House debates

Thursday, 16 February 2012


New South Wales Government

4:56 pm

Photo of Jill HallJill Hall (Shortland, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It is with some reluctance that I bring this matter to the attention of the House. I only do so because of the overwhelming increase in work within my office. Since the last state election in New South Wales my office has been inundated with constituents calling me about state matters. My office has become the local clearing house for department of housing issues, because the state members are not dealing with these issues in a way that the constituents that go to see them need—namely, in a timely manner.

Most correspondence with state members within my electorate must be done in writing. I will share with the House something that happened this week. As all members would be aware, the New South Wales government has slashed the money given to pensioners, the $500 to assist them to buy glasses. I was horrified when I heard that a pensioner came into my office and told my staff that he had been advised by the state member for Charlestown that, if he wanted him to look at the issue of him having no glasses, he had to put it in writing. This particular gentleman could not read because his glasses were broken! The simple fact that he was asked to put it in writing made it absolutely impossible for him to do. It was only when my staff rang the member for Charlestown's office and said, 'Do you want us, in the federal office, to sit down with this constituent and write a letter to you', that that state office agreed to see this semiblind constituent to help him. Hopefully, they will come up with some way to assist him to get glasses.

But, unfortunately, that is not the only area that has been slashed and burnt by the O'Farrell state Liberal government. I bring to the attention of the House the deplorable situation that existed at the start of this school year, where over 300 children in the Hunter region alone were left stranded because they did not have transport to take them to and from school. It is an absolute disgrace. It is cost cutting in areas where the most vulnerable people are affected. This has been rectified to some degree, but at the time the state government understated it and said there were only 40 students in the Hunter who were affected. Mr O'Farrell really needs to get in tune with what is happening in the Hunter. He needs to get his members out there on the ground talking to constituents and learning just how decisions that are made at the state level impact very much on the lives of ordinary, everyday Australians—be they pensioners, be they families, be they parents with children with disability.

One of the other areas where the O'Farrell government have showed their true colours is where they decided they would slash $213 a fortnight from the payment of foster carers who are looking after teenagers over the age of 16—young people with great difficulties, who have had the most horrendous things happen to them; they were even trying to obtain family support from their birth parents.

These cuts come at a time when the federal Gillard government is giving $4,200 a year to teenagers. On the one hand you have a federal government giving to families and on the other hand you have a state government ripping away any services from the most vulnerable people in the community. I strongly urge the state members in my area to stand up and be heard.

Photo of Peter SlipperPeter Slipper (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! The honourable member's time has expired. I have shown her some benevolence as far as allowing her to have her full five minutes. It being beyond 5 pm the debate is interrupted. The House stands adjourned until Monday, 27 February at 10 am.

House adjourned at 17:02