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

Local home-based aged care and disability services to recieve $1.5 million in extra funding

Sharon Bird, Federal Member for Cunningham and Stephen Jones, Federal Member for Throsby, have welcomed an extra $1.5 million funding for local home and community services to allow frail older people, people with disabilities and their carers to continue to live independently. Part of a joint initiative with the NSW State Government, the extra $1.5 million for Illawarra, Southern Highlands and South Coast service providers will allow people whose capacity for independent living is at risk, to remain in their own homes for longer. “This funding will help many older Australians and people with a disability to stay at home rather than move prematurely into residential care, by providing practical assistance that they and their carers need,” Stephen Jones, Member for Throsby said. “People want to maintain an independent lifestyle, in their own homes and in their own communities, close to their friends and family for as long as they can. This extra funding will boost home-based and community services to achieve this outcome,” Sharon Bird, Member for Cunningham said. Examples of the types of local services that will benefit from the increased Home and Community Care (HACC) funding include community transport, home maintenance and modification, home monitoring for conditions such as dementia, the provision of allied health services, meals on wheels, case management, and centre-based day care.