Government invest $6.1 million in search for weeds solution

Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Dr Mike Kelly, has today approved funding for a weeds research project being lead by Professor Kris French of the University of Wollongong. The Gillard Government has approved $262 938 in funding for the project which aims to fill knowledge gaps by undertaking a survey across the distribution of Madeira vine and cat’s claw creeper to identify levels of infestation and damage. The project is part of a $6.1 million investment that will fund 33 new research projects bringing innovative approaches to tackling some of Australia’s most invasive pest plants. Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird MP, welcomed the announcement of funding for the University’s project. “Exotic woody vines are common along edges of fragmented habitats and some species are particularly destructive and becoming increasingly common,” Ms Bird said. “This project will help to overcome the lack of knowledge of the degree and type of damage these vines cause and lead to the development of appropriate management strategies.” Continue reading

Volunteer Grants Program open for applications

The Commonwealth Government’s Volunteer Grants 2011 program is now open for applications, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, announced today. “Volunteer organisations in our local community do so much tremendous work. “The Commonwealth wants to acknowledge the role that local volunteers and their organisations do with the community by providing funding grants of between $1000 and $5000 to help with the purchase of essential equipment, help with fuel costs, cover training courses and necessary background checks. “Last year, 44 local community groups stretching from Heathcote to Unanderra shared in $163,000 under the Volunteer Grants 2010 program. “There are many people who give of their time to help tackle poverty, disadvantage and hardship. “Others participate in ensuring local sports, surf clubs and local schools operate effectively. “All volunteers play a crucial part in ensuring community participation. “I encourage all local volunteer organisations to consider applying for these funding grants”, Ms Bird said. Applications close at 5pm on 8 June 2011. To apply visit or call 1800 183 374.

Toursim funding for rare Sumatran tigers' exhibit

The Minister for Tourism, Martin Ferguson AM MP, and Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird MP, have announced tourism funding for Symbio Wildlife Park on the New South Wales south coast to exhibit two rare Sumatran tiger cubs. For more than 35 years, Symbio has been a strong tourism drawcard, giving generations of visitors hands-on experience with wildlife. With $100,000 from the Australian Government’s TQUAL Grants program, the two Sumatran tiger cubs will be housed in a re-vamped authentic enclosure with landscaping and viewing areas. “By upgrading and refreshing their exhibit, the Symbio Wildlife Park is demonstrating the innovation and diversification tourism businesses need to remain competitive. This is what the Australian Government’s long-term strategy for tourism is about,” said Minister Ferguson at today’s launch. “The domestic and international tourism market, as well as surrounding tourism businesses, depends on high-quality tourism attractions such as Symbio which offer a unique experience and consistency in product delivery.” Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird MP, said the rare Indonesian tigers would draw even more visitors to the Illawarra and South Coast’s $1.8 billion tourism industry. Continue reading

NBN inquiry to visit Wollongong and Sydney

The House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee will conduct public hearings in Wollongong tomorrow (Thursday 28 April) and in Sydney on Friday (29 April) as part of its inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN). “Wollongong is a vibrant, innovative city and nearby Kiama Downs/Minnamurra is a first release site for NBN fibre. The Committee is looking forward to hearing from the organisations of the Illawarra about how the NBN will shape the region’s social and economic future”, said Sharon Bird, Committee Chair and MP for the Wollongong‐based electorate of Cunningham. “The Sydney hearing will be very important for the inquiry” she added. “We will be talking to the CEO of NBN Co, Mike Quigley, as well the Australian Telecommunications Users Group and a number of important industry participants, including NICTA”. Continue reading

$4.4 million in funding to support local families

The Commonwealth Government will invest $4.43 million in Cunningham over the next three years under new Family Support Program, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. “Four local service providers will share in the $4.43 million funding to support local families, improve children’s wellbeing and to build more resilient local communities. “Service providers will focus on parenting skills training, relationship counselling, playgroups and more intensive support for children and families at risk. “I am delighted that Catholic Family Welfare Services, Healthy Cities Illawarra, Illawarra Children’s Services and Southern Youth and Family Services Association will be able to deliver these services to local families and children over the next three years as a result of the Commonwealth Government’s funding. “Each community organisation has an outstanding record of community service and are held in high regard within the local community”, Ms Bird said. The new Family Support Program follows extensive consultations with service providers across Australia.

NBN inquiry to visit Brisbane and Townsville

The House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee is conducting an inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The Committee will conduct public hearings in Brisbane on Monday 18 April and Townsville on Tuesday 19 April. “To date the Committee has received more than 40 submissions from Queensland, so we are particularly looking forward to engaging with some of these groups in person”, said the Chair Sharon Bird (Member for Cunningham) today. “Brisbane is Australia’s third largest city, and with Townsville being a major regional centre and one of the first sites on the mainland to receive NBN fibre, we expect to hear some important evidence from organisations in both cities”, she said. Continue reading

Financial assistance to Trio's Superannuation fund investors in the Illawarra

Over 600 Illawarra victims of fraud from the collapse of Trio Capital Limited (Trio) will be compensated for their loss, following a Government decision announced today. Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten today announced his decision to provide a grant of approximately $55 million in financial assistance to benefit the members of four superannuation funds that were formerly under the trusteeship of Trio. “Investors in APRA regulated funds deserve to be compensated by the Government when they lose their investments through fraud or other malfeasance by super fund trustees. I’m very pleased to be able to offer Trio investors this compensation,” Mr Shorten said. Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said “I’ve seen first-hand how badly people have been affected by the collapse of Trio and have spent a lot of my time helping constituents put their case. I’m very glad to see the Government has helped the people affected in region.” Continue reading

Funding boost for youth now open

Funding to support the artistic and creative development of young people is now open to local organisations, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. “Local community organisations can apply for funding up to $70,000 under the Commonwealth Government’s Youth Development and Support Program. “The Youth Development and Support Program is designed to provide financial support to non-government, not-for-profit organisations that deliver youth-led community-based projects. “The arts and culture are very important to young people, and the Government has decided to place an emphasis on this year’s funding grants being aimed at the arts and creative enterprises”, Ms Bird said. Applications for the Youth Development and Support Program 2011-12 are now open, and will close on 27 May 2011. Organisations working with Indigenous young people are encouraged to apply. Information on the Youth Development and Support Program government grants is available at

Veterans grant funding announced

Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, today announced $4000 in grant funding to Coledale RSL Sub Branch to help in the restoration of its First World War Honour Board. “I am delighted to announce this funding grant under the Commonwealth Government’s Saluting Their Service program. “The First World War Honour Board is currently located at the Scarborough Public School. “After its restoration, which this grant funding is intended to support, the Honour Board will be relocated to the Coledale RSL Sub Branch”, Ms Bird said.

Climate Change Minister to meet with Illawarra steel and coal workers

The Minister for Climate Change and Energy Efficiency, Greg Combet, will visit the Illawarra today to discuss the proposed framework for a carbon price directly with workers employed in the steel and mining industries. Mr Combet – together with local Federal Labor MP’s Sharon Bird (Cunningham) and Stephen Jones (Throsby) – will visit Port Kembla to meet with rostered-off BlueScope Steel employees and union members to talk about the Government’s carbon price plan, including it’s commitment to industry assistance and to protecting local manufacturing jobs. The meeting will be followed by a joint media conference. When: 11.00am, Wednesday 6 April 2011 Where: Near Visitors Centre, BlueScope North Gate, Springhill Road, Port Kembla.