Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Matters of Public Importance
The shift into the regions is indisputably on, as the Australian writes today. Regional Australia grew by 70,000 people in the year to 2021, while the capital cities population fell by 26,000. The big move is on. The great advance to the west is on. And the reason why people want to move to the regions is that the regions are a safe place in which to live. With better telecommunications, better transport links, better health services and better amenity, the regions are the place to be. You and I both know that, Deputy Speaker, because we live in the regions. We love the regions, and the regions will continue to draw and attract people from capital cities because the regions are a great place in which to live.
The regions are also a great place for people to live because of the policies that have been put down by the Liberal and National government. The Liberals and the Nationals have put policies in place that have made the regions even more attractive. Last night's budget, delivered by the Treasurer, was a budget for the regions. It builds on previous budgets that Treasurer Frydenberg has announced, previous budgets that Treasurer Morrison announced and previous budgets that this government, this side of parliament, has put in place to recognise and acknowledge the fact that the regions are going to drive investment and help our balance of payments into the future.
I'm really delighted that the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, a program that I announced on 22 May 2020, has been extended by another half a billion dollars. For my electorate, that means $13.8 million is going to go to the 12 local councils that I proudly represent in this place. But right across the nation that is going to mean substantial investment in projects which aren't necessarily the big-signature items but which are so important to local communities.
The shadow Treasurer talks about job security. It was the shadow Treasurer who said, when COVID first hit these shores, that this government would be judged on how it handled the COVID crisis with job security. Indeed, we're second in the world, as far as the ratings go, in terms of how we have handled the coronavirus. Look at our unemployment level. It was 5.7 per cent when those opposite left power. What is it now? It's four per cent—less in the regions. They're the jobless numbers. Indeed, the Regional Australia Institute identifies more than 72½ thousand jobs in the regions right now. If there is a job in the regions, for all sectors, it is available right now. There are many, many jobs. Go up to the high streets and main streets of country towns and regional hubs and you will see job advertisements, 'hiring now, inquire within', on the shop windows in our central business districts. That is because we are looking to employ people. We want people to join that great rush to the regions. We want people to come and share in all of the great things that are in the regions.
To suggest that there is any sort of attack on wages or job security is just piffle. It is just nonsense, and the member for Rankin knows it full well. Job security is definitely there, because there are jobs available. The jobless figures are very good. They are the envy of the Western world because of the economic policies that we have put in place as a government. Just last night, in the budget, we saw that taxpayers, particularly right across the regions, are going to benefit from the low- and middle-income tax offset and the cost-of-living tax offset. In my electorate of Riverina, 61,700 taxpayers are going to benefit from those measures. The fuel excise: 22c per litre for every tank of fuel. We know that country people drive more than city folk; that's just a normality. Driving kids to school, driving kids to sport, driving to and from work—it's expected that they drive more kilometres. Indeed, in the Riverina and Central West, it could mean a saving of $30 per week for a family with two cars, or $700 over the six months of the program. A good announcement, a good budget. (Time expired)