House debates

Wednesday, 26 November 2008


Western Australia

7:49 pm

Photo of Luke SimpkinsLuke Simpkins (Cowan, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On a day of the last election campaign, I recall that I was walking along a street in Girrawheen and noticed a flyer from the Labor Party blowing along the street. It talked about how Labor would give WA its fair share of federal funding. It played to the feelings of many people in Western Australia, saying that Canberra takes a great deal of the royalties from Western Australia and never gives a fair share back. This flyer was therefore just about politics, painting the false picture that WA had been ripped off by John Howard. The Labor Party won the election and, after one year, it is appropriate for me to reflect on the new government’s stated commitment to WA, to check on the progress of ‘a fair deal for Western Australia’.

Fortunately, I have provided the House with a rundown of all the election promises made with regard to Cowan in the past, and I have written to the Treasurer as well to remind him of those commitments, with no reply. But it is important to again remind the House of what was committed and what has been achieved. There was the $10 million commitment for an overpass at the Reid Highway and the Alexander Drive Overpass—a red light on that. There was $5 million to be delivered to each of the cities of Wanneroo and Swan for different sections of the major road, Hepburn Avenue—another red light. Two million dollars was to be given to the Woodvale Senior High School—we are waiting for that. There was the Wanneroo GP superclinic—we are still stuck in the waiting room on that one.

Those are just some of the projects that were mentioned but for which we are yet to see commencement, let alone delivery. I therefore struggle to see practical results or outcomes of this alleged new commitment to WA, represented merely by that Labor Party flyer I found in Girrawheen. Whereas there has been a clear and ever present lack of action with Rudd government outlays in Cowan, this is in stark contrast to past years when the Howard government looked after the then Labor opposition held electorate of Cowan, including the Investing in Our Schools outlays extensively throughout the electorate. The Ocean Reef Road extension is well underway after a $7 million contribution around two years ago. The Ballajura War Memorial and Peace Park received collective outlays of $155,000 from the former government—money, action and, above all, real results. That is in stark contrast to the great action and effectiveness of the coalition government when it is compared to what has happened in the last 12 months. It is therefore hard to reconcile rhetoric with reality, and I cannot see evidence of any greater commitment to Western Australia by the Rudd government. In fact, I see that there has been far less action and far less commitment to the great state of Western Australia.

I will, however, now provide a contrast between electorates across Australia to show that the Rudd government is committed first and foremost to the eastern states. I emphasised before what was offered in Cowan by Labor in 2007 and still not delivered. Now I will refer to government members’ speeches that show where all the money is being spent and therefore the complete Rudd government preference for any state but Western Australia.

Last night the member for Robertson in New South Wales spoke of the following projects which she described as truly nation building, including $7 million for a car parking station; $81 million for a pipeline, $900,000 for a sports precinct, $840 million to provide a freight rail line and $680,000 for CCTV security cameras. So there is a fair bit going into Robertson. She also mentioned that the local government has received ongoing federal funding worth $17.8 million in the past year alone. Some may say that the member for Robertson may be getting more than her fair share of handouts, to help address a bit of a profile issue.

In South Australia, to help out the Labor member for Kingston, there was $3 million for a transport sustainability study. In Braddon in Tasmania, $1 million was distributed among local sporting clubs. Up in Queensland $2.6 million went to Barcaldine for a monument to a tree. In Victoria the electorate of Ballarat got a $90 million commitment for a pipeline and $1.5 million for an aquatic centre. The list goes on, and that was only after about 15 minutes of searching through Hansard. What I want to say is that, as worthy and meaningful as each of those projects may be to people in those electorates, it nevertheless demonstrates that the Rudd government’s priorities remain on the eastern states, where their big spending is boundless, but it does demonstrate that the Rudd government is not committed to Western Australia apart from the politics. As we approach the next election, how many of Labor’s last election promises will be dusted off so that my next opponent can be wheeled into the camera shot? The final point I would make is that the Labor election promises in Cowan suffered from a lack of originality last time, essentially following on from our own.

In recent weeks I have presented the government with a range of other infrastructure and community strengthening initiatives, and I look forward to Labor in Western Australia trying to pass them off as original concepts at the next election! I question the Rudd government’s commitment to Western Australia, as I have proven that there is only evidence supporting their interest and commitment to the eastern states.