The Jones Report - 15 March 2019

The Prime Minister was in the region today. He wasn’t in a good mood.

He didn’t drop in to the student strike for action on Climate Change – because he hasn’t got a policy on climate change.

He didn’t talk about wages – because wages have flatlined and his government has backed a cut to penalty rates.

He didn’t talk to dairy farmers who are going to the wall – because they rejected our plan to make dairy farming sustainable through a farm-gate floor price.

He didn’t visit a TAFE because his Government's response to a skills shortage has been to cut $2 billion from the sector.

That didn’t leave a lot of options.

He could have matched Labor's promise to fix mobile phone black spots on the Princes Highway, but he didn’t make any funding announcements.

He didn’t take many questions from journalists.

He did, however, open the campaign office of his controversial hand-picked candidate Warren Mundine.

Other visitors to the region this week were Mark Latham who talked up Xenophobia and fear and Barnaby Joyce who talked down his leadership ambitions.

I wouldn’t normally support absenteeism, but todays action by hundreds of school kids throughout the region – and millions around the globe is a worthy exception.

The Climate is changing, there are more extreme weather events, species extinction and rising sea levels threatening the lives of millions.

Young people are right to stand up and fight for their future.

And I don’t think that Education Minister Dan Tehan, who has turned up to Parliament for only 8 days this year is in a strong position to criticise the kids.

While some politicians have condemned the kids taking time out of school to call for action, I offered our local students my support

Meanwhile Labor put wage growth in the middle of the election agenda

We agree with the Reserve Bank and the Business Council that wages need to grow. A pay rise for the lowest earners and a reversal of the cut to penalty rates are a good place to start.

We will also provide bigger tax cuts to low and middle income earners funded by rejecting the Governments big business tax cuts and closing the loop holes in our existing tax system, double the Government’s income tax cut and we will reverse the cuts to penalty rates – this will help Australians tackle the rising cost of living.

When low paid workers get a pay rise, they spend that in the local shops. That’s good for small businesses.

80% of emergency calls are made from a mobile phone.

That's why we need reliable mobile signal along some of our major roads.

Anyone who's driven along the Princes Highway knows the service along the road is anything but reliable. There's a reason for that: 117 black spots have been recorded in the region, but only 8 have been fixed.

Yesterday Fiona Phillips and I announced that a Shorten Labor Government will put up to $2 million towards fixing black spots along the highway.

Workers at Port Kembla Coal Terminal remain stuck in a protracted workplace dispute as they fight for fair pay and conditions.

They have faced a lock out by the company, the decision to terminate their agreement and are fighting to keep job security clauses in their agreement to protect against the casualisation of the workforce through labour hire.

A Shorten Labor Government will prevent employers from choosing the nuclear option of terminating agreements, forcing workers back on to the award, which undermines pay and conditions. 

Unlike the Liberals who are bereft of a plan to grow wages and reduce inequality, Labor has a number of positive policies to improve our laws to deliver better wages and conditions for working Australians.

Prepoll is now open for the fast approaching state election.

I got out to some of the local pre poll locations to spend some time with our incredibly hard working Labor volunteers who are ensuring our candidates across the Illawarra, Southern Highlands and South Coast are well represented as people head in to vote.

Shellharbour Surf Life Saving Club got their new ATV delivered this week, and it is a ripper!

I was able to help the club out with a grant to be able to replace their older vehicle that was overdue for an upgrade, to ensure the club can continue its important work keeping locals safe at one of the region's stunning beaches.