House debates

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Bills

Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2020-2021, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Second Reading

4:43 pm

Photo of Zali SteggallZali Steggall (Warringah, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

These appropriation bills give effect to the elements outlined in the budget. It's time to be brave and bold and secure our economic future. There are some good measures, but unfortunately on the whole it is an opportunity missed.

The government is putting Australia into record debt: nearly $1 trillion net debt by July 2024, borrowing more to spend on business-as-usual measures that will not set Australia up for the challenges that we know lie ahead. Sadly, the government has announced four times more stimulus funding for fossil fuels than renewables. This seems just crazy. The government is digging its heels in against the global tide away from fossil fuels, desperately trying to put the brakes on the green recovery that is so desperately needed, and wasting the public's money in the process.

Nevertheless, there is an opportunity. The business community can take control of this. Business and individuals have the opportunity to jettison the government's planned gas recovery. They can supercharge a green recovery with the government's own measures. The biggest single measure in this budget, worth an estimated $26.7 billion, is focused on encouraging businesses to invest freely through full asset write-offs. This is an opportunity for businesses to supercharge Australia's transition to net zero emissions. Businesses can deliver the policy the government does not want to do and can undermine the government's obsession with the short-sighted gas-led recovery. With the tax incentives, businesses can take control of Australia's emission reductions in future and remain competitive in the net zero world that is coming, whether the Morrison government likes it or not. The tax incentives include the temporary full expensing measure—it's the largest single line item in the budget—instant asset write-offs; and the extension of the research and development tax incentive. These incentives total an investment opportunity of nearly $30 billion, according to the Treasury estimates.

All of these incentives provide an opportunity for businesses to invest in green initiatives, such as clean energy through installing solar, batteries and smart metres on your businesses. Many local companies in Warringah have already made this investment with great returns on that investment in their business. For example, Manly Spirits Co, Colourmaker, 4 Pines Brewery, Three Beans coffee group, McCreath Prestige Paint & Panel, Powerhouse Automotive and many more have all told me about how happy they were with their decision to install solar to power their business and reduce their operating costs. They know they are setting themselves up for the future.

Transport: electrifying vehicle fleets to bring down operating and maintenance costs, or installing an electric vehicle charger which will attract more customers to your business, especially if you're in a tourism industry—these are all measures in which you can take advantage of the measures in the budget but build a green recovery. Colourmaker, for example, have told me how happy they are with the electric vehicles they bought three months ago and that they're already looking at adding another EV to their fleet. This means as a business they have nearly negligible maintenance costs on a business fleet vehicle. Installing a charging station at your business opens up new marketing opportunities and puts you on the tourism map. These are important measures you can do to make your business future proof.

Reducing waste through investing in new and more precise technologies such as laser cutting tools: specialists in this area can also take advantage of incentives and opportunities in recycling and waste reduction that have, in fact, just passed. For example, I spoke just last week to Budgy Smuggler, a local Warringah icon, and they told me their new laser cutting machine has reduced waste fabric from their locally made swimwear production by over one-third. That's a huge saving in materials and costs for this great local textiles and design business.

Increasing water storage to future proof your business from drought: installing water tanks, water butts or a grey water system—all these initiatives and many more will make your business more competitive, and, businesses, you now have a limited opportunity for the next two years to write-off these assets. I've spoken about this to the Council of Small Business Organisations Australia, and they have agreed that this is a great opportunity to improve the efficiency and productivity of businesses and improve cash flow and prospects for the future. With environmental, social and good governance goals becoming an increasing priority for businesses around the world, these initiatives will increase business objectives. They will increase efficiency and lower operating costs. They will access innovative and niche markets. They will increase employee motivation, and you will see increased engagement with clients. Businesses have been crying out for policy certainty in the face of global pressure.

The talk of Europe introducing a carbon import tax and the US following suit—depending on the result on 3 November—has many looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. The Morrison government's inaction on energy and emission reductions is making it harder for businesses to be globally competitive. Businesses need to take matters into their own hands to avoid being excluded from these markets.

Similarly, bringing forward the personal income tax cut will cut some $17.8 billion from government revenues, giving it back to individuals. The real question is: what will you do with it? I know that for many you are doing it tough and of course it must go to essentials. But, for those who can, consider investing this cash flow boost into your future: offset your household emissions with tree planting programs; improve your insulation; install a water tank; switch to 100 per cent renewable power; install rooftop solar; switch from gas to induction cooking; or switch your car to an EV or a hybrid. There are so many actions you can take. For more information, please check out the road map to zero on my website. It's absolutely time for each and every one of us to take control of our future. The tax cuts to both businesses and individuals empower us all to choose where we want to spend and invest our money.

The Governor of the Reserve Bank has said that we need much deeper reform to pull the economy out of this recession. There was no Nation Building Program and no focus on protecting our communities and building adaptation and resilience measures on climate impacts, like we have seen in so many other countries. This was a missed opportunity, as it will become more and more urgent. Communities hit by the bushfires last summer know that more needs to be done to protect and prepare their communities.

There were some positives announced by the government in the budget. I welcome the focus on youth and the JobMaker program, particularly the wage subsidies to employ young people, but I will closely scrutinise what the outcome of this policy is and how many jobs actually result from it. I welcome opportunities in the extension of the research and development funding of $2 billion; $1 billion for research at universities; $459 million for CSIRO, a nod to the need for innovation; and $1 billion for the National Housing Finance and Investment Corporation to incentivise institutional investment in affordable housing. Of course more could have been done with this budget to stimulate the construction sector and provide affordable housing and community housing. This was a missed opportunity. The Indigenous Home Ownership Program is another positive contribution to job creation for our regions and home creation for Indigenous people.

Unfortunately, we continue to have serious gender inequity, disparity, occurring in our society. The $240 million for the Women's Economic Security Statement is a tokenistic contribution to gender equality, and I found it personally quite offensive. This was largely seen as a blokey budget, and I have to agree. There was no stimulus package for industries that mostly employ women and no improvement of child-care and parental leave provisions. Australia spends 33 per cent less than the OECD average and nearly 75 per cent less than the UK on child care as a percentage of GDP. This is despite the Grattan Institute estimating that an extra $5 billion spent on child care would give a return on investment of over $11 billion. This is simple maths, and it beggars belief that the government would not take those opportunities.

Astoundingly, considering the outpouring of sympathy in parliament when Hannah Clarke and her children were murdered—and the statistics are not getting any better when it comes to domestic violence—women's safety and domestic violence missed out in this budget. We know that through the lockdowns and through the pandemic family violence has increased. More could have been done and should have been done to address this issue. I heard many of my fellow parliamentarians talk about their football teams in the grand finals over the weekend, but not a single bloke stood up and raised the issue of the increased domestic violence rates that occur around the grand finals. This was a missed opportunity.

The government fell short on aged care as well. There's a boost of 23,600 new home-care packages, but that still leaves more than 75,000 on the waiting list. What is supposed to happen to those?

Integrity and accountability have also been ignored in this budget. The Australian National Audit Office have had their funding frozen and their funding for investigations reduced. This means that the office will not be able to undertake the many investigations into how public money is being spent. Imagine no investigation into the Leppington land sale or sports rorts. There has been no substantial new money set aside for the National Integrity Commission and certainly no commitment to date from the Morrison government about establishing a federal integrity commission.

We have to get real here. Record amounts of public money are being spent. This is a debt that will impact Australians for generations to come—you, me and our children, especially our teenagers, who are currently facing huge challenges. We cannot allow this amount of record spending to result in record pork-barrelling. Surely everyone in this place has enough integrity to say, 'We need some safeguards. We need a federal integrity commission to make sure that money is spent appropriately in the public interest.' Accountability is sorely needed when we are facing such spending with so very little detail and so little scrutiny.

I'd like to thank the many organisations that tried so hard to make positive contributions to the government in preparing the budget: the state and territory governments, the business community, many lobby groups, including the BCA and the ACTU, green groups, Beyond Zero Emissions, economists, scientists, and many, many others, who all advocated so strongly that there be a green stimulus and that we address the threats of the future and build our economy to be future proof. We need that commitment to net zero by 2050 and we need an economy and a plan to match.

I want to thank all of those organisations for highlighting the opportunity that this budget presented to stimulate Australia's economy recovery from the COVID recession but, at the same time, demonstrate a commitment to achieving emissions reduction and making some real progress to that end. I know many were disappointed on budget night. And it was disappointing that the government did not listen and seems determined to put the brakes on Australia's economic opportunities in a net zero world.

I'm not interested in getting caught up in the partisan games that we see from the major parties on so many issues. We need to see our opportunities and we need to run with them. We need to keep pressuring both sides of government to support our more vulnerable. We need to make sure we take up the opportunities that we have and don't get stuck in the past. There is a big job ahead and we face many headwinds. Our youth, in particular, are the ones who will be burdened by the higher costs of living, huge debt and the increasing economic, social and environment or costs of climate impacts. We have a duty to invest into our future, into their future, and into the solutions.

The government may be short sighted and determined to put the brakes on our transition but we can get on without them. The world is moving to net zero by 2050. The list of countries and organisations grow every day. We need to legislate for net zero by 2050 with the Climate Change Act, and there will be an opportunity in November when I table the Climate Change Bill. It will set that five-year carbon reduction budgets and develop adaptation and mitigation plans which will give policy certainty for the business community.

We've got a duty to ensure communities develop more diverse business and employment opportunities. You can't stop progress, but you can be part of it. I urge the Morrison government to listen to the business community, listen to the investor community, listen to the broader Australian community and listen to the global community. Show leadership and be part of the solution, instead of being part of the problem and holding onto the past.

4:58 pm

Photo of Fiona MartinFiona Martin (Reid, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021 and related bills. Australia entered the coronavirus crisis from a position of economic strength which has prepared us to overcome the COVID-19 recession. The people in my electorate of Reid have responded with confidence to the Morrison government's 2020 budget. This budget delivers tax relief, record funding in health and mental health, and support for older Australians. For businesses and manufacturers, it means job creation and incentives for investment, to drive the demand across the economy.

The Morrison government has already passed tax relief measures that will put more money back into the pockets of hardworking Australians. Over 90,000 taxpayers in Reid will benefit from tax relief of up to $2,745 this year. This means that people in our area can breathe a little easier and can spend money on things that matter to them, creating economic activity and rewarding their hard work. We have also guaranteed the essential services people rely on, because our economy is strongest when people's health and wellbeing are put first. This budget delivers record health funding, of $93.8 billion, which includes funding for new life-saving medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme to treat leukaemia, melanoma and Parkinson's disease and help women with ovarian cancer.

We are providing an additional $3.9 billion for NDIS participants to make sure that these people with disabilities have better choice and control on how they live their lives. I'm particularly proud to say that this year $5.7 billion is being provided to support mental health. This will see an increase in funding for critical frontline services and suicide prevention. I recently visited headspace in Ashfield, which is one of 100 centres across Australia, and we discussed the importance of additional services being made available, especially the doubling of the Medicare funded psychological sessions, from 10 to 20. Having worked as a psychologist before entering parliament, I know that these measures will better support Australians with complex mental health needs. As we deal with the toll of bushfires and the global pandemic, these services are more important than ever.

We're also continuing to look after older Australians in our community. The coronavirus pandemic has been tough on them and they have been isolated from friends and family to protect their health. To support more than 12,200 aged pensioners in our area, the Morrison government has provided $750 payments in April and July. They will further receive $250 payments in December and March. To help older Australians who need support to keep living at home, 23,000 more home-care packages will be provided. This brings the total to more than 180,000 places, three times the number of home-care packages when the coalition government was elected in 2013. This means more choice and independence for older Australians.

This is a budget that delivers for the people of Reid. It delivers the essential services we need, while focused on rebuilding the economy and creating jobs to secure Australia's economic future. Recently, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg joined me in Reid to visit one of the most iconic businesses in our area, Pasticceria Papa in Five Dock. The owner, Salvatore Papa, has a migrant story that is familiar to the many businesses in our multicultural area. He came to Australia from Italy and, at 21 years of age, set up a business with only one other employee. He now runs an operation that employs over 170 staff and provides business to a large supply chain. When the pandemic hit, like many business owners he saw his business suffer. Like 9,500 other businesses in Reid, he was supported by the government's JobKeeper payment. It allowed him to keep employing his staff and keep his business running at the height of the crisis. It was a lifeline. Now that the virus is under control in New South Wales, Pasticceria Papa no longer needs JobKeeper. Salvatore said that his business has bounced back. They're as busy as ever and their famous ricotta cheesecake continues to sweeten the residents of Reid. This is what the Morrison government's temporary JobKeeper payment was all about. It was the bridge we built so that businesses could get to the other side of the COVID-19 crisis. It has meant that businesses like Pasticceria Papa can reopen with confidence. It's a story we're seeing right across Australia.

To support new investment and increase cash flow, our government is building on the successful expansion of the instant asset write-off. We have made this investment incentive available for small, medium and larger businesses with a turnover of up to $5 billion, until June 2022. In Reid, around 28,500 businesses can now write off the full value of any eligible asset until June 2022. Other smaller businesses will deliver, install and service these purchases. This sort of investment incentive has a ripple effect across our economy, creating tens of thousands of jobs and boosting productive capacity. Of course, we know that there is a long road ahead and not every business is in a position to open its doors or get back to where they need to be. Many profitable businesses have faced losses through no fault of their own as the result of the pandemic. For this reason, the Morrison government is offering tax relief for businesses. Businesses with an aggregated turnover of between $10 million and $50 million will be able to access up to 10 small-business tax concessions as part of this budget.

The Morrison government has also introduced a scheme that lets previously profitable businesses making a loss due to the pandemic claim back their taxes on last year's profits. This will apply to losses incurred up to June 2022 against profits made during or after the 2018-19 financial year. This will give businesses more money to employ people and invest in equipment. It's estimated that the combination of the immediate expensing and loss carryback measures will generate an additional 50,000 jobs throughout Australia.

Backing businesses is just one way to rebuild our economy. The Morrison government is also creating employment opportunities targeted especially at younger Australians. In my electorate of Reid many year 12 students are sitting their HSC exams, and there are other students who are learning a trade or completing a university degree. These school leavers and new graduates are facing one of the toughest job markets in 30 years because of the COVID-19 recession. We know that getting these young people into jobs is essential to their futures, their wellbeing, and also the prosperity of our nation. The Morrison government is investing $1.2 billion in reskilling and training opportunities to create 100,000 new apprenticeships and traineeships with a 50 per cent wage subsidy for businesses who employ them. The new JobMaker Hiring Credit will also encourage businesses to hire younger Australians. It will be payable up to 12 months and immediately available to employers who hire those on JobSeeker between the ages of 16 and 35 years. Treasury estimates that this will support around 450,000 jobs for young people. We owe it to the next generation to ensure a strong economy so that their lives are filled with the same opportunities and possibilities we have enjoyed.

This is a time of great uncertainty for many young people pursuing their aspirations and wanting to set up their foundations for life. I want to assure them that as a government we are backing you. We are making sure opportunities are there. We want you to succeed. While this has been a challenging period, it is still an optimistic one. We're expecting a boom in industries like manufacturing, construction, sciences and technology, environmental science, agriculture, nursing, psychology, health care and education, just to name a few. These employment incentives are just another way to ensure the prosperity of the next generation of working Australians and secure Australia's economic future.

During the coronavirus pandemic we saw a resurgence of national pride in manufacturing. As global supply chains went down, people committed more than ever to buying Aussie-made products. Our manufacturing sector stepped up in the peak of the crisis. The government worked together with Australian businesses to make sure that we had the protective equipment and medical supplies we needed to keep Australians safe. The 2020 budget is making Australian manufacturing a central pillar of our economic recovery.

This is good news for Reid because we have a strong manufacturing base in the western suburbs of our electorate. In the last year, businesses like Decor Systems and Disk Brakes Australia in Silverwater, the heart of manufacturing in Reid, have backed with the Australian government grants to boost their research and growth. The Morrison government's $1.3 billion modern manufacturing plan will target priorities like food and beverage manufacturing, recycling and clean energy, medical products and more. By boosting manufacturing we're boosting economic activity across Australian supply chains. We're creating jobs while also strengthening Australia's sovereign capacity. This budget is creating jobs, rebuilding our economy and guaranteeing the essential services we rely on.

5:09 pm

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to make some remarks on the appropriation bills and in support of the amendment moved by my friend the member for Whitlam. Of course, this is not a normal budget that these bills relate to and these are not normal times. Before I turn to the measures contained in the budget and to alternatives—and perhaps rather more to the alternatives—I want to begin by making some acknowledgments that reflect those circumstances and particularly the circumstances of more recent days of my home state of Victoria and my hometown of Melbourne.

Firstly I want to say thank you to the people of the Scullin electorate—indeed, to all Melburnians and all Victorians. What a couple of days we have had and, of course, what a year we have had. You have been magnificent, and I couldn't be prouder. Of course, there is so much more to do. I think we all acknowledge that this pandemic, this crisis, is far from over. But we have a sound foundation on which to work together and on which to rebuild together.

There are some particular acknowledgments I feel are appropriate right now. Everyone has played their part, every Victorian, every Melburnian, in a successful collective response to what is perhaps the ultimate collective problem, in the nature of this virus. Everyone has made sacrifices. All of this matters. It has all contributed to a couple of days that are really a remarkable success. As many have noted and as many experts have noted, the people of Victoria have come together to do something that is perhaps unmatched in the world. Some have been extraordinary while all have contributed.

There are too many categories of workers to mention—from retail to health care—but all those essential workers who have put themselves at risk to ensure that our communities can continue to function deserve all of our gratitude. I make a particular shout out to the healthcare staff at the Northern Hospital who have done extraordinary work. I can't find the words to fully express my gratitude for the efforts they have made. Also, our teachers have had to adapt to a very different world. As a parent, I know that the work that they have done to keep our kids in school and connected to learning has been something that has been quite remarkable.

I reflect on the work of so many local community organisations—in particular, Whittlesea Community Connections. The challenge of delivering services like emergency relief in an environment of social distancing has been formidable, and I'm amazed that they have been able to overcome that. They have been dealing with different cohorts of people, too. Different groups of people have found themselves in need in the pandemic, particularly international students and people seeking asylum. To make sure that they have been catered for has been a wonderful effort.

I also want to acknowledge my state colleagues, Lily D'Ambrosio, Bronwyn Halfpenny, Colin Brooks and Daniel Green, as consistent and empathetic leaders of a community that responded to their leadership and engagement. The Premier of Victoria, Daniel Andrews, is someone I have known all my adult life, and I'm very proud to call him my friend. But I'm much prouder of everything that he has done for our state and how he has done it—his resolve, his determination and the leadership that he has shown each and every day. I want to put that on the record in this place.

While there's been much discussion about what the pandemic means for politicians, I think it's also appropriate that we should reflect more on what it means for our staff. Their work has never been more important, nor has it been more demanding, and it's often being done in particularly challenging circumstances—working from home with all the distractions that presents without the barrier from work life and home life, when they have often been dealing with people in extraordinary distress. I think particularly of those Australians, my constituents—and I'm sure my friend the member for Lyons has dealt with this too—stranded overseas with no secure pathway home.

I want to say thank you to Laurie, to Sally, to Jim, to Nick, to Jonathon, to Alice, to Alex and to Lachlan for the work that they have done. Through this, we have found new ways to talk to our communities and, more importantly, to listen to them. While I can't wait for the chance to be out and about again in the communities I represent, I'm sure these lessons of pandemic communication will enable more people to be more connected with community life, to political life and to the work of this place.

I feel very fortunate as a Melburnian to be standing here today, and for this I thank Jill, my wife, and Daniel and Alice, our children. I have been away for too long, I know. I feel that and I feel a deep sense of gratitude to you for the additional sacrifices you have been making so that I can participate in the work of this place. I thank the Speaker, too, and his counterpart in the other place for the work they have done in strengthening our democracy, at a time when this was needed, and enabling all of our voices to be heard in our national parliament—especially where physical attendance has not been possible. I'm thinking of my friends and neighbours from across the northern suburbs of Melbourne—the members for Calwell, McEwen, Jagajaga and Cooper. I know how much they'd all like to be here, but I have seen through this time how effective they've been in participating remotely, forcefully and thoughtfully speaking for their communities. It's the voices of those we have all been elected to represent—their concerns, their perspectives and their experiences—that matter, not where we get to do our work. I know the people of Melbourne's north have all been well represented by those members.

Turning to these bills, I think it's clear that a couple of weeks ago, in the chamber, the Treasurer presented a budget but the Leader of the Labor Party delivered a vision in his budget reply. There is a big difference here—a fundamental difference—between, on the one hand, a plan from Australia's government to get themselves through to May, to set themselves up for their attempt at re-election, and a plan for the future. Labor is articulating a plan for all of our futures. It is a plan for a more equal Australia, to emerge out of the experiences of the crisis informed by its lessons—in particular the critical role of government and political institutions as a foundation for that vision. It is a vision of a country in which no-one is held back and no-one is left behind, like workers who happen to be over 35 years old or anyone involved in the services sector—a huge chunk of the economy but one that seems to have been forgotten by the government, despite its trillion-dollar debt.

Photo of Brian MitchellBrian Mitchell (Lyons, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

And the arts.

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

My friend the member for Lyons refers to the arts. The arts sector has been completely forgotten. Something that is vitally important is rebuilding our urban economies. It is something I am passionate about but something that has been absent from the work of the Deputy Prime Minister and the minister for infrastructure, and his minister for cities—no understanding of how our cities can be rebuilt. There is lots of rhetoric but no action.

Again, I turn to the contribution of the Leader of the Labor Party in his budget reply. There are a few points that I need to highlight in speaking in this debate on the budget. His speech, unlike that of the Treasurer, had as its centrepiece genuine economic reform: a genuine productivity boost for the Australian economy and a participation boost for our workforce—always two critical goals, but particularly so in this time. I'm incredibly proud of the work that he has done and that our shadow minister for early childhood education, the member for Kingston, has done to take a big step forward for more equal parenting, to boost participation in the workforce, to support Australian women in particular to have more choices and to take a big step towards recognising that early-years education and child care should be something that is universal. It is a fundamental building block to the sort of society we should aspire to live in, to the sort of social compact that will underpin that vision of a more equal Australia into the future and, in the shorter term, to our economic recovery in which everyone has a stake.

Some of the other aspects of that budget reply—things that could have and should have been included in the Treasurer's statement—are a real plan for manufacturing. The minister for industry talks a good story but it's almost like she hasn't been here for the past seven years, as manufacturing jobs have been chased away. I was in the parliament when a former Treasurer, the former member for North Sydney, goaded our automotive industries to leave the country, leading to horrendous job losses—particularly in places like the northern suburbs of Melbourne.

Mr Falinski interjecting

You'll have a chance to make a contribution. If you want to talk about the auto industry, I encourage you to do so.

Photo of Rick WilsonRick Wilson (O'Connor, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Scullin!

Photo of Andrew GilesAndrew Giles (Scullin, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Cities and Urban Infrastructure) Share this | | Hansard source

Sorry, Deputy Speaker; I will return to my remarks. Thank you for your guidance. I shouldn't have been provoked.

Of course, there is the skills guarantee. Again, it's a building block to the sort of workforce that can underpin a high-wage, high-skill, future oriented economy. Another thing that would do that is our rewiring the nation initiative—again, a fundamental reshaping of our energy network, recognising the differences in technology and the differences in need that should underpin our recovery, including for manufacturing of course.

The last element I want to touch on in the budget reply is the opposition's commitment to social housing. There's no better way, as just about every economist has said, to kickstart a jobs boom in the short term and to deliver a much-needed social dividend in the medium term. On the other hand, we have the Prime Minister, who simply says, when so many Australians are out of work and so many more are likely to be out of work, if you are good at your job, you'll get a job.

An opposition member: A disgrace!

Yes, it's a disgrace and it's extraordinary hubris—and hubris is always followed by nemesis, I remind members opposite.

In terms of my electorate, the electorate of Scullin, the budget papers revealed very little other than in the negative, such as the impact of cuts to JobKeeper; particularly the impact which we've already seen on the universities, which are such important employers—La Trobe and RMIT; and the impact we've seen of the cuts to JobSeeker. There's a tiny amount of money for the E6, but that really is it. That's it. There's nothing for the northern suburbs of Melbourne. And I remember the excitement in the communities that greeted the talk by the minister for cities of the North and West Melbourne City Deal. Enormous work has gone into realising what the deal could be, but the federal government is not engaging with this conversation at all. It's just not engaging at all. The groups that have come together with the Northern Horizons' vision for infrastructure, the people who've been thinking about the manufacturing opportunities in food are not getting the support they need and deserve from the federal government. They're not paying attention. There is no evidence of any plan for local jobs.

When I think about the budget and Scullin, I think about some of the things that took place over the pandemic that have stayed with me as a local member—in particular, the tragedies that I saw at the Epping Gardens Aged Care Facility. This is an exemplar of how we should not treat vulnerable older Australians. What they are entitled to is so much more dignity and so much more support. We've got a way to go in terms of the royal commission, but its findings so far should have delivered more to those people and their families.

In my portfolio areas, in particular of cities and urban infrastructure, we see a budget which underdelivers, building on a long record of overpromising and underdelivering when it comes to infrastructure from this government.

In multicultural affairs, this budget does not sufficiently address the needs of migrant and CALD communities, continuing a trend through the pandemic. There are some budget measures which relate to multicultural affairs that are worthy in the social cohesion space, and I acknowledge that. I also acknowledge the reforms that have been announced to the AMEP program, but what we are seeing here is a government that's much better at talking at multicultural communities than listening to them. We see that in the announcements over the increase in the partner visa intake for the next year in particular and in the introduction of what was initially described as an English language test, a discriminatory test, with various justifications, which demonstrate that this is policymaking on the run.

That really sums up this budget and this government in a nutshell: policymaking on the run. The Treasurer, like the Prime Minister, is so much more interested in the politics of the moment than building a vision for the future. Everything is about the announcement, not about the delivery. On that, we have a great opportunity here. At the moment, trust in politics is going up for the first time in decades, but that's at risk because of a litany of scandals and the failure of the government to introduce a national integrity commission. If they can change one thing about their direction, they should commit to that now.

5:24 pm

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Mayo, who was elected at the same election as I was, reminded me yesterday that it has been 4½ years since we entered this place, since both of us made our solemn oath to serve the people of Australia and this nation before God. It is an oath that I know all of us take seriously. It is therefore both fit and proper that from time to time we take stock of our time here, to ask whether we have been true to that oath, which we renewed just over a year ago.

Such assessments, of course, cannot take place in a vacuum, for the future cannot be foretold and even the most ardently sworn commitments are sometimes outrun by matters beyond our control. By any reasonable assessment, COVID-19 is one such event. It has resulted in the most severe global economic crisis since the Great Depression. Across the world, the equivalent of 600 million people have lost their jobs. During the 2008 financial crisis, the global economy contracted by 0.1 per cent. This year, through the COVID crisis, the global economy is expected to contract by 4½ per cent. In other words, the pandemic has resulted in an economic downturn 45 times worse than the financial crisis in 2008. Despite this, Australians have responded how they always do when called to act under adversity. Today we have news that the consumer sentiment has returned to where it was prior to the pandemic. In the June quarter, Australia's economy contracted by seven per cent. This, however, compares to falls of around 12 per cent in New Zealand, 14 per cent in France and 20 per cent in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this month the Treasurer handed down what I believe will be seen by history as one of the most important budgets since the establishment of this Commonwealth. It is the building block for the recovery of our nation's economy and our way of life. Our plan is based on the fundamental principle that only empowered individuals create empowered communities and, axiomatically, you are therefore better off in a job than on welfare. For this reason our plan is centred around getting businesses back to work and employing people again. JobKeeper is the $101 billion lifeline that is supporting around 3½ million jobs. The cashflow boost is helping around 800,000 small businesses restock and restart by providing over $28 billion. JobSeeker has also doubled the safety net for the unemployed. Together, these actions have saved 700,000 jobs, and we could only do it because the government entered this crisis from a position of economic strength.

We had brought the budget back into balance for the first time since we were last in government, and maintained our AAA credit rating. But that is in the past. Now we face the monumental task ahead of rebuilding our nation, this Commonwealth, better and stronger than before. More than half of those who lost their jobs are back at work, with 458,000 new jobs created in June, July and August. The new JobMaker hiring credit is encouraging businesses to hire younger Australians. They are the ones who will carry the burden of this debt into their adult years, so this credit will be payable for up to 12 months and is immediately available to employers who hire those on JobSeeker aged 16 to 35. It will be paid at the rate of $200 per week for those aged under 30, and $100 per week for those aged between 30 and 35. Every Australian business, other than the major banks, will be eligible. As we know, having a job is more than just money in your pocket. It provides economic security. It offers freedom. It creates opportunity. It produces a happier and healthier society. It creates empowered people who then create empowered communities, who, together, can rebuild the Australian dream. Having a job is the bedrock of our future, and it is the core of this budget.

Infrastructure spending is fundamental in creating jobs, building everything from roads and tunnels to warships, submarines and everything in between. Manufacturing and infrastructure get the economy moving. The government is investing around $4 billion, through the Urban Congestion Fund, to reduce congestion in urban areas, funding supports and upgrades to urban road networks to reduce congestion and ensure commuters get home sooner and safer by reducing travel times, so you can spend more time with your friends and family, assuming you have friends—I'm sure you have family though!

Photo of Jason FalinskiJason Falinski (Mackellar, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

This will lower vehicle operating costs, so you keep more money in your pocket to help pay for the friends that you don't have. It will deliver a more reliable road network for commuters and freight, which means less uncertainty on your drive to and from work. I fought hard to secure $50 million of funding for the Beaches Link tunnel, which will address congestion, improve safety and benefit those living on the northern beaches.

There is another piece of infrastructure that has regrettably gone largely ignored for too many years. That is the Wakehurst Parkway. At a time when the northern beaches has three of the 10 worst roads in Australia, when the federal government is funding the Beaches Link and when the federal government has been pleading with the state government to bring forward new road projects like Wakehurst Parkway, it is absolutely confounding that neither the local council nor the state government will put this forward. Despite it being made clear that the federal government can assist in paying for the widening of Wakehurst Parkway, for some unknown reason no formal request for funding has come forward. On Friday 16 October, four people were hurt in a head-on collision on Wakehurst Parkway at North Narrabeen. While that will sound confronting to this House, it isn't to my community, because it happens all the time. To provide you with some background: in 2017, $5 million was provided to the Northern Beaches Council to investigate options for upgrading the parkway. This study identified a number of options, which would also reduce the impact of flooding to the main road. However, when the New South Wales department of transport were asked what they were going to do, their response read: 'There are no current plans to widen Wakehurst Parkway from two to four lanes between Seaforth and North Narrabeen. Transport for NSW will continue to monitor the road and will update the community on any plans.'

During this year I've had the honour and privilege to represent one of the most beautiful parts of the world. I'm not just talking about the physical beauty of the beaches and the bush; I have the privilege of representing a community that believes in community, that knows we are all stronger together and that alone we can do much but together there is little we cannot do. As such I have the greatest number of rural fire brigades in Australia, which is only beaten by the number of surf lifesaving clubs I have in one electorate. There are two surf clubs that own their own clubhouses in Australia. Both are in Mackellar.

I know you should praise in general, but there are a number of people I want to specifically mention for being instrumental in building the place I call home. First I want to mention Peter Kinsey and Rob and Margaret Pearson of Long Reef Surf Life Saving Club. For 23 years this club has been trying to build a new clubhouse. Most of us would have learnt to give up in this time, but not Peter, Rob and Margaret and the team that they lead. This year they will provide well over 750 hours of patrols from a temporary clubhouse, but next year they will have the realisation of a vision 23 years in the making.

At the Whale Beach Surf Life Saving Club, Andrew Pearce and Kieran Gallagher have, over the last season, enjoyed the highs and lows of surf lifesaving and community groups. In doing so, they and the team they lead have shown commitment, dedication and humanity. When the bushfires came, they organised a fundraising dinner for the victims and volunteers, not because they had much but because they had been in the same position and knew what a big difference a little bit makes. As Andrew said that night, volunteering is the rent we pay for being on this planet. I've tried to come up with something better but could not, so I've been borrowing Andrew's line ever since and claiming it as my own!

Mr Brian Mitchell interjecting

Yes, most of my lines are borrowed! I'm waiting to borrow one of yours, Member for Lyons!

As the commander in charge of the Northern Beaches RFS, George Sheppard has shown me what leadership really is. It is not taking the credit and making long and eloquent speeches—his are far shorter and far more elegant than mine. It is the care and compassion you show those you lead and it is the trust and enthusiasm that you engender in those around you that make you a leader. It is, in short, what you give, not what you take. George, to you, your team and thousands who willingly put their lives on the line so that we may live ours, we thank you.

As I say, this is not even a sample of the people I should be mentioning. There is Dave Mason, Scott Penn, Daly Cherry-Evans, Des Hasler, Stephen Crawford, Brendan Paddison and Michael Ruthven, who keep the dream alive for so many sporting fans and whose work in the community goes unnoticed and untold. There is also Rod and Liz McQueen, who, with so many others, envisaged and enabled the Sargood centre, which has become a world-leading spinal injuries treatment centre. There is the Arcare group and John Knowles, who have built a five-star aged-care facility in Warriewood.

Then there are the entrepreneurs in our community. Marcus Blackmore and Toby Browne together represent two of the three most valuable and leading supplement companies in the world. There is Brett Crowther of Incat Crowther, who developed and designed $750 million worth of US battleships. Michael Jorigen is making the warehouses of the future of the world on the northern beaches. I particularly want to mention Lindsay Lyon of Ocean Guardian, who has designed and delivered non-invasive shark deterrents. Why the New South Wales government will not deploy one of his systems is simply beyond me. The environmental, economic and personal safety benefits are too huge to ignore. I will personally be getting one fitted to my surfboard in November when the latest system comes out. Finally, Safetyline Jalousie, whose team is headed by Leigh Rust, is designing, building and deploying the best louvres in the world—from cyclone shelters in the South Pacific to beachside homes on the northern beaches. These louvres are literally changing the world.

We can only change the world on the northern beaches because of the skills and talents of the people there and the opportunity they have to develop those skills. To our teachers go the laurels. Whether it is the STEM classes at Belrose Public School headed by Belinda Zorian, whose years 4, 5 and 6 developed an entire marine ecosystem out of robots; the year 6 students at Pittwater House, who ask more difficult questions than any journalist I've ever met; the incoming leaders at Forest High, whose hopes for the future have not been dimmed by the last 12 months but rather enhanced, for where some see problems they see worthy challenges that they have no doubt they will overcome; or the Covenant Christian School and the Northern Beaches Christian School, who students' zest and enthusiasm for the future is infectious—my community knows that the environment matters. They know that, whether it is PEP 11, live animal exports or a renewable-powered future, I share their views and I'm fighting for those views here in this place. No doubt the road is long but the journey is worth the destination.

In my first speech in this place I said that I believed Australia's best days are ahead of us because we have so much to hope for and so little to fear. While I must confess that my faith in this statement from time to time has wavered, it is renewed each time I realise that this parliament believes that we strive for individual freedom because no society has been fair without it. Replacing equality of opportunity with equality of outcome is the surest path to division and dystopia. Preserving the best of the past recognises those things we hold sacred and important and guarantees us a better future. More than anything, we know that compassion does not come from the hands of unelected bureaucrats, but from our friends, family and neighbours. These things I know that we know are worth fighting for and these are things that we will fight for every day.

Before I conclude I want to reflect on the member for Scullin's speech. There is a lot of mythology that goes on in this place around the car industry and Joe Hockey wanting them to leave when he was here. Nothing could be further from the truth. How do we know that is not true? Because the carmakers themselves announced under the Gillard government that they would not be renewing their investment in the Australian economy. Why? Because they could not get the productivity that they needed out of their sector. What were the biggest hold ups there? Was it workplace relations and the terms and conditions they had agreed? Was it the unions—the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union or the Australian Workers Union—who had something to do with this? We'll never know because, when Toyota went to sit down with them and talk about some productivity improvements they could make at these factories, the union refused to turn up. So they did the logical thing, and Nissan, Toyota, Ford and GM all decided to leave. They don't believe Australians should own housing. They believe Australians should be in social housing.

5:39 pm

Photo of Fiona PhillipsFiona Phillips (Gilmore, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very pleased to be here today talking on this budget appropriation bill. I thought: what am I going to talk about today? I actually thought: I'm going to go to people in Gilmore and ask them what they want from the budget, what they would have liked to have seen in the budget, and what the lasting legacy could be. I said 'Be bold, go for gold—whatever you want.' Let's see. These are the words from people in my community. You can see that there are quite a lot of comments here from people; and that was over quite a short period of time. I want to thank them for providing this feedback.

The first feedback that I want to mention is the enormous number of travel agents that have contacted me saying that they need targeted support for travel agents. What we have seen, what travel agents have gone through with closed international borders, has just been horrific. Travel agents haven't been able to sell a takeaway coffee or a takeaway meal. They really rely on those international borders being open. So while the government has cut back JobKeeper, our travel agents are still there with those closed borders and doing it tough. So I call on the government to provide that targeted support for our travel agents that that industry desperately needs. Our travel agents do wonderful work in our local community. They support our local schools, our local shops, our local events. They're really, really important for local jobs. I have seen a number close down. The government needs to support travel agents.

Now I want to go to some of the other comments that I have received. Veronica says that for her number one would be affordable housing. She also says a train line that goes to the border—we're talking about the New South Wales South Coast here—a bypass for Nowra and Ulladulla; and encourage and support innovative small businesses to revitalise our dying CBD areas. She says, 'I could go on. Good luck today.'

Veronica raises some really important points. We could be investing more in social and affordable housing. It's a sure way to kickstart investment in our local jobs and to improve our social housing through repairs that we desperately need. On the New South Wales South Coast we've been through the bushfires, the drought, three disaster declared floods. Our community needs help. We don't have airports. We don't have train lines south of Bomaderry, but people really want help and support.

That was Veronica. Gordon says they'd like a pension update. He says, 'The Liberals keep cutting the pension.' We have seen so many cuts to the pension. Pensioners just want a fair go. I have one of the highest numbers of aged pensioners in Australia in my electorate.

The budget has also excluded people over the age of 35 from the job hiring incentive, and I have had so many people contact me about that. It is discriminatory and it is not going to help, particularly in those regional areas where we have a lot of people that have moved there a bit later in life. It is going to hurt them.

Tony says, 'Keep it local. Build more social housing.' I think that's a flavour that we'll see through this. He says, 'Establish and run some aged care facilities, not privatised, to set the standards for that industry.' And I want to take this opportunity to thank all our aged-care homes and facilities and all our aged-care workers for the wonderful work that they're doing, not just through COVID, but again, through the bushfires where they have actually had to ensure people's safety over many, many months. I want to really say thank you there.

Tony also wants to see more funding for mental health in Gilmore, especially for young people. I do welcome initiatives in the budget around that, but I do want to see more funding for prevention and building resilience in our community. Just recently I was at a Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network bereavement and remembrance ceremony with local people. That was put to me there: we need to invest more in prevention and resilience around mental health. We have had a lot of suicides in my electorate and we need to do a lot more there.

Alison says, 'Spend the $2 billion Morrison allocated for bushfire recovery so those in our community have a home.' The fact is that less than half of that funding has been spent. We still have people that are not in their homes, and we're approaching the 12-month mark from the bushfires. Clinton says: 'Thank you, Fiona. Don't we still have people living in caravans and tents after losing their homes to bushfire? Can we put the future on hold and look after the present?' Well, Clinton, I don't think we can put the future exactly on hold, but you're correct—we do need to make sure that people are looked after, and that means spending the $2 billion in bushfire recovery funding that was said to be there.

Ben has a rather long list here, but I think it's really important. Ben says: 'The budget did nothing to address our public housing and homelessness crisis. Building public housing creates jobs, and a well housed population are more productive,' and I couldn't agree more with Ben. Ben goes on to talk about public transport, and I'll read this: 'Also there is nothing to address poor public transport in regional areas. Currently in the Eurobodalla, the bus services aren't a viable alternative for the unemployed to use for transport to get to and from work. If an unemployed person doesn't have a car or drivers licence, they can't travel for work.' I won't read the rest of it, but we always talk a lot about workforce participation and how to get workforce participation up, but one of the big things that we need is more public transport in regional areas to help people to be able to actually get to jobs.

Kerry says, 'We need more affordable housing,' and, as we can see, that's definitely a flavour from these comments. Kerry also says, 'We need better public transport to the coastal villages by regular services up and down the highway, and shuttle buses going between the villages and the highway.' The government spent a lot, $30 million I think it was, on that airport land in Sydney, but what about spending that money in regional areas and helping people so that they can get to work? Pat says, 'More funding for our public schools, better public transport'—there it is again—'more public housing, better legislation to stop wage theft, action on climate change and no nuclear power in Gilmore.'

Margaret says: 'A fairer deal for our refugees. Everything else fails behind this. We are not doing the right, legal and compassionate thing for these people who have committed no crime.' Margaret goes on to say, 'Better funding for public schools, action on climate change and investment in green power with the money we save on running prison camps.' Margaret raises a really valid point, because people in my community, refugees and businesses, have said to me there was nothing there through COVID to help people, and businesses were saying that people need support, so Margaret raises a very valid point.

Joe says that she'd like to see a federal ICAC—a very common theme here. These are people from my community, so I think it is really important in this parliament that we actually listen. She also says that we should have job creation by focusing on shifting to a carbon neutral economy and social housing and have more for public education. Joe says that school infrastructure in the region needs serious attention, and I'll come back to that more as I speak.

Robert says, 'I would like to see more of the proposed budget being allocated to the construction of public assets. The country does need to borrow money. Where it's spent is the question. Sure, building roads will create jobs during construction, but that's where it stops. By building hospitals, schools et cetera, it not only creates jobs during construction but also continually employs and benefits people for the life of the asset'—a really important point. Roseanne says, in dot points: 'Social housing, more help for the homeless, upgrade our hospital, better roads, better services around beaches like coffee shops but not big malls, and how about public aged care?'

Maureen says she would like to see an emergency control centre for disasters in the Eurobodalla, and anybody who visited Moruya—it probably would have been hard to visit Moruya during the bushfires—saw they operated out of a small community hall, so they had no dedicated emergency management centre. It's really important that we make sure that we have centres that are appropriate so that our police, our SES—all of our emergency people—and our council have a centre and that they can be set up to help coordinate the bushfires. We know that in the Nowra area they have a dedicated centre. They don't have that in Moruya. I would certainly encourage other areas around Australia as well. We need to be prepared for future bushfires and we need to make sure that we have appropriate emergency management centres. Maureen also says, 'Funding to help the Eurobodalla become a renewable energy hub'—we have many keen groups in the Eurobodalla, the Shoalhaven and Kiama around that—'and to act on native wildlife extension and the protection of our precious oceans and marine life.'

Liz wrote to me and is very passionate about better funding of our public schools. Liz says her local high school has 22 demountable units and the biggest support unit on the South Coast. She said, 'The Bay and Basin is a growing area and, with population growth, student numbers are growing. We need a senior campus built with a TAFE so students in the Bay and Basin area have greater access to TAFE.' We have to remember as well that these are areas in which you can't just hop on a bus and go to the local TAFE, so it's absolutely critical that we have good transport as well. John says, 'Schools that don't leak.' At the Bomaderry High School there's been lots of flooding, roofs have caved in and there's possum excrement—everything you could possibly think of. John says, 'Classroom desks that are fit for purpose' and 'Where is the $2 billion for bushfire recovery?' Gabrielle says, 'Ulladulla is suffering a rental crisis because owners of investment properties are Airbnb-ing them for the summer holidays.' She said, 'We need homes for the most vulnerable.' Nicole says, 'Treaty.' Jort says he wants 'infrastructure that is future-proofed, four-lane each-way highways, dual train lines, and airports that you don't have to drive hours to get to.'

Kay said that she wants 'pensions that reflect some respect for the generations that have formed this country and not have them discriminated against constantly.' Sandra says she wants 'fairer treatment for older jobseekers with health problems. We are made to feel like we are a burden to Centrelink.' Again, I would say that the government should reconsider its hiring subsidy to not discriminate against people who are over the age of 35. Sylvia says, 'Ulladulla Public School is in desperate need of capital expenditure. Our children and community deserve a facility that can at least accommodate their education needs.' Wouldn't it be great if the federal government put infrastructure spending into something that makes a difference to people and is a long-lasting legacy for our children and our grandchildren? Alex says, 'More funding to trades, education and welfare. Less pork-barrelling and have a federal ICAC instituted.' Dawn says she wants 'the Uluru statement to be accepted and enacted, more environmental protections to be put in place for our wildlife and habitat, stronger penalties for crimes against women, religious freedoms to be entirely scrapped, and manufacturing powered by sustainable energy.'

Sam wants action on climate change. Leanne wants to remove the freeze on hiring in the Australian Public Service. David says, 'Schools, roads and hospitals—all important infrastructure.' Simon said, 'Green jobs'—there's a great idea—'and dental.' One of the biggest things that people contact me about is the lack of public dental care. We could be leaving a lasting legacy and setting that up as well. Thank you, Simon. Carol says she wants 'action on climate change and a rise in the JobSeeker rate.' She said, 'We have high unemployment and resulting poverty, and we need an increase in funding to the NDIS.' Increasing the permanent rate of JobSeeker is a really important part. People cannot live on $40 a day. The government could be choosing to leave a legacy. This is what people from the South Coast have said they want in the budget.

5:54 pm

Photo of Terry YoungTerry Young (Longman, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm proud to be standing here today in support of this government's plan to bring Australia out of the COVID-19 recession. I'm proud to be part of a government that understands the health, social and economic impacts of this pandemic. We are in the midst of a one-in-100-year health and economic crisis that demands real leadership and decisive action. The budget that this government has delivered is the budget that Australia needed. In the days that followed the Treasurer's budget delivery a couple of weeks ago confidence surged 12 per cent, to its highest level in more than two years. Business owners recognise that this is a budget that will deliver the jobs and the economic conditions that are needed to help us bounce back.

But there are people in my electorate of Longman who are still doing it tough. In fact, more than 12,000 people in my electorate received the coronavirus supplement to provide additional support through this crisis. Businesses and many industries, particularly those in events, tourism and hospitality, have been hit hard. But, when the pandemic struck, the government acted quickly and decisively to firstly protect the health of Australians. To combat the devastating economic impacts that followed, we introduced safeguards for many businesses, families and individuals who were affected. It is thanks to these measures that Australia has achieved some of the best health and economic outcomes in the world, despite the exceptionally difficult period we found ourselves in. Many businesses in Longman and indeed across the country were able to keep people in jobs because this government acted decisively.

The JobKeeper payment has supported 2,700 businesses in Longman, helping them through the pandemic and keeping them connected to their staff. I've heard first hand from business owners in my electorate about how the JobKeeper payment saved jobs. Ian Wust, at Caboolture Crash Repairs, told me that, in the days before JobKeeper was announced, he had made the decision to let several of his staff members go because work had dried up to such an extent. He had the letters of termination drafted and ready to be handed over. Then the government announced the JobKeeper program and those termination letters were torn up and thrown in the bin. Since then, as work has picked up again, Ian has not only maintained that level of staff but also put on new staff members. For him and many other businesses in my electorate, JobKeeper was a game changer.

But now, as businesses like Caboolture Crash Repairs kick on, they no longer need that level of support. That's why the JobKeeper program has been extended for businesses that still need it and pulled back for businesses that have moved on. This is called responsible economic management. This is how we reduce financial waste—by giving support where and when it is needed but also recognising when and where it is no longer vital. Under this budget we have extended the JobKeeper payment until March next year for those businesses that can show they still need some help.

But that's not all. Through the JobMaker hiring credit and the supporting apprentices and trainees wage subsidy, we are creating the conditions that will help young people get work and learn new skills to carry them into the future. Youth unemployment across the country is almost double the national unemployment rate, and that is what this government with this budget is seeking to address. The JobMaker hiring credit will provide incentives for businesses to take on young jobseekers. It is expected that around 450,000 positions for young Australians will be supported through this program.

Apprenticeships and traineeships are another key pathway into the workforce, particularly for young jobseekers and school leavers. Under this program, eligible small- and medium-sized businesses can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent paid from now until 31 March next year, up to a cap of $7,000 per quarter. I spoke to a local business owner the other day and he is going to put on six apprentices next week. This measure will support around 90,000 small- and medium-sized businesses in Australia, employing around 180,000 apprentices. While this government recognises the plight of young people through this COVID recession, we continue to support mature-age workers as well. The Restart program offers a financial incentive of $10,000 to encourage businesses to hire and retrain mature-age employees who are 50 years of age and over.

To support new investment and increase business cash flow, the government is providing a temporary tax incentive that will allow around 9,300 businesses in Longman to write off the full value of any eligible asset they purchase. Already I have heard from businesses in my electorate like Caboolture Bus Lines, Loveday Electrical and Dossel's Engineering, who say they will benefit from this initiative. Until 30 June 2022, businesses with a turnover of up to $5 million can deduct the full cost of depreciable assets of any value. The cost of improvements made to any existing assets during this period can also be fully deducted. This supports businesses that invest. It also creates a strong incentive for businesses to bring forward investment before this temporary tax incentive ends.

The government will also allow companies with a turnover of up to $5 billion to offset tax losses against previous profits. This loss carry-back will help companies that were profitable and taxpaying but now find themselves in a loss position due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By allowing them to access their losses earlier, this will provide a much-needed cash flow boost to keep their businesses running, retain their workers and invest with confidence in the future. It will be available to around one million companies.

The government has also delivered cash flow boost payments to small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profit entities to support them to keep operating, to pay rent, electricity and other bills and to retain staff during the COVID-19 pandemic. To date the cash flow boost has helped around 2,400 small and medium-sized businesses in my electorate of Longman. We estimate that these temporary tax incentives for businesses will create around 50,000 jobs by the end of the 2021-22 financial year.

This government also understands the importance of local manufacturing and has a plan to help local business grow and become more resilient and to boost global competitiveness. Manufacturing employs almost 5,000 people in my electorate, making up 7.4 per cent of all people in Longman who are employed in local industry jobs. The $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy will benefit manufacturing businesses in Longman, harnessing their capability to help drive our economic recovery and future resilience. This strategy also recognises that we must play to our strengths and target sectors that allow us to achieve scale and generate future growth.

Instead of increasing taxes, this government wants Australians to keep more of their hard-earned wages to spend on those things that are important to them. Around 4,100 taxpayers in Longman will benefit from tax relief of up to $2,745 this year as a result of the government's tax relief measures. The Personal Income Tax Plan is delivering lower taxes and a simpler tax system that benefits all Australians. The Treasury estimates that reducing the personal income tax burden on hardworking Australians through this measure will boost GDP by around $3.5 billion in 2020-21 and $9 billion in 2021-22 and will create an additional 50,000 jobs by the end of 2021-22. By putting more money in their pockets, families will keep more of what they earn, allowing them to spend more on what they need. Low- and middle-income earners will also benefit, with an additional one-off tax offset this financial year. This offset is worth up to $1,080 for individuals and $2,160 for dual-income couples, and will benefit around 10.1 million people. When combined with the stage 2 tax cuts a single person earning $120,000 will receive a tax cut of $2,745 in 2020-21. A dual-income family with both people on $60,000 a year will receive a combined tax cut of $4,320.

Australians expect the tax system to be fair. This government is committed to delivering a simpler tax system that remains progressive, fosters aspiration and rewards effort. When the government's plan is fully implemented in 2024-25, a person who earns $200,000—or 4.4 times more than a person who earns $45,000—will pay around 10 times more tax. Around 95 per cent of taxpayers will have a marginal tax rate of 30 per cent or less in 2024-25. The extra spending that this tax system generates will help keep businesses trading and keep staff in jobs. As their sales increase, this will further improve business confidence and encourage them to create more jobs and invest. This grows our economy now and in the future.

But it's not just businesses and their employees in my electorate who will benefit from this budget. The government wants to improve the wellbeing of individuals and families in my electorate of Longman. We will continue to deliver the essential social services that people in Longman depend on, while providing a safety net in response to the pandemic. Around 23,064 aged pensioners in Longman will receive a $250 support payment in December and March. This is in addition to the two support payments of $750 they have already received this year, which means that, in total, they will have received an extra $2,000. In April and July, 3,311 carers in Longman received support payments of $750. They will receive a further $250 payment in December and a further $250 from March next year. These payments will assist pensioners and carers through the financial challenges they continue to face as a result of COVID-19.

The government is also making a temporary change to the eligibility criteria for Youth Allowance and Abstudy. From 1 January next year, all Youth Allowance and Abstudy applicants will automatically be deemed to have worked over the six-month period, from 25 March to 24 September. This change will make it easier for young people to be deemed independent of their parents and not subject to the parental income test. The government is also supporting new parents whose employment was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic by introducing an alternative paid parental leave work test period.

This government also has a plan to improve transport infrastructure in my electorate of Longman, making our roads safer, improving traffic congestion and supporting jobs. The $662 million project to widen the Bruce Highway, from four to six lanes, between Bribie Island Road and Steve Irwin Way received $38,400,000 in this budget. The federal government is contributing $530 million to this project, and major construction will begin soon. Work on the $163 million New Settlement Road overpass upgrade has begun, with $35 million included in this budget. These upgrades, along with the other safety improvements and planning for future projects, amount to more than $333 million spent in this budget alone. The total spend by the federal government over the lifetime of these Bruce Highway projects will be around $2.8 billion. The Bribie Island Road upgrade at Old Toorbul Point Road intersection received $500,000 funding in this budget. Work on this project, costing just over $30 million, is well underway. The federal government's contribution is $20 million. The black spot upgrade at Sylvan Beach Esplanade in Bellara will begin this year at a cost of around $365,000.

Also included in this budget is around $5 million for Moreton Bay Regional Council from the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. This program supports councils to deliver priority local road and community infrastructure, supporting local jobs. The council will receive a further $5 million from the Road to Recovery program to assist in maintaining and upgrading local roads. It has also been allocated more than $17 million from the Financial Assistance Grant program this financial year to deliver infrastructure, health, recreation, employment and environmental projects.

And speaking of the environment, this government is delivering crucial environmental recovery and restoration activities with an additional $1.8 billion investment over five years. We are making unprecedented investments to reduce waste, increase recycling and build capacity in our waste and recycling industries. This includes progressively banning the export of waste, glass, plastic, tyres and paper starting on 1 January next year. Native wildlife and habitat recovery remain a critical focus for this government, as we continue to roll out our more than $200 million commitment to bushfire wildlife and habitat recovery. We will develop a new 10-year strategy to protect Australia's threatened species. To protect our oceans and marine ecosystems, we are tackling the impacts of ghost nets and plastic litter, as well as investing in compliance, enforcement and monitoring across marine parks. Our national parks will receive record investment for new upgrades as well as funding to replace lost revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are also supporting farmers in communities that experience drought, with $155.6 million over four years for a package of new measures.

This budget was made possible because of the solid grounding and strong financial position Australia was in before the pandemic hit. I'm proud to be part of a government which understands that by empowering people to seek employment, by creating new jobs, by establishing a fairer tax system and by investing in areas that need it most, Australia will come out of this COVID recession strongly. We want businesses to grow beyond being dependent on the government. We want to create the conditions that help businesses rebuild from this pandemic, allow them to grow and expand into the future. We are supporting our pensioners and carers. We are building the infrastructure that will ensure people in my electorate are safer on local roads and highways, and spend less time stuck in traffic. We're looking after our wildlife, oceans, waterways and national parks. This budget is our plan to achieve these outcomes. How good is this budget?

6:09 pm

Photo of Chris HayesChris Hayes (Fowler, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

When it comes to this government, the Australian people have learnt to not only listen to what it says but to pay attention to what it does. This budget is a missed opportunity. Never have we seen a budget before that has spent so much to achieve so little. At a time when people are grappling with the challenge of the coronavirus, Australians need, and they deserve, much better than what this government is offering. People need a vision for the future, a vision for jobs, a plan to kickstart the economy and to get us through this recession. However, what we've seen—beyond this government's spin, photo opportunities and rush for headlines—is a $1.4 trillion debt and unacceptably high unemployment. We now have over a million of our fellow Australians out of work.

Nothing in this budget has anything about aged care. There's nothing about social housing, child care and very little to undo the damage that they have done through mismanagement and cuts to vital areas, including our universities, TAFE and vocational education. These areas are actually critical to our future. What the country needs is a government that actually understands community, its desires and its wants and, more importantly, a government that's prepared to put the needs of the community beyond politics. I know it might be rare—they've had seven years to think about this, but they still always prefer politics over community. The community wants a government that is prepared to be focused on the national interest and a government that understands that lives and livelihoods are being lost and destroyed through this pandemic.

The budget handed down by the Morrison government continues to prove this government's lack of understanding of what is needed to get us through this crisis and through this recession which has developed. We have had now a missed opportunity to rebuild our economy and do it for the better, to put forward a plan that delivers a stronger, fairer, more secure and more inclusive future for all Australians. But this budget, I've got to say, fails on this score as this government retreats behind short-term populism and short-term policies simply to get them through to the next election and certainly to get them on the front pages of newspapers and try to actually score on opinion polls. That's what this government has been about—as I said, putting politics ahead of community. I would have thought the smart thing for any responsible government to be doing at this time is looking to deliver the long-term, transformative changes that are necessary for our economy and our nation, and this is what this government has not even attempted to do. This is short-sightedness that simply leaves many Australians behind.

Our economy was already struggling before this pandemic. We had the huge casualisation of employment in all our workplaces. We've had stagnant wages, slow growth and a period with a significant lack of confidence from the business community, and what followed from that is a lack of investment from the business community itself. What's this government's response? They cut wage subsidies and they slashed unemployment benefits—that's pretty critical to areas that I represent. I know the government didn't create this pandemic, but they're the government responsible for actually helping get us out of it. But we have, since the outbreak of the pandemic, a situation where 440,000 jobs have been lost, and, as I understand it, it's now predicted that another 160,000 jobs are expected to be lost by Christmas. This government's response is to cut the level of support.

In my electorate—and I'm sure it's similar to other electorates, such as my colleague's here, the member for Werriwa—checking the statistics, I've got 17,000 people on JobSeeker at the moment, which is almost double what it was prior to the pandemic. At the moment I've got 5,000 businesses in my electorate that are relying on JobKeeper. In an electorate like mine, which certainly is not a rich electorate, the average household income is just a little over $60,000. I'm not talking about the average income; the average household income is just a little over $60,000. So these cuts to support have only added further stress in a very difficult and challenging time for people.

While the government is talking up its hiring wage subsidy, we know that, just like the original formulation of JobKeeper, the government once again has got it wrong. They have excluded more than 928,000 people over the age of 35 on unemployment benefits. Absolutely the government should be looking after young Australians, but you can't turn your back on those Australians whose only fault is that they're over 35, and that's what they have done. They've decided to give priority to young people. We're all for looking after young people. As a matter of fact, if the government were serious about looking after young people and their future—and basically the future nation—they would not have spent the last seven years simply making it harder and more expensive for young Australians to get to university, and this is what they've done.

This is the same Liberal government that, through relentless attacks on our university sector, has cut $2.2 billion funding from the sector. Let's not forget that it's our universities that we have relied on to provide the many skilled professionals that we now need and are heavily resting on to get us through this pandemic and hopefully have us on the path to developing a suitable vaccination for COVID-19. The Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research, in an area I share with the member for Werriwa, is working very much in conjunction with the Liverpool Hospital, with both Western Sydney University and the University of New South Wales. What they are doing is integral to our region and, indeed, the nation. The universities in our electorates have played a very significant role in promoting the development and growth of our community. As Barney Glover, the vice-chancellor of Western Sydney University said when speaking about his university and its relation to Western Sydney:

… the University is part of its fabric. Alongside one another, the community, business and the University have transformed the region. This has changed the narrative from one of disadvantage, to one of promise.

And what does this government do? It puts the vital work of these universities and our tertiary education into jeopardy. We need to support and develop pathways for young people to be ready for the jobs of the future—basically, to be the future of our country. Whether it's in association with the development of Badgerys Creek airport, the aerotropolis, the Ingham Institute for Applied Medical Research or through the growing needs of our health, it's really clear that our universities not only have been playing but continue to play a very significant role in the areas we have the honour to represent.

Of course, I cannot expect those opposite to fully consider that. After all, they are the same bunch that cut $3 billion out of TAFE and vocational education, something pretty critical if you want skills for the future. And up to the pandemic, want did we see? One hundred and forty thousand less apprentices and trainees. That's not a legacy you want to leave when building a country. Maybe you make some cuts if you want to save money for the next election, but that's not what you do to build a country. And that's why Labor will create the Australian skills guarantee. We've done this before. In that guarantee, we say that one in every 10 workers employed on a worksite receiving major Commonwealth government funding will be an apprentice or a trainee. We did that through the global financial crisis, and that was successful in creating jobs and creating the skills that we needed and are relying on now. We must ensure that Australians have the skills that they need to get the good jobs and that employers have access to well-skilled, well-trained employees. And that, in turn, will stimulate investment in the future.

I would have thought it was common ground that an investment in education is an investment in our future. It's an investment in our nation's prosperity. I've seen what it means for people, for families, in my electorate, and I know their view about education. I have one of the most multicultural communities in the country, and many of those in my community are refugees. They see education as a pathway to change their lives for the better. They see it as a vehicle of opportunity, and that's the way we should see it too.

There was nothing in the budget for families struggling with the cost of child care. We have some of the highest childcare costs in the world. Unfortunately this has resulted in many families now having to choose working for nothing or staying at home, with recent research showing that at least 100,000 families are being locked out of the system because they simply can't afford the cost. This has created a disincentive for the second income earner. On most occasions, that is the woman. The mothers out there are very, very important, but we do actually need people seeking full-time work. We need it for the productivity and the economic growth they deliver to the country. We should not be going out of our way to make it harder for them. This is not only making it harder for families; it's not actually delivering for the nation either.

Why is it that we have a government that has taken such a dim view when dealing with the disability and aged-care sector, two demographics which are overrepresented in my community, mainly because mine is not a wealthy community? In the words of the Treasurer, talking about the budget and the NDIS:

Funding for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) is guaranteed. The Australian Government is providing a further $3.9 billion to the NDIS. This extra funding ensures Australians eligible for the NDIS have access to the supports they need now and into the future.

I would have said, 'Hear, hear,' except I remember what they did in the last budget. In the last budget, the government took $4.6 billion out of the NDIS, not because it wasn't needed by people with special needs and disabilities but to prop up the budget. Talk about rubbery figures!

This pandemic has also exposed the vulnerability of the aged-care sector, where regrettably now more than 680 people have tragically died due to the coronavirus. Despite the royal commission describing the situation facing aged care in the one-word title of its interim report, Neglect, there is nothing in this budget to address the neglect in residential aged care, and the government are simply awaiting the outcomes of the royal commission—a royal commission, by the way, that they were forced into, kicking and screaming.

The other area that the government have failed to invest in is social housing, which we know can be a powerhouse for lifting economic growth and creating jobs. We know this because this is where Labor invested money during the global financial crisis, and we were one of the few countries that came out of that relatively unscathed. The housing crisis has been building for years under this government. While homelessness and housing instability are a very real problem across the country, the situation is certainly dire in my electorate, where there is an overrepresentation of disadvantage, notably where we have a higher refugee population. It is no wonder that my electorate, Fowler, was top for rental stress according to research by the University of New South Wales, which showed that 44 per cent of households in my electorate are living with rental stress.

Australia needs a plan to get through this recession, a vision for the future. We need a government willing not only to protect the community in this pandemic but also to seize the opportunity to rebuild our economy for the future. All we've got from those opposite is $1 trillion of debt and little to show for it—no vision, no infrastructure projects and no reform.

6:24 pm

Photo of Tony PasinTony Pasin (Barker, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Today I rise to speak on a budget that not only will secure the future of my generation, the future of generation Y or the much-maligned millennials but in my view will determine the nature of the economy my daughters, aged 10 and five, will enter when they first become taxpayers. Our government understands that a strong economy works harder in delivering better standards of living for the Australian people than any of us could. It's trite to say we're in unprecedented times, but in unprecedented times you need a government that is focused and acting decisively in the national interest. I think it's fair to say that the measures that we've introduced have been decisive, but they've also been targeted, proportionate and scalable. That's where the genius of the Prime Minister and Treasurer's actions in responding to this global pandemic has been set. There are no overpriced school halls and no pink batts, which were subsidised on the way in and subsidised on the way out and tragically took the lives of too many young Australians. It's a focused, proportionate and scalable response.

As businesses were forced to close due to the restrictions, we introduced a range of measures to stimulate demand to keep as many businesses afloat while we suppressed the virus on the health front. We continue to learn how to live with this virus. This budget will deliver the jobs that we need to rebuild our economy and our country. As a nation we've relied heavily on the private sector's ingenuity, innovation and adaptability. It employs 11.5 million workers, or 80 per cent of the total workforce in Australia. In our budget we're focused on doing all we can to get the economy working again. We're stimulating the private sector, which will always be the backbone of the Australian economy. The measures this budget introduces stimulate the microeconomy, as our government understands the macroeconomic outcome is the sum of the strength of the micro.

Our government's ability to respond to this crisis is due to the strength of the economy before entering into the pandemic-induced recession. Our previous budgets have given us the fiscal firepower to respond. A Liberal government understands that the federal government cannot support the economy indefinitely, which is why 90 per cent of the spending is occurring this year and next. Indefinite subsidy and government interference in the free market lead to losses in productivity and the creation of nanny states. This is not the Australia I want to see, which is why our budget has made these measures temporary for the purposes of getting Australians and Australia back to work. To achieve this, business stimulus has been at the heart of our response to this global pandemic from the start.

With the expanded instant asset write-off scheme businesses will now be able to deduct the full cost of eligible business assets. It's instant asset write-off 3.0 or, as I like to say the electorate, it's an instant asset write-off on steroids. This measure will apply to 99 per cent of businesses and will apply to approximately $200 billion worth of investment. More business investment means more plant and equipment, more tools, more trucks and more of any form of capital—all things that will make Australian businesses more productive.

This measure builds, as I've said, on the capacity of businesses to increase their output in the future, not just to keep the lights on so our economy doesn't fail. It's about ensuring that profitable businesses reinvest in plant and equipment and in their productivity and expand their businesses. It will benefit approximately one million Australian companies. These measures work in conjunction with other measures, including our continued commitment to reducing overbearing red tape. These conditions for businesses to operate are vital, which is why new digital streamlining processes have been included to minimise unnecessary costs.

Another worrying outcome of this recession has been the disproportionate impact on young Australians in the workforce. The possibility of us having a lost generation is one we can't tolerate. Obviously it's a lesson we learnt from the recession we had to have. That's why the JobMaker hiring credit was introduced: to incentivise hiring additional employees aged 16 to 35. Treasury estimates this program will support significant numbers of new positions for young Australians, providing businesses with the right incentive to expand their workforces and, of course, their production capacity simultaneously. Apprenticeships and traineeships are invaluable ways of learning a trade and developing skills for their future career. We're offering a 50 per cent wage subsidy for new apprentices to support businesses that are supporting the future generation of workers. The subsidy will apply to a whopping 100,000 new apprenticeships to the value of up to $7,000 per quarter until 30 September 2021. I speak almost daily to employers who are incredibly excited about the prospect of engaging young apprentices in their future trades.

During this recession, some jobs may be lost forever—that's the reality—which is why incentives to business to hire apprentices and trainees, and employees generally, are vital as we transition the economy to what I like to call 'our now normal'. I'm a bit over the phrase 'the new normal'. Moreover, our government understands how critical it is to the Australian recovery that Australians possess the prerequisite skills and training to succeed in the new market. That's why our government is making more short courses through TAFE free or for a low fee, to ensure workers of tomorrow are prepared for the changing industries of tomorrow. All these measures encourage private investment in the hiring of new workers, but, for these to be successful, we need to increase the demand for our goods and services; otherwise, hiring additional workers is, of course, futile.

Our government is bringing forward stage 2 tax relief, delivering approximately $9 billion this year and $32 billion next year in personal income tax relief. This is income tax relief for 11 million Australians. For low- and middle-income earners, this means they'll receive between $2,745 for individuals and $5,490 for dual-income families, in terms of additional tax relief compared to 2017-18 tax bases. It's estimated these measures would boost GDP by $3.5 billion this year and $9 billion next year. That's more money in our economy to boost the economic activity of our nation. The government can never spend the public's money as well as they can. It's imperative that the public keeps as much of their hard-earned money as possible—I certainly like to, because I want to purchase the goods and services that I prioritise as important to me, rather than those that perhaps others think I should have access to. This measure once again supports our government's focus on creating jobs, with an estimated 50,000 new jobs created by this measure alone.

Deputy Speaker Gillespie, I'd like to speak about the Building Better Regions Fund, which I know is something that you see as important to regional communities, as I do. This fund has $200 million allocated in round 5. I could provide this place with a list of projects that have proceeded in my electorate courtesy of rounds 1 to 4. Suffice to say they are projects that make my electorate, my communities, more liveable and, in achieving that liveability, have delivered very real jobs in construction phases but also in the continuation phases. I look forward to continuing to work with proponents, local governments, sporting organisations and not-for-profit organisations as we develop their applications for round 5 of that program.

Another program in which funding was continued in the budget is the Stronger Communities program. That's not a budget measure that gets a lot of attention. They're small grants that are provided by individual members to their electorates. There are 151 divisions in this place and each of them get access to $150,000 to allocate vis-a-vis small projects. I describe them in the electorate as 'modest but meaningful'. They're modest applications of money from Canberra, but I have to tell you: they're some of the most meaningful funding grants that are provided. Often sporting clubs and community organisations don't have the means to make a BBRF application but do have the in-kind support that means that, under this program, they can match, dollar-for-dollar, grants of between $2,500 and $20,000. They're modest but meaningful.

If I could mention a specific project of great importance to my electorate, the Princes Highway will receive $136 million as part of this budget. This particular piece of the national road network, in my view, was easily the most dangerous section of road in my electorate. I drive 100,000 kilometres a year. I get a fair feel for the roads. I thought it was pretty bad until I took that same route with a truck driver who insisted that I spend three hours in the cab with him. He was a chatty bloke, but there were times in our discussions—I don't mind a yarn—when he asked me to be quiet because he had to concentrate on the road. There were other parts of the road where he had to reduce his speed to 80 kilometres per hour because too often the rear vision mirrors on the truck collide with other rear vision mirrors on other trucks heading in the other direction. I got a whole new perspective on what it meant to improve the safety of that very significant road. We're continuing to invest in bringing it up to the standard that you'd expect.

HomeBuilder: I can't believe the success of this program; or what I should say is that I can't believe that in the middle of a recession induced pandemic I have builders coming to me and saying, 'Tony, we can't accept anymore work. Our books are full, but we have clients literally lining up.' Such is the success of this program. For the benefit of others in this place, it's $25,000 in direct financial support for people that want to build a new home. In South Australia, if you're a first-home buyer, that can be, if you like, $15,000 from the state government in terms of support, plus $25,000 makes it $40,000. A four-bedroom house and land package in my electorate in Mount Gambier can be achieved at about $350,000 to $400,000. We're talking about 10 per cent of someone's first home. Whilst the jobs are fantastic, the third-line outcome here, which is people owning their own home and beginning that home ownership journey, is the real win.

Manufacturing: throughout this pandemic supply chains have been tested. It's become apparent that more must be done to improve our domestic supply chain resilience. Our budget created the Modern Manufacturing Strategy, which will create a new era of Australian manufacturing as part of the JobMaker plan to rebuild our economy, create jobs and support the recovery from the COVID-19 recession. If there is a silver lining to this dark COVID cloud, here it is. It is the fact that the spotlight has been shone on Australia's need to have sovereign manufacturing capacity. As someone who has grown up in a timber town, who understands the importance of those downstream processing jobs to my community and the economy that sits around it, can I say this: we have been net importers of timber into this country for far too long. I'll say it again: we are net importers of timber into this country. At the very same time as we're exporting logs overseas, we're importing product back. Enough is enough. I'm sure the member for Solomon would agree with me—in fact, he has in another place—when I say that Aussie logs should be for Aussie jobs. I feel as though we have come together on this in a way that, when I campaigned to stop the sale of the South Australian forest estate, I stood arm in arm with an organiser from the then CFMEU, now CFMMEU. Some things are just right and should happen.

This is a challenging time. This was a budget for this time. I couldn't have imagined a budget of its nature when I entered the parliament in 2013 or at any point right up to March this year, but I commend it to the House. I congratulate the Treasurer on its design and I look forward to it achieving its outcome going forward.

6:40 pm

Photo of Luke GoslingLuke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As we celebrate Victoria's opening and thank all Victorians for their amazingly selfless effort and sacrifices for the common good, which are an example for us all, we should all look forward to the firing of the great cylinder that is the Victorian economy which will fuel the national recovery. Its reopening will allow Victoria to draw on its impressive trade and investment partnerships with established growth markets in the Indo-Pacific region. It's two-way trade relationship with South-East Asia alone grew by 30 per cent in the last decade to $15.3 billion. Not only for Victoria but for all Australians states and territories and for my beloved Northern Territory, trade and investment will drive a lot of our economic recovery. So that's what I wanted to speak about today in my appropriation bills speech.

Increasing the scale, scope and productivity of manufacturing in Australia is a big focus right now, and rightly so: we all want to see a future made in Australia. But we need to go beyond trite marketing measures like new logos for $10 million. Australia doesn't need a makeover. We don't need another branding exercise. We need an integrated trade and manufacturing strategy that goes well beyond this government's favourite gimmicks of rebranding strategies and its co-opting of celebrities, because we've all seen how that's not gone so well.

There's so much we can build better by building Aussie. There's growing demand for quality, clean and green Aussie-made goods today as much as ever. That's why it's important that, even as we focus on growing our manufacturing sector, we think of manufacturing and trade policy as two legs of the same economic recovery strategy, because the one can fuel growth in the other.

Across the country, necessary measures to suppress the vicious coronavirus pandemic of course slowed or limited trade orientated economic activity in order to save lives. Many farms, factories, office buildings and other export orientated workplaces that build, refine and sell their goods or services to overseas markets were limited or shut for long periods during lockdowns here and abroad. So the slowdown in trade, which is coming to an end, will give a welcome tailwind to our exporters everywhere. As Australians reap that trade dividend, it's an opportunity for the government to do a lot more to foster strategic industries that have high-growth potential, especially in our Indo-Pacific region as it also reopens and rebounds.

For too long, this government has divorced what we build and sell from the nation we build at home. For too long, the government has been happy to let the market decide trade and manufacturing policy without doing the work to diversify and strengthen our economic productivity and resilience to future shocks. It only really woke up to this economic and strategic imperative this year when overlapping economic shocks really kicked us in the teeth as a nation. For too long, the government rejected its responsibility for putting a strategy in place to grow manufacturing and other promising sectors to give Aussies a leg-up as they target growth markets like India and Indonesia. I don't need to remind those listening today, but I will anyway: it was those opposite when Joe Hockey basically goaded the car manufacturing industry to leave this nation. That was no good for our nation. I think a lot of people came to understand that. We need to rebuild that manufacturing sector. For too long, when things have gone wrong, the government has been happy to tell Australian exporters to take responsibility for their risk assessments: 'Just log on to the DFAT website and rake in the practically free dividends from our free trade agreements', for example. We've got new and improved opportunities being negotiated by a government that's the king of spin, with, sadly, very little substance behind it. You can't spin your way out of the atrophying of the manufacturing sector for years under coalition governments, of which, as I mentioned, the disastrous loss of Holden was only the most obvious major mistake in industry policy.

The government has a plan, it now tells us. Well, forgive me and forgive my constituents for greeting cautiously any one of these government rebranding exercises which looks fantastic on paper. During the presser it is fantastic. But, unfortunately, I am concerned it is going to spell more letdowns than deeds and dollars, and deeds and dollars are what Australian industry needs—not to be let down, not to be blamed and not to be knocked back when it needs to have just that from the federal government.

The Labor Party doesn't just have a vision; it has a plan for a future made in Australia—one in which we use our skills, smarts and people in industry to make things here and sell them on a global market. We want to build the high-quality, high-end products of a future economy that we can export in a strategy that diversifies and strengthens our economy over time—high-quality and high-end products of a future economy. Liberal governments have long said we can't build trains here. But what's missing, of course, is a government that (1) believes in manufacturing and (2) has a plan. Our leader has been clear: a Labor government will create a national rail manufacturing plan. Building and exporting go together like a horse and carriage. By better coordinating industry and trade policy, we can ensure that building and buying Australian gets us to a position of trading from strength, not from vulnerability.

Last year the Leader of the Opposition tasked me with leading a new Indo-Pacific trade task force of the Australian Labor Party, and to consult with stakeholders across Australia in business, industry, horticulture—every trade exposed sector in our electorates which cover every part of Australia—and to advise on trade and investment policy. The findings of the Indo-Pacific trade task force will soon be delivered to the leader and our shadow trade minister, Madeleine King, both of whom I thank for their leadership and advice in this process. We didn't need to reinvent the wheel, because of Labor's proud record of driving economic reforms under the Hawke and Keating governments and because of the deepening of Australia's integration into the Indo-Pacific region that we did under the Rudd and Gillard governments.

Labor has used trade to make Australia a fairer, wealthier, more decent and stronger nation. Labor's vision is one which recognises that trade isn't just a lever we pull in the hope it will make us richer, or deregulating to such an extent that we expose Australian workers and businesses to an economic rollercoaster without a seatbelt. No; Australia needs open trade and we still need market access to our important trading partners, even as we pivot over the medium term to new growth markets to spread out our risks. We should always remember the dark days of protectionism under conservative governments that imposed on Australia a handbrake that only limited us.

Labor believes in balancing international trade exposure with resilience to look after both our workers and the general population. There is no argument that this can be done, because we have done it. We will always uphold our values about making Australia fairer as we make it wealthier. These are not either/or values, and anyone who argues this is at odds with the hard facts on the historical record. These values shine through in Anthony Albanese's, the member for Grayndler's, vision statements and in our party's vision for Australia. You have to look very closely or maybe squint from afar to find any trace of vision in this government—and anyone who finds vision there should maybe see an optometrist! To paraphrase former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt—and I know that the member for Goldstein, in places he doesn't talk about at parties, knows that the government that he is a member of is bereft of vision. But, beyond vision, we have our eyes on the prize, which is growth in the economic productivity of our exporters in manufacturing, agriculture and other growth industries.

The Northern Territory is brimming with opportunities in sectors for which there is a resurgence of demand domestically and overseas, even as we speak. More than a new logo, what Northern Territory businesses need is some support to grow to their full potential in accessing markets. We don't need new funding sources or policies to do this. That funding could come from the $5 billion NAIF, of which about $40 million was spent last time I checked.

The NT is easy to stereotype. Everyone knows that we farm barramundi, we run cattle and we grow mangoes. Just ask some of my colleagues, from both sides of the House, who received some of the Top End's juiciest Kensington Prides last week. We were once famous for the dubious fashion stylings of Crocodile Dundee, with his leather vest and croc tooth accessories. I note that I am donning—not as a prop—a crocodile leather jacket.

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Go on; take it off!

Photo of Luke GoslingLuke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Member for Goldstein, I'll be keeping the jacket on! The point is that there are some great products that come from the Northern Territory. Some of you may not know this, but even the European fashion houses of Louis Vuitton and Hermes farm our crocodiles for their high-quality skin, to be used in high-end handbags, shoes and belts worth tens of thousands of dollars. My little beauty here that I am wearing today is not worth that much—but, if you are ever in the Northern Territory, pick up a crocodile skin belt. You will never wear anything else again.

I also want to point out—and, again, some members may not know this—that the Territory is home to an industrial hemp industry. The NT Labor government has awarded its first commercial licence. The first crop will open the doors for new jobs, manufacturing and export opportunities. Hemp is so versatile and profitable. It is used for food, fibre, oil, seed and potentially stockfeed, and it is used in the manufacturing of products like cosmetics, clothing, rope and other building materials. The Northern Territory has a competitive advantage when it comes to growing hemp because we produce a dry season seed crop over winter which can be supplied to the rest of Australia for summer planting.

About a fifth of all Asian vegetables that are grown in Australia are grown in the Top End. That includes bok choy, Asian eggplant, cabbage, bitter lemon, bitter melon, lemongrass, choy sum, galangal and chillies. We've been in a position to feed Asia for years. Not only do we have the capacity but the loyal crowds at our local growers markets on weekends will tell you that we're growing some of the tastiest produce in the country. We are growing table grapes in Alice Springs, in the member for Lingiari's electorate—and we've got black-lip oysters in West Arnhem Land. We are supplying the Middle East with dates. We're the largest Southern Hemisphere grower of spirulina—which often ends up in green smoothies in hip Sydney and inner-city Melbourne cafes.

The cotton and gas manufacturing industries are soon to take off, creating thousands of local jobs. I fully support the need to foster Aussie industries, but let's do it with deeds as well as words. And, by deeds, I mean money—moula, cashola.

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The green stuff.

Photo of Luke GoslingLuke Gosling (Solomon, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The green stuff. Without it, industry policy isn't worth the ecofriendly and sustainable hemp paper it was printed on—which would be another great use of the Territory's hemp.

While we are on the subject of money, let's talk about the value of our arts industry. The Northern Territory is one of the most creative regions in Australia. We are a major cultural drawcard for international visitors. We have a 60,000 year history of Aboriginal art, song and dance. We are home to internationally renowned musicians, and you know the names: Yothu Yindi, Baker Boy, Jessica Mauboy. Our artists exhibit all over the world to great acclaim and clean up at the nation's top art prizes. Our artists tell stories about who we are. They provide us with entertainment—yes, some food for thought—and they helped us survive the lockdown. Importantly, they also speak to who we are. I would have liked to have seen more support from the federal government for the creative industries. They were excluded from JobSeeker. They have not been as supported as much as they should have been, but they are an important industry in our nation.

6:55 pm

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's wonderful to follow the member in his contribution to this debate. There are many things, obviously, that are grown in the Northern Territory in addition to the extractive industries, including the arts, but critically it seems that the Northern Territory have become expert in the development of the aphrodisiac sector with some of the products that they are creating, and we celebrate their achievement and contribution to the country. In the end, I'm looking forward to the member bringing down trays of Kensington pride mangoes that we can all enjoy in this parliament. It is a product that I enjoy, as I am sure many other members do as well.

Unfortunately, there has been some misinformation included in the member's speech, particularly around the claimed absence of a contribution from the Morrison government to sectors like the arts and cultural sectors, none of which were excluded from the JobKeeper subsidy. But, if it makes him feel better to mislead the parliament, that's his choice. In the end, the only one sector that was excluded from the JobKeeper subsidy was the banks. The banks were the ones who were excluded. In fact, if you're in the arts or cultural sector and you're employed by an employer, you are entitled to access JobKeeper in exactly the same way as everybody else. But the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance and the unions went around and deliberately misinformed the cultural sector about the application of JobKeeper to insert their relevance, to give the Labor Party something to rail against without actually understanding the practical solution. In fact, what we did is we made sure that we provided assistance not just through the JobKeeper subsidy but through all of the additional support, through the JobSeeker regime to make sure that—

Mr Gosling interjecting

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Goldstein has the call. You're being disruptive, Member for Solomon. Could you please sit down, or are you raising a point of order? No. The member for Goldstein.

Photo of Tim WilsonTim Wilson (Goldstein, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Solomon is not raising a point of order; he's just going on a bit of a gallivant and a bit of a rant, and that's okay. He is entitled to do so. I believe in free society and I believe in free speech and I am not from time to time without the capacity to make an occasional contribution to another member's speech as well!

In the end, we made sure not just that JobKeeper supported those people who are employed but that additional support was provided to those who needed to rely on JobSeeker through a critical time. In many cases, many people found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own, and there was a near parity between the two when you factored in the different components of tax and everything else and, of course, the other supplements that went with them. And that is what this government has been able to do at every stage throughout the COVID-19 recession. We were able to do that because of the prudence, because of the sense of responsibility that we took not in the rainy days but in the days leading up to the pandemic when the sun was shining. We looked at the challenges facing our country and said, 'It is important to be prudent and it is important to be responsible,' because we are only the custodians of taxpayers' money. And our objective has been to balance the budget—and we did—so that we could put ourselves in the best position should a rainy day come. And, Deputy Speaker, a rainy day tragically did come. You know it. I know it. Even the members of the opposition know it. So to question how we went into this crisis, Australia went into this crisis better than most for a number of reasons.

On the health front, the biggest public health measure taken throughout this whole pandemic was the one introduced by the Commonwealth in closing our international borders and introducing a quarantine scheme for Australians arriving or returning home and, of course, for those from overseas seeking to get into our country. We're not alone in that. Ask New Zealand. Obviously, being in a comparative position, surrounded by ocean, has enabled us to keep the virus out. In fact, we've only had two big incidents of the virus penetrating that border. The first, of course, was the Ruby Princess in New South Wales, sadly because of failures at the New South Wales end, and of course the horrible consequences of the hotel quarantine scheme in Victoria, which has led to a mass outbreak in the great state and the lockdown of it for many months, which has had a ruinous impact on people's lives and livelihoods. We can all go on a long discussion about who's responsible and whatever else. As the Treasurer correctly said in parliament today, that is a matter that is being investigated by an inquiry and we expect that inquiry to fulfil its full duty, its full responsibility, and ask every question to make sure that we get to the bottom of it and make sure these failings aren't repeated again, and make sure that Victorians and Australians can have confidence in the security of their borders should we have further waves of this virus.

I know, like many Victorians, how difficult this time has been. The lockdown has been punishing for so many people through no fault of their own. The Treasurer was right today: getting case numbers down in Victoria is the victory of the Victorian people and no-one else. Now we have a policy framework which seems to have been built, finally, on trusting and respecting Victorians to do the right thing and not on implementing punitive measures when people should be trusted and respected. But, at every stage throughout this crisis, the Commonwealth has had Victorians' backs. We have provided every bit of assistance we can, on the health front, on the economic front, on the household front, on the individual front and on the mental health front. Wherever it has been, we have stood shoulder to shoulder, side by side with the great state to make sure that they can get through this stage. Now we pray and hope we are in the rebuilding stage as much as the rest of the country has been for many months.

This budget, under the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, is focused clearly on helping our great nation rebuild itself and build a sustainable footing, not just resuscitating the economy of the 20th century but building the future of the Australian economy for the 21st century, so that the investment we make delivers the return and that we can have the jobs that Australians need today, tomorrow and into the future. In doing so, we have also cast an eye on making sure the measures we introduce are temporary, though necessary, and that we target the budget so that we can head it back to a trajectory of prudence and responsibility, because that's what Liberal governments do. We take your money seriously. It is not our money; it comes from the hip pockets of Australians. Every time we take a dollar from the hip pocket of an Australian who's trying to get on with their life, it is only because we see an advantage in how we can spend it collectively to the improvement of their welfare and the interests and the security of the nation. Any dollar more than that is an indulgence of the hubris of members in this place and in the other place, because it says, 'We know more than you'—and we don't—'We have a better understanding about the challenges facing your kitchen table than you do.' That can only come from a position of arrogance. That is why Labor budgets always seek to raid the hip pockets of Australians in the way that Liberal and National governments do not. They carry the arrogance of thinking they know best. They carry the arrogance of thinking that they can run households better than people can themselves—without the information, without the proximity, without the localised context. It's not just the households: it's citizens' lives, communities' lives and the foundation of our great country that they're ignoring.

Our focus in this budget is clear: what do we need to do to get Australians back into jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs? We do so not for some sort of esoteric reason. We do so because we know that jobs are the foundation of people's dignity, their independence, their capacity to be able to live out their lives and their ambitions, realise their dreams and support themselves and their families. If we had a nation of 25 or 26 million people who could all stand on their own two feet and be independent, that is a better nation than the alternative of empowering 600,000 bureaucrats in this city. If you don't think that, I don't know, frankly, what members are doing here. We are elected to represent people and to empower them. That's what my focus is every day as the member for Goldstein: what do we need to do to provide assistance and enable people to live out their best selves?

In Goldstein, in the budget alone, we provided 75,700 taxpayers with relief this year so they could support themselves and their families. We made sure there was new investment through business cashflow. The government is providing a temporary tax incentive that will allow 25,300 innovators in business to write off the full value of any eligible assets so they can bring cashflow forward and be in a position, not just to help their business, but to go on and employ more others, to build confidence and the strength of the economy of the nation.

We provided 8,100 businesses in Goldstein with JobKeeper to carry them through this period. The cashflow boost has helped 5,800 small and medium businesses, and 5,300 Goldstein residents have received the JobSeeker supplement to carry them through this period too. We have also provided assistance to 10,957 pensioners in the community. One of the first measures we took in the pandemic was to reduce the drawdown rate of self-funded retirees so they are able to conserve more of their capital while the market rebalanced—because we get that, no matter what stage of life you're at, you need an income and you need surety and confidence.

The rebuild is where our focus now is. It's about what we need to do to deliver jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs. That's why a critical part of this budget is focused strategically on making sure that those young Australians who are in temporary work, who have found themselves unemployed, who had their careers interrupted or are on the pathway of going into the workplace—we're going to provide assistance directly to those businesses to encourage them to employ young people. We do not want a lost generation. We do not want young Australians growing up in a country where they don't think that their ambitions and their dreams can be realised. We want them to get a job so they can go on and form their own success: have a family, buy a house, contribute towards the success of the nation and be in a position to retire with dignity and confidence.

This COVID-19 recession can be a moment that can destroy lives, or it can be one that provides us with an opportunity to build them. We're focused on the building, and we should be focused on the building. That's why there's so much investment and skills: to make sure that if people need to restructure their lives or their employment or professional arrangements, they can do so, so they're not exposed to risks unnecessarily. But, critically, we also understand that there are many people who aren't young who have faced adversity because of this pandemic. Support for mature workers, in encouraging them to be re-employed because of their skills, their knowledge and their capacity, should be valued by employers. They shouldn't be set back, as well.

At every stage throughout this pandemic, the Morrison government has had Australians' backs. Critically for the great state of Victoria, at this difficult time and over recent months, we have had their back. Now is the time for the nation to be able to stand up. As the member for Solomon, to his credit, said: we need the great state of Victoria and its economy to rev up, to be part of the powerhouse, the engine, of the economy of the nation. That is what this budget is about.

7:10 pm

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make my contribution to the debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021 and related bills. Budgets are about making choices, whether it's family finances, the budgets of corporations and small businesses or those of governments. This government again has made choices, deliberate choices, which do little to assist the people of Werriwa. In fact, they have the potential to do real harm. If, like one of my constituents who contacted me last week, you're in your early 60s and have been made redundant and you have little hope of getting another job, you'll limp towards the pension age of 67. This man is a proud, hardworking Australian who thought he'd done the right things, followed the advice and planned his future finances. He now finds himself staggering towards the age pension, with the only viable option selling his house to keep his head above water. I note the Prime Minister's words in this place: 'If you're good at your job, you'll get a job.' Well, I invite the Prime Minister out to Werriwa, not for one of the sheltered photo ops at Western Sydney Airport but to tell this hardworking Australian, to his face, that the reason he faces financial ruin is that he's no good at his job. I also invite him to speak with another constituent of mine. She's in her mid-30s, with three kids and a mortgage. She was let go from her job in April and has been applying for dozens of vacancies ever since, with no success. These are but two stories from my electorate. There are thousands more.

The budget was an opportunity to pull Australia out of its first recession in 30 years, the worst downturn in close to a century. But the decisions made by this government will see some of our best and brightest, with plenty still to contribute, left behind. It will see our most vulnerable thrown on the scrap heap and it will see the opportunity that lies hidden in this once-in-a-century crisis slip away. This federal budget was an opportunity to steer Australia towards a fairer, more prosperous future, a chance to learn the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic—that there are forces beyond the cut and thrust of politics, forces that will not be bent to the will of the 24-hour news cycle. This virus has showed us up and has exposed our weaknesses. In doing so, it has challenged us to do better—be a better society, a better nation, a better planet. Global supply chains have been smashed, entire industries shut down overnight, society and culture turned upside down in a matter of days. The budget was a unique opportunity to tackle these historic setbacks. It was a chance to revive local manufacturing; fix child care, aged care and social housing; invest in technology research and health to ensure we are better prepared next time; and promote and incentivise the best parts of community building and human nature that we've seen over the last seven months.

By all measures, this government has failed and failed miserably. Decisions taken by the government will see this recession become deeper and longer than it needs to be. The government's major contribution to fixing unemployment is the JobMaker hiring credit. The program hopes to give businesses the incentive to take on new employees, but it is limited only to people aged 16 to 35, and, as I explained earlier, getting a job over the age of 35 can be difficult, and, for those over 60, it's near impossible. There are 900,000 people aged over 35 currently on unemployment benefits. There must be safeguards for all Australians. Regardless of those this is intended to assist, it's merely a short-term fix.

Like investment in education and health, investment in social housing is a long-term investment in Australia's future. It's also an investment right now in our tradies. It would create thousands of jobs for brickies, electricians and carpenters. As we saw during the GFC, every dollar spent in construction will flow through to the rest of the economy several times over. Labor's social-housing plan will invest half a billion dollars to fast-track urgent repairs in social housing. But, like so many other urgent crises facing this nation, the government continues to ignore the problem of housing and homelessness in Australia. Shamefully, the budget does not include a single dollar for social housing while 100,000 homes, or 25 per cent of Australia's social housing, need urgent repair and maintenance. Some of these homes are unfit for human habitation. They have severe problems like mould, leaking roofs and water damage. Meaningful investment in social housing would provide a win-win. It would generate work for local tradies and fix the many homes that need to be fixed.

Housing is a human right, yet too many Australians experience rental stress, overcrowding, couch surfing and sleeping rough. In my community there is a 20-year wait for social housing. During the GFC, the Labor government kept the nation out of recession by providing $5 billion towards 20,000 new social-housing dwellings, and repairing 80,000 others. Social housing provides a roof over people's heads and much needed work for our tradies and builders. It also gives people dignity, improves the educational opportunities of their children, and helps them find jobs and stay in jobs. This pandemic has emphasised the need for everyone to have proper access to housing. You cannot stay at home if you don't have one. My family benefited from social-housing policies of the late 1950s, policies that allowed my parents to buy the house I still call home. My life would have been far different without this certainty of secure housing. This budget was an opportunity to give that chance to a new generation of working Australian families, and the government has failed.

One of the hardest hit demographics during the pandemic has been women. Women have been hit hard because they are often in insecure part-time or casual roles, which were the first to disappear this year. Women are also more likely to be employed in those frontline essential worker positions. They account for 87 per cent of registered nurses and midwives, 87 per cent of aged-care workers, 96 per cent of early-childhood educators and 60 per cent of retail workers. The women working on the frontline have carried Australia through COVID-19, and have been thanked by experiencing the brunt of the adverse economic and social implications of the crisis.

I recently met with aged-care workers, cooks, kitchen hands and cleaners. These workers were not eligible for the aged-care retention bonus, but were still critical parts of the aged-care facilities they worked for. To ensure they don't get sick they have, for the best part of nine months, kept away from family and friends who they don't live with, and strictly limited their retail shopping to essential shopping only. Why do they do this? Because they think of the residents in their facilities as their families, and when families were not allowed to visit, they felt as if they should provide much needed support. They don't mind that this has happened, but it is unfair that, unlike others in this sector, they weren't entitled to the retention bonus.

This budget has failed to produce a meaningful plan to make sure women don't go backwards as a result of the pandemic. The Morrison government is racking up $1.1 trillion of debt, but the Women's Economic Security Statement contains just $240 million in spending promises over five years, without a plan to improve the participation of women in the workforce. The budget contains nothing to address the significant job losses in industries dominated by females.

The member for Bruce recently said that the response to the pandemic has been outsourced by the government. The number of people who felt the need to take money out of their superannuation funds just to survive is criminal, and this is because the government was slow to put in the help they needed and quick to wind it back. Accessing your superannuation when you are a woman with, on average, a 14 per cent pay gap compared to your male counterparts means an already difficult retirement becomes harder.

There is nothing new for domestic and family violence services. Unfortunately, in the last few weeks in Sydney more women's lives have been lost at the hands of current or former intimate partners. Without proper investment in options for housing, financial security and policing, and with relationships under increasing stress, I fear that we are destined to continue to simply send our condolences instead of keeping women and children safe.

Werriwa is the home of Western Sydney airport, a significant infrastructure project that, along with the development of the Aerotropolis, is destined to provide significant jobs and opportunities for people of south-west Sydney. But this opportunity will only be realised if the projects are well-managed. The ANAO report advising the federal government paid $30 million for a parcel of land not needed until 2065 and valued at $3 million is, to put it bluntly, appalling. As the Member for Werriwa, the home of the Western Sydney airport, it's also heartbreaking. That $26 million in additional taxpayers' money has a significant opportunity cost for my community. Here's a list of badly needed yet still unfunded projects in Werriwa that could have been funded with this gross overspend: $5 million for the upgrade of Middleton Drive to provide a second access into and out of Middleton Grange, easing the significant gridlock that residents face each and every morning and afternoon; $9 million for much needed improvements to parks and playing fields, upgrades to canteens, car parks and playing facilities at Amalfi park, Ash Road, Bill Anderson Park, Blamfield Oval, Hoxton Park reserve, Landa Park, Ron Darcy Oval and Winnall Reserve; upgrade for the lift at Macquarie Fields; and an upgrade at Cambridge Avenue so that the smallest rainfall event doesn't send significant traffic on a 25-minute detour.

The south-west of Sydney is one of the key growth areas in Australia and is on the cusp of realising its economic and cultural potential. It's critically important to the success of Western Sydney airport and the Aerotropolis that world-class transport links are built and built now. The south-west rail line extension from Leppington through to Western Sydney airport provides the quickest and most cost-effective solution. The land corridor is already preserved and would easily and quickly connect the airport to Liverpool, Campbelltown and the rest of Sydney via the existing rail network and also connect, more importantly, to Kingsford Smith airport. The project is sadly missing from the failure of a budget.

Universities have been left out by this government. Before the COVID shutdown, education was Australia's third-largest export industry, yet the Morrison government have provided very little in the way of support to this important sector, a sector that not only employs hundreds of thousands and brings in millions in export dollars but leads the world in research—research like finding a vaccine for COVID-19. And how is this sector rewarded? It's excluded from JobKeeper and, of course, just last week, an astronomical increase to the fees for humanities degrees. The decimation of the higher education sector is criminal. The loss of talented educators, researchers and students from the sector will be long felt—talented people from a range of disciplines that we will need to tackle our present and future challenges, disciplines like epidemiology. I wonder if it would be different if academics wore hardhats

A common word used to describe the last seven months has been unprecedented. However, that's not to say we didn't see something like this coming. Over the last century, we know there has been the potential for what is happening with COVID-19 now. There was the Spanish flu at the end of the First World War, and in recent memory there has been SARS, MERS, swine flu and Ebola. That's why a future Labor government has committed to establish an Australian centre for disease control. Our health, our lives and our economy all depend on us getting our response to pandemics right. It is a sad indictment of seven years of coalition government there's been no preparedness training since 2012. Medical stockpiles were so rundown at the beginning of the pandemic there were not enough masks for critical workers and a limited supply of gloves, and, worse still, most of these things are imported. I pay tribute and thank all Australian small businesses who leapt to the cause and pivoted their operations to produce respirators, masks, gloves and sanitiser. The Leader of the Opposition said it best during the budget reply:

creating jobs for today, and training our people for tomorrow; making quality child care a right for all, not a luxury for some; rebuilding our manufacturing sector; and powering our recovery with clean energy.

This budget was an opportunity to deliver on these things, and the government has failed.

7:24 pm

Photo of Rowan RamseyRowan Ramsey (Grey, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The 2020-21 federal budget is totally focused on getting Australians back to work. It will provide a huge boost right across the nation and certainly it will do so in the electorate of Grey. I'm very grateful for the investments that are being made there. It's an extraordinary budget for extraordinary times.

The government is backing business to reignite the prospects of Australians. It is supporting businesses through the crisis with the JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments to individuals who have found themselves out of work. We've continued to support them. We're using taxpayer funds now as a lever to bring on investment and expansion from the private sector, and it's working. We hear today that consumer confidence in the nation is back to the level it was in March. It has lifted 11 per cent since the budget. That's a record. In fact, 2,000 jobs a day are being created around the nation, if you exclude Victoria. It is a net 800, but it's 2,000 a day around the rest of the nation. We dearly hope that Victoria now will join that rush and reverse the situation that has been happening there.

I expect various groups in my electorate will show great interest in the 50 per cent subsidy for new apprentices. We will be looking for people with trade skills in the electorate of Grey. We already have a number of businesses that require them, so the sooner the better. There will be great interest in the $4 billion JobMaker program to support youth unemployment. For people under the age of 30 there's a $200 a week subsidy and for those aged between 30 and 35 there will be $100 a week. I expect a number of jobs will be created in workplaces around both of those schemes.

With the instant asset write-off for business there will be some plant and machinery sold around the electorate. I understand that if you haven't made a profit it's not much of a hook, but plenty of places around have. Perhaps agricultural businesses are expecting a good year this year. They might well look at the opportunity to do that. Some of our manufacturing businesses will be doing the same.

The tax cuts dating back to 1 July will put more money into consumers' pockets and increase confidence again. The carry-back loss mechanisms for business are very important, particularly for those that have been smashed in the last eight or nine months because of COVID. They have paid taxes previously and have all of a sudden found themselves in a net loss position. They will be able to claw back some of the taxes that they paid last year. All of those things will excite business. They will join the rush around Australia to grow the economy and pass the levels we were at before.

The budget is funding a lot of important local infrastructure. Certainly in Grey we have not been passed by. There are incentives for people to invest in people and equipment. In May last year during the election campaign I was given the honour and privilege of announcing a $64 million commitment to begin the dual-laneing—I think I just turned a noun into a verb—of the Augusta Highway north of Port Wakefield. It is 200 kilometres to Port Augusta. It won't get all the way. There's $64 million on the table and there will be another $16 million from the state. It is an $80 million project. I sat down with the department of transport and industry in Adelaide a couple of weeks ago to talk about the advance planning process that they are getting underway at the moment. Boy, we're looking forward to that. It is a busy road that is becoming busier on the back of the resources growth in South Australia.

There's a special one for Rowan Ramsey. I'm pretty about happy about this. I've been doing some blogging on this. There's $100 million to seal the Strzelecki Track. This is a really big one. This is the route that goes from Lyndhurst, which is south of Marree, directly to Queensland. It goes through Innamincka up along the Cooper and to Burke's dig tree. It's sealed all the way from the South Australian border to Brisbane, but it's 50 per cent further than it is to Adelaide.

South Australia has lost a lot of the supply contracts to the Cooper Basin because the 372 kilometres to the turn-off at Gidgealpa takes 16 hours in a road train. That gives you some idea. I was talking to a truckie who was working up there the other day doing some roadworks. He had five trucks there. He is one of the best operators in the state with really good gear. He said, 'It's smashing my truck to bits.' That's why it's being avoided.

It will become one of the great tourist routes of Australia because you'll be able to drive down from Queensland to Cooper Creek and go out to Coongie Lakes, or vice versa. If you come 400 kilometres further south, you have a choice at the T-intersection to go to Lake Eyre or to the Flinders Ranges. It is going to provide a lot of opportunities. There will be a lot of excitement. People don't pull caravans down it now, unless they're a licensed welder. So that will be happening.

Councils are getting a $13 million boost through the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program. I have 27 councils in Grey, plus a number of Indigenous councils. There's $5 million as well for the department of transport. I'm just getting warmed up, but I know you'll let me come back tomorrow, Mr Deputy Speaker.

Photo of Llew O'BrienLlew O'Brien (Wide Bay, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Order! It being 7.30 pm, the debate is interrupted. The debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order of the day for the next sitting. The member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed on a future day.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 19:30