Funding for our skilled workforce is an economic priority (18/09/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (20:41): Can I start by thanking the member for Blair for bringing this matter before the House. It is, as the member for Hughes has rightly identified, an important debate. It is a debate that goes to the heart of our economic priorities and to the future of our workforce, because nothing could be more important than ensuring that we have skilled, trained workers to meet the needs of the future—and we know that those needs are going to be large indeed. In the future, less than seven per cent of the jobs will be able to be described as unskilled. That means the balance, the 93 per cent, have to be made up of graduates of either the universities, the TAFEs or other vocational education and training colleges in this country. We know that we will need around 1.7 million more workers with a certificate III or higher qualification between now and 2015, so it is a critical area of economic policy. Continue reading

Understanding Ménière's Disease (11/09/2012)

Although the disease which we discuss today was first discovered by the French physician Prosper Meniere in 1861, I dare say it has been discussed and the name has been used in this chamber more in the last 30 minutes than it has been in the last 30 years. I follow the honourable member in thanking the member for Dunkley for bringing this important issue before the chamber so that we can discuss it and hopefully add to the sum of understanding about a condition which is probably more prevalent on the Australian community than many might think. Continue reading

Commemoration of Mt Kembla mine disaster (16/08/2012)

On 31 July hundreds of people across my region of the Illawarra gathered to honour the 96 men and boys who perished in the Mount Kembla Mine explosion in 1902 and give thanks to the survivors who rebuilt this great community following the tragic disaster. Continue reading

Tribute to Illawarra icon Mick Lord (26/07/2012)

This week we said goodbye to a dear Labor supporter and local swimming legend, Mick Lord. Over recent years as Federal Member for Throsby, I had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Mick, who was a longtime member of the Oak Flats ALP Branch and dedicated supporter of the Labor Party in the Illawarra. Many others knew and loved him from his dedication to the pool. Mick was Shellharbour-Warilla Amateur Swimming Club coach from 1975 to 1990, during which time he steered his beloved daughter Karen to the 1988 Seoul Olympics. Continue reading

We have the opportunity to do the right thing on migration legislation (27/06/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (16:01): I earlier observed in this House that I am the great-grandson of a boat person. He was an illegal immigrant who jumped ship in Albany in the late 1890s. Then, as now, the issue of immigration was a very vexed one in the then colonial parliaments of this country. Then, as now, there were great debates about how we manage the issue. It was in the midst of this same vexed debate that a group of backbenchers met in Parliament House this morning to discuss how we could move beyond the impasse that we currently find ourselves in. I participated in that meeting. I welcome the attendance of members from all sides of this House. Continue reading

Stop the opposition's fear campaign: our coal industry has a strong future (26/06/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (22:25): I commend all members of the House who were able to keep a straight face during the contribution of the member for Hughes just now—particularly during the part of his dissertation where he condemned those on this side of the House for 'peddling fear and doom', when what we have seen from those opposite, and particularly from the member for Hughes, is a 12-month campaign of nothing but fear and doom. I will have a few things to say about that during this adjournment address, because on this side of the House jobs and employment are our priority. Continue reading

Resource companies can't afford to become "job snobs" (19/06/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (21:49): Over the last decade we have heard the term 'job snobs' being applied as a pejorative to workers who are apparently able to take on a job but are unwilling to move to a region to take up that job or to take up an employment opportunity that may exist within the place where they live. It implies that somebody is unwilling to do a job that they are more than capable of doing. Today I rise to point to a significant risk for the mining sector: if mining companies are to escape the tag of being job snobs themselves then they must do everything within their power to ensure that Australians workers who are ready, who are willing, who are able to take up employment in the resources sector, in the booming mining developments in Western Australia and Queensland, are given first choice in taking up those jobs. For the last four years the mining industry has well and truly dominated the political and economic landscape. It is the sector which is driving new investment, over $500 billion worth, in the development or expansion of mines. Employment in the sector is growing; while it still makes up only a relatively small proportion of the overall workforce, it is expanding rapidly. For example, in my own region, employment in the coalmining sector has increased at around 12.6 per cent over the same period when, I note, we were being told by the Leader of the Opposition that mines were all going to close down. Coal production has actually increased by 14 per cent in the last 12 months in my own region alone. Continue reading

Tribute to the life of a local legend (12/06/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:48): I would like to pay tribute to the life of a local legend William Harvey—better known to all as 'Billy Bunter'. Unfortunately Billy passed away earlier this month following a short battle with cancer, and whilst his death was deeply mourned his memorial service paid tribute to a life well lived. They rarely make men of Billy's quality these days. Continue reading

Independent media regulation - it's in everybody's best interests (30/05/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (21:43): The relationship between government and the media is always close but rarely sycophantic. That is why regulation of Australia's media industry is always a controversial topic; you need only look at the howls of derision that greeted the release of the 468-page Finkelstein report in February this year to get a sense of that. Fairfax Media CEO Greg Hywood, for example, said 'What's the problem?' and others have shouted loudly about the sanctity of the freedom of the press. The CEO of News Limited, Mr Kim Williams, said, 'The spectre of a government-funded overseer of a free press in an open and forward-looking democracy cannot be tolerated.' I would argue that there is no threat to democracy or the freedom of the press in providing some oversight or an avenue of appeal or redress to a citizen who claims that, in some instances, the press have got it wrong. In other circumstances, we might call this government funded overseer a court and there is indeed no threat to democracy or the freedom of the press by the existence of courts in this country. Continue reading

Safeguarding the economic future of Port Kembla (29/05/2012)

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:28): It is a great pleasure to be speaking on the Shipping Reform (Tax Incentives) Bill 2012 and to have sat in on the last five or ten minutes of the member for Riverina, who was voicing his party's concerns on the introduction of this legislation. I must admit I am not surprised, because, after 11 years in government, their total contribution to shipping policy was a crippling national strike. Their side of politics brought in the dogs—blokes in balaclavas—who drove out the workers and drove our country into industrial mayhem for literally months. I am not surprised at all that their contribution to this debate is as vacuous as their 11 years in government were when it came to lasting reform of the shipping industry. Continue reading