitting suspended from 16:33 to 16:44 Continue reading

Household Budget Pressure - Private Health Insurance

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:22): The budgets that a government brings down and the amendments that are made in the half-yearly review—examples of which are now before this chamber for consideration—tell us everything that we need to know about any government's priorities. They are there for all to see in the bills before us today, the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2017-2018 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2017-2018. This government's priority is to pursue tax cuts for millionaires, the big end of town and large businesses, with some sort of discredited trickle-down theory attempting to convince the general public that this is going to be to their broader benefit. It's interesting to note that the Prime Minister, having visited the US in recent days, has again reiterated his view that this is the way to go for the Australian experience in the Australian economy. Continue reading

Government should prioritise ordinary households - not big business

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (13:21): As we look at bills such as those before us today, the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2017-2018 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2017-2018, which are a half-yearly adjustment to this government's last budget, it is incumbent on us to ask the questions that those in our community, when faced with government budgets and their adjustments, ask, which are: 'Who is it that you are caring about? Who is it that you are looking out for? Who is it whose welfare you're concerned to address in these measures?' There is nothing more telling about this government and where its priorities lie than that budget and these bills to make adjustments to that budget. There are people across all of our communities at the moment who are struggling to make ends meet. They have had stagnant wage growth. They've seen the nature of employment fragmented, so many of them are cobbling together their household budget from casual work, contract work or irregular opportunities to do work in what might be called the new economy, which is not delivering any security for them. They're facing the reality that what's coming in, in terms of income, is stagnant if not declining. At the same time they're seeing significant increases in their cost of living. This is a real challenge in households across all of our electorates. Continue reading

Australian Disability Enterprises and Aged Care Home Care Crisis

There are two matters I would like to talk to the House about tonight on behalf of local constituents. The first one is in relation to Australian disability enterprises. In January I had the opportunity to host the shadow minister for disability and carers, Senator Carol Brown, in Wollongong. Continue reading

Hank van Stuivenberg and Australia Day Awards

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:49): We returned to parliament after the Christmas period. I know many of us in our communities will have had the opportunity to celebrate with locals who received awards around the Australia Day events. Also we've clearly lost people in our communities. I want to acknowledge the many beautiful tributes to Michael Gordon, a member of this community in this place. In that spirit I would like today to put on the nation's record another wonderful local, an Illawarra Mercury snapper who we very sadly lost over the break. Illawarra Mercury photographer Hank Van Stuivenberg was known to his colleagues as 'Honky' or 'Sensational Hank' because he had a very regular big smile and because he replied, 'Sensational!' whenever anyone asked how he was. A beautiful tribute was paid to Hank by his boss of many years, Kirk Gilmour, in the paper. These are Kirk's words: The Sensational Hank Van Stuivenberg was a much loved and well respected member of the Illawarra Mercury and its photographic department. Continue reading