MATTERS OF STATE: My first bill was defeated but it won’t be my last

HONOUR IN DEFEAT: Member for Orange Phil Donato introduced the Registered Nurses in Nursing Homes Bill 2016 last week. Photo: CONTRIBUTED
HONOUR IN DEFEAT: Member for Orange Phil Donato introduced the Registered Nurses in Nursing Homes Bill 2016 last week. Photo: CONTRIBUTED

LAST week I introduced my first bill in the NSW Legislative Assembly: the Public Health Amendment (Registered Nurses in Nursing Homes) Bill 2016.

Most local MPs won’t sponsor a bill unless they’re a minister, but with my colleagues in the Upper House we can introduce our own legislation.

This bill was aimed at restoring a provision that was law for the best part of the last 50 years, requiring that at least one registered nurse is on shift in a nursing home at all times, 24-7.

The former requirement was for all nursing homes, but our bill was for those with high care residents only.

Nursing homes already receive extra Commonwealth funding for high care residents so they should have appropriate high care staffing (registered nurses).

My bill had support from doctors, nurses, the Country Women’s Association, Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association, the NSW Cancer Council and even 2GB’s Ray Hadley.

Unfortunately the bill was voted down 35 to 45 on the day before International Nurses Day and the premier didn’t even show up to vote.

This is despite it passing the Upper House of Parliament unanimously one week before – with Liberal Party and National Party support.

I will continue the fight for better aged care services, and you can be sure this won’t be the first bill I will introduce into Parliament on your behalf.

FORCED COUNCIL MERGERS

MY Upper House colleagues introduced another bill last week to allow residents to have a vote on any proposed council amalgamations.

This will prevent any forced council mergers in the future without the permission of residents.

If already-merged councils don’t receive the support of their residents, this bill will ensure they are de-merged and put back the way they were.

Our Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party bill is supported by the Opposition and crossbenchers so will likely pass the Upper House even if the Government doesn’t want it to.

Soon I will sponsor it in the Legislative Assembly and we will see whether the Nationals Party and the Liberal Party supports giving people a voice on council mergers.

SIGNING ON FOR PALLIATIVE

THANK you to Orange Push for Palliative for helping me secure over 10,000 signatures on a petition to restore Orange Health Service’s palliative care ward.

10,000 signatures mean that when I present the petition to the Legislative Assembly, the issues raised in it must be debated by the Parliament.

This is a powerful tool I can use to make sure that the issues that matter to my electorate get the attention they deserve.

CLONTARF ACADEMY

FINALLY, I recently recognised the dedicated work of Canobolas Clontarf Academy in Parliament.

The academy works with Aboriginal youth to improve school attendance, discipline, self-esteem and employment.

Led by James Grant, Ben Benton and Matt Georgiou, the academy does a fantastic job equipping over 60 young men with lifelong skills.

Phil Donato is the Member for Orange