Thousands more homes to be connected to Labor's NBN

Our campaign to get even more local homes and businesses included on the next stage of the NBN rollout has been successful. My vision for our region is one with a strong economy that can provide jobs for us and our children and having the NBN connected to my whole electorate is a critical part of that vision. With the release of NBN Co’s next rollout plan - almost all of my electorate of Throsby is scheduled to be connected up to fibre. So this is great news for us all, but particularly for people living in the Southern Highlands, Albion Park and Oak Flats – and those that have been campaigning hard for this like the Albion Park Chamber of Commerce. Continue reading

New round for Industry Innovation Precincts now open

Illawarra industry has an opportunity to benefit from the Gillard Labor Government’s $1 billion Plan for Australian Jobs. Illawarra MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have today announced that the next round of applications to host one of the up to eight Industry Innovation Precincts proposed by the Gillard Labor Government is now open. “Today the Government has invited the next round of industry-led applications to establish an Industry Innovation Precinct,” said Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird. “Industry Innovation Precincts will be industry led and will bring industry, firms, research institutions, technology experts and government agencies together – they will work to achieve the innovations, connections and scale that our businesses need to succeed in the future” she said.  “The Plan for Australian Jobs Plan builds on Labor’s strong support for industry since coming to office including the $1 billion package to help manufactures cut energy costs and improve competitiveness” Ms Bird said. Continue reading

Local MPs welcome Maldon Dombarton tender

Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have welcomed the announcement by Transport for NSW to tender for specialist teams to undertake surveying for the Maldon to Dombarton Rail Link. Transport for NSW has advertised for specialist services to survey land boundaries and topography and identify any underground utility services along the partially completed rail line. “The Maldon-Dombarton rail link will have a great effect on growth in our region and I welcome this next step towards making this project a reality” Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird said. “The Federal Government has allocated $25.5 million to Transport for NSW under the Nation Building Program to undertake these planning and pre construction design studies, and it is fantastic to see this progressing” Ms Bird said. “This rail line will link Port Kembla directly to the Main South Line at Picton, which will greatly improve freight access for the Illawarra region” Member for Throsby, Stephen Jones said. “These teams of specialists will follow on from the current engineering and environmental investigations already taking place and will locate existing track, fauna crossings and adjoining roads to provide an accurate map of the corridor” Mr Jones said.

New Job Opportunities for Shellharbour

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones today welcomed the announcement that seven local community organisations will receive more than $1.2 million from the Australian Labor Government to improve education, training and employment opportunities for people in Shellharbour. Lighthouse Community Care, Southern Youth and Family Services, The Salvation Army, Access Community Group, Illawarra Aboriginal Corporation, House of Hope Recovery Centre and Shellharbour Aboriginal Community Youth Association were all successful in the second round of the Local Solutions Fund. Minister for Human Services, Senator Jan McLucas today announced the successful projects and said she was looking forward to seeing the projects put into action. “The projects that have been allocated funding have been designed by the local community, for the local community,” Senator McLucas said. Continue reading

Abbott's new super tax to hit retail and hospitality workers hardest

New figures released by local MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today have revealed that 45,000 workers in the Illawarra will be slugged by Tony Abbott’s plan to reimpose a 15 per cent superannuation tax on low income and part-time workers. The figures released today also reveal that shop assistants, waiters, bartenders and cleaners will be hardest hit. Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird MP stated that an average of 57 percent of all food preparation assistants and 53 percent of all checkout operators would also be worse off under Abbott’s plan. “Tony Abbotts Super tax is an attack on the retirement savings of 45,000 people in the Illawarra who earn under $37,000 a year – the majority of which are women” Sharon Bird said. “The retirement savings of some of the poorest people in the Illawarra are at risk under an Abbott Government. These figures show about a third of hospitality and childcare workers, and about a quarter of electricians in our community will be worse off” Ms Bird said. The suburb of Wollongong will be the hardest hit under Abbott’s plan, with 5,295 local residents set to be slugged under this new tax. Also among the worst off in the region will be Dapto, Albion Park, Corrimal and Bellambi. “Ever since Labor introduced it over 20 years ago, we have been the champions of superannuation for the benefit of all Australians” Throsby MP Stephen Jones said. Continue reading

High Speed Rail report puts Southern Highlands on the map

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones today welcomed the announcement that a stop on the proposed High Speed Rail (HSR) will be built in the East Mittagong. “This is great win for the Southern Highlands”, said Jones. “I know there are a lot of people here who commute to Sydney everyday, which can be a more than three hour round trip, so being included on the High Speed Rail will cut that time down to just 30 minutes.” “It’ll give people a lot more spare time to spend with friends and family and really transform the way they live, work and spend leisure time in our region.” Continue reading

China to start Emissions Trading Scheme in June

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones says Tony Abbott’s deceit on climate change has been exposed again with China’s announcement that the first of its seven pilot emissions trading schemes will commence on 17 June this year. “The Chinese commitment to work with Australia to reduce carbon emissions blows the top off Tony Abbott’s claims that we are going it alone as a nation in the fight against climate change.” Covering 635 companies, the Shenzen Emissions Trading Scheme will cover even more companies than Australia’s carbon price. China recognises the threats posed by climate change and has pledged to reduce the carbon emissions intensity of its economy by 17 per cent of 2010 levels by 2015 and by 40 to 45 per cent below 2005 levels by 2020. Continue reading

Coalition’s second-rate broadband plan a disaster for regional Australians

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones has slammed the Coalition’s plan for the National Broadband Network, saying it will be slower, more expensive and discriminatory to those living in regional Australia.  “This is a disaster for regional Australia and particularly in areas like Dapto, Horsley and Kanahooka where faster, cheaper, more reliable broadband is just around the corner for thousands of local homes and businesses.” “I’ve seen the NBN Co trucks in Dapto doing preliminary work to roll out the fibre optic cable and I’ve also spoken to people in Kiama who are already connected to the NBN, getting a far superior service for a lot less money.”  “Doing away with uniform pricing means that people in regional areas like the Illawarra and Southern Highlands will have to pay more for broadband than those in metropolitan areas while their broadband speeds will be considerably slower.” Continue reading

Local kids doing better in key development indicators

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones said kids in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands are doing better than they were three years ago, improving in all five of the key development indicators. According  to the latest round of data from the Australian Early Development Index (AEDI) released today, Australian children have improved their results since the first AEDI data collection was held in 2009. Data was collected in May 2012 on nearly 290,000 children, representing 96.5 per cent of children in their first year of formal schooling. “This second round of data shows that children in our region have improved their development in the areas of social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication and general knowledge, and physical health and well-being” Jones said. Continue reading

O’Farrell Government rips off local pensioners

Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones has slammed New South Wales Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell’s decision to take part of the Federal Government’s pension increase from more than 2,400 pensioners living in public housing in the Illawarra and Southern Highlands. “I’ve had a lot of calls to my office this week from local pensioners who can’t believe that the extra money they’ve been given could be so easily snatched away again to serve the NSW Liberals’ bottom line” Jones said. “The Federal Government knows that pensioners on a fixed income have the least room to move in their budgets. That’s why it’s so important that when prices go up, the pension goes up to match it.” Continue reading