Saturday 22 December 2012

Winning Students of the Ron Hoenig MP Outstanding Leadership Awards

In the last several weeks I have had the opportunity to visit all the schools from right across our Heffron Community. Attending school speech nights and presentation days are a particular highlight for me as we reach the end of the year. Such events are a fitting way to celebrate another year of good work from our talented students and dedicated teachers. 

The end of the school year gives us the opportunity to not only reflect on excellence in teaching and learning but also to recognise the critical role that parents play in supporting their school communities. Many schools this year chose to formally recognise parents for their invaluable contributions. We are certainly fortunate that so many parents take up the often thankless tasks in school canteens, at sports carnivals and fundraisers 

It has given my great pleasure to personally present 18 students from 18 schools across the community who have displayed exceptional leadership in their school. Each student recipient was nominated by their school as someone who demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities in every facet of their school.

I wish to congratulate each of the 18 recipients again on receiving the "Ron Hoenig MP Outstanding Leadership Ward 2012." Each of them I am sure is destined for great things in the future. The oustanding leaders are listed below.

Melisa Kurt – Yr 6
Eastlakes Public School

Alana Novak – Yr 11
OLSH College, Kensington

Michelle Sabirzianov– Yr 6
Daceyville Public School

Johnny Pawle – Yr 6
Erskineville Public School

Nikki Cardamis – Yr 6
St Spyridon College - Junior

Ciaran Bastick– Yr 10
JJ Cahill Memorial High School

Liam Barrett – Yr 6
Our Lady of The Rosary

Jessica Jebulan – Yr 6
Our Lady of Mount Carmel Primary School

Lachlan Bourke-Moody – Yr 6
St Mary's Catholic Primary School, Erskineville

Thomas Rabbitt – Yr 6
Mascot Public School

Joshua Harrington – Yr 6
St Peters Public School

Ridwan Ansary – Yr 10
Alexandria Park Community School

Richard Tu – Yr 6
Alexandria Park Community School

Kel Mullins - Yr 6
St Therese Primary School

Shannel Ryan-Last – Yr 6
St Michael's Primary School

Tina Nguyen – Yr 11
Tempe High School

Paige Schellhorn - Yr 6
Gardeners Rd School

Dylan Mickovski - Yr 6
Tempe Public School

Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School

Held this month at Marist College, Pagewood the annual Presentation Evening of Our Lady of the Rosary Primary School was a fitting way to mark the end of a successful year. I was pleased to see a packed hall, even when the event had been relocated to accommodate for a larger capacity. Whilst there I was very pleased to present the School Captain, Liam Barrett of Year 6 with my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012 he is clearly a young man with a great deal of potential and I wish him well in the transition to high school. 

On behalf of the community I would like to thank the Principal Marie Nilon and her team of dedicated staff for the work they put in for us all.

Gardeners Road School

Principal Kim Sheen her staff, students and the broader school community came together last week to cap off another year of excellence. The Annual Prize Giving was an opportunity to reward brilliance inside and outside of the classroom and giving particular recognition the incoming and outgoing Student Leaders. I would like to congratulate the 2012 Captains Lara and Elijah and the 2012 Vice Captains Yovana and Robin on representing their school values with distinction throughout the year and I wish each of them and their classmates well as they move into High School. Also, I would like to acknowledge the incoming student leadership team comprised of Captains Sienna and Elijah with Vice Captains Isabel and Liam and wish them all the best for the year ahead. 

Finally, I would like to give particular recognition to Paige Schellhorn. At the Prize giving I was pleased to present Paige with my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012. In nominating her, her teachers remarked that "Paige has always stood out from her peers by showing initiative, being responsible and respectful and always taking the time to help other students". Paige is a fitting recipient with a great deal of potential. I congratulate her and wish her the best of luck with her future studies.

Mascot Public School

The Mascot Public School community with its Principal Annette McKeown can be rightly proud of another year of fantastic achievements. When attending the Annual Presentation Day this month I was pleased to present Thomas Rabbitt of Year Six, the School Captain with my Outstanding Leadership award for 2012. In nominating him his teachers commented that "He has shown outstanding leadership as an exemplary citizen. He truly reflects our school motto. 'Strive to Achieve'". I congratulate him again on his achievements and wish him and his classmates all the best as they make the transition into high school. 

I was particularly pleased to see that the P&C had chosen to sponsor a new series of prizes for 'Striving to Achieve'. The P&C and its President, my friend and former colleague Cr. Stan Kondilios are to be congratulated on their tireless work to support the work of the school and its staff for the benefit of the whole community.

Daceyville Public School

The school community packed the recently completed Daceyville Public School Hall this week to take stock of the year's achievements. I was pleased to be joined at the Annual Presentation Day Assembly by the Acting Mayor of the City of Botany Bay Cr. George Glinatsis. Highlights included the full school choral item and the 'Year In Review' video presentation, and as always that hugely talented school band.

I was particularly pleased to present my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012 to Michelle Sabirzianov. In nominating Michelle her teachers commented that "Michelle has consistently displayed outstanding leadership skills throughout the year. She assists with school events, mentors younger children, provides well thought out opinions on school issues, approaches all school work with a positive attitude, is a role model to others and upholds the school values at all times". I congratulate the Principal Nicole Molloy and her inimitable team of staff on a great year and wish both staff and students a safe and enjoyable break.

Eastlakes Public School

It was a pleasure to return to my own former primary school, Eastlakes Public School, with the Mayor of the City of Botany Bay Cr. Ben Keneally to celebrate the fruits of another year of hard work from students and staff. Although visiting for the first time as the Member for Heffron, having visited as Mayor of the City of Botany Bay for 31 years and as a student from Kindergarten to Year 2, the school could hardly be more familiar to me yet I never cease to be amazed at the quality of the teaching and learning as well as the sense of school and community spirit. Principal Mrs Jane Gilbert and her staff are to be congratulated on their fantastic work in making their school such a great place for our children to begin their education. 

I was particularly pleased to present Melisa Kurt with my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012. Melisa was desribed by Principal Ms Gilbert as "A  capable responsible School Leader, who takes on any responsibility and is always willing to help others in the School Community" 

The whole school choral performance of 'Run the Gauntlet' was a impressive display of the many talents of our young people and the dedication of the teachers who nurture those talents, often thanklessly. Another highlight was special guest Anthony Minichiello, who on behalf of MiniFit was able to present sporting awards to children he had been working with throughout the year. 

St Therese Primary School, Mascot

I was pleased this week to join the Year 6 graduating class of 2012, their families, friends and teachers at the Annual Graduation Mass held in the St Therese Church adjoining the school. The church was rightly filled to capacity as the community, led by Parish Priest Father Dominic Ceresoli CS, wished the students all the best in the important transition to High School. 

I would like to make particular mention of Kel Mullins who I presented with my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012. Kel's teachers, in his nomination described him as follows: 

"Characteristic of Kel's involvement in various school activities this year is his ability to lead by example. As School Captain, Kel has displayed a high degree of maturity and initiative in various leadership areas throughout the year. He makes a positive contribution to the school community through cheerfulness, enthusiasm and perseverance and is an excellent role model for younger students and peers alike. He is enthusiastic about learning and takes initiative to become actively involved in many opportunities that are presented to him. Kel was a valuable member of Mini Vinnies and represented St Therese in Rugby League, Cricket and Athletics" 

I was pleased to be able to recognise Kel for the excellent example he has set for his peers and wish him and his classmates all the best as they move into High School.

St Spyridon College

In its 30th year, St Spyridon College continues to grow and mature in the pursuit of excellence. It was a pleasure to attend the junior schools recent Annual Prize Giving in St Spyridon Church adjoining the school. Evident from the prizes presented on the day the school has had a fantastic year both academically and in extra-curricular fields of endeavour. 

I was particularly pleased to present Nikki Cardamis my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012. Nikki was described by Principal Mary Hamer;"Nikki is a natural leader. She displays initiative within and beyond the classroom by offering to assist in day to day routines. She offers to escort students from campus to campus, collect items required for classes and peer support and is a consistent helper in the canteen at recess and lunch times. Nikki never ignores someone in need. She is caring, kind and supportive to peers and especially to students who are younger than herself." 

I would like to make particular mention of the Junior College Principal, Mrs Mary Hamer. Having been with the school as Principal since its foundation, her remarkable contribution to the success of the school was recognised this year with the dedication of the Mrs Mary Hamer Quadrangle at the school's campus on Gardiners Road. On behalf of the community I thank her for her tireless effort in nurturing our future leaders.
Nikki Cardamis being presented with her Outstanding Leadership award by Ron Hoenig MP

Ron Hoenig MP with St Spyridon Kindergarten Class

Mount Sinai College

Accompanied by the Leader of the NSW Opposition The Hon. John Robertson and the Shadow Treasurer,The Hon. Michael Daley I was pleased to visit Mount Sinai College recently, an institution with which I and my family have had a long-standing interest. Joined by College Principal Mr Phil Roberts and The Hon. Justice Steven Rothman, a dedicated friend of the school, we inspected the schools recent redevelopments, discussed plans for the future and contemplated the school's exposure to the savage cuts to education currently being made by the O'Farrell Liberal Government. 

Following the school tour I was pleased to visit the nearby Maroubra Synagogue with Shadow Treasurer Michael Daley guided by Rabbi Eli Farkas and Synagogue Administrator Julian Cass.
Michael Daley, Principal Phil Roberts, John Robertson, Ron Hoenig, Rabbi Farkas

Michael Daley MP, Ron Hoenig MP, Rabbi Farkis

JJ Cahill Memorial High School

It was with a fond sense of remembrance that I returned recently, as I often have, to my former school JJ Cahill Memorial High School to attend its Annual Presentation Day Assembly on the 14th December. It is humbling to think that my connection with the school now spans over forty years. In that time many things have certainly changed but the dedication of its staff, the diligence of its students and its sense of community have remained unwavering. 

Principal Robin Cowin and her team of dedicated teaching and support staff are to be congratulated on another successful year in pursuit of excellence both inside and outside the classroom. 

One student and one member of staff deserve special recognition, Ciaran Bastick and Mr Joachim Cohen. 

During the Presentation Day ceremony it gave me great pleasure to present Ciaran Bastick with my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012. Ciaran was nominated as displaying exceptional leadership qualities in all facets of his school life. He is to be congratulated on his achievements 

Finally, but certainly not least I wish to recognise Mr Joachim Cohen, the Schools Teacher-Librarian who has recently been honoured with the Minister's Award for Excellence in Teaching. Mr Cohen has been recognised for his passion for utilising technology in delivering new and engaging learning experiences to his students as well his broader commitment to being at the forefront of pedagogical best practice. In particular Mr Cohen has been engaged with the DET in developing a range of Google Apps and at the outset of this year began development of an iPad App for the library at JJ Cahill. He is clearly a patently a deserving recipient and on behalf of the community I thank him for his dedication to keeping our children at the forefront of learning. 

Tempe High School

I was immensely pleased to be a part of the Annual Presentation Day at Tempe High School this week. It was a day to celebrate those students that had truly embraced the schools motto 'Labora Fortiter' or 'Work Hard' (good advice). 

The guest speaker for the day was Dr Anne Summers. A distinguished author with vast experience in politics, media and business alike she gave a striking address that gave the audience much to reflect upon. I was particularly pleased to present Tina Nguyen a Senior Prefect with my Outstanding Leadership Award for 2012. Mr Fairburn, in nominating Tina noted that she had 'fulfilled her duties with great enthusiasm' and was 'a great role model for students'. Again, I congratulate Tina on her achievements and wish her and her classmates all the best as they make the move into tertiary education. 

Finally, it is with sadness that the school farewells its longstanding Principal Mr John Fairburn this week as the academic year draws to a close. John is rightly a respected educator whose leadership of staff, students has been long admired and whose tenure as Principal has been one of great change, development and excitement for the school. Although John departs the school this week his successor is already there in current Deputy Principal Socrates Dassaklis.

On behalf of the community I wish John all the best in his retirement. An outstanding educator he will be missed not just by the parents, students and staff of Tempe High School, but the State's education system to which he has made such an outstanding contribution. I congratulate new Principal Mr Socrates Dassaklis on his appointment.

Our Lady of the Sacred Heart (OLSH) Kensington

John Clancy Auditorium at the University of NSW hosted the Annual OLSH Presentation Evening this month and I was very pleased to be able to attend. Items from the school choir and vocal ensemble as well as spirited performances from the school drama and dance companies highlighted the well-rounded and multitalented nature of the school's students. OLSH's commitment to academic excellence was also clear throughout the night with a number of students achieving first place in five courses and one student achieving first place in six largely unrelated subjects – exceptionally impressive. 

I would like to particularly acknowledge two students and their achievements – Alana Novak and Jordan Parsonage. Alana was the recipient of my Outstanding Leadership Award and has recently been elected as School Captain for 2013. Her nominating citation read as follows: " Alana is an outstanding leader in our College. She is a great role model to the younger students and represents the college with distinction. Her contributions range from social justice to the sporting arena and performing arts.". Alana is clearly a young woman with a great deal of potential and I wish her well as she enters her final year. 

Jordan Parsonage was the fitting recipient of the Pierre de Coubertin Award for 2012. Named in honour of the founder of the modern Olympic movement, Baron de Coubertin the award recognises a sportsperson who best embodies the Olympic Spirit and ideals of sportsmanship. Jordan represented her school in a range of sports in 2012 including Touch Football, Dance, Netball, Athletics and Cross Country and I congratulate her on this significant achievement. 

OLSH Kensington is one of a range of schools that are relatively new to me in my role as Member for Heffron, I must thank College Principal Ms Libby Denny and Fr. Peter Robinson MSC, College Chaplain and Parish Priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Kensington, for making me feel so welcome in the school community. In 2012 OLSH Kensington marked its 99th Year and I look forward to building a strong and productive bond with the school community as it moves into its much awaited Centenary year in 2013.

Windgap Foundation Christmas Celebrations

I recently had the pleasure of attending the annual Windgap Foundation Christmas Celebration with the Acting Mayor of the City of Botany Bay, Clr. George Glinatsis. 

The Windgap Foundation, now in its 59th year, was founded in 1953 as a means of supporting disabled children who had been turned away from public schools. From humble roots it has grown to be one of the most successful and effective community-based disability support services anywhere in the country. Today, Windgap provides a myriad of important services including high and low care accommodation, respite care, day care as well as supported employment placements. 

As well as being an opportunity to bring together Windgap clients, their families and staff the evening was a time to recognise some special contributions. Mr Chris Brown and his wife Heather were awarded Life Membership. Chris has been a Director of Windgap since 1987 and Chairman since 1997. Mrs Heather Brown has been a Director since 1990 and serves as Secretary to the Board. Both Chris and Heather are to be commended for the mammoth contributions they have made respectively towards the betterment of the most needy in our community. 

I also wish to congratulate the following people who also received much deserved recognition on the night:
    - 50 years of Service Award – Mr Neil Brown and Ms Elinda Lissing
- The Supported Employee Spirit of Windgap Award -  Ms Julie Geddes
- The Spirit of Windgap Employee Award – Ms Louise Stratton and Ms Louise Vlatko
- 10 years of Service Award – Ms Patricia Phillips and Ms Bronwyn Thompson
- 30 years of Service Award – Ms Michelle Alderdice

The Windgap Foundation does an immense amount of work to support those who need it most in our community but can only continue to do so with the assistance of volunteers. Find out how you could volunteer to assist their important work here:

Monday 17 December 2012


The NSW Labor Opposition has called on the O'Farrell Government to increase assistance for families struggling to pay their energy bills – after new figures revealed household electricity disconnections due to non-payment increased by 25 per cent in 2011/12.

The figures released by the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal show the number of households disconnected for not paying their electricity bills increased from 18,561 in 2010/11 to 23,207 in 2011/12 and the number of complaints to electricity retailers increased by 53 per cent.

"A 25 per cent increase in household disconnections shows families can’t cope with the 38 per cent increase in electricity bills passed on by Barry O'Farrell over the past two years," said Opposition Leader, John Robertson.

"The Premier promised to reduce cost of living pressures on families but instead he is exacerbating them – gouging an extra 35.7 per cent from electricity companies in dividends and privatising electricity.

"The O'Farrell Government needs to do more to protect NSW families and give struggling households a helping hand.

"I encourage the Premier to adopt Labor's proposal, announced in my budget reply speech earlier this year, to invest $55 million over the next four years to increase the number and value of energy vouchers available through the Energy Account Payment Assistance scheme.

"Under Labor's plan, more than 8000 additional families would receive up to $640 a year to help pay their electricity bills.

"No child should have to do their homework in the dark and every family deserves the dignity of being able to keep the lights on.

"Increasing funding for energy vouchers would help reduce disconnections by giving families the help they need before the power's cut off."

Shadow Minister for Energy Ron Hoenig said NSW households and businesses have to brace for further increases in the coming years.

"Barry O'Farrell's plan to sell off the State's electricity assets will send electricity bills soaring for families already struggling with the rising cost of living," said Mr Hoenig.

"In South Australia, electricity prices increased by more than 30 per cent following privatisation.

"Before the last election, Barry O'Farrell promised to keep the State's electricity generators in public hands but instead, he is flogging off the State's power stations and putting upward pressure on prices.

"Families across the State are already having difficulty keeping the lights on and Barry O'Farrell's broken promise on electricity privatisation will only make things worse."

O'Farrell's Recycled Sydney Airport and Port Botany Solution

Premier O'Farrell has last week recycled age old proposals of the RMS (formally RTA) to suggest he actually has the solution to Sydney Airport and Port Botany at hand. This is a lazy government that just recycled the old Labor Government  proposals and plagiarise them as if they thought about it themselves.

Of course it is important to remove bottlenecks or gridlock from around the airport and the port.

A truck layover proposed for the the Foreshore Road area is a proposal considered by the former government and not implemented. 

The one way system of Bourke Road and O'Riordan Street is a 30 year old proposal that was to be implemented 25 years ago with the Port Botany Expansion that occurred then.

The widening of Mill Pond Road as been advocated by Botany Bay City Council for 30 years. Plans have been available and costed 25 years ago. 

The road underpass of the rail line at General Holmes Drive cannot be implemented by the State Government as the rail line is owned by the Commonwealth. The proposal is an old one and there are major construction problems due to the gradient of the underpass.

If Premier O'Farrell really wants to address the gridlock in the Airport and Port Botany areas he needs to work with Federal Transport Minister Anthony Albanese for a co-ordinated solution.

The NSW Premier can't get Commonwealth support and funds by recycling 20 to 30 year old plans, pretend that he is being innovative, and expect Commonwealth funding.

This is a lazy Government with no ideas of its own.

Monday 3 December 2012

Speech on Amendment to the Bail Act

Page: 16833
Second Reading

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [12.01 p.m.]: The Opposition supports the Bail Amendment (Enforcement Conditions) Bill 2012 as a sensible solution. However, the House should understand what led to its introduction. Magistrates, particularly out west and at Broken Hill, were imposing virtually a standard condition of bail upon usually young Aboriginal offenders not to drink alcohol. As a result, the courts were imposing a difficult burden upon police officers who were seeking to enforce the conditions of consent. As a result of a decision of Justice Garling, a review was conducted by the Law Reform Commission of the Bail Act in order to derive a sensible solution.

The House should understand the purpose of the Bail Act. One has to start with the fundamental concept which seems to have been lost as competing political parties struggle to beat the law and order drum to get some publicity in the metropolitan or tabloid media. The fundamental principle that has existed since the Magna Carta and which is the genesis of this House relates to the presumption of innocence. All people are presumed innocent until they are proven guilty. The mere fact that somebody is charged with an offence does not take away that presumption. If someone makes an allegation, the accused retains the presumption of innocence. If a person is not liked by another person, they retain the presumption and they remain innocent until the prosecution can prove their guilt beyond reasonable doubt. It is only then that they are subject to punishment as the law requires. The purpose of bail is to guarantee the attendance before the court of a person who is charged with a criminal offence. That is its purpose, so the accused can answer the charges or allegations made against them.

The Bail Act has the same objects today that it did when it was enacted. It contains criteria that the court or police have to meet before a person can be released on bail. The first question, under section 32 of the Act, is whether the person will appear. Matters to be taken into consideration under section 32 (1) include the person's community ties. Has the person previously failed to answer bail? What are the circumstances of the offence? Is the offence serious? What is the strength of the prosecution or Crown case? That is a relevant consideration as well under section 32. One has to consider the time a person may have spent in custody, whether the person is hampered in the preparation of their defence, the protection of the person—and there are particular requirements for Aboriginal offenders—as well as the protection and welfare of the community, witnesses, complainants and things of that nature. That is the purpose of the Bail Act. The courts should not lightly take away a person's liberty while charges are pending and have not yet been determined unless the criteria in section 32 have been applied.

These are onerous circumstances we have imposed upon courts. Over a number of years in this State we have imposed upon judicial officers such a burden in deciding cases that they are basically like sausage machines as they try to apply a complex Bail Act. I do not blame either the police or the magistrates out west who are no doubt sitting long hours. So burdened are some of the courts in this State in dealing with people's liberty that their task is extremely difficult. Even in the highest court in the State, the Supreme Court of New South Wales, judges work under oppressive conditions. Magistrates in local courts in the suburbs are sitting until very late in the afternoon or evening endeavouring to implement a complicated Bail Act while dealing with people's liberty. In relation to this bill, I draw the attention of the members to comments made by the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales in respect of the Law Reform Commission's recommendations. The Legal Aid Commission strongly supports further consultation with stakeholders, stating:
      Because of the significant negative impact of the enforcement conduct conditions on vulnerable clients, particularly young and Aboriginal clients …
The alcohol provision may have been the condition Justice Garling dealt with in Wilson's case, but other directions are given, such as curfew directions. The Legal Aid Commission said that in its experience vulnerable clients with bail curfew conditions have been routinely subject to:
      … onerous bail compliance checks, often during the middle of the night and multiple times a week. Rigorous curfew checking can further disrupt a family situation already under stress. Legal Aid knows of cases where the young people have been made homeless as a result of onerous curfew checking by police. For adults too, curfew checking can affect relations with neighbours and landlords.
This bill takes a sensible middle ground, if I can use that expression. The overburdened courts will have to apply particular criteria currently contained in item [5] of schedule 1. New subsection (4) of new section 37AA provides:
      An enforcement condition may be imposed only if the court considers it reasonable and necessary in the circumstances, having regard to the following:

      (a) the history of the accused person (including the criminal history and particularly if the accused person has a criminal history involving serious offences or a large number of offences),

      (b) the likelihood or risk of the accused person committing further offences while at liberty on bail,

      (c) the extent to which compliance with the direction of a kind specified in this condition may unreasonably affect persons other than the accused person.
That subsection is presumably designed to address the Legal Aid Commission's concern that I just drew to the attention of the members. New subsection (5) provides that these conditions may be imposed only at the request of the prosecutor in the proceedings. That prevents a judicial officer from imposing the sorts of standard provisions they may impose as a matter of practice in a busy list. It requires the prosecutor to draw the matter to the attention of the court. Pursuant to new subsection (3), an enforcement condition has to specify the kind of directions, the circumstances in which each kind of direction may be given, and the underlying bail condition.

The bill has taken the middle ground in addressing the matters of concern raised by the Legal Aid Commission of New South Wales. This statutory organisation, which is responsible for representing young accused persons, including young Aboriginal offenders, throughout New South Wales in the tiniest of country towns and communities, is aware of the difficulties envisaged with laws of this nature. It is important that the House take note of the experienced solicitors effectively on the government payroll who are spread throughout this State.

Speech on 10,000 Signature Petition to Parliament on Randwick Zoning

Page: 17004
    Discussion on Petition Signed by 10,000 or More Persons

      Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [4.59 p.m.]: This draft local environmental plan and development control plan are the result of the former Labor Government indicating that pursuant to the New South Wales Government Metropolitan Strategy (Draft)/East Regional Strategy this area be regarded as a specialist centre. It made excellent planning sense because the Prince of Wales Hospital campus is one of the finest hospitals in the world. The former Labor Government knew that that Randwick area should be a centre of excellence. Streets like High Street were utilised for medical establishments. The strategy of the former Labor Government was to establish a specialised centre, but it has become a medical centre with ample commercial space for medical specialties but with blocks of flats like dog boxes thrown in. They just cannot help themselves. That is what the 10,000 petitioners—many from my area—have taken issue with. The people in Kensington and Kingsford are sick and tired of the overdevelopment in this particular area, of the streets being full of cars, of shoddy developers and of shocking blocks of flats that were built in the Askin days.

      What is the position of the Torys in this regard? The Minister for Planning and Infrastructure thinks that this area should have affordable housing for the community, and he considers that to be minor. He does not live in The Spot. He does not live in Randwick. He does not live in Kensington or Kingsford. The only time he is south of the harbour is when he comes into this place. The member for Coogee, who is a member of the Government, can tell the Minister for Planning and Infrastructure to call in this development control plan and say no to flats, say no to dog boxes. Say no, because the people in the electorate of Coogee have had enough. Listen to the 10,000 people who have signed this petition. The gridlock that is being created by overdevelopment in this area and traffic around the University of New South Wales is oppressive.

      Mr Bruce Notley-Smith: Look at the blocks under you in Botany.

      Mr RON HOENIG: Look at the blocks of flats in your particular area; they are coming out of your ears. You sat there for years on the council allowing all these three-storey—

      ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gareth Ward): Order!

      Mr RON HOENIG: Of course, the people are screaming.

      ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gareth Ward): Order! I call the member for Coogee to order.

      Mr RON HOENIG: They are screaming because they cannot get to the hospital and they cannot get to the university. They cannot get anywhere in the electorate of Coogee.

      ACTING-SPEAKER (Mr Gareth Ward): Order! I call the member for Drummoyne to order.

      Mr RON HOENIG: The people of Coogee thought they had elected someone who was going to represent them. I urge the member to get his Minister to call in the local environmental plan. Get him to exercise the powers under section 53, section 54 and section 55 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act. I know the Minister cannot read it, but members opposite can. The member should not stand in this House on behalf of the residents of Coogee and sign petitions when he has the legal power to fix it. The plan has been on exhibition. The member should consult the people of Coogee, the people of Heffron and the people of Maroubra. The petition has been signed by more than 10,000 people. [Time expired.]

      Speech on Mascot Preschool Cuts

      Page: 2

      Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [12.12 p.m.]: I bring to the attention of the House the plight of parents and the parents and citizens association of Mascot Public School who in October this year were informed by the Department of Education and Communities that the preschool hours at their school would be cut from 30 hours to 15 hours. Mascot Public School has one of the State's 100 government-run preschool centres. I am told that it has been operating for as long as 40 years and is an integral part of Mascot Public School. As has been the case in previous years, applications were open from 18 June to 8 September for parents wishing to enrol their children in the preschool for 2013.

      Mascot preschool is heavily supported by parents whose children attend the school, the parents and citizens association and parents of children in the local community. Prior to 2012, the fees for children attending the preschool were $80 a week, which, in effect, paid for the lunch that was provided to the children from the magnificent kitchen at the school by staff engaged for that purpose. This year, by departmental edict, the fees have been increased to $160 a week. Some 40 children are enrolled in Mascot preschool on the understanding that it will be open for 30 hours a week, as it has been. Many of those preschool children have siblings at Mascot Public School and the preschool and school operate on a similar schedule.

      In October this year an announcement was made by the deputy director general of the Department of Education that because of the State Government's commitment to the national agreement to provide a minimum of 15 hours of preschool education to every child in New South Wales by next year, henceforth the 30-hour operating period will have to be adjusted across all preschools to provide the agreed service. The National Partnership for Early Childhood Education, which this State and all States of the Commonwealth are signed up to, provides universal access to early childhood education right across the State and the nation by mid-2013 to ensure that every child has access to a preschool education 12 months prior to full-time schooling.

      The National Partnership for Early Childhood Education agreement was specifically designed to provide preschool education that had not previously been provided. It was never intended to be used by the State of New South Wales to cut an existing service. In fact, the Federal Government had provided a funding offer of $970 million to help deliver early childhood education for four-year-old children. It was under that particular funding agreement that all governments committed to providing 15 hours per week of early childhood education. It is not appropriate for the New South Wales Government to cut an existing service and to cut it so late in the term that it causes such inconvenience to the parents of children attending Mascot Public School.

      On 9 November 2012 the Gillard Government offered almost $1.1 billion in new funding for preschools. However, as a result of the New South Wales Government's decision, Mascot Public School has to sack the kitchen staff who were employed to provide food for children at the school and reduce its staff complement to provide for only 15 hours per week at the preschool, which will cause maximum inconvenience to parents. I ask that consideration be given to utilising the $1.1 billion newly announced funding by the Federal Government to enable Mascot Public School to continue to provide its current preschool service.