David Elliott, Minister for Emergency Services

What a motion we have before us. Really, where do we begin? As members know, I have only been a shadow Minister for a short while. When I found out that my opposite number was David Elliott, I was a little bit worried. I thought to myself, "Here we have a senior, experienced and well-rounded Minister of the Crown—and a pitch‑perfect soprano in his spare time."

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Springwood High School

I acknowledge the fabulous P&C of Springwood High School in my electorate of Blue Mountains. Of particular concern is the P&C's application to the New South Wales Government's school infrastructure Cooler Classrooms Program. In the middle of 2018, on behalf of the Springwood High School P&C, I wrote to the then education Minister about the lack of air conditioning in the school and particularly in the classrooms, which makes it very difficult for students and their teachers to attend to learning needs on hot days.

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Bushfires and Emergency Services

I know what members are going through as community leaders who must stand alongside survivors of bushfire disasters at this difficult time. I have gone through it myself in the Blue Mountains. In recent weeks I visited the member for Lismore's community and met with her constituents, and I listened to the good people of Drake talk about the pain and devastation they have faced in recent months.

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Public Hospitals

I will speak about the New South Wales public hospital system. Before I detail my concerns I acknowledge the incredible work of staff in our hospitals. Recently I spent some time in hospital and I thank the incredible people who cared for me when I was not at my best, including doctors, nurses and cleaners.

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Bushfires

I pay tribute to the many thousands of professional and volunteer firefighters across this State who have been working almost constantly since September to contain significant bushfire emergencies, especially from the mid North Coast to the North Coast of New South Wales. They are supported and assisted by other emergency services workers who have swung in behind them in recent weeks to protect our community.

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Domestic Violence Reduction

In the past eight years the Government has failed to make significant inroads in reducing domestic and family violence. That is a fact. Following a review of one of the Government's signature domestic violence programs, the Premier abandoned one of her key Premier's Priorities to lower domestic violence reoffending rates by 25 per cent, instead pushing that target back another two years.

We cannot allow another 12 or 18 months to pass and allow this Government to keep revising its target dates off into the never-never. Those who work at the coalface in this State are telling us what we need to do to address this important issue. The Women's Safety NSW chief executive Hayley Foster has said that more funding is needed for case management for women once they have left a violent situation.

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Right to Farm Bill 2019

My contribution to debate on the Right to Farm Bill 2019 will be brief, yet it is necessary. I grew up in the Riverina, so I do not want to hear Nationals Members complain that this is a speech being given by someone who does not know anything about farm life or the realities of managing livestock on the land. I will get that out of the way quickly because it is all too easy for The Nationals to bleat and moan about Labor not knowing anything of the bush, while they collect their travel allowances to subsidise their inner-city accommodation.

I will not be lectured by them.

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Warragamba Dam Development Agenda

Tonight I speak about the New South Wales Liberal Government's plan to raise the Warragamba Dam wall and flood the Blue Mountains World Heritage Area in a cynical and dishonest exercise to open up flood-prone land for property developers along the HawkesburyNepean River.

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Bushfire Season

I am pleased that the Government has brought to the attention of the House an important matter for today's public interest debate and to hear Government members' gratitude for the efforts of our firefighters and emergency services workers.

But as is often the case, I am concerned that Government members have come into the Chamber and said something quick and easy in support of our community but then have walked out, put their ministerial hats back on and refused to adequately fund essential public services that people rely upon, particularly those living in the bush who are facing a severe drought and a bad bushfire season.

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Blue Mountains Hospital Auxiliary

I acknowledge the work of the Blue Mountains Hospital Auxiliary, which has been raising funds for Blue Mountains District ANZAC Memorial Hospital for more than 90 years. 

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