Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Vale Edward Gough Whitlam - Our greatest Australian

Today Australia lost its greatest ever leader. A leader that inspired Australia. A leader that captured Australians imagination. A leader that made all Australians proud to be an Australian.

Elected on 2 December 1972 with a campaign entitled; "It's time" the television add shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9jykIqQxEOw still inspires me today as it did 39 years ago.

I must confess like so many other "Baby Boomers" from working class families that I was able to obtain a tertiary education as a result of Gough Whitlam's free education policies. I did not have to participate in the conscription lottery as the Whitlam Labor government was elected only months before I would have been considered for conscription.

However, it is not about the benefit I received from Gough Whitlam and his government. It is about the benefit to all Australians. It is hard to imagine today how opposed the vested interests were to universal health insurance. Labor had to go to a double dissolution election and have the bills passed by a historic joint sittings of the Federal Parliament for Medibank to be introduced. His visit to China at the height of the "cold war" sent the US Nixon Administration and the reactionary forces in Australia "tropo." Mr Whitlam changed Australia forever in its treatment of  Australians,  Family Law, human rights, foreign policy, health, and immigration.

I remember his bringing Australia's security services to heel with Attorney General Lionel Murphy's visit to ASIO Headquarters in Melbourne reminding them they service Australia through its democratically elected parliament.

Interestingly his dismissal during the constitutional crisis by Governor General John Kerr was predicated on what was known as the "loans affair" as the Whitlam government wanted Australia's resources owned and developed by Australians. Mr Whitlam was a great parliamentarian who demonstrated enormous respect for the parliament and its its conventions.

In his short 3 years as Prime Minister from 2 December 1972 to 11 November 1975 he transformed and inspired a nation with legacies that will last forever. Only great leaders do that. Gough was the greatest. Vale E G Whitlam.

Monday, 20 October 2014

LABOR ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR COMMUNITY LANGUAGE SCHOOLS IN HEFFRON WITH $2.5 MILLION FUNDING BOOST

NSW Labor has announced the largest ever funding boost to Community Language Schools across NSW which will provide the more than 30,000 students, as well as teachers and volunteers who attend and operate the schools more support and resources.

Under a Labor Government, funding for these schools will be boosted by more than $75 per student to $200 per student – leaving NSW Community Language Schools with the largest funding package of any state in Australia.

Community Language Schools offer classes in 56 different community languages and are open to any school-aged student from a government, Catholic or independent school. The classes are held outside normal school hours and help students learn and use their community language or learn a new language.

Labor’s funding commitment represented a 62 per cent increase in funding and would bring the total investment to $6.5 million a year.

Labor is committed to ensuring that students from different cultural backgrounds have the chance to develop skills in another language.

Labor’s $2.5 million funding boost will help Community Language Schools attract and retain teachers with specialist language skills to continue educating the thousands of students who attend these schools.

Thousands of young people around the state attend a community language school outside of regular school hours each week, because students and their families know the importance of being multilingual.

These schools not only to help young people connect with their cultural background and communicate with older relatives, but also help students who are preparing for the HSC or learning a language for the first time.

The community in Heffron benefit from NUMBER of schools where students are learning Greek, Turkish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Czech and Slovak - and I am proud to confirm that a Labor Government will increase support to these schools that our communities in Heffron rely on.

Labor’s $2.5 million funding commitment will mean that these and the other Community Language Schools across the state will be the best funded in Australia.

I am proud that under Labor, our community language schools will be the best-funded in the country, to reflect the importance of our multicultural communities.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Pedestrian Crossing for Beaconsfield & Rosebery residents and employees

After a considerable amount of lobbying to the Minister for Roads, a pedestrian crossing on Botany Road between Queen Street and Morley Avenue will finally be installed.

Not long after my election in 2012, a local resident contacted me and took me to stand with her as we watched pedestrians play chicken with the heavy traffic on Botany Road as they tried to get to and from the bus stop, or make a purchase from the IGA or the chemist.

I didn’t take much convincing that the community’s concerns were totally justified and something had to be done. 

From that day, with the support of the community, I constantly lobbied the Minister for Roads, asking for a crossing along Botany Road. I extended an invitation for him to personally visit the site so he could see for himself the danger that residents and local workers face every day. The RMS obliged and inspected the area.

Truthfully, I guenuinely feared for pedestrian safety. It is the only road that I am frightened to cross at that location.

This is why I was so delighted when it was confirmed that a crossing with traffic signals will be installed on Botany Road at Beaconsfield Street, this location will minimise traffic interruption and allow cars on Beaconsfield Street to finally turn right safely onto Botany Road.

It will provide a significant amount of relief to both local residents and the many workers employed by local businesses in the area.

This is a great community win in the name of common sense and safety.

Friday, 17 October 2014

THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE BLUE MOUNTAINS BUSHFIRES

As the one year anniversary of the bushfires that devastated the Blue Mountains community is upon us, I take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank the emergency service men and women who assisted those affected by the disaster.

It was a community-wide effort and whether it is the service men and women who faced the wrath of the fires, those who assisted with evacuating residents or those who provided emergency assistance in the form of shelter, food or clothing, their contribution was appreciated and invaluable during the crisis.

I commend the efforts of the emergency service personnel who were present in the Blue Mountains community and assisted with the clean-up long after the last of the fires was extinguished. As the reality hit for many of the residents who lost everything, it was the support of the Rural Fire Service, the State Emergency Service and many other groups that provided peace of mind for the victims of this terrible tragedy.

Our hearts broke every time we heard news that another home had been destroyed and in true form, Australians united and donated money and goods at an unprecedented rate. 

The rebuilding effort of the Blue Mountains community and their tenacity during what has been described as the worst disaster in their history is astounding. I praise the Blue Mountains community for rallying together during the recovery period. It is a testament to the Blue Mountains community and their strong sense of community spirit that many have decided to rebuild and begin a new chapter in the very place that they lost everything. 

NSW Labor will continue to support the residents of the Blue Mountains as they go forward with their recovery efforts.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

St Michael's Parish Daceyville International Feast Day Celebrations

My wife Christine and I were delighted to join Matt Thistlethwaite MP at St Michael's Catholic Church Daceyville which held their International Feast Day Celebrations.

Todays celebrations incorporated the 50th Anniversary of Ordination to the Priesthood of Father Anthony Simari (retired 17 July 2014 and the 60th Birthday of Farther Jerzy Chrzczonowicz, Parish Priest. St Michael's Daceyville is a wonderful Parish with a community that has alway warmly welcomed me for very many years.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

'Will somebody not rid me of this troublesome Lord Mayor?' - Liberals are just desperate

Desperation is the word to describe the attempts by the Liberal/National Parties this week to try and silence me of one of their most embarrassing attempts to rort the Sydney City Council voting system to try and rid Sydney City of its popularly elected Lord Mayor, Clover Moore.

In 2012 these desperadoes changed the Local Government law to stop any Member of the NSW Parliament from being elected to the council. Certain they were that the Lord Mayor, who was also the state Member for Sydney would opt to resign the Lord Mayoralty in the hope to elect a Liberal as Lord Mayor.

To their utter suprise Clover Moore was elected as Lord Mayor of Sydney overwhelmingly and resigned from the NSW Parliament.

Then to their utter suprise, thinking that the reactionary forces could win the seat of Sydney vacated by Cr. Moore, Alex Greenwich support ed by Cr Moore was easily elected.

A government with any brains would have woken up that they were outsmarted, not by Clover Moore, but by democracy, when the people overwhelming rejected the Liberals in two elections so convincingly. No this mob. Now they have tried to rort the election system by forcing all businesses to vote at council elections, fine them if they do not go on the electorate roll, and fine them if they do not vote. On top of that any business will get 2 votes. A resident will only get 1 vote.

So desperate and obvious were they, I can do no better than quote the ABC's respected psephologist when he said; 'Will somebody not rid me of this troublesome Lord Mayor?' on 5 September 2014. He said in effect that the law was directed by malice towards Cr. Moore.

I have included below the Handsard of my contribution, which includes the Deputy Speaker trying to silence me as the the Liberals motivation. These Liberals and Nationals should not only be ashamed of themselves, they should be embarrassed. The edited video of my speech is here http://youtu.be/ru21eK4CAyU

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) [8.49 p.m.]: "Will somebody not rid me of this troublesome Lord Mayor?" tweeted Antony Green on 5 September this year. Why does the Government not have the honesty and integrity to stand up and say that the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014 is about getting rid of Clover Moore? We tried in 2012 when we amended the Local Government Act and we expected Clover Moore to resign or not to contest the City of Sydney council elections. But she did what the Tories never expected: She resigned her membership of this House. Why does the Government not say that that is what this bill is all about, and everything else is a ruse? This concept of copying the Melbourne system and somehow justifying creating an electoral roll—

Mr Gareth Ward: Point of order: I am looking at the bill and Standing Order 76 springs to mind because I do not see the name "Clover Moore" anywhere in this legislation. The member for Heffron should return to the leave of the bill rather than ranting about what he thinks the bill is about.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I am sure the member for Heffron will direct his remarks to the leave of the bill.

Mr RON HOENIG: The voting system creating two business votes is designed specifically for that purpose, and for no other. I was about to refer to the committee that the member for Kiama chaired, which made recommendations based upon the Melbourne model—and which the member for Ku-ring-gai did not know about when he made his contribution to this debate. The chairman of the Victorian Electoral Matters Committee has recommended to the Victorian Government that it repeal the provision because it has not worked in Melbourne local government. In trying to get rid of Clover Moore, the Tories are like Lady Macbeth: Out, damned spot. No member of this House, no member of the other place and no Executive Government has been able to get rid of her for 34 years; she has outsmarted them all. She has outsmarted the Tories and she has outsmarted the Labor Party.

I have watched her for 34 years outsmarting Bill Hartup, the former Mayor of South Sydney; I saw her outsmart the former Lord Mayor of Sydney, Doug Sutherland; and I saw her outsmart and embarrass the Tories when she beat the up and coming Michael Yabsley to become the member for Bligh. I observed her as the member for Sydney. She outsmarted Eric Roozendaal when he was general secretary and thought the Labor Party could take control of the Council of the City of Sydney. When he joined South Sydney Council and the Council of the City of Sydney he created the environment for Clover Moore to be elected Lord Mayor of Sydney, thinking that somehow or other the Labor Party could sneak through the middle. Now the Tories are doing what every other government has tried for 80 years—

Mr Andrew Fraser: Point of order: Mr Deputy-Speaker, I draw your attention to Standing Order 76. Clover Moore has been mentioned in debate but the member for Heffron should be drawn back to the leave of the bill, which is the City of Sydney Amendment (Elections) Bill 2014. Clover Moore is not mentioned in the legislation. The member for Heffron should return to the leave of the bill and discuss its clauses, not Clover Moore.

Mr Michael Daley: To the point of order: Clover Moore, the Lord Mayor of Sydney, was mentioned several times during the second reading speech and several times again in debate in the Legislative Council today. When bills of such significance come before this place—particularly a bill that seeks to change a voting system—it has been customary for a century to discuss the Government's motivations in respect of the propositions raised. It is absurd for a Government member to suggest that the Lord Mayor of Sydney is not relevant to a bill that deals with the voting system for the City of Sydney.

Mr Gareth Ward: To the point of order: Referring to our code of conduct, the person to whom the member for Heffron refers does not have the capacity to respond in this place. She is no longer a member of this House and she is not mentioned in the bill. The member should be drawn back to the leave of the bill, which relates to election procedures for the City of Sydney.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! Former speakers Kelly, Ellis and Lamb have ruled previously that the second reading debate should be relevant to the objects of the bill and to the Minister's speech. The Clerk has given me a copy of the second reading speech and the Lord Mayor, Clover Moore, was mentioned in that speech in the other place.

Mr RON HOENIG: That is clearly the motivation for this bill. This Government and all the governments before it have not liked this particular Lord Mayor of Sydney. But she has outsmarted them again. I may not like her planning policies; I might support Councillor Linda Scott, a member of the City of Sydney council, who I thought might have been a better Lord Mayor. But in 2012 the people in the city council area, which includes a substantial part of my electorate, elected Clover Moore with an overwhelming majority. Governments of the day have never accepted that for 34 years she has gained the overwhelming support of her constituents. She must be doing something right.

I give the Minister for Local Government this warning: He will end up like every other Minister for Local Government because in 2016 Clover Moore will still be Lord Mayor and all his naked political attempts to remove her, just like those of his predecessors, will have fallen flat. The Government is not motivated by local government reform. It has gone through the process of conducting all these reviews—independent review panels, Kumbayas in the country, at a cost of about $300,000, getting Stephen Blackadder and co. to rewrite the Act; all of it for the purposes of restructuring local government—and it wants to rush through this House now a bill that I will ask the House to consider in detail and to which the member for Sydney has 50-odd amendments. What is the hurry with this bill? There is no local government election for two years. There are five more weeks of sittings of this House. Yet the Government is rushing this bill through, saying that it has nothing to do with it because it is a Shooters and Fishers Party bill.

As Antony Green says in his blog, the Government is motivated by malice towards Clover Moore. The proposed voting system is designed to impact on the democratic processes of the City of Sydney, and it is doomed to failure. There is something that the reactionary forces have never understood about Clover Moore. Every time Alan Jones and Ray Hadley attack her about bike lanes, they push people in the City of Sydney to her. Every time they attack her, she is able to change the dynamics and the waverers are pushed into her hands. It does not matter where in the City of Sydney one goes—whether it is Rosebery, Alexandria, Waterloo, Redfern or Glebe—she resonates in those areas and turns everything said against her to her advantage. The Government wants to know whether the voting structure in the City of Sydney is representative and it has gone to a local government review panel for that purpose, But the Tories are stuck because there is nothing they can do about the city boundaries that will allow them to win an election. Mr Deputy-Speaker, may I seek an extension of time?

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! Whilst I ruled earlier about comments relating to Clover Moore, the member's entire contribution should not to be centred on that one issue. The member for Heffron will return to the leave of the bill.

[Extension of time agreed to.]

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I remind the member for Fairfield he is on three calls to order. Thirteen members of the Opposition and six members of the Government are on three calls to order.

The report of the independent review panel contains various options, structures and proposed amalgamations or boundary changes for the City of Sydney. Whichever way the boundaries of the City of Sydney move, one goes to either progressive or Labor territory, unless it is Woollahra. There is only one way to change the political balance and that relates to this bill. But it will not work. I caution the Minister that it will not work. Even the wording of the bill creates confusion, and prior to the 2016 local government elections the Minister will have to come back here to amend the legislation. Before the Government rushes the legislation through to service its reactionary masters, my caution is this. When Steven Blackadder and others were drafting the amendments to the Local Government Act as part of the review, why did the Government not give him the bill to examine? The Government has Professor Sansom; his committee was paid a couple of million dollars for a review. The Government should have shown him the bill. The Government should use some of the resources—

Mr Paul Toole: Your council made the submission when you were on it.

Mr RON HOENIG: How would the Minister know? The Minister would not know the way to Bathurst. He should utilise all the people on his payroll to look at the legislation. Why does he want to rush it through?

Mr Paul Toole: Maybe you should have looked at it when you were the mayor. Your council made the submission.

Mr RON HOENIG: Good. The Minister should consult Professor Sansom. Perhaps he is speaking a language that the Minister does not understand. That is the way to proceed if a local government voting system is to be substantially changed. The only motive for this bill is trying to get a predetermined result. Like Lady Macbeth, the Government will not be able to get the blood off its hands and Clover Moore will still be there.

Historic Joint sittings of the NSW Parliament

A very historical Joint Sittings of the NSW Parliament today to enable China's Governor of Guangdong, 
Zhu Xia Ordan to address parliament on Friday 19 September 2014