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Monday, 27 February 2012
Page: 1886

Mrs GASH (Gilmore) (12:21): I share with the House the words of Michael Grogan, a constituent of the member for Throsby, published in the Illawarra Mercury earlier this month. 'Stephen Jones needs to get his priorities straight,' he wrote. He went on to say:

On August 23 I wrote a letter to all local state and federal MPs following BlueScope's announcement to downsize the Port Kembla steelworks by approximately 800 people. That very day I received a phone call from Joanna Gash. … She showed genuine interest in both my family's wellbeing and that of my fellow steelworkers. She asked if she could read my letter in Parliament in order to highlight the plight of the local area.

She was true to her word and did so.

I have since heard from Ryan Park, the state Labor member for Keira, but Anna Watson, Lee Evans, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have remained silent.

Given the significant events impacting on local manufacturing industry and the subsequent job losses that have occurred and are occurring, I am perplexed at how the member for Throsby chooses to preoccupy himself at this time with the subject of gay marriage.

I would have thought the preservation of jobs in Throsby would have riveted his interest. Especially intriguing in light of statements by his former leader committing Labor to the creation of an additional 500,000 jobs within three years.

Confusing the issue even more is the admission in the Member's maiden speech that 'he comes to this parliament believing in the values that formed around the dinner table of a large Catholic family'. Given the Catholic Church's views on gay marriage, it was an extraordinary statement to make and then to repudiate by his stand.

Mr Jones should be making headlines primarily by encouraging growth and employment in our region and providing tangible solutions to the problems faced in the Illawarra.

Instead he has elected to push his own leftist ideologies at the expense of his obligations to the people who elected him.

Mr Grogan's comments are not isolated. Even Throsby's own Labor Party branches are attacking him for not consulting or listening to his community. Stories of the member for Throsby ignoring inconvenient issues in his electorate come into my office on a surprisingly regular basis. The member is often quick to criticise me and I plead guilty to one of his charges. Yes, I do not support a carbon tax. Do you know why? Between the Throsby and Gilmore electorate since the member for Throsby was elected in 2010 thousands of workers who were formerly employed in the local manufacturing industry have lost their jobs. BlueScope Steel is the most prominent, and now I am hearing the possibility of further job losses at Kembla Grange, those at Bredero Shaw and APC Socotherm.

That is a tip for the member for Throsby: put your ear to the ground, open your eyes and get your head out of the clouds. According to the Illawarra Business Chamber, key economic indicators show that Wollongong is losing ground when it comes to jobs growth and business attraction. But the leadership the member for Throsby offers does not extend beyond his socialist ideology. Mr Jones's inactivity in protecting jobs impacts on my constituents in Gilmore. He can do something about it but he is turning his back on the reality of events unfolding around him. He needs to show some initiative and coverage and not distract himself from the task at hand by pet projects.