Thursday 31 July 2014

Electricity privatisation to hit Western Sydney Residents' power bills

Ron Hoenig MP with Labor's Prue Car (centered)  with local residents
The Labor Candidate for Londonderry Prue Car and I have today warned that families in Western Sydney will face rising power bills under Mike Baird’s plans to privatise our state’s electricity poles and wires.

Talking to local residents when visiting Claremont Meadows today with Labor's quality candidate for Londonderry Prue Car, I reminded Family electricity bills will skyrocket if the Liberals sell our state’s electricity network, and the state will lose over $1 billion each year as a result of the sale - money that is currently invested in infrastructure, hospitals, schools and emergency services.

Families in Western Sydney and across the state are already struggling due to cost of living increases under the Liberals – they simply can’t afford to pay more for electricity.

Make no mistake: Mike "the Merchant Banker" Baird’s plan to privatise our electricity network will hurt working families. Power prices will rise.

“If the Liberals think they can fool the people of NSW, they are plain wrong – everyone knows that no private company is going to spend billions of dollars buying the electricity network to lower electricity prices.

When the Liberals privatised electricity in South Australia, they promised lower energy bills – and now South Australia has the highest electricity prices in the country.

In a double whammy, from 1 July this year, electricity providers were also no longer subject to a cap on prices – as the Baird Liberal Government has removed the maximum amount retail electricity providers can charge.
Already power bills have risen by 42.6 per cent thanks to this Liberal government – and now power companies are free to charge whatever they like.

The Liberals say removing the power price cap will increase competition and drive prices down – but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is regulation and price caps exist to protect consumers from power companies charging whatever they want.

Labor Candidate for Londonderry Prue Car said: “If Mike Baird thinks he can fool our community, he is wrong – a cap exists to limit the price a company can charge. Remove that cap, and there’s only one way electricity prices will go and that’s up.

“The last thing locals need is higher bills for essential utilities like power – but if our electricity poles and wires are sold off, everyone will pay more just to keep the heat on in winter.

“If our poles and wires are sold off, we’ll also lose the $1 billion that’s reinvested in infrastructure, teachers, nurses and police – yet Mike Baird hasn’t told us how he’ll replace that funding,” Ms Car said.

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Toxic substances at Orica plant in Botany must be removed

The Southern Courier today published on its website today a story entitled "Heffron State MP Ron Hoenig says toxic substances at Orica plant in Botany must be removed" by Torin Chen and AAP. The article is here.

"With the French Environment Minister rebuffing Australia’s last move to export the world’s largest shipment of HCB, we must stand strong on efforts to rid Botany of this toxic legacy, Heffron State Labor MP Ron Hoenig says.

Mr Hoenig told the Southern Courier that Orica’s stockpile of HCB substance should be removed from Botany Bay and the only suitable place for the toxic waste to be destroyed was in Europe.

“This heinous HCB substance on the Orica site needs to be destroyed by world’s best practice, which is only available in Europe,” he said.

“There is no facility in Australia and no prospect of there being a facility in Australia for the next 10 years that can destroy this waste.

“It is dangerous and it must be removed from the foreshores of Botany Bay.’’

Tuesday 29 July 2014

NSW Labor celebrates 60th anniversary of Education Week

Shadow Minister for Education and Training Ryan Park said today that the 60thanniversary of Education Week was an opportunity for local communities to reflect on the importance of a strong public education system and the benefits it has provided millions across NSW.

“Our public schools are the cornerstone of our education system and we celebrate their importance this week,” Mr Park said.

“This week is an opportunity to acknowledge the thousands of dedicated teachers and staff across our public schools that ensure we have one of the strongest education systems in the world.

“Public education continues to be the outstanding provider of a fair go in our communities.

“No matter what where you’ve come from or how much money your family might have, an education in a public school has given thousands of students the opportunity to learn and reach their full potential.

“We need to continue to see an education system that is well funded and resourced to ensure our children receive a quality education.”

Mr Park said that the original tagline for Education Week launched in 1954, “Lighting the way to a better world” was just at relevant today as it was 60 years ago.

“Public schools right across the state are holding events to celebrate Education Week and I would encourage everyone to get involved and support their local school,” Mr Park said.

“NSW Labor remains committed to a strong public education system and I encourage local communities to support their public schools.”

For a full list of Education Week events please visit

The Muslim festival of "Eid al-Fitr" commences as Ramadan ends

It was an honour to join my Bangladeshi community this morning as they gathered at Mascot Public School for morning prayers as the festival of Eid al-Fitr began. Muslims throughout the world celebrate this important religious holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting.

Islam is the main religion of Bangladesh, which is a secular country, but Islam constitutes more than 90% of the Bangladeshi population. Bangladesh is the fourth largest Muslim country is the world, which the United Nations describes as a moderate Muslim democratic country. The Bangladeshi community is a warm and friendly community. Matt Thistlethwaite MP and Michael Daley MP and I were delighted to able to join our friends on such a significant occasion.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

NSW Liberals have no idea of the human cost of outsourcing pensioner public transport fares.

I was approached by one of my constituents this week, a pensioner, who told me of her embarrassment when she tried to pay for a ticket on a Sydney bus in Rosebery.

This lady is 86 years old and she recently returned from staying with relatives. On her return she attempted to undertake her normal routine which includes regularly taking trips on a bus to attend doctors’ appointments, fill prescriptions, undertake medical tests and to purchase groceries.

On getting on to her bus she tried to pay her fare to the driver and was shocked and mortified with embarrassment when she attempted to purchase her usual $2.50 Pensioner Excursion Ticket (PET) on her regular bus service and couldn't. It was a paralysing moment for such a proud 86 year old woman to be told by the bus driver that “no we don’t sell them anymore”.

My elderly constituent is deeply concerned about her ability to access an authorised seller of Pensioner Excursion Tickets due to mobility issues that impact on her everyday life. This essentially means that unless some of my less mobile constituents have extended family or supportive friends and neighbours to assist them they will be house bound because all their trips will need to be preplanned.

When these Liberal governments and their economic rationalist supporters argue that outsourcing pensioner bus fares to the private sector is more efficient, they have no understanding of the human cost. 

Electricity hikes could affect public safety

A proposed massive price hike to the cost of public lighting will force local councils to compromise on public safety, NSW Labor said today. 

Shadow Local Government Minister Sophie Cotsis was responding to a plea by the NSW Local Government Association which is calling on local councils to lodge objections to the increase. 

Essential Energy wants to increase electricity bills for street lighting – depending on the local government area – from 28 per cent to up a massive 123 per cent. 

The plan is currently under active consideration by the Australian Energy Regulator and a final determination will be made on April 30, 2015. The new prices would come into effect for the 2015- 16 financial year. 

“Hiking public lighting bills by as high as 123 per cent is a huge jump and a total surprise to local government,” Ms Cotsis said. 

“One in four councils are already under financial pressure, and the Abbott Liberal Government has cut $288 million worth of Commonwealth Financial Assistance Grants to NSW councils.” 

Essential Energy should reconsider the increase. Councils will face stark choices and we do not want them compromising on public safety by reducing lighting due to overwhelmingly high costs.

They will have no choice, but to reduce the number of street lights. Orange, Bathurst and Dubbo local councils will be facing bills of more than $500,000. Other councils across the State will be hit including: 

  • Broken Hill – 123 per cent 
  • Narromine – 117 per cent 
  • Jerilderie – 115 per cent – $50,000 
  • Wellington – 113 percent 
  • Warrumbungle – 113 percent 
  • Deniliquin – 102 per cent – $38,285 
  • Mid Western Regional – 101 per cent 
  • Kyogle – 86 per cent – $26,300 
  • Berrigan – 95 per cent – $45,000
  • Conargo – 81 per cent
  • Murray Shire – 80 per cent
  • Lismore – 73 per cent – $143,000
  • Byron Shire – 73 per cent - $65,000
  • Ballina – 73 per cent – $126,000 
  • Richmond Valley – 70 per cent – $70,300
  • Tweed – 58 per cent - $220,000
What happened to a reduction in electricity prices promised by the Liberals after the repeal of the Carbon Tax?

Monday 14 July 2014

Tempe Commuters ripped off by Opal Card

Residents residents living in my electorate in Tempe and travelling into the city by train are disadvantaged by the NSW Government’s Opal Card due to a 50 metre technicality.

Mr Hoenig spoke to Tempe resident David Price who recently discovered that his daily trip from Tempe to Martin Place costs him more than a trip from Tempe to Central because Martin Place is 50 metres outside of the 10 kilometre fare bracket.

This is the same for all of the other ‘city’ stations, including Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James, Museum and Kings Cross.

On the NSW Government’s Sydney Trains fare calculator website, it says that a ticket to the “city” allows a commuter to alight at any station in the city, however if you select to travel to Martin Place or even Town Hall instead of Central from Tempe, you have to pay more because the stations are apparently 50 metres further along the line..

 It beggars belief that commuters heading into the city are being tricked into paying this extra charge – simply because they don’t get off the train at Central.

“I’d like to see the Transport Minister demonstrate that all of the city stations are more than 10 kilometres from Tempe, particularly given that the platform itself could be longer than 50 metres,” Mr Price said.

“It seems dishonest that the NSW Government is gouging unsuspecting commuters who get off at any “city stop” other than Central.”

For an adult on a return ticket it’s an extra $1.60, but for a weekly ticket, commuters are paying an additional $7 and for monthly, $25. 

I have already raised my concerns for current periodic ticket holders (monthly, quarterly or yearly) who are forced to use the Opal Card.

If commuters from my electorate are using periodic tickets continue to travel the same way using Opal, they could be out of pocket of between $147 and $174 a year. 

Sadly, any ‘convenience’ benefit as publicised by the Liberal State Government is voided by the negative financial impact it has on commuters.

This concern has not only been raised by the NSW Labor Opposition, the Auditor General has also noted his apprehensions about commuters being ripped off under the Opal scheme in his report on Transport.

I encourage anyone who loses under the Opal Card scheme to contact my office – I won’t let the Government get away with ripping us off.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Heffron residents disadvantaged by "Opal Card"

Ron Hoenig MP talking to "John" at Rosebery
Many residents in my electorate of Heffron are disadvantaged by the NSW Liberal Government’s Opal Card, particularly if they have to travel on two modes of transport to get to work.

Talking to a  Rosebery resident John who, every day to get to work, catches the bus to central and then the train to Chatswood. Currently a MyMulti1 weekly pass costs John $11.00 per week less then if he used an Opal card for the exact same trip.

It beggars belief that commuters are being slogged an extra $11 a week to make the exact same trip, when the service will see no improvement.

It seems that this Liberal Government has not considered how their Opal Card will actually affect the many commuters across Sydney that rely on two modes of transport to get to work every day.

John said to me: “Even though with an Opal Card you only pay for 8 journeys, it will still cost me more than paying for a weekly MyMulti1 ticket".

“I wouldn’t mind paying an additional 1 or 2 dollars a week for the convenience of the Card, but $11 is too much"; John said

I have raised further concerns for current periodic ticket holders (monthly, quarterly or yearly) who are forced to use the Opal Card. If commuters from our area using periodic tickets continue to travel the same way using Opal, they could be out of pocket of between $147 and $174 a year. 

Sadly, any ‘convenience’ benefit as publicised by the Liberal State Government is voided by the negative financial impact it has on commuters.

This concern has not only been raised by the NSW Labor Opposition, the Auditor General has also noted his apprehensions about commuters being ripped off under the Opal scheme in his report on Transport.

I encourage anyone who loses under the Opal Card scheme to contact my office and I will bring it to the Minister’s attention – I won’t let the Government get away with ripping us off.

Sunday 6 July 2014

Commemoration of St George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral at Redfern

Sir Nicholas Shehadie A& Ron Hoenig MP
The commemoration of St George Antiochian Orthodox Cathedral at Redfern was such a significant community event today. Established by Father Nicholas Shehadie in 1920 who was sent to Australia in 1913 as the Patriarchal Exarch for Australia and New Zealand in order to determine the extent of the problems caused for Arabic-speaking Orthodox.

The commemoration celebrated a refurbishment funded by the Community Building Partnership Program of which I was pleased to be able assist with as part of a state government program.

I was delighted to catch up the grandson of Father Shehadie, Sir Nicholas Shehadie AC OBE who is much revered in the community, and Emil Dan who has spent 50 years as a member of the community publishing the very historic nature not only of the buildings but the the preservation of the rare set of icons brought by Father Shehadie in 1920 from Russia at the time of the Bolshevik revolution, all harmoniously added, forms the iconostasis.