Matters of Public Importance: Inclusive Growth

I thank the assistant minister for his dissertation on growth. I would suggest there's a lot of content in that that's debatable. He seems to have forgotten the bit that's called inclusive growth, so I'd encourage him to have a bit of a look at some of the other economic outcomes that are currently facing this country that might enlighten him around issues such as stagnant wages growth. In the last two hours or so we've had a really interesting indication of where exactly those opposite are on inclusive growth. Perhaps the shadow Treasurer could follow up his book with 'Inclusive Growth for Dummies'. Since those opposite seem to be keen to buy his books, I think that would be a particularly useful addition. Continue reading

Mt Ousley Public School Wins PM's Science Awards - Prof Gordon Wallace Announced 2017 NSW Scientist of the Year

This week my local area has excelled in science achievement. I couldn't be prouder—and I'm sure the member for Whitlam joins me in that. Last week, one of my wonderful local public schools shone in the Prime Minister's Science Awards. Congratulations to Neil Bramsen and Mount Ousley Public School, winners of the Prime Minister's science prize for primary science teaching. A very proud local MP and the school's principal, Peter Holmes, were in the Great Hall of Parliament House to celebrate one of our great public schools achieving such wonderful recognition. Neil Bramsen instigated the outdoor classroom at Mount Ousley. Students record bird sightings, study the beach and assess levels of marine debris, or read and think in the butterfly garden. They have also talked to astronauts on the international space station and made global connections, through Skype, with schools in Africa and America. Continue reading

Fair Work Laws Amendment (Proper Use of Worker Benefits) Bill 2017

Time after time I find myself frustrated, bemused and quite often angry about the range of legislation that comes before this chamber when those opposite are in government. I spent my first term at the end of the Howard era among the infamous industrial relations changes around Work Choices. Quite rightly, there was not only a union driven campaign but also a community supported campaign rejecting that dog-eat-dog view of how industrial relations should be managed and regulated in this country. But we now see, under both the Abbott and Turnbull prime ministerships, continuing, ongoing—time and time again—pieces of legislation that, at their heart, are about one thing, and that is destroying the capacity of workers to unite through a formalised union in order to raise issues in a workplace where they don't have the balance of power. Continue reading

Tribute to Neil Preston OAM

I'm very sad to report to the parliament that our region lost a wonderful gentleman, Neil Preston, last week. I got to know Neil very well during his time as Greenacres chief executive. He was a determined and well-respected advocate for people with a disability. His advocacy led to him being named Wollongong Citizen of the Year in 2014 and also earned him an OAM. Continue reading

Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No 2) Bill 2017

I will just shake the dust off these speaking notes! They've been sitting on my table for a while, waiting for the Treasury Laws Amendment (Enterprise Tax Plan No. 2) Bill 2017 to come before the parliament for further debate. The optimist in me would take from that that perhaps the government was reconsidering the wisdom of this particular bill, but the realist in me recognises that it's probably more a reflection of their lack of faith in their capacity to get support across the parliament for the bill. Regardless, when this proposed enterprise tax plan was first announced, my Labor colleagues and I made it very clear that we would oppose it, and that position has not changed. Continue reading

Real and Immediate Action on Climate Change Needed

I want to, first of all, record my thanks to my colleague the member for Moreton for putting this particular issue on the agenda. I just want to take a bit of time to go through the points that the member for Moreton has made in his motion to the House, and talk about why I think they are so significant. I also want to report to the House on some very significant activity in my own electorate on these very issues in the few weeks during which we have been away from this place. Continue reading


MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (13:39): This Prime Minister needs to grow up. We need a leader in this country on energy. We do not need somebody who resorts to name-calling—and I have to say pretty pathetic name-calling at that, as my colleague the member for Hunter would know too well—and blame-shifting on energy. Continue reading

Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017

I want to indicate to the House it's my attention to support the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this bill and to oppose the Higher Education Support Legislation Amendment (A More Sustainable, Responsive and Transparent Higher Education System) Bill 2017. I'd like to first of all go through some of the detail of the bill and why I think it should be opposed and also address how that will impact in my own local area. This particular piece of legislation has been debated around not only this place for a while now but also in our communities. I can assure the parliament that it is very hard to find anybody on the grounds of my own university at Wollongong who has any affection for these particular so-called reforms that the government has encapsulated in this bill, the 'triple-whammy bill'. Continue reading

Private Members' Business - Higher Education

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (19:03): I thank the member for Indi for bringing this matter before the parliament. She very accurately reflects the fact that, for regional areas, the presence and activities of our universities are very significant to us. In my own area, the University of Wollongong is a world-class provider of education and research, and that is critically important. But, just as importantly to us as a region, it's also a major employer—in fact, it's one of the top five employers in our region now. It's a place of a significant number of small businesses, in terms of the sorts of facilities that are provided there. It's a partner with many other industries and businesses in developing emerging opportunities in our region to make sure that innovation and new opportunities are grasped across the region. Continue reading

Tribute to Dean Mercer and Bill Seay OAM

MS BIRD (CUNNINGHAM) (16:49): Last Monday was a very sad day for my electorate. On that day we lost two wonderful people—one who'd grown up as a young man and then left our region to go onto the national stage, and the other who came to our region as a young man and then stayed for his lifetime, contributing to our local community. Both were extremely important to the surf lifesaving movement of the Illawarra. Continue reading