The Speaker (The Hon. George Richard Torbay)
Friday 21 May 2010
took the chair at 10.00 a.m.
read the Prayer and acknowledgement of country.
BUSINESS OF THE HOUSE
Notices of Motions
General Business Notices of Motions (General Notices) given.
The Clerk announced that the following petitions signed by fewer than 500 persons were lodged for presentation:
Wagga Wagga Base Hospital
Petition requesting funding for and the commencement of construction of a new Wagga Wagga Base Hospital in this parliamentary term, received from Mr Daryl Maguire
Tumut Renal Dialysis Service
Petition asking that the House support the establishment of a satellite renal dialysis service in Tumut, received from Mr Daryl Maguire
Tumut Hospital and Batlow Multiple Purpose Service
Petition asking that vital equipment be provided immediately to both Tumut Hospital and Batlow Multiple Purpose Service, received from Mr Daryl Maguire
Wagga Wagga Respite Services
Petition requesting funding for a second respite house and the provision of accessible access to the existing respite premises in the Wagga Wagga electorate, received from Mr Daryl Maguire
Hawkesbury River Railway Station Access
Petition requesting improved access to Hawkesbury River railway station, received from Mrs Judy Hopwood
Bus Service 311
Petition praying that the Government urgently improve bus service 311 to make it more frequent and more reliable, received from Ms Clover Moore
Religious Education and School Ethics Classes
Petition opposing the proposed ethics classes and requesting continuation of the scripture classes, received from Mr Kerry Hickey
TAFE Employee Negotiations
Petition requesting fair negotiations with TAFE teachers, received from Mrs Judy Hopwood
Petition opposing the sale of animals in pet shops, received from Ms Clover Moore
The Clerk announced that the following petition signed by more than 500 persons was lodged for presentation:
Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital
Petition requesting the rebuilding of the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Hospital, received from Mrs Judy Hopwood
ANZAC MEMORIAL (BUILDING) AMENDMENT BILL 2010
Bill introduced on motion by Mr John Aquilina, on behalf of Ms Kristina Keneally.
Agreement in Principle
Mr JOHN AQUILINA
(Riverstone—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.02 a.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now agreed to in principle.
More than 10 years before the Anzac Memorial Building in Hyde Park was completed in November 1934, a legislative base was established for its operation in the form of the Anzac Memorial (Building) Act of 1923. The Act was designed to unify under the care of a trust a number of fundraising efforts that had first emerged during World War I, each with differing memorial proposals. The trust initially comprised the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition and the Lord Mayor, along with three ex-service organisations, including the forerunner of the RSL. The Commonwealth Bank and the Public Trustee also served on the trust as keepers of the funds. This trust successfully oversaw the worldwide design competition and continued fundraising that eventually led to the building of a most remarkable memorial, one that is rich in symbolism and yet simple in its dignity.
The architectural achievement alone is testimony to the legacy that the building's depression era workers, many of whom were returned servicemen themselves, have bequeathed to succeeding generations. The aesthetic merit only serves to enhance the purpose for which it was built—this solemn memorial stands in silent testimony to wartime sacrifice. The Anzac Memorial Building was the culmination of post-World War I efforts to erect memorials in every Australian town and suburb. These war memorials, of which there are believed to be more than 3,000 throughout New South Wales, were built to provide places of reflection on the sacrifices of the past and comfort for the families of the fallen.
The establishment of the Veterans Affairs portfolio in 2009 has enabled the New South Wales Government to give particular focus to preserving and restoring these memorials. All memorials serve to remind present and future generations of the sacrifices endured during wartime and the responsibility we have to honour those who served—they are precious tributes to the courage and mateship that are synonymous with our Anzac legend. The Anzac Memorial in Hyde Park is the pre-eminent expression of the outpouring of mourning after the Great War. With the passage of time, recognition has also been made of the immense sacrifices of the World War II generation and in the subsequent wars and conflicts that have plagued the latter half of the twentieth century. It now stands as a haven to the memory of those who have served in all wars.
The Anzac Memorial is indeed a substantial memorial befitting the heart of this nation's largest city. With the passage of time, many of our veterans are also ageing, especially those who fought during World War II and in Korea and Vietnam. Consequently, it is tremendously important that the wider community take greater responsibility for honouring our commitment to never forget their sacrifices. The New South Wales Government in recent years has contributed significantly to the preservation and enhancement of the State's principal war memorial. The Government's $6 million capital upgrade for the memorial was recently completed and the building reopened on the occasion of its seventy-fifth anniversary on 24 November 2009. This represented the first substantial renovation of the building since it was completed in 1934.
I am pleased to inform members that the professionalism with which this work was undertaken has been recognised, with the trustees and the Government Architect's Office winning one of the top National Trust Heritage Awards last month. The Government has also increased the memorial's budget support by $750,000 per annum, commencing in 2009-10, to bring the memorial's recurrent budget to a total of $1.25 million. This increase provides funds for enhanced security, additional regular maintenance and a curatorial capacity for the memorial's memorabilia. The next step is to undertake important and overdue reform of the memorial's governance and management. This initiative will be achieved through the Anzac Memorial (Building) Amendment Bill 2010 now brought before the House.
The trust has remained virtually unchanged since the 1920s. However, all parties involved, including the RSL, agree that a modernised and more strategic trust supported by the professional resources of government will ensure the memorial can continue to develop into the future, particularly in its education role. These fundamental reforms are being pursued in partnership with the RSL and will retain the essential non-partisan nature of the trust. Reform will ensure that the resources of government are available to the memorial. The recent significant contributions of the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Government Architect's Office will continue, bringing a strategic focus and essential building expertise to the trust's work.
The State Library has made available its collection management expertise and the Department of Education and Training will facilitate enhanced curriculum connections with the new Spirit of Anzac exhibition, also opened in November 2009. In recognition of these essential contributions, clause 2 of schedule makes the Director-General of the Department of Education and Training, the New South Wales Government Architect and the State Librarian trustees, in addition to the Premier, the Leader of the Opposition, the Lord Mayor of Sydney and the President of the RSL (New South Wales), who are currently trustees. The President of the TB Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen's Association of New South Wales (Inc.), which, along with the RSL, is one of the founding trustees, will continue on the trust until the association chooses to relinquish its post, referred to as the transition date in schedule 1. The TB association is nearing the end of a proud history of care and advocacy for the needs of veterans with tuberculosis. I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the many years of service given by the association's president, Mr Stan Poulsen, not only to those suffering the effects of tuberculosis, but also to the work of the Anzac Memorial.
New section 4 provides for the appointment of a veterans' representative, nominated by the RSL president, to replace the TB association president at a transition date provided for in new section 3 (5) in schedule 1. The Chief Executive Officer of the New South Wales Trustee and Guardian will no longer be a trustee. Instead a community representative will be appointed by the Premier who has financial or business qualifications or experience that will assist the trustees. Both this person and the veterans' representative will have terms of three years, but will be eligible for reappointment.
New section 2 (1A) specifies the Premier as chairperson of the trustees, with new section 3 enabling the Premier to authorise a proxy to also exercise the functions of chairperson. The Premier's proxy will ordinarily be the Minister holding the portfolio of Minister Assisting the Premier on Veterans Affairs. In the absence of the Minister Assisting, the RSL president, appointed as deputy chairperson by new section 2 (1B), will exercise the functions of chairperson. New section 5 in schedule will add to the powers of the trustees, a role promoting an understanding of Australia's military history and heritage, as well as conducting community education, a critical role that the memorial will be expected to play in coming years. New section 6 provides for the trustees to delegate their functions to any trustee or to the Department of Premier and Cabinet. The new Office for Veterans Affairs in the Department of Premier and Cabinet will provide secretariat services to the trustees.
Minor amendments will also be made to the Anzac Memorial (Building) By-laws 1937. Schedule 2 of the bill seeks to modernise terminology and to update the quorum requirement to reflect the increased size of the trust. A further amendment to the Returned and Services League of Australia (New South Wales Branch) Incorporation Act 1935 included in schedule 3 of the bill, appoints the RSL as Memorial Guardian, a role similar to that which applies to the Cenotaph in Martin Place. This appointment gives special honour to the RSL and its members, as well as a gatekeeper role in preserving the memorial's appropriate use. In these ways, the New South Wales Government will ensure that the Anzac Memorial Building remains at the heart of the whole community, fulfilling its commitment to remember. In the words of Laurence Binyon's Ode to the Fallen
… as we that are left grow old:…
We will remember them.
We must ensure that the Anzac Memorial Building continues to inspire reflection on Australia's military past in our generation and for generations to come. The New South Wales Government remains committed to maintaining and equipping this vital work of remembrance. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mrs Judy Hopwood and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AMENDMENT (CONSEQUENTIAL PROVISIONS) BILL 2010
Bill introduced on motion by Mr David Harris, on behalf of Mr Frank Sartor.
Agreement in Principle
Mr DAVID HARRIS
(Wyong—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.14 a.m.]: I move:
That this bill be now agreed to in principle.
The purpose of the Industrial Relations Amendment (Consequential Provisions) Bill 2010 is to make a range of relatively minor amendments to the New South Wales Industrial Relations Act 1996 and to update terminology in industrial relations legislation in New South Wales. These amendments are necessary as a consequence of the changes brought about when this Parliament passed legislation that referred private sector industrial relations matters to the Commonwealth under the Industrial Relations (Commonwealth Powers) Act 2009. That Act took effect on 1 January 2010 and resulted in the creation of a national system for private sector employers and employees in this State.
The New South Wales Government's decision to participate in the national industrial relations system was made only after lengthy consultation and negotiations with the Commonwealth Government and only after the New South Wales Government was certain of the contents of the laws that would cover employers and employees in New South Wales. The final piece of the Federal legislation, the Fair Work (State Referrals and Other Measures) Act 2009, was introduced only into the Commonwealth Parliament in late October 2009. Given that there was very little time to draft and pass the referral legislation before Parliament rose in 2009, the New South Wales Government decided to introduce legislation necessary to give effect to the referral and its consequences in two parts.
Members will remember that historic day late last year when the New South Wales Government introduced the Industrial Relations (Commonwealth Powers) Bill 2009 into this Parliament. The legislative docking mechanism in that bill had to be introduced and passed before the end of the 2009 parliamentary session in order to ensure that the private sector industrial relations matters referred by New South Wales were part of the national industrial relations system when it commenced on 1 January 2010.
I now bring before the House the second part of the legislation, which makes transitional and consequential amendments to the Industrial Relations Act 1996 and other industrial relations legislation so that the jurisdictions are aligned and the terminology used in the new national system legislation is properly reflected in New South Wales Acts. Members will remember that under the arrangements agreed with the Commonwealth for the creation of a national workplace relations system for the private sector, which is reflected in the terms of the referral legislation of both New South Wales and the Commonwealth, the Minister for Industrial Relations is empowered to make an order declaring local government or State public service sector entities to not be national system employers. Where the declaration is endorsed by the Commonwealth Minister, the declared employers and their employees are thereafter covered by the State industrial relations system.
To ensure a smooth transition for these entities when they join the State industrial relations system, this bill makes provisions so that Federal awards and agreements that cover those entities and their employees are recognised and continue to apply as industrial instruments under the Industrial Relations Act 1996. To avoid disruption to employees and employers when their industrial relations regulation moves from the Federal to the State system, a new transitional State instrument will be taken to be an award or enterprise agreement to achieve the greatest deal of correspondence to the type of instrument it was under the Federal system. The nominal expiry date of a new State instrument will fall on the same date on which the former Federal instrument would have nominally expired or the date the instrument is rescinded or terminated, if those dates occur before a maximum nominal expiry date of two years from the date of transition.
The bill also provides the New South Wales Industrial Relations Commission with a broad discretion to exempt a party from the Act and vary or revoke any provision of such an award or enterprise agreement if it is satisfied that it is fair and reasonable to do so under the circumstances. Such circumstances may include assessing the appropriateness of terms and conditions of a former Federal industrial instrument having regard to the legislative minimum conditions and standards, test case principles and the no net detriment test in New South Wales. Also, the bill provides that a regulation can be made to ensure that any other matters necessary to ensure a smooth transition of these instruments can be achieved.
As part of updating terminology, this bill replaces references to the previous Commonwealth industrial relations laws, for example the Workplace Relations Act 1996 and the instruments under that Act, with references to the current Fair Work laws and the instruments under the new national industrial relations system. Similarly, the bill replaces references to the Australian Industrial Relations Commission in the Industrial Relations Act 1996 with a reference to the new independent umpire established under the Fair Work Act 2009, Fair Work Australia. This is particularly relevant for section 50 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996, which requires that as soon as practicable after the making of a national decision a full bench of the New South Wales commission must give consideration to that decision.
Under section 50, the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales must adopt the principles and provisions of a national decision for the purposes of awards and other matters under the Act unless it is satisfied that it is not consistent with the objects of the Act or that there are other good reasons for not doing so. Members will remember that before the introduction of the WorkChoices legislation by the Howard Government, there was a high degree of comity between State and Federal industrial relations tribunals. The WorkChoices laws were destructive in a number of ways and were no less divisive in how they broke up the relationship between independent tribunals throughout Australia, which had provided uniform annual wage outcomes across the nation each year. In the State Wage Case 2006 decision, the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales held:
A decision of the Australian Fair Pay Commission has no statutory relevance for this Commission and it is only a "National decision" of the Australian Industrial Relations Commission that we are required to consider under section 50 of the Act.
The Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales went on to state:
The WorkChoices Act has no express reference to fixing safety net wages for the low paid according to either the hereto fundamental important criterion of fairness or the needs of the low paid.
Through section 284 of the Fair Work Act 2009, the Rudd Government has reintroduced the requirement for an independent body, Fair Work Australia, to establish and maintain a safety net of fair minimum wages. Unlike the Howard Government's Fair Pay Commission, Fair Work Australia is guided by a balanced set of factors similar to the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales to make fair and just decisions. That is why it is now appropriate for the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales to once again take into account national decisions such as annual wage review decisions, and consider whether it is appropriate to adopt those principles or provisions for the purposes of awards and other matters under the Industrial Relations Act 1996.
The jurisdiction of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales still applies to the public sector and local government, and although most private sector industrial relations matters have been referred to the Commonwealth workers identified under schedule 1 of the Industrial Relations Act 1996 will remain subject to decisions of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales. These are the workers who will benefit from the commission's consideration of minimum wage decisions of Fair Work Australia.
As part of aligning the New South Wales industrial relations laws with the new national industrial relations legislation, the bill also amends section 146B of the Industrial Relations Act 1996. Various provisions of the Fair Work Act 2009 and its predecessor, the Workplace Relations Act, made it possible for the parties to various types of Federal industrial instruments to nominate persons to provide dispute resolution services. Most preserved State agreements have now expired, but some have had their nominal duration extended pursuant to the provisions of the Workplace Relations Amendment (Transition to Forward with Fairness) Act 2008, which was the first tranche of fair work laws.
It is appropriate for the New South Wales laws to be amended to ensure that rights of parties to nominate members of the State commission as their dispute provider are respected. In that context, the definition of Federal enterprise agreement has been broadened to include a preserved State agreement where such an agreement is still in its nominal term. The amendments to section 146B simply ensure that parties who have previously agreed may continue to nominate members of the Industrial Relations Commission of New South Wales to perform such dispute resolution services. The bill also makes a minor technical amendment updating terminology in section 4 (13) (a) of the Long Service Leave Act 1955 so that a Federal award includes a modern award and a division 2B State award.
The package of amendments in this bill moved by the Government are relatively minor but highly necessary, and this bill completes the job which commenced late last year of creating one set of laws for private sector industrial relations in New South Wales. The bill also ensures that where a government entity is declared to be more appropriately regulated under the State jurisdiction, the transition back into the State system will be as smooth as is possible. Conditions of employment applying to employees in instruments transitioning will be respected so long as they meet New South Wales minimum conditions of employment. The commission will be at hand to resolve any difficulties that may arise.
The bill also respects the wishes of parties in preserved State agreements to have their preferred commission members from the State Industrial Relations Commission resolve disputes. This is another example of the respect that the Industrial Relations Commission in New South Wales has from business and employees in this State. The New South Wales commission has played a vital role and will continue to be called upon by employees and employers in the public sector and the local government sector to resolve the most complex of disputes.
This bill finishes the job of creating a national system of industrial relations in New South Wales, with one set of laws applying to each workplace—a great achievement in this State. The Government will continue to ensure that the industrial relations jurisdiction in this State remains fair, equitable, modern and productive. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Daryl Maguire and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George):
Government business having concluded, the House will now proceed to Orders of the Day (Committee Reports).
LEGISLATION REVIEW COMMITTEE
Question—That the House take note of the report—proposed.
Mrs JUDY HOPWOOD
Report: Legislation Review Digest No. 6 of 2010
(Hornsby) [10.27 a.m.]: The Chair of the Legislation Review Committee, the member for Londonderry, is not in the Chamber, so I will speak briefly to the report of the committee entitled "Legislation Review Digest No. 6 of 2010", dated 18 May 2010. The Legislation Review Committee is an extremely important committee and it is important that I place on the record—
I acknowledge that the chair of the committee, the member for Londonderry, has now arrived in the Chamber. He will contribute to this debate following my brief contribution. The committee deliberated upon the following bills: the Appropriation (Budget Variations) Bill 2010, the Charter of Budget Honesty (Election Promises Costing) Amendment Bill 2010, the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2010, the Coroners Amendment (Domestic Violence Death Review Team) Bill 2010, the Liquor Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, the Local Government Amendment (General Rate Exemptions) Bill 2010, and the Transport Administration Amendment Bill 2010.
I comment on the Coroners Amendment (Domestic Violence Death Review Team) Bill 2010 with regard to its importance to people who have been working in the domestic violence area for so many years. We are taking steps to ensure we listen attentively to the people who work in the domestic violence area. The fact that the Government has introduced the bill to enable debate on this important issue is a good step forward, and I am sure lives will be saved as a result of the legislation. The functions of the Legislation Review Committee with respect to bills, as set out in the digest, are as follows:
(a) to consider any Bill introduced into Parliament, and
(b) to report to both Houses of Parliament as to whether any such Bill, by express words or otherwise:
(i) trespasses unduly on personal rights and liberties, or
(ii) makes rights, liberties or obligations unduly dependent upon insufficiently defined administrative powers, or
(iii) makes rights, liberties or obligations unduly dependent upon non-reviewable decisions, or
(iv) inappropriately delegates legislative powers, or
(v) insufficiently subjects the exercise of legislative power to parliamentary scrutiny.
I commend the hardworking committee for its weekly deliberation on bills to be debated in this Chamber. I also commend the hardworking committee secretariat, led by Catherine Watson, for producing this report. I advise all members of the discussion paper that is available on issues associated with public interest and legislation, and remind them that 4 June is the deadline for submitting any thoughts that they might have.
Mr ALLAN SHEARAN
(Londonderry) [10.31 a.m.]: Legislation Review Digest No. 6 was tabled on 18 May 2010. As previously mentioned, that report examines seven bills. For the benefit of members I will summarise some of the key issues of concern identified by the committee that have been referred to the Parliament for its consideration. Some of those issues include the disclosure of confidential information under the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2010. The committee notes that the bill enables an arbitrator, when acting as a mediator, to collect information from parties to a commercial mediation and to treat such information as confidential. However, when the mediation processes break down and proceed to arbitration, the bill then requires the arbitrator to disclose to all parties to the matter information considered material to the arbitration proceedings.
The committee is concerned that the provision that compels the arbitrator to disclose information to other parties either contradicts or undermines the provision that compels the arbitrator, acting as a mediator, to protect information received as confidential. Further, the committee is concerned that the collection of confidential information from one party and the subsequent disclosure of that information to other parties potentially could abrogate the rights of the first party against self-incrimination. Also of concern under the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2010 is that a court may order the disclosure of confidential information in certain circumstances when such an order may not be appealable. The committee noted in its concerns that the bill seeks to subject individual rights, such as the protection of confidential information, to be unduly dependent on decisions that cannot be appealed or reviewed.
The committee had ongoing concerns relating to the Liquor Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, which seeks to extend the operation of alcohol-free zones. The committee always understands the need to balance individual rights with public safety and it recognises the disruption that alcohol can have on an individual's enjoyment when participating in public events. However, the committee noted that extending the operation of alcohol-free zones and associated penalties regarding the issue of notices and the confiscating or disposal of alcohol may sometimes affect differentially, or impact disproportionately, on marginalised groups. The committee raised this concern previously during discussion on the Liquor Legislation Amendment Bill 2008.
As always, I urge members to go directly to the Legislation Review Digest if they are interested in specific details or in background information relating to bills that have been reviewed. In conclusion, reports such as this aim at assisting members in their consideration of bills and raising awareness and respect for personal rights and liberties. In this regard the committee goes to great lengths to try to focus primarily on those personal rights and liberties, rather than providing any political commentary which, of course, can be and is conducted during other parliamentary occasions. Despite committee members having differing party and political views, generally we reach a consensus when presenting our reports. It is in this spirit that the Legislation Review Digest is presented. I hope that it will continue to be of value to all members.
Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON
(Burrinjuck) [11.35 a.m.]: I will make only a brief contribution to debate on the report of the Legislation Review Committee. I appreciate the work that goes into producing the Legislation Review Digest every parliamentary week. However, this week, when I required a copy of the committee's report to refer to a bill that was being debated on Tuesday evening, I could not obtain one. No copies were available anywhere in the Chamber. Members are accustomed to receiving those reports that have almost become part of the furniture in this place. I thank the committee and the secretariat for the great job that they are doing, but I had to ask the Clerk to obtain a copy of the committee's comments relating to the Coroners Amendment (Domestic Violence Death Review Team) Bill 2010, or one of the other bills that was referred to in the Legislation Review Digest. The Clerk obtained a copy of the committee's comments relating to that bill, but not the complete report.
Mr Allan Shearan:
Point of clarification: For the information of the member, the committee meets at 12.30 p.m. on Tuesday and it tables the Legislation Review Digest in the afternoon after question time. It then becomes available electronically and it is also printed as quickly as possible for the information of members.
Ms KATRINA HODGKINSON:
I thank the chairman for clarifying the issue, which he has clarified on other occasions. However, Opposition members do not have the access that Ministers have to all the government departments, and it is difficult for them to obtain relevant information. Opposition members have to source that information from wherever they can and they do not necessarily have the time to download things from computers in their offices, as many of them do not have staff in Parliament House. I contributed to this debate today only to make an observation. I compliment the committee on its hard work. However, it would be handy if a couple of pre-approved printed copies were made available on those days on which members were debating legislation. The availability of copies of the Legislation Review Digest might prove to be of assistance to some members in this place.
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE
(Wagga Wagga) [10.38 a.m.]: I, too, contribute to debate on the report of the Legislation Review Committee—"Legislation Review Digest No. 6 of 2010", which dealt with a number of bills. I note the committee's comment relating to the Liquor Legislation Amendment Bill 2010, to which the chair of the committee referred earlier. The report states:
Schedule 2 now extends alcohol-free zone powers and penalties under Section 632 of the Local Government Act 2010 to precincts under liquor accords. The Committee has previously expressed concerns about the fact that the operation of alcohol free zones and associated penalties regarding the issuing of notices and confiscation or disposing of alcohol may sometimes affect differentially, or impact disproportionately, on marginalised groups.
I always thought that alcohol-free zones were introduced to manage violence and the consumption of alcohol within a certain distance of alcohol outlets such as pubs, clubs, or whatever. The committee has identified those problems but, in part, alcohol-free zones were implemented to manage better the consumption of alcohol so that marginalised groups were not so badly affected. The consumption of alcohol has been detrimental to the health and wellbeing of many homeless people who frequent certain parts of the city. We have identified the problems. However, we should try to assist, wherever possible, to provide them with housing and some form of rehabilitation to enable them to live normal lives. I believe that the impact on these disproportionately marginalised groups needs to be highlighted more and we need to see more action in that regard.
I dare say that you, Mr Acting-Speaker, being a keen reader of the Legislation Review Committee reports, have dropped off to sleep at night during your bedtime reading of them. I too keep an eye on them and recently I went back to review the legislation that has been reported on by that committee. In particular I was looking at the comments made by the committee on the Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill 2009 in digest No. 13 of 2009. That bill was not debated in this place so I looked further, and I noted in the Votes and Proceedings
that the Leader of the House withdrew that bill a number of days ago. That bill was very flawed and I, like many other members, was waiting to debate it.
I noted the committee's comments on the Transport Administration Amendment (Rail Trails) Bill because I had no doubt that people's rights were being impinged upon by that bill. That bill was put before the Parliament without the real concerns of the landholders, who would have been unfairly treated, being taken into consideration. But the bill has been withdrawn from the House, and I say good riddance to it. It is a pity that we were not able to debate it using the information contained in the digest, but if the bill ever did see the light of day and was voted on in this Parliament it would be rejected in the other place. The consultation process for local members, particularly in regional and rural areas, was wide and the bill was not well supported. There is a place for bike riding trails but that was not the legislation to deliver the best outcome for everyone.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George):
I thank the member for Wagga Wagga for his contribution and, as was pointed out by the member for Burrinjuck, I speak for all members in thanking the Legislation Review Committee for its weekly contributions, which are greatly appreciated.
Question—That the House take note of the report—put and resolved in the affirmative.
COMMITTEE ON THE HEALTH CARE COMPLAINTS COMMISSION
Report: Review of the 2008-09 Annual Report of the Health Care Complaints Commission
Question—That the House take note of the report—proposed.
Pursuant to standing orders debate postponed and set down as an order of the day for a future day.
ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George):
Orders of the Day (Committee Reports) having concluded, the House will now proceed with private members' statements.
PRIVATE MEMBERS' STATEMENTS
BRUNGLE PUBLIC SCHOOL
Mr DARYL MAGUIRE
(Wagga Wagga) [10.44 a.m.]: On 1 April 2010 I spoke about the great achievements of Brungle Public School and the Brungle Aboriginal Environment Education Centre, which has been created at that school. The principal of the school is Mr Geoffrey Naylor, and I have met with the parents, teachers and students of the school. The wonderful program run from Brungle Public School extends to smaller schools within the region the opportunity to visit the learning centre and Learnscape and to take part in what originally started out as a pilot program to improve Aboriginal learning. Since that program has been in place the attendance rate has rocketed and the children are doing well academically. Indeed, the indigenous studies undertaken at Brungle are now being taught at other schools—teachers from other schools visit as well.
Yesterday the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs made an announcement that funding to teach the Aboriginal language would be increased to $300,000. At that time he mentioned Uncle Stan Grant, Senior. I also pay tribute to Uncle Stan Grant, Senior and to Stan Grant who have been working very hard for many years to record the Wiradjuri language. The Wiradjuri language is taught at Brungle Public School and Uncle Stan is a regular visitor to Mr Naylor and his students. I have also mentioned the school to her Excellency the Governor, who I know has a strong interest in Aboriginal affairs and the future of Aboriginal people. She has been a lifetime advocate of improving the welfare of Aboriginal people. I have extended to the Governor an invitation to visit Brungle Public School at her first opportunity. I do hope within the term of her office she will have the opportunity to travel to Tumut and then on to Brungle to see first hand the achievements that have occurred there.
Disturbingly, my office has received inquiries from the parents and citizens association about an investment that has been made at the school. Brungle was informed that under the Building the Education Revolution program it could have a new library built. The building of a new library was costed at approximately $85,000 if they did it themselves. Brungle wanted to build a library to match its current building style and to also build, between the new and old buildings, a covered area for the children to use for their sporting activities. I am told that some $285,000 has now been spent on a library, which the school could have built for $85,000, and I am told that the workmanship is very questionable. There are 28 students at Brungle Public School but the library came equipped with only 15 chairs, and there are problems in its layout.
Brungle Public School is a disadvantaged school, and it struggles for everything that it gets. Aboriginal children form the greater population of the school. Brungle would really have liked to have seen money spent on a school bus so students from Tumut who would like to learn the Aboriginal language in an environment that teaches Aboriginal history, as well as the Department of Education and Training curriculum, could access the school. Brungle had other priorities for its school but, sadly, according to Mr Steve Bellchambers in a telephone conversation he had with me, Brungle Public School's library is not equipped and has a deficient layout. The library has been built on stilts and the parents and citizens association now has to ensure that the underneath section of the building is covered in to prevent the children from hurting themselves. The outcome has been less than positive for this school, which is disappointing. We all want our children to do well. If ever there was an example of an investment that has not been wisely made, this is it, and amends need to be made by the Department of Education and Training to rectify the issues that have been raised.
HUNTER VALLEY TRAINING COMPANY
Mr FRANK TERENZINI
(Maitland) [10.49 a.m.]: It is with great pleasure that I bring to the attention of members today a magnificent organisation that is truly doing great things for the people in my electorate of Maitland and beyond. The Hunter Valley Training Company—or HVTC as we call it—was established in 1981 as a trades apprentice and trainee employer to ensure continuity of employment for apprentices in what was then, as they are now, times of fluctuating fortunes. Also, it was to ensure that Hunter industries had a steady stream of the skills needed for reliable and continuous production and expansion. Traditional trades such as boilermaking, fitting and turning, electrical and building have been HVTC's core activity, but it has diversified in its almost 30 years into skills to service other sectors such as aged care, hospitality and business administration.
As a not-for-profit company, owned 50 per cent by the New South Wales Ministerial Holding Company and the balance by Australian corporations, HVTC created a model for hiring and employing apprentices and trainees in Australia. It remains one of the nation's premier training companies and has a success rate of 85 per cent for its first year recruits completing their studies and graduating as qualified tradespeople. This is well above the average success rate for graduating tradespeople. This success is due also to a close working relationship with industry in New South Wales to identify the skills needed and to train with the most up-to-date methods and technology, which ensures apprentices and trainees are work-ready much sooner. The HVTC model has the dual advantage of lifting the burden of recruitment and selection as well as ongoing wages and training management from host employers in industry while providing security for the apprentices and trainees. As employees of HVTC, apprentices and trainees can be moved between host employers as the tide of work ebbs and flows, and they are given a uniform high standard of training based equally on off-the-job and on-the-job experience.
From 22 June, the start of the company's thirtieth year, events and activities are planned to highlight the role HVTC has played in providing the nation with quality tradespeople. It is also planned to highlight the very important role tradespeople have in enabling industry to progress and to be internationally competitive. In its three decades, HVTC has trained about 18,000 young people for solid and rewarding careers in their chosen fields. Some have gone on to executive levels in industry, others have gone down the path of independent or small trades-based businesses, but all are grateful for and mindful of the start given to them through a quality trades education. Over three decades HVTC has expanded to 10 offices throughout New South Wales, and more than a year ago opened its first office in Queensland to provide skills for that State's burgeoning resources industry.
The company's focus on excellence is demonstrated through such events as its annual awards night, which I had the pleasure to attend recently on 29 April and to present one of the coveted awards. Finalists for the awards are nominated from the 11 regional offices, and an independent judging panel chooses the best apprentice, trainee, school-based trainee and HVTC employee for acknowledgment on the night. There were awards for best large and best small host employer, and for commitment to safety in the workplace by a host employer and a Hunter Valley Training Company employee. Scholarships for six apprentices and other employees were handed out by the widow and daughter of the company's late Deputy Chairman, Mr John McGrath.
The John McGrath Scholarship Awards were introduced last year following the death in July 2008 of the Deputy Chairman of 20 years. Mr McGrath had a long and distinguished career with the Electricity Commission of New South Wales and Pacific Power, where he served for some time as secretary. The John McGrath Scholarship is open to all HVTC staff, apprentices and trainees and provides an opportunity for personal development or to further develop skills and networks greatly assisting recipients to make an effective contribution in their field. I have pleasure in reading out the list of those awarded on the night. Small Host Employer, Enware Australia, the shire; Large Host Employer, Theiss, mid-coast; Commitment to Safety-Host, ANSTO, the shire; Commitment to Safety—Employee, Julie Ludlow, Shoalhaven; School-Based Trainee of the Year, Jeremy Adams, Hunter-V-Tec; Trainee of the Year, Lisa Miles, mid-Coast; Apprentice of the Year, Adam Barnett, Hunter-V-Tec; Employee of the Year, Leisha Casey, Maitland office.
In addition, the following were presented with 2010 John McGrath Scholarships: Jennifer Price, Regional Administration Officer, Southern Tablelands; Michael Davison, EPO, mid-Coast; Adam·Rodriguez, Apprentice Illawarra; Aaron Hardy, Apprentice Hunter-V-Tec; Bradley Baker, Apprentice mid-Coast; and Andrew Stein, Apprentice Illawarra. Finally, it would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the Chairman of HVTC, the Hon. Milton Morris AO, former member for Maitland, and Minister for Transport in New South Wales, who is one of the key figures behind this organisation. I pay tribute to him, the committee, Kay Sharp, and all the staff for their tireless work over the past 30 years in providing so many youngsters with a great start in life.
MARTIN BRIDGE, TAREE
Mr JOHN TURNER
(Myall Lakes) [10.54 a.m.]: Yet again I must raise issues regarding Martin Bridge, Taree. As I have said on past occasions, one could be mistaken for thinking it was April Fool's Day with some answers I have received from the Minister regarding requests to upgrade the bridge by the community, the council and all other people who use the bridge. This bridge is the gateway to Taree and is in a deplorable condition. Some time ago when I asked how much it would cost to paint, the reply I received from the Roads and Traffic Authority [RTA], via the Minister's office, was that it would cost between $20 million and $25 million. That was ludicrous enough—people were queued outside my office with paint brushes offering to do the job at the price—but to not be able to pin down the price and have a $5 million differential raises the question of how fair dinkum the Roads and Traffic Authority was in wanting to do the job.
I have had to continue probing for answers because of the Roads and Traffic Authority's arrogant attitude towards this matter. I have lodged in this Parliament 11 sets of questions on this issue encompassing 76 individual questions. Not once have I received in my view, and the view of the community and council, a satisfactory reply from the Minister and the Roads and Traffic Authority as to when this bridge will be fixed. The latest probing regarded corrosion of weld joints. I would have thought that was a fairly important issue about which to be worried. The Roads and Traffic Authority does not seem to be worried; it says it is just an ordinary, everyday occurrence. I do not think so. Therefore, yet again I will have to ask further questions about what the authority intends to do about that corrosion. I received a letter from Mr David Evans, a constituent of mine from Taree, who said:
Corrosion is not just unsightly but can be dangerous particularly when it is found at the weld junctions of the braces of the structure where the depth of the penetration is difficult to measure and impossible to measure by the average tradesman on the job.
I draw your attention to the collapse of a major bridge over the Mississippi at Minneapolis two years ago. The cause of this collapse was found to be exactly what I have been describing, and the bridge was only 40 years old.
Of course, the Taree bridge is over 60 years old. I certainly hope what he described happening in Minneapolis does not happen at Taree. Other concerns have been raised with me by leading members of the community. Mr Peter Dahdah, OAM, from Taree, actually wrote directly to Minister Daley. The reply he received stated, inter alia:
Routine maintenance, including spot painting will continue to be undertaken until a full repaint of the Bridge is required.
Mr Dahdah wrote back to the Minister in December 2008 stating:
I do disagree with the interpretation of the RTA … "until a full repaint of the Bridge is required". Required? This Martin Bridge was in need of this work (repaint) well before 2008. I drove over it twice today just to personally inspect each and every beam/girder. It is an utter disgrace. It is showing rust or discolouration everywhere. Not just a beam here and there but everywhere. It does look like the appearance one would see on television of a war zone. True. And what is this 'spot painting'. If you can tell me where this is being done I would personally walk the bridge to inspect this.
I received correspondence from Carolyn Bryan about the $25 million cost to repaint the bridge. She said:
I am a 4th generation person from the Manning and I have never seen the bridge in such a state of disrepair.
Then she goes on to talk about the $25 million:
If you do the sums and I am a person with MS, not too brilliant with maths but my estimation would be more in the neighbourhood of $2-3 million, not $25 million.
Seems to me the RTA has inflated this price to further someone's' nest egg or they simply don't want to fix what they have failed to keep repaired. Your government doesn't see anything outside Sydney metropolitan area, as needing money spent. Someone is going to benefit big time from this and it won't be us in the Manning.
Max Carey wrote to Minister Daley stating:
I am enclosing some pictures of bridge structure indicating deteriorated condition of paint work. Also some graffiti associated with this paint work. Nearly all steel work is showing some paint flaking and rust is apparent in many places.
I consider that full repaint of steel work on bridge is urgently required and hope that you will be able to undertake this work during 2009.
I have dealt with the Roads and Traffic Authority over many years in my capacity as a local member and as the shadow Minister for Roads. The Roads and Traffic Authority is displaying its typical arrogance; it simply will not heed what the community wants. The authority simply exaggerates and inflates prices so that it can have some foolhardy justification not to carry out a project. This bridge is the gateway to Taree. It is an important bridge and carries thousands of cars. It must be repaired.
CHARLESTOWN ELECTORATE TRANSPORT FACILITIES
Mr MATTHEW MORRIS
(Charlestown—Parliamentary Secretary) [10.59 a.m.]: This morning I want to raise a couple of issues in relation to public transport in the Hunter, particularly in the electorate of Charlestown. I will start with some fantastic news, that is, the announcement of $6.5 million to undertake a major reform of Cardiff Railway Station. Over the next 18 months Cardiff station is set to have a major makeover so as to better reflect the needs of our local communities. There are many people in the community I would like to acknowledge, but far too many for me to be able to put on the record today. There has been an enormous effort right across the community, from the day-to-day users of our rail through to local campaign groups, which were formed to bring about this project. The project will include extensions to platforms, new canopies, the construction of retaining walls and the installation of lifts—the whole box and dice. It will take Cardiff station into the twenty-first century. The disabled members of our community will no longer be prevented from accessing Cardiff station, which is rated the third busiest station in the Hunter.
I am pleased with this fantastic news. I thank the community and all the organisations that have been part of the process for their time and energy. I look forward to sharing the day with the community when the facilities are completed and we officially put them into service. I also acknowledge the former member for Wallsend, John Mills, who was tireless in his efforts to get Cardiff station on the agenda and have the money allocated. He is over the moon about the announcement, and I look forward to sharing some time with John in the future when we can discuss the progress of this matter over the past many years.
Whilst rail is important to the Hunter, I also recognise the importance of bus services. Charlestown is a key bus hub in the Hunter network. I often refer to Charlestown as a place where all buses stop to pick up passengers. In my view, Charlestown is, and has been for some time, the major commercial centre in the lower Hunter. With such a high level of bus usage and demand comes responsibility. Part of that responsibility is to provide appropriate facilities for bus users. Over the past several years I consistently have raised the issue of a purpose-built bus interchange at Charlestown. The local council, Lake Macquarie City Council, although sympathetic, has been lethargic in supporting the concept and being part of a process to bring about this facility. I am pleased to share with the House today that a couple of weeks ago I received a letter from the council expressing its interest in progressing the bus interchange. The council wants to be part of the process and provide assistance. Whilst the support of Lake Macquarie City Council is long overdue, I thank the council for finally recognising the importance of buses in the Hunter, particularly bus services in Charlestown.
Having kerbside bus stops, which expose the high volume of passengers to all weather conditions, is not good enough. We have to pursue the bus interchange concept. I have commenced discussions internally with Government to start the process of site options for a bus interchange and the delivery of this project. There is an opportunity for the private sector to play a role in the construction of a bus interchange facility at Charlestown. It is important that we provide an appropriate level of facilities for bus users. We all want more people using buses and that means we have to do better in providing infrastructure and day-to-day services that reflect the community's needs.
CHABAD HOUSE, ST IVES
Mr JONATHAN O'DEA
(Davidson) [11.04 a.m.]: People of Jewish background and religion comprise approximately 5 per cent of my constituents in Davidson. Within this Jewish community Chabad House of the North Shore is located in St Ives and capably led by Rabbi Nochum Schapiro. Chabad House is a branch of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, comprising over 3,300 institutions worldwide. Chabad has been active in Sydney's Jewish community for over 40 years, with Chabad House serving the Jewish community on Sydney's north shore since 1989. Chabad's underlying doctrine is "Ahavat Yisrael"—love for a fellow Jew. Based on a philosophy of being non-judgmental and unconditional acceptance, the aim is to serve the spiritual and physical needs of every Jew, regardless of affiliation, with understanding and love.
Chabad serves the Jewish community from its current centre in St Ives with a synagogue, bar and bat mitzvah programs, a Hebrew school, a long day care centre-preschool, adult education, Mikvah, social services such as hospital visitations, counselling, a Gemach, or interest free loan fund, social and humanitarian outreach programs, community festival awareness programs and a vibrant youth program, including summer and winter holiday camps and numerous other activities. I look forward to attending the annual gala dinner in support of Chabad House next Thursday 27 May 2010. It will mark 20 years of Chabad House of the North Shore. I congratulate Chabad House of the North Shore for its strong record over those 20 years in providing valuable and effective services and programs for our local Jewish community.
Rabbi Schapiro and his team, including his wife, clearly have been inspired by the Lubavitcher Rebbe in building a vast international Chabad-Lubavitch movement over 60 years, with thousands of similar institutions across six continents. I commend the outstanding commitment demonstrated in these achievements by all concerned. I look forward to hearing at the celebratory dinner the special and much-honoured feature guest speaker, Shimon Waronker, who has been principal of Jordon L. Mott Junior High School in the south Bronx, one of the most violent schools in New York City. While Sydney's schools are not as challenging, I look forward to receiving some educational insights on the night. I also look forward to supporting and working with my local and the wider Sydney Jewish community for many years to come.
Ms TANYA GADIEL
(Parramatta) [11.08 a.m.]: On 13 November 2009 in this Chamber I spoke about Lake Parramatta: a jewel, a treasured place for Aboriginal people, a great place to visit, and the pearl in the multicultural oyster that is Parramatta. I also discussed Parramatta City Council's pending proposal to redevelop Lake Parramatta Reserve. In my April 2009 community newsletter I included a petition calling on Parramatta City Council to protect the lake and ensure that it did not overdevelop the area. Since then, over 2,000 signatures were collected in support of petitions to this effect.
On 1 March this year I submitted the petitions to Parramatta City Council chief executive officer, Dr Robert Lang, and asked that they be presented to the councillors for their consideration. In providing the completed petitions to the general manager, I also requested that I be advised of the council meeting when the petitions would be presented to council. In a letter dated 13 April 2010 from the Parramatta City Council I was told that the petitions would be considered at the council meeting on April 27. But one week later I was advised that consultants had been appointed with a brief to carefully examine a number of key objectives. The letter went on to say:
It is expected that the consultants will present their initial draft POM report for Council's consideration by mid August 2010, at which time Council will advise you.
Since that time my staff have contacted council officers on several occasions asking for clarification as to when the petitions will be presented to council. A year has been spent collecting signatures on these petitions and there is an expectation that councillors will be made aware of the strength of community sentiment against overdeveloping the area.
To date Parramatta City Council staff have failed to provide a definite date for presentation of the petitions. All communications between my office and the council have led me to the conclusion that they do not want to address this matter. I am becoming convinced that this is a deliberate attempt to stifle the voices of more than 2,000 concerned citizens on an issue that they felt was important enough to put their name to. Last Friday, 14 May, it was agreed to provide a response to my concerns by close of business on Monday 17 May. Needless to say, I would not be speaking now if this deadline had been met.
I am not usually one to raise matters in this fashion. I prefer to deal with these issues through the civility of personal, private communication. But in this instance I am at a loss. I am deeply concerned that Parramatta City Council is deliberately withholding these petitions from councillors who are duly elected to serve the people of Parramatta. The people have made it clear that they want Lake Parramatta protected from overdevelopment. I consider the actions of the Parramatta City Council to be a deliberate attempt to frustrate and stymie their efforts to ensure that it is.
I am more than happy to deliver these petitions to councillors myself, but they remain in the possession of the council and there has been no offer to return them. This is not about politics; this is about the community working at the grassroots to protect something they care about and being obstructed by certain individuals at the Parramatta City Council. It is about the democratic process being impinged upon and citizens being denied the opportunity to have their voices heard by their elected representatives. In this public forum I call on the Parramatta Council to release these petitions to councillors and ensure that they are made aware of the depth of community sentiment on this issue. Lastly I share with members an excerpt from a letter that was published in the Parramatta Advertiser
on this issue from Evelyn Green on 27 May last year:
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tanya Gadiel for taking up the issue of Lake Parramatta … I have no affiliation with the cafe owners but just enjoy the surroundings so much.
I don't want to lose them …
I again thank everybody who signed the petitions and assure them that I will keep up the fight on Lake Parramatta, and do everything within my power to get these petitions to the councillors of Parramatta City Council. I thank the House.
CRONULLA RAIL DUPLICATION
Mr MALCOLM KERR
(Cronulla) [11.13 a.m.]: Last week the member for Miranda claimed in this House that the duplication of the Cronulla railway line is the largest single investment in public transport infrastructure in the Sutherland shire's history. I remind the member for Miranda that Australia was at war with Nazi Germany in 1939 when the original Sutherland-Cronulla railway line was opened, complete with railway stations, underpasses and overpasses from Sutherland to Cronulla. It took only three years to build and cost only £414 000. It was built on the condition that the cost was not to be exceeded by more than 10 per cent. On opening day at Cronulla Lord Wakehurst said that when the railway was commenced "we little thought that it would be completed during a time of war, a time when so much of our energy and resources have to be diverted from the paths of peace to those of war".
By contrast, this Government has allowed the duplication of single-line sections of the track to blow out from $106 million to $344 million, which is a whopping increase of 225 per cent. The member for Miranda would like 225 per cent to be the margin in his electorate. Despite this Government having modern construction equipment, which was not available in 1939, completion time has increased from two years to four years. With the blowout to $344 million, this represents a cost of $52 million per kilometre. The brand new double track Mandurah southern rail line in Perth was built at a cost of $17 million a kilometre. Each single metre of the Cronulla duplication track has cost taxpayers an amazing $53,121. This roughly represents the annual cost of one extra nurse, teacher or police officer. There is something terribly wrong with the New South Wales Government and its ability to build railway lines. For $344 million commuters will receive a grand total of four express services in the morning from Cronulla to Central and one express service in the afternoon. However, the express trains are hardly express, with only four stops fewer than a regular service and a reduction in time of—wait for it—six minutes.
Mr Geoff Provest:
Mr MALCOLM KERR:
They are six minutes faster. The one-only afternoon express service fare is an even worse offering. Travellers on the Cronulla line know that the afternoon services are already overcrowded, with trains filling up at Town Hall station and allowing few passengers to get on at Central and Redfern stations. For $344 million train travellers have not received any additional commuter car parking spaces. However, a secure parking lot with 30 spaces for staff has been provided at Cronulla. This parking lot is protected from Cronulla locals with a 2.5 metre high spiked fence and security cameras. Locals who do not have the luxury of parking near their workplace, let alone the local railway station, have dubbed this parking lot "Stalag Cronulla". Despite all the self-congratulatory back-patting about what a wonderful job the Government has done, the new timetable with the Clayton's express services will not commence until December this year. After eight years and $53,000 for each metre of track, shire train travellers have a right to feel disappointed.
TAMWORTH LAW AND ORDER
Mr PETER DRAPER
(Tamworth) [11.18 a.m.]: I report to both my electorate and the House on crime, law and order. Last year I issued a questionnaire on this issue, and I thank the many thousands of constituents who returned their completed forms. It is disturbing that half of the total survey respondents believe crime levels are high while 58 per cent believe there has been an increase in crime. I take this opportunity to thank all officers working in the Oxley command, who provide dedicated service under very trying circumstances to support and protect local communities. Their efforts are truly appreciated. I strongly supported the Keep Our Cops campaign run by the Police Association for better pay and conditions, because those types of improvements are the only way to encourage more recruits while retaining experienced officers in the long term. I am grateful to the association for providing valuable information in its ongoing campaign to boost local police numbers. Recently a number of meetings were held with Ministers and the Police Service to achieve this goal.
There must be confidence in our system of justice, yet 92 per cent of respondents to my questionnaire said they thought the penalties do not fit the crime and 93 per cent believe the judiciary does not support police appropriately when dealing with offenders. In the light of these figures I am pleased that the Attorney General, John Hatzistergos, and representatives from the NSW Sentencing Council, the Vocal Victims of Crime Assistance League and the Public Defenders Office, have all agreed to attend a Process of Justice Public Forum in Tamworth on Tuesday 27 July. Details of how to register are available from my office.
Sixty-nine per cent of respondents thought rural property theft was increasing. I then arranged for the Pastoral and Agricultural Crime Working Party, comprising representatives of the NSW Farmers Association, the Department of Primary Industries, the Game Council, the Police Force and the Ministry of Police, to meet in Tamworth regarding these concerns. Their message is to be vigilant and to report any occurrences to police. Of great concern is that 20 per cent of survey respondents indicated that they do not feel safe in their homes. To address this deplorable state of affairs I arranged for the Police Force and Housing NSW to undertake safety audits at several locations. I would be pleased to arrange similar audits for other people similarly concerned.
Eighty-one per cent of respondents believe there are no-go zones in the electorate, particularly in both Tamworth and Gunnedah central business districts on Friday and Saturday nights. Police are taking steps to correct this situation, and both Tamworth and Gunnedah councils have crime prevention working groups, comprising police, local chambers of commerce, security companies, liquor accords and councillors, that review crime statistics and develop strategies to reduce crime. The Gunnedah group has successfully reduced antisocial behaviour in its central business district, while the Tamworth group has installed a closed-circuit television surveillance system in Brisbane Street. Councils are also implementing Safer by Design strategies, and increasing lighting in areas of concern. I commend the Tamworth group's support for the local domestic violence committee, with its fridge magnet that provides a handy contact list for emergency services, and for encouraging residents to report crime through the Police Assistance Line on 131 444. I am happy to forward to these groups any concerns that residents may have on law and order issues.
It is very satisfying to see local residents and support organisations seeking solutions at a grassroots level, as does the Coledale Action Team. Its initiatives has helped Tamworth Regional Council gain a $50,000 crime prevention grant for the Coledale Cares project. Additionally, Housing NSW is investing substantial funds to supply plants to public housing tenants for their gardens, while landscaping common open spaces, upgrading existing parks and establishing community gardens. Whole-of-community involvement in these projects will boost neighbourhood pride and deliver better long-term outcomes. Also, local police are increasing pressure on the minority of people whose antisocial behaviour spoils community amenity for everyone.
Respondents to my survey listed alcohol abuse, drug abuse, family and social breakdown, and unemployment as major causes of crime, with violence on television and in the media, mental health issues and depression also contributing to crime. I have long advocated dealing with the root causes of crime by addressing the social issues that are behind offending behaviours. In light of this, I welcome the introduction of the Court Referral of Eligible Defendants into Treatment Scheme that has been implemented for a two-year trial at Tamworth Local Court.
Many people have mentioned their concerns regarding the proliferation of illegal knives in the community. Oxley Local Area Command had 37 legal actions for custody of a knife in a public place and one relating to an offence in a school between October 2008 and September 2009. I was pleased to introduce the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Possession of Knives in Public) Bill 2009 into the Legislative Assembly. The bill seeks to introduce an increased maximum penalty for the possession of knives and other dangerous implements in public places and schools. We all have a role to play in maintaining law and order. Everyone should remember that if they fail to report an incident to police it cannot be dealt with. Any information, no matter how small or insignificant you think it is, may help to complete a picture that leads to a successful prosecution and a subsequent reduction in criminal activity on our streets.
TWEED ELECTORATE CARERS
Mr GEOFF PROVEST
(Tweed) [11.23 a.m.]: I am 100 per cent for the Tweed. Today I address the issue of carers, particularly in the Tweed. Currently, 2.6 million unpaid family carers in Australia provide help and support for family members, relatives or friends who have a disability, mental illness, disorder, terminal illness or chronic condition, or who are frail aged. Carers can be young, of working age, older people or Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders. They may live in major cities or in regional, rural and remote areas, and they may have been born outside Australia. Carers come from all walks of life in Australian society and can come into their caring journey at any stage throughout their life.
There are 2.6 million carers in Australia. Approximately 500,000 people are primary carers. Of those primary carers, 71 per cent are women, 78 per cent care for a person living in the same household, 26 per cent care for a child, 42 per cent care for a partner and 23 per cent care for a parent. Statistics show that 380,000 carers are under the age of 26, 170,000 are under the age of 18, and that one-third to one-half of all young carers live in regional and rural Australia. Statistics also show that 933,000 carers live outside major cities and that 454,000 carers are over the age of 65. It is of concern that a survey found that more than one-third of carers were extremely depressed and more than one-third were experiencing severe or extreme stress. It was also found that carers are almost twice as likely to experience chronic pain and that caring for a person with special needs compounds the effect of other factors that lead to reduced wellbeing. It is evident that any level of consistent daily immediate caring responsibility is sufficient to severely damage wellbeing.
I will now focus on Fostering NSW and the recruitment campaign it recently launched. Fostering NSW is a New South Wales Government initiative to recruit foster carers and to promote foster care in partnership with government and non-government agencies. Currently, 16,525 children are in out-of-home care in New South Wales. While a concerted effort is being made to prevent children coming into care, sadly there are some families where there is no alternative. New South Wales urgently needs more foster carers and Fostering NSW has commenced a public appeal.
Unfortunately, at an information night held last month in the Tweed only one person turned up. There are a large number of foster carers in the Tweed, and I have met some of them. They have been fostering children for many years and they are doing a fabulous job. But we are experiencing a chronic shortage of foster carers, particularly in the Tweed, and at a time when we have a high level of youth crime on the streets. As I have said in this place many times before, last year about 2,300 children were classified as category level two by the Department of Community Services—that is, they were possibly in need or at risk of child abuse.
I am encouraging the people of the Tweed to participate in fostering. It takes a very special person to become a foster carer. The children have usually had a fairly dramatic upbringing and have had many crises in their life. It takes a great deal of goodness, love and understanding to foster a child, and I applaud the carers. I recently attended a meeting of a group of carers, the Tweed Valley Carers, or KinCare. Many of them are grandparents looking after their own grandchildren or other young children and they do it not for praise but out of the goodness of their heart. I would like to see greater recognition of foster carers.
In the past, various carers bills have been passed in Parliament, and I supported the shadow Minister's recent carers bill. But we are in crisis with the shortage of foster carers, and unless we give more support to them we will have more social problems down the track. Many kids come from a troubled background and they need our help. They do not need rhetoric and they do not need reports, they need help on the ground. As I said, a large number of the carers are over the age of 65 and they are the ones who need our support, otherwise we will not have a very bright future. Once again, I am 100 per cent for the Tweed.
BANKSTOWN CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT
Mr TONY STEWART
(Bankstown—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.28 a.m.]: I place on record the great work that has been achieved with the rejuvenation of the Bankstown central business district [CBD] thanks to the partnership between the New South Wales State Government and Bankstown Council over a number of years, particularly during my tenure as the State member for Bankstown. I remember when I was first elected as the State member for Bankstown back in 1999 that one of the first issues I raised with Bankstown City Council and with the community at large was the state of Bankstown's central business district. Unfortunately, the Bankstown central business district is split by the railway line, which has created almost two Bankstown business districts—one in very poor condition and the other Bankstown Centro. The latter is a shopping centre with a lot of vitality and opportunity.
In consultation with Bankstown City Council I looked for ways to rejuvenate the central business district in the old town centre, as it is commonly known. The old town centre is actually a plaza. For a long time I have argued that plazas are very much outdated. In fact, in most areas of the world plazas no longer exist, simply because there are law and order problems and because they simply do not work for businesses. After continued consultation I brought the then Minister for Planning, Craig Knowles, to Bankstown along with other agency and Bankstown City Council staff. I put it to those who were involved that the best way to rejuvenate the Bankstown central business district in terms of the old town plaza was to open the access to what is called the old Chapel Road bridge and, at the very least, allow bus transport over that bridge. At the very least it would allow for bus transport over that bridge. Thankfully, as a result of State Government funding, that has now been achieved in a significant way.
In 2007, after my direct lobbying to the then New South Wales Minister for Transport, approval was given for a $3.1 million contribution from Policy Selection Ltd [PSL] funds towards the $7.45 million cost of a new Bankstown interchange and associated priority roadworks. I am advised that Bankstown council contributed $500,000 towards the interchange, which was used for footpath and landscaping upgrades. Further, again as a result of my lobbying, together with the support I received from the member for East Hills and the member for Auburn, the Roads and Traffic Authority contributed $3.85 million for bus priority and roadworks associated with the opening of the Chapel Road bridge, to which I referred, to bus transport and a new contra-flow bus lane in Restwell Street adjoining the new interchange.
Also, in January 2008 the former Minister for Transport approved an additional $320,000 in PSL funds to conduct additional works at the Centro interchange. This brings the total State contribution to the Bankstown central business district project to $7.7 million. That is nearly $8 million of State Government funding, of which Premier Keneally would be proud in terms of what the money has achieved to enable the CBD to receive the vitality it deserves. I commend the work of the agencies involved in the project. Recently I received a letter from the Mayor of Bankstown dated 28 April, in which she refers to the underpass renewal project for North Terrace and South Terrace, Bankstown. This two-lane underpass, which has been a problem for Bankstown CBD for about 50 years, needs widening and it is not high enough.
I have spoken to the member for East Hills about this issue, and I have indicated in writing to the mayor that I will raise this issue with the Minister for Transport and request additional funding. The council is asking for an additional $450,000 on top of the nearly $8 million that the State Government has already provided. I support that request to the Minister in terms of focus and priority. Centro Bankstown will reap the rewards of this project too. I ask Centro Bankstown, as a large business in Bankstown, to consider making a contribution towards the project. I also ask Bankstown council to recognise the contribution of the local State members—the member for East Hills, the member for Auburn and me—in terms of lobbying for these projects.
WILLOUGHBY LOCAL ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN
Ms GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN
(Willoughby) [11.33 a.m.]: Today I want to discuss an issue that is affecting many residents in the Willoughby electorate—that is, the draft Willoughby local environmental plan [LEP] 2009. Willoughby City Council has had the LEP and associated documents on public exhibition since March this year and the closing date for the exhibition was yesterday, 20 May 2010. Given this deadline for the exhibition period, many residents and local resident groups have met with me to outline their concerns about the local environmental plan. As the Willoughby electorate is in close proximity to the central business district, we value our urban environment. People have worked hard for many years to live where they live. The community is concerned now about what could potentially happen to this urban environment if aspects of the Willoughby LEP are adopted.
In particular, residents in Artarmon, Northbridge, Naremburn and Chatswood have either met with me or sent me correspondence expressing concern about aspects of the proposals and how they will impact on their communities. In the first instance I refer to the residents of Artarmon. I have received many representations concerning the intention to introduce R3 medium-density residential in the vicinity of Rimmington Street, Broughton Street, White Street and Kitchener Road. An anti-rezoning association has been set up by Artarmon residents, and at the recent Artarmon fair they were vocal in their efforts to make the community aware of their concerns. I congratulate them on their efforts and thank them for contacting me.
They note that historical heritage, traffic congestion and safety on local roads could be detrimentally impacted by the proposals. I thank the residents of Artarmon who brought their concerns to my attention. As I have done with residents groups in other suburbs, I have written to council outlining the concerns of the Artarmon residents. I hope council will give those concerns due consideration. Similarly, the residents of Northbridge have written to me about their concerns, and I met a delegation of the residents in my office a few weeks ago. Their concerns relate predominantly to the vicinity of Euroka Street, Namoi Road and Sailors Bay Road. Northbridge residents are concerned about the environmental impact of council's proposals on traffic congestion and their general residential amenity.
I thank the Northbridge residents for their representations. In turn, I have made representations to Willoughby council on behalf of Northbridge residents, asking council to consider their recommendations to maintain current zoning. I turn now to residents in Naremburn who are concerned about redeveloping the north side of Donnelly Road through to Marrenburn Avenue. This area is only a few streets away from my electorate office, and I know it well. I appreciate the concerns raised by residents. Again, they raise safety, traffic and heritage issues that will be detrimentally impacted if the council's LEP is adopted as drafted. Again, I have made representations to Willoughby council on behalf of Naremburn residents, and I will continue to advocate on their behalf.
Similarly, residents in Bowen Street, Chatswood, have highlighted their concerns. Recently, on 13 May, they held a public meeting to bring together residents concerned about proposals to rezone Bowen Street. Again, safety, heritage and traffic issues have been paramount for them; they are concerned that if the LEP is adopted in its current form it would detrimentally impact on those parts of Chatswood. Similarly, residents in Greville Street, Chatswood, have written to me about the rezoning of a property in Greville Street as SP2 Infrastructure Acoustic Laboratory. The issue is ongoing. The residents of Greville Street understood that council would rezone the land in the LEP but unfortunately that is not the case. I ask council to consider their concerns. To date, council has done a good job about consolidating development in Chatswood. That was the understanding of the community. Unfortunately, these other suburbs will now be affected. I urge council to protect the heritage and culture of these areas by not allowing development in those areas where residents do not feel it would benefit the community.
Mr ALAN ASHTON
(East Hills) [11.38 a.m.]: Today I acknowledge in the House the soon-to-be-celebrated ninetieth anniversary of the production of the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
newspaper. The Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
was established in 1920, less than two years after the end of World War I. Since that time Australia has seen many dramatic social, political and economic changes. For 90 years residents of our local area have depended on the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
for their local news, and they have not been let down. As a member of Parliament I have had the opportunity to see many local newspapers from other areas; none of them comes close to the standard of the news, local features, community events and the outstanding sporting section that the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
produces week after week. For more than 40 years the first thing I read in the newspaper is "the Good and the Bad" column. I believe the column is unique in newspapers, and it is essential reading.
I congratulate the Engisch family on producing such an outstanding local newspaper for so long. As I said, the paper began in 1920. It was established by Les Engisch. This would not have been an easy thing to do less than two years after the end of the Great War, the First World War. In 1920 Bankstown was still mainly rural. Indeed, it was not until after World War II that the Bankstown area grew rapidly, with a combination of immigration and the result of the birth rate increasing after World War II and the so-called baby boomers, who have provided the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
with a large and stable readership for the past 50 years.
Indeed, my first attempt at letter writing to the editor was to the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
in about 1968 or 1969 when I was 15 or 16. It related to a proposal by a sandmining company—they are still in the news—to mine commercially from the Georges River. That would have destroyed the river frontage, the mangroves and the fish stock and prevented other recreational activities. After a combination of letter writing and some campaigning we managed to stop that mining. I do not think we were called greenies in the 1960s.
Over the years the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
would has employed thousands of local people in senior management, production, advertising and photography roles. Of course, it would also have employed thousands of people to hand deliver the newspaper every week. Many young people have earned their pocket money by delivering the paper in and around Bankstown. I do not have the figures, but I know that a huge number of people not only have the newspaper delivered but also read it. As we all know, four, five or six people read the local newspaper that ends up on the kitchen table.
I congratulate the Engisch family on their successful management of the newspaper for such a long time. We all know the big newspaper names. Fairfax is a name only now and I will not comment on the attributes of the Murdoch family and their contribution to journalism because it would be hard to say anything positive. The Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
is still a family-run newspaper. Les was followed by Phil Engisch. As an aside, my father served in the Second World War with Phil. That does not mean that he gave me an easy time—he was not a great Labor man. We certainly took every opportunity to write to the editor and Phil would always tell us whether he agreed or disagreed. Phil's son John is now the managing director and John's son Trent is the general manager. I am sure that the Engisch family is very proud that the third and fourth generations have not turned the newspaper over to someone else. It is said that the first generation creates a business, the second generation improves it and the third generation kills it off.
Mark Kirkland has been the editor of the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
for a long time and he ensures that it is relevant and readable every week. As I said, it is still a family-run newspaper and it is good to see that it continues to do well. The Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
sponsors many events and fundraising activities in the Canterbury-Bankstown area. It is always keen to support good causes and projects. I will not list them because there are too many. I know that I speak for the people of Bankstown, who really look forward to seeing what the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
has to say, when I commend the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
. The newspaper does not drag Bankstown down. It is not uncritical, especially when criticism is warranted, and it does not give everybody a free shot. It certainly promotes Bankstown and the people who represent the area. I acknowledge that 90 years is an outstanding achievement and I look forward to celebrating its centenary in 2020.
Mr TONY STEWART
(Bankstown) [11.43 a.m.]: I commend the member for East Hills for raising the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch's
ninetieth anniversary. Not many local community newspapers can boast that sort of background and substance. As a long-term resident of the Bankstown region, I know that the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
is a true community newspaper. First and foremost, it demonstrates a caring approach to community needs rather than a determination simply to sell newspapers and attract advertising revenue. It is about projecting opportunities for local people, and it has done that again and again.
The member for East Hills said that the Engisch family has been the force behind the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
. I also commend the Engisch family. I do not know of any other really local newspaper. The Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
is a beacon in that regard and the Engisch family is solely responsible for that. As the member for East Hills said, the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
has been behind many community events and it has brought perspective and direction to the local region. Its most recent important community sponsorship has been the Cancer Relay For Life run by the Cancer Council of New South Wales. The Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
has been responsible for conducting the relay in Bankstown for a number of years and for making it the success that it is. I commend the member for East Hills for telling the House about its the ninetieth anniversary. I am proud to say that the Bankstown-Canterbury Torch
sets a fine example to other local newspapers and has achieved tangible goals.
HORNSBY ELECTORATE DISABILITY SERVICES
Mrs JUDY HOPWOOD
(Hornsby) [11.45 a.m.]: I draw to the attention of the House various groups catering for disabilities in the electorate of Hornsby. All members will acknowledge that some of the most special and wonderful times that we experience as a local member involve people who have disabilities. I will focus on three groups today: Warrah, Studio ARTES and the Hornsby Rockets. Warrah, which is in Dural in north-west Sydney, is a special private school for children with intellectual disabilities that offers placements to 16 day pupils. Toni Wright-Turner is the principal, and a very strong staff and a wonderful board work extremely hard to support the school. A local group called Friends of Warrah also raises funds for the school. Dr Rudolf Steiner, the Austrian-born philosopher, artist, educator and spiritual researcher, developed the principles on which the school operates. Central to Warrah's philosophy is an adherence to the ideals of mutual respect and service, with sensitivity and responsiveness to the changing needs of body, soul and spirit.
Individualised services are provided for children and adults with disabilities based on the principles of curative education and social therapy. Programs are developed in consultation with the clients, their families, special educators, medical professionals, various therapists, house coordinators and other special staff. Each child is carefully assessed and individual educational programs are created. There is also regular liaison with parents and consultations with the teachers, therapists and students. Warrah derives its name from an Aboriginal word meaning "it is raining". Rain is an essential element for growth and the image of the rain cycle is one of change and transformation. Art is very important in the curriculum.
I have spoken about Studio ARTES a number of times in this place. I again commend Sue Byatt and Wendy Escott for the work that they do. Studio ARTES has grown from two little garages to being housed in its own facility in the years that I have been the member for Hornsby. The facility provides arts recreation training, education and skills for people with disabilities and it caters for a range of ages. Gallery ARTES is the exhibition space, which has been very successful. A couple of months ago some of the participants went to Government House to draw and paint in the grounds. One participant did a fantastic painting of the Governor—it looks exactly like her. The Governor was recently invited to Studio ARTES and was officially presented with the portrait. The Governor has reciprocated by inviting 50 members and staff to lunch with her at Government House. That was a very special day. I have had feedback that it was wonderful.
I am a proud patron of the Hornsby Rockets. It is a fantastic group that provides opportunities for people with disabilities to be involved in their chosen sport and to experience that sport at all levels—in social, competition, local, regional, state, national and international arenas. The Rockets were established 14 years ago when a small group of parents of children with disabilities wanted to provide an opportunity for their children to bowl. As the years passed more parents became aware of the Rockets and have brought their children and adolescents along. Ron Crompton, who manages the Rockets, has done a fantastic job. The Rockets have their own theme song that is played before each bowling match, and recently I was lucky enough to be given a copy of their CD.
This group is having fun, forming friendships, and is involved in the local community. They have a bowling competition with local community leaders and community members at the end of each year. We all attend with fear and trepidation because we know of the experience and skill of the Hornsby Rockets. They are something to be reckoned with. We see growth in the individuals' self-esteem. They are willing to learn new skills and they are proud to be a member of the Rockets.
BREAK THRU PEOPLE SOLUTIONS
Mr DAVID HARRIS
(Wyong—Parliamentary Secretary) [11.50 a.m.]: I acknowledge school leaders in the gallery today from Gorokan, Wyong and North Lakes high schools in my area and those from Brisbane Waters Secondary College, which is my old school. I would like to refer to a wonderful service in my electorate called Break Thru People Solutions, under the management of Kristy Heath, which aims to support people with disabilities and other disadvantages to help them establish careers that are of mutual benefit to the employee, employer and the community. Its vision is to empower all clients to become valued, worthwhile, productive members of our society. It was with great pride that on Monday 3 May, along with my esteemed colleague the Minister for Disability Services, Mr Paul Lynch, I visited the Wyong branch of Break Thru to present a cheque for $5,000.
This cheque was in response to a grant applied for by Maureen Cooper from the transition to work section of Break Thru People Solutions. Maureen was keen to ensure that the highly successful healthy eating and living program would not be a one-off but would continue to run and support Break Thru clients. This funding secures the program's future for the next two years. Maureen's colleague Callum Hayes spoke passionately about the course, which runs one day per week for up to 27 clients aged between 17 and 21 years of age. Callum said that the healthy eating and living course is not only extremely popular with clients but also equips them with many vital skills that we often take for granted; things like communication skills, hygiene skills, how to make healthy food choices, cooking skills, being an effective team member, improving fitness plus loads more—all very important to help these clients be successful in their transition to work. It is run out of community facilities such as the Tuggerah Community Hall and the OASIS Centre by a variety of facilitators, which Callum believes encourages the clients to access the broader community and increase their worldview and connection with the community.
At each session the clients get to learn and play team games such as netball, touch football and cricket, and have instruction and hands-on practice in cooking healthy foods. Then they eat lunch together, reinforcing important social skills in a fun, friendly environment. At the end of the course Break Thru clients are presented with a Food Handling Certificate. Parents and carers are encouraged to be part of the planning and then the celebrating of each client's achievements. As members can see, it is an extremely comprehensive program and I am particularly impressed with its ability to build not only the health of the participants but their independence as well. The healthy eating and living course within the Transition To Work Program is just one of many wonderful programs offered by this great organisation.
The member for Hornsby talked about people in her community who work with people with disabilities. They are very special people who do a tremendous job. On 3 May the Minister and I saw them provide encouragement and confidence to those young people. The member for Hornsby saw some great artwork done by people with disabilities and learned how thrilled they were to be invited to meet the Governor. In our communities we can be truly proud that different organisations do a fantastic job in supporting people with disabilities. I know there will always be more to do for them, but a lot of people do a really good job with them. I am pleased to take this opportunity to congratulate all staff at Break Thru People Solutions on their dedication to supporting people with disabilities.
I also thank businesses that employ young people with disabilities. At a function held in my electorate I met a man with disabilities who had been working at Franklins Kincumber for some 27 years. His parents were so grateful that he had been able to be a functioning member of the community and earn an income. They could not talk more highly of the way the people at Franklins Kincumber treated their son and how much they had enjoyed seeing their son come home from work each day and show his appreciation of having a job. I am pleased this Government is committed to funding such worthwhile organisations that help our communities become stronger and more inclusive of all types of people.
LISMORE BASE HOSPITAL
Mr THOMAS GEORGE
(Lismore) [11.55 a.m.]: I express my concern about the experience of Mr Robert Gow, a patient at Lismore Base Hospital. I have forwarded representations to the Minister for Health, but it is virtually after the event. I pay tribute to all staff at that hospital. I will read the last sentence of a letter that Mrs Gow wrote to me about her husband:
Robert is full of praise for the staff at the I.C. Cardiac unit which at times over flows into I.C. and this needs funding for an extension. Our anger is therefore directed at THE SYSTEM which is bogged down in bureaucracy and under-funding.
Mrs Gow approached my office out of sheer frustration. For almost two weeks her husband, Robert, has been in the cardiac intensive care unit waiting for a transfer to Royal North Shore Hospital to receive a permanent pacemaker. His surgeons inserted a temporary pacemaker, which was supposed to be in place for only a few days due to the possibility of infection. She contacted my office nine days after its insertion when his condition was becoming critical because he had not been transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital. Her letter also stated:
I must emphasise that we are more than happy with the standard of care and the staff at the I.C. Coronary unit. Both the nurses and to-day the top Cardiologists yelled vociferously over the phone to R.N.S. to accept him urgently. They have done their very best and more.
Her husband was finally transferred yesterday and I believe as we speak he is undergoing surgery. I bring this matter to the attention of the House and the Minister because, as Mrs Gow stated:
I'm told that Lismore only has an arrangement with R.N.S. because Brisbane charges too much and there isn't an agreement with Newcastle. If this present arrangement could be extended, some pressure could be taken off R.N.S. whom I'm sure are doing their best in spite of underfunding.
This matter again highlights the problems of cross-border issues. On a number of occasions I have spoken about people who have had cardiac problems and have had to be sent to Sydney because Lismore did not have a catheterisation laboratory. However, I thank the Government for providing the new laboratory, which may have opened this week. Prior to this, patients were flown to Sydney for testing at a catheterisation laboratory, in the public system. That will not solve Mr Gow's problem, because he needs a permanent pacemaker, which cannot be put in at Lismore. But once patients are tested in Sydney and found to be okay they are told they can go home and they are left to their own devices to get home to Lismore or the surrounding North Coast area. If the same tests are performed across the border, it is easier for them to make their way back to the Northern Rivers.
Hopefully, the catheter laboratory in Lismore will solve half these problems, but the concern is about flying patients all the way from the North Coast to the Royal North Shore Hospital when, with two hours drive the other way, they could receive the same treatment closer to home. The cost of flying patients to Sydney must be astronomical. I bring this concern to the attention of the House, and I have made representations to the Minister about this very serious case.
JOHN WALL AND A HEALTHIER NATION CAMPAIGN
Mr GRANT McBRIDE
(The Entrance) [12.00 p.m.]: I recently spoke to one of my famous over-sixties constituents, John Wall, who told me about his campaign to build a healthier nation for the older generation. At 64, John represents a fitness level beyond many individuals 20 years his junior—perhaps even 40 years his junior. He still runs and trains regularly, is totally enthusiastic about wellbeing and is a credit to athletes both young and old. In 2009 he was accorded the honour of becoming an Ambassador for the World Masters Games held in Sydney and an Australia Day representative. As part of his roles John was invited to travel across the country to bring his message of fitness for the older generation, what it means to be a fit sixties-plus athlete, and the advantage of exercise. John has been an athlete all his life. In the masters ranks, John has been the New South Wales 100 metres and 200 metres champion for the last four years and, at the Australian Masters Games in Sydney and the recent World Championships, the 100 metres gold medal champion. A great achievement for an Australian and Central Coast seniors runner.
John's life has been the subject of the ABC's iconic Australian Story
program, chronicling his life as a top athlete. Last year Runners World International
magazine covered his story with an impressive seven-page article. He is a regular on morning television and radio programs talking about health and longevity and is an acknowledged expert in his field. John is the ideal person to help build a healthier nation. His program has been designed to cater for all levels of fitness, from the very fit to those who are invalided. It is available for everyone, but in particular for those over 50.
John's ambition is clearly defined by his own achievements in the athletics arena and his passionate belief in bridging the generation gap between the young and the old by combining the resources of the police and community youth clubs and retirement villages and aged organisations on the Central Coast. It is not well recognised that the Central Coast has the largest number of under-19s as a percentage of the population and that we are also very competitive in the over-65 age group. His team of inspirers and trainers will ensure a better understanding of how to achieve a degree of general fitness, leading to improved wellness and quality of life.
Fitness is one of the most import elements to a long and fulfilling life, and John and his team are doing everything to encourage the baby boomer generation to get fit and stay fit. John has designed his pilot program to have the capacity to be encapsulated and expanded across all of New South Wales, which will benefit all seniors, not just those on the Central Coast. His program will create health and fitness and an understanding of the value of our bodies as the vehicle that will carry us to our immediate and long-term future and ultimately a fitness that will last us a long lifetime. The program has relevance as a counter to the obesity problems, drug and alcohol troubles and all the associated medical difficulties that confront those over 50.
The format of John's program will consist of an opening, with a short history of what fitness can do for older people, plus questions and answers, followed by basic health and fitness exercises structured to the degree of difficulty based on age and health considerations. The building a healthier nation program aims to encourage by positive example—to inspire and build self-esteem, to stimulate personal motivation and to encourage an understanding of the value of keeping ourselves fit and healthy for our benefit and also for the benefit of our families. As someone once said:
The nation may be built on the backs of the young, but it is carried on the shoulders of experience by the mature aged.
I applaud John Wall and his continued involvement in fitness and health and his commitment to share his wealth of information and inspiration designed especially for the mature aged in the hope that they will be personally enthused by his commitment and perseverance. John is one of those truly unique people whom I have met in my role as the member for The Entrance. He is a true inspiration when it comes to the benefit of wellness and fitness in our community.
Ms CLOVER MOORE
(Sydney) [12.05 p.m.], by leave: The 2006 population census recorded 101,577 people living in the Sydney electorate, which has the highest population density in the State. Like most of the country, our population is growing at a strong rate and my constituents want sustainable planning for this growth. Australia was recently identified as the fastest-growing industrialised country in the world and Treasury's 2049 population projection is 35 million people. The New South Wales Government Metropolitan Strategy predicts by 2031 that metropolitan Sydney's population will increase by 1.1 million, to 5.3 million, and in December the Prime Minister anticipated an additional three million people by 2049.
More than two-thirds of Australians live in major cities and more than 85 per cent in urban areas: our ability to cope with strong population growth will be determined in our cities. Our cities can support greater populations if cities transfer to a low-carbon economy, establish world-class public transport networks, maintain access to affordable housing close to jobs and protect fresh food supplies. Urgent action to avert dangerous climate change must be our first priority. Australia currently has the highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the world, largely because our cities rely on coal for electricity. Rapid population growth requires us to use electricity more sustainably, which involves a major shift to renewable and local generation such as tri-generation. All households must have access to fast, reliable transport to work and places of interest and infrastructure that makes walking and cycling a safe and viable alternative to the car.
Sydney's history of development over recent decades, with low-density expansions in the north, south and west without adequate infrastructure, particularly public transport, will not enable this city to cope with population growth, but it is creating unbearable congestion and communities that are vulnerable to peak oil and petrol price hikes. Under a business-as-usual approach, traffic congestion will rise to eight billion cars per annum by 2020 and this figure will be much greater by 2049, when the city is expected to accommodate eight million people. Cities must also maintain a strong and diverse labour force to drive the economy, but this is only possible if there is housing stock for a range of people. If low-income workers such as childcare workers and cleaners cannot access housing close to where they work, they will seek employment closer to homes they can afford. Some employment sectors in the inner city are already having difficulty recruiting staff, and the problem will get worse as our ageing population leaves the workforce and labour competition increases.
Affordable housing does not increase with unlimited land releases on city fringes; it just creates car-dependent communities. The solution for affordable housing needs to be comprehensive, with participation at every level of government. Sprawling cities are having an impact on food supply as land needed for food production is developed. The Sydney food basin is under threat from development even though it supplies 18 per cent of this State's food production, is 30 times more productive than the rest of New South Wales and employs about 12,000 people. We must protect our food-growing land from development and ensure that sustainable farming practices protect our agricultural industry and our environment into the future. Only 10 per cent of our country—the world's driest continent—is suitable for growing food, but fresh food is essential to our survival.
On a smaller scale, we need to encourage and support people to grow their own food at home and in community gardens and on green roofs, to promote healthier food, reduce food miles and maximise our use of inner-city land. If urban sprawl is replaced by urban consolidation, to cope sustainably with population growth we need to make apartment living sustainable, which involves improving the efficiency of high-rise developments and providing better protection for apartment owners through strata legislation. In the City of Sydney, the State Government has set mandatory targets of 132,000 new residents by 2031. This will require 55,000 new dwellings and 462,000 new jobs. Since the targets were set in 2004 approximately 6,100 new dwellings have been built.
Sustainable Sydney 2030 is the City of Sydney's plan to meet our population targets and it has been developed through comprehensive consultation with our communities and working with the best local and international thinkers for a city that will be economically, culturally, socially and environmentally sustainable. The truth is that Sydney's population will grow. We need to prepare cities to ensure the future of the planet and maintain sustainable cities for future generations. All levels of government must plan strategically for population growth to protect and build on what we love about city living: our villages, our heritage, our parks and our natural environment and cultural spaces.
SHEETMETAL INDUSTRY ASSOCATION SCULPTOR OF THE YEAR AWARDS
Mr GRAHAM WEST
(Campbelltown—Minister for Juvenile Justice) [12.10 p.m.], by leave: I wish to speak about an important event that took place this morning, partly because of the work of Leo Delissen, and that is the Sheetmetal Industry Association Sculptor of the Year Awards. I know it is against the standing orders of the House, but I wish I could incorporate the images of the finalists' exhibits into Hansard
because they are extraordinary. The young people have found material such as sheet metal, bits of cars, nuts and bolts and have turned them into extraordinary works of art.
These artworks are so good that the Trade and Investment representative in her speech this morning said that people had stopped at the display in the MLC Centre to ask if they were part of the Biennale of Sydney. That is high praise for the artwork, the young people, the parents and teachers. It also shows great leadership by the Sheetmetal Industry Association, which has not only used traditional pathways to encourage people into the industry but also recognised that it is through imagination and the ability to explore the use of materials—things young people love—that they can develop skills and interests in the industry into the future. Even if those young people do not enter the industry, they are learning problem solving and skills that have enabled them to look at a piece of material and turn it in a magnificent work of art.
The Sheetmetal Industry Association deserves far more recognition with these awards than it has been given in the six years it has been running the awards. Tonight the Sculptor of the Year will be announced at the Campbelltown Catholic Club. There were three judges at the event today. Mark Goodsell, Director of the Australian Industry Group, was genuinely blown away by the works. Nigel Harrison, a well-known sculptor, who has experience with Boys Town and many other works, was genuinely worried about judging the works because they were so good. David Horton spoke about his experience of metal work at school, which I am sure is similar to the experience of the member for Charlestown and the member for Lismore, that is, making very functional objects.
Mr Thomas George:
Not back in my day.
Mr GRAHAM WEST:
They were not functional in your day? I have to admit that we had to make a barbecue scraper and while I got good marks for my effort at school, I remember it falling apart the first time I used it at a barbecue.
Mr Matthew Morris:
I made a vice.
Mr GRAHAM WEST:
That is pretty inventive. We had 35 in a class, all making the same thing. Young people now have a chance to learn all those skills, using a lathe, using a welder, and cutting out sheet metal and staining it in a way that engages them. I talked to the young people involved, who got a real kick out of doing the work and being selected as finalists. Matthew Garlan from Kooringal High School, a first-time entrant, told me he did not think his work was the best in the school but it was selected for the exhibition. He said he did it in an hour, which is extraordinary. The artwork of Brayden McKay from Braidwood Central School has already been sold to a Queen's Counsel who observed it in the MLC Centre. Half of the money will go to the school and half of it will go to Brayden. It sold for over $1,000, which is very pleasing for a boy who is just in year 8.
Curtis Schaefer did an extraordinary Turbo Croc that swallowed a mobile phone and a can. His mother will not let him sell the work, although he was a bit disappointed when I told him how much some of the others were receiving for their work. It will be put in pride of place in her garden down at Grenfell. Jasper Dorman from Mulwaree High School has created an extraordinary bird using shears and a pitchfork. I was struck by the display of imagination when I stood in the doorway of the exhibition. Lillian Dorman created figures of beautiful dancers out of nuts and bolts and bits of metal. It made me feel a little old when she said to me, "Who has ever heard of a woman doing welding?" My response was, "Haven't you seen the movie Flashdance
?" She looked at me with a blank expression because she had no idea what I was talking about.
Max Devries exhibited a magnificent figure of a frill-necked lizard inspired by nature. Ariel Sartoretto from the Mary MacKillop College, which is located near my electorate, is the only girl at her school involved in this type of artwork. She attends TAFE to be able to do it, and is a finalist for the second time. Ryan Mills created Hydrocarbon Man
, using parts from engines. On a closer look, we can see that he has captured a butterfly as part of the piece. All the works of art not only are artistic but also convey messages. They also speak volumes about the young people in the project. I again congratulate the Sheetmetal Industry Association.
Private members' statements concluded.
The House adjourned, pursuant to standing and sessional orders, at 12.15 p.m. until
Tuesday 1 June 2010 at 1.00 p.m.