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 rise to speak on the recent federal budget. It was the first Labor budget in 10 years and reaffirmed to me just how important for the Northern Territory a Labor government is. This budget is particularly important for my home in the Territory. After 10 years of waste and neglect, the former government left our budget balance in tatters, with huge debt and nothing to show for it. Cleaning that mess up is no easy job, especially as we face the headwinds of national and global economic challenges. The economic outlook we inherited was bleak, but it now falls to the Albanese Labor government to navigate this environment. I am glad we have the team we do handling our economy and working to build a better future.
I want to speak a bit about what this better future looks like for people in my electorate. I cannot overstate just how beneficial this budget will be to communities back home. Cheaper child care will mean that families and working parents will have much-needed cost-of-living relief. It will mean that parents who want to get back to work can; as a mum who was raising children while trying to maintain the household budget, I know how important that is. Getting back to work isn't always just about extra cash that makes meeting payments all that much easier; it also gives people a feeling of agency and determination. For many people across the country, particularly women, this needs to be highlighted.
For those on the other side of raising kids, for parents of newborns: this budget has you at its heart. Taking time off to raise our children is not a luxury; it is a necessity. These early months are crucial to our young ones but also extremely special times for our new parents. They aren't easy times with the lack of sleep. Keeping the house clean and juggling life's tasks is nothing short of a full-time job. The last thing new parents want is to be stressed out about money and getting back to work. We know how hard our parents are working to raise their kids. This is why the federal Labor budget will help alleviate that stress. We are extending paid parental leave and also making it more flexible. This means parents can share the caring load. This will benefit all our parents and carers, but, again, it's that extra mile for the women of Australia, who for so long have juggled the bulk of carrying the load in many cases.
And it is not just child care and raising kids that this government is making cheaper and easier; it's buying medicines, too. This budget will make it cheaper to buy much-needed medicines. For too long we have heard that people have simply not been taking their medicines because they cannot afford them. This is true for many communities in Lingiari which are hard-pressed with the cost of living at the moment. This measure will save 30 per cent of the cost of a prescription. This is putting more money back in their pockets.
The people of Australia voted for a better future, and the Albanese government is putting in the hard yards to make sure that happens. A key part of that better future is making housing more affordable. We know how hard it is to get into the housing market right now, especially for our young people. For too long the call for more government support for housing has been unanswered. It was an honour to sit in this House as the Treasurer announced the historical Housing Accord, which will see one million homes built across Australia. The federal government, working with all our states and territories, is stepping up to the plate on housing, and I am excited to see the impact this has.
This budget also went a bit further to help support our remote and regional communities in Lingiari. There will be $100 million invested in our homelands to address the critical lack of infrastructure for our families out bush. It's hard to describe how important this immediate funding is. For the last decade the federal coalition government had turned its back on homelands—the traditional lands and homes of so many people back home. I have seen firsthand the desperate need for our homelands to be invested in. There are families living in single-room sheds which are hot in the summer and bitterly cold in winter, families without access to clean drinking water and families without access to roads to their homes. This $100 million is an important step forward and part of addressing the critical state of our homelands. It will enable more people to live on country and it'll take so much pressure off our regional towns and communities, where overcrowding in our major communities is a major issue. It will show our communities that the federal government is finally listening to them. The Labor government's housing package will also, crucially, include 40,000 social houses, of which 4,000 will help women and children fleeing domestic violence. For many of our women suffering from domestic violence, 'Where will I go?' is a debilitating question. This budget takes important steps in helping people answer that question.