House debates

Monday, 24 June 2013


Labor Party Reforms

9:59 pm

Photo of Geoff LyonsGeoff Lyons (Bass, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The federal Labor government has had some remarkable achievements since 2007, many of which have gone unreported in the media or been needlessly criticised by those sitting opposite. The Australian Labor Party has achieved social, economic and environmental reforms and, with each decision made, the Labor government has strived to protect the vulnerable and create a better Australia.

We have invested in the future by rolling out the NBN and delivering sensible budgets, despite challenging economic times, since the aftermath of the global financial crisis.

We eradicated Work Choices, introduced by the out-of-touch Howard-Costello government, which was manifestly unfair to both employees and to small business owners and reviled across Australia. Many of those who sit opposite me today were part of that government, and we know that unfairness is in their DNA. They simply cannot be trusted when it comes to fairness in the workplace. We have also made changes to superannuation, increasing it from nine to 12 per cent. For most Australians, their super is the only money they have after their working life is over. We are living longer and we need to set aside more for our longer retirement.

I also note the Labor Party has increased the aged pension to give dignity to those who have worked hard to make this nation the great place that it is. We also introduced Australia's Paid Parental Leave, including two weeks pay for dads so they can spend time with their newborns to give them the best possible start in life.

We have also boosted higher education funding in Australia by 50 per cent and created 190,000 extra university places. University education should not be just available to those who can afford it. A better educated population makes better choices about our collective future. Australian innovation is world famous, and more places at uni mean less chance of you and your kids missing out. We established the national curriculum, which means that for the first time education standards have been equalised between the states, allowing for more transferable skills and a higher degree of social mobility for all students.

As part of the national economic stimulus program, the government chose to invest heavily in new facilities for schools right across the country. This had the double effect of stimulating the economy while improving the lives of hundreds of thousands of children right across Australia. This spanned 7,920 schools in 10,475 projects, which I note were completed at less than three per cent dissatisfaction rate; yet those opposite have consistently peddled that the money was wasted. It certainly was not wasted in Bass. Those opposite do not value education. They never have and they never will.

We introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme, making sure Australians have a place in our society by ensuring against the onset of a disability in the health space. We also made the bold move to introduce plain packaging on cigarettes. The government has increased healthcare spending by more than $20 billion or 50 per cent from the previous Australian Healthcare Agreement with direct benefits for all Australians.

We also won a seat on the United Nations Security Council and ratified the Kyoto treaty. We put a price on carbon, demonstrating that Australians are not shying away from making decisions that are responsible and right and, in doing so, we restructured the tax base to ensure that most Australians are not financially disadvantaged.

I know the Leader of the Opposition has said that the science is highly contentious and the argument is absolute crap when talking about climate change. I have got news for the opposition leader: The Australian is no scientific journal.

Additionally, we made broad steps to protect our environment by establishing the national network of researchers and parks, creating the world's largest marine park network and introducing the reef rescue program.

In my own electorate which I have been very proud to represent for the last 2½ years, we have funded irrigation schemes, rebuilt the DSTO and overseen the implementation of the BERs in every school and the NBN.

There have been many grants to various businesses in my electorate, such as Joseph Chromy Wines, Leaning Church Vineyard, Velo Vineyard, Definium Technologies, the Migrant Research Centre, the Benevolent Society, and St Giles Society. There has been funding for upgrades to the Launceston General Hospital, and various medical practices and many others have been benefited from federal funding. Those opposite have spent the 43rd Parliament being negative, out of control and out of touch with our nation. This is the job that Australians expect us to do: caring for the vulnerable and managing Australia in the best interests of all.