After 12 months of dragging its feet, it was a relief to see the government finally announce the appointment of a full-time District Court judge to service Orange, Parkes and Bathurst courts to clear a growing backlog and improve efficiency in the justice system.
I’ve been advocating for this since March 2017 by directly questioning the Attorney General on the matter several times.
It shouldn’t take 18 months to address unnecessary delays in criminal trials within country and regional areas, and such tardy responses from the government to non-city issues are just not good enough.
That said, I’m very pleased with this result, one which will benefit our entire community for many years to come. It’s yet another example that persistence does pay off.
LOW ACT BY GOVERNMENT WILL HURT FIREFIGHTERS
MY upper house colleagues and I supported vital amendments to the Workers Compensation Legislation Amendment (Firefighters) Bill 2018, which would recognise professional and volunteer firefighters’ rights to workers compensation for certain diagnosed cancers, now known to be linked with this hazardous occupation.
However, in order to save a few quid, the government blocked this legislation and produced its own bill, which only recognises firefighters’ rights to compensation if they have been diagnosed with one of the 12 specified cancers on or after September 27, 2018.
I voted to amend this legislation so that those firefighters who are now suffering from one of these work-related cancers and diagnosed before September 27 will be given the same rights for workers’ compensation as those firefighters who are unfortunate to contract cancer after this date.
It’s completely callous of the Berejiklian-Barilaro government to recognise cancer diagnosed on one day as a work-related injury, but not recognise cancer diagnosed on another.
What is even more detestable is that in the final hours of the last day of Parliament for this year, the government manipulated pivotal cross-bench votes by suggesting retrospective compensation would break the budget, costing up to one billion dollars to compensate firefighters already stricken with cancer. This was a tactic designed by the government to scaremonger, as their claim was unsubstantiated.
Our brave firefighters should be afforded the full protections of workers compensation if they’re unfortunate enough to contract cancer in the line of duty.
This government doesn’t bat an eyelid when deciding to spend billions on relocating museums and rebuilding sports stadiums, but they don’t want to help our firefighters who are suffering from cancer.
The government has now chosen to instead hold an inquiry regarding retrospective claims for workers compensation in the first 100 days following the March state election – that is, if they’re voted back in.
I and my colleagues support amendments to this bill so that pre-diagnosed cancers will be included in the legislation.
MORE THAN WILLING TO TAKE WHITE RIBBON PLEDGE
I ATTENDED the White Ribbon Day march on November 23 and was pleased to see such strong attendance.
Hundreds of women and men marched together and made a pledge to “stand up and speak out” against domestic violence. I will stand up and speak out; I hope you’ll join me.