Monday, 21 November 2022
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Second Reading
I will begin by addressing the elephant, or the bowtie, in the room—the penguin in the room—which is that I am not dressed for you, Deputy Speaker, as much as I admire you. Tonight is the night of the Prime Minister's science awards. It's a night where we recognise outstanding scientists, research innovators and science teachers across Australia, people who do so much to secure the economic future of this country. I know everyone in this place who believes in policy based in fact, policy based in evidence, policy based in science will join me in commending the scientists of Australia, 500 of whom it will join myself, the Prime Minister and Minister Husic just a couple of metres that way.
I am so proud to be supporting Australia's scientists, because scientists, and all those who help us address the great challenges which we face in this parliament year on year, do so much. As a parliament we are facing huge challenges: climate change; the ongoing pressures in health care, in aged care, in child care—across the care economy; tensions in various regions of the world, including dealing with Russia's unjustified war in Europe. These are challenges on which we seek to bring Australians together, to come up with Australia's solutions, to come up with our response to these challenges and so many more. If you look at the way in which this government has sought to address those challenges, we did not waste a day.
If we think back to the first sitting of the 47th Parliament, in the first week alone we introduced 30 bills to act on the pressures that Australians are facing. We worked to tackle the pressing challenges in sectors of need, including making sure that we acted on climate change. Again I reflect on the comments that the Prime Minister made when he addressed the National Press Club. He said very clearly, and this is at the core of this budget and the appropriation bills we're debating now:
Our plan is a growth agenda. It is unashamedly pro business but … also unashamedly pro workers. We want an economy that works for people, not the other way around.
We saw that agenda expanded again at the Jobs and Skills Summit held in September, bringing people together, trying to find those common solutions—trying to look for the common ground which can actually move Australia forward. It's been a long time since a government has hosted such a summit, and I think we can all reflect that it was indeed a success in terms of building dialogue, strengthening dialogue and strengthening policy outcomes. Bringing people together is at the absolute core of the Albanese government, and this budget again shows that.
If you look at the careful balance that the Treasurer, along with his ministerial colleagues, struck in forming this budget, it achieves that targeted cost-of-living relief while also trying to do that delicate balance of avoiding further inflationary pressure in the economy. We see the results. It's giving cheaper child care to 1.2 million Australians, including 6,800 in the Perth electorate, and progressively expanding Paid Parental Leave to six months by 2026—again giving families more time at home and more support in those challenging months with a newborn. It's making sure that, where we can, we reduce the cost of medicines. For those who rely on the wonderful Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that has existed in some form or another for 75 years, it's making sure that we get the cost of those medicines down—now a co-payment of just $30 per script. There are comprehensive investments in more affordable housing, and new, creative policy solutions to make sure that more people can have a secure place to call home.
There is our commitment—which I'm sure we will debate more in this chamber and in the other place—on getting wages moving again. It's recognising that people deserve a fair reward for the work that they do towards our economic growth and also ensuring that there's growth in the wages of working Australians. We also invest significantly in a more resilient economy. There are the 180,000 fee-free TAFE places to make sure that more people can access the wonderful training in our TAFE sector and, where necessary, shift their career from one part of our economy to another with that world-class training. There are 20,000 new university places, ensuring that more Australians can have the benefit of, again, a world-class university education. There are advances on gender equality and steps towards closing the 14 per cent gender pay gap.
There are investments in cheaper, cleaner renewable energy and in renewable energy transmission. There are investments to ensure that we can in fact have more domestic manufacturing capability, through the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund. There's a huge investment in ongoing transport infrastructure, including the transformative project in Western Australia of METRONET, one component being the very exciting Airport Line on which I was privileged to ride with the Prime Minister and the Premier of Western Australia when that opened just last month. We've got commitments to expand the National Broadband Network, make sure we do more to help Australians who are on a pension keep more of what they earn if they choose to go back to work, and deliver more funding for staff to slash the visa backlog.
This is a good budget. If I look at what it means for my community locally, it means we have secured, finally, the investment in the Aboriginal Cultural Centre—something that will be the west coast's answer to the Sydney Opera House. We've got a Medicare urgent care clinic that will be based near Royal Perth Hospital, ensuring that we take pressure off the hospitals that my constituents and yours, Deputy Speaker Goodenough, rely upon in Western Australia in the Perth metropolitan area. We have commitments for the City of Perth to invest more in its Light Up Perth program and the City of Stirling to invest more in lighting up both its strips; investments to help the City of Bayswater reduce their energy bills and emissions by investing in LED lighting across the city; investments for the town of Bassendean to make sure that the Swan Districts Football Club can operate under the appropriate lights for their men's and women's teams; and investments for the City of Vincent to upgrade lighting at Axford Park.
There is so much more of which I'm proud, including our commitment to the Bayswater Urban Forest and our commitment to new playgrounds for the children of Bassendean and further afield. Many have FIFA World Cup fever at the moment, but those of us in Perth will be waiting until we do our bit for the training facilities for the FIFA Women's World Cup next year, which will include the Perth Soccer Club—a wonderful club that has stood in the Perth electorate for decades and will get some much-needed upgrades. We are partnering with one of the official local heroes of Western Australia to deliver funding for Short Back & Sidewalks to expand their operations in delivering services to people who are homeless in Western Australia and, indeed, across Australia.
When it comes to other investments, one of the things we know we need to do more of is invest in our river health. For our urban rivers, and indeed the Swan and Canning rivers, this budget delivers on a major package of investment in the health of those waterways: restoration for the Tranby House foreshore; revegetation of the Mainland lakes; and a commitment for the Friends of Bardon Park and the City of Bayswater to make sure we continue the great revegetation work and weed eradication which has been choking up parts of the Swan River.
Then we get to one of my loves—play based learning. It's not just about the big visionary reforms when it comes to childcare investment and investing in early childhood education and care for 1.2 million Australians; it's also about the little things, like making sure we can support the Bayswater Toy Library, the Yokine Toy Library, the Bayswater Playgroup and the Yokine Playgroup with new equipment and toys, supporting our youngest Australians to get the play based skills and learning they need, and investing in the future of renewable energy through our commitment to community batteries for Dianella and Bayswater as part of a package of 400 across Australia.
I note this is a commitment in this Treasurer's budget but I pay tribute to former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for the work he did on the Jewish Community Centre and Holocaust education centre that will be in Yokine, in my electorate. This is something which has bipartisan support. I've always recognised the strong bipartisanship that applies to building that centre, something that is much needed in Western Australia. I'm pleased that funding is secured and that construction will soon commence on that really important project.
The other thing in terms of communities who have longstanding and proud traditions in the Perth electorate is of course our Italian community. I'm pleased we will be supporting the Italian Club of Western Australia—you and I, Deputy Speaker Goodenough, can attend the Italian Club for a range of community functions; it will be a great host of many community functions for many years to come—and supporting the Australian Asian Association with a new vehicle to transport their members to ensure they can continue to provide such valuable community support.
I might start concluding my remarks by noting that I am able to support this budget, and all of us are able to come and put our views on these appropriation bills—and, indeed, every piece of legislation that's put before us—because of the support of so many. No-one makes into this place on their own. I want to say thank you to my campaign team. I can vote for this Labor budget because of them. I also recognise that they are people who tend to be pretty honest with you. They tell you when you're doing well, and they tell you when you can do better. For that, I'm grateful as well. I thank my campaign team who supported me all the way up to 21 May, six months ago today. I want to say a huge thankyou to Dylan, Marissa, Kiani, Aoife, Beth, Daniel, Mike, Ebony, Callum, Megyn and Naomi, who formed the core of that team. They sent me out doorknocking when I didn't want to. They sent me out phone banking when I didn't want to. They also sent me out doorknocking when I did want to. They are all passionate people who believe in the cause of Labor. They recognise that the mission of Labor in government is not to hold anyone back but also not to leave anyone behind.
I want to say thank you to the team at party office in Western Australia, led by Ellie Whitaker—someone who I have praised in this place before and who still has a long and exciting career ahead of her—and at the time led by Tim Picton, who has chosen to do what many do after a brutal run leading an organisational wing of a political party and take some respite in the private sector.
I want to thank Mark McGowan and his entire ministerial team, including my state parliamentary colleagues. In an earlier time I would have named everyone single one of my federal parliamentary colleagues. Once upon a time there were just six of them. It's a slightly longer list now, so I'll use the last two minutes I've got to instead thank some of those people who genuinely gave up their time to volunteer for the Perth campaign. Thank you to the following: Nadia Turner; Marlene Pool-Deaves; Callum Baxter; Stephen Graves; Nermila Kresoje; Ryan Stewart; Jarrah Duckett; Matteo Rossaro; Gary Giles; Trudi Angwin; Robert Taylor; Lee McGrath; Sophie Styles; Mima Comrie, a wonderful member of the Perth community; Pam Day; Jamie Mawer; Steve Carter; Harry Brooking; Linda Pickering; Superv Bat; Jack Matthews; Andrew Mai; Mark Devlin; Dan Bull; Luke and Nicole Archer; Cam O'Donnell; Veronika Gobba; Cath Allgrove; Joanne Fotakis; Cody Steel; Andrew St John; Adrienne Silsbury; Ann Mills; Carol Seidel—Carol's a gem; I've got to say that; Martina Ucnikova; Luke Hutcheson; Dani Montague; Kerry Lawrence; Kaye Crosswell; Agnes O'Kane; Ivy Chen; Julieanne Bull; Jillian Innes; Glenys Addy; Anthea Matthews; Michael Thorn; Joy Nichols; Marisol Nelson; Brenda Higham; Barnaby Sullivan; Peter Mudi; Geoff Parkinson; Brendan Jackson; Tatyana Ignonina; Kerren Hughes; Haeden Miles; Melinda Perks; Tim Dymond; Divij Gupta; Bobbie Oliver; Sophie Farrell; Nyat Mulugeta; Jud White; Andrew Lee; Naomi Schneider; Kiara Wee; Tommy Meagher; Evia Aringo; and Roman Booth—just a fraction of the many people. Like anyone in this place, whatever their politics, I know that we don't get here alone. Once again, I say thank you to all those who supported me and allowed me to vote for this first Labor budget.