Priorities for 2018

The good people of the electorate of Whitlam, covering the southern Illawarra suburbs and Southern Highlands of New South Wales, send me to this place to represent their interests and to ensure that the government of this place has a vision, a plan, that is going to move their lives forward—that is going to give their children an opportunity to ensure they are not going backwards, deal with the cost of living and the future of their kids' education, and ensure their kids have got jobs. Continue reading

Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation Report

The terms of reference for the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation include and require the committee to inquire into best practices in regional development, considering both Australian and international examples. They also ask us to inquire into decentralisation of Commonwealth entities or functions, such as departments, parts of departments or specific functions within Commonwealth entities. Thirdly, they ask us to look at the sorts of strategies that the Commonwealth can adopt—and presumably other layers government as well—to encourage corporate entities to decentralise their functions to regional Australia. I'd like to make a few initial observations that go to those terms of reference. I'm going to identify what I see as two particular failures that the committee will be looking into. Continue reading

MPI: Rural and Regional Australia

I enjoyed the minister's contribution. I also have to make the comment that he is the third minister for regional development in three months! So committed are they to regional development that they've had a rotating door of regional development ministers, because they can't make up their minds! While these parlour games have been going on, inequality in regional Australia is growing. Not only is inequality growing between the cities and the bush; it is growing within the bush as well.  Continue reading

Deputy Prime Minister

It's got beyond a joke. The person who fills the second-most senior role in the country is still in his job because 11 National Party MPs can't decide on how, when or where to tap him on the shoulder. We have got the deputy leader of that party who has just told Australia that 100 per cent of the people are behind him. Continue reading

Closing the Gap

Today we're taking note of the Prime Minister's annual report on the Closing the Gap targets. I'd like to open my contribution by joining with the member for Cunningham in paying tribute to the life of the late Aunty Agnes Donovan. Unfortunately, neither the member for Cunningham nor myself can attend her funeral in Wollongong today because of our parliamentary responsibilities. We send our sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Aunty Agnes. She was a much-loved elder within ourcommunity. Continue reading

Appropriations Bill 2017

Australia's a great country, but we really do face some big challenges, and now more than ever Australia needs a Prime Minister with a vision for this country and a vision for its people. But instead we've got a Prime Minister and a government which have completely run out of ideas. Not only have they run out of ideas; they are distracted and divided, and completely bereft of any vision for this country. They say one thing and they do exactly the opposite. Continue reading

Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Bill 2017

The Broadcasting Legislation Amendment (Digital Radio) Bill 2017, which is before the House, concerns radio services, digital radio services and the regulation thereof, services which have been providing access to news, sport, music and entertainment in Australia for well over 90 years. In fact, radio is the most ubiquitous medium in the country and will remain so for many years to come—it's in our cars and workplaces. One of the strengths of radio as compared to many of its competing media is that you can be listening to radio while performing many other functions, including driving a car. Continue reading

Australia Day Awards

I want to congratulate the Illawarra and Southern Highlands Australia Day award winners. In particular, from Shellharbour there was Kiki Cuda, who was the youngest ever winner of the Shellharbour Young Citizen of the Year at the age of 12, recognising her tremendous work for charity.  Continue reading

Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017

The bill before the House, the Criminal Code Amendment (Impersonating a Commonwealth Body) Bill 2017, creates a new offence. I want to say at the outset that the bill is not necessary. It creates a new offence of impersonating a Commonwealth office or agency. We'll support the bill, but we argue quite strenuously that it is not necessary. There are already sufficient powers and offences within the Commonwealth Criminal Code to cover the offences, if they could be proved, that the member for Fairfaxcomplains so bitterly about.  Continue reading

Rural and Regional Australia

We've got to do something this year about growing inequality in this country. It's a problem. The Prime Minister is blind to it, but the rest of parliament should not be. If you live in rural or regional Australia, chances are you are doing it tough. If you're in the top 20 per cent of income earners, you probably live in the city. Continue reading