Plastic Bag Free NSW Petition

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I congratulate the member for Coogee on supporting the campaign to improve our environment and reduce our dependency on plastic bags.

Similar campaigns are underway in my electorate of Blue Mountains to see towns move towards a more sustainable solution.

I pay tribute to the work of Shirley Lewis, who is known throughout the Blue Mountains as "Shirley the Bag Lady".

She and Marina Brown host a radio show on Radio Blue Mountains that focuses on sustainability and the environment. They have been working hard for many years to bring to the community's attention the impact of plastic bags on our beautiful local environment.

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Workers Compensation Amendment Bills

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[Download PDF] I am pleased to see the Baird Government making some effort in the Workers Compensation Amendment Bill 2015 and the cognate State Insurance and Care Governance Bill 2015 to address the appalling record of the former O'Farrell Liberal Government in the treatment of injured workers. 

No doubt the Baird Government is aware of the widespread condemnation which has been levelled at the heartless workers' compensation reforms which the conservatives—led by the disgraced former Premier Barry O'Farrell—rammed through Parliament back in 2012.

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Rail Commuter Access

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A lack of easy access to train stations is a problem which locals in my electorate of Blue Mountains are all too familiar with.

Currently, there are no easy-access train stations between Katoomba and Springwood.

Often, people from the city refer to communities in my electorate collectively as "The Blue Mountains" and do so without realising the significance of the distances involved.

To give the Parliament some perspective of the vast distance between the two easy-access stations at Katoomba and Springwood, we are talking about a distance by road of 31 kilometres. That is the distance from Parliament House on Macquarie Street to Cronulla in the south, Girraween to the west, or Narrabeen to the north. It is a distance which takes in over 10,000 homes—resided in by people who need to make use of public transport every day to get around the mountains or down to the city for work.

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Disability Services (NDIS)

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The Federal Labor Party introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme [NDIS] in 2013. This is good Labor policy. The official rollout of the NDIS supposedly commenced on 1 July across the Nepean-Blue Mountains area for young people under 18 years of age living with a disability. There is currently a great deal of concern and confusion from both carers and service providers in my area at the lack of information about the implementation of the NDIS, given the expectation that families are due to receive packages from September 2015 onwards. There appear to be major delays surrounding the rollout. New services promised in media releases and on the website are not being delivered in a timely fashion. The Minister needs to urgently address a range of issues, raised by some of the most vulnerable people in society.

On Tuesday 21 July I hosted a roundtable discussion in Springwood and was joined by more than 60 people from my electorate and including 30 service organisations. The shadow Minister for Disability, Sophie Cotsis, MLC, also joined us. I will provide some feedback about this roundtable—the purpose of it—to provide an opportunity for those currently providing and receiving disability services to speak and be heard. We were privileged to hear people talk of how and when the NDIS would be implemented—their hopes, dreams, wishes, concerns, doubts, questions—as well as learn about people's ideas and opportunities to roll out best practice services for people living with disability. 

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Blue Mountains Fires

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Last Friday a fire broke out in the Jamison Valley at Wentworth Falls, off Tableland Road.

Wildfire behaviour was provoked by strong winds. This is quite extraordinary for this time of year and only two weeks after a huge snowfall in the Blue Mountains.

A section 44 state of emergency was declared on the morning of Sunday 2 August.

I pay tribute to the NSW Rural Fire Service, Remote Area Firefighting Crew, Fire and Rescue NSW, local police officers, National Parks and Wildlife Service personnel, State Emergency Service and ambulance crews.

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Elder Abuse

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June 15 is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This day aims to raise community awareness and recognition of this largely hidden problem affecting older people living at home and in institutional settings. Elder abuse is mistreatment of an older person that is committed by someone with whom the older person has a relationship of trust. It is a violation of human rights and is recognised as such by the World Health Organization. 

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Blue Mountains Public Transport

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Tonight I wish to discuss public transport, specifically train services, in relatively broad terms. Public transport options, or lack thereof, are a major concern for the Blue Mountains community. The last revision of and changes to the Blue Mountains timetable took place in October 2013 without consultation with the community. It is not good enough. Public transport impacts on every aspect of life in the mountains for many people. We are a series of villages spread across a ridge line, and the train network is integral to our moving about. 

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Domestic Violence

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Domestic and family violence is an all too common crime. Today I acknowledge the victims and survivors of domestic and family violence, and those who have for many decades provided care and support to women and children experiencing violence and abuse. Just over 40 years ago a brave group of women took refuge in an abandoned house in Glebe. Through hard work and commitment they established Elsie's Refuge for Women and Children in 1974.

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Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise

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I speak about The Blue Mountains Economic Enterprise [BMEE] Creative Industries Cluster after opening the Blue Lab symposium last week in Katoomba. I remember being at the very first Creative Industries Cluster Muster two years ago when the chief executive officer, Jacqueline Brinkman, spoke quietly to me of her nervousness: Had she misjudged the appetite for a collaborative approach to industry development among artists and creative enterprises based in the mountains? She had not. 

Over 200 people arrived that day to learn about clusters and how they build sector sustainability. The positive feedback was deafening. Kelly Blainey was appointed cluster manager and set about her role with fierce determination. Kelly brokered contracts and partnerships, immediately boosting the industries' financial viability. This grassroots approach kept work in the mountains that may have been lost to other regions. I recognise today the ingenuity, drive and vision of the BMEE team for bringing a powerful idea to life. 

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World Environment Day

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On 5 June each year the United Nations Environment Programme honours World Environment Day to raise awareness about environmental issues and make a call for action. The theme of this year's event is sustainable lifestyles. Its motto is "Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care." It is a particularly powerful topic because it encourages everyone to take a moment to question how we live and how our actions impact the planet. 

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