In the News
The spirit of the Hills community was on clear display at the ninth Relay for Life event held at the Castle Hill Showground.
The enthusiasm in raising over $200,000 in funds for the Cancer Council was matched by the commitment to support those with cancer, their families, friends and carers.
Thank you to the organisers, the volunteers, sponsors and team members whose commitment made this such a great community event. We are truly fortunate in the Hills to have so many people who willingly give up their time for important events such as the Relay for Life.
Congratulations to Jason Francis and Ingrid Helf who walked from Bathurst to Castle Hill Showground to raise funds for the fight against cancer. Mention should also be made of Team Bunny who were the winners of the inaugural team spirit award.
12 May 2010
The Federal Member for Mitchell, Alex Hawke, was this week elected as the Deputy Chair of the Federal Parliament’s new Joint Select Committee on Cyber-Safety.
The terms of reference cover a broad spectrum of issues, including methods and approaches to combating online threats.
“The online environment has provided a tremendous means of communication and an unprecedented exchange of information and ideas,” Mr Hawke said.
“There are also well-known threats, and how we protect ourselves and our children from illegal and inappropriate content is one of the great challenges we face in coming years.”
Mr Hawke thanked the many local residents who have passed their opinions regarding cyber-safety issues to him. In particular there has been a growing concern about the Government’s plans to filter the internet.
“There is a clear and deeply held concern in the community about how we protect ourselves and our children in the online environment,” Mr Hawke said.
“However this concern is matched by fears that in protecting ourselves, we might enact draconian methods which might not work as intended, would censor the internet, and prevent access to legal and inoffensive content.
“I look forward to working as Deputy Chair if the Cyber-Safety Committee, and will bring the views and concerns of residents throughout the Hills community to my work in this role,” Mr Hawke said.
More information regarding the Cyber-Safety Committee, including the terms of reference are available at: http://www.aph.gov.au/house/committee/jscc/tor.htm
The Committee consists of twelve Members of Parliament and Senators. Convention has that a Government Member or Senator is appointed as Committee Chair and an Opposition Member or Senator as Deputy Chair.
“This is another big taxing, big spending Labor Budget, with no serious reform,” said the Federal Member for Mitchell, Alex Hawke.
“The Government has not taken a single tough decision to rein in its reckless and wasteful spending.
“The Budget’s return to surplus relies upon a great big new tax on Australia’s resources sector, not tough decisions. Kevin Rudd’s mining tax is a dagger to the heart of the Australian economy, putting major projects at risk and sending jobs offshore.
“Mr Rudd and Mr Swan want to sacrifice Australia’s future economic prosperity to improve the numbers in this Budget’s bottom line.
“Spending in this Budget will increase by $26 billion over the next three years relative to last year’s record spending forecast. The Government will have to borrow over $700 million a week to fund its reckless and wasteful spending – putting upward pressure on interest rates and the cost of living for Australian families in the Hills,” Mr Hawke said.
“The peak debt bill of $93.7 billion will be the amount owed by the Australian people to pay for Kevin Rudd’s spending spree.
“The Budget also exposes the costs of the Government’s waste, mismanagement and policy failures.
“There has been a $1 billion Budget blowout as a result of Kevin Rudd weakening Australia’s borders and $1 billion will be spent to fix Labor’s tragic home insulation mess,” Mr Hawke said.
“The Budget confirms that Kevin Rudd’s health policies will be about more bureaucrats and not better services. The Government will spend around $500 million to establish new layers of Commonwealth bureaucracy. In less than a month, Kevin Rudd has broken his promise of no net increase in health bureaucrats,” Mr Hawke said.
“Having broken his election promise and built just two of 36 GP super clinics, Kevin Rudd is now asking the Australian people to trust him when he says he will build 23 more.
“The Labor Budget does not invest a single additional dollar in Australia’s major road networks.
“And in an undisguised election campaign strategy, the Government will spend $126 million on print, radio and television advertising,” Mr Hawke said.
Thursday, 18 March
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
Mr HAWKE (3.24 pm)—My question is to the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. I can assure the Deputy Prime Minister that these principals, who I have spoken to, are very unhappy. I refer the minister to the plight of St Lucy’s, St Edmund’s, St Gabriel’s, St Dominic’s and Kingsdene special schools in New South Wales, which desperately need stable funding arrangements to support their students variously with Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, vision and hearing impairment and other special needs. With parents, many students and the principals here today in the parliament, can the minister explain why the government’s priorities see these schools facing funding cuts and closure while she presides over the disgraceful waste endemic in the school halls debacle?
Ms GILLARD—I really thank the member for his question because as it so happens I have met with the principal of St Lucy’s this morning. And as it happens, Jo, the principal of St Lucy’s, said the following to me about her Building the Education Revolution project. These are direct words from the principal, so I presume if the member is genuinely interested in the plight of special schools he will be interested in the words of the principal of St Lucy’s. She said to me that their BER money had enabled them to install a lift and refurbish the toilets. When the school was first built, it was built as a school for the blind—
Mr Ripoll—It had better be good, Chris!
The SPEAKER—Order! The member for Oxley will leave the chamber under standing order 94(a).
Mr Pyne—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The question was about recurrent funding. It is a serious question, and these parents, the principals and the students in particular are interested in a serious answer, not an irrelevant answer on the basis—
The SPEAKER—There is no point of order.
Ms GILLARD—I am recounting the words said to me this morning by the principal of St Lucy’s. I would have thought that people would want to hear what the principal of St Lucy’s has got to say. What she had to say about the Building the Education Revolution project is that it had enabled them to install a lift and refurbish the toilets. This was important because when the school was first built, it was built as a school for the blind. It now mainly caters for children with autism and developmental delays. The old 1960 toilets were
consequently not suitable to assist with the current cohort of students, many of whom are bigger children who are still incontinent. So normal-size toilets did not enable them to have the kind of change facilities that are necessary.
It should not require me to explain to this House why, in a special school, a lift to move students and staff between the floors of the school is important. The words of the principal of St Lucy’s were, ‘It has made such a difference to the staff and the students to have these new facilities’.
Mrs Bronwyn Bishop—Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order on relevance. How can capital expenditure be relevant when there is no recurrent expenditure which is going to keep it open?
The SPEAKER—Order! The member for Mackellar will resume her seat. On the point of order—it may have assisted if I had ruled the final part of the question out as being argument, because the last part of the question went on to compare the lack of recurring funding with the monies that have been made available under other programs. Therefore, on this occasion— with greater confidence than I usually have—I can say that the Deputy Prime Minister is responding to the question.
Ms GILLARD—I just make the point on funding of BER and special schools—and I think this is an important point, and would be celebrated by people of good will—we deliberately drew this program up so that all special schools could benefit from the greater amount of money available under the Primary Schools for the 21st Century program. So even secondary schools that are special schools can get the bigger grants, which I think is fantastic news for special schools around the country that have not had money for capital for a very long period of time.
I will answer the member’s question on recurrent funding. We have increased recurrent funding for students with disabilities. We provide that funding to block grant authorities. In the case of Catholic schools we provide it to the Catholic Education Office, and it works out the division from the Catholic Education Office to Catholic schools—the identical disbursement system for schools’ money operated by the Howard government. If the member wants to be heard to say that the Catholic Education Office cannot be trusted to
properly disperse funds, then I would have thought that was a very controversial call. But, given the Leader of the Opposition has somehow said that he has now converted to paid parental leave, I suppose bashing the Catholic Education Office will be next.
The Federal Member for Mitchell, Alex Hawke, has slammed the Rudd Government over the damage caused to local small businesses by the sudden discontinuation of the Home Insulation Program.
"The breathtaking lack of planning, organisation, and structure of this Rudd Government Program is continuing to be felt throughout our local community," Mr Hawke said.
"When the Rudd Government suddenly discontinued the Program in February, legitimate businesses who supplied insulation suddenly found their orders from installers cancelled.
"Businesses who in good faith had checked with the authorities and were informed that the Program would continue until December 2011, or until the Program had reached its capacity of $2.8 billion, and ordered stock accordingly, were now in possession of stock they could no longer supply.
"Even more frustrating for these suppliers is that they are still expected to pay GST and customs duties on this stock, some of which was still to arrive in Australia when the Rudd Government discontinued the program," Mr Hawke said.
Mr Hawke said the Home Insulation Program had been a disaster for many local residents, some of whom had insulation incorrectly installed, and others who were employed in the industry.
"There are good and reputable people, both installers and suppliers of home insulation, who are now coloured by the taint of this failed Rudd Government Program," Mr Hawke said.
"The Rudd Government is drunk on billions of dollars of borrowed money. In their rush to get programs underway, the resources and processes required to properly implement them clearly have not been in place.
"Local residents and businesses, who have acted in good faith, are facing dire consequences, and in some instances, financial ruin.
"The Rudd Government must show the same urgency in addressing the financial pressure facing suppliers of insulation, as they did in rushing out the Home Insulation Program in the first place.
"Suppliers of insulation who have acted in good faith, should be given a chance to remain commercially viable, for when this Program resumes, expected in several months," Mr Hawke said.