Broadband relief on horizon for Horsley

September 15

Horsely_NBN_map_update_150914.jpgFederal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones has welcomed the news that residents in Horsley and West Dapto will soon be connected to fast and reliable internet on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Over 2,000 homes and businesses in Horsley and West Dapto will receive Labor’s high-speed fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband, Stephen Jones said today.

After a hard-fought campaign for improved broadband services for the area, Mr Jones said he was pleased that NBN Co would be rolling out Labor’s all fibre broadband network to Horsley families and businesses.

“This is a win for the people of Horsley who have been crying out for improved broadband services for some time but there are still many other areas in the region stuck in broadband limbo”, said Jones.

“Access to fast and reliable broadband is still a huge and ongoing issue for a lot of newer suburbs in our region like Tullimbar, Oak Flats and Albion Park.

“I’ve been campaigning with locals to get fibre connected to the premises for the past two years because many residents don’t even have access to basic ADSL.


Labor's cosmetics and animal testing consultation attracts 13,000 submissions

September 03

More than 13,000 on-line submissions have been received in response to Labor’s public consultation on cosmetics and animal testing with 92 per cent supporting a ban on cosmetics tested on animals.

The consultation commenced in July and delivers on Labor’s commitment to conduct a national consultation on the importation, manufacture, sale and advertising of cosmetics tested on animals.

The public consultation was motivated by Labor’s desire to get our policy on animal testing right.

In addition to over 13,000 on-line submissions, a broad range of Australians attended public forums in six capital cities, including school children, animal activists, representatives from industry and interested members of the community who do not want the cosmetics used in their home tested on animals. 

Shadow Assistant Minister for Health, Stephen Jones stressed that any move by Labor to ban animal testing will adopt a consultative, reasoned and balanced approach.


Australia must come to aid of Iraq

September 03

Member for Throsby Stephen Jones spoke in Parliament today in support of the Government’s decision to provide humanitarian assistance to the people of Iraq.

In a statement to the House, Mr Jones said that news of another US journalist murdered in the civil war in Iraq was tragic but should not draw focus from the wide-spread human rights abuses of thousands of Iraqi people at the hands of Isis.

“It’s understandable that citizens of Western countries tune in to an atrocity when it touches one of their own, but this should not overshadow more than 5,000 Iraqis who have been slaughtered, or the 12,000 who have been wounded, enslaved and abused at the hands of murderers, masquerading as a cause”, said Jones.

“As a wealthy nation, I don’t believe Australia has the luxury of saying ‘this is somebody else’s problem, happening somewhere else’.”

Jones argued against the notion that this should be subject to a Parliamentary vote.

“It’s proper that decisions to intervene in foreign conflicts are ultimately made by the Government.

“They have the information and intelligence at their fingertips and are ultimately responsible for the consequences of their actions but that does not mean Parliament cannot play a role.


Nationals celebrate one year of ignoring regional health

September 02

Sick Australians living in rural and regional areas are being hit hardest by the Abbott Government’s unfair Budget because the National Party has comprehensively failed to stand up to the Liberals.

A so-called achievements document released today by the National Party failed to identify a single achievement that meets their pre-election promises, including to -

“… provide increased financial support for doctors who provide health services in regional and remote communities, through increased Medicare rebates and scheduled fees loaded on top of regular Medicare billings, which will increase according to remoteness.” 

 [Our Plan for Regional Australia, page 45] 

Labor’s Spokesperson for Rural and Regional Health, Stephen Jones says there is not one mention of how National members have stood up for patients in their electorates on a single general health policy.

“It’s obvious the National Party will keep rolling over for their Liberal Party colleagues when it comes to rural and regional health policy.”


Recognise campaign on the road in regional Australia

August 29

IMG_4021.JPGThe campaign to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People in our Constitution hit regional Australia today with the Illawarra community turning out in force for a forum hosted by Stephen Jones and Senator Nova Peris.

“Ultimately this is an opportunity for all Australians to celebrate 40,000 years of this nation’s history and add to the last 226”, said Senator Peris.

“The recognise campaign is a great opportunity for two cultures to unite as one. It is about being inclusive, not exclusive and something we should all get behind.”

Stephen Jones says Australians must get behind constitutional recognition and make the most of the opportunity of bi-partisan support from both sides of politics.

“Today is about ensuring we can convert that Parliamentary support into widespread community support”, said Jones. 

“In 1967 the Australian Government ran a referendum to change the constitution to make laws for all Australians and include Aboriginal people in the Census. It was overwhelmingly endorsed by Australians, winning 90.77 per cent of votes and carrying in all six states.

“Constitutional recognition will builds on this win and should make further substantive change to remove racism from the Constitution.

“It is a statement of historical truth that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People have lived here for over 40,000 years, and it is long overdue.”

“It is imperative that all Australians are on-board with the journey towards constitutional recognition. That’s part of the reason for my visit to the Illawarra today”, said Senator Peris.

“We will be working hard to engage with communities across the country to demonstrate the importance of Aboriginal Australians to our national history and culture, and showcase what a positive step constitutional recognition will be for all Australians.” 


Eight School Welfare Officers at risk in the Illawarra

August 28

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones today expressed concern following the release of Government documents that reveal that 8 local schools are at risk of losing their welfare officers due to the Abbott Government’s decision to only fund religious chaplains.

The High Court ruled that it was invalid for payments to be made directly by the Commonwealth to schools under the program, the Federal Government is now giving the money to states and territories to administer, but on the condition it is used to only fund religious chaplains.

“School principals and their communities know what is best for their students – they should be able to make the call on what their students need – not Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott,” Sharon Bird said.

“There was a high level of complains under the religious-only chaplains program put in place by the Howard Government – in Government Labor expanded the program so local school communities had the choice of hiring a qualified welfare officer or counsellor, not just a religious chaplain. 

“Local welfare officers have trusted relationships within the school community.  The interests of students should be the focus – not Christopher Pyne and Tony Abbott’s radical ideology,” Stephen Jones said.

“The Government needs to advise what safeguards will be put in place to ensure that students interests remain of utmost importance.

*Link attached with each of the 452 schools across Australia who have employed welfare offices attached. Schools with welfare officers are marked with SWW under Worker Type column:


Locals deserve certainty over Australian Hearing Services

August 27

As Australia marks National Hearing Awareness Week, local Members Stephen Jones and Sharon Bird are calling on the Abbott Government to put local families at ease over the potential sale of Australian Hearing Services outlined in the Federal Budget.

“I was recently contacted by a local family, deeply concerned about the impact that the potential sale of Australian Hearing Services by the Abbott Government will have on the services delivered to their son”, said Jones.

“Five year old Felix is deaf with a profound hearing loss. He has to wear Cochlear implants and has had to receive regular services from Australian Hearing since he was 6 weeks old.

Australian Hearing Services provides children with annual testing, new hearing technology and spare parts as well as guidance and support at seven locations across the Illawarra including Wollongong, Dapto and Shellharbour.


Nash in denial over regional health cuts

August 27

It’s no wonder the Abbott Government’s health budget strategy is in such disarray, with the Minister for Rural and Regional Health Senator Fiona Nash refusing to acknowledge the glaring gaps between health services in rural and regional areas compared to major cities.

In Senate Question Time yesterday Minister Nash claimed:

“… a large proportion of out-of-pocket costs in Australia result from patient choice in services that are not funded by the government. Indeed… there is not a significant difference in bulk-billing rates or average out-of-pocket costs between people in major cities and those in rural and regional areas.” 

[Sen. Fiona Nash, Senate Question Time, August 25, 2014]

Minister Nash should know her claims are incorrect. The Senate Inquiry into Out of Pocket Expenses in Australian Healthcare last week confirmed:


National Party health cuts punish regional communities

August 27

Labor’s Spokesperson for Rural and Regional Health, Stephen Jones today accused National and Liberal Party MPs of punishing regional communities. Jones revealed new figures that show patients in regional Australia will be hardest hit by the Abbott Government’s $1.2 billion increase to medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS).

Data obtained from the Federal Department of Health shows that the top 12 electorates to pay the highest out-of-pocket costs after the Coalition’s $1.2 billion increase to medicines will be in rural and regional Australia.

“Coalition MPs are asking patients in these rural and regional areas to fork out an additional $112 million over the next four years”, said Stephen Jones.

“Has the National Party gone in to hiding?

“Tragically, the regions that need the most support are the ones getting the least.


Maldon Dombarton Rail Line - Too good to be true?

August 20

Local Federal Members, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones, today have indicated that they would be writing to State Minister for Roads and Freight, Duncan Gay, to confirm and clarify his comments on ABC Illawarra this morning that the State Government will be seeking private sector interest for the Maldon Dombarton Rail Line.

While welcoming this new information, if it is accurate, the Federal MPs said that they would like to see the details and information on the funding for this next step in the process.

“I have been campaigning to get the Maldon Dombarton Rail Link built for almost a decade.  When I first put forward the idea and started the campaign, people thought it was a waste of time and would never get support,” Sharon Bird said. 

“I am very pleased to hear that the NSW Government is approaching the private sector in an effort to get the rail line built.  This is in stark contrast to the Abbott Government who recently ripped $50 million of seed funding for the Maldon Dombarton line from the Budget. 

“Labor had previously invested $25.5 million for preparatory work to get the project shovel ready.  We then committed an additional $50 million in seed funding,” Stephen Jones said.

“The rail link will mean fewer freight trains on the South Coast Line which will then take the pressure off the commuter rail line.  It will also mean a direct rail link from Port Kembla to south-west Sydney which will open up new opportunities for employment.

Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones will write to Duncan Gay today seeking further details of this announcement.


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Stephen Jones MP
Stephen Jones MP For Throsby