Wollongong and Illawarra to be part of high speed rail future

Wollongong and the Southern Highlands could be part of a high speed rail network connecting Brisbane to Melbourne, according to a Phase 1 High Speed Rail study MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones said this morning. The Phase 1 Feasibility Study released today has identified two possible corridors roughly following the contours of the Hume Highway via the Southern Highlands and the Princes Highway via Wollongong and the Southern Highlands. Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said, “This is great news for Wollongong and the Illawarra which could be part of the biggest nation-building project in Australia’s history no matter which corridor is ultimately identified. “Of the two possible corridors described in the Phase 1 feasibility study, the Illawarra could be connected to a high speed rail line running along Australia’s east coast. Continue reading

Bob Brown should just say 'yes' to re-assure workers on steel and coal jobs in the region

The Greens Party Leader, Senator Bob Brown, instead of planning a visit to Wollongong, should just issue a media statement today to reassure steel workers and coal miners about their jobs, Federal Illawarra Labor MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones said this afternoon. “All that Senator Brown is required to do is say a simple ‘yes’ to the Commonwealth Government’s $300 million Steel Transformation Plan and $1.3 billion Coal Sector Jobs Package. “He had the chance to just say ‘yes, the Greens Party will support the Government’s steel and coal package’ on ABC Illawarra this morning. Instead, he dissembled, ducked and weaved. “Senator Brown has had months to consider this package. He sat on the Multi-Party Climate Change Committee. He knows the details of this package. “Senator Brown should just say ‘yes’ – very simple, very easy – three little letters to reassure steel workers and coal miners in this region”, Ms Bird said. Stephen Jones said, “The Greens Party and Senator Brown have exactly the same position as Tony Abbott, Barnaby Joyce, Joanna Gash and Concetta Fierravanti-Wells at the moment. None of them support steel workers and coal miner’s jobs in the Illawarra. “It is extraordinary that Senator Brown says he needs to visit Wollongong to talk to steel workers and management. “He can tell the workers in the Illawarra steel and coal industries today that the Greens Party will join the Government in support of their livelihood”, he said.

Abbott should apologise for disgraceful scaremongering

Tony Abbott has been involved in disgraceful scaremongering in the Illawarra and should immediately apologise for it, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said this afternoon. “Mr Abbott visited the Peabody Metropolitan coal mine in my electorate on 9 June 2011 and blatantly told coal miners that this mine would be at risk under the carbon tax. “Today Peabody has announced a $4.7 billion takeover bid for Macarthur Coal. “Quite frankly, the biggest coal miner in the world is not going to throw away $4.7 billion on a takeover of another coal miner’s multi-billion dollar assets if there is no future in the coal mining industry. “I say to each and every coal miner in the Illawarra: watch with your own eyes how the coal you produce is being trucked to Port Kembla Coal Terminal for export, and trucked down to BlueScope Steel. Continue reading

Supporting jobs and households in the Illawarra

Jobs and households in the Illawarra region will benefit from significant support under the Gillard Government’s plan for a clean energy future. As well as a carbon price, which will cut pollution and drive innovation, the plan includes extensive measures to support jobs in local industries like steel making, cement production and coal mining. People in the Illawarra will also benefit from the Government’s household assistance measures – tax cuts, higher Family Tax Benefit payments and increases in pensions, benefits and allowances. The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency Greg Combet said supporting jobs in regions like the Illawarra had been a central priority for the Government when it designed the carbon price policy. “The Government will provide strong support for jobs in the Illawarra by assisting steel manufacturing and coal mines which emit high levels of methane gas,” Mr Combet said. “BlueScope Steel’s Port Kembla plant will be eligible for assistance under the Government’s $9.2 billion Jobs and Competitiveness Program. “The steel industry is emissions‐intensive but faces strong international competition – that is why the Jobs and Competitiveness Program will shield steel manufacturing activities from 94.5 per cent of the carbon price.” Continue reading

Will Abbott support Illawarra steel industry jobs?

Tony Abbott must come clean today and tell Illawarra steel workers clearly whether the Liberal-National Party will support their jobs and their industry, Federal Illawarra Labor MP’s, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, demanded this morning. “While BlueScope Steel has welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s Clean Energy Future package and the Steel Transformation Plan, Tony Abbott is planning to rip apart the protection and security of jobs in the Illawarra steel industry. “Mr Abbott must come clean: he either supports steel jobs or he doesn’t. Illawarra steel workers want to know today which is it?”, Ms Bird said. Stephen Jones said, “The Steel Transformation Plan was developed in response to specific issues relating to the steel industry. “It’s been welcomed by BlueScope Steel and it is almost unbelievable that Tony Abbott and the Liberal-National Party are now intending to block the package”, he said. The Federal Illawarra Labor MP’s said that they were pleased with the Clean Energy Future package, particularly the household compensation available to pensioners, self-funded retirees, and families in the Illawarra region. “The majority of households in Wollongong and the Illawarra will be compensated by either pension increases, payments to self-funded retirees, tax cuts and family payments for families”, Ms Bird said. Mr Jones said that, “This package will also help small businesses with an increase in the write-off for depreciable assets from $5000 to $6500 from the 2012-13 income year”.

Launch of Illawarra Mining Technology Services Directory

Illawarra mining technology businesses will be able to take advantage of Australia’s investment boom in the minerals and energy sector after the official launch of the Illawarra Mining Technology Service Directory today. The Directory and its website were officially launched by the Federal Members for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, and Throsby, Stephen Jones, this morning at Ringway Control and Automation, based at Unanderra. The Commonwealth Government provided $50,000 towards the Directory and website following the project’s proposal at the 2009 RDA Illawarra hosted Illawarra Regional Leader’s Summit. The Minister for Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government, Simon Crean MP, announced the $50,000 in Commonwealth Government funding at the 2010 Illawarra Regional Leader’s Summit in Wollongong. “This is a great initiative and the collaboration achieved in putting the Directory and its website together will mean the region’s mining technology businesses will be able to promote their capabilities and take advantage of the increasing investment in Australia’s mining and energy sector”, Ms Bird said. Stephen Jones said, “This initiative shows the importance of the Illawarra Regional Leader’s Summit, which is a clearing house for good ideas, which gains the support of the region’s community, including the funding support of the Commonwealth Government”. The Directory was developed with the involvement of the Australian Industry Group, Enterprise Connect, University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility, AusIndustry, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy, Illawarra Itec, Industry and Investment NSW and the Illawarra Innovative Industry Network.

More traineeships in Bellambi for people with a disability

Minister for Employment Participation and Child Care, Kate Ellis and Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird, today announced funding of $600,000 from the Innovation Fund program for Mission Australia’s Feather Weight project. This project will train and employ up to 11 job seekers with disability in recycling services, giving them the support they need to achieve accredited training in Certificate II in waste management. The job seekers will receive training though a soon to be established social enterprise Feather Weight, which will manufacture punching bags and protective sports equipment, including tackle bags, hit shields and goal post pads. “For people with a disability, the benefits of work extend far beyond a mere pay packet. A good job brings with it dignity, purpose and a sense of connectedness to the community,” Ms Ellis said. “The Feather Weight project will provide the critical support and assistance that unemployed people with a physical disability or mental illness need to be able to enter the labour market.” This project will also have an environmental benefit, as job seekers will be working to reduce waste material such as car seats, from the automotive industry by an estimated 1,020,000 tonnes, which would otherwise be sent to landfill. Continue reading

$440,000 to fix black spots in Cunningham

The Federal Infrastructure and Transport Minister Anthony Albanese and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird today announced the Commonwealth Government will provide $440,000 to fix three dangerous road black spots. The approved projects in the Federal electorate of Cunningham are: Picton Road at the Cordeaux Colliery entrance road at Wilton: $400,000 to provide a sealed shoulder; Intersection of Burelli Street and Kembla Street at Wollongong: $20,000 to remove the right turn filter and only allow turns on a green arrow; and Intersection of Princes Highway and Elliotts Road at Fairy Meadow: $20,000 to remove the right turn filter and only allow turns on a green arrow. The projects were recommended by a panel of independent road safety experts and ill be delivered during the course of the coming financial year (2011/2012). Ms Bird said since being elected in 2007, the Commonwealth Government has alocated more than $4.3 million to sixteen black spots across the Cunningham electorate. “This investment is helping to make our local roads even safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians, with twelve of these projects already completed,” said Ms Bird. Continue reading

$152,760 to enhance local settlement services

The Commonwealth Government will invest in $152,760 in local services to assist refugees and migrants become self-reliant and settle in the Illawarra region, Federal Labor MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, announced this afternoon. Illawarra Multicultural Services will receive the funding under the Commonwealth Government’s Settlement Grants Program, which aims to help refugees and migrants become independent, acquire crucial skills and knowledge about life in Australia and contribute to the national economy. “I am delighted that Illawarra Multicultural Services will receive the financial support they need to continue to provide practical assistance to help our newest community members,” Ms Bird said. “The Government recognises the important role community organisations play helping migrants and refugees settle as quickly as possible and build rewarding lives in Australia and the Illawarra. Mr Jones said the projects would assist refugees and migrant families strengthen their connection to the wider Australian community and encourage participation, engagement and inclusion. “Activities will include group information sessions focusing on life skills, tenancy skills and how to access mainstream services. “These projects will provide new arrivals with the tools they need to become self-reliant and successfully settle in the community,” he said. Illawarra Multicultural Services will deliver services under the Settlement Grants Program in the local government areas of Wollongong, Shellharbour, Shoalhaven and Wingecarribee.

University of Wollongong part of $2.3 million research project to better predict weather and detect climate change

The University of Wollongong is part of a world-class research project that will help us better detect climate change and predict the weather, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. The project has been made possible thanks to funding from the Commonwealth Government’s Australian Space Research Program (ASRP). Congratulating the University of Wollongong as part of a $2.3 million grant led by South Australian company Vipac Engineers and Scientists, Ms Bird said the Greenhouse Gas Monitor project will develop a sensor to improve the measurement of greenhouse gases. The Vipac-led team includes the Australian National University, the universities of Wollongong and Melbourne, the Bureau of Meteorology and Melbourne-based Rosebank Engineering. The project will increase Australia’s capability in the design, construction and testing of advanced, remote sensing instruments. The University of Wollongong will provide scientific leadership to the project and its world-class testing facilities will be vital to the project’s success. “By tying sensitive measurements to satellite observations, scientists will be able to provide a clear record of the level of greenhouse gases. This will help us monitor changes in the climate,” Ms Bird said. “In turn this will improve our knowledge of the level of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and also lead to more reliable weather forecasts. The new weather forecast capability will also benefit our agriculture industries. “This is yet another example of how the Commonwealth Government’s continued investment at the University of Wollongong is driving research and development, which will have broad applications for Australian innovation, commercialisation and jobs growth”, she said. Over the last 2 years, the Commonwealth Government has invested $205.7 million at the University of Wollongong.