Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Matters of Public Importance
A budget returning to surplus. Personal income tax cuts. Record jobs growth. Stronger support for small business. Record investment in schools and health services. Record investment in infrastructure. And, of course, the big news is that the budget is returning to black, reversing the economic destruction we saw from Labor over so many years. This is an economic plan underpinned by our government's determination to build a stronger economy, in stark contrast to Labor's plan to weaken our economy and hit Australians with more than $200 billion in taxes—taxes on housing, electricity, investment, retirees and older Australians.
The 2019-20 budget is back in the black, with a budget surplus of $7.1 billion. There will be tax cuts—another $158 billion in income tax relief—for hardworking Australians. This means immediate tax relief of up to $2,160 for a dual-income couple to ease cost-of-living pressures. We're backing small business, with the instant asset write-off increasing to $30,000 and its threshold for eligible businesses increasing to a turnover of up to $50 million. There will be record health spending of $81 billion in the next financial year. That means that we'll be able to deliver very important investments, including, in the Corangamite electorate, a new paediatric emergency department in Geelong, $50 million for a new women's and children's hospital facility, and a new health and wellbeing hub for Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula, which will include a new headspace. There will be a record $292 billion for schools over 10 years. There will be record infrastructure. That means there will be $2.7 billion in this budget for Geelong fast rail, which will cut the travel time to Melbourne to 32 minutes. This figure includes $700 million more to duplicate the rail line between Geelong and Waurn Ponds, which will include the upgrade of stations at Marshall, Waurn Ponds and South Geelong. This is absolutely game-changing investment for our region.
In contrast, over four years, state Labor committed only $10 million to the Geelong rail duplication, and we now have seen dissension from those opposite. In a flurry, the member for McMahon says, 'Yes, no problems. We'll find the $2 billion.' Then, of course, we see from the Leader of the Opposition that there is no commitment to fast rail between Geelong and Melbourne. What's even worse than that is that there is no commitment to fixing the Regional Rail Link, which is what this is all about. Labor designed, planned and built the Regional Rail Link. Our services now run slower than they did many years ago. What's also regrettable is that we are being treated as second-class citizens. Labor's had a long time to fix the Regional Rail Link. Our investment in fast rail will mean an upgraded track between Geelong and Wyndham Vale. It will mean a second lot of tracks between Wyndham Vale and Sunshine. Then the next section between Sunshine and Southern Cross station is being funded under the Melbourne Airport Rail Link program. We have seen an appalling failure from the Labor Party to address these really significant regional rail infrastructure issues in our region and across Victoria. If you have a look at the $1.75 billion Regional Rail Revival program, all but $150 million is coming from the Commonwealth.
As I say, this is a budget which delivers for regional Victorians, whether it's major roads, major rail, health, schools or, of course, growing jobs. We are seeing a lowering of the unemployment rate in our region and across Australia, underpinned by our determination to build a strong economy, and you need a strong budget to build a strong economy. I'm incredibly proud that that's what we have delivered. Australians are sick of all the politicking and the rubbish. They want to see action, and in this budget they have seen a government which is turning this nation's finances around, delivering record jobs growth and responsible economic management for all Australians.