COVID 19 – VACCINATION

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. Continue reading

LOCAL HEROES OF THE PANDEMIC

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. Continue reading

ORGAN DONATION - JESSICA SPARKS AND KEITH CALDWELL

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. Continue reading

INVESTING IN THE ILLAWARRA FOR THE FUTURE

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. Continue reading

REAL WAGE CUT IS IN MORRISON BUDGET!

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. Continue reading

BACKSLAPPING AND BIG ANNOUNCEMENTS – NO REFORM AGENDA

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. Continue reading

URGENT ACTION NEEDED ON OUT OF POCKET HEALTH COSTS

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. Continue reading

IMPORTANCE OF COVID-19 VACCINE ROLLOUT

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:13): One of the great challenges before the nation at the moment is to get the maximum rollout of the COVID vaccine, and it's something I think we all are absolutely dedicated to seeing happen across our communities. In light of my deep commitment to ensuring my community are well covered by the vaccine rollout, I want to put a few things on the record today. Continue reading

LOCAL CONCERNS ABOUT THE END OF JOBKEEPER

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:42): At the end of this week, we will see the cessation of the JobKeeper supplement to support local businesses that have been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic and the economic impacts that has had. I want to report to the House, on behalf of many of my local businesses and local workers, my great frustration about the effect that this is going to have in our local area. Continue reading

BRITTANY HIGGINS

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:50): I rise in this, the last debate that will occur in this House this week, as we debate the adjournment of the House, as we do at the end of each day—of course, this being the last day of this sitting week. I reflect on the fact that I've taken the opportunity to participate in debates in this place on behalf of my constituency, around issues such as wage stagnation, the rising cost of living and the difficulties getting access to government services that are taking longer and longer over various government departments. I've spoken on aged care and my frustration for local residents in accessing things like home-care packages. But I have to say that this week, as I've participated in debates in this place, my mind has constantly and consistently gone to an interview I saw with a young woman on TV, where she was brave enough to recount the horrifying experience that had happened to her in this place. Continue reading