Friday, 19 December 2014

Outstanding Leadership Awards at Heffron Schools

I believe it is important to recognise our young students who show excellent leadership potential and encourage them to take on an active leadership role in their schools and communities.

When I visit our schools and meet with the Principals and teachers, it is inspiring to see how professional and dedicated they are to ensuring our children are given the best chance at a bright future. It is no wonder that our teachers are the best in the world. Their commitment to the education of our children is admirable and their contribution in shaping the future of our nation can never be underestimated.

Over the past two weeks I visited 16 schools and awarded students with not only my outstanding leadership award, but also with state representative awards, graduation certificates and other special school awards.

It really is an honour to be able to personally congratulate the students on their achievements throughout the year and I again take this opportunity to praise them on their hard work.

At some of the presentations I spoke to the students about the importance of doing your best at all times. I used a personal example from when I was at school and my father would say to me that I would “pay now or pay later but you will pay” – meaning that if I didn’t give my all to school when I was there, I would pay the consequences later. And I did! I spent six years travelling to university at night after working a full day because I had to study part time. It was an experience I’d rather forget but one that has stuck with me. For six years my father’s advice to pay now or pay later rang in my ears. It was very clear that I was paying later.

I encourage our students at all ages to really make the most of the opportunities they have at school to learn as much as they can across many disciplines. It is this time of personal development and growth which is so important and has the potential to set you up for life.

 I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy holiday, I look forward to visiting the schools again during the 2015.
Ron with Helena Guo from Alexandria Park Community School.  Helena is the incoming vice captain for 2015 and sets a good example to her fellow students in achieving academic excellence.

Ron with Homayra Rahman from Eastlakes Public School. Homayra is a leader at all times and is a wonderful support to the school and wider community.

Ron with Mariam Kirakosyan from Erskineville Public School. Mariam has shown great maturity in undertaking and planning of the school peer program and has wonderful communication skills that allow all students to feel welcomed.

Ron with Krisi Papadatos from Gardeners Road Public School.  Krisi is involved in multiple extra curricula activities and is respectful of those around her.  


Ron with Kensington Public School School leaders Pia Michalandos, Adam Dannoun, Ian Punyawan and Hannah Fulton who have all represented Kensington Public School with great distinction.  Ron also presented Tamsin Colley with a NSW State Representative Award for her huge successes at the School Sport Australia Cross Country Championships and the graduation certificates for the year six class of 2014.

Ron with Marcus Malos from Mascot Public School who was voted by teachers for Ron's outstanding leadership award. Marcus was also a prefect this year and is a very responsible student

Ron with Caoimhe Deering from Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Waterloo.  Caoimhe has been a brilliant role model and has applied herself conscientiously to all challenges that were presented to her.

Ron with  Tolutau Boris Koula who was two state representative certificates for representing NSW in rugby union and track and field.

Ron with Emma Murphy from Our Lady of Sacred Heart College, Kensington. Emma is an outstanding leader and has been elected as the College Captain for 2015.


Ron with Alicia Bornor from Our lady of the Rosary, Kensington. Alicia shows great initiative and is an excellent role model to those around her.



Ron with Tara Keogh from St Mary’s Catholic Primary School. Tara has always been highly committed to her school as well as the Parish and leads by example at all times.

Ron with St Michael's Catholic Primary School school captain Lachlan Scott. Lachlan is a diligent worker and a role model for many at the school. 

Ron with Max Van Berkel from St Peters Public School.  Max undertakes all tasks with enthusiasm and modesty and is a good role model for those in younger years.

Ron with  Nicholas Drakoulis from St Spyridon College Junior School. Nicholas is the current vice-captain of the Junior School and is a selfless and exemplary student who represents the school at several co-curricular events.

Ron with Brianna Edwards from St Therese Catholic Primary School, Mascot.  Brianna is a high academic achiever, has represented St Therese at numerous sporting events and is a member of the film crew.

Ron with Zoe Yalouris from  is a member of the film crew.Tempe High School, Zoe is a very bright young lady who hopes to study medicine and music.

Ron with Sieli Kefu from Tempe Public School. Sieli has been an admirable leader at her school performing exemplary throughout the year and has also been a great role model to her peers.
 
 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

“The Greater Sydney Commission” address by The Hon. Luke Foley MLC

Labor's Shadow Planning Minister, The Hon. Luke Foley MLC delivered an address to the Committee for Sydney on the 15 December 2014 entitled "The Greater Sydney Commission."

My view is that Mr Foley's address was thought provoking laying down not only the planning sins of the past but the way forward. I thought its so impressive that I publish it in full below.

"Sydney is one of the world’s great cities and the nation’s powerhouse of enterprise, creativity and innovation. 

Yet Sydney’s success has all too often been accidental. 

Some of our greatest achievements, like the Opera House, happened in spite of the politics of the day. 


Imagine what we could achieve if we collaborate properly. 


What is the problem that we should want to solve for Sydney? 


Our state government is characterised by siloed departments rarely working together, and never working towards agreed metropolitan goals. 


Our local government is focussed on the micro urban issues, and all too often oblivious to the city wide issues. 


A big state government, combined with small local councils, sees Sydney get lost in between. 


Sydney is an orphan of public policy. 


This has to change. 


Imagine a dialogue across Sydney aimed at building a shared vision for Sydney. 


Imagine a civic narrative that is more than just disgruntled interests shouting slogans at each other. 


Great cities don’t succeed by chance. 


They happen when we all coordinate our efforts to achieve agreed goals. 


We’ve had glimpses of this in the past. 


Premier Bill McKell, the father of modern NSW Labor, had the vision to drive the development of the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme, which has been called the most definitive expression of a public policy on the form and content of an Australian metropolitan area ever attempted. 


Sydney hosted the greatest Olympics ever. 


We had a clear plan and a common goal, and it we pulled it off, perfectly, while the whole world watched. 


But these glimpses are few and far between. 


We need a whole of government vision for Sydney. 


We need the various arms of government, state and local, working to a common strategy for Sydney. 


I’ve long championed the creation of a single authority to plan the sustainable growth of Sydney. 


A single authority to coordinate the various government agencies and departments to ensure that consideration is given to all interests and needs, balancing economic, environmental and community interests. 


It would have plan-making powers and would be charged with delivering the Plan for Sydney. 


The Plan that would guide the sustainable growth of this city. 


The Plan that would ensure that both the benefits and the burdens of Sydney’s growth are shared equally. 


And most importantly this authority would have power to implement the Plan. 


Successive metropolitan strategies line the book shelves of governments, gathering dust, regularly ignored by state government departments and local councils. 


What we need is joined-up government - that works as one in addressing our city’s problems and exploiting the city’s opportunities. 


This joined-up government approach is completely lacking when it comes to urban affairs. 


The State Government’s Transport Master Plan was released three years ago. 


The Government’s Infrastructure Plan was released three weeks ago. 


The Sydney Metropolitan Strategy was released yesterday! 


It is just crazy that the Plan for Sydney comes last, not first. 


Both sides of NSW politics support the creation of a Greater Sydney Commission. 


My concern is that the version Planning Minister Pru Goward announced yesterday will deliver a pale and timid Commission, limited in its scope and ambition, under the control of Planning Department bureaucrats. 


We are missing an opportunity to create a genuinely powerful body to take charge of Sydney’s future. 


It should sit at the heart of government, an independent and accountable body. 


The Greater Sydney Commission should develop the Metropolitan Plan for Sydney, and then government agencies should be required to align their plans to fit. 


Departmental spending plans should go before the Greater Sydney Commission for review and prioritisation. 


It should be a star chamber for Sydney. 


A star chamber in which the interests of all Sydneysiders would be heard and find voice. 


Departments should need to show what they’re planning to do for Sydney, and how they are co-ordinating this with other departments and agencies. 


Nick Greiner was right to question the final plans for the WestConnex project. 


Frankly, I doubt whether the WestConnex business plan would ever have passed muster by a powerful Greater Sydney Commission. 


It’s a classic departmental approach to congestion, that says “let’s build a road”. 


A whole of government approach, and a cross Sydney approach, would say “let’s fix congestion”. 


We need proper, co-ordinated, investment in public transport. 


Not simply what the Federal Government will fund, and what NSW Treasury will tolerate. 


In part the Greater Sydney Commission should be about creating a credible vehicle that the national government can put its money into. 


It is also about creating a credible vehicle that Sydneysiders can have faith in. 


The establishment of a Greater Sydney Commission also presents an opportunity to rationalise and coordinate the plethora of agencies with responsibility for Sydney. 


The State Government can’t lecture local government on amalgamations and rationalisation if it keeps spawning its own new agencies. 


The Greater Sydney Commission should work to strengthen mayoral leadership, not to bypass it. 


The Commission should establish a Congress of Mayors, bringing together all mayors from across Sydney’s local government areas. 

And we should consider moving to the popular election of all of Sydney’s mayors, for a four year term. 


The Greater Sydney Commission’s role and powers should be constituted by an Act of Parliament. 


That legislation should create the Greater Sydney Commission as an independent and accountable body that reports daily to the Premier and annually to both Houses of Parliament. 


I want to see a Greater Sydney Commission governed by a high level board, with a majority of its members drawn from outside government. 


We should reach out to outstanding leaders who call Sydney home and ask them to contribute their skills and talents to the shaping of this city’s future. 


I think of two very fine corporate leaders in Gail Kelly and Cameron Clyne. 


Both have recently decided to step back from the day to day challenges of running a business with millions of customers and tens of thousands of employees. 


And I think of women of the calibre of Kerry Schacht and Jennifer Westacott, both of whom have forgot more than we’ll ever know about infrastructure delivery in this city. 


A growing Sydney can and should be a model of environmental responsibility. 


I think of Ian Kiernan and Jeff Angel, who’ve both challenged and inspired us, over decades, to treasure what nature has bequeathed us. 


We should be begging some of these high achievers to come on board and help shape the future of Sydney. 


And we will need local government to be partners in the strategic planning of Sydney’s future. 


The Lord Mayors of Sydney and Parramatta should sit on the board of the Greater Sydney Commission. 


I would like to see the Greater Sydney Commission initially concentrate on three priority projects. 


First, a town centres strategy, focused on reviving the central business districts of Penrith, Liverpool, Campbelltown and Gosford. 


Between them these four centres service well over a million people, but they have failed to provide the employment their locals need. 


These four centres should all be recognised as vital to metropolitan-wide economic growth and prosperity. 


The Commission should review measures and proposals to attract private investment to property, infrastructure and employment initiatives. 


I am particularly concerned about the south-west of Sydney. 


South-west Sydney has the greatest imbalance between population and jobs in all of Sydney, with far more people living in the region than there are jobs. 


The population of south-west Sydney is forecast to grow by almost half a million by 2031, when it will be home to 1.3 million people. 


I want to see Campbelltown and Liverpool in a position to attract the full range of business, government, health, retail, cultural, entertainment and recreational activities. 


Let us strive to emulate the success of Parramatta. 


Parramatta is a compelling model of town centre renewal, with new commercial and residential activity, accompanied by improved amenity. 


Let us prioritise the revival of the central business districts of our regional cities of Liverpool and Campbelltown, and the capital of the outer west, Penrith. 


Then move on to the major centres of Bankstown, Blacktown and Castle Hill. 


The Planning Department draws a distinction between metropolitan Sydney and greater Sydney. 


The latter includes the Central Coast region. 


Gosford should be on the radar of any Greater Sydney Commission. 


Second, the Commission should drive better planning for schools. 


If we look forward sixteen years, we can expect 347 000 more school children in NSW in 2031 than there were in 2011. 


88 per cent of that increase will be in metropolitan Sydney. 


School enrolments are expected to grow by one-third by 2031. 


We need to plan for over 300 000 more students in Sydney’s schools in 2031. 

25 000 more school places will be needed in the Blacktown local government area alone. 

At the same time demand for school places in Sydney’s inner and middle ring suburbs will continue to increase. 

For example, 16 000 more school places will be needed for children living in the City of Sydney local government area. 

And over 6 000 in the Auburn local government area. 

Yet schools are absent from the Planning Department’s strategic planning. 

Search all of the projections and data on their website, and you will learn a great deal. 

But you will not come across anything that identifies the need to plan for hundreds of thousands of new school places. 

I cannot find a single reference to students or schools. 

Schools warrant a much higher priority in all metropolitan and regional strategic planning. 

We’ve had over thirty years of urban consolidation plans but only now has the Government started looking for a new school site in the inner city. 

Thirty years too late and we are now paying the price. 

Currently, the differing demands of 41 local councils frustrate schools authorities and delay decisions on where to expand existing schools and where to locate new schools. 

Non-government schools are often hit with unreasonable infrastructure demands by local councils and state owned utilities. 

We must empower the Greater Sydney Commission to properly plan for the schooling of future generations of children. 

To develop a 20 year demand map for school places, that factors in residential growth projections, to inform future schools planning across the public, Catholic and independent sectors. 

To identify suitable sites for new schools and accompanying infrastructure such as playing fields. 

To engage both the government and non-government schools sectors at the start of greenfield planning to enable purchase of suitable sites for new schools before the land is rezoned for other uses. 

A uniform schools planning code is overdue. 

And while we’re at it, let’s address the provision of out of school hours childcare in the planning and design of all new schools and all planned extensions to existing schools. 

Third, the Greater Sydney Commission must focus on driving jobs growth throughout the suburbs of Sydney. 

Let’s plan the growth of our health and education sectors. 

We need to identify the land use requirements of the significant health and education precincts throughout Sydney – in suburbs such as Camperdown, Randwick, Westmead, Rydalmere, St Leonards, Macquarie Park, Frenchs Forest, Campbelltown and Penrith. 

We need to plan the expansion of these precincts, so that the education and health industries can grow, and provide both high quality services to millions and smart jobs to our kids. 

And the growth of these precincts should be accompanied by complementary new business activity, improved public transport connections and more residential dwellings close to well paid jobs. 

Creating several hundred thousand new jobs in western Sydney over the next 20 years is perhaps the most important single thing that can help all of Sydney manage growth sustainably. 

Forcing people to travel from west to east for work, and then back again to get home, is a threat to Sydney’s liveability and a drain on our productivity. 

The most recent population, housing and dwelling projections target a population increase in western Sydney of close to one million people by 2031. 

60 per cent of Sydney’s additional population of 1.6 million will live in greater western Sydney. 

When it comes to employment growth, the metropolitan strategy targets 50 per cent of new jobs for western Sydney. 

Without a serious plan to achieve this it is an empty target. 

Professor Phil O’Neil from the University of Western Sydney has pointed out that Western Sydney will need to add the equivalent of 24,000 additional jobs every 18 months - equivalent to the entire jobs target for Barangaroo on completion – in order to meet this modest target. 

In fact, we will need to do even better than this, or the jobs deficit in western Sydney – currently around 200 000 - will grow further. 

And the impact on our roads and on our train and bus systems will be extreme. 

The congested pipes that funnel workers into the inner core of Sydney can be widened. 

But the M2, M4, M5 and the railway lines will never be wide enough to accommodate the population tsunami that is expected for Western Sydney. 

I have been influenced by the work of the American academic Dr John Kasarda, and his concept of the aerotropolis. 

Kasarda argues that airports will shape business location and urban development in the 21st century as much as highways did in the 20th century, railroads in the 19th and seaports in the 18th. 


An aerotropolis is a type of urban form comprising aviation intense business and related enterprises. 


An aerotropolis has an airport as its core and is surrounded by clusters of aviation related enterprise. 


The Greater Sydney Commission should drive the development of western Sydney’s greatest jobs generator, the Badgerys Creek Airport. 

Land use planning for commercial and industrial activities linked to the airport is required. 

We need to identify the corridors for future rail lines and roads, including a South West Rail Link Extension and the Outer Sydney Orbital. 

Developing western Sydney’s airport to its full potential will be about so much more than laying down a runway. 

I cannot think of a more important single task for the Greater Sydney Commission."


Monday, 1 December 2014

Westconnex "Lemon" gone from $10 billion to $20 billion & no-one yet knows the route

Touted as the solution to Sydney's gridlock, the solution to Port Botany transportation of freight and ending the transportation of nightmare from Sydney's Kingsford-Smith airport the Westconnex project remains the "lemon" I said it was on 3 October 2012. Then it was a $10 million "lemon", now it is a $20 billion "lemon", and the NSW Liberals have no idea where the road is going.

There is no route, no modelling, no design and no costing. This road goes nowhere near Port Botany and the amount of containers being moved by rail has fallen in the last 3 years from 25% to 12% with container movements to increase by 294%. The NSW economy is going to grind to a halt as this poorly planned sea port will not be able to move imports and exports in and out of Australia.

The NSW Opposition today has slammed the Baird Liberal Government for its inept management of the WestConnex motorway project with the fifth major change to the route  the cost of the project has doubled to $20 billion before a single sod has been turned in construction.

Shadow Roads Minister Michael Daley has pointed out today since the original WestConnex concept released by Infrastructure NSW in 2012, the motorway project has been redesigned by the Liberal Government a further four times while the cost has skyrocketed to $20 billion.

So far the Government has announced five WestConnex routes, including:

1. Original Infrastructure NSW concept (Eastern Distributor style cut and cover)

2. NSW Government’s WestConnex plan (all tunnel, no cut and cover)

3. Addition of Northern and South extensions

4. New M5 Motorway concept released (two new four lane tunnels/St Peters Interchange)

5. Western Harbour Tunnel realignment of Section 3 (Haberfield to St Peters)

“The Liberals made a promise before the last election to start construction on either the M4 East or the M5 East before the next election – yet no major works will have been commenced on either project and the start is still years away, Michael Daley said.

“The Liberals magic pudding promises have also seen the total cost of the project blow out to $20 billion according to today’s media reports.

“The Liberals have been fiddling around with lines on maps for the past four years instead of getting on with the job.

“How can motorists in Sydney have any faith in the Liberals’ grandiose infrastructure promises when they can’t control the cost of their flagship road project or even start construction of it as they promised before the last election?”

Mr Daley said Mike Baird and the Liberals were promising well in excess of $20 billion worth of infrastructure if they privatize the electricity network – yet these are just empty promises that are unfunded and cannot be believed.

“Mike Baird is traveling around NSW with his privatization magic pudding promising everything to everyone – the reality is that his projects are blowing out before they have even left the drawing board and not even this magic pudding is going to save his empty and unfunded promises.

“Mike Baird and the Liberals are keeping the public in the dark on the cost blow outs and route details of the WestConnex while selectively leaking animations and pictures to the media.

“This is not the way you plan and build major infrastructure in a global city like Sydney.


“The only thing the people of NSW will get out from the Liberals will be glossy brochures and empty promises.”

Michael Daley is right on the money.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

WestConnex disaster hits St Peters - 80 homes to go

Yesterday the Prime Minister and Premier announced in my electorate in the suburb of St Peters yet another version of the Westconnex - a road interchange to be constructed at St Peters just south of Sydney Park. Simultaneously, 80 home owners in St Peters were approached and advised that their property will be acquired.

I responded in parliament today. The video of my speech is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PpgFjeUQTRs&feature=youtu.be

It is just lunacy to build a vast road interchange at that location and it is not the first time the stupidity of St Peters as a major road interchange has been raised. More than 2 decades ago the M5 East was to be constructed with a major road interchange at St Peters, exiting at Canal Road. It exits where it currently exits at General Holmes Drive because I as President of the Southern Sydney Regional Organisation of Councils campaigned vigorously to ensure common sense prevailed.

The roads around St Peters, Tempe, Sydenham, Canal Road, the Princes Highway, Unwins Bridge Road, Mary Street and adjoining streets are in absolute gridlock, carrying significant volumes of traffic, large trucks and dangerous goods. This is a return to the stupidity that existed more than two decades ago.

Quite frankly, my constituents in St Peters, Tempe and Sydenham are sick to death of this incompetent Liberal Government careering around, coming up with a variety of locations for the Wetconnex for their own political agenda with no concern for the uncertainty and fear that is created in the community.

Initially, the Wetconnex through the Tempe and St Peters area was going to be an above ground road going through Tempe Reserve and Tempe Wetlands, but the NSW Government didn’t actually know the route that was abandoned recently. Remember the massive culvert that they were going to build a boulevard like Paris and Barcelona which is now a tunnel?

2 weeks ago people started drilling in the streets of Sydenham without any consultation with the community, which in itself created consternation. Residents thought that might be the location of a tunnel, right underneath their homes with the adjoining exhaust stacks. 

Now, there is an announcement by political leaders from Manly. The closest they come to St Peters is when they get in their wide bodied jets for their overseas jaunts. For the Premier to tell the residents of St Peters that this, and I quote, is “short term pain for long term gain” is just insulting.

The fact is, the Government has no idea where the precise route of the Wetconnex is going to be. It has no idea about the environmental impact; in fact no environmental impact statement is to be published until next year, well after an election. This government devoid of intellect is asking private tenderer's to tell them where the route should be. The way the NSW Government is supposed to build a road is to plan the route, examine details, conduct a traffic analysis and offer up a solution to address those problems.

It is one thing for the Government to get cheap headlines in the media to be seen to be doing something. It is another thing to cause fear and consternation to residents of my electorate because of their own inability, failure and incompetence.

Every time an announcement is made by this Government regarding the Westconnex, my entire community is left with not only more questions but also uncertainty and fear.

The Government is playing with the lives of the residents at St Peters, Tempe and Sydenham. Many cannot sell their homes for fear of losing money. Many cannot finish or start renovations for fear of wasting money. Many do not want to be forced to leave the area that they’ve built their entire lives in.

The St Peters, Tempe and Sydenham community will not accept these displays of contempt from the NSW Government who continually leave their livelihoods hanging in the balance. Enough is enough. The Premier should immediately announce to my constituents that their properties are not going to be acquired.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Shalom College University of NSW - Shalom Gamrada Scholarship Program

Ron Hoenig MP with students, Scholarship Co-founder Ilona Lee and Shalom College Master Dr Hilton Immerman OAM
It was an honour to visit Shalom College at the University of NSW to meet with some inspiring Indigenous Scholarship students.

This remarkable University residential college located on the grounds of the University of NSW offers scholarships to Indigenous Australians to enable the college to make a contribution to closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.

The program's name comes from the term Gamarada ngiyani yana in the Eora language (the coastal Aboriginal people of Sydney) and is translated as "We walk together as friends."

As the College points out; many Indigenous students find it difficult to succeed at university as they commonly come from disadvantaged educational communities, live far from campus, have to have part time work to support themselves and are seldom part of a 'learning community'.

"The Shalom Gamarada Scholarship Program helps to alleviate these problems by providing financial support, eliminating travelling time and creating an environment conducive to learning with tutoring and counselling support," the college says.

This year there are 25 students studying at the University of NSW living at Shalom College on scholarships.The students I met with all have a fascinating story to tell and are excelling in their chosen course, ranging from law to medicine to exercise physiology. All of the students have strong ties with their home towns and want to use their degree to better their communities. I found those students wonderful role models.

I was so impressed with the work of College Master Dr Hilton Immerman and his committment and obvious relationship with the students. And as always inspired by Shalom Gamarada Co-founder Ilona Lee who has always contributed so much to the community.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vale Edward Gough Whitlam - Our greatest Australian

Today Australia lost its greatest ever leader. A leader that inspired Australia. A leader that captured Australians imagination. A leader that made all Australians proud to be an Australian.

Elected on 2 December 1972 with a campaign entitled; "It's time" the television add shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jykIqQxEOw still inspires me today as it did 39 years ago.

I must confess like so many other "Baby Boomers" from working class families that I was able to obtain a tertiary education as a result of Gough Whitlam's free education policies. I did not have to participate in the conscription lottery as the Whitlam Labor government was elected only months before I would have been considered for conscription.

However, it is not about the benefit I received from Gough Whitlam and his government. It is about the benefit to all Australians. It is hard to imagine today how opposed the vested interests were to universal health insurance. Labor had to go to a double dissolution election and have the bills passed by a historic joint sittings of the Federal Parliament for Medibank to be introduced. His visit to China at the height of the "cold war" sent the US Nixon Administration and the reactionary forces in Australia "tropo." Mr Whitlam changed Australia forever in its treatment of  Australians,  Family Law, human rights, foreign policy, health, and immigration.

I remember his bringing Australia's security services to heel with Attorney General Lionel Murphy's visit to ASIO Headquarters in Melbourne reminding them they service Australia through its democratically elected parliament.

Interestingly his dismissal during the constitutional crisis by Governor General John Kerr was predicated on what was known as the "loans affair" as the Whitlam government wanted Australia's resources owned and developed by Australians. Mr Whitlam was a great parliamentarian who demonstrated enormous respect for the parliament and its its conventions.

In his short 3 years as Prime Minister from 2 December 1972 to 11 November 1975 he transformed and inspired a nation with legacies that will last forever. Only great leaders do that. Gough was the greatest. Vale E G Whitlam.

Monday, 20 October 2014

LABOR ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY LANGUAGE SCHOOLS IN HEFFRON WITH $2.5 MILLION FUNDING BOOST

NSW Labor has announced the largest ever funding boost to Community Language Schools across NSW which will provide the more than 30,000 students, as well as teachers and volunteers who attend and operate the schools more support and resources.

Under a Labor Government, funding for these schools will be boosted by more than $75 per student to $200 per student – leaving NSW Community Language Schools with the largest funding package of any state in Australia.

Community Language Schools offer classes in 56 different community languages and are open to any school-aged student from a government, Catholic or independent school. The classes are held outside normal school hours and help students learn and use their community language or learn a new language.

Labor’s funding commitment represented a 62 per cent increase in funding and would bring the total investment to $6.5 million a year.

Labor is committed to ensuring that students from different cultural backgrounds have the chance to develop skills in another language.

Labor’s $2.5 million funding boost will help Community Language Schools attract and retain teachers with specialist language skills to continue educating the thousands of students who attend these schools.

Thousands of young people around the state attend a community language school outside of regular school hours each week, because students and their families know the importance of being multilingual.

These schools not only to help young people connect with their cultural background and communicate with older relatives, but also help students who are preparing for the HSC or learning a language for the first time.

The community in Heffron benefit from NUMBER of schools where students are learning Greek, Turkish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Czech and Slovak - and I am proud to confirm that a Labor Government will increase support to these schools that our communities in Heffron rely on.

Labor’s $2.5 million funding commitment will mean that these and the other Community Language Schools across the state will be the best funded in Australia.

I am proud that under Labor, our community language schools will be the best-funded in the country, to reflect the importance of our multicultural communities.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Pedestrian Crossing for Beaconsfield & Rosebery residents and employees

After a considerable amount of lobbying to the Minister for Roads, a pedestrian crossing on Botany Road between Queen Street and Morley Avenue will finally be installed.

Not long after my election in 2012, a local resident contacted me and took me to stand with her as we watched pedestrians play chicken with the heavy traffic on Botany Road as they tried to get to and from the bus stop, or make a purchase from the IGA or the chemist.

I didn’t take much convincing that the community’s concerns were totally justified and something had to be done. 

From that day, with the support of the community, I constantly lobbied the Minister for Roads, asking for a crossing along Botany Road. I extended an invitation for him to personally visit the site so he could see for himself the danger that residents and local workers face every day. The RMS obliged and inspected the area.

Truthfully, I guenuinely feared for pedestrian safety. It is the only road that I am frightened to cross at that location.

This is why I was so delighted when it was confirmed that a crossing with traffic signals will be installed on Botany Road at Beaconsfield Street, this location will minimise traffic interruption and allow cars on Beaconsfield Street to finally turn right safely onto Botany Road.

It will provide a significant amount of relief to both local residents and the many workers employed by local businesses in the area.

This is a great community win in the name of common sense and safety.

Friday, 17 October 2014

THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS BUSHFIRES

As the one year anniversary of the bushfires that devastated the Blue Mountains community is upon us, I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the emergency service men and women who assisted those affected by the disaster.

It was a community-wide effort and whether it is the service men and women who faced the wrath of the fires, those who assisted with evacuating residents or those who provided emergency assistance in the form of shelter, food or clothing, their contribution was appreciated and invaluable during the crisis.

I commend the efforts of the emergency service personnel who were present in the Blue Mountains community and assisted with the clean-up long after the last of the fires was extinguished. As the reality hit for many of the residents who lost everything, it was the support of the Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service and many other groups that provided peace of mind for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

Our hearts broke every time we heard news that another home had been destroyed and in true form, Australians united and donated money and goods at an unprecedented rate. 

The rebuilding effort of the Blue Mountains community and their tenacity during what has been described as the worst disaster in their history is astounding. I praise the Blue Mountains community for rallying together during the recovery period. It is a testament to the Blue Mountains community and their strong sense of community spirit that many have decided to rebuild and begin a new chapter in the very place that they lost everything. 

NSW Labor will continue to support the residents of the Blue Mountains as they go forward with their recovery efforts.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

St Michael's Parish Daceyville International Feast Day Celebrations

My wife Christine and I were delighted to join Matt Thistlethwaite MP at St Michael's Catholic Church Daceyville which held their International Feast Day Celebrations.

Todays celebrations incorporated the 50th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Anthony Simari (retired 17 July 2014 and the 60th Birthday of Farther Jerzy Chrzczonowicz, Parish Priest. St Michael's Daceyville is a wonderful Parish with a community that has alway warmly welcomed me for very many years.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

'Will somebody not rid me of this troublesome Lord Mayor?' - Liberals are just desperate

Desperation is the word to describe the attempts by the Liberal/National Parties this week to try and silence me of one of their most embarrassing attempts to rort the Sydney City Council voting system to try and rid Sydney City of its popularly elected Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.

In 2012 these desperadoes changed the Local Government law to stop any Member of the NSW Parliament from being elected to the council. Certain they were that the Lord Mayor, who was also the state Member for Sydney would opt to resign the Lord Mayoralty in the hope to elect a Liberal as Lord Mayor.

To their utter suprise Clover Moore was elected as Lord Mayor of Sydney overwhelmingly and resigned from the NSW Parliament.

Then to their utter suprise, thinking that the reactionary forces could win the seat of Sydney vacated by Cr. Moore, Alex Greenwich support ed by Cr Moore was easily elected.

A government with any brains would have woken up that they were outsmarted, not by Clover Moore, but by democracy, when the people overwhelming rejected the Liberals in two elections so convincingly. No this mob. Now they have tried to rort the election system by forcing all businesses to vote at council elections, fine them if they do not go on the electorate roll, and fine them if they do not vote. On top of that any business will get 2 votes. A resident will only get 1 vote.

So desperate and obvious were they, I can do no better than quote the ABC's respected psephologist when he said; 'Will somebody not rid me of this troublesome Lord Mayor?' on 5 September 2014. He said in effect that the law was directed by malice towards Cr. Moore.

I have included below the Handsard of my contribution, which includes the Deputy Speaker trying to silence me as the the Liberals motivation. These Liberals and Nationals should not only be ashamed of themselves, they should be embarrassed. The edited video of my speech is here http://youtu.be/ru21eK4CAyU

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [8.49 p.m.]: "Will somebody not rid me of this troublesome Lord Mayor?" tweeted Antony Green on 5 September this year. Why does the Government not have the honesty and integrity to stand up and say that the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014 is about getting rid of Clover Moore? We tried in 2012 when we amended the Local Government Act and we expected Clover Moore to resign or not to contest the City of Sydney council elections. But she did what the Tories never expected: She resigned her membership of this House. Why does the Government not say that that is what this bill is all about, and everything else is a ruse? This concept of copying the Melbourne system and somehow justifying creating an electoral roll—

Mr Gareth Ward: Point of order: I am looking at the bill and Standing Order 76 springs to mind because I do not see the name "Clover Moore" anywhere in this legislation. The member for Heffron should return to the leave of the bill rather than ranting about what he thinks the bill is about.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I am sure the member for Heffron will direct his remarks to the leave of the bill.

Mr RON HOENIG: The voting system creating two business votes is designed specifically for that purpose, and for no other. I was about to refer to the committee that the member for Kiama chaired, which made recommendations based upon the Melbourne model—and which the member for Ku-ring-gai did not know about when he made his contribution to this debate. The chairman of the Victorian Electoral Matters Committee has recommended to the Victorian Government that it repeal the provision because it has not worked in Melbourne local government. In trying to get rid of Clover Moore, the Tories are like Lady Macbeth: Out, damned spot. No member of this House, no member of the other place and no Executive Government has been able to get rid of her for 34 years; she has outsmarted them all. She has outsmarted the Tories and she has outsmarted the Labor Party.

I have watched her for 34 years outsmarting Bill Hartup, the former Mayor of South Sydney; I saw her outsmart the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, Doug Sutherland; and I saw her outsmart and embarrass the Tories when she beat the up and coming Michael Yabsley to become the member for Bligh. I observed her as the member for Sydney. She outsmarted Eric Roozendaal when he was general secretary and thought the Labor Party could take control of the Council of the City of Sydney. When he joined South Sydney Council and the Council of the City of Sydney he created the environment for Clover Moore to be elected Lord Mayor of Sydney, thinking that somehow or other the Labor Party could sneak through the middle. Now the Tories are doing what every other government has tried for 80 years—

Mr Andrew Fraser: Point of order: Mr Deputy-Speaker, I draw your attention to Standing Order 76. Clover Moore has been mentioned in debate but the member for Heffron should be drawn back to the leave of the bill, which is the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014. Clover Moore is not mentioned in the legislation. The member for Heffron should return to the leave of the bill and discuss its clauses, not Clover Moore.

Mr Michael Daley: To the point of order: Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, was mentioned several times during the second reading speech and several times again in debate in the Legislative Council today. When bills of such significance come before this place—particularly a bill that seeks to change a voting system—it has been customary for a century to discuss the Government's motivations in respect of the propositions raised. It is absurd for a Government member to suggest that the Lord Mayor of Sydney is not relevant to a bill that deals with the voting system for the City of Sydney.

Mr Gareth Ward: To the point of order: Referring to our code of conduct, the person to whom the member for Heffron refers does not have the capacity to respond in this place. She is no longer a member of this House and she is not mentioned in the bill. The member should be drawn back to the leave of the bill, which relates to election procedures for the City of Sydney.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! Former speakers Kelly, Ellis and Lamb have ruled previously that the second reading debate should be relevant to the objects of the bill and to the Minister's speech. The Clerk has given me a copy of the second reading speech and the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, was mentioned in that speech in the other place.

Mr RON HOENIG: That is clearly the motivation for this bill. This Government and all the governments before it have not liked this particular Lord Mayor of Sydney. But she has outsmarted them again. I may not like her planning policies; I might support Councillor Linda Scott, a member of the City of Sydney council, who I thought might have been a better Lord Mayor. But in 2012 the people in the city council area, which includes a substantial part of my electorate, elected Clover Moore with an overwhelming majority. Governments of the day have never accepted that for 34 years she has gained the overwhelming support of her constituents. She must be doing something right.

I give the Minister for Local Government this warning: He will end up like every other Minister for Local Government because in 2016 Clover Moore will still be Lord Mayor and all his naked political attempts to remove her, just like those of his predecessors, will have fallen flat. The Government is not motivated by local government reform. It has gone through the process of conducting all these reviews—independent review panels, Kumbayas in the country, at a cost of about $300,000, getting Stephen Blackadder and co. to rewrite the Act; all of it for the purposes of restructuring local government—and it wants to rush through this House now a bill that I will ask the House to consider in detail and to which the member for Sydney has 50-odd amendments. What is the hurry with this bill? There is no local government election for two years. There are five more weeks of sittings of this House. Yet the Government is rushing this bill through, saying that it has nothing to do with it because it is a Shooters and Fishers Party bill.

As Antony Green says in his blog, the Government is motivated by malice towards Clover Moore. The proposed voting system is designed to impact on the democratic processes of the City of Sydney, and it is doomed to failure. There is something that the reactionary forces have never understood about Clover Moore. Every time Alan Jones and Ray Hadley attack her about bike lanes, they push people in the City of Sydney to her. Every time they attack her, she is able to change the dynamics and the waverers are pushed into her hands. It does not matter where in the City of Sydney one goes—whether it is Rosebery, Alexandria, Waterloo, Redfern or Glebe—she resonates in those areas and turns everything said against her to her advantage. The Government wants to know whether the voting structure in the City of Sydney is representative and it has gone to a local government review panel for that purpose, But the Tories are stuck because there is nothing they can do about the city boundaries that will allow them to win an election. Mr Deputy-Speaker, may I seek an extension of time?

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! Whilst I ruled earlier about comments relating to Clover Moore, the member's entire contribution should not to be centred on that one issue. The member for Heffron will return to the leave of the bill.

[Extension of time agreed to.]

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I remind the member for Fairfield he is on three calls to order. Thirteen members of the Opposition and six members of the Government are on three calls to order.

The report of the independent review panel contains various options, structures and proposed amalgamations or boundary changes for the City of Sydney. Whichever way the boundaries of the City of Sydney move, one goes to either progressive or Labor territory, unless it is Woollahra. There is only one way to change the political balance and that relates to this bill. But it will not work. I caution the Minister that it will not work. Even the wording of the bill creates confusion, and prior to the 2016 local government elections the Minister will have to come back here to amend the legislation. Before the Government rushes the legislation through to service its reactionary masters, my caution is this. When Steven Blackadder and others were drafting the amendments to the Local Government Act as part of the review, why did the Government not give him the bill to examine? The Government has Professor Sansom; his committee was paid a couple of million dollars for a review. The Government should have shown him the bill. The Government should use some of the resources—

Mr Paul Toole: Your council made the submission when you were on it.

Mr RON HOENIG: How would the Minister know? The Minister would not know the way to Bathurst. He should utilise all the people on his payroll to look at the legislation. Why does he want to rush it through?

Mr Paul Toole: Maybe you should have looked at it when you were the mayor. Your council made the submission.

Mr RON HOENIG: Good. The Minister should consult Professor Sansom. Perhaps he is speaking a language that the Minister does not understand. That is the way to proceed if a local government voting system is to be substantially changed. The only motive for this bill is trying to get a predetermined result. Like Lady Macbeth, the Government will not be able to get the blood off its hands and Clover Moore will still be there.