Thursday, 4 April 2019
As the 45th Parliament draws to a close, I'm reflecting on what the government has done for the people of Werriwa. The answer is not much, and not much for the NDIS in particular. This government has woefully underspent. It has let down recipients and carers alike. Many of my constituents have been left suffering, waiting 12 months for plan reviews. The stories that I hear in my electorate are heartbreaking, as were those detailed by the member for Hunter. This should not be happening to provide a surplus.
Not much has changed about the NBN either. Much of Werriwa is still waiting for the NBN—or those who have actually got it would like it to work even when it rains! Some parts of my electorate, like Long Point, which I've spoken about in this House on several occasions, won't see it for another 12 months. Although, given that every time that we check on the website that date seems to move back, 12 months may also be a pipedream.
There is not much for Western Sydney Airport. Werriwa is the home to Sydney's new airport, but we don't know if this government will deliver the road, rail and fuel line needs for the promised economic boom. There is also not much for education. School and TAFEs, which promise opportunity for the people of my electorate, are being left to stagnate by this government.
Then we get to energy bills—they have never been higher. Residents of Werriwa are feeling the squeeze of the cost of living and the lack of energy policy that is leading to the uncertainty that is keeping power bills high. Werriwa's had enough. We need a Labor government to deliver the health care, education and infrastructure our community deserves.
Buongiorno! Last month I attended the beginners Italian class at Marco Polo Italian School. The school is hosted by CNA-Italian Australian Services. My electorate of Werriwa has a large Italian community. When I speak to my constituents, they're concerned about their children and grandchildren maintaining a connection to their culture and their language. While visiting CNA, I spoke to some of the HSC students learning Italian. These young people highlighted how important it was for them to continue learning the language of their grandparents, so they can connect to them and their cultural heritage. Money is tight at CNA and other language schools in Werriwa, but they still do their best to deliver services to as many of our citizens as possible.
That's why Labor's $8 million investment in community language schools is so important. We want our young citizens in a diverse and multicultural Australia to have an affordable way to connect with their language and their culture. We want our young people to be able to communicate with their grandparents and their relatives, and be part of our global economy. Under our plan, the not-for profit language schools will be able to apply for grants of up to $25,000 to upgrade resources, improve teacher training and expand their programs to preschool aged children. Having seen the CNA school, I know just how much difference this money will make, and I look forward to community language schools flourishing under a Shorten Labor government.
In February I visited John Edmondson High School in Horningsea Park for a very special ceremony. Together with Principal Leon Weatherstone, I unveiled a plaque commemorating the support of the Edmondson, Hurst and Peacock families during both World War I and World War II.
We think of World War I as the time when Australia became a nation in her own right. Whilst the Gallipoli campaign was catastrophic, it brought Australians together to share in the bravery and sacrifice of our own soldiers and those of New Zealand across the Ditch. We know both wars are significant in terms of Australian history and world history, but something we reflect less on is the individual sacrifices and the impact those sacrifices have on families and communities back home. John Edmondson, whom the high school is named for, died when he was 27 on the battlefields in Tobruk. While we rightly commemorate the bravery and sacrifice of John Edmondson himself, what we often forget is to consider the grief of his family and the grief of the community he left back home in Liverpool. John's parents, Joseph and Maude, had to wave good-bye to a son they would never see again. John was their only child. This story was common in the countless families whose bravery supported their children to fight for their country and never return.
The plaque was funded under the armistice centenary grant. These grants enable community organisations to commemorate Australia's military history and the effect that it had in places around the time of World War I and World War II.
I rise to speak about the very significant infrastructure funding which has been announced for the Corangamite and Geelong regions and which is a game-changing investment for the people I proudly represent. In the budget this week, along with the surplus, we announce add record $100 billion over 10 years for roads and rail projects right across the country in our rural areas and in our cities. This includes $2 billion to finally get fast rail going in this nation from Geelong to Melbourne to deliver a 32-minute journey. As soon as the state government can match this funding—we're calling on the state government to match this funding—and is willing to build this rail line, the money will be there. It is in our budget on page 64 of Budget Paper No. 2, and the reference is from 2021-22: $2 billion for the delivery of fast rail from Melbourne to Geelong to reduce travel times, increase train patronage and ease congestion on the Princes Highway and West Gate Bridge.
We've also delivered $700 million more for the Geelong rail duplication project, a project that I have championed since 2015. In 2016, we delivered $1 million for planning at a time when the Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan, said this was not a priority. In the 2017 budget there was $100 million, in the 2018 budget there was $50 million and now, of course, there is $700 million, bringing it to a total of $850 million for this project. There's also money for a business case to look at the Geelong rail tunnel and additional money left over for provision for future construction works to deliver that dual track that we desperately need to provide more frequent, reliable and faster rail services through Geelong. We know how critical rail infrastructure is.
I want to call out and make this very clear on the record today: Australians do not like lies. I want to call out Bill Shorten's candidate in Corangamite, who said on the—
I'm sorry; Bill Shorten. Apologies. I want to call out the Leader of the Opposition's candidate in Corangamite, who in a post on her Facebook page said:
Scott Morrison and the Liberals have sat on their hands for nearly six years, doing nothing to improve rail infrastructure in Victoria.
What an absolute joke that is. That is a patent lie. As I've documented very clearly, we've delivered $150 million already, and now in this budget, which preceded this candidate making this statement, we delivered another $700 million. Of course, just two weeks ago we announced $2 billion. So what a mockery. Politics is full of people who come to politics for all the right reasons, but Australians want their politicians to have integrity, and there is no integrity when a candidate makes that sort of statement after our government has delivered this sort of money for the Corangamite region. Of course, the total amount of money available and announced by our government up until the budget was $1.75 billion for the Regional Rail Revival package, when the state Labor government had provided only $150 million.
Now we have the member for Corio making more untruthful statements, claiming that the $2 billion for fast rail is not in the budget. That is patently untrue. They are desperate. It is clear that the Labor Party does not support fast rail. The Labor Party does not support faster, more reliable rail services into our region. The member for Corio is on a mission to campaign against better rail services. I say to the member for Corio: shame on you. We are incredibly proud of our commitment to fast rail. I call out his untruthful statements, which are completely untruthful, and I call on the Victorian government to provide the $2 billion in the matching funding that we need to get on with this project; to expedite the business plan, this $50 million that it's allocated for it's business plan for fast rail; and to bring forward the construction timetable of the rail duplication project so we can get on with this project.
Question agreed to.
Federation Chamber adjourned at 12:21