Sunday 11 December 2016


NSW Labor has unveiled a three-point plan to revive Sydney’s night-time economy following the missed opportunity of the Baird Government’s response to the Callinan Review. Labor would create a new class of liquor licence that rewards venues across Sydney that host live music, theatre or cabaret with longer licensing hours.

Labor would also put in place a night-time economy commissioner - much like those operating in London and Amsterdam - to co-ordinate growth in after-hours activity across metropolitan Sydney.

The third plank in Labor’s plan to resuscitate Sydney’s night-time economy would be a policy focused solely on encouraging the growth of live music and small cultural events across not just the CBD but the suburbs.

By contrast there was a distinct lack of any comprehensive plan to help revive Sydney’s night-time economy in Premier Baird’s response on Thursday to the Callinan Review. Labor supports the review’s key recommendations that closing times in the CBD be extended from 3am to 3:30am, and lock-out times pushed back from 1:30am to 2am in a two-year trial for genuine live entertainment venues.

Labor has previously announced it supports the extension of bottle shop sales in the city by an hour to 11pm, and to midnight in regional areas where home delivery is often unavailable.


NSW Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord has called on the Federal Government to keep its after-hours home doctor service – which is the subject of a review. Removal of the service would affect the State’s emergency departments which are buckling under the pressure of demands and State and Federal cuts.

The service was introduced by the Howard Government in 2005 in a bid to reduce unnecessary visits to emergency departments. It has been found to reduce unnecessary ambulance call-outs and unnecessary presentations to emergency departments.

The service is used mainly by children under the age of four and by the elderly with mobility issues. Mr Secord has called on Federal Minister Sussan Ley to retain the service – saying its removal would see patients “flood” NSW emergency departments with minor ailments and conditions. He also wrote to NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner urging her to contact her Federal counterparts.

Research by Deloitte has found that the after-hours home doctor service saved Federal, State and Territory governments about $724 million in costs a year.  It also found that an average home visit cost $128 compared to up to $368 for a “typical” self-referral visitation to an emergency department or a $1,351 ambulance trip.

In the 2015-16 financial year, $72 million was spent by the Federal Government on the NSW service and 695,715 patients here used the service. On December 7, the independent Bureau of Health Information reported that more than 650,000 patients visited a NSW emergency department in the July to September quarter, an increase of 3,900 compared to one year ago.

In addition, more than 148,000 patients travelled to the emergency department by ambulance in the July to September quarter. 

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Ron Hoenig's Heffron Gazette - December 2017

Residents should have received their copy of the November 2015 edition of my newsletter called the "Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette". It is available for download here:

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Football (Soccer) Academies exploiting 6 year old children and their parents.

A parliamentary inquiry is needed into children's soccer (football) in NSW to expose the scandalous exploitation of local children and their parents. Paying fees such as $1100 for a 6 year old to play on a local park on a Saturday for what is supposed to be a community based sport run by volunteers is outrageous.

Private profit making academies have infiltrated this children's sport, exploiting parents into paying huge fees under the belief if they pay, one day their child will play for Manchester United. All the while peak bodies like the belligerant and incompetent Eastern Suburbs Football Association just close a blind eye to this exploitation.

While Council's and Centennial Parklands believe they are subsidising children's sport run by volunteers, do not realise their grounds are subsidising the profits of private individuals. And he state's peak soccer body Football NSW sits there mute playing politics. This sport is substantially subsidised by the public. It must be accountable to the public. The only way to do so is through a parliamentary inquiry. This is what I told parliament. 

Tuesday 29 November 2016

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) - How the Liberals managed to destroy meaningful reform

It is unfortunate that the debate about principle all but disappeared when the NSW Parliament amended the Independent Commission Against Corruption Act, 1988, when parliament, in my view, in a misuse of legislative power, removed The Hon Justice Latham from her position as Commissioner.

It is contrary to principal for parliament to remove an independent statutory officer for no expressed reason. It would be just as improper for the parliament to remove the Solicitor-General, the Director of Public Prosecutions, a crown prosecutor, or a public defender by legislation, without reason. All the government managed to do was to leave it open to criticism that it was motivated by retribution because the ICAC had dealt with adversely a number of Liberal Party members of parliament.

The debate has been about the Liberal governments motive, with informed commentators like Richard Ackland asserting in an opinon piece published in The Guardian on 24 November 2016:

"The wounds run deep, especially after Barry O’Farrell shot his premiership to death by providing an incorrect answer to the commission in a separate but related matter.
Icac’s parliamentary oversight committee, dominated by politicians from the right of the spectrum, soon got to work. Its job was ably assisted by two other factors: Icac’s inspector, the former judge David Levine; and the commission’s attempted investigation into allegations against senior crown prosecutor Margaret Cunneen, which ended up being stuck down by the high court."
I am a member of the "ICAC parliamentary oversight committee" and together with my Labor colleagues spent more than 12 months listening to evidence, considering submission, and receiving briefings from the architects of ICAC some 28 years ago. I can assure the public in the words of Bruce McClintock SC who undertook a review of ICAC in 2005, and again with former Chief Justice of the High Court Murray Gleeson in 2015:
"Anyone who thinks that a weaker ICAC will result from these changes and is tempted to use an official position for private gain will be in for an unpleasant surprise."
As Mr McClintock said in an opinion published in the Sydney Morning Herald on 24 November 2016 entitled "The changes to the ICAC will make it more effective" at
"Critically, the reform of the ICAC has not come at the expense of any of its powers to investigate, expose and prevent corruption. There is no watering down of the ICAC's extensive powers.

Change is rarely easy, and these reforms are no exception. However, once implemented, they will deliver a more effective and robust ICAC."

All the Liberal government has done, through its own incompetence, through the misuse of legislative power, brought the whole process into disrepute, as well as the very organisation that the community should have confidence in.

I wanted the parliament to debate principle. The video of my contribution to the debate is here:

Monday 5 September 2016

Legal Aid without leadership for 4 months

The NSW Attorney-General left Legal Aid without a board of directors for four months earlier this year, failing one of her basic responsibilities.

Legal Aid, which provides vital legal services to disadvantaged groups, was left without a board from 17th February 2016 to 23rd June 2016 – a third of this year.

The leadership of the Legal Aid Commission is by a board appointed by the Attorney-General which then goes through a Cabinet process.

In February, the terms of all appointed members had expired and the papers for new appointments were reportedly left ‘lying on the Attorney’s desk’.

During Budget Estimates hearings today Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton refused to deny she had the appointments sitting on her desk for months and couldn’t explain why the board was left unable to function.

While Ms Upton admitted these appointments are “important”, she avoided answering the question of why the new appointments had been ignored.

The Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch said that this displays the Government’s complete contempt for the important work done by Legal Aid. He said:

“The Attorney-General literally had years of notice of the board’s members terms expiring but she managed to forget to appoint new members. It’s incomprehensible. This is pretty basic. If you can’t trust a Minister to keep boards appointed, why would you trust them to do anything more serious?”

Friday 26 August 2016

Auditor General Slams Baird government over ineffective "Red Tape" reduction

In a report embarrassing Mike Baird and his government the NSW Auditor General has exposed the lack of competence of the government in their measures to reduce red tape as ineffective after they increased the regulatory burden by $16.1 million.

The Liberal-National Government, the self proclaimed party of small business has been embarrassed by the report into red tape reduction which found that the regulatory burden faced by small businesses has increased after the Government introduced changes in 2011. The report states:

"Overall, NSW Government initiatives and processes to prevent and reduce red tape were not effective. Reported red tape savings were inaccurate and the regulatory burden of legislation increased."

The report highlighted that the overall net legislative burden increased by $16.1 million after significant legislative reforms were introduced. The Auditor General also reported that many of the regulatory repeals did little to assist businesses facing regulatory burden as they targeted legislation with little to no regulatory burden rather than legislation impeding businesses.

The complexity of legislation also increased during the last five years. The number of pages of legislation – usually used to highlight how complex a piece of legislation is – increased over the life of the policy by 1.4 per cent per year on average. Before the policy was implemented, the previous ten years had a reduction of legislative complexity of 1.1 per cent per year on average.

Earlier this year the Government attempted to claim that it’s Learning Management Business Reform (LMBR) program would save the community $11,384,605 through red tape reductions despite the program running $95 million over budget, three years late, rolled out to only in one in ten schools and plagued with a host of problems.

I have made the point repeatedly. This government is just not competent. Just being a "nice guy" is not the political leadership that this state requires. Mike Baird is just another one of those politicians who actions just do not match his rhetoric, and we will all be the losers because of it.

Monday 2 May 2016

The Baird NSW government stands condemned for dropping a rule requiring registered nurses in aged care

The NSW Labor has Opposition has rightly criticised the Baird Government for dropping a rule requiring registered nurses in aged care to be on duty 24-7 – saying it will affect the safety of nursing home residents and will clog the State’s over-stretched emergency departments.

On late-Friday afternoon (April 29), the Baird Government – in response to a NSW Parliamentary inquiry into the requirement that nursing homes in NSW must have a registered nurse on duty around the clock – confirmed that it was dropping the rule.

This was despite the parliamentary inquiry recommending the Baird Government retain the regulation.  Doctors, nurses, the Labor Opposition and various medical bodies as well as groups representing seniors and nursing home residents all demanded the regulation remain.

Shadow Health Minister Walt Secord said the Baird Government had put the commercial interests of nursing home operators ahead of patient safety.

Mr Secord said the Baird Government decision was “deplorable” and called on the Premier Mike Baird to reverse the decision by the NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner – which was confirmed on late Friday afternoon, and I agree with him.

Registered nurses are able to provide higher levels of pain relief and can dispense some medications and undertake certain procedures that other aged care workers are not allowed to; this prevents residents being sent to hospital prematurely.

Mr Secord said the parliamentary committee heard evidence that aged care facilities were taking nursing home residents to emergency departments when they did not have registered nurses on staff.

Mr Secord added that without the regulation, nursing home residents would have to wait hours or days for pain relief or wait to be transferred to hospital. He said:

"NSW Health Minister Jillian Skinner owes it to older Australians to protect them by resisting commercial for-profit aged care providers who want to reduce oversight and protections like requiring registered nurses.”

"Sadly, the evidence of the parliamentary committee lined up in two disparate groups - those who wanted to protect nursing residents and those who wanted to protect the rivers of profit flowing into the pockets of commercial aged care providers."

“I am very disappointed the Baird Government has sided with commercial aged care providers over nursing home residents.”

“Having a registered nurse on duty also gives other nurses extra support, back-up and experience when it comes to making decisions involving the welfare of aged care residents.”

Wednesday 27 April 2016

NSW Liberal Government’s WestConnex Fails Own Conditions of Approval

The State Government’s flawed WestConnex road project cannot meet the State Government’s own conditions of approval, and local Councils should commence legal action to prevent construction from proceeding.

What the State Government has done calls into question whether this project, mired in controversy since its inception, can continue in the face of a potentially devastating legal challenge.

I want all the local Councils in my electorate, that oppose this multi-billion dollar project to launch a legal challenge based on the State Government’s own imposed conditions of approval.

We can have all the high profile public protests, civil disobedience and street marches we want, but the way to actually stop this project is in the Land & Environment Court.”

The conditions laid out in the project approval by the Minister for Planning, Rob Stokes, on 20 April 2016 contained one condition, B.43, which, in effect, casts doubt on the future of the project.

I don’t know why the Minister imposed this condition but he did, and by putting his signature on the approval, he brings the entire project into question.

Condition B.43 requires that the project, on balance, be designed to improve traffic by:
"not adversely impacting on:
a) the performance of the road network for all road users, including but not limited to vehicles, freight, public transport and active transport and
b) existing access arrangements and services for all road users, including consideration of speed and reliability of public transport services.”

Given the scope and impact on local streets and roads by WestConnex, this condition will not, and cannot, be met. As the condition states that WestConnex should not adversely impact on the existing road network and on all road users, then the Government is suggesting, by its own conditions of approval, that there will be no impact.

A visit to Rabbi Dovid Slavin and Family

As Jews have been celebrating the 8 day festival of #‎Passover‬, I hope you had a wonderful Seder. The ‪#‎Seder‬ is a ritual performed by Jews who gather all generations of families and friends who retell of the story of the liberation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt.

Just before Passover I visited inspirational Rabbi Dovid Slavin, from Our Big Kitchen  and his family at his home to see the magnificence of the decorations of his Seder table which I am sure was decorated by his charming wife Laya and his family. Thank you Rabbi Slavin for the gift of Shmurah Matzah for my Seder table

Mascot Central - a shining example on how to increase residential density adjacent to railway stations

I recently opened Meriton’s landmark development called Mascot Central. Mascot Central - Apartments & Shopping Mall nearing completion adjoins Mascot Train Station. Higher densities adjacent to railway stations that provide for quality residential amenity for families is one way to address the chronic housing shortage. The speech I gave at the opening is here:

Friday 15 April 2016

Mascot RSL ANZAC Memorial March Sunday

It was a lovely morning today at sunny Mascot Station with cheery locals stopping by to say hello.
I took the opportunity to remind evryone that this Sunday, 17 April, of the Mascot RSL Sub-branch will hold its ‪#‎ANZAC‬ Memorial March and Service. The march leaves Baxter Rd at 2:15 pm and finishes at Memorial Park, on the corner of Botany Road and Coward Street for the wreath laying service. I would delighted if residents could join me. It is quite a sight to see Botany Road closed to traffice for the march. If you can't make the march join me at Mascot Memorial Park. 

Rosebery could soon have three bottleshops within 600 metres of each other

Rosebery could soon have three bottleshops within 600 metres of each other, including a Dan Murphy's. 

I have written to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to voice my concerns regarding the proposed application to relocate a packaged liquor licence to Botany Road, Rosebery, trading as a Dan Murphy's liquor outlet. In my letter I warned the Authority of the adverse implications to local amenity of having three bottleshops so close to one another. Particularly the potential proliferation of alcohol related anti social behaviour on residential streets and the popular Turruwul Park. 

You can read my submission on this link:

Sunday 10 April 2016

Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette

Heffron residents should have received my April 2016 Newsletter entitled Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette. The Newsletter is available for download at

Tuesday 1 March 2016

The Battle of Waterloo - 3000 public housing tenants to be kicked out of their homes.

Channel 9's 'A Current Affair' has exposed plans by the NSW Liberal Government in kicking out 3000 of my Waterloo public housing constituents as the shameful sham that it is.

Ask yourself this question? Why do you need a 'Metro Station' in Waterloo near Botany Road to transport people into the City or Sydenham when they live 10 minutes walk from Redfern Station, 10 minutes walk from Green Square Station, and 2 minutes walk to Botany Road to catch a bus?

Please tell me why an incompetent government has now the buses into the city running along side the train lines into the city? Please tell me why you now plan to also run a 'Metro' line into the city? 3 forms of public transport all parallel to each other.

Please tell me if you are going to spend money on an underground 'Metro' at that location and why would you not run a line through Danks Street and Crystal Street, Waterloo and continue on to Zetland, Victoria Park and Rosebery which is the largest urban renewal in Australia's history with 70,000 extra people to be accommodated and where no adequate public transport exists?

The answer is simply because this is just a smoke screen to hand over public housing land to developers for profit. There will be 30% of this wonderful mixed development set aside for "social  housing" in 20 years time and the residents will come back. Most are in their 70's and it is their home.

My view this is really is a disgraceful smoke screen to mask the Liberals true intention. Mike Baird comes across as a nice guy, and he is. But that nice guy image masks the true philosophy of this conservative profit driven merchant banker.

Have a look at the attitude in the 'Current Affair' story of the Minister for Social Housing, Brad Hazzard and ask yourself whether my constituents would be better off trusting this government. 

Monday 29 February 2016

Forced Council mergers are a breach of faith - what about their poor behaviour in parliament

I spoke out in parliament against the dishonest and shoddy process of forced Council mergers being undertaken by the NSW Liberal Government.

This process is a breach of faith with the people of NSW and a betrayal of everyone who believed the Liberal Party and National Party who promised in writing there would be no forced amalgamations. No wonder people are disillusioned with politicians like Mike Baird who is just like Tony Abbott. Written promises by the Liberals mean nothing.

Just have a look in parliament at the behaviour of the Liberal/National government members in the House. Their behaviour says it all.

Government cuts to the public service have left it a shell of its former self

More cuts to the NSW public service by the Liberals in NSW. For 30 years I have witnessed the long term degradation of the public service through endless cuts robbing the public service of their talent and expertise to such an extent that can't replace a toilet roll without a consultants report and outsourcing the responsibility to the private sector.

It might be a tongue in cheek remark, but the structural decay of the public service, owing largely to successive and deep cuts and 'efficiencies' in the bureaucracy, has meant that the expertise and knowledge that Government's rely on to execute their agenda has been slowly whittled away, to the point that departments are forced to outsource to consultants and private contractors because they simply lack the knowledge and manpower to do their jobs.

Projects like WestConnex, the Light Rail and the Metro should be part of a long-term carefully developed plan for the future of NSW, not the result of outsourcing to the private sector. This loss of expertise in the public service has meant that the private sector are deciding the projects they want to build and where they want to build them which depend upon profit, not good public policy

The public service, often maligned by portions of the media and public figures, are essential to the ongoing operation and stability of the government of the State. They are the Government's expertise and we can't afford to keeping cutting the State's experts from our departments. I made some observations in parliament in relation to this just last week. See what you think.

Thursday 11 February 2016

Waterloo Metro Station in the wrong place - ridiculous

The NSW Liberal Government’s newly announced location for the proposed Sydney Metro railway station at Waterloo as ‘short-sighted’, and demonstrates complete lack on insight on to how to solve Sydney's Transport problems.

The proposed site for the new Sydney Metro railway station will be built underground between Botany Road and Cope Street, south of Raglan Street. It showns again the Baird Government is running blind when it comes to providing public transport infrastructure for Sydney and the commuting public.

Why you would place a railway station just 10 minutes’ walk north of Redfern Railway Station and 10 minutes’ walk south of Green Square Railway Station is beyond me?

The proposed location is also within 100 metres of a bus stop located on Botany Road that service commuters with direct runs to and from Central and other city centres.

The underground Metro station would be better placed around the vicinity of Danks Street and Crystal Street, Waterloo, where the influx of thousands of new residents in high density apartments have meant current bus services do not have the capacity to  meet demand.

Tens of thousands of new residents have moved into the vicinity of Danks Street, Bourke Street and Crystal Street. I am inundated with calls from residents living around the Bourke Street and Dank Street precincts for more bus services because they are tired of having to fight for a spot on a bus each morning.

Placing the Sydney Metro railway station around the Danks Street and Crystal Street precinct would provide residents with much needed public transport options and remove cars from gridlocked street.

Danks Street and Crystal Street is also a short 10 minute walk from East Village, Zetland, where fifty thousand of new residents are slated to move in, again with limited options for public transport.

The Ministers making these decisions haven’t taken the time to look at what the community needs and have got it wrong again.

Monday 8 February 2016

Government Must Extend Auditor General’s Powers to Social Housing

The NSW Auditor General’s Power to be extended to maintain confidence in Social Housing. The Auditor General does not currently have the power to investigate whether the public is receiving value for money where the NSW Liberal Government has divested public sector assets and/or contracting services.

With the expectation that a significant stock of public housing assets will be transferred to non-government organisations it is essential that the Government acts now to ensure the public maintains full confidence in our social housing programs.

The independent office of the Auditor General should have its powers of investigation extended to permit the financial and performance audit of any private sector or not-for-profit organisation which has been the beneficiary of a government asset or contract.

The Audit Office has long argued for this extension of powers across various submissions to the NSW Government.

The problem is we don’t know if taxpayers are seeing any value for money. The NSW Government hasn’t undertaken a proper cost-benefit or performance review to determine if transferring the operation of public housing to private operators is effective. 

I’m not totally opposed to extending contracts, when it can be shown to to of benefit, to private and not-for-profit operators, but the public and the Parliament have a right to know the facts. It’s imperative that the public maintains confidence in social housing and the Government should act immediately to give the Auditor General the scope needed to properly relay this information to the Parliament.”