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

Question Without Notice - Liberal Big Business Tax Cuts

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:39): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, every member of the government, including the member for Gilmore, voted five times to give big business a $65 billion handout today. If the government has its way, a single income family living in Nowra, earning $60,000, will pay an extra $300 in tax every year. Why is the Prime Minister hurting families in Nowra and my community to pay for his $65 billion handout to big business? Continue reading

Cunningham says YES!

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (21:47):   I have to say, I am absolutely thrilled to rise to support the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 today, as I have supported marriage equality previously in this place. This bill is well considered, it's well balanced and it's well overdue. Today I have the greatest privilege to stand in this place to speak on behalf of my electorate, 65.7 per cent of whom voted yes. I want to use my time to give voice to the words of some of the amazing people who campaigned for love, kindness and fairness in my local area. Continue reading

Turnbull ain't no working class man

Last week I was graced in my electorate with a visit by the Prime Minister and his Minister for the Environment and Energy. I thought perhaps they'd come to talk to the local community about the investments we need for jobs growth, or perhaps they'd come to talk about the importance of education and stopping their cuts to schools, TAFE and universities. But, no, they'd come to do a quick doorstop at BlueScope Steel and to use it as a visual background for more of their half-baked energy policy discussion. But the minister, whilst he was there, in an amazing act of cheek, decided to try and align himself with Jimmy Barnes and working-class people. I have to say, he was very promptly slapped down on Twitter by Jimmy Barnes, who made it very clear that his song, his music and his views were in no way to be aligned with the policies of this government. It's not surprising. Continue reading

Matters of Public Importance: Inclusive Growth

I thank the assistant minister for his dissertation on growth. I would suggest there's a lot of content in that that's debatable. He seems to have forgotten the bit that's called inclusive growth, so I'd encourage him to have a bit of a look at some of the other economic outcomes that are currently facing this country that might enlighten him around issues such as stagnant wages growth. In the last two hours or so we've had a really interesting indication of where exactly those opposite are on inclusive growth. Perhaps the shadow Treasurer could follow up his book with 'Inclusive Growth for Dummies'. Since those opposite seem to be keen to buy his books, I think that would be a particularly useful addition. Continue reading

Mt Ousley Public School Wins PM's Science Awards - Prof Gordon Wallace Announced 2017 NSW Scientist of the Year

This week my local area has excelled in science achievement. I couldn't be prouder—and I'm sure the member for Whitlam joins me in that. Last week, one of my wonderful local public schools shone in the Prime Minister's Science Awards. Congratulations to Neil Bramsen and Mount Ousley Public School, winners of the Prime Minister's science prize for primary science teaching. A very proud local MP and the school's principal, Peter Holmes, were in the Great Hall of Parliament House to celebrate one of our great public schools achieving such wonderful recognition. Neil Bramsen instigated the outdoor classroom at Mount Ousley. Students record bird sightings, study the beach and assess levels of marine debris, or read and think in the butterfly garden. They have also talked to astronauts on the international space station and made global connections, through Skype, with schools in Africa and America. Continue reading

Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2017

Time after time I find myself frustrated, bemused and quite often angry about the range of legislation that comes before this chamber when those opposite are in government. I spent my first term at the end of the Howard era among the infamous industrial relations changes around Work Choices. Quite rightly, there was not only a union driven campaign but also a community supported campaign rejecting that dog-eat-dog view of how industrial relations should be managed and regulated in this country. But we now see, under both the Abbott and Turnbull prime ministerships, continuing, ongoing—time and time again—pieces of legislation that, at their heart, are about one thing, and that is destroying the capacity of workers to unite through a formalised union in order to raise issues in a workplace where they don't have the balance of power. Continue reading

Tribute to Neil Preston OAM

I'm very sad to report to the parliament that our region lost a wonderful gentleman, Neil Preston, last week. I got to know Neil very well during his time as Greenacres chief executive. He was a determined and well-respected advocate for people with a disability. His advocacy led to him being named Wollongong Citizen of the Year in 2014 and also earned him an OAM. Continue reading