Sharon Bird MP to officially open new WEA building in Wollongong

Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, will tomorrow afternoon officially open a new building for the WEA Illawarra. The new building was built with a $1.4 million investment by the Commonwealth Government. The WEA Illawarra also contributed $900,000 of its own, including land on which the building is located. The Commonwealth Government’s investment came from the Investing in Community Education and Training program. Media opportunity: Tuesday, 15 March 2011 2pm 50-56 Auburn Street, Wollongong

NBN inquiry to visit the Apple Isle

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 its first interstate public hearings this week in Launceston (Thursday 10 March) and Hobart (Friday 11 March). “It is no coincidence that the Committee has chosen Tasmania as the site for its first public hearings outside Canberra”, said the Chair Sharon Bird (Member for Cunningham) today. “Being the first place in Australia to receive NBN infrastructure, the Committee is really looking forward to talking with Tasmanians about how fast broadband is likely to affect health, education, business, employment and other aspects of daily life across the state.” Continue reading

E-health, Education and the NBN - public hearing tomorrow

The House of Representatives Infrastructure and Communications Committee is conducting an inquiry into the role and potential of the National Broadband Network (NBN). The first public hearing will be held in Canberra tomorrow (Friday 4 March). The hearing will focus on the NBN’s potential impacts in health, education, and research and innovation. “This is the first step in an extensive program of consultation across the country”, Committee Chair Sharon Bird (Member for Cunningham) said today. “On Friday we will hear about current work and future possibilities in areas such as e‐health and distance education, as well as how the NBN may influence innovation and research in Australia.” Continue reading

Federal Labor speaks out on climate change

Sharon Bird MP and Stephen Jones MP have made speeches in Parliament supporting the Federal Government’s plan to cut pollution, tackle climate change and detailing the important role that the industries of the Illawarra and Southern Highlands will play in moving to a clean energy future. “The scientific evidence is clear: carbon pollution is contributing to climate change. Every government around the world is attempting to come to grips with the challenge, and no responsible government can afford to ignore it,” said Stephen Jones, the Member for Throsby. “This is a generational reform debate… the international community is moving towards addressing and dealing with the carbon challenge,” Sharon Bird, the Member for Cunningham said. “We look forward to engaging with employers like BlueScope and the representatives of the workforce… the AWU, the major union at the BlueScope Steel, and the South Coast Labour Council,” Mr Jones said. “I have worked closely with existing traditional industries including the companies—such as BlueScope Steel Australia—and their workforces and representatives. We work closely with our coal industry. We also work closely with our diversified economy,” Ms Bird said. Continue reading

More specialist Doctor training in Wollongong

Wollongong will benefit from five new specialist doctors as part of a Commonwealth Government boost to improve health care in the region, Federal Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird, said today. "The Commonwealth Government wants to ensure that patients are able to see a specialist doctor closer to home. "The following specialist doctors will help to improve patient access and health care in Wollongong in the following disciplines: - 1 orthopaetic surgery - 1 haematology - 1 otolaryngology - ENT surgery - 1 radiology - 1 pathology "The doctors will be supported to undertake specialist medical training under the Commonwealth Government's Specialist Training Program", Ms Bird said.

$26.1 million for the University of Wollongong

The Commonwealth Government’s funding contribution to the University of Wollongong continues with an additional $26.1 million Research Block Grant Allocations for 2011, announced today by Federal Illawarra Labor MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones. “I am very proud of the Commonwealth Government’s continued financial support for the University of Wollongong. “We continue to invest at the University of Wollongong because it is a regional education and research asset, and a big employer in its own right, Ms Bird said. Federal Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, said, “This funding is allocated to assist with the continuation of ground-breaking research at the University of Wollongong, attract and retain the best and brightest researchers, and generate new local employment.” This latest financial contribution brings the Commonwealth Government’s investment at the University of Wollongong over the last 24 months to $205.7 million.

Release of National Land Freight Strategy welcomed

Illawarra Federal Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have today welcomed the release by Infrastructure Australia of a discussion paper on a National Land Freight Strategy, which recognises the key role of Port Kembla as a nationally significant networked port. “I am delighted that the role of Port Kembla has been recognised for the first time as a solution to Australia’s freight handling task. “The paper by Infrastructure Australia proposes that Port Kembla should also become formally part of the national land freight network. This is a good report for the Illawarra and for Port Kembla”, Ms Bird said. Federal Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones, said he was particularly pleased that the report proposes to separate freight trains from passenger trains. “As the freight handling task in Australia increases, we do need to ensure that we can untangle the uses of rail and have dedicated freight routes and passenger routes. “This report recognises what we are trying accomplish by arguing for the completion of the Maldon-Dombarton rail link. Ms Bird arranged for Infrastructure Australia’s Infrastructure Coordinator, Mr Michael Deegan to visit Wollongong in July 2009 to tour Port Kembla, meet with the Port Kembla Port Corporation and other regional stakeholders.

$62 million SMART Infrastructure Facility open for Inspection

A new four-storey building worth $62 million is being delivered on time and on budget as part of a major Commonwealth Government investment at the University of Wollongong. Federal Labor MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones took the opportunity today to formally inspect the University of Wollongong’s SMART Infrastructure Facility, which the Government invested $35 million towards, not only as local MPs but also as members of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications. Ms Bird is the Chair and Mr Jones is a member of the Committee. “I am absolutely delighted to see first hand how the University of Wollongong has invested the $35 million the Commonwealth Government has contributed towards this major project. “I turned the first sod here in May 2009 and since that time building and construction workers have been going full pelt to construct a significant new four-storey building. “It is so exciting that in this building ground breaking nationally significant research into infrastructure will be done right here in Wollongong”, Ms Bird said. Continue reading

NBN inquiry - submissions closing soon

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 is now receiving input from the public, with submissions due on 25 February 2011. The Committee Chair, Sharon Bird MP, reiterated her earlier comments that the Committee is keen to hear from a wide range of Australians—individuals, private organisations, and governments. “What we have been asked to do with this inquiry is get out in the community to find how the NBN is going to be used in practice and then what the effects of this usage might be. For us to do that properly it is really important that we hear from all sectors in the community” Ms Bird said today. The inquiry was referred by the Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, the Hon Anthony Albanese, who has asked the Committee to report by August 2011. The Committee’s terms of reference are to examine the capacity of the National Broadband Network to contribute to: a) the delivery of government services and programs; b) achieving health outcomes; c) improving the educational resources and training available for teachers and students; d) the management of Australia's built and natural resources and environmental sustainability; e) impacting regional economic growth and employment opportunities; f) impacting business efficiencies and revenues, particularly for small and medium business, and Australia's export market; g) interaction with research and development and related innovation investments; and h) facilitating community and social benefits; and i) the optimal capacity and technological requirements of a network to deliver these outcomes. Submissions should address any one or more of the points listed in the terms of reference. Further details about the inquiry, including copies of submissions received to date, can be obtained from the Committee’s website at:

Support for young people at risk of homelessness in the Illawarra

Minister for Social Housing and Homelessness, Mark Arbib, and NSW Minister for Community Services, Linda Burney, today launched a new project in the Illawarra for young people experiencing homelessness, the Youth Foyer Project. The Illawarra Youth Foyer project, run by Southern Youth and Family Services, has been granted more than $2.6 million funding from the Australian and NSW Governments, under the $1.1 billion National Partnership Agreement on Homelessness. The project provides medium to long-term supported housing for up to 25, 15 to 23 year olds. Senator Arbib said that services like Illawarra Youth Foyer Project would make a big difference to youth homelessness. “Early intervention is absolutely critical and that is why I am extremely supportive of projects like Youth Foyers that not only provide young people with a roof over their head but also helps them undertake education, training and employment,” Senator Arbib said. Continue reading