Tribute to Speaker Joan Child AO

Many fine words have been said in tribute to former Speaker Joan Child; I would like to add my voice to those. She has had a wonderful life story, an inspiration to many. She overcame adversity, as the member for Canberra has just outlined: raising five children as a single mum, finding time to get involved and interested in politics, being a part of the campaign that led Gough Whitlam to office, being elected herself and making a great contribution to her electorate, our party and to this parliament in being a role model for future women to come. Indeed, it is because of the contribution of women like Joan Child that we subsequently, within the Labor Party, set up EMILY's List, to ensure that women like Joan Child are no longer an exception—a grand exception—but that they become the norm.

Job creation and job protection will always be our Governemnt's highest priority

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (11:41): When the Curtin government introduced benefits for unemployed people and sick people and other special benefits in 1943, it did so against the backdrop of the Great Depression, where hundreds of thousands of people were thrown out of jobs for many, many months—in some instances years. The poverty and social dislocation and the hardship to families that resulted from that ensured that, when proposals came before the Curtin government in 1943, they received a very favourable reception. Of course, we were not the only country in the world to be introducing such schemes. In the 1920s the United Kingdom had introduced such a scheme, and in the 1930s a scheme had been introduced in the United States as well. What tied them all together was the common view that the No. 1 priority for governments should be to try and provide meaningful work for their citizens and that the benefits should be sufficient to provide a decent standard of dignity while somebody was looking for work and looking after their family in the same instances. That remains our priority today, and in Australia we are fortunate that there are now some 830,000 fewer people who are unemployed today than would have been had we not been elected to government in 2007—that is to say, we have created 830,000 new jobs in the Australian economy over that period. That should be our priority. In this country we have avoided the ravages of unemployment that have beset Europe, the United States and other similar economies around the world, because the government has done the right thing. We have spent where we have needed to spend to stimulate the economy, at the same time as looking after people who are in need. We have not ignored the problems of those people on Newstart, as the member for Melbourne would like to suggest. Indeed, at one point recently a $1 billion income support bonus scheme was introduced, providing $210 extra per year for eligible singles and $350 per year for most couples to assist them to meet increasing costs of living. That said, job creation and job protection will always be our higher priority. For example, on this side of the House we do not think you do anything to aid job security by making it easier to sack someone. We believe the best form of job security is providing decent industrial relations laws and a strong economy to ensure that businesses continue to protect people. Continue reading

Tribute to ALP trailblazer Kerry Murray

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:46): I would like to take this opportunity to say a few words in tribute to a constituent of mine, Kerry Murray, who lost her battle with cancer earlier this year. Kerry was a stalwart of the Southern Highlands branch of the ALP, with more than 38 years continuous membership of the party. She focused her energy on her beloved family, her wide network of friends, her garden and actively campaigning in her community whenever a cause arose. Kerry and her late husband, Fraser, were both teachers and they shared a passion for the power of education to transform young lives. At a time when dedicated services for women were close to non-existent, Kerry, an avowed feminist, advocated for women's health services, child care and many other causes close to home and nationally. Kerry was a Labor woman to her core, and the Labor Party was fortunate to have someone of her capacity and commitment in its midst. According to her close friend and other mainstay of the Southern Highlands branch, Joan Yeo, Kerry gave one of her sons, Jim, the middle name of Edward as a tribute to her hero, Edward Gough Whitlam. On election days, Kerry would usually be found at the Mittagong Preschool booth, her favourite base for encouraging Labor votes in any election. Continue reading

Second reading on Apropriation Bills 3 and 4 (2012-2013)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (11:59): I am pleased to be speaking today on the additional estimates bills, the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2012-2013 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2012-2013. They are the bills which seek the authority from parliament for additional expenditure of money from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. They are also an opportunity for us to do a stocktake on the economic record of government, what it means for us in our local electorates, and where the challenges and threats are for ordinary Australian families when it comes to economic management in this country. The total additional appropriation being sought through the bills before the House today is just over $1.27 billion. The total appropriation being sought in the first bill is approximately $600 million. This proposed appropriation arises from changes in the estimates of program expenditure, variation in the timing of payments, increases in forecast program take-up and policy decisions taken by the government in response to changed circumstances since the last budget. The major appropriations proposed in the bill come from the Department of Employment and Workplace Relations, which will receive an additional $85 million towards the support for the childcare assistance program to fund an increased demand for the Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance Program. It is a good sign that there has been an increase in demand for this program. It means that there are more parents entering the workforce or entering training to assist them entering the workforce, and that is good for our economy. It is one of the reasons, when you compare the Australian unemployment rate to that around the world, we are at levels envied by just about every other country in the world. With all the turmoil going on in the international economy, unemployment rates below six per cent are nearly half that experienced in Europe and in the United States. Continue reading

A more effective anti-dumping system will support jobs in our manufacturing sector

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (17:48): Since the early 1980s there has been an almost bipartisan position in this parliament that Australia's best interests lay in being an open trading nation. It has been the reason that we can now purchase a TV set for less than we could 20 years ago. It is the reason that we now are able to purchase computers and all manner of other electronic goods for a fraction of what were able to 10 years ago. It is the reason many Australian working families can afford to have multiple pairs of shoes for their children. When I was growing up if you had more than two pairs of shoes, you were considered to be a wealthy kid. The benefits of having open trade and being an open trading nation have not been without cost. It is absolutely true to say that an open and freer trading arrangement has also been a source of enormous dislocation and restructuring within our own economies, within our manufacturing industries and within our agricultural industries. It is also true to say that those changes have had greater impact on some regions than others. As a trading nation we understand that it is in the broad interest to engage with the rest of the world and enjoy the benefits of open trade. Continue reading

Adjournment speech on corruption

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (19:25): It has been a tough fortnight in sport as well is in the political arena. Last week, the Minister for Justice and Home Affairs, Jason Clare, hauled the boss of every major sport to Canberra to tell them and the nation that graft and corruption was rife in sport—drugs, physicians, players, gaming, organised crime gangs, the lot. And, while journalists dived for a dictionary to decipher the word 'peptide', we heard allegations of match fixing in multiple sports codes, and we shook our heads in disgust. Steve 'Blocker' Roach, who was no on-field angel in his day, summed it up pretty well on the front page of my local newspaper, the Illawarra Mercury, when he said: If there’s 100 players, entire teams, whatever, found guilty of this latest drugs issue or match fixing, we don’t want them in our game. Throw them out. Continue reading

Government action against illegal early release super schemes

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:05): We are debating a bill to amend our legislation in respect of superannuation. The Labor Party's superannuation policy has an important public policy purpose, and that is to build a pool of individual and national retirement savings so that individuals can retire with some dignity and some income security, and also to provide some relief for future generations in respect of pension payments and meeting the challenges of an aging demographic. In respect of this the government provides a tax concession on contributions and earnings for moneys going into the fund and the earnings of the fund. You would have to say that on any fair analysis the policy is working. We have over $1.4 trillion in retirement savings invested superannuation accounts around the country. This is close to the fourth-largest pool of superannuation funding anywhere in the world. Continue reading

I welcome the introduction of the National Disability Insurance Scheme

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (17:06): It is with great pleasure that I rise to speak on this historic piece of legislation. Indeed, today is a bad day for people who hate good news, as the member for Cowper just displayed in his contribution. Never has anyone found so much to oppose on their path to offering support. In my first speech to this parliament, I reflected upon the fact that before working here I spent many years working in the community sector. I spent many years working as a careworker for children with developmental disabilities . In that time I learnt firsthand at very close range the struggle that families engage in on a daily basis to provide some semblance of normality to their child with a disability, and their other children, when so much tugs in the other direction. I learnt so much from the young children themselves—perhaps more than I was ever able to teach them. Continue reading

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Recognition Bill

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (10:56): I am very pleased to follow the member for Aston and commend him on the fine words that he said and pass onto him, his family and his friends our sympathy for the loss of their friend but also the loss to the nation of somebody who has been so active in this area—law and policy. There was something very poetic in an historical sense that yesterday, as the Prime Minister stood in the House delivering the fifth Closing the Gap statement on behalf of the Australian government, parliament and people, our friends across the ditch were celebrating Waitangi Day, a national public holiday. Waitangi Day celebrates the fact that in 1860 the people of Aotearoa commenced their first act of reconciliation by signing a treaty with their first people. Of course, we have no such treaty, and there is no proposition by this government in the current process to sign such a treaty. But we are embarked on a process of reconciliation, and the bill before the House today is an important reminder of that. Continue reading

Australian Government Announces Legislation To Establish the Australian Anti-Dumping Commission (06/02/2013)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (15:02): My question is to the Minister for Home Affairs, Minister for Justice and Cabinet Secretary. Will the minister update the House on the progress in implementing the government's plan to strengthen Australia's antidumping regime and support our workers and manufacturers? Continue reading