House debates

Tuesday, 22 November 2022


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Second Reading

1:23 pm

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to make my contribution on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023. In May, the Australian people and the people of Werriwa voted for change. They voted for a government that would confront the challenges ahead of this nation—a government that not only would react but would seize the opportunities before it. For far too long Australians have become disillusioned with the effectiveness of government. They had a federal government that reacted only when it was politically necessary, and then didn't take the decisions that would build a better future for Australia and the generations to come.

It is the task of the Albanese government to repair the relationship people have with the government and repair the budget left behind. Government can be a force for good. It can implement policies that directly benefit the life of every Australian. Two weeks ago, the Treasurer, Jim Chalmers, began the process of restoring faith in the government on behalf of the Australian people. With the first Labor budget in almost a decade, the Albanese government has begun implementing promises made to the Australian people.

The budget provides responsible cost-of-living relief. It recognises that the largest strain on budgets of Australians right now is that of inflation. We know that Australians are doing it tough. They have been for the last three years. Our country and indeed the world have been battered by crisis after crisis, and there is a possibility that the world will experience another economic downturn. In uncertain times, I've seen the resilience of the Australian people and the resilience of the constituents of Werriwa. This budget contains $7.5 billion in targeted cost-of-living relief to ease the pressures on Australian families.

Our government took a policy of cheaper medicine to the election, and from 1 January the cost of medicines on the PBS will fall by $12.50, a saving of upwards of $300 a year for those on regular medicines. In Werriwa I spoke to a local pharmacist, Natalie, who owns Chemistworks in Edmondson Park. She told me that she's had to have difficult conversations with patients about what medicines they can do without and which they can ration, because they simply can't afford them all. No-one in this country should ever have to make that decision, especially as these decisions directly affect their health and quality of life and have the potential to cause further burden on the health system, not to mention the stress it causes professionals like Natalie.

This budget also contains funding for cheaper child care. Beginning in July next year, 1.2 million eligible Australian families will have access to cheaper child care. In the electorate of Werriwa, that's 7,400 families. They will have more affordable child care. Families that earn a combination of $90,000 will save almost $1,100 a year. These families can then choose to work an extra day or spend time on something that's important to them. This is an investment not just in the economy but also in the health and wellbeing of Australians. For those who want to work extra days, this will remove a barrier that is in the way currently. The childcare policy will do that whilst helping family budgets.

The Albanese government understands, however, that this cost-of-living crisis must be met with structural reforms to strengthen the Australian economy. That's why the government has committed to expanding paid parental leave to six months which will be shared amongst both parents. This is an economic reform that will have a massive social benefit as well. More women will be able to participate in the workforce, and men will be able to participate in caring.

As the world went into lockdown in 2020, Australia suffered because of our position at the end of the supply chain. This can't continue. Manufacturing must be here. Skills must be available here. From PPE to clean energy technology, investing and making things in Australia is important. This budget contains serious investment to re-establish our manufacturing and energy sector, creating the National Reconstruction Fund, which will invest $15 billion in expanding the industrial capabilities of Australia and creating well-paying jobs. Australia is a country that used to build things, and it will again under this government.

Supporting our industries will ensure that the energy system is less vulnerable to global shocks in the energy market, and a single energy policy commitment—rather than 22 failed policies—will give the energy sector the stability and certainty it needs to transition to a cleaner, cheaper and more resilient grid. The budget makes targeted investments in that path, as the government has laid out. The government has moved to establish a Rewiring the Nation Office, which will manage $20 billion in funding to upgrade, strengthen and grow transmission infrastructure. With renewable energy entering the market, energy infrastructure must be prepared, so that Australians can benefit. Our industries will also benefit from cheaper and cleaner energy. We have seen recently how vulnerable our energy market is to global shocks. Werriwa residents need lower power bills to help with the cost-of-living increases that the previous government knew were coming. The transition to cleaner energy is an opportunity for Australians to benefit.

The investment the Albanese government is making will be met with the necessary funding into skills training. Workers are the backbone of our country, and ensuring that workers can access the training they need for future jobs is critical. Next year, 180,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational education places will be made available, part of the commitment to provide almost 500,000 fee-free places. Additionally, the budget invests in creating 20,000 new university places. Our government is committed to ensuring Australians can acquire the training they need for the future and to securing better futures for them and their families.

The budget is also the first step in closing the gender pay gap and advancing gender equality in the country. The Albanese government has put women at the centre of the budget because improving the material conditions of women is both good for the economy and good for society.


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