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

Maldon-Dombarton

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

A billion cut by Turnbull from Victorian Local Government

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (13:39): As we speak, citizens in the great state of Victoria are in the process of deciding who will form the councillors and mayors of the local governments throughout the state. It is an important job everywhere, but it is particularly important in Victoria, where the local councils perform so many of the functions that are performed by state governments and community organisations in other states around Australia—functions like running libraries, early childhood learning, childcare, and home and community care programs, just to name a few. Continue reading

Broadband

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (15:31): In question time today we saw the Prime Minister, in his amateur theatrical mode, make a huge song and dance about the government's great successes in rolling out the National Broadband Network. Well, right around the country you could hear people switching off their television sets, because there is a huge gap between what the Prime Minister thinks is reality when it comes to the rollout of the NBN and the lived reality of people in their homes right around the country.     Continue reading

Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2016-2017

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (17:25): I rise to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2016-2017 and related bills. What an honour it is, if somewhat intimidating, to follow the member for Moreton in this important debate. His oratorical and poetical skills are famous throughout this place. Sometimes they get beyond him, but we are never left in any doubt about what he believes in and what he thinks of the legislation before the House, which is now a set of appropriation bills—a package of bills which are required to fund the normal ongoing business of government. Continue reading

Dapto Dogs

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Whitlam) (10:33): The Dapto dogs are an icon of the Illawarra—in fact, not just of the Illawarra, because, wherever I go throughout New South Wales, Australia and even the world, when I people where I am from they go, 'Ah, the Dapto dogs.' There has been racing continuously in the Illawarra since 1937, but the New South Wales Premier is attempting to criminalise this sport. If he gets his way, the Dapto dogs will cease to operate in July next year. He says he has no choice. He says he is operating on the recommendations of the commissioner he appointed to investigate the sport. That is simply not true. If you look at the report, the report by former Justice Michael McHugh AC QC, you will see it provides the New South Wales government with not one but two courses of action. Continue reading