Thursday, 24 April 2014

Remember ANZAC Day tomorrow

Ron Hoenig MP talking to residents at Eastlakes 
I enjoyed being out and about in Eastlakes Shopping Center talking to residents about the issues that concern them. They really are quite unimpressed with the new "Merchant Banker" Premier who wants to do things like privatise public hospitals.

I took the opportunity to remind residents of ANZAC Day tomorrow with the nearest Dawn Service being at Booralee Park, Botany, corner Daniel and Bay Streets, commencing at 6am.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Remember ANZAC Day this Friday

I was out early this morning at Mascot Railway Station reminding Mascot residents of ANZAC Day this Friday and the Dawn Service at Botany.

ANZAC Day – 25 April – is probably Australia's most important national occasion. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.

In 1917, the word ANZAC meant someone who fought at Gallipoli. Now it is a National Day on which the lives of all Australians lost in war time are remembered. 

The spirit of ANZAC recognises the qualities of courage, mateship and sacrifice which were demonstrated at the Gallipoli landing.

It is the spirit of ANZAC, the hero's, the fallen and those who survived, who sacrificed everything in the name of freedom.

To residents of my electorate living in easy access to Booralee Park, Botany at the Corner of Daniel and Bay Streets, the Commemorative Dawn Service will commence at 6am.

Organised by those wonderful veterans of Botany and Mascot RSL, and generously supported by Botany Bay City Council, a gesture I know the community appreciates.

As a person who has been chosen by the people for public office for over three decades, first as Mayor then as a Member of Parliament, I am always conscious of the privilege to be elected by a free people is because of the sacrifice made by the men and women we honour on ANZAC Day. LEST WE FORGET

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

NSW Liberal government in chaos with four Ministers sacked - that now makes seven

Opposition Leader John Robertson today said Mike Baird’s Cabinet reshuffle – forced by the chaotic resignation of Barry O’Farrell last week – showed the Liberal Government was disarray.

Mr Robertson said Mike Baird has promoted and protected failed Ministers – and turned his back on the regions with two Ministers from the Hunter sacked and someone from Sydney appointed to the Hunter Ministry.

“This reshuffle has nothing to do with rejuvenation – this reshuffle was forced on the government by the resignation of a Premier last week ......” Mr Robertson said.

“We have now seen 7 ministers and a Premier sacked or resign in just 12 months – with this instability very different to what the community voted for in 2011.

“Mike Baird has promoted Brad Hazzard to the position of Attorney-General despite bungling the planning portfolio – and he has promoted Pru Goward despite overseeing cuts to caseworker numbers and leaving more vulnerable children at risk than ever before.

“We have also seen Mike Baird fail to remove Health Minister Jillian Skinner despite overseeing the longest wait time for elective surgery in the country and longer waiting times in emergency rooms.

“We also now have a Minister for Western Sydney who lives in Manly, a Minister for the Hunter who lives in Willoughby and a Minister for the Illawarra from Rockdale.

“Just eight weeks out from the NSW budget we now have a rookie Treasurer and Finance Minister.

“The last thing NSW needs is a Treasurer and Finance Minister on their L-plates – especially after Mike Baird himself made a billion dollar error with the budget in 2011.

“Today’s reshuffle shows just how out of touch Mike Baird is – with his new Cabinet not properly reflecting the whole of NSW.”

Mr Robertson said Mike Baird had also reduced the number of women in his Cabinet – another demonstration of just how out of touch he was with the community.

“Mike Baird should not be reducing the number of women in Cabinet,” Mr Robertson said.

“In only a few days we have already seen Mike Baird’s extreme agenda for NSW – with plans to privatise electricity, privatise hospitals and increase the GST.

“Mike Baird is now in charge of a government in disarray and chaos – with extreme plans that will only hurt families across the state.”

Hunter representation removed from NSW Cabinet under Mike Baird's reshuffle

The Hunter region has fared terribly in Mike Baird’s crisis-driven cabinet reshuffle – with no one from the Hunter left sitting at the Cabinet table to fight for local hospitals, schools and community services.

Maitland MP Robyn Parker and Upper Hunter MP George Souris have been dumped from the Ministry, leaving the region with no Ministers.

Mike Baird has also given the responsibility of Minister for the Hunter to Gladys Berejiklian – who is based on Sydney’s north shore.

“Mike Baird is taking the Hunter’s money back to Sydney while depriving it of even a single voice in the Cabinet,” Opposition Leader John Robertson said today.

“At a time when the Liberal Government has cut funding from Hunter hospitals, TAFE and child protection services – and left key transport and urban projects undelivered – it defies belief that the region’s representation has been eliminated.

“You need that local voice prepared to go into bat for the Hunter around the Cabinet table.

“Mike Baird is clearly someone more at home on the north shore of Sydney than mixing it around the State.

“The new Premier is clearly out of touch with the Hunter community – and the lack of Hunter representation in his Cabinet is bad news for the region.”

Mr Robertson noted that the Liberal Government’s track record in the Hunter over the last three years includes:
  • Breaking its word and privatising the Port of Newcastle – with most proceeds sent to prop up the Government’s coffers in Sydney instead of reinvested locally;
  • Cutting the Newcastle Rail Line at Wickham;
  • Cutting $88 million from the Hunter New England health budget via labour expense savings;
  • Leaving the region’s ambulance network in crisis, with response times nearly twice the State average;
  • Failure to reopen the John Hunter public eye clinic or begin work on a new Hunter hospital;
  • Failure to fund the Newcastle Art Gallery refurbishment;
  • Removal of the HSC syllabus across Hunter TAFE – as well as key courses such as hospitality, tourism, welding and boat building;
  • Funding cuts to 21 schools across the Hunter and Central Coast, including Morisset High School, Fennell Bay Public School (Lake Macquarie); Lakeside School and Windale Public School (Charlestown); Woodberry Public School, Tenambit Public School and Hunter River Community School (Maitland).
  • Hunter child protection services left in crisis with 28 caseworker vacancies – the highest number of vacancies of any region in NSW.
Shadow Minister for the Hunter Sonia Hornery said: “There are now no locals left in in the Cabinet to fight for the critical funding needs of Hunter hospitals, community services, schools and TAFE.”

“With the change of Planning Minister, key projects such as the Newcastle urban renewal strategy have been left in limbo.

“Maitland has lost its only voice around the Cabinet table.

“Mike Baird has shown in only a few days that he has an extreme plan to privatise electricity, privatise hospitals and broaden the GST – all things that will hurt Hunter families.”

Child protection a mess in NSW

The NSW Ombudsman earlier this month issued a devastating report on child protection services in this state.

The Ombudsman’s report found:
  • “Young people continuing to get lost in the system”. (p6)
  • “The statutory child protection system is still struggling to meet the demands placed on it”. (p8)
  • “Response rates will remain inadequate without the injection of further targeted resources”. (p13)
Shadow Minister for Family and Community Services Linda Burney said today that the Ombudsman's report had prompted Labor to demand the Minister, Pru Goward be removed from the portfolio.

Following MS Goward's removal from the portfolio today and being appointed Minister for Planning, Ms Burney said; “The decision to remove Pru Goward from Community Services is appropriate and one that Labor has long demanded – however it is extraordinary that she has been rewarded for her incompetence.”

“The NSW Ombudsman has shined a light on the full extent of the crisis in NSW child protection,” Ms Burney said.

Ms Burney called on the new Minister Gabrielle Upton to commit to implementing all the Ombudsman’s recommendations and righting the child protection tragedy that is unfolding across our State.

Monday, 14 April 2014

Mascot RSL ANZAC March and Commemorative Ceremony

The pouring rain did not deter the hundreds of people who marched and attended Mascot Memorial Park yesterday afternoon for the Annual ANZAC Commemoration Ceremony organised by Mascot RSL who were joined by Botany RSL.

As Police closed Botany Road to traffic, the March led by The Clan MacLeod Pipe Band and the flag bearers, I and my parliamentary colleagues, Michael Daley MP Member for Maroubra, and Matt Thistlethwaite MP Federal Member for Kingsford Smith, were honoured to join our Veterans, their families and the families of the fallen.

The wonderful community spirit was so evident despite the falling rain. People young and old participated in the march. There were soldiers, scouts and cubs, girl guides, school children from Mascot Public School, St Therese Mascot, and J J Cahill Memorial High School, residents of Windgap, and local councillors. There was also Pagewood Botany Football Club generously providing a free sausage sizzle to the hundreds of children.

It was touching that so many in the Mascot, Rosebery and Botany Community were there to honour the memory and sacrifice that our serving men and women have given to Australia in the name of freedom. Lest we forget.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Redfern RSL Commemoration of ANZAC

It was extraordinary how the rain just stopped this Sunday morning just as The Redfern RSL Commemoration of ANZAC ceremony was about to commence at Redfern Park.

The printed order of service contained on the front page contained a reminder to all those blessed to be living in a free society, a quote from 1817 by US President Thomas Jefferson; "The Price of Liberty is 'Eternal Vigilance".

Chaplain Stephen Estherby RAN lead the prayer service and the very moving ANZAC Address was given by Michael Wilkinson, the Sub Branch Vice President. Attended by our veterans and the family of veterans and the fallen, Cr John Mant representing Sydney City Council, as always I felt privileged to stand with the men and women who gave us our nation .. our freedom .. to  honour the memory of those who paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom. Lest we forget.