Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (11:11): I am very, very pleased to second this motion by my colleague on the aged-care crisis. I want to talk to the Chamber about three ways in which it is having a very real effect on older people in my electorate at this very moment. The first aspect is obviously the issue around home care packages. I've had a lot of families contacting me in great distress because their elderly relatives have been assessed as needing a high-level care package, and they have been waiting months, some up to a year, to get that service. Imagine what that means in reality for those families. They have an elderly family member, living at home, who they are trying to support, and, at the same time, the elderly family member has been assessed as needing a package that they can't get. What that means is: those families are stepping in, trying to provide that support to their elderly relative, often when they're managing their own work, life, children and so forth. I've had people in tears because it's really awful and they feel terrible complaining about having to support their elderly relative, but the pressures on their family are enormous. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:42): Across my region, since the government was elected, we have lost 2,353 apprentices. I'm sure members of this chamber appreciate that an apprenticeship, the opportunity to train in a traditional trade, is a really important, worthwhile pathway for young people to employment and to a good career. Many of us would know that many of those trades—plumbing, construction, hairdressing and so forth—set young people up very well for a great future. So it is very, very concerning to see this level of loss of apprenticeships across the years since the government was elected. It is perhaps not surprising, given that the government has cut significantly out of the vocational education and training budget. Indeed, another $270 million was cut in the most recent budget. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (13:50): Today is National TAFE Day. TAFE is a great national asset, and it has been for decades and for generations of Australians. It is our vocational education public provider, and we know so well that the words 'public provider' leave a bitter taste in the mouths of those opposite—as, for example, the ABC knows only too well. TAFE needs to remain a national asset—there for young Australians, there for restructured workers, there for regional and rural communities, there to ensure that people have a future in an ever-changing world—and it has had nothing but attacks from those opposite. They can barely bring themselves to say the word 'TAFE', to be honest with you, unless they're cutting funding from it—$3 billion since they came to government. TAFE must be sustainable. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:15): I indicate to the House that I rise to support the amendment moved by the shadow minister. The bill before us, of course, is the Health Insurance (Approved Pathology Specimen Collection Centres) Tax Amendment Bill 2018. It's intended to change the frequency of the tax paid by approved pathology collection centres, known as ACCs. At present, each of Australia's 5,500 to 6,000 ACCs pay a tax of $1,000 when approved. That has to be renewed each year. Under this bill, they'll pay a tax of $2,000 every two years instead. The intention of the bill is to reduce the regulatory burden for government and industry and to maintain the revenue raised from the tax. Continue reading


Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (10:52): Thank you Deputy Speaker. This is an opportunity for Members to talk about issues of concern to constituents in their electorates. Well let me tell you, the constituents in my electorate are very, very angry today. Just over a week ago, the Member for Whitlam and I were informed by Centrelink management that they were shutting the office in Warrawong – an office in amongst some of the most disadvantaged suburbs in the State with elderly people who need assistance, with unemployed who need assistance, young mums with toddlers and babies who need to be able to put forms in for child care payments and so forth. Continue reading

Prime Minister's secret deals with One Nation for big business tax cuts

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (14:32): My question is to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister refuses to provide the details of his secret deal with Senator Hanson to ensure the passage of his big business tax cuts. Given new revelations about that deal today, will the Prime Minister now tell the Australian people the details of that secret deal or is the Prime Minister so arrogant and out of touch that he considers the Australian people don't deserve to know just how far he'll go to give $80 billion to big business? Continue reading

Liberals fail to invest in infrastructure in the Illawarra

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (18:27): Like shadow minister Mr Albanese, I agree that the member for Forrest's sentiment in the original motion before the House is correct. I also agree that investment in infrastructure is critically important to regional development, economic diversification and jobs. However, I was very pleased to second the amendment moved by the member for Grayndler because I think this government, to be quite honest, has a lot to answer for when it comes to infrastructure in regional areas. It wouldn't surprise people to hear me say that, because they've been absolutely appalling in my area—in fact, absolutely absent from all of the issues and challenges we have around infrastructure. Continue reading

Another unfair Liberal Budget - nothing has changed since 2014

Ms BIRD (Cunningham) (15:51): There are occasions in the government's life when a particular budget epitomises everything that they stand for and what their priorities are. We saw such a budget in 2014, when those opposite were first elected to government under former Prime Minister Abbott, and we well remember the legacy of that budget —and so we should because so much of it still exists in the budget we're confronted with in Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2018-19 and the related appropriation bills today. The budget had at its heart unfairness and it did not pass the test not only of this parliament but of the general public's opinion of what it was trying to do. This budget is exactly the same as that previous budget. Plainly on display are the priorities of the government. I'm sure people will excuse me for borrowing the analogy of the member for Gilmore last week—and the member for Gilmore might be surprised to know that most members of the public probably consider that, if the horse is the government, the jockey would be considered to be the Prime Minister, not herself. You can change the jockey on the horse, but, if that horse is running the same race, you're not going to have any different outcome. That's exactly what is happening with the budget that is before us now. The priorities, the wrong values and the wrong approach to the challenges facing the nation that were encapsulated in that very unfair, discredited 2014 budget are still there in all their tarnished glory in the budget that was announced this month by the Prime Minister. It is both sneaky and unfair, and I want to address some of the most significant concerns that I have with the budget. Continue reading