Published on: November 2021
Mr GARETH WARD (Kiama)
—To my colleagues, staff, family and friends Merry Christmas and a happier new year. If there was ever a word needed to describe the qualities required to survive 2021, 'resilience' would be the first and most appropriate word. For the community I represent, we have experienced fire, flood, drought and in the last year, a second devastating wave of COVID. For several months, this wave would literally divide our community as Shellharbour City would go into lockdown and Kiama and the Shoalhaven would be free until a Statewide lockdown later in the year. I take this opportunity to thank all those who battled this year on our frontline. Our incredible medical staff; our nurses, doctors, allied health professionals and particularly our pathologists who worked overtime at testing clinics around the State. I thank our teachers who did their utmost to help steer the State's students through this very difficult year of learning.
I take this opportunity to thank my incredible electorate office staff that assisted with literally thousands of COVID inquiries; to Jesse Martin, Jess Plater, Ben Blackburn, Paula Turnbull, Henry Streamer, Jacob Sich, Nic Mulligan and Bryan Fishpool – my thanks for your diligence and dedication. A special tribute to my outgoing electorate office manager Melissa Jobson who has been an incredible and valued staff member for eight wonderful years. I have been blessed to have had the diligence and dedication of Melissa who has held it all together through the toughest of times. I want to congratulate Ben and Bryan in particular as they celebrate more than 10 years of service as part of my team. I also want to single out our Electorate Office cleaner Val Tasevski for his diligence and dedication. Everyone in my office absolutely loves Val and we thank him for not only keeping our office in check but for keeping us entertained.
In my ten years as a local MP, I have secured more than two billion dollars to duplicate the Princes Highway throughout our entire electorate with the Gerringong upgrade, Berry bypass, Albion Park Rail bypass and South Nowra upgrade now complete and the Nowra Bridge Project and the Berry to Bomaderry upgrade moving forward at a cracking pace. This was the year we secured $700 Million for Shellharbour Hospital to build a brand new hospital to service a growing population in the southern Illawarra. This hospital will have more beds, more services and more doctors and nurses. This is in addition to the long overdue upgrade of Shoalhaven Hospital that will start next year which will also see a massive upgrade in services for our local community. This was the year we'd start works to upgrade the South Coast line with major works getting underway next year. But there is still much more to do. From the big campaigns like the Nowra bypass to the smaller ones around community and sporting grants, rest assured that 2022 will be a year where I will continue my passionate advocacy for our community.
I would like to acknowledge my former Ministerial staff. Loki Ball, Mitch Clout, Anne King, Jordan Matthews, James Malin, Matthew Barden, Andrew Johnson, Wayne Soul, Adelaide Cuneo, Alex Briggs, Kurt Brabender and Jack O'Brien. Be it dramatically reducing the number of children in Alternative Care Arrangements, establishing the Age and Disability Commission, securing carriage of the Children's Guardian legislation which expanded the Reportable Conduct Scheme, reforming and launching 10 year strategies for carers and for volunteers, concluding the transfers of people with disabilities from Large Residential Facilities to new and modern homes with the right supports, championing reforms to the NDIS that have made a huge difference to fairness and equity for NSW participants, halving street and rough sleeping by establishing Together Home, increasing the number of assertive outreach teams from 1 to over 60, pioneering reforms to empower caseworkers such as the Greenfields Project, establishing the Aboriginal Children's Guardian and Knowledge Circle in response to the Family is Culture Report, overseeing long-overdue reforms in Youth Justice through the Shearer Review and the expansion of targeted early intervention programs – we can be very proud of the huge amount of reform we delivered in just a few short years. You all remain valued friends and I will forever treasurer not just all our wins but the time we spent together.
To my community; thank you for giving me the honour of lifetime by representing you. I can never repay your generosity and care. I want to thank my close friends that have helped me survive my most difficult year in politics. You all know who you are. To my family including my mum and dad, my sister and brothers and the newest edition to my household – Oscar, thank you for being there when I needed you. Merry Christmas one and all.
Ms LIESL TESCH (Gosford)
—I wish a very summery, jovial and cheerful festive season to all, especially the residents of my electorate of Gosford – who continue to support me in this place. It would be an understatement to say 2021 has been a challenging year. This year has thrown so many curve balls yet the people of NSW have demonstrated time and time again their ability to manage crises, maintain resilience and bounce back stronger than ever. Whether it be flooding, bush fires, heatwaves or the COVID-19 pandemic, the people of New South Wales have shown to the world how to navigate confidently through crises and overcome any problems we have faced. The people of New South Wales should be extremely proud to be one of the highest vaccinated jurisdictions in the world. To-date, New South Wales has managed to exceed all expectations and record an astonishing almost ninety-five per cent first-dose vaccination rate amongst residents sixteen years and older. Even more stunning has been our ability to persevere through disinformation, fake news and wild conspiracy theories to record a double vaccination rate of almost ninety-three per cent.
Of course, these phenomenal statistics do not just occur by chance and are the product of hard work and tenacity of so many professionals, workers and residents in our communities. Let me start by acknowledging these heroes. To our frontline and healthcare workers, from our amazing and committed doctors, who have listened so patiently to the concerns of residents and provided assurances and expert advice on vaccines – thank you! To our absolutely brilliant and steadfast nurses, who have shown so much compassion and care – in the face of adversity and devastation – thank you! To our paramedics and health transportation workers, who have worn the personal protective equipment and risked their health to assist those affected by COVID-19 – thank you! To our NSW Police officers and law enforcement workers, who have borne so much of the brunt of this pandemic and so much frustration in our community, your commitment despite these challenges are so commendable and honourable – thank you!
To our dutiful and outstanding principals, teachers, educators and school office staff, your abilities to be flexible, fluid and respond to constantly changing health advice, has been unreal and I cross my fingers your much-deserved holiday is relaxing and filled with happy memories, surrounded by loved ones. To our small and medium-sized business community, who have had to shut-down and had countless restrictions imposed on their livelihoods, this year has been like none other and I thank you all for being so compliant and understanding of the justification behind these actions. I encourage everyone in my community and around New South Wales to get out this festive period and support our small to medium-sized businesses, they are our backbone and drivers of so much of our economic activity and employ millions of residents. Let's support them and get our State roaring again.
To our aged care workers, thank you for caring for our elderly and vulnerable residents during the darkest periods of this pandemic. You have been the warmth, love and guiding light to so many residents when family and close friends were not allowed to visit facilities. There are so many more of you I want to thank: our hospitality staff, transportation workers, sublime cleaners, medical receptionists, allied health professionals, construction workers and tradies, real estate agents, all our government department workers, our churches and religious leaders and organisations that have supported and cared for our most vulnerable members of our community. A special, joyous and festive shout-out to some extraordinary organisations in my electorate of Gosford who have conscientiously served the community throughout this year and are deserving of recognition. To the Umina Community Group, for all the work you do to improve Umina Beach and make it an even better place to live.
All the fabulous Rotary Clubs including Gosford North, Gosford, West Gosford, Kariong-Somersby, Woy Woy and Umina Beach. The Country Women's Associations at Woy Woy and Umina Beach. The Lions Club of East Gosford and the Lions Club of Woy Woy. The Gosford Chamber of Commerce and the Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. Mary Mac's Place in Woy Woy and all the angels that work tirelessly to ensure no resident goes without a meal or fundamental services. Coast Shelter, Pacific Link Housing and Kariong Neighbourhood Centre and of course all the vibrant and community-minded Aunties at the spectacular Mingaletta Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Centre in Umina Beach.
I would like to sincerely thank the Gossie Good Times electorate office team. It's been an intensely challenging year and words cannot express my gratitude to each of you for your deep commitment to supporting constituents. To Richard & Rhys, Jo & Jesse, Kajal & Hannah, I thank you and celebrate each of your individual skills, talents and support of myself and each other during 2021. I also sincerely thank our talented COVID team - Nathan, Charli, Maynard & Deb - for your contribution to supporting the Gosford electorate during 2021. Our community is such a spectacular place to live, work and play, and it was wonderful to see so many people enjoying he beauty of our natural environment whilst simultaneously facing the challenges of lockdown, home-schooling, changed workplace arrangements and/or working from home. I wish all Central Coasties the freedom to enjoy the place we call home in safety, with time to spend with families and friends over the summer ahead. Merry Christmas and a very happy new year.
Ms TAMARA SMITH (Ballina)
—I would like to take this opportunity to wish all Members from all political spectrums, and their loved ones, a happy, safe and restorative holiday season. In these unprecedented times, where we have seen the House closed due to Covid, it has been an honour and a privilege to work amongst so many dedicated and passionate people, regardless of our political differences. I would like to wish everyone a peaceful Christmas time with their families after such a difficult two years of not seeing loved ones, separated due to border closures or being overseas. For all the family members unable to be together again this holiday period, I extend my greatest sympathies. Special thanks to the Minister for Health Brad Hazzard, the Cross Border Commissioner James Mc Tavish and all their amazing staff who have supported the people of NSW as they navigated the pandemic and border closures.
To the staff at the clerks' desk who prepare Hansard I say thank you and merry Christmas – your team does an amazing job recognising and recording everything that happens within the House. I thank Hansard for their work. All errors remain mine. My sincere thanks goes to the Legislative Assembly attendants, front desk staff, the IT staff and Security Officers, Human Resources, Payroll and a special thank you to Jo Sully in EO Services and James Kleppen at Capital Works. To the cleaning staff who have kept us all safe during this pandemic with their attention to detail and care of our offices. It has been a reassurance to know that we are in your capable hands. I, and all Members, are incredibly thankful and grateful for the work you do. I wish each and everyone one of you a happy Christmas To all the people who will be working over the Christmas period to keep us safe, I extend my gratitude. In particular the NSW Police Force, the NSW Ambulance Service, the Rural Fire Service, SES, Marine Rescue, Air services, Surf Lifesaving, doctors and our amazing nursing staff. All of whom have been on the front line of this pandemic. I wish you and your loved ones best wishes for Happy Holidays and a magnificent New Year.
To the Bundjalung people I wish to pay my respects and acknowledge their ongoing custodianship and care they provide to the land. I wish to personally acknowledge the passing of Arakwal Elder Auntie Dulcie Nicholls who successfully negotiated an Indigenous Land use Agreement on behalf of the Arakwal people in 1994. The land was handed back to Dulcie and the Arakwal family in 2019 after a very long Native Title fight. Many thanks to the people who make up the Ballina electorate you have rallied to look after all members of our community during the pandemic. Your resilience dealing with drought, fires, floods and now the pandemic has been remarkable and it is an honour to serve you. I would like to thank the Ballina Shire and Byron Shire Councils and all their staff for supporting the community and providing ongoing essential services to roads, rubbish and the environment and the support and advice they provided the community.
I would like to show my appreciation to all the organisations and business that have supported our community through the pandemic. In particular, I would like to extend my greatest thanks to; all Rotary clubs in the Ballina Electorate, SCOPE Clubs, County Women's Association, Meals on Wheels, all the Church groups, Red Cross, St Vincent De Paul, Anglican and Uniting Churches, GPs, Specialists and their practice staff especially First Light, Healthy North Coast, mental health staff, all the practices impacted by the QLD border closures, and Sullivan Nicolaides Pathology and QML Pathology practitioners and their staff. Special thanks to Lynne Weir, Wayne Jones and the Northern Area Health District team. I would like to acknowledge Julie Stewart, airport manager at Ballina Gateway Airport, and all staff, security and crew.
All the teachers and school staff who had to pivot to online learning, all not-for profit charities that stepped in to feed, provide for and service the vulnerable, including the Hot Meal Centre, Cherry Street Bowling Club, Liberation Larder, and all the cafes and hospitality venues who stayed open and supported our front-line workers and those in need a with free coffees and food - The Cove, Thai on High, TAs lunch box, and Mumbai Masala and all the Clubs. Thank you North Coast Community Housing, and Department of Communities and Justice for looking after the most vulnerable members of our community, all the disability service providers and their staff, conservation organisations such as CAWI, Bangalow Koalas, Friends of the Koalas, Northern Rivers Wildlife Hospitals and WIRES who continued to rescue our wildlife and all the vets who also support our wildlife.
To the caravan parks who provided a safe place to stay for the homeless and those who were unable to return home due to State lockdowns, I thank you. I want to wish my incredibly hard working staff in the Ballina Electorate office who have served our community with compassion and dignity through the last 18 months of the pandemic a very Happy Christmas - Jacqui Alinaitwe, Siobhan Foley, Digby Hildreth, Mary-Jane Heenan and Violet Innes. Without you we would not have helped so many during this incredibly challenging time. Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a wonderful time with family and loved ones.
Mr LEE EVANS (Heathcote)
—Speaker 2021 was another year many of will not forget or won't want to remember. As 2021 draws to an end its time to be thankful for those who we hold dear in this place and out in our constituencies. Above all I thank my long suffering wife Gayle, she has like all of us had a very stressful year. Honey thank you for being there for me and family. The next closest people I thank is my long suffering staff, Anne England, Bella Beattie and Abbey England. This year we also had some help from time to time from Julie Lees and Janelle Beattie. A special mention must go to Tracy McCovey a friend of the office. I thank the support from the Clerks, Chief Clerk Helen Minnican, Simon Johnson, Carly Maxwell, Rickee Murray and the legend of the NSW Parliament Mr Les Gonye who is on the road to retirement thank you and congratulations I'm personally looking for to "Lestifus for the rest of us "celebrating his retirement.
The little thanked and recognised Hansard, thank you all for your conscientious work making the sometime babbling of members into a somewhat Churchillian oration. Members of the Committee's staff thank you for all your hard work through the year with making 2021 a very challenging Committee's year with numbers of virtual meetings with the obligatory technical difficulties. I thank my Whip colleagues Adam "Crouchy" Crouch and Ben Sheath at time all we are missing is a whip and a chair with the challenge of herding cats. What a year. Leader of the House Attorney the Hon General Mark Speakman and his assistants. This year we lost a Premier the Hon Gladys Berejiklian someone I consider a friend with a current investigation on foot I wish her well. NSW welcomed a new shiny Premier Dominic Perrottet he has a very big pair of high heels to fit into but in my opinion he has started going hard on getting NSW out of the cloak of Covid-19. The people of NSW can be assured Dom is a very safe pair of hands.
To all the Ministerial staff thank you for your efforts in 2021 without your efforts members would be lost. The cleaners and attendants have had a tough year with increased sanitising has added another layer of responsibility. The catering staff, thank you for your work this year always bright and cheery I look forward to getting back to normality returning, having breaky with colleagues from all sides of isle. I thank members of all Political persuasions for a polite and constructive year, as members of the NSW Parliament we are responsible for representing those who elect us and respecting one and other without sliding into the depths of grubby personal accusations. At the end of 2021 we look back on a unique year with sitting weeks being interrupted our offices closing with staff working from home members like me being placed in isolation after being a close contact in Parliament doing the fourteen days then just when I thought it was safe to go outside the state was plunged into lockdown. So with a hopeful heart I wish everybody a very Merry Christmas and a peaceful and family oriented new year. Thankyou.
Mrs WENDY TUCKERMAN (Goulburn)
—As those closest to me are aware, Christmas is my favourite time of the year. It is a time to reflect on the achievements throughout the last 12 months. It is also a time to be grateful and reflect on the hard work and be thankful to all those who have helped to make these great things possible. As I have said many times before, I am truly blessed to represent the wonderful people of the Goulburn electorate and I am extremely proud to be part of a government that delivers for regional New South Wales. It has been another tough year with the pandemic and its associated challenges. Despite this, I am pleased to see my electorate commitments continue to be delivered including the amazing Goulburn Base Hospital redevelopment, Crookwell Hospital upgrade is progressing well, Barton Highway duplication is well underway, and the Moss Vale Bypass hit a new milestone recently, with the tender being recently announced.
As we continue to open up as a state and return to the 'new norm' I am very proud of my electorate, and the way they have come together to support our local businesses and our local regional communities to bounce back, often under trying circumstances. There is a lot happening in Goulburn and surrounds and I am truly blessed to be representing the constituents I am honoured to serve. We have fought some big fights together this year, including the Bungonia Waste to Energy Project, securing a MRI service for the Goulburn Hospital redevelopment, major funding for so many projects including schools, sporting organisations and grassroots community groups. We have worked hard together on these matters and I again wish to thank the Electorate for working with me to secure these wins.
Having said that we still have many challenges facing the communities in my electorate and I along with those communities, will continue to take up the fight. I again wish to thank the emergency services for their efforts, including health staff, teachers, the doctors, the nurses, the police and all those whom continue to make me proud of their efforts and flexibilities, to keep our communities safe, healthy and happy. I would also like to thank the Premier, my parliamentary colleagues, the ministerial staff and all those whom help out behind the scenes to keep this parliament running smoothly. I am very blessed to have dedicated electorate staff who have also experienced a tough year, their enduring commitment and support to the many constituents who have contacted my office can be nothing but commended. To Alicia, Cheryl and Paige I say a heartfelt thank you.
Finally, I thank the most important people in my life – my wonderful family, my husband, Michael, and my gorgeous granddaughter, Letty, my sons and their partners, Tom, Brittany, Bradley, and Katie. Thank you for your understanding and support throughout the year. I look forward to quality time spent with you all during the Christmas period. As we look towards 2022, I will continue to deliver for the many communities of the Goulburn electorate and working together on the final stages of the roadmap out of the pandemic. But in the meantime, I would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and I hope you all enjoy a lovely break with quality family time.
Mr GUY ZANGARI (Fairfield)
—We have reached the end of the year and what a year it has been. As we approach the festive season, I reflect back on 2021 and on the challenges our communities have come through. Hopefully we are now at a point where we can look forward to travelling and spending some quality time with our family and friends as we head into Christmas. There are a few people I would like to thank for their support this year. Firstly I would like to thank the Clerks of the Legislative Assembly who always work hard, and never more so than in these last three weeks with extended sitting times. I thank the Speaker, Jonathon O'Dea; the Assistant Speaker; the Deputy Speaker; and the temporary Speakers – we can be a rowdy bunch and it's not always an easy job to maintain order but somehow they manage to do just that. I also thank all staff in Parliament House who keep things going and make sure everything runs smoothly.
I would like to thank my electorate staff – senior electorate officer Stella Patane; Jess Daniele; George Barcha and Katerina Sotiropoulos. This has been a particularly challenging year for them working remotely, but they have continued to keep the show on the road and I thank them for their service to the people of Fairfield and for their personal support. I thank the Fairfield community for their support – I will always be grateful they gave me the honour of representing them. I thank the Leader of the Opposition, Chris Minns, for his leadership and all the Shadow Ministers and my Labor colleagues who continue to serve the people of NSW. I thank my wife, Melissa and our four children – I would not be able to do this job without their love and support, and I am grateful for it.
2021 proved to be yet another year where the COVID-19 pandemic chose to reappear, this time in the form of the deadly Delta strain, providing the people of NSW with an even greater challenge to beat it. June 2021 saw us in lockdown once again, this time with harsher restrictions over a longer period of time. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my fellow members of Parliament who represented their communities, particularly those in the twelve local government areas of concern. The pandemic also highlighted the presence of some very special everyday heroes and I would like to extend my thanks to them for their assistance and support of the community. I thank our frontline essential workers - the doctors both in our hospitals and in general practice, nurses, teachers, cleaners, police, emergency service workers, and supermarket and retail staff. Once again, they have sacrificed long periods of time away from their families to put the needs of the community first and I thank them for this effort.
I also thank those involved in the vaccination program – COVID clinic staff; general practitioners and pharmacists who came on board; and volunteers such as the St John Ambulance Divisions who went above and beyond to assist with a rapid roll-out of the vaccine. The efforts of all these people has been invaluable and I thank them sincerely on behalf of the community. A special thanks goes out to the NSW Police force and to the Australian Defence Force for their assistance with monitoring and with supply of essential items for those in isolation. It was a particularly challenging time for them, especially in the twelve local government areas of concern, as the battle to contain the virus raged on. Lockdown brought with it many challenges and many families found themselves on the bread line due to work restrictions, loss of jobs and closure of businesses. I thank all the community groups who ramped up their efforts and stepped in to support those who were doing it tough.
I especially would like to thank all those who were involved in the Fairfield Electorate Care Package Program – we were able to deliver essential goods to many families across the electorate and I would like to thank all the suppliers, the volunteers, the facilitators and my staff for their contribution in the delivery of so many packages to those in need. I also thank church and community leaders; and representatives of CALD communities who assisted with the translation of Public Health orders for the community. As we head into the festive season , it is with a sigh of relief that we can hopefully look forward to a time of peace and joy, rather than restrictions. As a member of the House I wish everyone a merry Christmas, a restful break and a happy start to 2022, when we come back to do it all again.
Mr JAMIE PARKER (Balmain)
—I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah and a very Happy New Year. I want to start by thanking all of the staff who make this Parliament work, including those in Hansard, the Clerks, the Serjeant at Arms, the special constables, the Parliamentary Counsel, the cleaners who keep our office sparkling, maintenance staff, everyone in catering who keep us caffeinated and the Library, members of the Press Gallery the Department of Parliamentary Services staff, and the Legislative Assembly staff. I acknowledge my Greens colleagues in this House and in the Upper House: Abigail, Cate and David — and all of their staff who are generous with their time and expertise. I thank my colleagues the Member for Ballina, Tamara Smith and the Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong.
As the first ever Greens Member elected to the Legislative Assembly this House used to be quite a lonely place so I was so grateful to be joined by Jenny and Tamara in 2015. These women are tenacious, skilled and passionate and do a really remarkable job of representing their communities in this place. I also want to acknowledge and thank my staff who have worked diligently throughout the COVID pandemic. Often late and on weekends to ensure that folks with urgent questions about border restrictions or visa applications or vaccinations get the right answer quickly. Ned Cutcher who is a constantly patient, deeply knowledgeable and exceptional Electorate Officer. Parissa Zand who is a highly skilled and inquisitive person who brings a brightness to our team – after she has had a coffee. And Eleanor Nurse.
Thank you to all our short term relief staff including David Lewis and Craig Channells. All my staff have worked extremely hard this year to serve the people of the Balmain Electorate. The workload afforded to staffers on the crossbench is significant and COVID has only made that more apparent. I am sure all members will agree that our electoral staff do an amazing job. I thank all the members of the House—Government, Opposition and crossbench. Outside these walls, I want to acknowledge those who will not be getting a holiday this Christmas‑our frontline workers and emergency service personnel. These people have done a remarkable service to this State in 2021 and we are so grateful. I also want to thank everyone in my community, none of whom are ever shy with their frank and fearless advice. I have one of the most active, engaged and informed constituencies but also the most supportive and for that I'm grateful.
I also want to call out those in the community who work constantly with my office on a range of issues:
-The Friends of Callan Park including Cynthia, Ros and Hall
-Kate Horrobin and everyone from Stop Cruise Ship Pollution
-The Balmain Association and all its members including Kath and Michelle Hacking
-Les Johnson and Bill Ryall who regularly provide expert advice to us
Finally my partner Shelley, my daughter Beatrix and my family. I thank the House for the opportunity to deliver felicitations and wish all the members a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2022.
Mr STEPHEN BROMHEAD (Myall Lakes)
—It is an honour to represent the people of the Myall Lakes, and my first greetings for the season are for the people who repose in me their trust to represent them in the NSW Parliament. I thank them for that honour. From students, to school teachers, business owners to healthcare workers, you help make the Myall Lakes community and you have played a vital role in keeping the Myall Lakes moving through this difficult period. I also thank my dedicated staff who help me to give the Myall Lakes a voice: Gary Hoson, Tanya Thompson, Sacha Shipway and Jenny Archdall. I thank my family for their support, not least my wife, Sue. I thank all members of Government for their service to the Chamber and the public. I thank the Premier, the Deputy Premier, all Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and their executive staff. I thank the Table Office staff and the Hansard team. I hope all have a restful Christmas before we come back next year.
I am extremely proud of a number of projects which we have got off the ground in the Myall Lakes this year, including extra funding for the hospital, the rollout of SMART drumlines, funding many sports and community clubs, Surf Life Saving Facilities, schools, and roads. and I am proud that we end the year with a vaccination rate of more than 95% meaning the Myall Lakes electorate has taken steps forward to protect itself against COVID-19. A central message of Christmas is goodwill. I pass on my goodwill to my colleagues and constituents and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy 2022.
Mr JIHAD DIB (Lakemba)
—This is a time of reflection for many of us and I too have been reflecting on how challenging 2021 was. This year has shown us that the measure of a community is not just how it comes together during the enjoyable times, but how it responds during the difficult times. I am especially proud of our community for taking on the challenge not to leave anyone behind. Because of the lockdown laws during the Delta outbreak, I did not have the opportunity to engage with the community in my usual manner. Despite the restrictions, my office remained operational via electronic and telephone support. It is the smallest gesture that can help others. I am pleased to recognise the many community groups and individuals who have demonstrated generosity, kindness, and willingness to help. This included by sending offers of support to residents or by spreading the message to get tested and vaccinated.
I had the opportunity to witness the amazing difference groups like Lighthouse Community Support, Sydney Community Connect, Addison Road community Organisation, Riverwood Community Centre, Turbans 4 Australia, Foodbank, The Greater Western Sydney Giants, and The Canterbury Bankstown Bulldogs made to the many families who were left destitute and in need. It was heart-warming to witness how this community contributed to food hampers whenever there was a call out for support. This community also realised and understood that to be a healthy city the top priority is to get tested and vaccinated. This makes me immensely proud to serve and represent this community. I am grateful to the local vaccination hubs. I want to thank the Lebanese Muslim Association, St Charbel's Monastery in Punchbowl, All Saints Church Belmore, Riverwood Community Centre, Greenacre Community Centre, Morris Iemma Indoor Sports Centre, Acre Club, Bankstown PCYC, Bankstown Sports Club and many other health clinics, pharmacies and hospitals that worked very hard not only to administer vaccines but also educate. Their unwavering commitment to helping our community will never be forgotten.
I am grateful to my family who kept me grounded, kept me fed, kept me sane and kept me loved in a time of great tumult. My second daughter went through the HSC and I hope her hard work and perseverance is rewarded at Christmas. My wife Erin kept the plates spinning and has shown remarkable indulgence in not forcibly shaving my beard. I am grateful to my friends – in the movement and in my community for the laughs, the love and the care. I am grateful to my staff – Taghred, Beryl, Dilan, Liesl, Soumaya, David and James. They worked under enormous pressure and were often the first call for someone in distress. They sat for hours deciphering the ever changing public health orders and trying to find simple answers to complicated questions. They have cried with constituents who saw their loved ones pass away and tried to assist people whose livelihoods have collapsed. They have become accidental counsellors, mentors and advocates and have seen first-hand, the absolute struggle across every aspect of life for my constituents.
This place is a city and a thriving eco-system of interconnected parts. I thank and acknowledge all my colleagues.
•To Colleen Symington and the Opposition Whip's Office - I would not be able to operate without your omnipresent direction.
•To Speaker O'Dea and the Speaker's Office – thank you for your leadership of the Assembly.
•To the Clerks, Helen and the team – your assistance is invaluable.
•To IT, Andrew and the team – thank you for your patience.
•To Building Services, David and the team – thank you for always taking my calls and always lending a hand.
•To the Library – I promise to return my overdue book soon. As a former teacher, believe me, I am appalled at myself.
•To the Special Constables – thank you for keeping us safe always.
•To the cleaners – too often your work goes unacknowledged. Thank you for keeping us safe. Thank you in particular to Urma for her many years of service to this place.
Christmas is a time of year that calls for reflection no matter your faith or background. I am a Muslim MP but I look forward to the renewal, the celebration and most importantly the advent calendars. As the year draws to a close, I thank you for your support and the many messages of appreciation during what has been an enormously stressful time. My team and I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let's hope for a better 2022.
Mr JUSTIN CLANCY (Albury)
—"We must accept finite disappointment, but we must never lose infinite hope." These words of the late Martin Luther King Jr are a fitting marker for 2021 as we find ourselves in the middle of the fight against the pandemic yet with signs of emergence and the success of the vaccine program bringing shafts of light and hope. Businesses have faced the most difficult of times, especially in the areas of hospitality and tourism, as the lockdowns on the border came, went, or stayed and dragged. Government support and public funding have been a help but the wounds are deep and will take time to heal. In most recent days it has been school communities which have, once again, had to deal with shut downs and the agonies of contact tracing through children to families and on to workplaces. I acknowledge what they have been through and appreciate the efforts of our students, parents and the hard work of school principals and staff.
There are many people I would like to thank this year but I will single out those who have been on the frontline – in particular our health teams lead by Jill Ludford and Michael Kalimnios, of Murrumbidgee Local Health District and Albury-Wodonga Health respectively. I thank our stalwarts of accurate covid information and on-the-ground common sense, Superintendent Paul Smith, the Cross-border commissioners James McTavish, Luke Wilson and their teams. I am grateful to NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant for responding to concerns from the Albury community, by travelling to Albury for meetings on 29 October. Dr Chant was generous with her time, running an online forum for P&Cs, briefing school principals and having discussions with local leaders of business. She provided a real boost here when Covid got its claws into Albury.
Community leadership centres on our mayors and council GMs and CEOs, and I acknowledge how they stepped up to the enormous task the pandemic has created. I thank Cr Ruth McCrae and John Scarce at Murrumbidgee, Cr Kevin Mack and Frank Zaknich for Albury, Cr Pat Bourke and Ade Butler for Federation, Cr Heather Wilton and Steve Pinnuck for Greater Hume, and Cr James Hayes and Matt Hyde with Snowy Valleys. And I take this opportunity to thank Kevin for his years of community service and for the commitment behind his promotion of One Community as the reality and way forward for Albury-Wodonga. I thank Premier Dom Perrottet, and Deputy Premier Paul Toole, the Speaker, my parliamentary colleagues, and all who work in Parliament and in electorate offices across New South Wales and along the border in Victoria. In particular, I thank my electorate office staff.
I also take this opportunity to acknowledge and thank Gladys Berejiklian for her mighty work for the state and indeed her friendship at a personal level. We miss her wisdom and her calm presence in this place. I wish her the happiest of Christmasses and a fulfilling year ahead. Once more I give thanks for my family: my wife, Tabitha, and our children, Xavier, Seamus and Natalie. We have much to go through this Christmas and their love and support is precious. While this has been a year of fresh challenges and returning, familiar challenges aligned to the pandemic and its sweep across the nation, I am thankful that our communities are again stretching out from their homes to fill the expanse of social life and work that has been so constrained. I have learned to appreciate the rich idea of community resilience and to work with others to find ways of communicating and getting things done. I thank my community for their kindness to each other, for their strength and indeed their resilience. It is astounding that, after a slow start, my community has reached a double vaccination level of around 95 per cent.
Along the way we have learned a lot about each other and the strengths of our multicultural society that bind us together successfully. Please keep looking out for one another – be a source of comfort and support to each other – and to be a source of renewal. We have been through much. We need to take this Christmas as a time to take stock, regroup and prepare for the new year. The theme of my Christmas cards this year is 'family and friends back together'. I thank all who have made this a reality and a Christmas we will all experience with a degree of relief and gratefulness. Happy Christmas from my family to yours.
Mr EDMOND ATALLA (Mount Druitt)
—I wish all my parliamentary colleagues from both sides of the House a Merry Christmas and a safe return to this parliament in 2022. I hope that you are able to take time to be with your families and loved ones during this festive season. This past year has been difficult and challenging for everyone and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those who have assisted the Parliament in its work. I thank the Legislative Assembly Clerks office and Table staff, who are always helpful, particularly in relation to procedures and guidance. I thank the Hansard staff, who use their command of the English language to make our speeches look better in print than they sounded when we presented them. I thank the security staff for keeping us safe and informing us about suggested security measures.
I acknowledge the work done by the Opposition Whip and the Whip's Office, in particular, Colleen Symington in keeping us all informed and well-disciplined. I also wish to acknowledge and thank the Parliamentary Library in providing research information in a very timely manner. That service is even more crucial when we are in opposition and without the support of government resources. I acknowledge and thank the facilities staff, the catering staff, the cleaners and the information technology staff for the competent and professional service they provide to all members of Parliament. I acknowledge the parliamentary press gallery for keeping the public informed of the many issues raised in this place.
I take this opportunity to thank the Leader of the Opposition, Chris Minns MP, the Shadow Cabinet Members and my parliamentary colleagues for their tremendous efforts in keeping the Government accountable during the most difficult of years, thank you all very much for your help and guidance, it is an honour to be your colleague. I say a special thank you to my Labor branch members who tirelessly support our work in the community. I acknowledge and thank the New South Wales Labor Party General Secretary, Bob Nanva, the Assistant Secretary, Dom Ofner and all the staff in the Party Office for their support and assistance. I am fortunate that I have the best office staff any Member of Parliament could wish for. They make my office run smoothly and serve my constituents in a very professional manner. In particular I thank my office manager, Sarah Hatch, and my electorate staff, Phil, Yvonne, Maddie and Norma.
Working during this pandemic has been challenging for all electorate office staff who have not only kept our electorate offices operational but have also been at the forefront with Covid enquiries and often taking the brunt of people's disappointment and anger. Thank you all. I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my local community groups, who have continually worked through this pandemic, at risk to themselves, to assist those vulnerable members of my community. Thanks will never be enough for your hard work and dedication. I acknowledge the many people who will be working over the Christmas break to look after our health, safety and wellbeing. In particular, I thank the Mount Druitt Hospital staff for the outstanding work they do for our community and I thank the Mount Druitt police for keeping us safe.
Christmas is often a time marked by extreme weather conditions, particularly heat and wet weather. I acknowledge the efforts of our volunteers from the NSW Rural Fire Service and our Local Emergency Service who work in extreme conditions to keep us safe. I also acknowledge the many volunteering organisations in my electorate who look after the vulnerable in our community, particularly organisations that provide Christmas meals for those who are alone during this festive period. I also take this opportunity to thank our frontline essential workers for their dedication and hard work over the year. I extend my appreciations to all of you, the reality of what could have happened if you had not been there willing to do your job is unthinkable. We cannot ever thank you enough.
Lastly, as members know, our job cannot be done effectively without family support. I thank my family, in particular, my wife, Dimyana; my daughters, Natalie and Eustina; my son-in-law, John; my Grandkids Elise and Nicholas and my mother- in-law, Mary. I thank them for their understanding and tolerance of my regular absences and the late nights. Whilst the lockdown allowed me the pleasure of spending more time with them at home, like so many of us, it was very hard not being able to see my grandkids for such a considerable period of time. I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year.
Dr HUGH McDERMOTT (Prospect)
—After what has been a long and challenging year, we have reached the wonderful Christmas season. With the easing of restrictions and regional travel allowed, we can take joy in reuniting and embracing our family and loved ones. Making this time of year more special than ever. Throughout the year, our Western Sydney community has shown strength and resilience. I would like to thank our community for doing the right thing, following the health orders, and stepping up to support one another during this difficult time. I encourage you to continue checking in with your family and friends. Christmas is a time for family and for showing community spirit. I would like to express my sincere gratitude and acknowledge the community groups and charities in the Electorate of Prospect that have worked tirelessly to provide assistance to our community during the COVID-19 lockdown. Your efforts are a testament to the strength of our Western Sydney community. I hope you all enjoy a very safe and joyful Christmas surrounded by your family and loved ones.
It is an immense privilege to stand in this Chamber and represent the wonderful Electorate of Prospect. I'd like to thank my constituents for placing your trust in me as your State Member of Parliament. I am so proud to represent our community and look forward to continue working with you to ensure that Western Sydney is put first. With the myriad of challenges faced in our community this year, my Electorate staff have worked around the clock to ensure the concerns for individuals, families and business in Prospect were met. To my hardworking Electorate staff, David Weston, Annie Wang, Brooke Unsworth, Nick Haughain, Akano Amuda, and Michael Kolokossian – thank you for your dedication to the Prospect Electorate Office and our community. I also thank my parliamentary colleagues, from all sides of politics. Despite political differences, we all care for our communities and have pledged to serve New South Wales. We should be proud of our bipartisan achievements, and must take this energy into 2022 to best serve our community.
To the fantastic team at the Department of Parliamentary Services, including Clerks, Deputy Clerks, Hansard staff, NSW Police Force Special Constables, IT, cleaners, maintenance, cleaners and kitchen team‑thank you for providing exceptional service and dedication throughout the year. Parliament sitting days can be lengthy and rigorous, but you have made the process seamless. Finally, I thank my beautiful family—my wife, Bettina, and our three daughters, Geneva, Camille and Olivia. Your support means everything to me. Every action I take in this place I do to ensure you are proud of me. You are my greatest motivation. I pray that everyone has a safe holiday, surrounded by family, friends and loved ones. Merry Christmas and God bless.
Mrs SHELLEY HANCOCK (South CoastMinister for Local Government)
——Mr Speaker, the past 12 months has seen the South Coast community face significant challenges. Despite the Black Summer bushfires impacting our region almost 24 months ago, my community is still recovering and feeling the impacts of such significant trauma. The southern suburbs of my electorate have also been impacted by floods and of course our state faced the biggest challenge of our generation with the COVID-19 pandemic. However the South Coast community is resilient. Despite such significant challenges, we have managed to come through the other side and look to brighter days. I sincerely thank so many on the South Coast who assisted our community come through these challenges.
Whether the wonderful men and women of the Rural Fire Service, State Emergency Service and other emergency services such as NSW Police, NSW Fire and Rescue, NSW Surf Life Saving, Marine Rescue and many, many more, to the Doctors, Nurses and Allied Health professionals who have served on the front line during the pandemic, thank you. To our teachers who faced some of the biggest challenges and parents who became teachers, thank you. I know that as we move beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and get back to life as we used to know it, the wonderful South Coast community will remain as resilient as ever, and leaders in times of adversity. Across the South Coast, despite so many challenges, we as a Government have continued to deliver. Upgrades along the Princes Highway are continuing between Berry and Bomaderry and the Nowra Bridge is almost halfway complete.
Planning for a new flyover is close to being finalised at the Jervis Bay Road/Princes Highway intersection and additional planning continues to upgrade the Highway south of Nowra. We have progressed work on the upgrade to Shoalhaven District Memorial Hospital and announced a new site for a brand new preschool. We have delivered important funding to complete the boardwalk at Ulladulla Harbour and the new CUC is due to open imminently. The site for new primary school for Worrigee/South Nowra has been announced and we saved important educational land from sale at Mollymook. This is just some of the work we continue to do for the South Coast, not mentioning the significant funding we have provided to local businesses and residents to help assist with bushfire, flood and COVID recovery.
I thank my hard working Electorate Office staff, Lynne Arnold, Adam Carney, Matthew Allen and Caitlin Davis, who like many electorate office staff have been faced with new challenges of getting ever evolving information out to our community quickly. I also wish to acknowledge my hard working Ministerial staff led by my Chief of Staff Luke Sikora. Thank you to Jane Boag, Troy Wilkie, Michelle Lane, Clayton Hopper, Tracy Hodgkinson, Damien Bolte, and Allison Balding for your continued hard work in the Local Government portfolio. We have worked extraordinarily hard to support the Local Government sector and our councils through recent challenges and in the lead up to the Local Government Elections next month. We have delivered significant legislative reform, secured financial assistance for all councils across our communities and worked hard with the sector to identify and deliver reform to strengthen our Local Government sector.
I acknowledge the hard working Kiersten Fishburn, Secretary of the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment and her team for their continued work and service to our local councils. To the entire team at the Office of Local Government, particularly Keith Baxter, Melissa Gibbs, Chris Allen and Grant Gleeson as well as Ally Dench and Brett Whitworth who recently joined the team, thank you for your hard work in what was a very challenging and busy year. Can I also thank the team within the DPIE – Environment Energy and Science group, including Dean Knudson and Sharon Molloy and pay particular thanks to Michelle Fletcher for her continued hard work and congratulate her on her appointment to the role of Director. I must also make mention of Dr Phil Watson and thank him for his dedication to our coastal communities.
Coastal Management remains a significant challenge our state faces, however over the past 12 months our team has worked hard to assist local councils plan for the future through their Coastal Management Programs. We continue to work one-on-one with councils and communities to address significant issues up and down our coast, and I remain focused on ensuring we address these issues for the longterm. I look forward to continuing to work with councils across New South Wales in order to build on our reforms to date which aim to deliver a strong Local Government sector. There will continue to be challenges which need to be responded to, and there is a substantial amount of work to be done. I look forward to continuing this work.
Ms MELANIE GIBBONS (Holsworthy)
—Mr Speaker, the end of the year allows us to take the time to thank and acknowledge everyone who has helped and supported the running of our great State. I start by thanking former Premier and friend, Gladys Berejiklian, and former Deputy Premier, John Barilaro, for seeing us through a very stressful and challenging time in our state's history. I would also like to thank the new NSW Leadership team of Premier Perrottet, Deputy Premier Toole, Minister Ayres and Minister Taylor for continuing the good work of their predecessors in seeing us out of COVID-19. While all our Ministers are dedicated, I would particularly like to acknowledge Brad Hazzard and Stuart Ayres; who listened to me and conveyed mine and my community's concerns to the crisis cabinet during this year's Covid lockdowns.
Mr Speaker, so much of the Government would not be able to function without the hardworking and dedicated support of our Ministerial Staff – especially their Parliamentary Advisers. I would like to thank Michael Evangelidis, Jerome Boutelet, Bryce O'Connor, Justin Cordi, Adelaide Cuneo, Patrick Wynne, Dom Bondar, Clayton Hopper, Priya Paggaddinnimath, Charlotte Inwood, Amanda Choularton and Alex Tooth for their assistance to me and the Holsworthy Electorate over the past year. I would also like to especially highlight Ellie Stamatelatos, the Parliamentary Adviser to the Minister for Health and Medical Research, who has been available to every Member in this place to ensure that they received accurate information in a timely manner during this difficult time. She is someone who has really stood out to me – and many other members – over this past year and who should be congratulated.
I would also like to thank some of our Ministerial Staff who also go above and beyond to assist my office and our community, including Luke Sikora, Jane Boag, Troy Wilkie, James Malin, Jordan Matthews, Tanya Raffoul, Jessica Neale, Cam Dunger, Angus McKenzie–Wills, Asher Miners and Dan Reubenach. Mr Speaker, this place would not run without our Leader of the House, the Hon. Mark Speakman MP and the Whips team including the Member for Terrigal and Government Whip, Adam Crouch MP; Member for Cootamundra and Nationals Whip, Steph Cooke MP; Member for Heathcote and Deputy Government Whip, Lee Evans MP; the Liberal Party Whips Adviser, Ben Sheath; and, the National Party Whips Adviser, Viv Lee. This team ensures that laws continue to be passed efficiently and effectively, in what can be busy and chaotic sitting periods.
Mr Speaker, I would also like to thank you for your steady and just leadership over this term, and your other members of the Speaker's Panel, including Deputy Speaker, Leslie Williams MP; Assistant Speaker, Mark Coure MP; and, Temporary Speakers – Lee Evans MP, Wendy Tuckerman MP, Greg Piper MP, Gurmesh Singh MP, Sonia Hornery MP and Felicity Wilson MP. Mr Speaker, I would also like to take the time to thank those in the Parliament who enable us to come in to this place and debate legislation including our Clerk, Helen Minnican; Deputy Clerk, Carly Maxwell; Clerk Assistant, Simon Johnston; Sergeant-at-arms, Rohan Tyler; the Security Team (including our Special Constables); Hansard; the LA Attendants Team; the audio visual team, our catering and café staff – including the wonderful Kylie; and, all of the cleaners in this place (who have been more important than ever with COVID).
Mr Speaker, I would also like to take this time to pay tribute to all of the staff who work within the committees. I am always astounded by the amount of knowledge and information they are able to provide and present across multiple committees and subjects. Our IT Team, particularly Helen Johnston, are always helpful, but acted swiftly during Covid so we could work from home, then later log in to a new virtual Parliament so we could stay with our communities in their time of need. Mark Webb has had an unexpectedly busy year focusing on the safety of everyone in the Parliament building. My team are amazingly helpful. They did not stop for a beat during Covid – we were busier than ever and they rose to the challenge; going out of their way to show care to everyone in our electorate. In March Clayton Hopper went to work with Minister Shelley Hancock and while missed, I know he is making a difference there.
To Daniel Nicholls, Sophie Carlton, Faith Perryman and Marc Landrigan – no member in this place could wish for better and you will always have my gratitude. My mum and dad, Scott and Rhonda Gibbons, and other half Kent Johns, and my girls Audrey and Elizabeth Johns, give me a focus and drive. I thank them for their patience and understanding for this service. Finally, a huge thank you to the Holsworthy community for their support.
Mr MARK COURE (Oatley)
—Speaker, during the last parliamentary sitting week for 2021, I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate both sides of the House on an interesting, challenging, but very rewarding year in NSW Parliament. I wish all Members and their families a restful and enjoyable Christmas period before we continue working for the people of New South Wales in 2022. This year we faced unprecedented challenges as we continued to navigate our way through the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to firstly thank every single person across the State who has come forward and got vaccinated. Without our strong vaccination rates, the eased restrictions that we enjoy today would simply not be possible. I would also like to thank all of our frontline staff who have worked tirelessly to keep our community safe and operating smoothly.
In particular, I wish to thank Paul Darcy, Cath Whitehead and Tom Karagiannis from St George Hospital who have worked tirelessly to protect our community from COVID-19 through both testing and vaccinations. On behalf of the people of our community, I want to sincerely thank our Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant and the entire team at NSW Health for their commitment to supporting our community over the past 18 months. The late nights, early mornings and 11:00am press conferences have been invaluable in keeping our community up to date and informed. I know that the St George community is thankful for all of your dedication and service. I must commend the Premier of New South Wales, Dominic Perrottet, as well as former Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, for their leadership and commitment to our community throughout this difficult period. Without it, I cannot say that our State would be in the strong position that it is in today.
I also want to thank our new Treasurer, Matt Kean, for his commitment to rebuilding our economy and for his work in ensuring that our natural environment can not only survive, but thrive in years to come. Can I also thank my St George and Sutherland Shire colleagues for supporting me as the Member for Oatley. This includes: Eleni Petinos, Mark Speakman, Melanie Gibbons, Wendy Lindsay, Lee Evans, Stephen Kamper and Chris Minns. As Assistant Speaker, I could not do the role that I do without the support of the Speaker, Jonathan O'Dea, the entire Speaker's Panel and our Government Whip, Adam Crouch. I also want to farewell my dear friend and the Member for Bega, Andrew Constance and I wish him all the best for the future. This year has been a fantastic year for upgrades and improvements to local infrastructure throughout the seat of Oatley including:
•The opening of the brand new Penshurst Public School
•Further progress on the widening of King Georges Road
•More trains and more services throughout the St George area
•The opening of the Brighton Memorial Playing Fields
•Progress on the upgrades to the Princes Highway at Blakehurst
•Commencing the final stages of Gannons Park
We have also seen over 550 local residents enrol in a fee-free short course through TAFE NSW and we have welcomed more than 40 new police officers to the St George and Campsie Police Area Commands. There is still more work to be done and I look forward to continuing to deliver for the St George area both in 2022 and beyond. I cannot conclude this speech without thanking my electorate office staff, Team Coure. Thank you again to my right-hand man Shane, for all of the late nights, early phone calls and for keeping my office running smoothly. To Jared, Jayden and Charlotte, thank you for your support and all of your hard work as well. I also want to acknowledge both Laura and Justin who have left my electorate office this year and I wish them all the best in their future endeavours. Thank you as well to all of the Ministerial and Parliamentary staff for your support and assistance, particularly during the latest COVID-19 outbreak.
In particular, I want to thank Ellie Stamatelatos, Priya Pagaddinnimath, Alexandra Tooth, Clayton Hopper, Adelaide Cuneo and Imogen Posa. To my dear wife Adla, I thank you for all of the support you have given me over the past 10 and a half years and to my children, James and Sam, who always keep me grounded and are growing up far too fast. I could never do the job I do and achieve the things I have for the community without the help and support of each and every one of you. From my family to yours, we wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a blessed start to the New Year.
Mr DAVID MEHAN (The Entrance)
—I send Christmas greetings to all my constituents in The Entrance electorate and wish them and their families a restful holiday. I thank them all for the trust they have placed in me and record again my appreciation for the honour I have been granted to represent them in this place. On behalf of my electorate let my offer my condolences to those who suffered over the year as a result of the COVID‑19 pandemic and those who have lost loved ones. I also want to thank all those workers who could not work from home but kept this state operating during this trying period. I thank my community for their support over the past 12 months. That support manifests itself in the results we have achieved in the electorate, often resisted by the government, from the humble upgrade of a pedestrian crossing brought to my attention by my constituent Pam Slough at Killarney Vale to bigger works like the full upgrade of Lisarow Station championed over many years by Anne Young.
I could not serve The Entrance electorate without my marvellous electorate office staff. Each day they help my constituents represents Labors commitment to make government serve the needs of the community. I make particular mention of my senior electoral officer, Catherine Wall, who is a perfect fit for the role. I also thank Danielle Atherden, my newest staff member Mollie Reed and Peyton Roberts-Garnsey for the unique contribution each has made to our team and to the work of representing our community. Peyton has decided to move to the office of the Member for Gosford and note I will miss her dearly and hope she goes on to greater things in her new role. I also would like to shout out to Alfat Karnib who is on leave with her new family. We can't wait to have you back. I have noted before, the role of Opposition in a parliamentary democracy is a tough one. The Opposition does not have the resources of the Government and, as Opposition Deputy Whip, I thank my caucus colleagues for their hard work during the year. Personally, I thank them for their support.
The Opposition Whips office would not work at all without the most hardworking member of the Opposition, Colleen Symington. She keeps us focused and on top of things in this place, and I give her my personal thanks and the thanks of the whole Labor caucus. I want to acknowledge Labors new leadership team and congratulate them for the focus and energy they have brought to our work. It has been an honour working with my Labor colleagues and representing Labor in this place. I want to particularly commend my Central Coast colleagues, Yasmin Catley the Member for Swansea, David Harris, the Member for Wyong and Liesl Tesch the Member for Gosford. Labors cause is well served on the Coast by the way we work together. I thank the Labor Party members in The Entrance electorate for their support and commitment to a Labor Government in this state.
The staff of Parliament House do a fantastic job. I have said before that, as a socialist, it gives me great heart to see public servants running things as efficiently as this place runs. I recognise the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Helen Minnican, and her staff; the Department of Parliamentary Services staff; and the library and catering staff—particularly Mai Le, who regularly brings meals to my room through the day. I also thank Hansard for turning my mumbles into intelligent speech. It is a job well done. I thank the Speaker and his staff for their work. The Speaker has brought a more measured tone to the house and improved its operation greatly. I thank my family for their patients and support. My partner, Deanne, has helped me through a trying year and built a comfortable home for us and which provides a wonderful sanctuary from the world of politics. I particularly thank her for the work she does when I'm here in caring for Maren, Gram and our smelly dog Gruff.
Over the coming year there is much more to be done to make The Entrance electorate a better and fairer place and I will finish by wishing Government members a merry Christmas. I look forward to both working with and beating you in the not too distant future.
Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore)
—We are all looking forward to this Christmas and the joy it brings after the challenging couple of years it has been. From droughts, bushfires and floods, through to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are all grateful to those who worked so tirelessly to keep us safe. I feel great privilege in representing the people of North Shore; never more so than during these past two years when their community spirit shone through. I thank everyone in my community for their kindness and compassion this year, and I especially thank our frontline workers who continued their work and contributed to keeping our community safe. And through it all the Parliament has continued to operate, albeit with restrictions. This institution exists because of its people: from the front desk to the cafe to Hansard. Our wonderful attendants, all those who work in catering, the security team, our cleaners and maintenance team, and the Clerk and her team. I appreciate everything they do and the support they have provided to me and my colleagues, especially during the new operating environment they have had to adapt to this year.
I am fortunate to serve as the Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment, and I would like to recognise the Treasurer and Minister for Energy and Environment, Matt Kean. It is a great privilege for me to work alongside such a champion to address climate change. I particularly want to thank his staff Ben Coles, Christian Dunk, Ava Hancock, Kaycie Bradford, Anthony Brewster, Dimitry Palmer and Christine Chalker for the support and advice they provide to me in this role. As a team, they are hardworking and driven to deliver on behalf of NSW, today and for the future. We are all better for their contribution. I also acknowledge the Minister for Local Government, Shelley Hancock with whom I have been working on coastal management policy, and her staff, Jane Boag, Caterina Polistina and Luke Sikora. As Deputy Chair of the Committee on Planning and Environment and the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters, I want to thank all the committee staff, including Elaine Schofield, who retired as Director of Committees this year, Caroline Hopley, Ze Nan Ma, Stephanie Mulvey, Elspeth Dyer, Dora Oravecz, and Bjarne Nordin, and their teams.
Being a member of the Perrottet Government truly is a great honour and privilege. I thank Premier Dominic Perrottet for his leadership over recent months and for guiding NSW through easing public health restrictions and moving forward with our economic recovery. He is supported by an outstanding team, including Chief of Staff, Bran Black. Thanks to the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard, and Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant and her team, for their continuous work throughout this year. Brad is the type of MP and Minister who works with everyone in a non-partisan way, giving his all and never losing his kindness and spirit – even in a pandemic. I acknowledge two colleagues who are leaving this place. Thank you to Andrew Constance for his support and guidance and his leadership and commitment to serving NSW as the Minister for Transport and Roads, and his legacy on disability policy. I also thank John Barilaro for his leadership as Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional New South Wales, Industry and Trade.
Thank you to the Speaker, Jonathan O'Dea, and his staff. I ceased to be a member of his Speaker's panel earlier this year and remain grateful that he gave me the opportunity to fulfill that important role. Thank you also to the Whip, Adam Crouch, and the team, Ben Sheath and Viv Lee. I also acknowledge and thank the former Premier Gladys Berejiklian, who worked tirelessly this year for the people of NSW and navigated NSW through one of our toughest periods with the COVID-19 pandemic, and did so with integrity, compassion and a laser-like focus on the needs of the community. Locally, I am also losing my neighbor as the Member for Willoughby, and we share the lower north shore community, and I while I will miss her I am grateful for the years of her personal friendship and support. Most importantly, I want to acknowledge my electorate office staff who have worked with me this year, Lisa Forrest, Natalie Windle, Declan Stack, Emily Pavey, and Chris McDermott. Thank you for supporting me and working tirelessly for our community, particularly during the COVID-19 stay at home orders.
Challenging times make you focus closer to home. I am most grateful to have the constant support of my family, especially my sisters Alexia and Christiana, who are always there for me and two little ones, Eleanor and Henry. Thank you all for your continuing love and support. Merry Christmas and all the very best wishes for a relaxing break with your families and friends.
Ms JENNY AITCHISON (Maitland)
—Sadly 2021 will be forever etched in our minds as a year that people in our community become sick from COVID, and I pass my deepest condolences to those who have lost family and friends, and I pay my respects to those we have lost. COVID brought challenges to all of us, and it is only through our collective efforts, caring for others and working together that we will make our way to recovery. 2021 has been a tumultuous year that has seen my amazing electorate office team working so hard, often very late into the night, and over every single day (including weekends), supporting thousands of people in our community to navigate these challenges. So many issues came at us thick and fast, and as a leader in my community, I felt a deep and heavy responsibility to help everyone who came to me for help.
It was impossible to do this alone, of course, but I am so lucky and privileged to work with (in my view) the most dedicated and caring electorate officers in NSW: people who put the community first in everything they do and say. I thank Christine Boyd, Alexandria Carruthers, Luce Andrews, Teha Brazier, Jayden Roberson and Judy Williams for their professionalism and genuine compassion and care under such extraordinary circumstances, and to Garry Blair and Eve Nesmith who left my office to pursue other opportunities during the year. I want to give special thanks to those people who reached out to my team and me, and who were patient, generous, compassionate and understanding. In a time of such uncertainty it is often easy to blame others, but I was humbled and grateful for the grace of people who accepted answers that they didn't want to hear in good faith, for the greater good.
That is true community spirit. And I thank everyone who made sacrifices to keep others safe. If we have learned nothing else from this year, it is the importance of community, of being together, of respect and kindness and dignity. I want to give special thanks to everyone who has gone out and been vaccinated. Today, Maitland's vaccination rate for 1st and 2nd doses is greater than 95% - a fantastic effort from everyone! Of course, thank you to our health workers –doctors, nurses, midwives, cleaners, assistants, pathologists, psychologists, paramedics and others in our health system who have worked so hard to keep us safe and well and strong and vaccinated. I thank those who ensured that the transport workers who kept the buses and trains and point to point vehicles running. Workers who ensured chemists and supermarkets kept trading so people could purchase essential medications and food. Teachers and other education staff who ensured that students continued their learning and their parents who supported their children so well!
Cleaners and the many people who are working in other often invisible roles – please know how much we all value you and thank you for all you do, at your own risk, every day, for our community. You have all proven how strong and united our community is, and what a formidable force we can be when we work together. I thank the members of the Press Gallery who work to keep our community informed, particularly Sarah Navin and Michael Parris who are so important for our regional news. I thank our local media particularly Donna Sharpe and Rick Allen at the Maitland Mercury and Damon Cronshaw and Donna Page at the Newcastle Herald; and Rod Thompson from the Newcastle Weekly, Jessica Rouse from 2HD and New FM, and the teams at 2 NURFM, ABC Newcastle, NBN TV Newcastle who continue to provide important local news to our community.
I thank Hansard, the Clerks at the table and the Sergeant-at-Arms, the Chamber attendants, catering team, cleaners and gardeners for all you do to help us do our work in this place. I thank my two beautiful and loving children, Josh and Jess, who have left this year to go and pursue their tourism dreams – Josh in Adelaide and Jess in Uluru. I miss you greatly but I am so proud of you. I thank our extended family and friends for the love and support they have shown Robert and I through this year. Most of all I thank my wonderful husband, Robert. We have finally emptied our little nest, but we are filling our days in the community and working hard together as always, and learning to garden and cook together which has been fun. I wish you and your loved ones a happy and safe holiday season. Like so many, I am eager to close the book on 2021, and move onto 2022, which I hope, is a better year for all of us.
Mr JOHN SIDOTI (Drummoyne)
—It is a pleasure to contribute to the Christmas Felicitations as we reflect on 2021, prepare for the Christmas period and plan for the new year ahead. I would like to pass on my very best wishes for a safe and Merry Christmas. The past two years have been particularly challenging for our state and its people as we have navigated the health, social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge the constituents of the Drummoyne electorate. I have been in awe of the resilience and strength shown by my community. In this past year, I have seen small businesses bounce back with new and innovative ideas following extended restrictions, the class of Year 12 successfully complete their HSC with tenacity after much disruption, and community and religious groups such as the Abbotsford Presbyterian Church answer the call for help by providing groceries and household items to people who were in need. Thank you to those individuals and community groups who went above and beyond to help their neighbours in a time of hardship and need.
I wish to acknowledge my electorate office staff. Last week two of my staff members were awarded 10‑year service award. Congratulations to Betty Di Pasqua and Jim Biniares for this remarkable achievement. Thank you both for all that you do in the Drummoyne electorate office. Betty keeps the wheels running in the office with her strong work ethic, wisdom and kind nature. She approaches every encounter with constituents with empathy and respect. Jim is another valued member of my team who keeps us all in good spirits with his great sense of humour. He has always tried his very best to help constituents and has an ability to relate with them. The level of service offered by my electorate office staff is second to none. All Members of this House know that it is not always easy for staff, but they always do an incredible job and work very hard for their communities. I would like to thank my staff and indeed the staff of each electorate office in NSW.
To the staff of this Parliament who play an instrumental role in ensuring the House runs smoothly on sitting days – thank you. Finally, I wish to acknowledge all Members of this place and. We are given an incredible privilege to serve our community. I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a safe, happy and healthy 2022. Let us hope for peace, joy and harmony for the new year and beyond.
Mr BRAD HAZZARD (WakehurstMinister for Health and Medical Research)
——As Minister for Health and Medical Research, I would like to take the opportunity to place a few words on the record after what has been a truly challenging year. Firstly, to our frontline health and other emergency workers, thank you. Thank you for working tirelessly, day after day, putting yourselves at risk to keep the rest of us safe during the COVID‑19 pandemic. Whilst we are in a positive position today, with what looks to be a wonderful summer and festive season ahead, we are here thanks to you and your dedication to our community. To the outstanding team at NSW Health, to whom we all owe so much, I thank you for working to keep our health system functioning and prepared to respond to the challenges of COVID-19. I would like to thank the Secretary of NSW Health, the brilliant Elizabeth Koff, Deputy Secretaries Phil Minns and Nigel Lyons. The incredible Deputy Secretary Susan Pearce, who over the course of the pandemic served as the State Health Emergency Operations Centre Controller, and was instrumental in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine across New South Wales.
I also want to thank Chief Health Officer and Deputy Secretary, Dr Kerry Chant, who has kept us safe and given so much of herself to the people of New South Wales over the past nearly two years. I also wish to acknowledge Dr Jeremy McAnulty, Dr Marianne Gale, Dr Michelle Cretikos, Dr Richard Broome, Gemma Broderick, Leanne O'Shannessy, Kate Boyd, Kate Pritchett, Conor Cullen, Joanne Edwards, Rebecca Wark, Tracey McCosker, Commissioner Dominic Morgan and so many others that I have not named but never stopped working whether in front of the cameras or behind the scenes of the COVID-19 public health response. I thank the Chief Executives of the Local Health Districts and Specialty Networks, who worked around the clock to combat COVID-19 and rollout vaccination locally. A huge thank you to Dr Teresa Anderson AM, Amanda Larkin, Scott McLachlan, Graeme Loy, Umit Agis, Wayne Jones, Tobi Wilson, Jill Ludford, Deb Willcox, Brad Astill, Michael DiRienzo, Stewart Dowrick, Kay Hyman, Margot Mains, Margaret Bennett, Cathryn Cox and Rajiv Anand.
To my wonderful, tenacious and loyal team, whom I'm sure all members in this place have had dealings with over the years, thank you for your hard work and support, of not only myself, but of all Members in this Place and their communities. I wish to thank my Chief of Staff Leonie Lamont, Deputy Chief of Staff Ed Clapin, Media Director Julie Garvey, other media staff, Natasha Wallace, Nicolette Kormendy, Policy Director Jasmine Tackman, along with George John, Sandy Fitter, Simon Santow, Abbie Chugg, Amy Hargrave, Ellie Stamatelatos, Ellie Pittorino, Sarah McQuarrie, Peter List, Jo White, Jennifer Gillott, Helen Morrow, Cathy Cotton and Ingrid Pazderski. Every one of my staff know they are here to serve the people of New South Wales and accordingly treat all MPs irrespective of political persuasions with the same grace, energy and commitment, and I thank them for that.
Also I thank my incredible electorate staff, including Toby Williams, Frank Maiuolo, Parry Skene, Luke Sutherland and Robyn Young, and my recently retired drivers Bill Young, Colin Szokolai, and my current driver, Brett Gillard. Each of my electorate staff are committed to the residents of Wakehurst and the broader Northern Beaches community and I thank them for that commitment. For 30 years the local community have supported me and I thank all of you for electing me and allowing me to represent you. To my Liberal, National, Labor and Independent colleagues in this Place, thank you for your support over the past year and a half in the most challenging times, COVID-19 time. You have all done an outstanding job in support of your communities, and should all be proud of your efforts both in and out of this Place. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Gladys Berejiklian, who I worked closely alongside not just through the pandemic, but for nearly 20 years.
The entire New South Wales community owes so much to Gladys and I thank her on behalf of all of us for her outstanding service and contribution to the state. The passage of her leaving this Place will be judged by history but in my view the majority of our community will see it as unreasonable, unfair and unnecessary. Lastly, a sincere and heartfelt thank you to the people of New South Wales across the state for sticking with us over the course of the pandemic and putting in the work to get to where we are now. Across our state it has been the most challenging of times but together we have withstood COVID's onslaught and are coming through the challenges it has presented. Thank you. Felicitations to all.
Dr MARJORIE O'NEILL (Coogee)
—For many, many people across our State, Christmas this year will be more of a blessing than ever. Families will be able to enjoy time together after many months, or even years apart, separated by border closures, both domestic and international. Many people will be looking forward to once again holding their loved ones in their arms, some of the youngest they will not yet have met. I hope that people across the Coogee electorate, the Eastern Suburbs and right across NSW have the opportunity to take a breath, take a break, take stock and find some peace in what has been a year like no other. But this Christmas will also be a hard time for many people across our communities who are out of work or looking for work, and who are worried about putting food on the table, keeping a roof over their heads and being able to look after their families.
It will be a hard time for those who have tragically lost family and friends, whether that be due to the COVID 19 pandemic or any other cause, and who will be spending Christmas without some of their most loved ones. I wish to take this opportunity to thank all of our frontline workers who have supported our community right throughout the pandemic, through the darkest days of lockdown and who are still working tirelessly to help us step closer toward normality. To our wonderful health care workers. I wish to thank all of our nurses, doctors, midwives, paramedics, orderlies, cleaners, catering staff, allied health workers and indeed all of our frontline health workers. Our phenomenal public health unit based at the Prince of Wales Hospital, who have served our community and this state so well in their contact tracing work, and their expert advice, delivered on a daily basis.
To our Police, Fire Service and all frontline workers, our State is would not have made it through the past year without you. Thank you for keeping us safe. To our amazing teachers! You deserve more than thanks, you deserve a pay rise. I take the opportunity of Christmas felicitations to thank each and every one of you. This past year has also allowed us to broaden our understanding of what a frontline worker is and exactly how many people we rely on day in, day out, to keep our community running. There simply isn't enough space on the page to thank them all, but to make a start I'd like to thank and acknowledge our cleaners, bus drivers, retail workers, logistics workers, truck drivers, taxi drivers, delivery people and so many more. For all of you, working from home during the lockdown was not an option. Thank you for rolling up your sleeves and going to work every day to keep our community running.
This year has also been difficult for our Parliament. With that in mind, I wish to thank all of the parliamentary staff. Ms Helen Minnican, our wonderful Clerk and all of her amazing team for making sure what we do in Parliament every day is indeed, Parliamentary. I also wish to thank the CEO, Mark Webb, for another year of incredible service, potentially the most complex year yet. I thank our wonderful Chamber support staff for all their work in keeping this Chamber running smoothly, including allowing Members to join remotely for the first time in Parliament's history. I extend my deep thanks to our catering and cleaning teams, as well as every member of the library, information services, the Table Office, Hansard, Chamber support and everyone who works here, at Parliament House, for the work they do every day, including our wonderful Special Constables, who still deserve a pay rise.
To the amazing community of the Eastern Suburbs and the Coogee Electorate. I have always been proud to call myself an Eastern Suburbs local, but never more than in the last year. The way that our community has come together to support one another, especially the most vulnerable, has just been truly inspirational. There are too many wonderful local charities to name, but to start I wish to acknowledge the incredible work of Project Kindness. Clem and her team have done it all in the past year. Through my office, we were able to fund a food drive for those in need and Clem and her team worked tirelessly to get support to those who needed it right across the Eastern Suburbs. We were also able supply a number of local families and school students with the devices they needed to access school remotely. To every single person, and there are hundreds, that donated good to my office – thank you! Merry Christmas and happy holidays to all. May your 2022 be bright.
Mr PETER SIDGREAVES (Camden)
—Mr Speaker, as we prepare for the end of this year I would begin by acknowledging the hardship our state of NSW has faced with the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, has been both challenging and difficult, however, it has reminded us of what is truly important. That is our family, friends and community. The residents and businesses of the Camden electorate have proven that they are resilient and community minded. During the 2021 Delta variant coronavirus lockdown, the Residents of Camden, Liverpool and Wollondilly consistently turned up in large numbers to be tested for COVID-19. And when vaccinations became available these residents turned up again and got vaccinated in large numbers, particularly in the Camden Local Government Area who were one of the top 3 LGAs to reach >95% double vaccinated. All residents should be proud for the commitment they've shown to their communities. In an unprecedented year your efforts have made all the difference.
To the residents of the Camden electorate, I thank you for the opportunity to represent you in this Parliament. Your correspondence and feedback allow me to best represent you and it is an absolute honour and privilege serving you. I would like to thank the Premier who has proven to be an outstanding Treasurer. In the short time you have been Premier you are proving to be a true leader and are already laying the foundation to be an outstanding Premier. I would also like to especially thank the former Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian for your inspirational leadership, support and guidance that you provided me and all residents of NSW. I would also like to thank and acknowledge yourself Mr Speaker. I thank you for not only the work that you do in the Chamber but also for your commitment to professional development for Members. I have thoroughly enjoyed and learnt a lot from the thought leadership breakfasts.
I also thank the Deputy Speaker, the Assistant Speaker and the Temporary Speakers for the work that they do keeping us in order. I thank the Government whips for the work that you do organising Government Members and ensuring we're all doing what we should be doing. I thank the Ministers for taking the time to listening, considering and regularly actioning my advocacy for more infrastructure and services on behalf of the Camden residents and businesses. I also thank their office staff for the briefings and support you have provided to me. Your expertise and advice is always greatly appreciated not only by me but also the team in the Camden electoral office. I thank my Liberal friends and colleagues whose advice and support are always welcomed. I also take this time to thank the Clerk and her office and the committee secretariats who support the Committee work that we do.
A special and warm thank you to my Electorate Office staff who have supported me and supported the community. They have spent tirelessly hours helping the residents of the Camden electorate and continued to work through the pandemic. Alex, Jo, Ali and Claudia your dedication to serving our residents and businesses is always appreciated. I also thank Caitlin and Josh for the time they spent in the electorate office during the peak of the 2021 COVID-19 pandemic. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, a relaxing break and a Happy New Year with family and friends. To all the front line workers including doctors, nurses, emergency services and teachers for the work that you have done to keep all in the Camden electorate safe. To everyone I have thanked I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas surrounded by family and friends. I hope that you're all able to enjoy a relaxing break over the holiday season and I wish you all the very best for the New Year.
Mr NICK LALICH (Cabramatta)
—I take the opportunity to reflect on this year's parliamentary session. It has been a very busy year for us all, as we serving our communities and making New South Wales a better place for everyone. While debates can get heated, for the most part there are some great friendships and a healthy respect for both sides of the House, I acknowledge those opposite. Despite being fierce competitors in the Chamber, there are many friendships outside. Not only have we kept those opposite in check and accountable for the things they do, but also we have made significant contributions to this place. I would like to recognise the great work of our leaders Jodi McKay and our present Leader Chris Minns and their staff. I acknowledge and thank opposition whip Anna Watson and Deputy whip David Meehan. I am sure they will agree with me that the job of Opposition Whip would be much harder without the help of Colleen Symington, the executive officer of the Opposition Whip's Office. I thank Colleen for all her kindness and hard work. I extend my gratitude to all parliamentary staff, who keep the oldest Parliament in Australia running like a well-oiled machine.
I thank those who work in this Chamber, including the Clerk, Helen Minnican, and the deputy clerks, clerical assistants, parliamentary attendants, Hansard staff—who make us sound much better than we really are‑and Chamber staff. They all join us every sitting day, regardless of how late we sit, to ensure that the House continues to run. I acknowledge the hard work of the security staff and special constables who are at Parliament around the clock to ensure we are all safe. I thank the catering and cafeteria staff, who start early and finish late. I acknowledge the hard work of the cleaning and maintenance staff, who do such a great job keeping the oldest Parliament in Australia looking beautiful. I Thank My Partner Del who has supported me throughout my political life in this place, I thank my son Paul, daughter Kerrie, who have been a great support to me during these many years, my three beautiful grandchildren Nicholas (Nicky), granddaughter Claudia and Liam, they are my life and their love for me gets me through the toughest of times.
I thank the Cabramatta constituents who elected me for my fourth term in this place. My constituents look to my Cabramatta electorate staff for assistance, and the kindness and helpfulness they provide makes my electorate office a thriving hub for those in need of help and support. I am thankful to have such an outstanding team, who work together. They are what makes my electorate office succeed. I thank Anne McNamara for her compassion and for always fighting to achieve the best outcome for all constituents. I thank Michelle Odisho for her reliability and hard work. I thank Kelvin Tran for his dedication, talent and friendship. I thank all members and staff of parliament of New South Wales and wish them, their families and loved ones a safe, happy and healthy holiday season. Merry Christmas.
Mr ALISTER HENSKENS (Ku-ring-gaiMinister for Families, Communities and Disability Services)
——2021 was a year like no other, but after a cold COVID-19 winter of discontent with lockdowns, we head towards a more free summer full of optimism. Thank you to all our frontline workers from our child protection workers, disability workers, doctors, housing providers, nurses, ambos, paramedics, police officers, RFS volunteers and teachers, to name a few. We greatly appreciate the sacrifices you have made and without your dedication, commitment and courage our State would not be in the positive position it is in now. New South Wales has experienced some of the most extraordinary times but despite the many challenges we have faced over the last year the electorate of Ku-ring-gai have exhibited outstanding community spirit and resilience.
I extend my sincere gratitude to all volunteering organisations in my electorate, including, Meals on Wheels Ku-ring-gai and Hornsby, KNC, Scouts and Guides, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Community Transport, KYDS, StreetWork, Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women's Shelter, St John's Ambulance, our sporting and cultural clubs and the Rotary Clubs of Turramurra, Wahroonga and Ku-ring-gai, to name but a brief few of our many volunteering organisations. Volunteering has always been important to me – for every person you help, you gain an enormous amount in return. Despite the pandemic, I am grateful for our local volunteers who continue to make our community stronger, safer and better and I extend my thanks to all who put our community above themselves through volunteering. Your work is the glue that keeps us together.
2021 also marked 100 years of Rotary in Australia and New Zealand. As a local acknowledgement of the centenary, I joined Rotarians, staff and students from Turramurra High School for a tree planting ceremony and plaque unveiling. Our local Rotary Clubs are involved in many projects in our community, however, the most notable event is the Bobbin Head Cycle Class, which raises money each year for Lifeline Harbour to Hawkesbury and other local not-for-profit organisations. One of the truly satisfying aspects of being a local Member of Parliament is visiting our many schools. In June, I was fortunate enough to host my annual High School Captains' Dinner at Parliament House. Year 12 students have displayed great resilience while undertaking their final year of school during the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. I wish them good luck for the future and thank all students, staff, parents and carers for their tireless effort over this past year and I look forward to attending the end of year presentation days over the coming weeks. We have gone through some trying times but there is still much to celebrate:
-St Lucy's School in Wahroonga opened the Dominic Centre, a state-of-the-art educational facility partly funded by the NSW Government that will allow students to develop their capabilities and independence;
-The completion of stage 1 of the Pacific Highway Pinch Point Program; and
-I presented Mrs Jo Harris OAM as Ku-ring-gai's Local Woman of the Year.
I acknowledge my electorate staff, Deanna, Di, Janet, Emily and Ryan. There is a great deal of shared wisdom in my office and I thank them for their hard work over the year and wish them and their families a very happy Christmas. In May, I was honoured to be asked by the former Premier, Gladys Berejiklian, to join her Ministry. On 27 May I was sworn in as Minister for Families, Communities and Disability Services. I would like to thank the members of the community that have supported and encouraged me in my public service. It is a great honour to appointed to a portfolio that is responsible for the vulnerable members of our community. Few portfolios offer the same opportunity to positively impact the lives of people in need.
Since becoming the Minister, I have seen firsthand the enormous effort our social services sector and the role they've played in supporting the most vulnerable members of the community throughout the pandemic. I would like to say a big thank you to everyone in the sector for their work – your dedication and passion has shone bright throughout this incredibly challenging time and I hope you all get some time to relax and enjoy Christmas with your families. Thank you to my outstanding Ministerial staff for all of your great guidance and support since becoming Minister. NSW is leading the world in vaccination rates and we should all feel proud of the way we have worked together and helped one another during this time. I wish everyone a Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and Happy New Year. Stay safe and I look forward to 2022.
Mr STEPHEN BALI (Blacktown)
—We thought that 2021 was a difficult year but this year saw Blacktown City facing one of the harshest lockdown conditions faced by anyone in the country. The community pulled together and with high vaccination rates, life is heading back to some normality, we look forward to Christmas, the festive season and 2022. I pay tribute to the people who supported society through the COVID. Whilst many could have worked from home, many western Sydney front line workers had to be at the workplace or their work would not happen. Thanks and our appreciation to the contribution of the emergency workers in health, police, ambulance, fire fighters for working under extraordinary circumstances and constantly exposed to the COVID virus. Front line workers also included transport workers, couriers, delivery drivers, retail, factory, warehouse, childcare, council workers, allied health and everyone else that had to attend work.
Special mention to the teachers and principals that had to work under stressful conditions to ensure students had the resources and means to continue their studies to the best of their abilities. Unfortunately, 1 in 6 students in Australia live in poverty and had difficulty in accessing material or IT support to undertake their students but our schools rallied to support them as best as they can. Pandemic impacted people in many different ways and the true social cost in regards to health, mental stress and domestic violence is yet to materialise. Our community rallied during COVID and now we need to continue this in the recovery period. We also pause to remember our friends, loved ones and others that are no longer with us. Many people unfortunately lost their lives due to COVID but unfortunately there was at least two community warriors that are no longer with us. Warren Hardy of Doonside gave a lifetime of support to the community and Lina Cabaero synonymous for her efforts for workers' rights and dignity in the workplace with Asian Women at Work. Both will be sadly missed and a massive void is left in the community.
I thank the Clerks of this Chamber, Helen and acknowledge the work over the years of Les Gonye who recently retired, the Speaker of the House, the Hon. Jonathan O'Dea MP and all the Assistant Speakers. I thank the table officers, the Chamber support people—particularly Ian and Danny—the Hansard people and the hundreds of people working throughout Parliament House. I thank my fellow Labor parliamentarians, the shadow Ministers and the Leader of the Opposition's office staff, who have supported me and helped me out throughout the year. I give special thanks to Jodi McKay, for her leadership in difficult times. Chris Minns has become the NSW Labor leader and has demonstrated that is a formidable leader. I thank Anna Watson and all the support Whips and give a special call out to Colleen Symington, who keeps an active eye on all of us to ensure we are doing whatever we are supposed to be doing. I thank James Cullen, Matthew Shaw and everyone else in the Labor Leader's office for their hard work and dedication.
Congratulations to Prue Car to her evaluation to deputy leadership and I know she will excel in this new role. My personal appreciation to the union movement, in particularly Unions NSW leader Mark Morey AWU National Secretary Daniel Walton and NSW AWU Secretary Tony Callinan for your efforts thoughout the year in looking after workers interests. ALP NSW office leadership team of Bob Nanva and Dominic Ofner and all the ALP staff for their help throughout the year. I give special thanks to my Blacktown electoral staff. They are a wonderful team who deal passionately with the local challenges that many of our constituents have. Words cannot adequately express my appreciation of the wonderful effort they all put in. Their professionalism, compassion and never give up attitude in supporting our local community is very much appreciated and admired. You are all a credit to our local area.
They are Senior Electorate Officer Elizabeth Banks, supported by Wendy Chen, Justine Ndayi, Zohre (Sabrina) Can and Kimberly Campbell and for leave coverage by Angela Humphries, John Costelloe, Ebony O'Connor, Anthony Carver and Rameez Parker. I thank all the local Labor branch members and executive members for volunteering their time to ensure that Labor remains relevant and respected in our local community. I particularly thank Satish Kumar, Rachael and Rebel Hanlon, Geoff and Cherie Harrison. I wish all the Labor candidates, led by Mayor Tony Bleasdale in the Blacktown local Government elections. I thank my wonderful bride of 27 years, Anne, for all her hard work and volunteering; and my fabulous son, Stephen Jr, for his very important support. I wish everybody in this Chamber across the political divide a wonderful Christmas. May 2022 bring much joy and success.