Newsletter March 2018

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The Hon. Tjorn Sibma

In the Community 
March 2018
 
Welcome to 2018

The start of 2018 has brought with it some new challenges, and not all at a political level.  As a young family, my wife and I are making the adjustment of going back to work and juggling childcare arrangements for our 15-month-old son.  Up until now, we have been extremely fortunate to have had the support of our extended family to help with the care of our young son, but these arrangements cannot go on indefinitely and we have now turned for the first time to a registered childcare service to help.  The decision has been an emotional one, and one that has consumed much time and energy, as it has done I am sure for others before us.  
 
The day arrived when we dropped off our son at childcare – we were apprehensive, emotional and not without that tinge of a ‘little guilt’ in trusting the care of our loved one with a stranger. This is a road travelled by many others, yet it makes it no less easy.  While the pressure of work and the demands of daily routines will always consume our days, the emotions that come with leaving your child in the care of strangers is something that dwarfs all of these mundane concerns and one that stays with you for some time.  So as I embark on the year ahead with a full workload of issues to debate and explore, I do so with the nagging guilt of also leaving  my young son in the care of very qualified and very professional people, but nonetheless strangers who cannot give him the same love and support as my wife and I.

I wish all a safe and happy Easter.

Tjorn
 
In my capacity as a member of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel, I was privileged to join Rabbi Freilich, members of Perth’s Hebrew congregation and fellow parliamentary members, for a special service at Parliament House to light the Chanukah during the third day of Hanukkah.   
Funding Cut to Landsdale Farm School
 
Late last year, as children, parents and teachers were preparing for the well-deserved summer holidays, the Hon Sue Ellery, Minister for Education announced a raft of cuts to the education budget that left many uncertain about the future, and with a considerable degree of anxiety that would have soured Christmas holidays.  Thankfully some of the cuts were reversed due to the massive public outcry and an admission by the government that they made these decisions in haste.  This is not what we want from our governments, that they make decisions in haste, and yet this is exactly what we got. Not only were these decisions made in haste, they were just plain and simply wrong.
 
Lost among the media and community scrutiny of the education cuts announced by the Minister, was the withdrawal of funding to the Landsdale Farm School.  A school which is a cherished asset in the local community and one that is used by, amongst others, children with disabilities.  The needs of those using this unique school are ignored for the sake of saving what amounts to a pittance in the overall education budget, and certainly less than the money doled out in the McGowan government’s Local Projects Local Jobs grants program.  While $150,000 has been found to reline a swimming pool, $250,000 has been given to a couple of tennis club to upgrade their facilities, $100,000 has been given to an Australian Arab Association for a coffee van, $110, 000 has been spent on resurfacing a basketball court, $250,000 has been used to upgrade lighting for a soccer club and a football club, $200,000 has been spent on planting trees, and $175,000 has been used to replace a bowling green – taxpayers money cannot be found for Landsdale Farm School.
 
I have written to the Minister for Education on this issue, I have exchanged emails with the Minister’s staff, I am to meet with the Minister on the matter, and I have spoken to the users of the Landsdale Farm School.  At the end of all of this, I am still at a loss to understand why the Minister has disregarded the needs of children with disabilities and others who use this school, and instead put the equipment needs of tennis, football and soccer clubs first.
 
There has been a groundswell of support for the Landsdale Farm School to continue operating in its current format and this is an issue that I will take up with the Government when the Legislative Council sits again on 13 March 2017.
 
Cut to Kidsport funding
 
Kidsport funding was introduced under the previous Liberal/National government to assist parents in meeting the costs of their children engaging in healthy, active lifestyles through participation in recreational activities.  Essentially families were entitled to $200 if they needed help in paying registration fees or buying the necessary equipment for their children to participate in activities.  Not all families used the Kidsport funding because it was meant to help those who may have been experiencing difficulties, and it wasn’t a large sum.  Nonetheless, this was an incredibly successful initiative and one that meant children who may not have been able to participate in recreational activities could now do so. 
 
That all changes under the McGowan government.  No longer will families be able to claim $200 per child, this is now $150.  What was already a relatively small amount, has now been whittled away to something that is pitiful, and the excuse is ‘budget repair’.  This is the same budget repair that allows the allocation of $39 million to a raft of pet projects of Labor members in their own electorates (Local Projects Local Jobs – see above).
 
As a member of the Elder Abuse Committee, I attended the National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney. I look forward to contributing to a safer Western Australia for Seniors.

Local Projects Local Jobs

Over the first couple of weeks of February, we learnt of the curious Local Projects Local Jobs grants program - a $39 million Labor slush fund spruiked by the McGowan Government as creating jobs.  However when looked at more closely, a few worrying things emerge.
 
  • While the money in this grants program went to a number of worthy causes in schools, RSLs, sports clubs, men’s sheds and community organisations, if you were any of these in a safe Liberal or National held seat then you missed out!  The Premier, arrogantly explained this away as his government not being in the business of funding the Peppermint Grove Tennis Club or the Freshwater Bay Yacht Club, however neither is he or his government interested in funding schools, sporting clubs, community organisations, men’s sheds and RSLs if they happen to be in the electorates of Bateman, Carine, Central Wheat belt, Churchlands, Cottesloe, Hillarys, Moore, Nedlands, North West Central, Riverton, Roe, Scarborough, South Perth, Vasse or Warren-Blackwood.  If you were in these electorates and had a legitimate case to have your school, sporting club, community organisation, men’s shed or RSL funded, too bad – the money is not for you.
  • Local Projects Local Jobs is a grants program, it is described as that by the Hon Ben Wyatt, Treasurer and certainly conforms to the definition of grants provided by the Auditor General.  However, the program was never advertised, was not made available to all Western Australians, did not have clearly established criteria or have in place a rigorous process for managing conflicts of interests.  In fact the whole program does not meet the Auditor General’s basic requirements for grants.
  • The money dished out by the McGowan government for this grants program was based largely on presentations by Labor members of what they considered worthy causes in their electorates, interestingly that in some cases these Labor members were on the boards, patrons or sponsors of the very organisations they recommended be funded.
  • Finally, the grants program had the purpose of creating jobs, it’s very hard to see how this was achieved when over 200 of the grants were for equipment such as cars, air conditioners, defibrillators, toys, ovens, fridge’s, iPads, sports equipment, sports uniforms and bi-fold doors.  This is in addition to funding for  a music therapy program, swimming carnival, garden beds, lawn upgrades and a trip for a band.
 
The whole Local Projects Local Jobs grant program was a slush fund for the Labor party to deliver on the votes they had effectively ‘bought’ at the last election.  I am sure that many who received the funding did so for worthy causes, however those worthy causes also exist outside Labor-held seats, and they simply did not get a look in.  And while it is good that a sports club got new lighting, equipment or jumpers, and a community organisation got a new car, fridge  or oven, I am not sure that the priorities of these and other allocations in the Local Projects Local Jobs grant program outweighed the merits of similar needs in Liberal and National electorates, or continued funding for Landsdale Farm School, or excluding Scouts and Guides from accessing Kidsport funding (more on that below).
 
 
Community Heritage Grants

The CHG is a federally funded program that offers grants up to $15,000 to assist in preserving cultural heritage collections of national significance. Not-for-profit organisations, such as historical societies, regional museums and community groups throughout Australia are encouraged to apply.

Applications close on 7 May 2018.

For more information see: http://www.nla.gov.au/awards-and-grants/chg

 
While the $50 decrease in Kidsport funding is mean-spirited, what is outright discrimination is the fact that parents who have children who are scouts or girl guides can no longer access this funding.  The excuse given by the McGowan government is that WA Scouts and WA Girl Guides are not sporting associations, therefore, they are ineligible for funding.  This is blatant discrimination based on a technicality.  Children who are scouts and guides undertake a wide range of activities including bushwalking, orienteering, obstacle challenges and the like, but because they are not participating in some form of organised sport they can no longer claim the funding they were once able to do so.  In many cases, these same children have opted for scouts and guides because traditional sports do not appeal, yet they’re now made to feel like second-class citizens because this Government says they are not good enough to get the same sort of support that the child who kicks a footy or throws a netball does.

 

 

 

About Tjorn

Tjorn is passionate about delivering for local families by creating jobs, improving community safety and providing the vital infrastructure they need.
Keep up to date with Tjorn!
 
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