Renewable energy never stood a chance with this Government

POSTED ON
September 02


solar_power_australia.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES
 
(Throsby) (16:17): The legislation before the House today, the Australian Renewable Energy Agency (Repeal) Bill 2014, is part of the government's dogged campaign to destroy and dismantle the policies and the programs that were put in place by the former government to implement a clean energy future. We have seen it with the legislation to dismantle the price on carbon—something that I will return to during my address; the attempts to kill the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, an organisation to set up and fund on a commercial basis those commercial projects which are very bankable but which, for reasons best known to the banking sector, are not attracting the finance that they should otherwise deserve; and, of course, the bill before the House today, the bill to abolish the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.

We knew that we were in a bit of strife with this package of reforms when we heard that devastating admission by the Treasurer himself, who told us that he breaks out in a sweat every time he drives past a wind farm. It must be a terrible trip from North Sydney down to Canberra, as he has to avert his eyes as he drives past the wind farms on Lake George. But never mind; like some latter-day Don Quixote riding his wooden horse, he comes in here waving his wooden sword and says, 'I'm going to do away with all of that'—not tilting at windmills but destroying them. That is what this legislation is designed to do. This legislation—and the whole approach of this government since they were elected—is to dismantle the package of reforms that were put in place to give us a clean energy future.

Share

GP Tax will do what is designed to do: stop people seeing the doctor

POSTED ON
August 29

Medicare_MPI_meme.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:35): On this side of the House, all Labor members of parliament are celebrating a very important anniversary. This month marks the 40th anniversary of the passage through the federal parliament of the bills which brought Medicare into place—the introduction of the most historic healthcare reforms in this country. It did not come easily. Gough Whitlam took the Medicare policy to three elections and still could not convince those opposite to support the legislation. So we saw the first and only joint sitting of parliament, which was convened to break the deadlock with the Senate. But even after the legislation was voted up by a joint sitting of parliament, did those opposite give up? The answer is no. A defiant leader of the coalition, one William Snedden, made a firm promise which echoes down the generations. He said: 'We'll fight this till it is finished because that is what we believe in.' So while we on this side of the House hold the flame for universal health care, those on the other side of the House are the heirs to that solemn promise of Billy Snedden's. They were doing it in 1975 and they are doing it today: they are trying to wreck universal health care in this country.

Share

Abbott Government removing guard rail for financial advice

POSTED ON
August 28

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:21): I am happy to make a few observations in the debate on the Corporations Amendment (Streamlining of Future of Financial Advice) Bill 2014, because it is topical but it is also a matter that has had, in the absence of decent regulation and protections—what I prefer to call guardrails and not red tape—a devastating impact on hundreds and hundreds of investors within my electorate of Throsby.

It is worth recounting some of the background to this legislation. You would be aware that through the global financial crisis we saw a range of large investment vehicles, which may have not been sound at the get-go, come under enormous pressure and ultimately fail. What we saw as a result of that was a whole heap of—ordinarily what we like to call, sometimes pejoratively—mum and dad investors left high and dry and exposed to the collapse of some of those investment vehicles. What we also saw exposed were people who had become the victims of less-than-optimum financial advice. Regrettably, I saw a lot of that in relation to the collapse of Trio Capital, an investment vehicle to which a number of constituents in my electorate were exposed.

Share

MH17 condolence motion

POSTED ON
August 28

michael_and_carol_clancy.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (11:14): At approximately 12.15 pm on 17 July Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 departed from Amsterdam airport, due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur at approximately 6 am the following morning. I know the flight well. I have travelled on it many times myself. Tragically, the flight never landed, as we know. Flight MH17 was shot out of the sky in an act of terrorism and crashed near Torez in eastern Ukraine's Donetsk Oblast region, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. There were 38 Australian citizens and residents on that flight that morning. There were five victims from New South Wales and two from Kanahooka, a suburb in my electorate of Throsby. They were Michael Clancy, 57, and Carol Clancy, 64, both schoolteachers from the Illawarra. Both of them had dedicated their lives to helping young students get the very best start they could in their lives. Carol was a schoolteacher from Lakelands primary school and Michael, who I knew—although not well, but I did know him—had just retired as Assistant Principal at Albion Park school. Together the couple were taking their dream holiday and they were on their way home from a three week trip through Germany, France, Norway and Holland to celebrate Michael's retirement.

Share

Coalition do not see rights and entitlements as protections for ordinary workers

POSTED ON
August 27

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (19:59): In December this year we will mark the 110th anniversary of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It was then, as it is now, probably one of the most controversial pieces of legislation that has ever been debated by the Commonwealth parliament. In fact, the 1904 act did not have an easy birth. It saw the collapse of three governments—the first Deakin government, the Watson government and the Reid government—before it was established in law. The government of Chris Watson, the then leader of the first Labor government in this country, that ushered through the Conciliation and Arbitration Act and appointed, shortly thereafter, the man who was at that time the Attorney-General of this country, Henry Bournes Higgins—he was also one of the finest High Court judges—as the President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.

It is a shame that the member for Solomon is not here to hear this, because she said in her contribution that Labor is always on the wrong side of this debate. I beg to differ, and history will bear this out. Henry Bournes Higgins, in his memoirs, described the architecture of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act as a new province for law and order in this country. He said this with quite some experience because, as a barrister at equity before the Melbourne bar and a president, for many years, of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration he saw many cases. He also had experience of the bitter industrial disputes which characterised employer and employee relations before the establishment of this court.

He said that the conciliation and arbitration legislation established a new province of law and order in this country. That judgement of Henry Bournes Higgins echoes down over the 110 years since the first piece of real, robust industrial legislation was passed through this Commonwealth parliament.

Share

Coalition MPs don't have the guts to speak out on health cuts

POSTED ON
July 18

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:37): This is an absolute outrage—that the coalition today have gagged debate on the National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2014, this important bill. I make this point: they had the opportunity to let the people of Australia vote on this proposition, but they did not have the courage to put this proposition to the people of Australia not 12 months ago when we went to a general election. They then ram the bill into the parliament and demand that we vote on it without having a full debate. Well, there is a very good reason they will not let us have a full debate on it: they do not want sunlight on it.

As the shadow minister, the member for Ballarat, has pointed out just now, they could not even fill a speaking list on it. In fact, the shortest queue in the building yesterday was the queue of government MPs who were willing to stand up in this place and defend this atrocious legislation. Only four speakers were willing to stand here in this place yesterday and defend this atrocious legislation. There is a very good reason for that. We know that one of the last reports that the COAG Reform Council published before the government shut it down—because they do not like the message that the COAG Reform Council is giving them—showed that there are already people who are failing to fill the scripts that their health professionals have told them are essential for their health. There are already people who cannot afford to fill those scripts. In fact, in June they found that around 8.5 per cent of people were already delaying or failing to fill their prescriptions.

Share

Deputy PM says costs will always be lower under Coalition - clearly not talking about health costs

POSTED ON
July 18

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (17:42): The National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2014 is a part of the government's plan to increase the cost of health services for all Australians. It includes the $7 GP tax; the $55 billion in cuts to hospital funding, which have been roundly condemned by every single premier and chief minister, the AMA and every health association in the country; and a 13 per cent increase in PBS out-of-pocket costs. Labor will not be supporting the bill. Let me explain why. It increases the PBS charges from 1 January 2015—for general patients by $5 to $42.70, and for concessional patients by $0.80 to $6.90. These changes are above and beyond the usual CPI increases and indexation. On top of this, the concessional PBS safety net threshold is increased by two prescriptions per year and the general safety net threshold is increased by 10 per cent each year for four years. The bill raises $1.3 billion over four years and diverts money straight from people's pockets—the pockets of sick people—into the Medical Research Future Fund. We simply cannot support the bill.

In question time today, we heard the Deputy Prime Minister say that costs would always be lower under the coalition. Clearly he was not talking about the cost of health services. This bill introduces a 13 per cent increase to the cost of prescriptions on top of the $7 GP tax. This means that a patient is lucky to pay just less than $100 in out-of-pocket expenses for a trip to the doctor that results in two prescriptions and a blood test. Nobody can claim that that is lower than under Labor. The Treasurer famously said the GP tax payment would be about the equivalent of a couple of beers or one-third of a packet of cigarettes. I know the Treasurer has expensive taste but you would struggle even in this town to find a beer that cost you 100 bucks. Clearly, the Treasurer is out of touch and these propositions are out of touch.

For Australians living in the country, in regional areas such as the one I represent, where bulk-billing rates are lower and it already costs more to travel the greater distances to see your doctor, the costs will be even greater. For Australians with private health insurance cover, this measure comes on top of the largest increase to private health insurance premiums that have been approved by a government in living member. One of the health minister's first acts on coming to government was the approval of over a six per cent increase in private health insurance premiums. It is simply not fair and Labor cannot support it.

The government has a package of measures which is deliberately designed to drive up the cost of health care for every day Australians. We saw during the MPI debate today the member for Lyne concede that exact point. The measures are designed to drive up the cost of health services, of visiting a GP, because if you do that you are going to dissuade people from going to the doctor.

Share

Australia is facing a healthcare emergency

POSTED ON
July 16

IMG_3745.JPGMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:33):    Australia is facing a healthcare emergency—not the false emergency that those opposite are trying to convince the Australian people of, but one of their own making. This morning I stood with the member for Ballarat and dozens of Labor members with a rally of nurses and midwives from across Australia to protest against the lies and broken promises of this government. Over $50 billion has been gutted from our public hospital system, and it is going to send the health system in this country back 50 years—an ill-considered and unfair GP tax that will do exactly what it is designed to do, and that is stop patients going to see their doctor.

Before the election the Prime Minister said there would be no cuts to the healthcare system. Not even a year later, every Australian is starting to see the impact of these cuts—a $7 GP tax every time they go to the doctor, get a blood test or seek an X-ray. This is going to affect all Australians, but it is going to have a devastating effect on regional and rural Australia. In my region alone, where over 91.7 per cent of GP consultations are being bulk-billed, this is going to be hit on the head. Over $5.5 million is going to be ripped from the pockets of consumers through this horrible— (Time expired)

Share

From cradle to grave, nurses are copping it under this Budget

POSTED ON
July 16

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:28): If the longest queue in the building is the queue outside of the coffee shop at eight o'clock in the morning, the shortest queue in the building has got to be the queue of government MPs that are willing to line up here in this parliament and defend their own government's policy when it comes to their atrocious attacks on the health care system.

Mr Ewen Jones interjecting

Mr Nikolic interjecting

Mr STEPHEN JONES: I see Townsville's answer to Benny Hill has got a lot to say, I see 'Sergeant Strop' from Bass over there has got a lot to say, but none of them are willing to put themselves on the speaking list. They had an opportunity today to put themselves on the speaking list and defend their horrid attacks on the PBS system. But all we see is four people who are willing to stand up and defend their government's atrocious attacks on the health system.

Share

PBS Amendment will increase health costs for all Australians

POSTED ON
July 16

PBS.jpgMr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (17:42):    The National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits) Bill 2014 is a part of the government's plan to increase the cost of health services for all Australians. It includes the $7 GP tax; the $55 billion in cuts to hospital funding, which have been roundly condemned by every single premier and chief minister, the AMA and every health association in the country; and a 13 per cent increase in PBS out-of-pocket costs. Labor will not be supporting the bill. Let me explain why. It increases the PBS charges from 1 January 2015—for general patients by $5 to $42.70, and for concessional patients by $0.80 to $6.90. These changes are above and beyond the usual CPI increases and indexation. On top of this, the concessional PBS safety net threshold is increased by two prescriptions per year and the general safety net threshold is increased by 10 per cent each year for four years. The bill raises $1.3 billion over four years and diverts money straight from people's pockets—the pockets of sick people—into the Medical Research Future Fund. We simply cannot support the bill.

In question time today, we heard the Deputy Prime Minister say that costs would always be lower under the coalition. Clearly he was not talking about the cost of health services. This bill introduces a 13 per cent increase to the cost of prescriptions on top of the $7 GP tax. This means that a patient is lucky to pay just less than $100 in out-of-pocket expenses for a trip to the doctor that results in two prescriptions and a blood test. Nobody can claim that that is lower than under Labor. The Treasurer famously said the GP tax payment would be about the equivalent of a couple of beers or one-third of a packet of cigarettes. I know the Treasurer has expensive taste but you would struggle even in this town to find a beer that cost you 100 bucks. Clearly, the Treasurer is out of touch and these propositions are out of touch.

Share

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9    16  17  Next →
Stephen Jones MP
Stephen Jones MP For Throsby