Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:18): I would like to first acknowledge the Ngunawal and Ngambri people, who are the traditional custodians of the Canberra area, and the Dharawal people, who are the traditional custodians of the lands of my area. I pay my deep respects to their past elders as well as my respect and great appreciation to current and emerging leaders in my community with whom I have had the great privilege of working.
I rise today to deliver my valedictory with mixed emotions. I am very conscious of the fact that, in deciding to not contest the next election, like other colleagues who have done this, we get the opportunity to deliver a valedictory. This makes me very aware that there are also members who don't get this opportunity. So I do feel some ambivalence about delivering this speech.Read more
Job seekers have a fantastic opportunity to get work today by heading down to Osborne Park on the Wollongong Foreshore.
The park is hosting the Hospitality Jobs Drive between 10am and 2pm where workers looking for hospitality employment can meet up in person with employers who’ve pledged a job.
We’re really pleased the target of 100 vacancies pledged has been well and truly exceeded with 136 jobs on offer on the Jobs Drive website.Read more
Sharon Bird published SKILLS PLAN A HUGE WIN FOR ILLAWARRA AND SOUTHERN HIGHLANDS in Media Releases 2021-12-10 11:56:13 +1100
Anthony Albanese’s $1.2bn Future Made in Australia Skills Plan can’t come fast enough for local workers and local businesses.
Almost half a million free TAFE places will be made available under plan, including 45,000 brand new places.
It’s exactly what local workers and businesses need to repair the damage done by Scott Morrison’s fake tradie act.
Under his watch training places in NSW have gone down by 20 percent.Read more
Sharon Bird published ILLAWARRA JOBS DRIVE TO KICK START HOLIDAY SEASON FOR WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS in Media Releases 2021-11-26 09:24:52 +1100
STEPHEN JONES MP
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FINANCIAL SERVICES AND SUPERANNUATION
MEMBER FOR WHITLAM
SHARON BIRD MP
MEMBER FOR CUNNINGHAM
ILLAWARRA JOBS DRIVE TO KICK START HOLIDAY SEASON FOR WORKERS AND EMPLOYERS
With Christmas coming it’s time to get our hospitality workers back on the job at cafes, hotels and restaurants.
That’s why we proposed a jobs drive for the Illawarra’s hospitality sector and why we are so pleased it is up and running as of today.
Under this innovative program, employers can pledge a job to the local community via the centralised Jobs Drive website.
Job seekers can then access the website and search for a role that suits them and their skills.
The program culminates in a face-to-face hiring event at Osbourne Park at the Wollongong Harbour Foreshore on Tuesday, December 7.
Prospective employers and job seekers can use this event to meet each other, discuss the roles on offer and hopefully agree to work together.
We thank local employers, workers, local job placement services, the Regional Development Authority, TAFE NSW and Destination Sydney Surrounds South for getting behind the Jobs Drive.
Together we can all meet the challenge of getting employment up, businesses thriving and tourists coming away from our wonderful region with smiles on their faces and a story to tell their friends and family.
Lockdowns have been extremely tough on our hospitality sector.
Our hope is that a bustling Christmas holiday season will kick-start a recovery for workers and employers alike.
Working together to get ready for the summer rush is a great start.
HON SHARON BIRD MP
FEDERAL MEMBER FOR CUNNINGHAM
I announce today that I have made the decision not to recontest the 2022 Federal election and will retire as Federal Member for Cunningham after nearly 18 years of service.
It has been an amazing honour and privilege to represent the Wollongong community as the Member for Cunningham since 2004. It was an absolute privilege to have been a Parliamentary Secretary and a Minister in a Federal Labor Government - the first female Illawarra Labor representative to achieve this honour.
The fact that my local community has supported me at six elections to continue to work on their behalf is very humbling and makes me very proud – to have had the trust of the community is an enormous privilege and I sincerely thank my constituents for this.
This has not been an easy decision to reach. However, I am now at a stage of my life where I need to focus more fully on the people I love in my family, who have given years of total support to me, and lived with my regular absences knowing how important my work has been to our community. I want to now repay that and give them much more of my time.
There are so many groups and individuals across our community that I want to acknowledge. They have worked with me in the interest of our community and I will take the time to extend my thanks to each of them personally.
We are so well served by many of our peak bodies across union, business and community sectors and it has been an honour to partner with them in campaigns for our local area over nearly two decades.
The local Illawarra Labor team at all levels of Government are wonderful people who it has been a privilege to work with over the years.
I know that local Labor party members will choose a local person with deep commitment to our community and a passion for standing up and advocating for people in need.
I will, of course, continue to work each and every day until the next election for our community.
I also look forward to campaigning for the local Labor candidate to join an Albanese Labor Government.
Anthony Albanese and the entire Labor team, front bench and backbench, are an amazing group of talented and dedicated people who I will miss working with as they shape the policies that will deliver a fairer and more prosperous future for all Australians. I have every confidence this will lead to their success at the next election.
Sharon Bird published HOUSING COSTS THROUGH THE ROOF IN THE ILLAWARRA in Media Releases 2021-11-16 15:31:53 +1100
Sharon Bird published GREEN CONNECT WINS COMMONWEALTH SECRETARY-GENERAL’S 2021 INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AWARD in Speeches 2021-10-26 16:18:47 +1100
GREEN CONNECT WINS COMMONWEALTH SECRETARY-GENERAL’S 2021 INNOVATION FOR SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AWARD
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:15): I rise today to extend very joyful congratulations to a social enterprise in my electorate, Green Connect, which is an organisation headed up by General Manager Kylie Flament. I congratulate her and the whole team—volunteers and staff. They were the only Australian recipient of the Commonwealth Secretary-General's 2021 Innovation for Sustainable Development Awards. This is a fantastic initiative.Read more
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:53): Today, across New South Wales, children and young people are returning to school. It's been just a delight, as you look through your Facebook feed, to see all the photos of the smiling, happy, joyful faces—as well as the children who are smiling, happy and joyful, not just the parents! So it's been a really nice start to the day. I want to extend my very best wishes to all of those students. We do understand, of course, that academic engagement at school is very important, but so is the social side of young people's development—being with their friends and teachers—and I'm sure they're all very much looking forward to it today. I do want to acknowledge that there are a couple of schools across my region who won't be going back today because each is closed for a deep clean after being the site of a close contact. Of course, that will continue to be a challenge for our schools.Read more
Sharon Bird published YOUTH VOICE IN PARLIAMENT PROGRAM: IN TWENTY YEARS BY TEGAN WARE in Speeches 2021-10-22 07:39:31 +1100
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:01): It's a great pleasure and indeed an honour for me to be able to make this contribution to the parliament today. Like so many of my colleagues, I took up the invitation to participate in the Youth Voice in Parliament program, which encouraged young people to write very short essays on where they would like to see Australia in 20 years time. I think this is a great initiative. Obviously, as a former high school teacher, I'm always very keen to see young people contributing their ideas to the national debate. It's sadly too often the case that people are encouraged to be cynical, which really doesn't get you anywhere at the end of the day; it's participation and being involved that makes a difference. I want to acknowledge all the young people in my area who made submissions to this campaign. They were all excellent short speeches that were contributed for my consideration, and that made the choice very difficult. So I do want to individually thank all of the local young people who submitted their ideas to me. That included Bethany Hopkins, Ella Lee, Katrina Beretov, Liam Galloway, Hayley van Duin, Nia Fleury, Poppy Treloar, Kate L, Erin Tucker, Charlotte McIntyre, Zoie Carruthers, Zoe Simpson and Adrielle Palmer. Thank you to each and every one of you.Read more
Sharon Bird published ILLAWARRA WORKERS LOSE IN GOVERNMENT’S RACE TO CUT COVID SUPPORT in Media Releases 2021-10-05 06:09:22 +1100
Scott Morrison’s decision today to cut COVID-19 disaster payments for Illawarra families is a disaster for the 10,500 local workers who have lost their jobs.
Those jobs will not suddenly reappear when the vaccination rates hit 70 percent.Read more
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (12:44): [by video link] I appreciate the opportunity to speak in this adjournment debate. As my colleagues would be aware, I'm in Wollongong and we're part of the New South Wales lockdown area. I want to report to the House and make some comments about the feedback on the experiences of my constituents at this time. It is the case that in Wollongong we have a very small number of cases being announced daily. This is a situation where people in so many local government areas and electorates across Greater Sydney are watching those daily numbers, watching the lists of exposure sites as they're released, and checking where they've been, with all the hypervigilance that people have at this time. This is putting a lot of stress on my community. I have to say that there are so many people across the community who, each and every day, make me proud to represent them: community groups, church groups, volunteer groups, those organising meals. Our local ABC Illawarra, each morning, talks to a local community group doing things to support the less fortunate in our community each and every day. It's great to hear about what they're doing. As always, the volunteer groups that are part of our community are impacted by people's need to stay at home, and that is affecting the volunteering capacity.Read more
The security and humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is devastating for the people of Afghanistan, for Australian-Afghan communities, for the Afghan staff that supported our military and diplomatic operations for over 20 years – and for our veterans.
And for the women and girls of Afghanistan who now face the prospect of a cruel and brutal regime.
Many Australians - including veterans - are horrified to see the Taliban surge across the country.
Labor is deeply concerned about the stability of Afghanistan and we urge the Morrison Government to work with international partners to help support efforts towards a negotiated settlement and a permanent ceasefire.
Labor will use all avenues to ensure the Morrison Government continues to support the people of Afghanistan, including through Australia’s humanitarian assistance program.
Labor understands that this is a deeply distressing time for Australians of Afghan descent, and Afghan visa holders in Australia who are fearful for the safety of their loved ones.
Kabul attack -
Labor condemns in the strongest terms the attack at Kabul airport.
This was a despicable act against Afghans seeking security and those who were helping them. We note Islamic State Khorasan Province has claimed responsibility.
We grieve with the people of Afghanistan today. We grieve with our US allies - their work has saved many thousands of people.
US forces have played a crucial role in the evacuation operation, ensuring safe passage for around 4,000 Australians and visa holders, alongside our ADF. We thank them for their bravery and sacrifice.
Labor is greatly relieved that all Australian personnel are safe.
We remain gravely concerned for Australian citizens and visa holders who remain in Afghanistan and can no longer safely travel to Kabul airport.
We will be seeking updates from the Morrison Government on what this means for the operation going forward.
On assistance for those in Afghanistan –
The government has updated the Smart Traveller advice to advise that Australian evacuation flights from Kabul have ceased, and all Australian Government personnel have left Kabul. There's an ongoing and very high threat of terrorist attack. Explosions have occurred in the vicinity of the Kabul Hamid Karzai International Airport.
Those in Kabul are advised not to travel to the airport. If they are in the area, they should move to a safe location.
Everyone seeking assistance in Afghanistan should register with Smartraveller and monitor for updates at https://www.smartraveller.gov.au/destinations/asia/afghanistan.
On evacuations for defence interpreters and local staff –
The Afghan civilians who worked alongside Australian soldiers and diplomats, who wore Australian uniforms and who kept our people safe now face increasing threats to their lives and the lives of their families, because of the assistance they provided our nation.
We have a moral obligation to help the people who have helped Australia – and we have a national security obligation to make clear to the world if you help Australia, we will help you.
It’s an important message of respect for our veterans that we are standing by the people who stood by them.
Our major allies understand the urgency and are ramping up evacuations - including to third countries while processing takes place.
Labor has been calling on the Morrison-Joyce Government to fast-track this process for months. Mr Morrison should have been working with Coalition partners and arranging evacuations months ago.
In 2008, in similar circumstances when Iraqis were being given visas to Australia, there was a bipartisan effort to send a team of government officials overseas to assist them to complete their applications.
This is also a distressing time for many veterans, many of whom are concerned about leaving their mates behind.
All visa processing must be subject to integrity and national security checks, but this should not be an excuse for inaction.
Labor will continue to advocate for some decency and fairness in Australia’s response.
On humanitarian/partner visas and processing times -
We understand this is a heartbreaking time for the Australian-Afghan community. Labor and all Australians stand with you.
We have been calling for the Morrison-Joyce Government to develop a plan to urgently fast-track visas and evacuations for the immediate family members of Australians who are in Afghanistan, along with those who supported Australian operations.
Thousands of husbands, wives, partners and children of Australians have been waiting for years for partner and family visas, and others must now be eligible for refugee and humanitarian visas.
There are thousands unused places in the existing humanitarian visa program and the government should ensure any applications are processed as quickly as possible.
No one should be involuntarily deported to Afghanistan if they don’t want to go back.
All visa processing must be subject to integrity and national security checks, but this should not be an excuse for inaction.
Support for Veterans –
We call on the Morrison-Joyce Government to be proactive in reaching out to those veterans who fought in Afghanistan and to the families who have lost loved ones.
Many veterans are horrified to see the Taliban surge across the country.
We know that mental health issues among the veteran community are a serious concern, and more needs to be done now to ensure these issues aren’t exacerbated further.
Many veterans have said this issue is exacerbating their existing trauma because they see it as leaving their mates behind.
Support is available for current and ex-serving defence personnel, and their families through Open Arms - Veterans and Families Counselling by phone on 1800 011 046 (international +61 8 8241 4546) or via www.OpenArms.gov.au
On closure of the Australian Embassy in Afghanistan –
Labor noted the decision of the Government to temporarily close Australia’s embassy in Afghanistan as a result of the deteriorating security situation.
We were disappointed that after 20 years of successive Australian military, diplomatic and development engagement in Afghanistan, there was no bipartisan consultation on this important decision.
The Prime Minister said on 15 April that Australia will continue to support the stability and development of Afghanistan through our bilateral partnership, ‘including our diplomatic presence, development cooperation program, and continued people-to-people links’ and that Australia remained committed to helping Afghanistan preserve the gains of the past 20 years, particularly for women and girls.
The Morrison Government should explain how it will now meet these commitments.
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (12:52): [by video link] In the time left to me, I just want to make some points about the second reading amendment moved by the Labor shadow minister and the need to deliver better health outcomes, particularly during the COVID pandemic. I just want to talk to the House for a few minutes about the fact that, when I have conversations with local health practitioners in all different roles, I'm so conscious of the enormous stress they are under at this point in time. As my colleague the member for Macarthur said yesterday, they don't describe themselves as heroes; they just get on and do the job that they love doing. But we should all remember the enormous strain and pressure that they are under. I know they seek to look after their own on mental health and wellbeing and their colleagues' mental health and wellbeing, but I think it is important, as a community, that we give them that support too.Read more
Sharon Bird published ORGAN DONATION - JESSICA SPARKS AND KEITH CALDWELL in Speeches 2021-08-14 08:21:33 +1000
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (12:44): [by video link] This is my first opportunity to participate in the virtual parliament, so I want to extend my thanks to the staff of the parliament who've made this possible. I couldn't miss the opportunity to speak on the Australian Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority Amendment (Governance and Other Measures) Bill 2021. As has been indicated by previous speakers, it is a fairly technical bill, about the roles of the board and the CEO of the Organ and Tissue Donation and Transplantation Authority, in effect going back to those roles that were established at the time the federal Labor government created the authority. So I'm certainly happy to support the bill. But, in the context of the bill, I want to talk about why it is such an important issue and why I feel very passionate and take every opportunity I can to support a more effective national organ donation scheme.Read more
People who enter the NDIS before the age of 65 have a choice to either stay in the scheme once they turn 65 or enter the aged care system.
When the NDIS was created in 2013, it was designed for those aged 65 and younger, to complement aged care for over 65’s, and ensure a cohesive safety net to give people with disability of all ages and their families and carers the support they need.
When the NDIS was being set up, the aged care system offered much greater support, so the NDIS filled the gap for people with disability under 65 years.
But, after eight years of the Coalition’s neglect of aged care, the NDIS– even though it has its problems – is now superior when compared with aged care packages.
People with disability may require additional support and care as they age, and it is important the aged care system is responsive to the needs of all older Australians.
There is a real problem for people over 65 living with a disability, and the answer is better support.
Labor believes people should get the care they need no matter how old they are.
Right now, the Morrison Government wants to privatise and run down the NDIS, just as it has done to our aged care sector for the past decade.
The Morrison Government is in the process of dismantling the scheme with razor gangs, radical cuts and mandatory assessments designed to keep people living with a disability from using the scheme and its vital supports.
A Labor Government is the only government which can fix the NDIS and aged care safety nets to ensure that Australians with a disability get the care they need.
Older Australians and people with disability and their families deserve better.
Sharon Bird published INVESTING IN THE ILLAWARRA FOR THE FUTURE in Speeches 2021-06-16 16:11:57 +1000
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:18): This week, of course, we've seen the G7 meeting take place. The leading nations of the world that met reaffirmed their commitment to net zero by 2050—except, of course, Australia. We see reports today in the media about surveys of the Australian population saying that the majority of the population also supports us committing to net zero by 2050. This is a really important context in the challenges that our nation faces. For a region like mine, which has a long history of mining and manufacturing, this is particularly important. We will, of course, continue to have a role to play in those industries, but it is important to acknowledge that, as regions like mine face the international challenges of transitioning the economy, we need to be looking at and supporting new energy and manufacturing opportunities.Read more
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:29): I thank the member for Corangamite for bringing this motion before the parliament. I think it is really important that we talk about the fact that the budget so recently announced included this exposure of a cut to real wages over the coming forward estimates, the four years that the budget covers. You would've missed it if you were waiting for an explanation or even an admission of that by the Treasurer when he did his budget night speech. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't an attempt by the Treasurer to draw significant attention to the fact that the budget showed that, effectively, people across our communities over the next four years are going to actually see a cut to their real wages—that is, the different between wage increases and the cost of living increases.Read more
Sharon Bird published BACKSLAPPING AND BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS – NO REFORM AGENDA in Speeches 2021-05-25 17:22:57 +1000
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:30): I rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2021-2022 and other bills. I want to firstly talk about a bit of overall context and then go to some very specific issues around the budget, the challenges facing the nation and how they are playing out in my own electorate. There are two great challenges facing the nation and have been for 18 months now. One, of course, has been the COVID pandemic and, along with that, the health response required of the nation—of governments, of the population, of businesses—as we dealt with the global pandemic. There is also the economic challenge, and the budget that was unveiled by the government the last time we were here should be an opportunity to address the economic challenges that we face and to set a forward plan for how we come out of what was a hit to our economy—there is no doubt about it—and build a stronger future for families and communities.Read more
Sharon Bird published URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON OUT OF POCKET HEALTH COSTS in Speeches 2021-05-18 11:05:30 +1000
Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:33): Deputy Speaker Irons, I notice your raised eyebrows. That may be because you have observed that I'm not actually a government speaker, who would normally take this slot in this debate. I have risen to my feet to make a contribution because it is a critically important issue. I commend my colleague for putting this before the chamber for debate. I campaigned with Dr Freelander when he was first elected, and I can tell you there was hardly anybody who came up who didn't know him, because of his amazing contribution in his previous life to the medical field and particularly young people.Read more