House debates

Monday, 22 May 2023

Private Members' Business

Albanese Government

10:41 am

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you for the opportunity to speak. I do not agree with the premise that is being put to the parliament. I feel sorry for the children up in the public gallery because they're the ones who are ultimately going to pay for Labor's reckless debt and reckless policies. The member for Pearce mentioned $1 trillion worth of debt. Labor should stop misleading the House. The ABC fact checked this, and it is nowhere near $1 trillion worth of debt. So the Labor dirt unit should take that out of their talking points forthwith because it is actually misleading the parliament of Australia, and to continue to say it is an absolute lie. It is.

The member for Pearce asked what we did when we were in government. Well, during the pandemic, we saved potentially 60,000 lives with the policies and the actions that we took, and 1.1 million jobs were created at the same time. Indeed 700,000 jobs were saved through JobKeeper. Those opposite wanted to pay people to get a jab. The debt would have been even higher had those opposite been listened to. Since Labor came to office—and it has been 12 sorry months—power prices have increased. That is a fact. Interest rates have increased. That is a fact. Unemployment has increased. That is a fact. The cost of living has increased. That is a fact.

I'm glad that the minister for regional development is sitting opposite because she might try to explain, as the member for Cunningham, who moved this motion, ought to as well, to their regional electorates—or the periurban parts of their electorate, in the member for Cunningham's instance—why there is no new money in the budget for the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, and why the Stronger Communities Program has just been stripped, taken away, removed from those hardworking volunteer organisations which look to that money, which relied on that money, which otherwise, in some instances, could not continue to operate but for the assistance under that very successful program which was first put in place after lobbying by the member for Parkes.

More than that, when you look at the Mobile Black Spot Program in New South Wales—those opposite go on about colour coded spreadsheets. I see the member for Eden-Monaro nodding. Well, Labor has colour coded spreadsheets too. The trouble is they're all red, for Labor, because under that recent program announcement, which was called, and was part of, the Mobile Black Spot Program funding, every single allocation, for every single mobile phone tower—you know what?—went to a Labor electorate. How is that fair? I know that, when the member for Eden-Monaro was elected—and good on her; I stood beside her at some press conferences before, indeed, she even ran as the member, when she was a mayor, and a good mayor, I will admit—and came into parliament, she absolutely complained about the funding that didn't go to her electorate, which was beset by fires. I acknowledge the fact that she worked hard for her community. But how can she and other members of the ALP justify every single Mobile Black Spot Program funding grant going to a Labor electorate? It's not fair. It's not right. It cannot be justified in any way, shape or form.

Then we talk about Mobile Black Spot Program funding being part of the national emergency plan, and it is. How is it that the National Emergency Management Agency staff have been cut from the regions? How is this so when, if you believe those opposite, the next disaster is just around the corner? We live in Australia, and that's probably right. Luckily, there haven't been any fires of the magnitude that happened during that Black Summer of bushfires. I appreciate that last year the floods were terrible and the Lismore situation was particularly disastrous. But then you get members opposite who take away funding from flood infrastructure—and by 'flood infrastructure' I mean increasing the Wyangala Dam wall just by 10 metres. Yes, it's a big ask, but what do we get from Labor? Well, we get, from the state water minister, 'Well, we're going to just make better escape routes for the people of Forbes.' How insulting! And there is no funding for dams or water infrastructure from those opposite.


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