Thursday, 27 February 2020
Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020; Second Reading
We are talking about appropriation bills that underpin the budget and the way governments spend money. And today we've had an extraordinary example of how the government is spending money. We found out that $10 million was spent by this government for 'the noted country town of North Sydney' so that it could get a swimming pool upgrade, which is fantastic! When challenged on why North Sydney got $10 million in another example of the rorts that have been uncovered in the last few months, the mayor described this as a totally justifiable decision on the basis that people from the country would swim in North Sydney and this would justify a regional grant. I've heard of Pitt Street farmers but not Boorowa backstrokers—and that's what this is facilitating in this place.
The member for North Sydney is singing 'I've been everywhere man'—from Waverton to Wollstonecraft, from Mosman to Artarmon, from Chatswood to Cremorne, from Naremburn to Castlecrag! This is a joke. It goes to show you how bad this government is when they try to funnel into North Sydney $10 million of money that was supposed to support the regions.
But who knows, this could be a plan by the member for North Sydney to usurp the Deputy Prime Minister by becoming a National Party MP in North Sydney. I think this is what we are looking at; they could have a National Party MP from North Sydney. That's the type of A-grade rorting that the National Party has become renowned for—and now they're bringing it to North Sydney. What an absolute embarrassment it is that you could use taxpayer funds in that way.
And that's where the joke ends. The way this government spends money on rorts—be it sports rorts or be it road rorts—has made a joke of programs like this, which notionally should be providing support to communities. And it demonstrates yet again that this is a budget from a government with no plan. They have no clue, no idea, no plan and no care for the Australian people. When it comes to using a budget that might be able to, for example, deal with the skills crisis—every industry is saying they don't have enough people—we have a government with no plan for how to fix that and no funding to back it up.
It's costing people more and more to go to a doctor. Every time they go to a doctor the out-of-pocket expenses have jumped up. In my part of western Sydney, for the people who I represent, they've jumped up 40 per cent. Yet there's no plan by this government to make health care and access to it easier.
We've got clogged roads and clogged railways in our part of Sydney, and yet all we've got, when it comes to infrastructure, is an ad plan. We've got a plan that can advertise claimed spending but none of the actual dollars going to the people when they need it most, which is right now, and to also help the economy on the way through. Again, this budget has no answers for people who want to see those types of things—health, schools, broader education, infrastructure—fixed up; nothing. But you can get $10 million for a pool in North Sydney as you're trying to save people from losing their seats, potentially, either there or elsewhere. You'll be—
Mr Tim Wilson interjecting—
Dr Allen interjecting—
I'm sure the member for Higgins, who's interjecting right now, will probably be a beneficiary as well, and the member for Goldstein, too. They are noted regional members! You could be the luminaries of the Victorian branch of the LNP. You should take that Queensland idea and bring it down here. I mean, look who you're competing with—this is going to be a walk in the park for you. Look at these luminaries that you're up against! You should definitely export this from Queensland. Bert van Manen's up there, the member for Forde—he could give you an idea on how well these things work. And I'm sure that there'd be others as well. Julian Leeser, the member for Berowra—
I'm just a friendly person who just tries to refer to people by their names. But, Deputy Speaker, you rightly point out that I should use their titles. And we should make this a place that's less friendly—I agree! But the member for Berowra: I could see him in a Driza-Bone going through—what are some of the places in your neck of the woods?
And here you go! This is who you could be inspired by: the member for New England, in bringing the National Party approach to the cavalier use of taxpayer funds to your parts of the country. Again, this is a representation, an example, of how—
Exactly, I am; I could be here all week because there are so many rorts, Minister, that we could talk about. But this is an example of this cavalier approach to the use of money being picked up from that part of the government benches and spread out over here. We can definitely get a sense, too, of the outrage from the general public about the way in which this has happened. They know this is a big issue: sports rorts and road rorts and the fact that people are missing out. People, in good faith, are putting in applications, wanting either to upgrade their local sports ground or to see infrastructure in their area upgraded; they believe they've got a good case; and they're denied. Why? Because, again, it's a government that only spends to save itself, as opposed to helping the Australian people. It's not good enough. In the urban infrastructure program, we've seen the member for Robertson do very well, but that's only one part of the Central Coast; that's not a broad approach to dealing with the Central Coast. People there are stuck in cars for hours, travelling from the Central Coast to Sydney for work, or on trains that they're forced to use because they don't want to use the roads. But only one part of the Central Coast gets the benefit of an urban infrastructure funding program. That goes to show you: this is not needs based; it's not evidence based; it's politically based; and it's got to end. Again, this is a budget that doesn't reflect a plan, an idea, a clue or a care for the people of Australia.
It gives me great pleasure to advise the member that his comments earlier were not actually accurate. Today I rise to speak to the appropriation bills, Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020. These bills will provide additional monetary support for government programs, both new and existing, which will be delivered over the course of this financial year.
The Morrison government is able to deliver funding to projects right across Australia through our strong management of the economy, and it is this responsible economic management that allows the government to quickly act in the face of challenges such as devastating bushfires, floods and drought, or by investing in important measures to keep Australians safe in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. It is also this strong economic management that, despite the many challenges that we've faced as a country over the past few months, allows for investment in vital infrastructure upgrades and local projects in communities all around Australia, including in my electorate of Robertson. Today I'll share just a few examples of the many, many projects that the Morrison government will be investing in to improve the lives of residents on the Central Coast.
Last year, the federal government announced a $35 million package in the government for additional car spaces at Gosford and Woy Woy train stations. This was part of a $541.2 million congestion funding boost for New South Wales under the national Urban Congestion Fund. The commuter car parks in Gosford and Woy Woy are regularly full by 7 am, forcing many to look for street parking that can, in some instances, be a very long way from the station. I heard from many frustrated locals who were desperate for more car parking spaces. Thanks to this investment by the Morrison government, these upgrades will make a monumental difference to the lives of many commuters on the Central Coast who travel to Sydney or Newcastle daily via public transport. Like many Central Coast residents, I'm keen to see the car parks at both Gosford and Woy Woy become a reality as soon as possible. I understand that scoping and development activities are already underway, with locations for the car parking and construction time frames to be released in due course.
In addition to boosting car-parking capacity for commuters on the Central Coast, the Morrison government is continuing to work on improving mobile phone coverage along the train lines between the Central Coast and Sydney. The first mobile base station was launched at Narara train station in October last year, along with free wi-fi at Lisarow, Mount Colah and Tuggerah train stations. The second of the planned 22 mobile stations is now almost complete, with the launch of Narara's Showground Road site expected in early March. Improving connectivity for local commuters is important, with one in four people living on the Central Coast commuting by train each day—a journey that can take more than two hours. Building the new mobile infrastructure will reduce mobile black spots and allow passengers to catch up on work or the news, and stay in touch with friends and family. While I understand the ongoing frustration of commuters with delays of this project's completion, I would like to acknowledge the strong collaboration between Sydney Trains, Telstra, and the federal and state governments on ensuring these vital upgrades are completed as quickly as possible.
The $70 million Central Coast Roads Package is another example of what is possible under a government that can manage the economy. In 2019, this government committed a record $70 million to improving 29 local roads that were in dire need of attention. This followed our local roads petition, launched in 2017; over 700 members of the community in my electorate raised their concerns and had their voices heard. It's only because of the Morrison government's strong financial management that we are able to invest this record funding, which will improve the experience of so many people who live on the Central Coast. I'm pleased to advise that Central Coast Council has already started work on these upgrades, with drainage work on Mutu Street in Woy Woy complete, and work on kerb and gutter replacement expected to wrap up in April. I understand that Central Coast Council are scheduled to begin construction on Glenrock Parade in Tascott next month. I understand that upgrades to 20 of the 29 roads will have commenced by the end of next year, which I'm sure will be welcome news to many who have been waiting years to see their roads upgraded.
We've also committed to $4.3 million in funding to Central Coast Council to upgrade vital roads, and install much-needed footpaths in North Avoca. It will see Tramway Road, View Street and Elgata Avenue fully reconstructed, including with curb and guttering and new footpaths. This commitment came about after a group of local mothers from North Avoca advocated for upgrades due to a number of concerns they had about safety in the area, particularly for pedestrians, due to the lack of footpaths. I understand that Central Coast Council has commenced the design process for this project, with a concept design scheduled to be prepared in the coming months. I look forward to seeing local families being able to walk with their toddlers and their prams down to the beach and the local shops without concern, when this project is completed.
The Morrison government has also provided a $9 million investment, a very important investment, for a women's residential drug and alcohol rehabilitation centre on the Central Coast, known as The Glen centre for women. This investment—I do believe this is an incredibly important announcement—followed a feasibility study that was supported by a consultation process involving over 400 women, including Indigenous elders and more than 40 organisations from community groups, peak bodies and research and service providers. Of the total $9 million in funding provided in the 2019 budget, $4.5 million will go towards building the new facility, with an additional $1½ million per annum for three years to cover operational costs. I'm delighted to say that The Glen centre for women is a step closer to becoming a reality with a funding agreement executed just this week. I understand The Glen will now turn their attention to identifying the most appropriate location for the women's centre to be built.
An additional health initiative funded by this government is the delivery of funding for another linear accelerator, which will boost cancer treatment capacity at Central Coast Cancer Centre. The $3.8 million investment in the 2019 budget provides for a third linear accelerator machine. The machines are vital in the treatment of cancer as they allow doctors to target cancer cells while protecting the surrounding healthy tissue. This extra linear accelerator machine will make a dramatic difference in my community once installed.
Another example of this government's investment in local communities is the $8.25 million upgrade of the Umina recreational precinct. This funding will allow for the redevelopment of the existing skate park, BMX track and basketball court, and a new football club house for Umina United Soccer Club, a new integrated community facility and additional car parking. It was clear after speaking to residents in my local community and receiving a petition with over 2,000 signatures that these upgrades would make a significant difference to those who are living on the peninsula. The redevelopment will not only improve social cohesion within the community but deter antisocial behaviour from our young people. In addition, the facelift will draw regional sporting competitions to the state-of-the-art facilities, boosting our tourism and local economy.
A concept plan is being finalised after 18 months of community consultation, with a detailed plan now available on the Your Coast - Our Voice website. Construction of the Umina recreational precinct is due to start in the coming weeks, with the upgrade expected to be complete by late 2020. I join with many others from right across the peninsula who cannot wait to see this fantastic project finally underway.
The government committed $80,000 to upgrade the scoreboard at Woy Woy Oval. This funding has allowed the local sporting clubs to use this ground to install a state-of-the-art scoreboard to further encourage the youth within the community to participate in local sporting events. The Morrison government also committed $1.45 million for a new amenities block at the Lemongrove Netball Courts at Ettalong Beach. I was happy to advocate for this project after seeing firsthand the poor state of their existing amenities blocks. These upgrades to sporting facilities will provide immense benefit to all who regularly utilise them.
Finally, we're a step closer to creating a world class health and innovation precinct in Gosford as $18 million was committed last year by this government to build on the vision of the Central Coast Medical School and— (Quorum formed)
This $18 million in funding will assist with the development of a precinct in the heart of Gosford to increase educational opportunities in the region and create a centre of excellence in integrated health care. Additional benefits of this investment will see several new degrees offered by the University of Newcastle. One of my top priorities is attracting—
Last night, I, with many of our colleagues here in this chamber, attended a very important event. At that event, many of us held candles just like the one I'm holding. This candle was from the vigil that we held last night in honour, in mourning and also in celebration of the lives of Hannah, Aaliyah, Laianah and Trey. But this candle actually also represents the lives of so many women and children who have lost their lives to domestic violence every week, every year, throughout Australia.
Our condolences as a parliament, as people, have been expressed by the Prime Minister, the leader of the Labor Party—so many of us—and many of us last night. And of course I express my condolences to Hannah's family, their friends and the friends of her children. But I also want to express some deep concern about some of the reporting of that event. We've all expressed our concern that domestic violence continues to happen and be a scourge on our society here in Australia, but part of dealing with that—part of combating that—also has to be that reporting of these events is clear; that reporting of these events acknowledges the important things that have happened and doesn't skirt round the gravity of actions that have been taken by people that have caused harm and in way too many circumstances death.
On average, one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner in Australia. One in three Australian women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15. One in five Australian women have experienced sexual violence. One in four Australian women have experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner. Australian women are nearly three times more likely than men to experience violence from an intimate partner and they are nearly four times more likely than men to be hospitalised after being assaulted by a spouse or partner.
The litany of statistics, unfortunately, goes on and on—I have over a page of them. I encourage all people to look at the Our Watch website and view those statistics, because they are truly troubling. In particular, last year, 61 women died through domestic violence. This year already nine have died. And refuges across the country commonly tell us that, for every woman and family that they are able to help, two, three or four are turned away.
In my electorate, the electorate of Burt in the south-eastern suburbs of Perth, we have the highest rates of domestic violence in the metropolitan area. In the Armadale policing district, in the decade to last year, we saw family assaults increase from 746 to 1,899—that's a 154 per cent increase. Threatening behaviour against a family member increased from 66 to 367—a 4.5 time increase.
When I had the honour of becoming a lawyer, one of the things that I took on was joining the board of Starick services. Starick is a domestic violence service operating in the south-eastern suburbs of Perth. I had the great honour of being the chair of that organisation for some time and also representing it on an industry representative group to government. Starick provides two refuges in our south-eastern suburbs. It provides outreach services. It provides services in police stations and it provides assistance to victims of domestic violence in courts.
I want to read the story of one of the women that Starick has assisted. This is Anne's story:
When I first got married, I thought that I was going to have a wonderful life and fulfil all the dreams a newlywed could hope for. As an A-grade student throughout high school, I went on to run my own business, had just planned an around-the-world trip and was excited about life and the prospect of sharing that life with another.
I thought I'd met a man who was handsome, adventurous and brave but, instead, I was introduced to a crazy world that I could never have imagined or prepared myself for. I had no idea the transformation that was to follow over the next 14 years.
I didn't understand that domestic violence is like a little microscopic worm that sneaks into your mind and slowly kills you from the inside. You do not realise you are dying until it is almost too late, or someone comes and rescues you from an early grave.
I always thought the worm would look like a big, unkempt, nasty, thug that swore and punched holes in the walls but instead it was quiet and cunning and deadly.
I never fully understood the danger I was in until after I got out.
It started with my partner being disgruntled and a little bit unpredictable. He was not considerate and he was a fraction selfish. I thought this was nothing unusual. After all, newlyweds have their settling in period and I was sure I had a few things he didn't like, either. I decided to just try a little harder to be a better wife.
Well, to him being a better wife meant I should really spend less time with my friends, give up my business and be a stay-at-home mum. He said that most women would be envious of that privilege, and not to worry about my family too much since they clearly didn't understand what being a good wife was. After all, he said, they were divorced, so what would they know about how to overcome marital issues? He wanted me to sell my car because he said we needed only one and it was better for us financially.
Slowly but surely the worm continued to eat away at my common sense and freedom until one day, many years later, I had given him my $30,000 of savings, completely cut off all of my family and friends, attempted suicide and let him kill all my beloved pets.
He had sexually abused my daughter, groomed the others, smashed down every door in the house, made me miscarry, beat me up more times than I can remember, threatened to kill us all and stole the beautiful vivacious girl I once was from within me. I never laughed. I never smiled. I was a dead woman walking.
But still I wouldn't have labelled myself one of 'those women' who experience domestic violence. How can a normal, healthy, happy girl be reduced to a shadow of a person and not see anything wrong? Because the worm was eating me away. With each bite, it was making itself bigger and stronger and I was getting smaller and weaker.
Eventually, to my horror the authorities stepped in. What for, I thought? I'm a good wife. I'm looking after my kids. I don't drink or take drugs or live like a vagabond. I'm married. I'm a good person. I had NO IDEA that all the life had been sucked out of me.
But, fortunately for me, it was the first time a law was passed that enabled a magistrate to take out a Violence Restraining Order WITHOUT my permission, on my husband, to protect us all from this unreasonable and unpredictable man.
It was only then that I began to heal. I needed space and silence.
I didn't appreciate fully at the time the beautiful people who came along and walked every step by my side to support me and be my strength in times of complete weakness. I thought that they didn't really know my situation or understand, but they actually did. They knew my predicament better than I ever knew and if it wasn't for their continued support, encouragement and protection I would most definitely not be here today, and my seven precious children would be dispersed among the community, trying to make sense of it all.
I will remain eternally grateful to all the domestic violence support workers who have carried me over the years, in the courtroom and out, particularly the staff at Starick.
I am so very thankful for the women's refuges throughout Perth, the police who see the destruction first hand yet continue to care in the wee hours when nobody else can help, the magistrates who watch our declining culture day in and day out but choose to protect us, still, by putting boundaries in place, and all the people who become a voice for those who have lost theirs.
I wish to add my voice to those who are standing for those people who have lost theirs.
There are so many other stories like that. It is just but one of the compelling stories that I can tell from my electorate. But, as we stand and sit in this place and consider what we have seen, as we reel listening to these stories and the circumstances that we have seen reported in the news, it is incumbent on us to actually think about: 'What next? What can we actually do?' I think we need to remember the example in Victoria, where they held a royal commission into domestic violence. That royal commission in 2016 made 227 recommendations. One hundred and forty-three of those recommendations have already been implemented. I reference this not because I think we should have another royal commission; I reference this because there are now 227 things that every other state and the Commonwealth can think about doing, that we should be actually turning our minds to and making sure are implemented across this nation.
From my observation, from my work in this field and from looking at the recommendations of the royal commission, there are a few things that this parliament, this government, any federal government and any state government can look at doing. We need more refuges. We need more places in refuges. We need more refuges that can support families, not just individuals. We need more places in refuges that can support families and their pets. But we need more of them. We need more funding for those services. We can't just be funding the buildings. We need to assist in funding the services and expanding the services. It's not just about accommodation and homelessness, though that is exceptionally real; it's about the legal assistance services, the counselling services, the empowerment, the support in court and the support with police stations. We also need much more transitional housing, because it doesn't matter how many refuges we build if there's no place for people to go to then take their life back. They get full very quickly. We need more transitional housing. We also need more social housing.
All of these things are things that the federal government, a federal parliament, can be involved in funding. I'm not absolving the states of any responsibility in this, but this needs to be done together. We need to be doing it now. We've talked about it for too long. We also need governments to provide certainty in funding. Too often we have seen here funding that is announced for several years—and that is commendable—and then it is left to the absolute death knell or, in fact, after that funding has run out for governments to confirm only a one-year extension to that funding or program. Yet again another pilot not followed by ongoing funding, despite the proven efficacy of those programs.
On this side we have called for a national domestic violence summit. I think that is an important start. It's an important start because coordination at a state and federal level is absolutely necessary. We have seen some work on this in terms of the application of restraining orders crossing borders. Too often we see that even by leaving your own state you are not safe. But that is merely the beginning. Our state and federal governments need to work much more strongly together to ensure that there is an actual plan that picks up on all of the research, the inquiries and the royal commissions, what they've already recommended, and make sure that they become a reality. Not because it allows us to tick a box and not because it allows us to make some great announcement, but because it should allow us to look all Australians in the face and say that, as their elected representatives at a national or a state level, we are actually doing the things that will make a difference in keeping people safe; in making sure that we do not have unnecessary death, violence, emotional violence; and in making sure that people can feel safe in their own homes and that children are not traumatised by the people who are there to love them. This is something I know we are actually all committed to. I look forward to working with everyone here to make sure that this becomes an actual reality in our nation. It's for everybody that this candle represents.
The coalition government is delivering on the promises we made to Australians when we introduced the 2019-20 budget. This government's economic plan was clear and straightforward. Firstly, we would return the budget to surplus. Secondly, we would deliver more jobs while lowering taxes, meaning that hardworking Australians keep more of what they earn. Thirdly, one of the most important aspects of the budget was guaranteeing essential services like Medicare, schools, hospitals and roads. I have said countless times in this place that it is only a coalition government that can manage the economy so that we have the money to deliver essential services that Australians rely on each and every day.
Through this government's record health funding, we have strengthened Medicare, funded more hospital services and provided more affordable medicines than ever before. Since the coalition came to office, funding for public hospital services has increased by 80 per cent in my home state of Victoria. Even better is the GP bulk-billing rate in my electorate of Chisholm. It's as high as 84 per cent. In fact, 145,605 more GP visits were bulk-billed than in Labor's last year in government.
Delivery of essential services doesn't stop at health care. We have made sure that students are ready for university, TAFE and apprenticeships by improving student outcomes through record funding for schools. As a government, we are also equipping Australians with the skills of today and tomorrow by delivering up to 80,000 apprenticeships. I'm so proud of what the government is doing in this place. I can proudly visit the 34 public schools in Chisholm knowing that we'll increase funding by 55 per cent per student over the next decade. Under this government's Local Schools Community Fund, we have been able to further support our schools—
I will just quote some examples. Avila College in Mount Waverley is able to upgrade its classroom technology. The $20,000 spent on this upgrade will make a real difference to the quality of education there. Laburnum Primary School in Blackburn and St Francis Xavier Primary School were both able to invest $20,000 to upgrade their STEM facilities. The Old Orchard Primary School in Blackburn North is able to offer a dynamic learning hub to its students. Education is one of this government's highest priorities and we will continue to invest in future generations.
Australians work extremely hard and should be entitled to keep more of what they earn. This government legislated tax relief for low- and middle-income earners of up to $1,080 for single-income earners and $2,160 for dual-income families. This immediately eases the cost of living. The ALP went to the last election promising $387 billion of higher taxes, and these are only the planned tax increases we know of. The Labor Party promised to raise taxes on retirees, on renters, on home owners, on family businesses and, sadly, on hardworking Australians. I simply do not know how the Labor Party can face the 71,469 taxpayers in my electorate of Chisholm currently benefitting from tax relief and say they would have been better off under Labor.
When our budget is strong our communities are strong because we are able to fund activities like the Stronger Communities Program. Helping local communities in the good work that they do is important, and something this government is proud of. Helping groups like the Blackburn Vikings basketball association replace their backboards and rings, or providing $600,000 to the Laburnum Cricket Club to upgrade their awning is important. The money this government is able to provide can make a real difference. We are able to do the small things that sometimes can go unnoticed.
The government has delivered the first balanced budget in 11 years, and our economy is predicted to grow faster than similar developed nations—the US, Canada, Japan, France, Germany and the UK—both this year and next. This is no accident. The economic leadership shown by the Prime Minister and the Treasurer means that our nation's finances are in a better place. The community I represent in this place is better off for it. Thank you.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak in support of Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 and cognate bill. Today I want to talk about Tasmania and the fact that Tasmania is now known as the turnaround state. For a long time, we were the nation's cellar-dwellers against almost every economic measure. The latest CommSec State of the states report proves this is no longer the case. In fact, today we have the fastest-growing economy in the nation. Tasmania's revival started in 2013 and 2014 with the election of the coalition government federally and a majority of Liberal governments at the state level. Our state growth has been around 3.3 per cent in the last 12 months and that was the highest rate of growth in almost a decade. On a per capita basis we have the fastest-growing economy in the country, almost double the national average. Importantly, though, our economy is broad-based, with almost every sector growing. Retail trade has grown in 50 consecutive months. Exports are particularly strong. And there's been a positive momentum in our strong economy which has resulted in increases in tourism, business confidence, population growth and infrastructure investment throughout our state.
I congratulate the former Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman. We will miss Will. He's done a fantastic job, but we look forward to Peter Gutwein's leadership. Although Tasmania only occupies two per cent of the landmass of Australia, it receives nine per cent of the rainfall within Australia. But we also have 25 per cent of Australia's fresh water in storage, and this storage is important to my story today in support of these appropriation bills. Through our Tranche 3 irrigation, our irrigation systems have proved immensely positive for the state's growth. In this time of drought, and as it hits home, access to water is priority No. 1. We in Tasmania, and I as a farmer, recognise that irrigation water is liquid gold for all Tasmanian farmers. Access to water right across our irrigation schemes is allowing farmers to diversify, to value-add and to expand their existing farming operations.
The Hodgman and Morrison governments are jointly investing $170 million into our Pipeline to Prosperity Tranche 3 irrigation system, with the Don, Sassafras and Wesley Vale projects in the electorate of Braddon progressing through the planning and approval processes which will provide liquid gold to our farmers. Feedback has been extremely positive with the Don scheme near Devonport on track for likely approvals early in 2020, with construction likely to start late next year. Local farmers have also expressed interest in exceeding 5,000 megalitres, more than triple the 1,300 meg originally proposed for the Sassafras and Wesley Vale schemes. Our Pipeline to Prosperity is providing farmers in each district with the confidence to invest in growing their businesses even further. It is estimated that, when fully implemented, Tranche 3 irrigation projects could deliver 78,000 megs of water to farmer, create 2½ thousand jobs, and increase annual on-farm production by $114 million.
To date, Tasmanian irrigation has delivered 14 projects under Tranche 1 and Tranche 2, which had the capacity to deliver approximately 100,000 megalitres of highly reliable irrigation water to Tasmanian farmers—liquid gold! And we've put the infrastructure in place to ensure this is captured. The Morrison and Gutwein governments are in lock step with our plan to grow the farmgate value of Tasmania's agricultural sector. (Quorum formed)
I will continue with how irrigation and our liquid gold capture is improving the GDP of Tasmania and pushing it forward to being the industry leader in agriculture throughout the nation. I'm now going to talk about how we're going to get this agricultural produce to market, and that's important.
We're investing in roads too. The Morrison government's $100 billion transport infrastructure investment across Australia is important and moving Australia forward. My constituents, who are driving around Braddon, are not belting along a freeway. We don't spend much time in traffic jams, but this investment and what it will do is to ensure that everyone in my area can get home safely to their loved ones. As an investment in our area, it will also improve travel times and reliability. It will also make our national highway, the Bass Highway, safe for all road users.
The Cooee to Wynyard Planning Study is a great example of how the federal Liberal government keeps its promises in Tasmania, particularly in my electorate of Braddon. We said we'd pay for a study to be undertaken identifying the stress on this highway, and that study's been completed and it's thorough and it will move Tasmania forward, as it will our vehicles along that system.
During the election campaign the Prime Minister visited Braddon on many occasions, and further committed to a $40 million increase in delivering a recommended—
This is a third-term government with no plan to get our economy moving again. Australians want a leader, not a salesman who goes missing when things get tough. Australians want a government that invests in the infrastructure we need, not a marketing campaign that offers nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Australians want a government that takes managing our economy seriously, that delivers economic leadership and an economic plan, not one which endlessly trumpets a surplus that they might not even deliver.
Over the last week or so we've seen the government pretending that the weakness in the economy is somehow the product of the coronavirus outbreak or the bushfire crisis, but this is a government in their seventh year. Yes, the impact of coronavirus on the economy will be substantial—just how substantial remains to be seen—but the problem Australia is facing is that the economy, on this government's watch, was already weak before the fires and well before coronavirus. The government may pretend that everything was fine until a few months ago, but that simply does not match the facts. If everything was fine before, or if the government had an economic plan, Australia would not have faced a per capita recession, Australians would not face stagnating wage growth and our economy would be better positioned to confront the challenges that are ahead.
Labor have supported the government's efforts to support bushfire affected communities, and we are ready to help deal with the impacts of coronavirus. But, in reality, this is a government that is failing the test that they set for themselves. This is a government which promised a surplus in their first year and every year after that. Instead, this third-term government have delivered six deficits in a row, and they are now clearing the ground for a potential seventh. In September we will find out whether the government's much-trumpeted promise of being 'back in the black' was untrue. But there is no doubt that between now and September we will see the government continue to engage in clumsy expectation management over the budget and that they will try to spin their way out of trouble.
There is no doubt that the government will continue their attempts to shift the blame and to do everything in their power to distract from the weakness that was evident in the economy well before the fires and well before coronavirus. Just yesterday figures were released by the ABS showing that construction was down by three per cent for the December quarter. None of us had heard of the coronavirus in December. You can't blame coronavirus for that fall in the construction figure. It is, frankly, in stark contrast to how Labor in government managed an enormous shock to the global economy during our term in office. The Prime Minister might want Australians to forget that the economy was already floundering on his watch, that growth was slowing, consumption was weak, wages were stagnant, public debt had more than doubled, household debt was at record highs and productivity and business investment were going backwards, but, when the challenges of coronavirus and the fires are gone, the structural problems for the Prime Minister's economic management are still there.
The Prime Minister cannot use the challenge of the fires and coronavirus as an excuse to not address the longstanding challenges in our economy. Action will still be needed to get our economy back on track and to move past the stagnation that has defined the seven years of this government. This ongoing weakness is no surprise to the Prime Minister and his government. They even admitted it to themselves late last year when they belatedly came to the realisation that our nation and our economy are crying out for more investment in infrastructure.
After calls from the Reserve Bank governor, senior economists, industry leaders and state governments the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister finally admitted that they and their government had got it wrong, that the economy did need extra support. After ignoring these calls for months—after denying there was a problem, after saying we were panic-mongering—the government finally faced up to reality and admitted that the economy was weak, and that one of the ways to get it back on track was to bring forward investment in infrastructure.
Unfortunately, as is all too often the case under this government, that plan, when it was released, was less an economic plan for the future and more a political marketing strategy to get them through the next few months. First the government announced they would work with the states to bring forward infrastructure spending, but then they wouldn't tell anyone what some of those projects might be. They were more concerned with the initial headline than they were with the actual program. It was more than three months after the Prime Minister wrote to the states and territories flagging that he was finally open to fast-tracking infrastructure investment that the first fast-tracked projects were finally announced. It was a long delay, but, frankly, under this government that is the norm.
Next the government, in their December Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook update, announced proudly that there would be additional spending in the Infrastructure Investment Program brought forward this year. According to MYEFO this funding was:
… to accelerate critical infrastructure projects across Australia to drive jobs, strengthen the economy and get people home sooner and safer…
Frankly, it is exactly what Labor, the RBA, leading economists and industry groups had been calling for for months: to invest in infrastructure, to inject stimulus into the economy now and to get the economy back on track. But a quick analysis shows that the money in MYEFO was in fact not all there. The Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister, the minister for infrastructure, were about $50 million short. Their budget update for this year was $50 million short for infrastructure investment. Producing a budget update that is out by tens of millions of dollars quite frankly speaks volumes about the Prime Minister and his capacities on the infrastructure spend in the economy.
To make matters worse, when faced with questions from a journalist, officials from the Deputy Prime Minister's department claimed there was no shortfall, and said funding for government advertising, freight subsidies, management of drones, community projects and external territories form a part of this bringing forward of infrastructure, the Infrastructure Investment Program. In other words, it's actually the usual business of the department. It's not any stimulus; it's what the department usually does. So they were $50 million short. When faced with a floundering economy and a clear guide on how to deal with it, the Prime Minister again came up with something that was really nothing more than a marketing document. This MYEFO update was sold by the government as a plan to play catch-up on infrastructure funding, but the figures used did not actually add up. It is well past time that the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister developed a real plan for infrastructure to actually support jobs, boost productivity and improve road safety. It isn't good enough for Australia to turn around our struggling economy; the government has to actually do better.
Of course over the past week we've seen another prime example of the way in which this government deals with infrastructure funding. I am again talking about the Urban Congestion Fund—or 'road rorts'. Not content with rorting sports grants to benefit themselves politically, the government have also decided to rort infrastructure spending as well. The Urban Congestion Fund was announced in the 2018 budget, a full year before the 2019 election. In the 2018 budget, the Urban Congestion Fund is announced. For that year, the Urban Congestion Fund sat unused—all $3 billion of it. For a whole year—a whole year!—while people were stuck in traffic in communities across the country, this fund sat there.
Apparently for the 2018-19 financial year there was no need to bust congestion. The government in that year saw no need to get people home from work faster, to improve roads and to ensure we could spend more time with our families and less time sitting in traffic for that whole year. For that year, the Morrison government did not bother to release any guidelines for this fund. They did not bother to open expressions of interest. They didn't write to the state governments. They didn't write to motoring groups and ask them what their views were about where congestion was across the country. They didn't ask local members of parliament—although we don't know what they did on that side; they certainly didn't ask any on our side. The member for Moreton very brightly wrote about a congestion project, not in relation to this fund—we all write to ministers outlining problems in our constituencies—and well done to the member for Moreton. But there was nothing, absolutely nothing. Even during that year, they must only have noticed the traffic jams in Liberal seats.
The Urban Congestion Fund was a $3 billion scheme, and 83 per cent of it went to Liberal seats and seats targeted by the coalition at the last election. Seventy per cent of it went to Liberal seats alone. The National Party didn't get a look-in on this one. That's unusual, I would have to say. Of the 160 projects across the country funded under the scheme, 144—more than $2.5 billion worth—went to Liberal and target seats. The Prime Minister made promises in every single urban Liberal seat that was marginal or under threat. More than one-quarter of the $3 billion was funnelled to just four Liberal seats.
No. I note the member of the National Party getting up. Were you going to ask, 'Where was our share?' That's what he was going to ask, because the National Party got nothing, which is very unusual for the National Party, given the sort of rorting that's gone on in the regional development space.
So absolutely generous of you, Member for Dawson! More than one-quarter of the $3 billion was funnelled to just four Liberal seats: Higgins, Deakin, La Trobe and Boothby. The urban commitments even extended to the regional seats of Corangamite, Robertson, Fisher and Bass, all either held or targeted by the Liberal Party. They are pretty sensitive about this because they know, once the Australian National Audit Office has a look at this program, sports rorts will pale compared to what you've done with this one.
Meanwhile, 23 urban Labor seats and 13 regional city Labor seats missed out absolutely completely. On so many occasions, the relevant state governments or local councils didn't even know that the commitment was being made. Those in non-government seats did get some of the money spent on them; however, it's just that it came in the form of $17 million worth of taxpayer funded advertising telling us how good this program was.
Road congestion in our major cities is set to double over the next decade, but, rather than addressing that with a solid plan consistently looking at where road congestion is across the country, the government has only been guided by what would assist them most electorally. This is a $3 billion program. We talked about $100 million with sports rorts and $150 million with sports rorts 2. This is a $3 billion government program.
I indicate to the member that I asked the previous member to withdraw because it was directed at an individual. It wasn't a general comment. That was the basis on which I asked for the withdrawal. In the general term the member's talking about there's not a breach of the standing orders. I give the call back to the member for Ballarat.
As I said, road congestion in our major cities is actually set to double. We do have a significant problem with congestion in our major capital cities. You would think that when you're going to invest $3 billion worth of money into the Urban Congestion Fund that you'd actually do something about fixing urban congestion across the city, not just in Liberal Party seats. That's the shame and the scandal of what this government has done with this huge rort of a government funded program. This is a huge rort of a government funded program. Before I conclude, I also draw the— (Time expired)
John Howard described the family as the stabilising and cohering unit of our society. He devoted so much of his government's energy into supporting Australian families to be resilient. His strength in supporting families helped to shape my commitment to serving my area and the families that live within the leafy western suburbs of Brisbane. I spoke about it a fair bit in my maiden speech in this place. I continue to devote much of my time to supporting the over 39,000 families of the Ryan electorate. It is with this in mind that I rise today to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 and the related bill, to continue to outline what the government is doing to support hardworking Australian families that are pushing this country forward.
Through the government's sensible, economic management, we are able to give back to those hardworking Australian families. We are working, as a government, together to deliver more jobs. We're backing small business; building infrastructure; lowering energy costs; funding record investments in schools and hospitals; providing for more accessible and affordable child care; greater flexibility when it comes to paid parental leave; and increasing measures to help keep our kids safe online.
As I said, I'd like to take the opportunity to speak about a few of these investments today and the positive impact they are having on Australian families and the families of the Ryan electorate. I mentioned before that Australian families are working incredibly hard, and we want them to be rewarded for that hard work. We want them to keep more of what they earn so that they can set their own spending priorities for their own families. So we're making income taxes lower, fairer and simpler.
From 2018-19, around 4.5 million Australians have been receiving tax relief of $1,080 per year. That is up from $2,160 for a dual-income family. Overall, 10 million taxpayers are benefiting from lower taxes because of this government and its strong economic management. By the time our full tax relief plan is implemented, 94 per cent of taxpayers will pay no more than 30c in the dollar. In my electorate of Ryan, this means that 72,083 taxpayers will benefit from tax relief as a result of this government's enhanced personal income tax plan with 26,102 receiving the full tax offset. Because, unlike Labor, who when they run out of money come after yours, we want to give Australians the chance to keep more of what they earn and set their own spending priorities.
No wonder Labor is trying to shut down this debate! First of all, they don't want to hear about how this government is passionately defending Australian families, how we are passionately supporting them, because Labor failed so considerably while in government and in opposition to support Australian families. What they wanted to do to the families of Australia, particularly last May, was burden them with $387 billion worth of new taxes, rather than the tax cuts that I've been talking about that this government has delivered—and they continue to want that.
Their hypocrisy continues to know no bounds, because we had the member for Ballarat stand up just before and criticise the $100 billion pipeline that this government is delivering to get people home to their families sooner and safer. When in government, she presided over what can only be described as a grants rort. When Labor was in government, when she was a minister, she had a grants program where more than a quarter of all projects funded were not actually recommended. As minister she made 34 decisions that diverged from the recommendations of the panel. In fact, it goes further. Despite the hypocrisy of the member for Ballarat's last speech, under her watch, 64 per cent of the 'not recommended' projects that she ended up adopting under ministerial discretion were in Labor-held seats. (Quorum formed) The Morrison government is intent on making sure that we support Australians and Australian families with our strong economic management in a way that Labor could ever hope to do simply because they can't manage money, they can't manage the money of Australians, and when you can't do that then then you can't deliver things like record funding for schools and hospitals— (Time expired)
I rise to speak to these two bills, Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020, which seek to appropriate additional funding for the 2019-20 financial year, as reflected in the 2019-20 MYEFO, as well as bushfire related initiatives announced after the 2019-20 MYEFO was handed down. I support the amendment moved by the member for Rankin. As indicated by the shadow Treasurer, the Labor Party will support these appropriation bills because we do not block supply, but let's be clear: this isn't a tick for the government when it comes to their handling of the economy or the budget. After six years of the Liberals and Nationals, the economy is floundering and Australians are struggling, but the Morrison government has no plan to boost wages or grow the economy. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer shouldn't be using the fires and the coronavirus as an excuse for their longstanding failures on the economy. The economy was weak before the fires and before the virus hit. Growth had already slowed since the election and had almost halved since the Prime Minister and the Treasurer took over in 2018. Net debt has more than doubled under the government's watch and gross debt is well over half a trillion dollars—record highs. In 2013, when the government came to office, gross debt was $257 billion; in 2019, it was $542 billion; and it has been over $500 billion since 2017—well over 40 per cent of GDP.
Of course, we recognise the impacts of the bushfires and coronavirus, in terms of physical, psychological and economic impacts, but economic growth and wages growth were downgraded before the impact of the bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak. Almost two million Australians were looking for work or more work before the impact of the bushfires and the coronavirus outbreak. In January this year, the youth unemployment rate rose to 12.1 per cent from 11.6 per cent in December. There are a whopping 270,000 young people unemployed. Wages growth has been stuck at or around record lows for the last few years under the Liberals—around two per cent, on average, in the private sector nationally—and low wages and low growth mean that people and businesses don't spend and the economy loses momentum.
Living costs for families are rising way too fast. Recent data shows that childcare costs have increased by 35 per cent since 2013—around six per cent a year, on average. The much-heralded childcare reforms of 2018 have been neutralised by spiralling fee increases and out-of-pocket medical costs have skyrocketed. In Corangamite, locals pay $36 in out-of-pocket expenses to visit a GP and $59 in addition to the rebate to see a specialist. Thousands of young people are dropping out of private health insurance. That area is in crisis, with no solution in sight. Because of the government's failures, we have to meet the challenges and uncertainties of the bushfires and the coronavirus from a position of weakness, not strength.
Now, let's talk about a few areas of mismanagement, or worse, of this economy. For example, let's look at the government's rorts. Scott Morrison poured over 83 per cent—
My apologies, Mr Deputy Speaker. The Prime Minister poured over 83 per cent of the $3 billion allocated from the Urban Congestion Fund into Liberal seats and seats targeted by the Liberal Party. In the lead-up to the 2019 election, the Prime Minister funnelled 144 of 160 projects into Liberal and targeted seats—more than $2.5 billion. He made promises in every single urban Liberal seat that was marginal or under threat. More than one quarter of the $3 billion was funnelled to just four Liberal seats: Higgins, Deakin, La Trobe and Boothby. This is rorting on a nuclear scale. The Prime Minister has misused public money to promote his political interests. He spends public money to buy elections, not to meet community needs.
Let's talk about vocational education. As we learnt last year from the federal education department's own data, the government have failed to spend almost $1 billion of their TAFE and training budget over the past five years, and all of this underspend is additional to the more than $3 billion already ripped out of the VET system. We've got TAFE campuses falling apart across the country, we've got state governments closing campuses and ending courses, and, all the while, a huge pile of money remains unspent. Employer groups across the country are complaining about skill shortages across almost every sector. The Australian Industry Group states that 75 per cent of employers report an inability to attract skilled workers. Under the coalition, there are almost 140,000 fewer apprentices and trainees than there were in 2013. That means a shortage of workers in critical trades and services.
In my electorate of Corangamite, there are 113, or 7.7 per cent, fewer trainees and apprentices today than there were in 2013. In the Minister for Education's own seat of Wannon, there are 1,044, or around 28 per cent, fewer apprentices or trainees than in 2013. If the coalition government can't train skilled workers, they can't build a skilled economy and they can't build the infrastructure of the future or support emerging new industries. Right now, they are failing miserably.
Let's talk about the NDIS. The NDIS should be a fantastic scheme. It has already helped many people, compared to the fragmented system we had before 2013. But the NDIS is suffering from slow strangulation by a National Disability Insurance Agency aided and abetted by the Morrison government. Last year, to prop up their dodgy budget surplus, the government sucked $1.6 billion out of the expected expenditure of the NDIS. The excuse given was that the demand simply wasn't there—that, if there had been the demand, then the money would have been available. What rubbish! There are hundreds of stories of the NDIA clawing back money from vulnerable participants. Usually the local area coordinator does the right thing and recommends what the medical and allied health experts say is required, but, after the proposal goes up the line to the NDIA, the plan usually comes back with cuts and deletions. Let me quote a constituent of mine, Trevor Ah Hang, of Portarlington, who wrote to me only last week:
I submitted a plan in October 2019.
It returned with significant cuts … The Coordinator submitted an appeal stating that the Transport funding was crucial as my Carer had developed Parkinsons, meaning I couldn't rely on her always being available to take me to appointments.
As for funding for group activities, NDIA had asked for progress reports from all parties engaged in the previous plan. Without exception they stated the progress gained over that year and how it was crucial to continue. So why ask for these details if someone is just going to say "Nuh!" and put a line through an item number with no explanation?
In late November I received a letter from the NDIS stating that they'd received an appeal on my behalf dated October 23, 2019 and informing me that under their guidelines they had three months to address the situation or notify me why they couldn't … that was over four months ago and I've heard NOTHING! No answer, no information, NOTHING. I've contacted them several times and the answer is always "the matter is before a delegate."
I'm at my wits end and have even told my therapist I'd rather be dead than dependant on the NDIS.
Trevor and thousands like him shouldn't have to go through this frustration. The NDIA should listen to the experts. Last December, the Joint Standing Committee on the NDIS, of which I'm a member, put forward some bipartisan and practical recommendations to improve the planning process. The government should adopt them all.
I also want to mention Neil Radley and the 6,000 younger Australians just like him who live in aged-care facilities simply because they have nowhere else to go. Neil came to see me last year here in parliament. Neil is in his 50s and became an quadriplegic a decade ago. He wants to live independently, in his own unit or house in the community. It's a reasonable proposition. The interim report of the royal commission into aged care has shamed the government into making a commitment that no person under 65 who wants to live independently will live in a nursing home beyond 2025. But how will they deliver on this promise? To date, only about 250 of the 6,000 younger people in nursing homes have been approved for disability accommodation. The hurdles and the paperwork make the application process torturous, and Neil admitted to me that he almost gave up. But, having gained SDA approval, Neil now finds that no investor in Bendigo will build disability housing. The NDIA says, 'That's not our problem.' This is how the government is able to say there is no demand and take $1.6 billion away from people with disability. Well, it should be the problem of the NDIA and it should be the problem of this government. They should be intervening and investing directly in disability housing, rather than allowing market failure to deny vulnerable Australians a decent future.
Now let's talk about climate change. Climate change is real. Australians have been able to see it, feel it and smell it all summer. The Prime Minister is unable to act on climate change because he is held hostage by hardline conservatives who think they know better than the world's scientists, and who don't even believe that climate change is real. Mr Morrison has no plan to invigorate the economy by developing—
My apologies. The Prime Minister has no plan to invigorate the economy by developing new technologies and new fuels. I note that both Japan and Korea have made hydrogen the centrepiece of their future energy strategies. Australia could develop an export industry to replace fossil fuels, which are quickly becoming redundant. Investment in large-scale renewables has fallen off a cliff since last year—a drop of 60 per cent—because this government keeps attacking renewables and will not provide policy certainty in the investment community. Instead, the Neanderthals within the coalition have given $4 million for a feasibility study into wasteful and expensive coal-fired power at Collinsville.
Only Labor will ensure that by 2050 the amount of pollution we release into the atmosphere will be no greater than the amount we absorb. Labor will not rely on Kyoto carryover credits to achieve this target. Professor Ross Garnaut, an expert on the economics of climate change, in his recent book, Superpower: Australia's low-carbon opportunity, writes:
I have no doubt that intermittent renewables could meet 100% of Australia's electricity requirements by the 2030s, with high degrees of security and reliability, and at wholesale prices much lower than experienced in Australia over the past half dozen years.
Garnaut says that the innovation and momentum released by the adoption of renewable technologies will set our economy up for the next century. New coal-fired power will push up power prices and make businesses less competitive. The electricity industry and investors have been crystal clear: they won't invest in new coal-fired power. Australia's energy future relies in renewable energy, because it's by far the cheapest form of electricity generation, and because it helps in the fight against climate change. A target of net zero emissions by 2050 is supported by everyone. Every major business group, every state and territory government, and other major corporations all support this target—and still the coalition refuses to shift course. The real question is not what it will cost to address climate change but what the cost of inaction is. This is the question the Prime Minister won't answer. The cost of not acting is more important—and we've seen the frequent natural disasters, such as the recent bushfires.
In these appropriation bills, we are paying a premium to rebuild our communities and support Australians affected by these events—events that are induced or exacerbated by climate change. And we'll continue to pay that premium for years to come, unless we act on climate change. The cost of not acting is a decline in global economic output of between 15 and 25 per cent. That's a bigger hit to the global economy than the Great Depression. If we don't meet the obligations of the Paris Agreement, it will cost the Australian economy as much as $2.7 billion to 2050. That's 20 times more than the cost of taking action. The CSIRO says a carbon-neutral Australia by 2050 is one where wages are 35 per cent higher than in a future Australia where we do nothing. This government fiddles while we watch the nation burn. Labor will support these bills, but we give a huge fail to the government on so many aspects of their economic and budget management.
I'm here to talk about my community—and I hope I get a full 15 minutes before those opposite decide to shut down debate again and waste more of Australian taxpayers' money. I talk about the community spirit in Lindsay, and for good reason. We in this place are here to represent our communities, and work hard to deliver the best possible opportunities. We want to ensure that people can live, work and stay in Lindsay. That's why we are creating local jobs for local people. We don't want people to have to leave our community for jobs or education opportunities. We want the best of the best, right in my community of Lindsay. A big part of that is making sure that people can get around faster and more safely—whether it's getting to work, getting the kids to school or doing the commute home. I am very passionate about ensuring that people don't have to do that long commute to and from work, like I did for 10 years, for a good job. Part of this is around ensuring that we ease congestion on our local roads, because it's such a problem for many local people. Accessing car parks to catch a train or bus and commute to work each day is an issue many people face, and that's why the Morrison government is investing in more commuter car parking at Kingswood Station, north St Marys Station and Emu Plains Station. I'll be working very closely with my colleagues in the New South Wales government to deliver this much-needed infrastructure for our community.
Our biggest investment is the $5.3 billion to fully fund the construction of the Western Sydney International (Nancy-Bird Walton) Airport and the $3.5 billion for stage 1 of the North South Rail Link, which runs in my electorate of Lindsay from St Marys to the airport and the Badgerys Creek Aerotropolis. During construction of the Western Sydney airport, over 11,300 jobs will be created, and within five years of opening 28,000 full-time jobs will be created. The great part of this is that we already have 50 per cent of employment going to local people, and this includes jobs in construction, transport, logistics, rail, hospitality and professional services. Excitingly, there's a creation of whole new industries around STEM—science, technology, engineering and maths—and even a space industry right in Western Sydney. The Sydney Science Park, a $5 billion integrated science, research and residential facility just north of the airport, has recently started construction and is another example of the airport's ability to create great local jobs and deliver and drive our economy in Western Sydney.
Another area I'm very passionate about is the health and wellbeing of people in the electorate of Lindsay. I talk about the Nepean River often because it really is the heart of the city, and even the Prime Minister has enjoyed the Nepean River, rowing there as a young child. The river is an essential part of our community, and it's important that we look after it for future generations. That's why I was proud to announce funding to keep the Nepean River healthy and to assist with removing weeds to ensure that we can all enjoy the Nepean River. It's something that's used by thousands of families weekly, and it's also where our Australian Rowing Team trains to prepare for the Olympic Games. Local organisations, such as Muru Mittigar and the Penrith and Hawkesbury river councils, will be assisting with the important work that's about to take place on the Nepean River so we can continue to enjoy it into the future.
I'm also committed to ensuring that we are driving our local economy and creating local jobs, delivering congestion-busting infrastructure, and delivering programs to ensure that our local people can reengage with the workforce and access the training and personal development they need for education and employment opportunities. It means employment opportunities for all members of our community. In saying this, I would like to acknowledge that Lindsay is home to nearly 6,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and it is important that we encourage our younger generation to access the best education and employment opportunities. That's why we secured funding for the Western Sydney Indigenous jobseekers program. This funding, which goes to Muru Mittigar, will connect local Indigenous students with job providers, and there's a guaranteed 154 job placements. I've often said that our community spirit in Lindsay is overflowing, and, by delivering the funding and infrastructure our local organisations need, we are making sure that our community spirit will continue to thrive. In saying this, the community hall upgrades are an important part of our local community, because this is where many of our community organisations go to deliver important services across the electorate of Lindsay. We've got four of those upgrades happening because of the Morrison government's investment in the community.
Another integral organisation is the Luke Priddis Foundation. This foundation supports children with autism and their families. Earlier this year we announced funding for the Luke Priddis Foundation digital hub to turn the foundation's offices into a hub to assist young people with ASD. We're also delivering funding for Panthers on the Prowl. This funding will be delivered over two years to fund the full suite of prowl programs. The school program will have a significant impact on children and already has helped 250 kids across the community. It is aimed at building self-esteem and social skills, and resilience and leadership, to help improve student engagement and motivation, particularly in children at risk of dropping out of school.
Another fantastic program in our community is the Saint Mary's school lunch program. We've secured funding for the ongoing delivery of this program. I went out and visited Christ Mission Possible. They pack lunches for hundreds of kids each day before they go to school. In talking about the importance of ensuring that children have healthy food before going to school, one of the election commitments I made that I'm so proud of was for the Cranebrook Breakfast Club, that we work together to deliver a new 12-seater van. This breakfast club not only ensures that kids have something good to eat before going to school; it has helped to increase the attendance rates of kids at school—
I'm pleased to make a contribution on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020. First, I'd like to talk about Medicare, and the centrality of Medicare and bulk-billing to Australia. The health of all Australians must be our No. 1 priority, and the health of my community in Shortland is being threatened by changes to Medicare that came into effect last month. On 1 January this year, the Morrison government cut bulk-billing incentives to doctors in the Hunter region and 13 other regions throughout Australia, making it harder for doctors to bulk-bill, even for those who need it the most. Notices have gone up in many surgeries saying they will no longer be able to bulk-bill, while other surgeries have put up their fees. I've been inundated with calls from people telling me how worried they are, and with good reason. I don't blame the doctors for this. This cut is simply the latest in a long list of cuts to Medicare by Liberal governments.
The electorate of Shortland already has low bulk-billing rates. Fewer than 60 per cent of people are routinely bulk-billed, meaning two in five people in Shortland have to pay every time they see the doctor. Let me repeat that: two in five people in Shortland already have to pay to see the doctor. And, when they do pay, they are $37 on average out of pocket for every visit—an increase of 38 per cent since 2013. That's well in excess of inflation. And for specialist visits it's even worse: fewer than one in five people are routinely bulk-billed to see specialists in Shortland, meaning four out of five people are out of pocket to the tune of, on average, $80 every visit.
This cut to Medicare bulk-billing incentives will only make matters worse. Unfortunately, the lower Hunter combines some of the lowest bulk-billing rates with some of the highest rates of disadvantage in the nation. Windale and Mount Hutton are amongst the most disadvantaged communities in Australia with particularly high levels of children living in poverty. People living in these communities cannot afford to pay to see the doctor. Others who already pay to see the doctor cannot afford to pay more. When people can't afford to go to the doctor, they do one of two things: they either stay at home and put up with whatever is ailing them, making things worse in the long run; or they go to hospital—and we all know how busy and overstretched emergency rooms are. This does not even make economic sense as it costs far more for our health services to treat a very sick person in emergency than to treat a sick person in a doctor's surgery.
We saw evidence to a Senate committee during the GP tax debate which found that, if only one in 50 people who were deterred from seeing a doctor because of the GP tax then presented to the emergency department, the entire savings from the GP tax would be wiped out. I've no doubt that this is what will occur again. People will not go to a doctor, because of the cost increases brought on by this government. They will get sicker and they will have no choice but to present to the ED ward at Belmont Hospital or John Hunter. That will cost the taxpayers of Australia much, much more and it imperils the health of those individuals.
People are raising their concerns with me daily. For example, David from Caves Beach rang my office furious that his GP at Blacksmiths will no longer be bulk-billing him and his wife. The practice will now only bulk-bill people over 70. David is a self-funded retiree who has a health care card. Previously, he and his wife were bulk-billed. It is now going to cost them $65 to visit the doctor, and they go at least three times a month. It will have a huge impact on their budget. It's something those opposite haven't considered, despite all their professed love for self-funded retirees. Gordon rang to say the skin cancer clinic he attends at Belmont will no longer bulk-bill for surgical procedures. He is about to have a procedure for which he was bulk-billed last year, but this year he'll be out of pocket a staggering $250. It's not a major procedure, he says, but it is necessary and it is a lot of money. These are just two of the many examples of hardship.
I've been running a petition for my constituents to sign, and they've been able to provide insightful feedback which clearly identifies the importance of bulk-billing and how much Australians care about universal health care. Peter from Jewells wrote:
If you have an ongoing health problem it becomes a huge problem if you have to go to your doctor and he no longer bulk bills. If you cannot afford to go to your own doctor and you decide to go to the hospital you are told that you should have gone to your own doctor because the hospital is already overloaded.
Joan has a very clear call to the government:
It is bad policy to undermine the public health system in favour of demonstrably far less efficient privatisation of health services. With the current government's policy settings we are heading down the path of the US which has the most inefficient and expensive healthcare system in the world.
Cutting back Medicare for doctors after a decade-long freeze will sound the death knell of public health in this country. Please don't do it.
These are just a few of the hundreds of comments I've received from my constituents who are outraged at the recent changes. I've written three times to the health minister, and I'm asking him again today: please restore the bulk-billing incentives to doctors in the Hunter. The health of our community depends upon it.
This is also a good opportunity to provide an update on community groups I've been catching up with in Shortland. Supporting community groups in my electorate is one of the greatest and most pleasurable parts of my job, and I've been very pleased to have been able to grant more than $423,000 to 31 organisations in Shortland in three recent rounds.
Under round 5 of the Shortland Stronger Communities Program, 14 organisations have shared in $150,000—grants that they will match with their own financial or in-kind contributions. Under the Shortland Communities Environment Program, five groups have shared in $73,000 to continue their environmental work, and I look forward to the program being refined to make it a lot more accessible if the government chooses to continue it. Under the Shortland Local Schools Community Fund, 12 schools have shared in $200,000 to improve the education and wellbeing of their students. The projects are interesting and varied and spread throughout the electorate, from Cardiff in the north to Buff Point in the south.
Stronger Communities funding will allow Macquarie Care to enhance their amenities for homeless people living in their cars at Cardiff. Novacare Community Services will create a wellness centre for older people in Swansea. Northlakes rugby union club will set up a permanent canteen at their home ground, Slade Park, in Budgewoi. San Remo's Men's Shed will install a dust extractor for the safer use of woodworking machines. Novocastrian Swim Club will install an all-weather area for dryland training, socialisation and presentations. Redhead Surf Lifesaving Club will fence off a secure area to store and maintain board and ski trailers. And I thank and congratulate Redhead Surf Lifesaving Club for their recent part in a rescue of a couple of surfers who got into trouble in some rough conditions. Marine Rescue Lake Macquarie will purchase grounds-keeping equipment to maintain their pelican base. Swansea Community Cottage will install clear weatherproof blinds at their ARTea Gallery & Garden so that it can be used in inclement weather. Biddabah and Gwandalan public schools will upgrade their playgrounds. Warners Bay Scout Group will refurbish amenities in their hall. Buff Point Girl Guides will replace flooring in their hall. Charlestown Lions Club will upgrade their catering trailer.
Environmental grants went to three Central Coast Landcare groups for weed eradication: Budgewoi Beach Dune Care, Budgewoi Island Landcare and Gwandalan Landcare. Fern Creek Gully Landcare received funding to enhance the habitat for the threatened squirrel glider at Dudley. Belmont Wetlands State Park will continue its successful dune stabilisation and regeneration on Nine Mile Beach.
Local School Community Fund grants went to Belmont High, which will establish a student wellbeing centre. St Pius X Primary in Windale will create a reconciliation cultural centre, which is incredibly important, given the fact that half the students at that school are Indigenous and it has one of the lowest SES scores in the entire nation. Northlakes High in San Remo will install fitness equipment. Cardiff High and Blacksmiths primary will upgrade technology to their school halls. Windale, Caves Beach and Charlestown East public schools will improve their playgrounds. Dudley and Nords Wharf public schools will install new bubblers and water bottle refilling stations. St Brendan's Catholic Primary School, Lake Munmorah, will develop a play area and sensory garden for students with disabilities. St Francis Xavier Primary, Belmont, will invest in Lego educational robots for computer programming classes. I had a great visit to SFX last week, and I look forward to coming back so the kids can teach me all about these Lego educational robots. Great things are happening in schools and community organisations throughout Shortland, and I'm pleased to be able to support so many local organisations.
In the time remaining, I want to talk about a couple of portfolio issues. As the shadow minister for international development and the Pacific, it's an intense privilege to develop policies to support people throughout this world—because, ultimately, to state the blindingly obvious, we are all humans and we all have an obligation to advance human welfare wherever we find it. That's why it saddens me so deeply to remind the parliament of the $11.8 billion of cuts this government has imposed on our official development assistance budget. This cut not only undermines the soft power of Australia, not only undermines our ability to influence other nations; it costs human lives. I don't say that lightly. These budget cuts kill people. They literally kill people.
We're seeing three things. We're seeing the budget cuts. We're seeing diversion of resources to the Pacific step-up. And the Pacific step-up is a worthy initiative, which we support. We've got some views on how to improve it. We support the Pacific step-up, but it should not result in a step down everywhere else in the world. We're also seeing extreme cuts to health and education assistance, which is, as I said, costing lives. The impact of these cuts from the government—Senate figures came out highlighting this—is a cut in our official development assistance to South-East Asia of 30 per cent; cuts to assistance to South Asia of 42 per cent; cuts to assistance to Africa of 49 per cent; cuts to assistance to Latin America of 85 per cent; and cuts to multilateral organisations of 25 per cent.
This is having an extreme impact. This is hurting people. This is costing lives. And it is actually impacting on national security. For example, by the end of this year we will not provide a cent of bilateral assistance to Pakistan, the centre of Islamic extremism in the world. This is a very short-sighted approach. The cuts are hurting nearer to home. For example, we had a visit by the President of Indonesia a couple of weeks ago. It would have been useful to highlight during his visit that Australia has cut its overseas development assistance to Indonesia in half. The cuts to health assistance for Indonesia were a massive 86 per cent, and there were cuts to education of 57 per cent. These are very, very significant. We've cut assistance to Vietnam in half. This government has cut assistance to the Philippines, Laos and Cambodia by a third. Tragically, we've cut assistance to the poorest country in the entire world, Timor-Leste day, by 10 per cent in the period to 2018.
It is disgraceful, member for Macquarie. It is a damning indictment on this government that its policies are causing so much human misery not just in Australia but throughout the world. Cuts across all educational assistance were 41 per cent and for health were 32 per cent. Even within the Pacific region, a region that this government tries to claim it focuses on, we've seen significant cuts to individual nations. For example, assistance to Vanuatu has been cut by 42 per cent. Assistance to Samoa was cut by 14 per cent. Incredibly, health assistance to Samoa has been cut by 36 per cent. In the aftermath of a tragic and deadly measles epidemic, this government is cutting health assistance to Samoa by 36 per cent. We saw cuts to assistance to Tonga of 10 per cent, Cook Islands of 26 per cent, Tuvalu of 17 per cent, Kiribati of 9½ per cent and Fiji of 5.3 per cent. This is a government intent on destroying the overseas development assistance budget, which is incredibly short-sighted. Not only is it hurting and killing fellow human beings; it is hurting our soft power ability throughout the globe.
Quickly on defence procurement, which is one of my other responsibilities in the opposition: this government continues to preside over a massive mess in defence procurement. Thirty-six projects are running a cumulative 74 years late. That's right: 36 projects have been so mismanaged by this government that they are 74 years late and $10.3 billion over budget. The latest report from Defence has found problems with the Jindalee Operational Radar Network, JORN; deployable defence air traffic management and control systems; and battlefield command systems; MRH90 supply issues; problems with the Hawkeye; problems with the pilot training system; an additional two-year delay to satellites; a 3½ year delay to commando special operations vehicles; and a 1½ year delay to the Hercules upgrade. Thirty-six projects delayed 74 years with a budget blow-out of $10 billion. This means that our troops in the ADF aren't getting the equipment they need when they need it. It's a damning indictment of this government.
In conclusion, I'll be focused with my Labor colleagues throughout this year on holding this government to account and to fight for the best outcome for all Australians. I'll be particularly focused on fighting for outcomes in Shortland, a beautiful place to live. It's an area that continues to struggle under budget cuts from Commonwealth and state governments. I commend this bill to the House.
All forms of violence against women and their children are unacceptable in any community and in any culture. All levels of government, plus business, service providers and the community, must commit to continuous action and investment to stop violence before it starts, and to support women and children where and when they need it. Ending violence against women and their children starts with promoting equality between men and women and respect for all. There is no single cause of violence against women and their children; however, gender inequality sets the stage for such violence to occur. The fourth action plan will continue to address this issue through prevention, early intervention and response, including working with those who use violence to stop.
The rates of violence against women are highly concerning. One woman is killed every nine days by a current or former partner. Rates of sexual violence increased by eight per cent across Australia between 2016 and 2017. Complex violence, such as forced marriage and abuse, continues to emerge. Such experiences can be influenced by cultural beliefs and traditions, immigration and settlement in a new country and, in some contexts, religious and cultural values. Among other factors, these crimes need to be addressed and tackled head-on.
Prevention is the most effective way to eliminate violence against women and their children and is at the core of the fourth action plan. Primary prevention means stopping violence before it occurs. It means changing attitudes, behaviours and accepted standards that excuse, justify or even encourage violence against women and their children. Primary prevention activities are for the whole community, not just for those who've been impacted by violence.
Women of all backgrounds can experience domestic and family sexual violence. No two women's experience of violence are the same. The experiences of victims and survivors can help us understand what works for them. One in three women has experienced some kind of physical violence in their lifetime—that is from the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012. One in six adult women has experienced physical or sexual violence by a current or former partner—that compares to one in 19 men. One in four women has experienced emotional abuse by a current or former partner. Australian women are most likely to experience violence in their home at the hands of a male current or ex-partner. Thirty-six per cent of women have experienced physical or sexual abuse from someone they know. Fifteen per cent have experienced violence from an ex-partner. And for 62 per cent of the women who've had experience of physical assault by a male perpetrator, the most recent incident was in their home. Once again, that was from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Domestic violence is a vastly underreported crime. Of women who've experienced violence from their current or former partner, 39 per cent have never sought advice or support and 80 per cent have never contacted the police. Of women who've experienced violence by their ex-partner, 73 per cent experienced more than one incident of violence and over half had children in their care when the violence occurred. Eighty-nine women were killed by their current or former partner between 2008 and 2010. This equates to nearly one woman every week.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women, children and communities continue to experience high rates of violence. We must be clear that family violence is not a part of Australian culture or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Culture and family are central, key protective factors that support Indigenous families to be free of violence. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women must be supported to make choices that will protect and promote their own and their family's long-term safety if they break the cycle of trauma and violence.
The fourth action plan recognises that preventing and responding to family violence starts by recognising individual family and community strengths. Solutions to address violence must effectively engage and equip Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women in decision-making processes. Service providers and governments must work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and with the community controlled organisations to develop solutions that are culturally appropriate, trauma informed, holistic and can lead to healing for families and communities.
In Townsville—from the DV stats from the Queensland Police Service—the number of domestic violence breaches in 2019 was 466. The number of domestic violence breaches in January 2020 was 45. These are only the incidents that are caught by police. In reality, so many more cases would go completely undetected.
I think this is so much more important than just reading from a piece of paper. As a father with a daughter—and I have another daughter on the way in April—this sickens me to my stomach that these numbers and these stats are so high. I would not know how to control my emotions if something so horrible ever happened to my family.
I want to take this time to acknowledge Terri Butler, the member for Griffith, for what she said last night at the candlelight vigil and the support that I know that she has given to the family of Hannah and the three children who were murdered by someone the kids called 'Dad', by a violent former partner, which is nothing but unacceptable, disgusting and disgraceful and needs to be condemned not just by people in this place but everywhere in Australia. But we must do more. We always can do more in putting supports in place for people who have experienced domestic violence. We just must work together. This is never a time to throw mud at each other, because as a nation we are mourning and weeping over the loss of Hannah and her three children. This isn't a political thing. This is a gross blight on our community which is called domestic violence.
In Townsville a lady was recently stabbed by her brother and she died. These aren't isolated incidents. These are things that have happened throughout the country. With the national plan and working with people on the other side, the crossbench, the other place and states and territories, we must—we have to—link arms and work together. There is no number that is acceptable for domestic violence. No number is acceptable. Being a father really hammers this home. I look around and I see such strong women leaders in this place who give my daughter role models to look up to—regardless of where you sit, on either side. I know, and I speak for my colleagues and for the other side, that we will and must work together.
We have zero tolerance for domestic, family and sexual violence, which is why there is $340 million committed into the fourth action plan. But money is only as good as the service it provides. Whilst there is record funding provided, it is only as good as the services on the ground. The fourth action plan includes practical actions: primary prevention is key intervention; supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children; respecting, listening and responding to the diverse lived experience and knowledge of women and their children who are affected by violence; responding to sexual violence and sexual harassment; and improving support and services system responses.
On 25 November last year, the National Implementation Plan was launched. The National Implementation Plan sets out how we will work to address national priorities of the fourth action plan and outlines the approach for monitoring and reporting on implementation. The implementation plan can be found at www.plan4womenssafety.dss.gov.au, and I think everyone here will and should be looking at and talking about it in their communities. Like I've said, like people opposite have said, there is no acceptable number.
But this can't be just talk. Talk with no action is just a waste of oxygen. We need to be working together, working with people who have lived experience—from rural and remote communities to people who live in the cities. I know that I'll be talking to the leaders in my community, especially in the built-up areas that have Indigenous peoples like Palm Island, to see what works for them. This isn't one size fits all; this needs to be tailored to different people's communities, but there must always be the same sentiment that there is no acceptable number for domestic violence.
Last night at the candlelight vigil—I can't even describe the emotions we all had, but I never want to do it again. I never want to stand at another candlelight vigil for people who have died, who have been killed through domestic violence. I do not want to stand at a candlelight vigil and hear that children called this—I'm not allowed to swear in here—disgusting human 'dad', hear that he could do such a despicable thing. And Hannah left him, as we heard last night. She had left to seek help, to seek refuge. She was brave, she was strong. So for this to still happen makes everyone sick to the stomach. I encourage anyone who watches this—if you're in this position, if you are suffering domestic violence—to please get help. Please speak to the police, speak to your friends, speak your family, speak to everyone, because this just is not acceptable anywhere in the world. There's not much more I can really say on it. It just really kicks you in the guts. I didn't know Hannah or her three kids, but it has affected the whole nation. We need to be doing more. Thank you.
I just want to say a grateful thanks to the previous speaker, the member for Herbert, for that contribution on this critically important matter. Sometimes when things go sour in this chamber—one of the things I find really upsetting is when people start pointing fingers and saying that one side of politics cares about a problem like domestic violence more than the other. I could really hear the emotion in the member for Herbert's voice. We share that emotion, and it's really important that we use this as a moment of change for this conversation. Hannah Clarke's murder absolutely captured the attention of the country, and that's an important thing. Women like Hannah are killed every week in Australia and we need to do better. And there are things we can do. Isn't it frustrating: there are things we can fix about this problem, and we have the power to do it, so I really do hope that there's a big change.
It's also great to hear that strength of resolve about these issues coming from men. Of course, men have always spoken out about this, but it's really critical because we have to make it clear that men can't behave this way. Men are really important carriers of that message, and we see that through some of the great work being done by White Ribbon ambassadors. I also want to thank the member for Herbert for acknowledging the member for Griffith, who I know has had a really important role representing her community in this discussion.
I'll turn now to Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 that is before the House at the moment. It comes at a pretty critical time for the country. This summer has been a very difficult one for many Australians. The country has been burning. Since we finished sitting last December, we've had catastrophic fires which have destroyed hundreds of homes. Thirty-three people died and a billion animals perished in the flames around the country. We've had forests and ecologies destroyed that will never grow back and support the animals that they did before. And it has not just been the fires, of course. We've had floods. We've had torrential rains. We've had this horrible smoke haze that has come over some of the major cities. It certainly affected the city of Melbourne, where I come from.
For the first time we've had literally millions of Australians experience the beginnings of what inaction on climate change is going to look like. Now, it's really critical for us to understand that the sorts of things that happened over the summer are occurring when we've had a single degree of global warming caused by humans. What we are looking at, unless we take very significant action, is three to four degrees of global warming—some scientists are now saying we're looking at five degrees of global warming—by 2100. Every piece of expert evidence we have tells us that in that environment we are going to be seeing catastrophes happen all over the world—countries will literally be experiencing inundation constantly; potentially hundreds of millions of people in our region will literally be displaced by climate change and its impacts.
I've spent a lot of time talking to my community about this problem since we left here in December, and the consistent message that I'm getting from almost everyone I speak to is this: something has to change. We just cannot go on like this. We cannot go on like this with all the extraordinary damage that can be done to our beautiful country and not take the proper response so that we can go to these global forms around the world, which have the power to actually reshape this problem, and make a credible argument that more needs to be done.
So we've returned here for the New Year and Labor has done the responsible thing: we've made the commitment to get to zero net emissions by 2050. The reaction to this tells me one thing: it is a confirmation of how completely broken climate politics is in this country. This is not a radical proposal; this is not anywhere near a radical proposal; in fact, it is a no-brainer of Australian public policy. Yet we have hysteria, we have craziness, coming at us from the other side of the chamber.
I'm going to talk about some of the reasons why this is such an important thing for the country. To start with, if we go no further on this debate at all, every state in Australia has signed up to zero net emissions by 2050. How can this be a stupid thing for us to do if every state in Australia has already signed up to it?
An opposition member interjecting—
My friend here says, 'Including liberal governments.' I want to go back to when Gladys Berejiklian committed to the state of New South Wales getting to zero net emissions. Do you know what the Prime Minister said to her? He said: 'Good job. Well done, Gladys Berejiklian.' And then when we say it it's 'stupid, ridiculous, crazy'. I want to ask those on the other side of the chamber to make their flagrant politicking and fear-mongering just a tiny bit plausible—please, just for the enjoyment of the fight!—because it's just so ridiculous. We got Scotty from marketing over there spinning this as some kind of revolutionary move. It is actually completely and positively mainstream—
No problem, Mr Deputy Speaker. The announcement Labor made a couple of weeks ago is completely and positively mainstream. In fact, 73 countries in the world have already agreed to it. We know that if we are going to meet our Paris targets, as the government insistently claims that it will do—and we know it will probably fail to do—it will require us to hit net zero emissions by 2050. We've got the biggest employing companies right across the country essentially falling over themselves to come forward with their plans for how they're going to reach zero net emissions by 2050. Today Rio Tinto, a very large emitter, has said they are going to hit zero net emissions by 2050. Yet those opposite, who are supposed to be showing leadership and running the country, are telling us that this is implausible and silly. Rio Tinto have told us that, to get to zero net emissions by 2050, they are going to spend $1.5 billion investing in making that change. Do you know what that means? It means thousands and thousands of jobs for Australians.
I think people are sick of being terrified in this discussion. The continental drift that is being created by the lack of policy leadership on the other side of the House is leaving people feeling that the government has lost control of how to manage this problem. What I want to talk to you about today is the action we can take and the huge economic opportunities that will come if we face the reality of this problem, like 73 other countries around the world have done, and actually plan for how we are going to transition our economy to net zero emissions.
If there is one thing I really want people to shift in their thinking about how we are talking about this issue in Australia today it's this: so much of the debate we have about climate change in this country pits the concept of economic growth, of jobs, against climate action. It tells us we're going to have to pay more if we take climate action. These conflicts are fictional; they really are. What we know from the best research that is being done on this is that if we make a plan, and if we make the transition well, we are going to have cheaper power, more jobs and faster growth if we take climate action.
So the first thing I want to talk about is climate action and jobs, because there is massive potential for us to employ thousands and thousands of Australians in new industries that will emerge or grow because we have a plan to take climate action. The Business Council of Australia—generally no friends of the Labor Party—have also made a commitment to net zero emissions by 2050 because they know that this is good for the economy and good for jobs but that we're only going to get those good outcomes if we have a clear aspiration and target and we have a plan to achieve it. The BCA have calculated that moving to net zero emissions by 2050 will unleash $22 billion of investment in Australia each year. When we hear those words 'investment in Australia', that equals jobs; it equals jobs and it equals future growth.
The CSIRO has also estimated that, if we continue on our current path, our GDP out to 2060 will grow by 2.1 per cent annually, but, if we target net zero emissions by 2050, we will grow, on average, by 2.75 per cent and wages growth will be higher. So for anyone out there who's having this conflict about, 'We've got to choose between a growing economy and climate action,' I want you to understand this: climate action means growth and it means jobs.
One of the issues that I think the coalition is having with coming to terms with this concept is that their counterfactual for what happens in a world where we don't have a plan to 2050 is that nothing changes. That is not going to happen. Change is inevitable, and it's not just being created by climate action. The workforce is going to change a lot between now and 2050. In 2050, I will be 70; I will be transitioning out of work—that is how far away we are talking here. Think about how different our economy, our workplaces and our working lives looked in 1990. A similar mode of transition is going to happen. The question for us in this chamber is: are we going to try to shape that in any way? Are we going to try to make sure that we get benefits as our economy transitions, or are we just going to stick our heads in the sand and pretend that, if we don't take action on climate change, nothing about our workplaces is going to change? It's wrong. It's a fiction. And I reckon any Australian that you talk to will tell you the same.
Deputy Speaker, I want to talk to you about one example of this, and this is very relevant to the debate about the thermal coal mining sector. There was a period of time in this country where, at its peak, thermal coal mining employed 200,000 people in its workforce. Today it employs 40,000 people. That's not because of the Labor Party. It's not because of any political party. It's not because of climate change and climate action. It's because of automation. These things are going to continue to happen. They are going to continue to change. And you've got two options here: a political party that wants to pretend that that's not really happening, to put its head in the sand and say, 'Oh no, if we just ignore climate change then nothing's going to change for the way that we work in this country,' or a political party that accepts the absolute reality of what is going on here—that things are going to look very different in 2050 and there's no way for us to pretend that we can completely stop change. We've got a choice: to shape it, or to ignore it and to pay the costs. We want to do the responsible thing and that is: to show leadership and make sure that we get the great benefits out of this change.
When we think about how we are going to do that, I can tell you that we have one guiding concern about how we deal with our climate policies, and that is: how we are going to deal with the employment and work outcomes of this. My political party was founded on work. That is what we do. We create and help Australians prepare for dignified jobs that support their families. So when we look at this climate change discussion, we're going to have a choice for Australians. They can go for this party over here—the party of Work Choices, who like to somehow pretend they've discovered credentials with working Australians—or a political party that's existed for 125 years for that express purpose. We are incredibly concerned about how we make sure we make that transition in a way that grows jobs.
The Labor leader gave a great speech on this very subject last year in Perth, talking about climate and the future of work. One of the things that he talked about was the explosion of opportunities that we are actually going to see in the resources sector should we make a proper plan to transition to a better climate future. One of the reasons for that is that we have such a huge endowment of rare earth metals here in Australia, and if we are planning properly for this future—if we've got a government that's willing to get the policy settings right—then we can see an explosion of jobs in this very sector. According to Northern Minerals, a rare earth mine can employ approximately 100 people. But if we think about how we can generate full industries that support these mines, then up to a million jobs can be created in this sector alone.
We've got some of the greatest reserves in the world of iron and titanium, the second greatest reserves of copper and lithium, and the third greatest deposits of silver. These are minerals that will fuel the clean energy economies of the 21st century. So there's a huge opportunity for us here, and it's one that we're not going to capture if we pretend that climate change isn't really happening.
Hydrogen is another one that is pretty obvious. Experts tell us that achieving 50 per cent renewable energy at home, while building a hydrogen export industry, could create 87,000 good well-paid jobs. So there is a great future here for resources, in particular. And that's just one example. We could go through a great deal of the sectors in our economy and talk about how climate is not about costing jobs here; it's about seeing the huge opportunities that we Australians have to capture, but we're only going to get there if we've got a plan.
One of the other issues here is the question about power prices. I keep reading these surveys that are done on Australians talking about, 'Do you agree that you need to take climate action?' and 'Do you agree that you will continue to do that if your power bills go up?' This conflict is a fiction. In fact, when the government was first elected almost seven years ago now, the climate change deniers over there tried to get a report on renewables up saying that renewables would drive up the cost of power, and they got Dick Warburton to do that report— (Time expired)
I'd like to start by addressing some of the principles and some of the rubbish that's been spread about the Urban Congestion Fund by those opposite, particularly in the South Australian context. I intend to talk about some of the very important investments that are going to be undertaken in my electorate of Sturt and across the state of South Australia.
I first want to say I've actually got a unique perspective on the Urban Congestion Fund, because, when the work was commenced on identifying these projects, I worked in the South Australian state government for the Premier. So I'm very aware of the way in which the decisions were made in my state of South Australia as to what projects we'd be choosing and funding as part of this program. So just to be clear, the first thing that occurred was the South Australian state government was approached by the federal government saying: 'What are your priorities as a state government to address urban congestion in the metropolitan Adelaide area? What is the view of the department of the experts—of the engineers, of the people that do the modelling—about where the choke points are across metropolitan Adelaide that you would like Commonwealth government funding support to address, so we can have an outcome that's going to see people getting to work and home to their families quicker and safer?' Those were the simple principles that were put to the state government—nothing more. Not 'But only in these electorates,' or 'Not in this area,' or 'Make sure this one's on the list.' It was a simple query as to what was the view of the bureaucracy and the experts, because of studies that were done, informed by engineering et cetera, as to what projects should be selected. The South Australian government asked their department to undertake this body of work. That was done, and a list came back. That list was put from the state government to the federal government. That's how we landed upon the important projects that we're investing in in South Australia through the Urban Congestion Fund. And those, of course, are across metropolitan Adelaide, and they're based on need and they're based on achieving an outcome, achieving productivity gain. I'm lucky enough that three of them are in my electorate.
The first one I want to reflect on is probably the most significant one in my electorate because it's right in the middle of my seat, the Magill and Portrush Roads intersection, where we're spending nearly $100. It's not just an intersection by the way; Portrush Road is part of Highway 1. This is the main artery of our country and our economy, and it carries an enormous amount of freight. It also carries a lot of commuters, of course. It's a very important intersection. It's one that was modelled as being the most congested in metropolitan Adelaide. That's why we chose it and are funding it.
The department, the experts, have said: 'You've got 65,000 vehicles moving through there every day. You've got an enormous amount of heavy freight.' Portrush Road, Highway 1, takes freight from the south-east of the state, and even from Western Victoria, through to Port Adelaide and up into the northern suburbs area. It's the designated freight route through metropolitan Adelaide. We've got schools along that route. We've got pedestrians and bike riders, all the way up to major B-doubles carrying stock, heavy machinery, produce and product et cetera along that corridor. It's vitally important that we take every opportunity when we're making these investment decisions on infrastructure to do projects exactly like this, because they lead to an outcome that's not only improving the economic productivity of our country, our state and my electorate but also providing safety and efficiency from a commuter point of view. This is a $98 million project that's jointly funded, fifty-fifty, because it's Highway 1—that's the way the funding mix tends to be between Commonwealth and state. We're going to see a transformation of that bottleneck in the middle of my electorate. We're going to see extra right-hand turn lanes, extra left-turn slip lanes and more through lanes for Portrush Road in each direction. We're really going to transform this from one of the worst bottlenecks in my electorate to something that's free-flowing, smooth and an excellent outcome for the people of my electorate. I'm very happy and grateful about that.
I'm also really grateful that the Labor Party's position is that they don't support projects like this. They're against it, which is welcome. I look forward to prosecuting at the next election, when this is open and everyone is achieving the benefits of this project and many others, that, if it were up to Labor, it never would have happened—this and many other projects in my electorate and so many other electorates not just in South Australia but across the country. It's a very odd political decision to make, but, I mean, they are in opposition. It's all making sense to me how they've been there for so very, very long. They're criticising and attacking significant infrastructure investments throughout this country that are going to provide great outcomes to the communities and economies in which they are benefiting. I welcome Labor's opposition to that.
I also welcome their opposition to the Fullarton Road crossroad intersection at the bottom of my electorate, bordering the member for Boothby's electorate. There are going to be so many commuters in her electorate who can't wait to see the great outcome from that intersection being upgraded. It's going to make it so much easier for people to get to and from their place of work, take the kids to sport, get home more quickly and have more time with their families at home or wherever they're undertaking their leisure. That's another great investment being made by this government, and, of course, one that's being opposed by those opposite. I look forward to prosecuting the fact that they don't want to see these sorts of things occurring when we go to the polls in a few years time. I'm going to be very excited about prosecuting that outcome. I know that the families and businesses in those areas in my electorate, the member for Boothby's electorate and the electorate of Adelaide, which is one that you hold—but you don't support spending money in one of your electorates. Good on you! Well done! We're looking forward to prosecuting that outcome.
The third significant one is the intersection of Glen Osmond Road and Fullarton Road, which is near the one I just spoke of, which, again, is on the border of my electorate and the seat of Adelaide. It's another project they don't support, evidently, which is going to bring a great outcome to my constituents and the constituents of the member for Adelaide. It's one that, again, the Labor Party thinks is not worth the money that we're investing. I say: 'Good. You're welcome to that position. It gives me comfort that that's your position. I'm glad that you don't support investing in my electorate or the electorates of other members represented in this parliament.' But I think you're going to get a pretty rude surprise from the people of the eastern suburbs of Adelaide when you take that proposition to the next election. You don't like seeing money invested in their local community. You don't like seeing the kinds of outcomes that we're going to achieve, particularly the safety outcomes. I've got seven junior schools along Portrush Road corridor in my electorate, which, obviously, have children coming and going in highly dangerous circumstances at times because of all this heavy freight cramming down that tightened thoroughfare all the time. We're going to fix it, and you're against that. Thank you for making that a fairly straightforward proposition for me to prosecute going into the next election.
This appropriation bill includes some other important projects in my electorate—