Thursday, 13 February 2020
Matters of Public Importance
Deputy Speaker, I also take the opportunity to congratulate you on your ascension to the position. I welcome the opportunity to address this matter of public importance. As a proud Western Australian and a proud regional member of parliament representing a regional seat, I completely reject the premise of this matter of public importance. I refer to my own seat and the success of the economy in my seat and the success of the hardworking people in my seat of O'Connor.
If I can just start by the surprise I had when I read this morning's media and PVO was talking about this group of members of the opposition who are meeting together. I thought Otis was a lift, and they were meeting together in a lift, but apparently it's a restaurant in Canberra. I didn't know that, because I come from a long way away from here. I have always known about Otis lifts. You could safely fit the sensible members of the Labor Party—certainly those who have any understanding of regional affairs—in a very small lift.
I applaud the member for Hunter, who certainly had a nearer-to-God experience in the May 2019 election. He has certainly starting to listen to regional people and, hopefully, there are some more people on his side that will follow him, because regional seats like mine contribute to the very strong economy that this government has produced. We are heading for our first budget surplus since 2007 and, as has been pointed out by previous speakers, that has enabled us to meet the challenges. There have been challenges with drought, there have been challenges with bushfires and, more recently, we now have the challenge of the coronavirus. The government is in a good position financially to be able to meet those challenges and deal with them.
Going back to regional seats like mine, we heard earlier today from the new minister for resources—and I take the opportunity to congratulate him publicly—that our resource sector last year produced $279 billion. I think that was the figure that you mentioned, Minister, representing eight per cent of our GDP. The great state of Western Australia produces a very large proportion of that national income. That national income allows us to provide the programs that make this country the greatest country on earth. We can look after all of our people in the best way we possibly can. That resource sector also provides thousands and thousands of jobs across my electorate.
Obviously the regional city of Kalgoorlie is a working example of the strength of that resource sector and the jobs it provides. In fact it provides so many jobs that we can't find people in Kalgoorlie to fill those jobs. So, one of the great initiatives of this government has been the designated area migration agreement, where a panel of businesses and the local government in Kalgoorlie and surrounding areas can nominate those positions that need to be filled. They're not just positions in the mining sector. They are also positions in child care, in aged care and in the health sector. These are the sorts of jobs that the DAMA is allowing those agencies and businesses in Kalgoorlie to fill, through a very sensible migration agreement.
Agriculture is also a very important part of the economy in my electorate, and of course the free trade agreements that we have signed as a government since 2013, when I was first elected, and I'm very proud to have been part of that journey. Demand for our agricultural products goes through the roof and, quite frankly, prices are at all-time highs. And now that we've had rain on the east coast and are seeing breeding stock kept and flocks starting to be rebuilt, I think we'll see even higher prices and new price records set. That is in large part because of the free trade agreements and the market access we have achieved for our industries as a government.
I want to conclude by saying that the government's record and performance over the past six years has allowed us to be in an excellent position to deal with the challenges we confront on an almost daily basis. That is why the Australian people, on 18 May last year, put their trust in the Morrison government to continue to manage the economy in order to provide the services they require. (Time expired)