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.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Ron Hoenig's Heffron Gazette - June 2014

Heffron residents should have received the June 2014 edition of my newsletter called the "Ron Hoenig Heffron Gazette". It is available for download here

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Protect our Curfew and Cap at Sydney Airport

Like most of you and your neighbours, I was stunned by NSW Deputy Premier Andrew Stoner’s comments a few weeks ago, when he said the NSW Coalition Government would “vigorously” seek to increase the number of flights in to Sydney Airport and lift the curfew that is currently protecting the limited peace locals currently experience. 

Such a move would be disastrous to the way of life for people under the flight paths. I grew up in the shadow of aircraft landing and taking off from the east-west runway at Sydney Airport, and I’ve spent my entire working and public life trying to minimise the destructive effects excessive aircraft noise on individuals, and families. Now the NSW Coalition Government is seeking to increase the aircraft noise residents already deal with as part of their daily life. For those of us who put up with aircraft noise this is the worst possible news from the State Government.

Rather than lobby their federal colleagues in the Abbott Government to start work on a second airport for Sydney, the State Liberal Government has chosen to take the easy way out and place the burden of the aircraft noise solely on our shoulders. For all of us: enough is enough.

During the month of April alone, local residents endured the noise of 26,488 planes over our heads. If you feel that this noise is unreasonable, I encourage you to add your name to my petition calling on the NSW Coalition Government to reject this plan. Let them know exactly how we all feel about this senseless political move.

You may sign my one line petition at www.tinyurl.com/keepcurfew

I also encourage residents who feel continuously harassed by the aircraft noise to call the aircraft noise complaint hotline on 1800 802 584.

Please be assured that I will continue to advocate on behalf of local residents and our right to a little peace and quiet.