Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:44): I'll take the opportunity in the speeches that follow the budget being handed down on Tuesday night to talk more broadly about the budget, but there's one aspect of it that has made me really angry, and I want to take this short opportunity to put it on the public record. In December last year, I went public in the local Illawarra media about the great frustration, indeed, distress, being caused to older people in my community and their families and also the service providers who work with them. Continue reading

Dr Justin Yerbury

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:31): All of us in our constituencies would regularly meet people who are fighting various diseases and who are inspirational to us in their efforts to bring attention to the sorts of causes that many of us will go to functions and events for, but sometimes you meet a person whose personal story is so inspirational that, to be honest, it leaves me to some extent lost for words about that individual. I want to share one of those stories with the House today. Many of you may have seen last night the Australian Story program on Justin Yerbury. Justin's a constituent in my area, 44 years old. The program told the story of not only his own but his family's battle with motor neurone disease. It's a marvellous story. Justin was not a science or medical student and not someone who started early in his life with a great determination to work in that space. A division having been called in the House of Representatives— Sitting suspended from 16:33 to 16:44 Continue reading

Household Budget Pressure - Private Health Insurance

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:22): The budgets that a government brings down and the amendments that are made in the half-yearly review—examples of which are now before this chamber for consideration—tell us everything that we need to know about any government's priorities. They are there for all to see in the bills before us today, the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2017-2018 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2017-2018. This government's priority is to pursue tax cuts for millionaires, the big end of town and large businesses, with some sort of discredited trickle-down theory attempting to convince the general public that this is going to be to their broader benefit. It's interesting to note that the Prime Minister, having visited the US in recent days, has again reiterated his view that this is the way to go for the Australian experience in the Australian economy. Continue reading

Government should prioritise ordinary households - not big business

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (13:21): As we look at bills such as those before us today, the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2017-2018 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2017-2018, which are a half-yearly adjustment to this government's last budget, it is incumbent on us to ask the questions that those in our community, when faced with government budgets and their adjustments, ask, which are: 'Who is it that you are caring about? Who is it that you are looking out for? Who is it whose welfare you're concerned to address in these measures?' There is nothing more telling about this government and where its priorities lie than that budget and these bills to make adjustments to that budget. There are people across all of our communities at the moment who are struggling to make ends meet. They have had stagnant wage growth. They've seen the nature of employment fragmented, so many of them are cobbling together their household budget from casual work, contract work or irregular opportunities to do work in what might be called the new economy, which is not delivering any security for them. They're facing the reality that what's coming in, in terms of income, is stagnant if not declining. At the same time they're seeing significant increases in their cost of living. This is a real challenge in households across all of our electorates. Continue reading

Australian Disability Enterprises and Aged Care Home Care Crisis

There are two matters I would like to talk to the House about tonight on behalf of local constituents. The first one is in relation to Australian disability enterprises. In January I had the opportunity to host the shadow minister for disability and carers, Senator Carol Brown, in Wollongong. Continue reading

Hank van Stuivenberg and Australia Day Awards

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:49): We returned to parliament after the Christmas period. I know many of us in our communities will have had the opportunity to celebrate with locals who received awards around the Australia Day events. Also we've clearly lost people in our communities. I want to acknowledge the many beautiful tributes to Michael Gordon, a member of this community in this place. In that spirit I would like today to put on the nation's record another wonderful local, an Illawarra Mercury snapper who we very sadly lost over the break. Illawarra Mercury photographer Hank Van Stuivenberg was known to his colleagues as 'Honky' or 'Sensational Hank' because he had a very regular big smile and because he replied, 'Sensational!' whenever anyone asked how he was. A beautiful tribute was paid to Hank by his boss of many years, Kirk Gilmour, in the paper. These are Kirk's words: The Sensational Hank Van Stuivenberg was a much loved and well respected member of the Illawarra Mercury and its photographic department. Continue reading

Question Without Notice - Liberal Big Business Tax Cuts

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:39): My question is to the Prime Minister. Prime Minister, every member of the government, including the member for Gilmore, voted five times to give big business a $65 billion handout today. If the government has its way, a single income family living in Nowra, earning $60,000, will pay an extra $300 in tax every year. Why is the Prime Minister hurting families in Nowra and my community to pay for his $65 billion handout to big business? Continue reading

Cunningham says YES!

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (21:47):   I have to say, I am absolutely thrilled to rise to support the Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017 today, as I have supported marriage equality previously in this place. This bill is well considered, it's well balanced and it's well overdue. Today I have the greatest privilege to stand in this place to speak on behalf of my electorate, 65.7 per cent of whom voted yes. I want to use my time to give voice to the words of some of the amazing people who campaigned for love, kindness and fairness in my local area. Continue reading

Turnbull ain't no working class man

Last week I was graced in my electorate with a visit by the Prime Minister and his Minister for the Environment and Energy. I thought perhaps they'd come to talk to the local community about the investments we need for jobs growth, or perhaps they'd come to talk about the importance of education and stopping their cuts to schools, TAFE and universities. But, no, they'd come to do a quick doorstop at BlueScope Steel and to use it as a visual background for more of their half-baked energy policy discussion. But the minister, whilst he was there, in an amazing act of cheek, decided to try and align himself with Jimmy Barnes and working-class people. I have to say, he was very promptly slapped down on Twitter by Jimmy Barnes, who made it very clear that his song, his music and his views were in no way to be aligned with the policies of this government. It's not surprising. Continue reading