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
by leave—I was talking about Labor's cheaper child care plan and, of course, the great economic productivity that this would unleash. We've got women—mainly women—and men as well wanting to work more hours in a time of labour force shortages, but child care just is too expensive. So it's a really important budget there. Other targeted investments that are right for this time include an investment in education to build a stronger and more resilient economy and, of course, the fee-free TAFE places. It was really exciting to have the Minister for Skills and Training in Adelaide, where he struck the agreement last Friday to deliver these places to South Australia. But there are also 20,000 additional university places for disadvantaged Australians. We're investing in the National Reconstruction Fund for a future made in Australia and delivering on nation-building projects, and I will talk a bit more about that. We are supporting older Australians, whether that's through expanding the concessions card or our work bonus income bank top-up. These are all things that very much go to the heart of our Labor budget.
In my portfolio, I was very, very pleased, as the Minister for Social Services, and very proud that we announced an extension of paid parental leave to 26 weeks. Labor introduced paid parental leave in 2011, and this budget delivers the biggest boost since its creation, giving every family with a new baby more choice, greater security and better support. Labor announced it will add an additional six weeks of paid parental leave for families, bumping up the total leave payable to 26 weeks—a full six months. Our plan will invest more than $530 million in progressively scaling up the scheme, reaching the six months paid leave in 2026. This will benefit mums and dads and is good for children, but, of course, it's a huge boost for the economy, ensuring that women in particular stay connected to the workplace and promoting shared care. Promoting shared care is a good economic dividend because it means that the unpaid caring responsibilities are more equally shared, and this was a big message coming from our Jobs and Skills Summit.
On Friday, I was very pleased to launch the next steps of our Early Years Strategy—a commitment made by this government to have a whole-of-government approach to the first five years of life, ensuring that children of families get the support they need in those early years. It was wonderful to join the Minister for Early Childhood Education to launch our announcement of our summit and the process going forward. This budget provided the investment for developing that Early Years Strategy, which is critically important. We also, in this budget, delivered on our election commitments to provide $12.4 million over four years to increase support for playgroups and toy libraries. This will support increased access to community run and volunteer run playgroups nationally, with a focus on regional and remote locations and where we know that gaps exist. Playgroups support families in the early years and encourage improved early childhood development outcomes. They also provide support to many people, so this is really important. In addition, we also announced our commitment to toy libraries. Toy libraries are such a clever idea. Often run by volunteers, they are places where it is affordable to borrow toys. We know our children grow out of toys so quickly—they move onto the next thing—so a toy library enables that investment to happen so that people don't have to put up their own money but can borrow the toys. But it's a sustainable way as well. A lot of people have talked about the attraction of toy libraries, not only because of the cost-of-living aspect but also because of their important sustainability aspect. This budget delivers on that.
I'm very proud to be part of a government that has made a commitment to end domestic, family and sexual violence in one generation. One woman dies every 10 days at the hands of her current or former partner. This is unacceptable and it has to stop, and it should not be seen as inevitable. I'm very pleased that, in this budget, we've been able to announce a record investment of $1.7 billion to support a whole range of activities in prevention, in early intervention and in response and recovery. Part of that was $100 million for up to 720 additional safe places for women and children leaving violent situations.
In addition, we know that frontline workers are very important in supporting women in need, so we need to make sure that there is a greater investment in our frontline workforce. This was a commitment also made by Labor in the election, and I'm very pleased that in this most recent budget we made sure that there was a provision of $169.4 million over four years to fund 500 frontline workers. This is a crucial boost to this workforce and something we definitely need. We also had to prioritise new measures with close to $40 million in additional support for the escaping violence payment to ensure that we could adequately respond. Unfortunately, the previous government rushed this payment and, as a result, it needs some significant work done on it to make sure that it is working for women who want to access it.
In addition, there was $25 million over five years to encourage innovative responses to address the behaviour of perpetrators and $12.6 million over two years to extend the program assisting temporary visa holders who are experiencing family and domestic violence. In total, $104.4 million will also be provided to continue and expand the role of Our Watch, a really important institution that is ensuring that we are properly researching and understanding prevention in many groups.
I've talked about my portfolio, but there have been many very good investments in the seat of Kingston in this budget. Over the last nine years I have lamented so many times in this place the lack of investment in our health and hospital system. The previous government just completely ignored our primary health system and ignored our health and hospital system, so I was pleased that in this budget investing in our healthcare system is a high priority, with a $2.9 billion package to strengthen Medicare, driving an innovation to revamp Australia's primary healthcare network. In addition, cheaper medicines will result from this budget, something that's been very much welcomed. Many families are telling me the cost of medicines is really hurting them.
There has also been an investment in the Flinders Medical Centre, which is the medical centre I was born in. As pressure has mounted on this medical centre, it has desperately needed investment. This budget delivers $200 million towards expanding our Flinders Medical Centre. We have also seen the commitment for a Medicare urgent care clinic in the southern suburbs of Adelaide, a critical investment to ensure that local residents can get timely health care. This is new investment in health care in our community, which people have been crying out for for so long. We will also be establishing a new facility at the Repat with 24 beds as part of an older persons care unit, ensuring that those in the southern suburbs have timely access to quality health care.
In this budget, there has also been an important investment towards delivering an entry and exit ramp to the Southern Expressway at Majors Road. The former Liberal government, whether it was the state or the federal government, refused many, many times my request for this funding, despite the now state Liberal leader and local member saying it was his No. 1 priority. He actually took a video of himself driving down this road saying it was his No. 1 priority, but, unfortunately, he has not only abandoned that promise but also spread misinformation about the impact that this project will have on the local community. In fact, there will be minimal impact on Glenthorne National Park, Riding for the Disabled and all the other areas. It will not affect the current bike paths but will provide new and better bike paths. I think that the local member was trying to cover up for his lack of action after saying it was his No. 1 priority in a video. This is a good investment. It will better connect the southern suburbs to the North-South Motorway, which of course we will continue to see progress on.
There were other facility upgrades in this budget across my electorate. There were really important commitments to local reserves and local parks but, importantly, also to our urban rivers. I think often the focus comes off our urban rivers, but they are critically important to the natural environment, particularly in outer suburban areas, so this is incredibly important. The investment in the Paul Murray Recreation Centre, home to the growing Hub Gymnastics, is a really important investment.
This was a budget that not only delivered nationally but also delivered locally. It was a budget right for the times that was about economic productivity, growing our economy in a responsible way and not adding to that difficult problem of inflation that we are currently facing and that has made it difficult for families. This was responsible and it was right. I commend the budget to the House.