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
The Albanese government's first budget delivers for the people of Brand and will ensure that no one is left behind. The Albanese government will deliver cheaper child care for the people of Brand. Over the last eight years, childcare costs have increased by more than 40 per cent, which is a huge cost to families and a disincentive to parents, especially mums, to go out and do more paid work and continue their careers. Under the government's plans for cheaper child care, around 7,000 local families in Brand will be much better off. As an example, a family earning a combined income of $120,000 a year with one child in early education and care will be more than $1,700 better off. This plan is good for children, good for families and good for our economy. It's an important education and economic reform, and this government is taking action through offering cheaper child care to more families across Rockingham and Kwinana to address cost-of-living pressures.
As outlined in the October budget, the Albanese government is investing $2.4 million to upgrade Thomas Oval in Medina. Keeping active and connected is so important for the local community. Participation in community sports contributes to physical wellness, creates strong social bonds and improves mental health. Upgrades to the facilities at Thomas Oval will pay benefits for years to come, especially for the very enthusiastic local rugby league players. The improvements will mean a great deal for sporting clubs like the Kwinana Titans rugby league and Kwinana Titans touch football clubs. The upgrades will mean local people in my electorate will have a better place to take their kids to play sport right there at home in Medina. The people of Brand have every right to expect that these kinds of flexibilities be of the same standard as those offered in other metropolitan cities. I think it will mean that in the future we will see more NRL sporting legends come out of Kwinana. I've got to admit I'm an Aussie Rules fan; I'm new to NRL. I'm slowly catching on, and I'm loving it more and more each time I see a game, so good luck to all those teams in Kwinana.
The budget included $135 million to open 50 urgent-care clinics across Australia over the next four years. One of these clinics will be based in Rockingham near the Rockingham General Hospital. The clinic will be tailored to meet the needs of the Brand community and will help ease pressure on the local hospital's very busy emergency department. That's good for everyone across Rockingham and Kwinana who needs urgent care. It means that families will get to see a doctor sooner.
The Albanese government's first budget also includes an investment of $46.7 million for 10 additional veterans and families hubs across the country. This investment more than doubles the size of the existing network. There will be $5 million going towards a new veterans centre in my electorate of Brand. This centre will be a one-stop shop for veterans and their families to access assistance from government, health services, ex-service organisations and community groups. My electorate encompasses Garden Island and HMAS Stirling naval base, the largest naval base in the country, and has a large defence population. Around 4,000 Defence personnel call Rockingham home, and their families do as well, of course. Over 5,000 veterans also live across Rockingham and Kwinana. This veterans hub will be of enormous importance to the local community, which welcomes the Defence Force and always has, ever since Stirling began its great part in our community of Rockingham.
I would now like to take the time to acknowledge some of the magnificent work done by community organisations and individuals in my electorate over the last few months. Last month, the City of Rockingham hosted the Rockingham Seniors and Carers Expo. Just like in previous years, the expo was a huge success thanks to the enormous effort of everyone involved. It's an enormously popular expo, and, of course, it has not been happening because of COVID, so everyone was very pleased to be back in the Mike Barnett Sports Complex to see the expo. I want to congratulate all the stallholders who attended and thank everyone who took the time to come and talk to my team and me as I walked around the venue, to ask questions or even just say a nice hello. Seniors are an important and integral part of our community, and it's crucial that they have access to the most up to date information and the best care possible. The Rockingham Seniors and Carers Expo offers people the opportunity to ask questions in person and explore options about care and the many other services available to them. I attended the expo alongside my state colleagues—the member for Warnbro, Paul Papalia, and the member for Kwinana, Roger Cook—and both of their teams. Our stall provided information on Labor's plan to put the care back into aged care for the people in our communities as well as millions of people across the country.
Across from our stall at the expo were representatives from the Southern Communities Advocacy Legal and Education Service, or SCALES. SCALES provides free legal advice, assistance and advocacy to people living in the City of Kwinana and the City of Rockingham who would otherwise be limited in their access to legal services. SCALES also provides vital support to women fleeing domestic violence. Last year, SCALES was the recipient of a grant facilitated through my office, which was used to renovate their family violence unit. Earlier this year, I had the chance to visit the clinic and catch up with some of the workers and volunteers. I was reminded of the vital importance of services like SCALES, and I was inspired by their unwavering commitment to the community. SCALES is just one of those many community groups right across the country, particularly in my electorate of Brand, that work so hard for the people of their community—of Rockingham and Kwinana.
I'd like to acknowledge one of our community's outstanding volunteers, Mr Owen Farmer. Owen is a past winner of the City of Rockingham Community Citizen of the Year Award, and I have known Owen for many years. In fact, when I first got elected in 2016, he was one of my first volunteers. Aside from helping me to get elected, he has worked tirelessly—arguably much more importantly—to advocate for people in our community, particularly those impacted by homelessness. In October, he teamed up with the Salvation Army and the City of Rockingham's deputy mayor, Hayley Edwards, for the Rough it for Rockingham initiative. Rough it for Rockingham involved a sleep out held in conjunction with World Homeless Day and aimed to raise both awareness and funds for those in our community living rough. So far, Rough it for Rockingham has raised nearly $25,000. I really want to thank everyone involved not only for this initiative but for your ongoing commitment to those that are doing it tough in our community, particularly over the winter. Owen has supposedly announced his retirement from his advocacy and activism. I'm sure he doesn't mean it, and I'm sure he will be back out there. He is a tireless worker for the community. Thank you so much, Owen.
At this year's Perth Airport WA Tourism Awards, two organisations in my electorate were recognised as some of the top tourism operators in Western Australia. The Rockingham Visitor Centre took home silver in the visitor information services category, and the Rotary Club of Palm Beach was also awarded silver in the festivals and events category for last year's Channel 7 Rockingham Beach Cup. The Rockingham Beach Cup is held every year and combines a day at the races with a day at one of Australia's most beautiful beaches—that is, Rockingham Beach. The 2022 beach cup took place last weekend. Unfortunately, I could not attend, as I was overseas, but I have been in the past, and it is a fantastic celebration of horses and racing but also of the local community. More than 20,000 people flocked to the beach in their best outfits and fanciest hats to watch on as jockey Kate Witten rode horse Decoy Noxious to victory. I'd like to congratulate the Rockingham Visitor Centre and the Rotary Club of Palm Beach for their tremendous achievements and also, of course, congratulate Kate Witten for winning what I think is one of the biggest events in Australia's racing calendar. I'll take no argument from those in Victoria!
Finally, I would like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to my friend and colleague the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC, who is bringing her long parliamentary career to an end. Remarkably, and possibly uniquely in this country, and perhaps anywhere in the world—it's hard to know—Alannah has served at all levels of government in Australia. She first became a member of the WA Legislative Council in 1993 and then became a member of the WA Legislative Assembly from 1996 to 2010. She went on to become the mayor of the City of Vincent, in the metropolitan area of Perth, from 2011 to 2013. She then moved on from the City of Vincent and became the member for Perth in this place for a term from 2013 to 2016. After that she returned to state politics and again became an MLC at the 2017 Western Australian state election. It's hard to keep track of Alannah. Since that election she has been a minister in the highly successful McGowan government of WA.
Anyone who knows or has met Alannah knows what a force she is. There are many members in this place now who worked with her while she was the member for Perth, and I'm very lucky to have worked with Alannah in her role as the current Minister for Regional Development; Agriculture and Food; Hydrogen Industry. She attended the Northern Australia Ministerial Forum recently in Darwin and, as always, had so much to contribute.
In Western Australia, Alannah MacTiernan is a legend. For my community she literally changed the lives of many people. Some people might forget this, but as the minister responsible for infrastructure at the time she was responsible for the construction and ultimate opening of the Mandurah rail line, which travels about 70 kilometres from Mandurah, in the south, to the Perth CBD. This changed Rockingham and Warnbro and Kwinana and Wellard—four of the stations along the rail line.
As someone who grew up in Rockingham, to get to Perth when I was a young person you had to sit on a bus from Rockingham to the city for at least two hours, so you kind of didn't go or you had to wait until someone turned 17 and got a drivers licence. Or you'd sit on a bus and get annoyed. You couldn't get out of town to go and visit other places. I bought my first home with my husband in Shoalwater Bay before the rail line was constructed and used to commute up to the University of Western Australia by car. It became one of the most depressing experiences. When you have to take long commutes on crowded roads with no public transport availability, it can really make a dent in your attitude to work and also to your home life.
What Alannah did, and what the state government at the time did by investing in the southern suburbs railway, changed the lives of many. It made what was around a two-hour commute on a bus or an hour and a half by car into a 35-minute rail commute. To this day, I sometimes get on the train from Rockingham up to the city instead of driving to Perth. It's only when there are risks involved that I cannot do it, but it is certainly the easiest, most convenient way to get around. It allows easy transport, and it was delivered by Alannah on time and on budget.
I've had the chance over three elections to campaign in the towns of Rockingham and Kwinana. Sometimes I campaign with Premier Mark McGowan who, some might be aware, is enormously popular in Western Australia. You'll go through shopping centres with him, and people come and say hello. But when I go to shopping centres and campaign with Alannah MacTiernan in my home town of Rockingham we are literally mobbed. People love that woman because she delivered so much for them—important infrastructure that changed their lives and enabled them to access affordable transport from their homes in the outer suburbs of the metropolitan area into the city. They didn't have to do the long car trips.
I know people may think I'm over-egging the importance of public transport, but can I tell you that after spending a year driving in a car for an hour and a half, back and forth to Perth, the change that it made to my life and to others was enormous. Aside from that, she has done so much in other portfolios—in regional development and in agriculture. She has shown her enthusiasm for Western Australia and all of its potential. In regional development, she is an advocate for mining and resources, just like all Western Australia ministers are. She knows the value of that industry to our state and, therefore, our country.
Alannah deserves a quiet retirement. I'm not sure her personality will permit that, but, in any event, I do wish her and her family a fun retirement. I thank you for your friendship, Alannah, and for all the great advice you gave me as I set out to become a member of this place, and I wish you well.