Friday 31 May 2013

National TAFE Day Highlights Call for O'Farrell to stop TAFE CUTS

I urge the local community in my electorate of Heffron to come together to celebrate the important economic and social contribution TAFE makes on National TAFE Day on 3 June 2013. 

Studies have found that every dollar invested in TAFE returns benefits worth $6.40 to the NSW economy. 

NSW TAFE is under serious threat in NSW, facing unprecedented budget cuts under Barry O’Farrell. 

Communities across NSW have been rallying in support of their local TAFE campuses since the O’Farrell Government’s first round of cuts was announced last year. 

We are now seeing three developments intersect in a way that threatens the very viability of TAFE as we know it. 

First, the O’Farrell Government is cutting TAFE’s funding with $130m being slashed from the budget and 800 teaching and non-teaching jobs to go. 

Second, the Government is trying to use the enterprise bargaining process to replace TAFE teachers with lesser qualified staff, while denying teachers the pay rise already received by most other public servants. 

And third, the so-called ‘Smart and Skilled’ reforms will see fees increase and funding diverted from TAFE, threatening its role as a provider of vocational and second chance education. 

Similar reforms were a disaster in Victoria, with many campuses now closed, more than 2,400 TAFE workers sacked and students being forced to pay tens of thousands of dollars for courses previously accessed for a modest cost. 

National TAFE Day is a great time for the community to stand up for a strong TAFE system in NSW. 

TAFE plays a critical role as the pre-eminent provider of quality vocational education and training and second chance education. 

TAFE helps build the economic, social and cultural capacity of communities. 

Barry O’Farrell’s actions are placing all of this at risk. 

Of particular concern is that many of the O’Farrell Government’s cuts have savaged programs that support the most marginalised and disadvantaged members of the community. 

On National TAFE Day the O’Farrell Government should commit to increase investment in TAFE and abandon their proposed reforms that undermine the viability and quality of TAFE in NSW.

O'Farrell Government Cancels Lifesaving Cancer Surgery at St George Hospital - Patients lives being put at risk

The O’Farrell Government’s decision to cancel lifesaving cancer surgery at St George Hospital until July as part of budget cuts will put the health of patients waiting for surgery at serious risk.

St George Hospital has been forced to cancel critical peritonectomy surgery until July to meet their budget – leaving 42 patients currently on the waiting list, of which 20 are already in breach of clinically recommended guidelines, left waiting for their surgery.

The alarming revelations come despite the Health Minister Jillian Skinner promising to fix this problem and recently claiming that patients in NSW have never had it so good.

“This is a disgraceful act from the O’Farrell Government that will put the health of cancer patients at serious risk,” Shadow Health Minister Dr Andrew McDonald said.

“The O’Farrell Government promised to fix our hospitals but instead it is cutting $3 billion from across the state – putting lives directly at risk.

“Cancelling lifesaving surgery is what happens when you cut billions from the public health system.

“The O’Farrell Government promised to fix this problem – but instead the only solution we have from the Health Minister is to cancel this lifesaving surgery.

“Instead of blaming local hospitals for cuts to budgets and the cancellation of surgery – the Health Minister needs to accept responsibility and fix this problem immediately.

“The doctors and nurses at St George Hospital are willing to treat patients – they just need the O’Farrell Government to provide them with the resources.

“Cancelling lifesaving surgery at St George Hospital is extremely unsafe and the Minister should step in today and reverse the decision.”

Wednesday 29 May 2013

O'Farrell Government Refuses to Protect Rural Jobs in the Energy Sector

The O’Farrell Government has refused to support protections for hundreds of rural and regional workers in the energy sector – placing a veil of uncertainty over the future of many staff across the state’s energy sector.

The Government today rejected an Opposition amendment to protect rural and regional staff of Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy from being sideswiped by broader reforms across the governance of the sector.

Under changes passed through the lower house of Parliament – the State’s three electricity distributors are being slashed into one with hundreds of jobs under threat.

The NSW Opposition’s amendment would ensure that jobs in rural centres were maintained at current levels for five years after the merge.

The Treasurer has today put the rural employees of Ausgrid, Endeavour Energy and Essential Energy on notice.

By rejecting this amendment – the Treasurer has opened the door to hundreds or perhaps thousands of job losses across rural and regional NSW.

Faced with a clear choice to give certainty, these now vulnerable employees deserve to know the Government voted down an amendment to protect their employment.This uncertainty is going to loom large over the employees, their families and the communities they call home.

The Treasurer needs to guarantee that no jobs will be targeted and that no jobs will be lost on the back of these changes.

Friday 24 May 2013

The downhill spiral of the O'Farrell government has started

When the Chairman and CEO of Infrastructure NSW resign together you know there is a major infrastructure problem in NSW. The downhill spiral of the O’Farrell government has started. 

In a well written piece in todays Daily Telegraph entitled “Top ‘fix-it blokes Nick Greiner and Paul Broad abandon Barry O’Farrell” reporter Andrew Clennell, in effect, exposes Premier Barry O’Farrell for who, in my opinion he really is; just another politician, just interested in being there, providing no intellectual leadership, and no genuine intellectual agenda. 

Nick Greiner and Barry O’Farrell have something in common. Both were elected Premier of NSW on the back of the defeat of long serving Labor governments, which had run out of time as part of the normal democratic political cycle. One can debate ad nauseum the cause of those labor defeats, but governments sooner or later run out of time. But that is where the similarity ends. 

Although Mr Greiner and my views are poles apart, I respect that he had and always does have an intellectual basis for his opinions. In government, Mr Greiner implemented many of his reforms based on his intellectual political philosophy. His direction was relatively short lived, for a number of reasons, some being that in this State conservative and economic rationalist positions are not acceptable to the people of this state. Privatisation, for the sake of it, under the belief that the private sector can always provide affordable public services to the community is not a sustainable policy position that is supported in the community. 

Mr O’Farrell on the other hand has demonstrated no philosophical position in relation to anything. Milking every political advantage that he can from the ICAC allegations, holding up Westconnex and the North West Rail link as Infrastructure successes, having white papers on Planning reform and Local Government. But after more than 2 years as Premier it is all just talk. 

Almost since I have been elected to parliament, I have been warning that the Westconnex is just a line on a map, no costings, no designs, no planning, nothing. As Mr Clennell wrote; “Two years later, not one sod has been turned...” 

I would be the last person to advocate Mr Greiner’s policy positions are correct; but at least he has one. If people, when they elected Mr O’Farrell, believed they were electing a person that could provide genuine intellectual leadership to this state they must certainly be disappointed by now.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Signing of the London Declaration Against Anitsemitism

Today I joined with members from the NSW Parliament in signing the London Declaration on Combating Antisemitism. The preamble to the declaration is as follows:


We, Representatives of our respective Parliaments from across the world, draw the democratic world’s attention to the resurgence of anti-Semitism as a potent force in politics, international affairs and society.

We note the dramatic increase in recorded anti-Semitic hate crimes and attacks targeting Jewish persons and property, and Jewish religious, educational and communal institutions.

We are alarmed at the resurrection of the old language of prejudice and its modern manifestations – in rhetoric and political action – against Jews, Jewish belief and practice and the State of Israel.

We are alarmed by Government-backed anti-Semitism in general, and state-backed genocidal anti-Semitism, in particular.

We, as Parliamentarians, affirm our commitment to a comprehensive programme of action to meet this challenge.

We call upon national governments, parliaments, international institutions, political and civic leaders, NGOs, and civil society to affirm democratic and human values, build societies based on respect and citizenship and combat any manifestations of anti-Semitism and discrimination.
Ron Hoenig MP with Yair Miller, President of the Jewish Board of Deputies

Celebrate 2044 - Tempe, Sydenham and St. Peters

Sunday I was delighted to visit Celebrate 2044: an inaugural community fair hosted by Marrickville Council for communities of St Peters, Sydenham and Tempe. These communities have given me the warmest of welcomes since becoming their State Member last year and I was so pleased to attend the Fair.

Held in Tillman Park at Tempe, the afternoon was a celebration of locally grown produce, entertainment and activities. 

I enjoyed spending time at the Tempe Public School stall talking to parents; listening to music from Kids Church @ St Peters, and learning about the joys and woes of establishing a new restaurant from Irina and Ash of Bai Tong Restaurant, Tempe.

Congratulations to Marrickville Councillors and staff on a tremendous inaugural fair.
Ash Isaac, Ron HoenigMP, Irina Shaw from Bai Tong Thai, Tempe

Tempe Public School P & C Ivan Smith, Ron Hoenig MP, Pauline Futeran & Deputy Mayor, Cr Emmanuel Tsardoulias

Musicians from the Kids Church@ St Peters with Ron Hoenig MP

Australian Arab Business Network

I was delighted today to attend the Australian Arab Business Network (AABN) special business luncheon at Parliament House between the Network and members of the NSW Parliament. The Australian Arab Business Network is essentially a business referral and support network. It provides a casual monthly forum for exchange of information,ideas, support,friendship and business referrals in a climate of honesty and respect. The Network could also provide employment opportunities, through its members, for Australian Arab youth and provide support to worthwhile community projects. President of the Australian Arab Business Network Mr. Hassan Moussa told the luncheon Australia is well positioned to enter into a stronger trade relationship with the Arab world.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazzette available for download

Heffron residents should have received my newsletter called the "Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette". It is available for download at

New draft train timetable should be released for public consultation

The new draft timetable which is set to be implemented in October has been circulated within Transport NSW but commuters are yet to know its content despite it being only 5 months before implementation.

Shadow Transport Minister Penny Sharpe has called for the draft CityRail timetable to be released for public consultation so commuters can have their say.

“I’m calling on Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian to release the draft train timetable so commuters can provide feedback before it is rolled out,” Ms Sharpe said.

“Commuters have a right to know what the new timetable will mean for them.

“What services will be cut? Will smaller stations lose services and how many stations will be skipped in the morning and afternoon peaks?"

“Rail users deserve to know if certain stations will lose direct access to the CBD and if they will be forced to change trains more often".

We have 6 stations in my electorate and many people rely on those stations to get to work, appointments and visit friends and family. Any changes to the time table will need to be fully assessed by commuters.

My fear is many stations will lose services in the name of cost cutting thereby leaving some commuters with longer journey times and more changes to get to their destination.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian should release the draft CityRail timetable in good faith so commuters right across Heffron can provide feedback.

Commuters spend long enough on the trains each week, they are perfect to provide feedback on what the services should be provided. They should be part of the process not left in the dark.

National Volunteer Week finishes today - Thanks a million to all volunteers

Today completes this year's National Volunteers Week where we had an an opportunity to acknowledge the contribution that volunteers make in the our community.

There are currently more than six million hardworking volunteers in Australia who contribute more than 700 million hours of unpaid work each year to our community

This year's National Volunteers Week theme was ‘Thanks a Million’, and on behalf of the community and I would like to thank our local volunteers for their tireless efforts. Volunteers support our community through a range of activities, from volunteering at the local SES to providing meals, clothing and financial assistance to the needy. 

National Volunteers Week not only provides an occasion to pay tribute to the significant contribution made by volunteers, it also encourages people to seek out opportunities to be a volunteer.

The nominations for the 2013 NSW Volunteer of the Year Award are also now open and will close Friday 30 August, 2013. The NSW Volunteer of the Year Award recognises the outstanding efforts of volunteers in NSW. I encourage locals to nominate a volunteer that is deserving of recognition.

There is always a need for more volunteers in New South Wales. Corporate and small businesses can also take the opportunity to encourage volunteerism amongst their employees by encouraging those with specific skills to donate their time and services.
Volunteering involves not only delivering meals on wheels or coaching a junior soccer team - but people can also volunteer by donating their specific skills such as legal, trade, hospitality or accounting services.” 

For more information regarding volunteering opportunities, please contact the Centre for Volunteering on (02) 9261 3600 or visit

O'Farrell Needs to pick up the phone to Abbott and Fight for $5 billion Gonski funding

Premier Barry O'Farrell needs to pick up the phone to Tony Abbott in Canberra today and fight for the $5 billion in Gonski funding NSW schools and students were promised, Opposition Leader John Robertson said today.

Last night in his budget reply speech, Tony Abbott conspicuously refused to commit to the Gonski school reforms and the $5 billion deal that the Gillard Government has already signed with Barry O'Farrell.

"The Premier should be picking up the phone to Tony Abbott today and demanding his bipartisan support for the $5 billion Gonski school funding reforms in NSW," Mr Robertson said.

"NSW schools stand to miss out on $5 billion under a Tony Abbott-led Government.

"The Gonski reforms are a once in a lifetime opportunity and Tony Abbott is the only person standing in the way of this huge funding boost for NSW schools."

Mr Robertson said he was proud that a vigorous community campaign backed by Labor had forced Barry O 'Farrell to put back on the table the $1.7 billion he had cut from education by signing last month's deal with the Prime Minister.

"I campaigned up and down NSW against the O'Farrell Government's education cuts – and my priority now is ensuring NSW receives every cent of the $5 billion it was promised."

Shadow Education Minister Carmel Tebbutt said: “Mr Abbott’s refusal to support the Gonski reforms is a big concern for NSW parents, students and teachers." 

"NSW schools deserve complete funding certainty.

“If Mr O'Farrell and Mr Piccoli are serious about delivering Gonski, they will demand full support from their Coalition colleagues in Canberra today."

Waterloo Public Housing Forum

Thank you to all those Waterloo Public Housing residents that attended my Housing Forum at The Factory Community Centre in Raglan Street, Waterloo.

The forum provided a valuable opportunity for residents, police and service providers to discuss and raise a number of issues and initiatives. 

I am grateful for the attendance and support of Redfern Local Area Commander Luke Freudenstein , Crime Prevention Officer Senior Constable Maria Cook, and Housing NSW Acting Area Director Margaret Macrae.

I was also delighted that Shadow Minister for Housing, The Hon. Sophie Cotsis MLC, for attending addressing the forum.
Superintendent Luke Freudenstein, Ron Hoenig MP, Margaret Macrae and Constable Maria Cook

The Hon Sophie Cotsis MLC, Ron Hoenig MP and Ross Smith

St Peters Anglican Church celebrates its 175th anniversary

St Peters Anglican Church located on the Princes Highway, celebrated its 175th anniversary this week.   

This church is one of the most historic churches in Sydney and has occupied a commanding position in the Cooks River district since 1838. The building designed by architect Thomas Bird, has been largely restored. 

The ecumenical congregation is led by Reverend Andrew Bruce and due to the changing demographic patterns around St Peters, Tempe and Sydenham, the parish is growing once more. 

The Archbishop of Sydney, the Most Reverend Dr Peter Jensen and his wife, Christine attended today’s Thanksgiving Service along with Marrickville Councillors, former parish ministers and parishioners many of whom travelled long distances to return to St Peters to mark this occasion. 

Laurel and Bob Horton of Marrickville Heritage Society have played a valuable role in documenting the history of this important church and its grounds. 

On behalf of the community I pay tribute to the congregation, past and present, at St Peters Anglican Church on the 175th anniversary of this place of worship. 
Kath Bruce, Reverend Andrew Bruce, Ron Hoenig MP, Most Reverend Dr Peter Jensen, Mrs Christine Jensen

Ron Hoenig MP and Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Peter Jensen

Ron Hoenig presenting Rev. Bruce with a Parliamentary Tribute

Ron Hoenig MP with Bob and Laurel Horton of Marrickville Heritage Society.

Princess Highway, Tempe - Dangerous Crossing

Constable Kenny, Ron Hoenig MP, Patrick McInerney, Tanya Burows
This week I met Senior Constable Anthony Kenny of Newtown Local Area Command on the Princes Highway at Tempe, between Fanning Street and Barden Street, to inspect the pedestrian crossing.

Although controlled by traffic lights, Tempe Public School and Tempe High School have raised with me their concerns for students crossing at this location.   Traffic volume, traffic speed, large container trucks and the close proximity of three sets of traffic lights are all factors that make this a potentially hazardous situation for our children.

I have been corresponding with Roads Minister since late last year over this issue and I invited Tempe High School P&C President,  Tanya Burrow, and Patrick McInernery, P&C representative from Tempe Public School to view first hand the pedestrian crossing difficulties with NSW Police.

Senior Constable Anthony Kenny will laisie with the RMS and ask for their traffic engineers to fully appraise this location.

O'Farrell Government's broken promise to support Council referendum

The O’Farrell Government has broken a key election promise to support a referendum into the constitutional and financial recognition of Local Government, Shadow Minister for Local Government Sophie Cotsis said today.

“Barry O’Farrell’s Local Government Minister said yesterday that financial recognition of local government would create confusion and lead to pork-barrelling. This is a breathtaking backflip and it will mean local services and road funding will suffer from Sydney to the Northern Tablelands,” Ms Cotsis said.

In 2011, prior to the election, the Coalition promised that direct funding of local government from the Commonwealth would be beneficial for councils and the services they provide:

“The NSW Liberals & Nationals endorse the proposal from the Australian Local Government Association for a referendum to amend the Australian constitution to give the Australian Government the power to fund Local Government and to enshrine people’s rights to democratically elect their councils.”

“I as a Minister in the Government support the idea of local government being recognised in the Constitution … I think we'd get better use of the money … coming from the Feds going to local government. And I think also the financial situation with local councils across the State, if they can tap into a source of revenue, whether it be GST - that's probably the most practical one - a percentage of GST revenue, that would be very helpful to local government."
-          NSW Local Government Minister Don Page Stateline 7:30 NSW 16/09/11

“This is a blatant broken promise from Minister Page,” Ms Cotsis said.

“Eighteen months ago, Minister Page wanted councils to receive a carve-up of Federal GST. Now he’s happy to kill them off.

“Clearly, Minister Page doesn’t want anything interfering with his agenda of forcing councils to amalgamate by depriving them of funds.  

“NSW Labor is a strong supporter of constitutional and financial recognition of local government.

“My recent tour of councils in the Northern Tablelands has only strengthened my determination that they need financial certainty above all else.”

Amateur Hunting Suspended in South Australia after man shot

The South Australian amateur hunting in national parks program Premier Barry O’Farrell uses to compare to his own dangerous policy has been suspended after a man was accidentally shot in the leg earlier this month.

To make matters worse, despite Premier O’Farrell claiming his amateur hunting program is based on that of South Australia, the NSW model deliberately fails to include a number of tough safety restrictions in place in South Australia.

“Mr O’Farrell has been deliberately misleading the public when he claims his dangerous hunting in national parks policy will be based on that of South Australia,” Shadow Environment Minister, Luke Foley said.

“In fact, the South Australian hunting program is far tougher and it has still been suspended because someone was accidentally shot in a national park.

“These tougher restrictions still didn’t stop someone being shot in a national park in South Australia.

“There is absolutely no doubt Barry O’Farrell’s significantly weaker policy in NSW will put public safety at risk.”

The O’Farrell Government internal risk assessment* leaked to the NSW Opposition states:

“Some hunting systems in other states have developed further requirements related to welfare. These include the South Australian the [sic] requirement to limit shooting range to 200 metres, the requirement for accuracy to be demonstrated on a shooting range and a mentoring program for relatively inexperienced shooters.” (p58)

Crucially, these safety measures will not be implemented in NSW.

NSW is not adopting South Australia’s tougher requirements for amateur shooters seeking to hunt in national parks:

“Following successful completion of the theory component, hunters must pass a firearms range based shooting assessment and undertake a probationary period where participation in a field activity is supervised by another accredited hunter.” (p74)

“These safety requirements are not being introduced in NSW.  Mr O’Farrell should stop dishonestly comparing his program with South Australia’s, which operates in only a handful of remote national parks and is far stricter on hunters,” Mr Foley said.

NSW Labor Opposition to Introduce legislation allowing preschools to ban unvaccinated children

Opposition Leader John Robertson will move to introduce legislation in the NSW Parliament to amend the Public Health Act 2010 and give preschools and childcare centres the right to ban unvaccinated children from attending. Mr Robertson said the Opposition would consult with the early childhood sector and the public on the draft Bill. 

An important aim of the Opposition’s changes will be to encourage parents who may have simply forgotten to fully vaccinate their children to do so.

“As a grandparent of a four year old who is currently in preschool, I know how important it is for all children to be vaccinated,” Opposition Leader John Robertson said. 

“It is astounding that places like Iran and Rwanda have higher rates of childhood vaccination than the north shore and eastern suburbs of Sydney.*

“This shouldn’t be about the alternative wishes of parents who choose to ignore the advice of doctors; it has to be about the health of our children and young people.

“Parents who choose not to vaccinate aren’t just putting their own children at risk, they are putting other people’s innocent children at risk of preventable diseases as well.”

Mr Robertson also recognised Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott backs the crackdown on parents who choose not to vaccinate their children.

“I don’t share the same views as Tony Abbott on many issues, but we are in full agreement on childhood vaccination.”

Shadow Health Minister and paediatrician Dr Andrew McDonald said he was saddened to see children suffering from diseases which could have been prevented through higher vaccination rates.

“There is quite simply no reasonable argument against childhood vaccination,” he said.

St George Bank - Start Something Local

Last week, Mayor of Botany Bay Cr Ben Keneally and I attended the St George Bank, Eastgardens Branch for the launch of the St George Bank's "Start Something Local" campaign.

As part of a commercial launch St George have announced the allocation of funds to local communities across Australia. Calling it "Start Something Local"  the bank announced that communities will vote on what projects they want started in their area. 60 potential initiatives are lined up accross the country and the bank will be asking for community input by way of a vote. Details can be found on their Facebook page.

St George Bank should be commended for the support of local communities.

Monday 6 May 2013

City of Botany Bay Seniors Garden Party - a wonderful day

Sir Joseph Banks Pleasure Gardens was again the setting for the City of Botany Bay’s Annual Senior Citizens Garden Party. Yesterday over 800 senior residents gathered under a magnificent marquee and enjoyed an afternoon of entertainment and refreshments. I was delighted to catch up with many friends and community groups as we came together to recognise and celebrate the valuable role our seniors play in our community.
Congratulations to Mayor Ben Keneally, Councillors and staff for hosting this wonderful event.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Attack on Judicial Independence - or is it just government incompetence

The honour and privilege of becoming a Member of Parliament does nothing prepares you for the sheer incompetence of the elected government of the day. This week in Parliament the government introduced a Bill to control judges salaries by limiting any increase by the independent Remuneration Tribunal to 2.5%. The government asserted that judges salaries should be restricted just like all other public servants. 

At first blush this might be seen to be reasonable. Why shouldn't judges salaries be capped just like public servants and politicians? 

But there is a far greater and more important principle at stake. It is a fundamental principle called the doctrine of separation of powers. Our democracy as part of the Westminster system requires the separation of the judicial arm of government from the legislative arm and of the executive arm of government. Independence of the judiciary is fundamental to democracy. Attempts to interfere by the executive government or by the Parliament in judicial salaries is an interference with judicial independence. Judges have to decide whether or not the executive government's action is lawful or in fact whether parliaments legislation is constitutional. Courts every day are deciding cases where the government is on one side and ordinary citizens are on the other. It happens in both criminal and civil cases. 

It is the case that the executive government is accountable to Parliament for the expenditure of public funds. It is the case that the Parliament is the ultimate decision maker for the appropriation of public money. For hundreds of years in this country and in England, to avoid the perception of the government being able to interfere with the judicial independence an independent Tribunal was established so that judges salaries can be decided by an independent body at arms length. It is designed to preserve judicial independence. 

The ridiculous Bill (Statutory and Other Officers Remuneration Amendment (Judicial and Other Office Holders) Bill 2013) that passed the Legislative Assembly this week is such an an attack on the independence of the judiciary it prompted according to the Sydney Morning Herald the Chief Justice of New South Wales, who is also the NSW Lieutenant Governor speaking out strongly. 

According  to the Sydney Morning Herald "The NSW Chief Justice Tom Bathurst has condemned the state government's plan to control judicial salaries as an attack on judicial independence, warning that taken to its extreme such logic could see judges' pay linked to conviction rates." 

The head of the state's judiciary rarely speak publicly about government policy let alone 'condemns it'. On the very rare occasions that happens it is important that governments listen. As I told parliament this week Members of Parliament are required to respect the institutions of the Westminster system upon which our democracy is based. Members of Parliament whether they are part of the executive or not are only here temporarily, that we are trustees of the Westminster system and trustees of the doctrine of separation of powers. We must ensure that we preserve and enhance those democratic institutions and doctrines and always act to create the perception that they are being preserved. 

I genuinely suggested, and this was not political, that there was a better way.I suggested the government could have amended either the Act or Regulations to give greater weight to its policies in trying to reduce expenditure of all public sector salaries which would have resulted the same outcome, but it would have been seen to be at arms length. 

The most frightening part of the debate on the Bill was when the Treasurer tried to compare judges to nurses firefighters police and teachers. It is a frightening prospect when a senior member of the government does not understand what the difference is between employees who are part of the executive arm of government and the judicial arm of government. He obviously did not understand the need for there to the judicial independence and did not understand the need to preserve and protect the Westminster system of which he is only a trustee.

The most concerning part of the debate this week was that the Treasurer of New South Wales, a person who is often talked about as a future leader and Premier, did not really understand the significance of what he was doing. As I said at the beginning nothing prepared me when I was elected for this sheer incompetence. 

The video of the speech to parliament is here:

ANZAC Day - Botany Dawn Service

Ron Hoenig MP laying a wreath
That man might walk in honour and in peace,
That freedom might throughout the world survive:
Remembering that for this they gave their lives,
We bow our heads in homage and with pride.

This was the moving prayer epitomising the solemnity of the ANZAC Day "Dawn Service" at Booralee Park, Botany attended not only by our surviving heroes, their families and the families of the fallen, but more than 600 local Botany residents.

The spirit of the ANZAC's is alive and well amongst the young and old alike in recognition that to keep the world free of tyranny that has to be paid for in blood.

I thank sincerely Botany Bay City Council for continuing to host the breakfast for our heroes their families and families of the fallen. With the demise of RSL Clubs in Mascot and Botany the council made this significant event even more significant.
Paul Graham, President Mascot RSL & Ron Hoenig MP

Ron Hoenig MP at  the City of Botany Bay's generous "Breakfast in the Park"
Hepisipa Tafokitau,  Year 12 student, from J J Cahill High School leading the National Anthem

Wednesday 1 May 2013

Sydney Councils should hold referendums on amalgamations. Let the people decide.

Last night in parliament I called on Sydney councils to hold referendums on the proposed amalgamations to create “Super Councils” in the Sydney region.

The video of my speech is here:

Professor Graham Sansom and an Independent Local Government Review Panel have presented a report that recommends reducing the number of councils in Sydney from 32 to 15.

If the Government accept the recommendations the councils of Botany Bay, Randwick, Waverley, Woollahra, City of Sydney, Leichardt, Marrickville, Hurstville, Kogarah, Rockdale, Hunters Hill, Lane Cove, Mosman, North Sydney, Willoughby, Ashfield, Burwood, Canada Bay, Strathfield, Auburn, Holroyd, Parramatta, Ryde, Fairfield, Liverpool, Manly, Pittwater and Warringah will disappear.
The report fails to understand local government is all about governing local communities.

It is important that the people understand how the Super Councils would be funded.

The report recommends outrageously, that revenue can be increased by abolishing the pensioner rate rebate, hiking up residential rates, and selling off local parks, playgrounds and community halls. Fees and charges for community facilities such as council swimming pools would also see hefty increases.

The report bizarrely contradicts itself. It recommends reducing the number of councils and then states it will create a fourth level of governance by setting up local boards to oversee the operation of the local communities.

I am confident that the people of Sydney will want to have their say before this most fundamental tier of government is dismantled forever by the Liberal O’Farrell government.

The Local Government Act provides for people to have their say by allowing referendums. In a democracy people should decide if they want their local council demolished.

It is the people who should decide how they are governed. I urge all councils to hold a referendum … let the people decide.