I am honoured to be appointed to the role of Shadow Assistant Minister for Health and thank the Caucus and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten for this great opportunity.
It is a privilege to be entrusted with such a broad and dynamic portfolio.
I look forward to working with Shadow Minister for Health Catherine King to protect the things that Labor has spent generations building – Medicare, a universal health system and investment in preventative health.
As Shadow Assistant Minister for Health I will take the fight up to the Abbott Government over their new GP Tax, their cuts to public health bodies and their botched decision to pull down the Health Star Rating website.
Coming from the Illawarra, I understand the difficult health challenges facing regional communities and will make this a particular focus of my work in this role.
Families in the Illawarra will be among the hardest hit by Tony Abbott’s new GP Tax, new Medicare analysis has shown, Illawarra MP’s Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones said today.
“It is a cruel tax that will hurt families right across the country, including thousands in the Illawarra, where more than 87% of all GP visits are bulk billed”, said Stephen Jones.
“If Tony Abbott breaks his election promise and introduces a $6 GP Tax, the cost to local families will be upwards of $15 million in taxes every single year.”
“In the great traditions of Medicare, Australians should receive the healthcare they need not the healthcare they can afford,” said Member for Cunningham, Sharon Bird.
Member for Throsby Stephen Jones and Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird say local job seekers should take advantage of the hundreds of jobs and training opportunities on offer today at the Illawarra Jobs Expo.
“Today’s expo is a rare opportunity for locals looking for work, to meet with employers and training providers all under one roof”, said Jones.
“There’ll be over 300 jobs advertised, as well as 100 vocational training programs to help skill locals for the jobs of the future.”
“Around a dozen of these will be from business who received funding from the previous Labor Government under the Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund (IRIIF).”
“It’s fantastic to see IRIIF is delivering on its objectives to create secure local jobs and diversify the Illawarra’s economic and employment base”, said Ms Bird.
Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones welcomes the news that the first homes and businesses in Dapto will be able to connect to Labor’s NBN fibre broadband network from today.
“This news will remove uncertainty for locals in 2,300 premises in Dapto, who had been kept in the dark by the Abbott Government as to when, if ever they would be connected to Labor’s NBN”, said Jones.
“I remain concerned about the fate of the rest of the region who could be stuck with a mess of different and inferior broadband technologies, after the Abbott Government’s dismantling of Labor’s NBN fibre rollout plan.”
Labor Spokesperson for Regional Development and Infrastructure Stephen Jones has condemned today’s decision by the Abbott Government to axe $3.5 million budgeted by Labor for the upgrade of the Casino Regional Livestock Exchange.
Mr Jones says claims made by the Member for Page Kevin Hogan that the Casino saleyards project was unfunded are completely false.
“The $3.5 million for Richmond Valley Council to upgrade the exchange was fully budgeted by Labor under Round 5 of Regional Development Australia Fund grants”, said Jones.
“Without this crucial funding it’s likely the cattle yards will be forced to close, throwing locals out of work and sending farmers out of the area to sell their cattle.”
As Medicare celebrates its 30th birthday next month, local Federal Members Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones warn the affordable and accessible health care could now be under threat from the Abbott Government.
“We want to make sure that Medicare survives to see a 35th anniversary and that the historic Labor initiative is not abolished by stealth,” the MPs said.
Sign the petition to Save Medicare
Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones are encouraging people in the Illawarra to sign Labor’s Medicare petition, opposing the Abbott Government’s plan for patients to pay an upfront fee to see a doctor.
Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones says Labor’s Schoolkids Bonus payments rolling out to eligible families from today could be the last if Tony Abbott gets his way.
Sign the petition to Keep the School Kids Bonus
The Prime Minister has introduced legislation to repeal the $410 payment for each primary school child and $820 payment for each secondary school child designed to help meet the cost of getting ready for the new school year.
Federal Member for Cunningham Sharon Bird and Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones said the release of today’s Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) is smoke screen for broken promises by the Abbott Government which will negatively impact local low and middle income earners.
“Before the election Tony Abbott promised Australians that there would be no cuts to education or research if he became Prime Minister”, said Ms Bird.
“Today Treasurer Joe Hockey announced that all areas of expenditure will now be assessed for cuts.”
Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones is calling on Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss and the NSW Government to work together to complete the Maldon-Dombarton Rail Link.
“Federal Labor has been determined to progress this infrastructure project to cement the Illawarra’s status as one of our nation’s most important industrial powerhouses”, said Jones.
“With the release of the new NSW Freight and Ports Strategy, there are no more excuses left. All obstacles are gone.”
“The report reveals the need for an alternate rail route to separate freight and passenger lines in the region.”
Federal Member for Throsby Stephen Jones says he is outraged the Abbott Government is refusing to honour funding for projects under the Regional Development Australian Fund (RDAF) Round 5.
“The Wingecarribee Shire Council was supposed to receive $263,297 in RDAF funding to upgrade Exeter Hall and add a new amenities building”, said Jones.
“This important regional project has now been axed.”
“By refusing to release this money into the community, Infrastructure Minister Warren Truss is denying the Southern Highlands regional economy the support they need to maintain local employment and create new jobs”, said Jones.
“Construction and fit-out of the hall would have provided 8 months employment to local builders and countless apprenticeship opportunities.”
“The increase in potential hiring of the venue for community events and celebrations would have created a slew of hospitality and tourism jobs too.”
“The Minister knows the Labor Government fully funded this project in the Budget.”
“The money is sitting there, waiting to provide these opportunities for local businesses and jobseekers. There is absolutely no reason why the project should not continue.”
“I’m calling on Minister Truss to come clean with Wingecarribee Shire Council and the people of the Southern Highlands and explain why he is cutting their funding.”