Crime fund cuts leave locals at risk

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:54): The previous Labor government, in its wisdom, established a proceeds of crime fund. The essence of the fund was to ensure that the ill-gotten gains from crime were recycled into community projects which could ensure we could divert people, particularly young people, from criminal activity and help to get their lives back on track. Against this background, it is of deep concern to members on this side of the House and constituents within my electorate that at Senate estimates this week the senator for Queensland and the minister responsible, the Attorney-General, advised that the government effectively intended to pocket the proceeds of crime. They are not proceeding with a range of announcements that were made by the previous government earlier this year including distribution from the $40 million National Crime Prevention Fund to projects in my electorate run by the PCYC. Deputy Speaker Scott, you could not find a more apolitical organisation than the PCYC and you would not find an organisation within the community that had more respect than the PCYC. Therefore, it is baffling beyond belief that the government has decided not to proceed with a distribution from the proceeds of crime fund to fund a project in my electorate to get kids out of crime and have their lives put back on track. 

Home of Soccer needs funding commitment

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:58): I would like to take this opportunity to raise my concerns about the home of soccer in the Illawarra. Soccer is the most popular sport in the Illawarra and the Illawarra has been a nursery ground for national and international champions, both men and women, within the sport. In recognition of this depth of strength in the region, I worked very closely with Football South Coast and RDA Illawarra together with the member for Grayndler and the member for Ballarat to ensure that there was funding available for a new home for soccer in the Illawarra. In the 2013-14 budget, $7.5 million was set aside to get halfway towards building the new $15-million facility. It would be a world class all-weather pitch with training facilities for youngsters, a club house, parking facilities and new grandstands thereby dragging the Illawarra and its soccer playing facilities well into the 21st century. Unfortunately, we know that there is now a big cloud over the future of this facility. I call on members of the government and members of the Liberal Party to get behind this important project to ensure that the young kids in the Illawarra and the future champions from the Illawarra have the opportunity to play on the sorts of facilities that are available to soccer players in capital cities right around the country. I urge members opposite to support this important facility.

Congratulations Camp Quality Convoy

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:45): Despite the heavy rain last weekend, 6,000 people lined the streets of the Illawarra, waving banners and cheering on the 755 trucks and 860 motorbikes taking part in the annual Camp Quality Convoy fundraiser. Starting at Illawarra Coal's West Cliff Colliery on Appin Rd, the trucks and bikes follow a route down the mountain, through southern Illawarra and finish at Croome Road in Albion Park Rail in my electorate of Throsby. The convoy is now in its ninth year and has raised more than $4 million dollars over this time. This sum includes public donations; however, the majority of the money is raised through competitive bidding wars between local companies for the privilege of being the lead vehicle in the pack of over a thousand. The event generated over $1 million dollars last year alone, but it looks to eclipse this record in 2013, with the lead truck from Coastal Windows in Albion Park donating a whopping $114,000. All proceeds go to Camp Quality, who help more than one in three kids battling cancer in Australia. These are kids like seven-year-old Ruby Marriott, who lives in Mount Warrigal, in my electorate of Throsby. Ruby has been battling leukaemia since she was 4½. Fortunately, she is now in remission but will never forget the fun and games and ability to make her feel 'normal' that Camp Quality gave her during some of her toughest hours. I commend the generosity of the Illawarra community and local initiatives like the convoy—without which, charities like Camp Quality could not keep providing services for children like Ruby.

Clean Energy Legislation (Carbon Tax Repeal) Bill 2013

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (19:13): These bills will repeal, amongst other things, the carbon tax. If it were as simple as that then you would see many members on this side of the House voting in favour of the legislation. Unfortunately, it is not. The legislation goes much further. It removes the legislated cap on carbon emissions, a legislated cap that had bipartisan support until the introduction of this legislation into the House. By removing the Climate Change Authority in one fell swoop it attempts to silence the critics of the government when it comes to economic and scientific advice on the best way to deal with carbon emissions. It removes millions of dollars granted to businesses to help them deal with reducing their carbon emissions through grants that were put in place by the previous government, and does much, much more indeed. Speaker after speaker on this matter have stood here and asked that those on our side of the chamber respect a mandate. The truth is this: each and every one of us who have been lucky to be returned or freshly elected to this place comes here with a mandate: a mandate to implement policies that they put before the electors in their electorate. I did this, and I can tell you that the mandate I have is to ensure that we take strong action on reducing our carbon emissions, and that we do that through the repeal of the carbon tax and the implementation of an emissions trading scheme. Our proposition before the parliament does exactly that. Continue reading

Port Kembla Billy Cart Derby a great success

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:48): It has been 25 years since the last billy cart thundered down Wentworth Street, Port Kembla, in my electorate in a once-annual billy cart derby. The iconic event was relaunched last year thanks to the energy and organisational ability of Red Point Artists. The return of the derby was an overwhelming success and I was pleased to see the Red Point gang set the event again this year. Despite the wet weather last Saturday the 2013 billy cart derby attracted nearly 14,000 spectators lining Wentworth Street to watch over 100 competitors—some from as far as Victoria—whip down the track in their handmade contraptions. There were entries from all ages and occupations, ranging from father-and-son teams with their wooden wagons to the community carts from Lions Clubs and the local SES—a cart I have ridden in myself—right up to the high-speed pods and luges entered by the more daredevil competitors. There was just as much entertainment off the track too with many Port Kembla businesses opening their doors alongside local art exhibitors, street performers, multicultural food vendors and even a motorbike parade. I pay special thanks to all the community at Red Point, including Wynne Gibson and Dulcie Dal Molin, who volunteered their time and money and worked around the clock for weeks to organise this fantastic event. It has well and truly helped put Port Kembla back on the map.

GST on Caravan Parks discriminates against lowest income earners

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (12:06): In 1957 an Illawarra resident by the name of Eric Cleary built a caravan park named the Surfrider Caravan Park in the Illawarra for the sole purpose of providing housing for low-income people. He would be turning in his grave if he saw this ruling, which, as the member for Shortland has advised us, was published in October this year. I congratulate the member for Shortland for taking the first opportunity available to her to bring this motion before the House. In the 55 years since the Surfrider Caravan Park was established, it has continued to serve its valuable purpose of providing low-cost housing to low-income people in the Illawarra. In fact, it is still owned and operated by Mr Cleary's wife, Ada. Continue reading

Tribute to CFMEU in NRE dispute

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:34): Earlier today, we saw the Leader of the House use an industrial dispute of some vintage in Victoria to justify the reintroduction of harsh industrial relations laws into this parliament. We have become accustomed to listening to members of the Liberal Party, in particular, talking about unions—union members, union officers and union officials—in pejorative terms, in a negative fashion, demonising the work that they do. I do not believe I have ever heard government members talking about the hard work of the decent men and women who are unionists and who dedicate their lives to securing jobs, businesses and rights at work for Australian men and women. I would like to use the opportunity of this adjournment debate to level and equalise the noise in this place. I would like to tell a story that the member for Cunningham and I are very familiar with. It is about the work of certain CFMEU officials on the south coast of New South Wales who have been directly responsible for dealing with a very difficult set of circumstances confronting two mines in the Illawarra. Continue reading

Statement on Indigenous Health

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:48): Deputy Speaker, congratulations on your elevation. One of my first acts on being re-elected as the member for Throsby was to participate in the second annual Tour da Country, which is a two-week-long bike ride organised by Illawarra Aboriginal health workers Shane Venables and Ben Russell, who are also members of the Koori Men's Support Group, in my electorate of Throsby. They are part of a 13-rider team that completed a gruelling 12-day, 900-kilometre route from Albion Park, in the Illawarra, down to Albury to raise awareness and promote healthier lifestyles in Aboriginal communities. It is an unfortunate reality that Indigenous Australians suffer from chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease at a higher rate than the rest of the population. These guys come from communities and they have seen the damaging effects firsthand and wanted to do something about closing the gap. The aim of the ride was to encourage their mates to make small changes, like walking an extra 10 minutes a day, eating less junk food, quitting the smokes or getting a health check. These are changes that in the long run will make a big difference to their overall health. The best thing about this initiative is that it is not old men in lab coats lecturing them about how they should live; it is their brothers, cousins and mates providing peer support and being mentors. It is a great initiative. I congratulate all of the organisers and participants and I wish them well in their future endeavours.

Australia – where to next?

The Sydney Institute - September 2, 2013 At the turn of the last century a new nation was born.  Crafted in the Antipodes from the colonies of Britain.  As inspired by the new democracy in North America – as it was loyal to its imperial sovereign.  In the 112 years since, we have built one of the most successful, peaceful and wealthiest nations on earth.  Not without fault or cost.  For too long we denied the rights of the Aboriginal people.  We have not always been good custodians of the land.  We persisted with the idea of White Australia, long after we knew it was wrong. But – today – we are a peaceful, wealthy, resilient and energetic nation, with every reason to be optimistic about our future. As we look around the world we know that this future is not guaranteed.  Our future will be forged in the suburbs of our cities, in the regions – and in the Parliaments of our nation.  It will be imagined – and contested – by the next generation who offer themselves as leaders. I enter this election confident of where our best future lies. I believe that our future prosperity and security lies squarely within the Asia Pacific. We have it within our grasp to build an economic powerhouse – an open trading nation that is truly integrated with the nations of this region.  A prosperous, stable, outward-looking democracy.  Reconciled with its Aboriginal people, confident as a new Republic – but proud of its British ancestry. Continue reading

Federal Labor has delivered for the Illawarra

The Labor government is working hard to assist people in businesses in the Illawarra to modernise, to protect current jobs and to prepare the region for the jobs of the future. Initiatives such as the Steel Transformation Plan, which provides $300 million worth of assistance to the steel industry nationally, particularly BlueScope, which is headquartered in Port Kembla; initiatives such as the $100 million plus worth of funding that the Labor government has invested in Wollongong university in capital works and projects, which will assist the university to be a real leader on growth and development of technology in the future; and the Regional Development Australia fund, which has over $12 million worth of projects including the $2 million worth of funds to local councils recently announced by the minister. We have put $25 million into the Maldon-Dombarton line to bring that important piece of infrastructure one step closer to completion. The Illawarra Region Innovation and Investment Fund is a $30 million fund to attract and develop local businesses and create job opportunities. Over $136 million has been invested into capital works programs in local schools. Add to this the fact that we are rolling out more fibre optic cable through the NBN to more suburbs in the Illawarra than any other region in the country and we are doing our fair share to assist the local economy, which is going through a very difficult transition. Continue reading