Wednesday, 31 July 2019
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2019-2020, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020; Second Reading
I'm very pleased to be here to contribute to this debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020. I particularly want to mention the $100 billion of infrastructure funding—as we know, this is an increase—that will be delivered over the next 10 years into Australian communities. Those of us who live in rural and regional Australia know how important infrastructure actually is. Building local infrastructure is an absolutely crucial step in connecting our local communities and creating local jobs. In my role as the Assistant Minister for Regional Development and Territories, I'm committed to ensuring that the Australian government continues to deliver the appropriate services and infrastructure to regional and remote communities. I'm actually very proud to be part of a government that is actually building vital infrastructure and providing essential services for people who live, work and retire in regional areas.
In the role of minister for territories, the appropriation bill presented to the House simply reaffirmed the Australian government's commitment to our external territories. We continue to invest in building the Norfolk Island economy and the Indian Ocean Territories' economies, and we continue to fund essential services and infrastructure. We've seen funding allocated in the actual budget to Norfolk Island in 2019-20. We are working very hard to support the local economy of Norfolk Island to be strong and vibrant, and there is support in the latest budget towards the Norfolk Island Regional Council's tourism strategy to increase visitor numbers and tourism income, as well as investment in Cascade Pier to improve the safety and frequency of cruise and freight ships. We're also continuing to support a range of programs through the Regional Development Australia program on Norfolk Island to support tourism, to attract investment and to develop grant applications. There are also supports in there from the Building Better Regions Fund that include an environmental strategy, upgrades to Banyan Park and replacement of the 2G network.
I continue to work with the administrator and will continue to work with the community to explore opportunities to strengthen and to support the local economy through the delivery of infrastructure and services. I've met with Mayor Adams, and I'm looking forward to meeting with many more members of the community in this role. As I said, we're continuing to support much-needed infrastructure in our Indian Ocean Territories. The service delivery is delivered, as the member for Curtin knows, by the Western Australian government, and these services include education, justice, community policing and environmental regulation. These are funded by the federal government, and we're going to be funding new repairs and maintenance to existing infrastructure, including a new crane and mooring system. There are services continuing to be delivered by the department, including power, health and public housing; and services and support provided by the private sector under contract, including managing the port and airport and delivering air services.
We'll continue to work on providing practical and long-term strategic projects, which are really important for the longer term to support the local economies. That includes strategic assessment of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, releasing commercial land and residential development opportunities, and a crown land management plan for the Cocos (Keeling) Islands. We're preparing heritage management plans and funding a regional investment officer to identify economic development and investment opportunities, and to attract investment.
We're also working to increase tourism numbers and the local training association to build local skills and capacity—something I'm particularly committed to. There is funding for a review into tourism and an action plan that will be driven by the administrator of Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and the regional development organisations. It will be very powerful, very direct and local. And there's funding to update the Flying Fish Cove master plan to ensure that it remains a vibrant and attractive area. So there's ongoing efforts in our Indian Ocean Territories and in Norfolk Island.
Now, in the time that I have left to me, through the appropriation bill as well, I want to really talk about some of the things that are particularly important in my own electorate. One of the things that I think this government has done particularly well is the funding of health. I want to talk about the medications that have been listed on the PBS at a cost of over $10 billion. These really matter. I believe that what we are here to do is support the health and wellbeing of people in our electorates, and the focus on PBS listings has certainly done that. When you are out in your community and you listen to people, the issues that matter most to them are the health of themselves, their family members, others within the community and their friends as well.
I'm very proud of the first ever national plan for endometriosis, of which I've spoken previously in this place, and of the support from the health minister as well to actually make sure that we have a national endometriosis plan. Over 700,000 women in Australia that we know of are affected by this particular disease and there is no cure, so the funding for research, for management and for better education around it are really critically important.
We're also ushering in a new era for health care through funding for dementia research. In my electorate, Tuia Lodge at Donnybrooks, a fantastic new aged-care centre, received $1.45 million so that local people can stay in their local communities. This is really important to those of us who live in regional communities. The lodge is also going to receive recurrent funding to be able to operate an extra 11 aged-care places. To some people, that may not seem like a lot but, in Donnybrook, it's an awful lot and it means that so many more local people and their families can stay in their local community, and that is what we as a government are about.
We are also going to provide teenagers and young adults in Margaret River with access to free or low-cost youth mental health services. That injection of funds is particularly important. I've worked consistently since being in this place to get more headspace centres into rural and regional communities. There is one now in Bunbury, I secured a another in Busselton and we now have Margaret River as well. Each one of these matters to people who live a distance from what perhaps people in city areas take for granted. They're not just around the corner or up the road.
I also want to focus on the 64,900 taxpayers who have received tax relief after we were able to pass that through this parliament in its first week. And another 18,652 amazing and fabulous small-to-medium businesses in my electorate have received tax relief. One of the things I've repeatedly said while out in the community is that one of the things that with our small-to-medium enterprises do well, particularly in regional areas, is give our local people their first job and often their last. They also support our local community service organisations, support our local amazing volunteers who work in emergency services and they support our sporting clubs as well. For almost anything that's happening, the local business gets the tap on the shoulder.
So everything we do as a government to support our local businesses, to me, is a real multiplier in our economy. We know that our small businesses actually employ nearly half the private sector workforce and that really has a massive impact right across Australia. We need each one of these businesses because each one of them supports local jobs that then has a knock-on effect for every other business in our electorate.
I know that the City of Busselton successfully applied to the federal government to accelerate Roads to Recovery funding—again, local jobs, local people. We've got a lot of what's known as roads of strategic importance in our part of the world as well, roads that connect so much of the economic activity. The south-west is a $16 billion GDP region. There's a lot that's not known about my south-west outside the area. There are people who are just can-do people—they get on with their job. And we have everything from agriculture, forestry, fisheries, tourism, retail—you name it—to construction in my electorate. That's why the funding for the Bunbury Outer Ring Road is so important. The federal government has committed $682 million for this infrastructure. Again, the $100 billion is getting right out into most parts of Australia and certainly into my electorate.
These are the sorts of programs, along with the Building Better Regions Fund, that deliver projects that matter in small communities as well. Sometimes it's the smallest amount of money that can make the biggest difference. That's something that we know. We know that our local volunteers really make the most of every dollar that comes their way, whether they're working with a men's shed—and we support the men's sheds—or in our emergency services. We saw some funding go into a new training centre for our St John Ambulance volunteers in Busselton. What a great result. We've also seen some funding go into aged-care facilities in Dunsborough. That will be a wonderful catalyst in the community, providing not only fabulous care but also local jobs. Sometimes these types of facilities in smaller communities can make the most difference and become a major employer and economic driver.
Connectivity for us really matters. The Mobile Black Spot Program has helped so many of those who live and work in my electorate, particularly some of our farmers and our tradespeople. A story I've told previously is that of a local anaesthetist who lived in the Ferguson Valley, which is quite hilly. When he was on call, he would have to go and park his car at the top of a hill if he was to receive a phone call to be able to get in and provide the service at the local hospital. That was one of the first places that was successful in receiving one of the Mobile Black Spot Program towers. For the residents in rural and regional communities, the service that is provided by our emergency services—whether it's fire and emergency rescue, St John or right across the board—are critical. They also rely very much on connectivity. This can make a huge difference. We've had fires in recent times, and one of the critical issues is local people being able to get messages about what is actually happening in their communities.
I also briefly want to touch on the $1.1 billion funding that goes into Landcare. It's been said previously that our farmers are some of the best environmental stewards, and I would agree with that. It is the work they do on the ground, the simple things they do day in and day out. Inevitably they want to leave the land and the water sources that they use in better condition than they found them in. Many of those farms are intergenerational businesses, so they take it very seriously. They want to be able to continue to farm, to produce some of the best-quality food in the world from Australia and to maintain our capacity to provide the world—and perhaps some of the niche markets ahead of us, through the free trade agreements we've been able to achieve—with some of that fine-quality food. Everything we do to connect our producers in rural and regional areas and enable them to take advantage of some of these free trade agreements and the opportunities that go with them is what I really care about. Equally I really want to acknowledge the work that's being done on the ground by our farmers that is often overlooked and not well understood. They do a fantastic job, and I'll support them every day.
A division having been called in the House of Representatives—
Sitting suspended from 16:29 to 16 : 47