House debates

Wednesday, 3 April 2019


Townsville: Floods

7:30 pm

Photo of Cathy O'TooleCathy O'Toole (Herbert, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I stand here today to fight for and demand Townsville's fair share. After the most devastating floods it appears Townsville has been left to hang out and dry by this LNP budget—not one new cent for Townsville infrastructure for two years. I cannot believe that this government is so out of touch that they have not given Townsville one cent for infrastructure. Clearly, this LNP government has no idea about the importance of infrastructure to the regions. Jobs is the No. 1 issue for Townsville, and this out-of-touch LNP government allocates absolutely nothing to Townsville in the budget—zero—to create new secure jobs for two years. No new money for infrastructure means no jobs for the people of Townsville.

Under the LNP government, unemployment in Townsville has almost doubled. Speaking frankly, every single day I meet at least 20 people and every single person raises the issue of getting a job and how hard it is under this LNP government. They speak about their own issues or those of others that they know, people like Jake. Jake lost his job during this chaotic LNP term. He lost his apprenticeship and he could not find another opportunity, all because of the massive cuts to TAFE. So Jake decided to go to university. With a degree under his belt Jake thought that this would make him more employable and he would finally be able to find a job and support himself and his partner. More than six months on Jake is still looking for employment. Unfortunately for Jake there is no glimmer of hope in this 'no jobs and all cuts' budget. Shame on the LNP.

This government says it is helping the people affected by the floods. Townsville has experienced our worst natural disaster. After more than 22,000 homes were affected, more than 110 roads were damaged and more than 1,000 people in Townsville were left homeless because of the floods, the LNP government delivers zero for natural disaster resilience funding. This government knows how to kick Townsvillians when we are down, and it is simply not good enough. There is no money for hydropower on the Burdekin Falls Dam, no money for The Oasis Townsville veterans' hub, no money to increase naval ship maintenance, no 200 extra Department of Human Services jobs and no money for the Mount Isa to Townsville rail. All Townsville gets from this budget is cut after cut after cut: $8.9 million cut to our Townsville hospital, with 25 nurses jobs gone; $36 million cut to James Cook University, with 14 jobs already cut and more expected to be cut; $38 million cut to Central Queensland University; millions lost to our Townsville public schools; and $171.6 million cut to the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and that's in the largest garrison city in the nation.

I will fight against these savage cuts and I will fight for Townsville's fair share. I have fought for my community. Labor has listened and Labor will deliver a much fairer budget for Townsville, a budget that delivers vital infrastructure and hundreds of jobs and that will get Townsville back on its feet after the flood we have just experienced. Labor's budget will deliver $200 million for hydropower on the Burdekin Falls Dam, $4.1 million for The Oasis Townsville, $30 million for 33 extra beds at the Townsville hospital to relieve the waiting list, $23.5 million for Townsville schools over the first three years, 200 new Department of Human Services jobs and an entirely new defence maintenance industry for naval ships. Labor will deliver a fair share for Townsville. Townsville deserves a government that will deliver for all Townsvillians and not just the top end of town. We certainly do not deserve the LNP cuts and chaos. Townsville deserves better and under a Labor government Townsville will get better.