Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (19:03): I would like to indicate, at the beginning, in speaking to these bills—recognising that we're dealing with two cognate bills—that I support the amendment that has been moved by the shadow minister, but I also indicate that I think, as many of my colleagues do, that, if that amendment is to not succeed, these bills need to be supported. That is because we are in a really critically important time for the aged-care sector. In my electorate, this is certainly one of the most pressing issues that I and my staff deal with on a regular basis. These bills before us, the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Bill 2018 and the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission (Consequential Amendments and Transitional Provisions) Bill 2018, are enacting some of the recommendations of the Carnell Paterson review of aged care. In particular, the first bill is establishing a new Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission, intended to be operational from 1 January 2019. That will bring together quality assurance and complaints procedures in the aged-care sector. That's obviously as a result of the review. It's a worthwhile thing to do. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:39): Suicide rates in my region, very sadly, remain higher than the New South Wales average, with 40 to 60 suicides reported each year. I just want to take the opportunity today to talk about the very critical, important work that is being done by organisations and individuals in our region to address this problem. First of all, I want to acknowledge the Illawarra Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Collaborative. This was established three years ago this month. It consists of representatives of more than 20 local community organisations, which include the local health district; the University of Wollongong; the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute; Grand Pacific Health; Lifeline Southcoast; COORDINARE, the south-eastern New South Wales primary health network; all four local councils and all education sectors. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:29): It is increasingly obvious to all of us, I'm sure, in our local electorate offices that the dysfunction and the disunity that have been the hallmark of this government over recent times are having a direct impact on their ability to do their day job and deliver the services that our local constituents need. This level of dysfunction is having real impacts across a number of portfolio areas, and we are seeing it in our offices. In this section of the parliament, where we get to talk about the issues that our constituents are raising, I want to highlight just four of those issues, where my constituents are, quite honestly, at their wits' end with the incompetence of the government in their programs. Continue reading


E&OE TRANSCRIPTDOORSTOPPARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRATUESDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER 2018SUBJECT: Sickness at the heart of the Liberal Party. BIRD: I just wanted to come out this morning on the back of some fairly extraordinary contributions by Ann Sudmalis yesterday about the culture within the Liberal Party. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:15): I take great pleasure in commending this report to members of the parliament; to the government; as the esteemed chair of the committee said, to the departments that have contributed to it but also, we would hope, will work with the government to respond to the report; and, in particular, to all of those various organisations and individuals across the country who, through the period of time, took the time and effort to put submissions in and raise their issues. I won't canvass again some of the key issues that the chair of the committee, the member for Bennelong, has just addressed, other than to say I think the report brings together a very in-depth, well-considered proposition for the government to look at ways in which, at a federal level, we can go beyond the national planning of infrastructure—which is something that we believe is critically important—and take into consideration a national plan of settlement as well so that, across our great country, we can actually get better, more effective and more committed to looking at population growth and its disparity across the nation. Some places—including, clearly, our two major capital cities Sydney and Melbourne—are struggling under the pressure of that, while other places have potential that's being unrealised. Bringing those two things together—population settlement, whether it's internal movement or new arrivals, and infrastructure planning—in a way that fosters the opportunities across the nation is a really solid proposition, and there are a number of recommendations in this report that go to that issue. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:29): On 26 August, on a Sunday afternoon, I had the great joy to attend Tournament of Minds in the Hope Theatre at the University of Wollongong in my electorate. I thank the university for their support of this great program. Tournament of Minds is a problem-solving, challenge based program for primary and secondary students. It's designed to foster creative, collaborative and critical thinking. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (11:13): I'm very pleased to rise today to support the Fair Work Amendment (Restoring Penalty Rates) Bill 2018. This private member's bill was introduced by the Leader of the Opposition quite some time ago now, but it remains increasingly evident how important this bill actually is. We were faced with the decision by the Fair Work Commission to cut penalty rates for some of the lowest-paid workers across our communities. In response to that, Labor called on the government in a bipartisan way to legislate to protect penalty rates so that the Fair Work Commission had guidance from the parliament about not cutting the penalty rates of workers, particularly unilaterally. We're all aware that there's a better-overall test and sometimes a negotiated outcome is reached where someone gets the offset of an improvement in a benefit for a change in penalty rates. That's a process that legitimately goes on in bargaining. This was not that. This was a unilateral cut to an entitlement that so many workers needed to make ends meet. The government was incapable of coming to an agreement that we should do something about it, so we persevere with this private member's bill. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:43): There's much enthusiasm on this side of the House to participate in this debate. As a teacher by training, I think for many, many decades there's been a fundamental and profound understanding by anybody who works in the teaching profession—and I suspect by many parents, and the previous speaker acknowledged his new insight into education as a new parent. But there is a fundamental truth in all education, and that is: the earlier you invest, the better the return you get on that investment. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (16:43): Young people across this nation must look at this government and think, 'What did we ever do to you?' This government is trading off the future of young people time and time again across significant portfolio areas, making it more and more difficult for them, and it comes into this place with a bill like the one before us, which adds to that burden. Young people in my community—and, I'm sure, the communities of many of my colleagues across the board—are facing challenges in getting, firstly, into postsecondary education opportunities. We know the impacts of the freeze on higher education funding and what that will do to universities and the offerings that they can make to students. We know that that will put pressure on them to decrease the opportunity to get a university qualification if that's where your interests and your ability lie. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (17:02): I'm very pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this private member's bill brought forward by the member for Farrer, the Live Sheep Long Haul Export Prohibition Bill 2018, and to acknowledge that this is not a partisan debate. In fact, there are people from both sides of the House who support this bill. I understand why. In my area, I have had over 1,600 individual constituents email me with their great distress and concern about what is happening in this industry. I'm sure many of my colleagues around the chamber have had similar levels of contact. In fact, I've never seen that level of engagement on any issue during the time that I've been here. In total, I have had over 4,800 emails on this subject, so some people have emailed me on more than one occasion, generally speaking first when they've seen a round of reports in the media, and images that have caused them distress, and then again when they see that repeated. I think that's what's taken its toll on people's patience with this particular aspect of the industry. I want to acknowledge each and every one of those individuals, many of whom took the time to write quite extensive personal comments in their emails about why they felt that this live sheep long-haul export trade, particularly in the summer months in the Northern Hemisphere, has to stop. I don't know that anybody could have seen the vision that was reported, including, I know, many in the farming industry, without feeling it was a completely unacceptable reflection of what we as a modern nation should see as an acceptable part of the industry sector. Continue reading