Friday 13 March 2015

Liberal's "Uniformed Agents" try to break up Centennial Park residents meeting with their local MP

Some Centennial Park residents meeting with Heffron MP Ron Hoenig last night
Last night I met with local Centennial Park residents at the edge of Moore Park who wanted to speak to an MP about their concerns with the activities of the Centennial & Moore Park Trust something I have been doing regularly.

Centennial Parklands was gifted to the people of NSW by Governor Macquarie in 1811 for the benefit of the people of Sydney and future generations. It is overseen by Centennial & Moore Park Trust.

Whilst a number of residents were present talking to their MP, a ‘uniformed agent’ of Liberal Environment Minister Rob Stokes disrupted the meeting and ordered residents and I off Centennial Park land. Residents had to move 40 metres to comply with the request, including an 87 year old man.

Centennial Park is the people’s Park – residents are entitled to speak to their MP about their concerns with the management of Centennial Park without being set upon by politically motivated uniformed agents of the Liberal Party, it was a blatant attempt to silence them.

Residents meeting with their Member of Parliament is the most fundamental principle of our Parliamentary democracy, holding this meeting on the people’s land their right.

Centennial Park is not the private domain of the Centennial & Moore Park Trust. It is the quintessential people’s Park and this attempt to stifle free democratic debate is nothing short of undemocratic.

The residents I was speaking with were actually explaining their concerns they have with the Park, including the $38 million wastage on the Albert Tibby Bridge, the commercialisation of the Park, their fear that parts of Moore Park would be handed over for a car park and the gouging of money out of school children for their use of the Park.

The concerns raised by residents are justified. When the Trust and the Minister have refused to provide me with a briefing about the activities of the Trust, someone has something to hide.

It is interesting that on the eve of an election that the Liberal Minister sends his guards out to try and silence me. It is also interesting that their action follows enquiries by the Wentworth Courier about criticism I have made of the Trust in Parliament.

It is no wonder that locals are suspicious of the activities of the Centennial & Moore Park Trust when the people’s representative is thrown out of the people’s Park.

The Liberals’ attempt to silence me won’t work. I will be back next week meeting residents again.

Sunday 8 March 2015

NSW Labor to rescue TAFE as students hit with prohibitive TAFE fees

Thousands of students in my electorate have been hit by the Liberals’ with massive increases to course fees kick in at the start of the term this year.

Students would benefit from an affordable and well-funded technical and vocational training system under Labor’s $100 million TAFE Rescue Plan if Labor is elected in 3 weeks time.

Within one term, a Labor Government will:
  • Abolish the Liberal’s ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program;
  • Reverse the Baird Government’s TAFE fee hikes;
  • Guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and
  • Commission a landmark review of education and training in NSW after Year 10.
TAFE is critical for people looking to finish high school, get further education or re-train for a new career.

Many people across my electorate who rely on a strong TAFE system to get the skills they need to find a rewarding job.

But since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses and slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars. 

The Liberals’ damaging reforms have seen courses cut and staff sacked – and as of this week, fees are rising significantly. I know people in ELECTORATE who have had to take hefty loans to complete their courses – or have made the tough choice not to go back to TAFE at all.

Labor knows that quality education is the key to a good job and a fulfilling life – that’s why Labor will invest in training and make TAFE affordable.

Labor will reverse the Liberals’ fee increases, wind back the privatisation of TAFE and stop the course cuts and fee hikes, so TAFE is accessible for all.” 

Key Points: 
  • As technology changes, equipping the workforce with the skills required for the jobs of today and those of the future is an urgent challenge for NSW. We need a strong TAFE system to train our young people, to prepare them for fulfilling jobs. 
  • Since 2011, the Liberal/National Government has cut $1.7 billion from education and training, sacked 1100 TAFE teachers and support staff, cut TAFE courses, slashed class contact times and drastically increased student fees by up to thousands of dollars. 
  • These impacts to TAFE are a result of the ‘Smart and Skilled’ program of market-based vocational education and training where TAFE must compete for students and funding with private providers.Within the first term of government, Labor will abolish the ‘Smart and Skilled’ privatisation program, reverse the Liberals’ TAFE fee hikes, guarantee funding to TAFE by capping the amount of public funds that can be contestable by private operators at 30 per cent; and commission a landmark review of education and training in NSW after Year 10.

Labor to reverse Liberals' retrospective cuts to victims of crime compensation

Today I welcome Labor’s plan to will reverse the Liberals’ retrospective cuts to compensation payments for victims of crime – and review the legislation altogether. 

In Government, Labor implemented laws to give victims of violent crime up to $50,000 in compensation. But in 2013, the Liberals introduced new rules to cut the maximum compensation payment to only $15,000.

The new rules were also retrospective, meaning all claims lodged before 2013 were only eligible for a maximum of $15,000 in compensation. 

As a result of these cruel new rules, more than 20,000 victims have had their compensation retrospectively cut – many of whom are survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

Labor will remove the retrospective nature of the Liberals’ legislation and review the law altogether – and will handle all claims arising up until the introduction of the 2013 legislation under the pre-2013 scheme. 

The Liberals’ cuts to compensation exposed their true priorities – a fixation on the budget bottom line with no compassion for victims of violent crime.

This retrospective rule has added a financial burden to the immense physical, emotional and psychological burden victims of violent crime already bear. 

I’m proud to part of a team that will right a wrong and reverse the Liberals’ cruel retrospective cuts to victims of violent crime.

Labor government to recruit 500 new paramedics

I welcome the announcement that a Foley Labor Government will recruit an additional 500 paramedics and increase ambulance resources in its first term.

Across the state, resources are being stretched and paramedics are working on their days off to fill gaps in rosters and working long hours of overtime. 

This investment in our ambulance service will speed up response times and support our dedicated paramedics.

The 500 paramedics will cost $46.6 million over the forward estimates. This includes additional salary and other recurrent costs – such as meal allowances and workers’ compensation – associated with employing new paramedics.

As part of the $46.6 million, there will be $2.1 million to fund capital costs including additional vehicles, defibrillators and stretchers.

The 500 paramedics will be delivered by 2019 - an extra 125 paramedics a year. 

Paramedics are one of the most crucial roles in our health system – they are the first responders to homes, workplaces and other places when someone is in urgent need of medical assistance.

The role of a paramedic is literally life or death – not surprising that they are considered to be one of the most trusted professions in our community.

There are less than 3,500 paramedics attending more than one million call outs a year – and they are being overstretched and under resourced following the Liberals’ $3 billion in cuts to the health system.

A Labor Government will recruit an extra 500 paramedics to relieve the pressure placed on our paramedics and allow them to keep doing their good work – saving lives.

 Foley Labor Government will ensure that patients in NSW receive the best possible care and boost ambulances response times by supporting our paramedics.

Labor has a proud record of investing in our hospitals and health services which is why we will recruit an additional 500 paramedics to strengthen the response to health emergencies. 

The health system under the Liberals is at breaking point – hospitals failing to meet emergency room targets, slowing ambulance response times and placing doctors and nurses under enormous pressure.

Labor's comprehensive approach to ending violence against women

A Foley Labor Government will take a whole-of-Government approach to ending the scourge of violence against women in our community.

Labor’s comprehensive package to tackle domestic violence and sexual assault offers new and practical ideas to end the violence and better support victims. 

Under Labor’s plan, we will: 
  • Provide a $14.5 million funding boost to support women’s refuges, counselling services, prevention programs and men’s behaviour change programs
  • Establish new specialist courts for domestic violence and sexual assault – to streamline the criminal justice system and provide better support to the victims of these horrendous crimes. Trial courts will be located in Sydney, the Illawarra and the Hunter
  • Establish a new Premier’s Council for Women, to provide expertise into how the NSW Government can best support women, and Labor will restore the Office for Women as an agency within the Department of Premier and Cabinet, returning women’s issues to their rightful place at the heart of government
  • Strengthen penalties for breaches of Apprehended Violence Orders, providing additional assurance to victims of domestic violence, deterring perpetrators from breaching AVOs and ensuring those who break the law face tough penalties. Labor will put the establishment of a national register of domestic violence offenders on the COAG agenda
  •  Expand access to paid domestic violence leave – doubling the existing entitlement
  • Extend protections under the Anti-Discrimination Act to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault
Ending violence against women is one of the most important issues facing our society and Labor is determined to making this a priority across government.

One woman dies each week as a result of domestic violence in this country – and this issue impacts families in my electorate.

I am proud of Labor’s commitment to prioritising ending violence against women. 

A Foley Labor Government will take a comprehensive, whole-of-government approach to put an end to domestic violence and sexual assault. 

Labor will invest in support services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, prevention and specialist courts.