Medical Cannabis

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (18:20): It is a great pleasure to be speaking on the Narcotic Drugs Legislation Amendment Bill 2016, because the amendments contained within this bill go to a matter that I have campaigned on for quite some time and a matter that I feel very passionate about and that is putting in place a nationally consistent scheme, which facilitates the availability of medicinal cannabis for people who are suffering pain or undergoing a course of treatment for which there is no alternative medicine and access to medicinal cannabis has provided them with relief from the symptoms that they are suffering from. Continue reading

Baird's Shellharbour Hospital Sell-off

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:49): The simple fact of the matter is this: Mike Baird has a plan to privatise hospitals in New South Wales, and Labor's Luke Foley has a plan to stop him. We do not have to wait until 2019, the next New South Wales election, to stop this terrible plan to privatise New South Wales hospitals, because this Saturday in three electorates in New South Wales—Orange, Wollongong and Bankstown—the people of New South Wales have the opportunity to cast their judgement on the Baird government's plans to privatise hospitals in New South Wales. Continue reading

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Television and Radio Licence Fees) Bill 2016

  Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (12:07): Labor supports the Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Television and Radio Licence Fees) Bill 2016. Let us go through some of the context regarding the current state of Australia's media industry. Broadcasting, through radio or television, is regulated to some degree. The spectrum that broadcasting uses is a public resource, and it is sought after for a lot of purposes. The spectrum used to broadcast television and radio programs, if auctioned off today, would yield an enormous financial gain for the people of Australia. Continue reading

Sustainable Economic Growth in Regional Australia

“A NEW DEAL FOR REGIONAL AUSTRALIA.”  ALBANY, WA  THURSDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2016  ***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY*** I’d like to acknowledge the Traditional Owners, the Menang people It’s great to be in the beautiful Great Southern Region of WA. I’d like to acknowledge the terrific work of SEGRA and congratulate you on your 20th anniversary. Thank you to Kate Charters, SEGRA Convenor for the invitation to speak to you today. The issues that you have gathered here to discuss and share are fundamental to our lives, particularly in Regional Australia. While there is much that Australia’s major political parties agree on, in particular, the big goals we aspire to, there is also much on which we differ. That is why our Parliament and our political life is a contest of ideas, a contest of philosophies and a contest of policy proposals. In facing these challenges Labor puts a strong emphasis on the principles of fairness and equality. Continue reading

Consideration in detail: Appropriations Bill No 1 2016-17

  Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (10:36): I thank the minister, but I cannot thank the minister for the actions of his government when it comes to this portfolio. There is no shortage of members in this place who started their political life in local government—no shortage of them. Unfortunately, when it comes to members of the government, once they enter this place they seem to forget the important contribution that local government makes to civic and economic life in this country. Members opposite have supported the decision of their ministers and their government in reducing funding to local government by close to $1 billion since 2014-15. Close to $1 billion—$925 million—has been slashed from local government financial assistance grants since the 2014-15 budget. Continue reading

Appropriations Bill No 1 2016-17

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (19:12): My questions go to the Mobile Black Spot Program, which is an important program that enjoys bipartisan support across the House. However, the administration of the program has been quite wanting. This is a $220 million program—$220 million worth of Commonwealth government funds, taxpayer funds, are dedicated to the shared objective of ensuring that mobile phone services are available to people in rural and regional Australia on the same basis as they are for people who live in the cities. That is a very laudable objective that enjoys broad support across the House. Continue reading


Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:45): There was a time when this parliament was fascinated with nothing more than the building of infrastructure. But, sadly, that time has passed, and we discovered yesterday in Senate estimates exactly why that is the case. Yesterday we discovered that this government has imposed a 35 per cent cut on its own infrastructure budget. That is $33 billion that they told Australians they were going to spend on infrastructure, but now they are not going to do that. Continue reading

Liberals are Privatising Shellharbour Hospital

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:53): Australians have known for some time that they cannot trust the federal coalition government when it comes to Medicare and the healthcare system. But in New South Wales this month they are discovering that the New South Wales coalition are just as bad. On the eve of a state by-election, we have the New South Wales government rolling out plans to privatise hospitals in Shellharbour, Bowral, Maitland, Wyong and Goulburn. This is a revisitation of the failed plan to privatise the Port Macquarie Base Hospital—a plan which was such a disaster that the New South Wales government had to take it back over. Continue reading

Same-sex marriage plebiscite

Mr STEPHEN JONES ( Whitlam ) ( 13:24 ): Right now in my electorate there are young kids who are looking for jobs. There are schools scraping around for funds to buy books and basic teaching equipment. There are parents who are wondering whether they can afford to send their kids to university and students who are wondering whether they can afford to pay for the fees that are going to accrue to them if they undertake a university degree. There are jobseekers who are wondering whether they can afford to enrol in a TAFE course because, with the introduction of TAFE fees, they are wondering whether they can afford the bills for redoing their skills. Continue reading

Institutional responses to child sexual abuse

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (19:39): This is a speech about institutional responses to child sexual abuse—in particular, the response of the school that I attended—and a statement in support of the boys who were affected. First, I have some background. When I was my first elected to parliament, I visited the aged-care home for the Christian Brothers in Waverly. I was keen to see a man whom I had not seen in decades; his name was Brother Bell. He had been an inspiring teacher in my formative years at Edmund Rice College in Wollongong. I asked for, and he gave me, a Bible so that I could be sworn in on it on my first day in parliament. I have the Bible here. It is a modest book—as modest and effective as the man who gave it to me. If my faith in the church has faltered in the 35 years since he taught me, my faith in this man has not. He lived a life of selfless service. Sadly, some of his brethren were not made of the same stuff. Continue reading