Thursday, 12 November 2020
Matters of Public Importance
I have received a letter from the honourable member for Chifley proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:
How the Government's failure to deliver on its announcements is harming everyday Australians.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.
More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—
At the outset, I just want to say that it is always an honour to be an MP in this place. It's something I'm very grateful for, and I'm also very grateful for the chance to be able to serve on the front bench. I just wanted to publicly record my gratitude to my colleagues, to the leader: thank you very much for this opportunity. I also wanted to record my enormous gratitude for the attention I have received from the National Party. Two days in the job, and so much love—a lot of attention! In fact, some of it has been quite extraordinary. You might be interested to know that our friends from the National Party, particularly in New South Wales, reached for the ventilator, the 'hyperventilator', and put out a media statement that says 'Labor picks inner-city MP as ag spokesman'.
I am very proud, friends, to represent the area of Mount Druitt. This 'inner-city' area is 50-plus kilometres away from the central business district of Sydney. Instead of reaching for hyperventilation, maybe if they'd reached for Google Maps it might've helped! I noted that our good friend the member for Kooyong, the Treasurer, also wanted to get in on the act. He picked out the fact that I was from an area that, he said, didn't have a sheep station. This is the member for Kooyong who, at one stage, was the minister for Northern Australia! I never knew that they stabled the colt from Kooyong in that northern Australian area known as Melbourne! But I'm very grateful for his attention as well.
I'll tell you what else I'm very grateful for as the shadow minister for agriculture. I follow in the footsteps, absolutely, of people like the member for Hunter, but I also, importantly, on the Labor side, follow in the footsteps of giants like John Kerin, the member for Werriwa, or the then member for Hotham Simon Crean, who was a minister for agriculture. These were people who cared deeply about the regions, and they cared deeply about agriculture. And, importantly, they didn't always think they were the smartest person in the room. They listened; they learned; they stood up. I want to acknowledge another person in the New South Wales state government who was also recognised as an extraordinary spokesperson for agriculture, and that was Richard Amery, who represented the seat of Mount Druitt! He did the same thing. They all cared.
The Deputy Prime Minister gave me a bit of attention too, quoting my critically acclaimed speech—critically acclaimed by myself!—for the Eddie Graham lecture. As to all this attention about a suburban based person having the temerity to think they're able to represent the regions, it's easier to focus on that than to focus on this: I acknowledge, firstly, that there are a lot of people who support the Nationals in those rural areas. But the question you've got to ask is: do the Nationals support those people back? Do they support them back when they need that support? This is the track record of Nationals representation in this place. The worst unemployment hotspots in the country are in Nationals seats. This is the stuff that the Deputy Prime Minister didn't quote into Hansard yesterday from that very speech. The worst health records and life expectancy in the country are in Nationals seats. Nineteen of the 20 electorates in the country with the highest life expectancy are Liberal. However, every single Nationals seat in Australia has a life expectancy in the bottom third of all electorates. They promised for ages they'd build a dam, and they haven't built damn one—pardon the French! Not one! And there's the Northern Australia Infrastructure Facility that, in five years, had—in the words of the leader—no actual infrastructure fund.
We need to ensure that, in the regions, there is delivery. These are the everyday Australians who are relying upon delivery by this government and are always let down. It's comical, in part, when you don't deliver, but, when you seriously just keep making those announcements and don't deliver, it's disrespectful. You're treating as fools the people who depend on you, who turn up and say: 'We're hurting. We're going through a bushfire. We're going through a drought. Have you got a plan?' And the Nationals and the government say: 'No.' 'Have you got money that we could actually use today to make our lives easier?' 'Well, no.' 'So what have you got for us?' 'A media release; an announcement.' There's one after another with these people. They continually say that they've got something in the pipeline, but they never deliver. They just want to be able to rattle it off.
Look, for example, at the Morrison government. They supported the National Farmers Federation's ambition to grow farm-gate output to $100 billion by 2030. In July 2019 at the Dubbo Bush Summit, the Prime Minister did what he does best—he makes all these big promises; he doesn't follow through—claiming: 'That's why, today, I'm announcing the agriculture minister, Bridget McKenzie, will draw together a national plan to enable agriculture, fisheries and forestry to become $100 billion.' That all means one thing: jobs. Despite the PM having committed to the 2030 road map in 2018, they haven't developed a comprehensive plan.
On 26 October 2018 at the drought summit, they announced the government's plan for the drought, a $5 billion Future Drought Fund off in the never-never. We're two years on from that. How much has been delivered for people who suffered through the drought? Nothing.
An opposition member: A doughnut!
Absolutely, a doughnut—an elusive fund, with nothing delivered. The agriculture minister loves to announce, for example, that he wants to see new ideas, smarter thinking and application with these research and development councils that he has for regional and rural Australia. He's commissioned reports. He's had inquiries into the RDCs. We've had reports, we've had reviews into the reports and then we've had new reports into those reports. I have to say he has had some success. The crop that is flourishing most under the minister for agriculture's watch is consultants' invoices. I don't know if there's a Latin name for them, such as 'consultantus invoiceus'. I don't know what it is, but that's the only thing he's been able to deliver.
An opposition member interjecting—
Actually, I should have used that! The only thing he's been able to deliver is consultant reports, but there is nothing there for when people need it.
On biosecurity, they have let the nation down. They said they'd look after us through the pandemic. What happened with the Ruby Princess under the minister for agriculture's watch? When he was asked about how to deal with it, what did he say? He said that the biosecurity area of the department of agriculture isn't responsible for human health. Really? The department of agriculture, responsible for food and so many other things, is not responsible for human health? He doesn't even know his own act.
They do not have an ability to follow through on their announcements. How many things have we seen? One Minister for Agriculture, the former Minister for Sport, made all these promises about what they would do with sports funds, and the only thing they delivered is that they skewed them to electorates, and she lost her job. The Prime Minister said, back in January when the heat was on, that he would deliver for all those communities. Remember all those community groups that put that effort in. They applied for those grants. In good faith they expected that money. They wanted that support, and they were let down, because they were never going to get the support at all, because the fix was in. It was always going to see money go to the government's mates and to those areas where they were chasing the votes. They said they would fix it up by coming up in this year's budget with something. They made an announcement at the Press Club. And what's happened now? They didn't deliver. They are constantly promising on one hand and not delivering on the other.
They are talking about all this money they'll spend on infrastructure. In fact, I got the Deputy Prime Minister to name a suburb in one of his responses this week. It was the first time he acknowledged Marsden Park, which I've been trying to get infrastructure for. At least he has finally acknowledged it now. But he's a minister who doesn't deliver. Last year, there was a $1.7 billion underspend in infrastructure, with all the needs that we have for infrastructure plus jobs. When you count it out over six years, they have underspent by over $1 billion every single year. But they always spend on the ad campaign. As I said before, in part it is comical, but it is downright disrespectful when there's a big difference between the announcement and the delivery, and that's absolutely what they should stand condemned for.
I start by acknowledging the member for Chifley and congratulating him on his promotion to shadow minister for agriculture, which is an exceptionally important ministry, but I'll correct him on a few things. I'm sure you'll agree with me, Deputy Speaker, that, when you live in greater Sydney, you may think that 50 kilometres is not inner Sydney, but, when you live in regional or remote Australia, you know 50 kilometres from Sydney is certainly inner city.
We're talking here today about the delivery of the government, and I've got so much to talk about that I know 10 minutes won't be enough, so, if anyone's happy to move an extension at the end, I'll certainly take it. I want to touch on a few national things that we have focused on over many years and are focusing on right now and continuing to deliver on, because we know it's important for the growth of our economy and, if it's about the growth of our economy, it's going to be about the growth of jobs and the delivery of infrastructure and a whole lot of other areas.
The first one I want to talk about is tax cuts. What we started speaking about as soon as we got elected to government back in 2013 was lowering taxes both for business—small business and big business—and for households. Why do we believe that? We believe that because we know, especially with company taxes, this is a competitive world. Wouldn't it be good if we could all take our bat and go home? But small businesses and large businesses have a lot of choice with globalisation about where they set up and where they conduct their workforce and their operations. So we have lowered company tax rates, especially for small businesses, from 30 per cent to 25 per cent. We believe in that; we know that. It used to be bipartisan. The governments of Hawke and Keating understood this. They lowered company tax rates as well back then. Unfortunately it's not a bipartisan agreement now, but we know that, which is why we've done that for small business. We wished to do it for large business, but we couldn't get it through. But it's also with personal income tax. Especially now, in an economy that is challenged, we know that lowering taxes means that people have more of their own money to spend, and we know that is a healthy thing. Whereas, obviously, on the other side, they always believe they know where to spend your money better than you do.
The other thing that's really important to me—and I know the member for Chifley will be really interested in this, as the new shadow minister for agriculture; I'm sure it's important to you as well, Deputy Speaker Llew O'Brien, and especially for an area that represents the regions—is free trade agreements. The great thing about the regions is that we are the exporting powerhouses. The member for Paterson would agree with me as well, being a regional MP: we are the exporting powerhouses of our country. In the agricultural sector in my own area, it's things like blueberries and macadamias. But, in my area, it's especially value-added meat processors. Over a thousand people work in my local meat processor. Seventy per cent of what they process is exported. So the free trade agreements that this government has negotiated—and there's been a heap of them: Indonesia, Hong Kong, Peru, Japan, Korea, the TPP-11. Again, the other side, at some stage, said they weren't worth going through with or didn't want to go through with them, but we persevered with all of those. That's because any market that we can get for our exporters is good for our economy, our country and jobs. This government has a proud record in the area of free trade agreements and lowering taxes.
But the area I want to focus on is infrastructure. Infrastructure is exceptionally important. I think this government is going to be known for three or four things. Besides free trade, besides tax, one of them is certainly going to be the infrastructure delivery that we have done over many years. You might indulge me, Deputy Speaker, because I'm going to focus on my local area—what I know and what has happened in my community, locally, with the delivery of infrastructure, and what that's meant for my community. The centrepiece of our infrastructure spend has been the upgrade, the duplication, of the Pacific Highway. I know you have the Bruce Highway, Deputy Speaker; it's important to you. Why do we do dual duplications of major highways? The No. 1 reason we do it is to reduce fatalities. The fatalities on the Pacific Highway—this is obviously for the section that interests me: the Sydney to Brisbane section—are at multidecade lows. That's because, as the highway is dual duplicated, fatalities in those sections decrease rapidly.
Since I've had the pleasure and privilege of being a member of this place, my section—which was almost the final section to be completed; it's almost completed—was the Woolgoolga to Ballina section. How much did we commit as a government? The state has contributed 20 per cent as well. It was a $5 billion investment in dual duplicating this highway. This, at any one point, has had 2,500 to 3,000 direct jobs. So the primary reason is to reduce fatalities, but the other benefit of this is direct employment to my local region and my local economy. Obviously, at the completion of it, it will be a boon as well: we are closer to the rest of the country, and it's easier to get goods and services and tourists to visit our area. There are some real highlights on this highway, too. Deputy Speaker, I know you're a motorbike enthusiast. I know you've been up and down that highway a lot. There's the Harwood Bridge. The bridge at Broadwater over the Richmond River is very spectacular.
Deputy Speaker, I now want to take you on a quick tour. You've been on your motorbike; you might have been in the other sections as well. I just want to go through some of the regions of my local area and focus on what this government has done as far as infrastructure goes. I know that you would be a great fan of the BBRF. We were speaking yesterday, actually, weren't we. I brought up the BBRF yesterday, and you're a great fan of that, as well as the Bridges Renewal Program. Why is this important, and why do we as Nats do this?
The Bridges Renewal Program is a Nats program and was instigated by a previous leader, Warren Truss. What is a bridge renewal program important for? Take Kyogle, a small LGA in the sense of ratepayer base, with only a few thousand, but they have over 300 wooden bridges. Some of those 300 bridges might only service 10, 20 or 30 families, and others are more important. They had a huge infrastructure backlog. What I've been able to do, and what we have done as a government with them, is co-invest. We have done—I've lost count, but it's tens of millions of dollars each that we've invested in this to start fixing the backlog.
There are really important roads that we've done with them as well. The Toonumbar Dam road is a really important tourism road for Kyogle. The Culmaran Creek Road is really important for commerce there. Vitasoy—Deputy Speaker, you might be interested to know there's a company in my region called Mara Global Foods, and they supply 80 per cent of Vitasoy's soy. They need an upgrade of a road for their processing plant, and we were happy to invest, with the council, to fix that. Because what was it about? It was about jobs. It's about jobs and it's about the health of our local economy.
Let's move over to Lismore. Lismore is a great sporting town. Why is upgrading sporting events important? It is not just for locals to have good facilities on a Saturday; it also brings sports tourism. For just 300 grand we co-invested with the local Far North Coast Hockey Inc and we got a second field. What has that meant? It's an international standard field and, since then, we've been able to bring a number of national tournaments to Lismore, like the under-21s national tournament and the seniors national tournament. This is bringing hundreds of people to Lismore and the surrounds for not just a day or two but for two weeks in some cases—a great economic boon. It's the type of infrastructure that we focus on because it's the type of infrastructure that supports the local economy. We are upgrading a local sporting complex, Oakes Oval and Crozier Field, which is a rectangular field and an oval. They're international standard. We're spending $14 million there. Why? Because we're going to attract the best of all the codes and we're going to attract those types of events to our community. Again, it's about economic activity and bringing those people and that money to our local town.
Norco—I'm sure you've heard of it, Deputy Speaker, and I encourage the new shadow minister to meet Norco. Norco is a local dairy co-op, in my region. They have an ice cream factory in Lismore. They're a very good brand. A new brand they've got is Hinterland, which they've just marketed. They're a very important employer in Lismore. We have co-invested with them $15 million each to upgrade that ice cream factory to be world class. And that is very important for the hundreds of jobs in our region and the hundreds of jobs in that dairy processor.
Casino—Deputy Speaker, I know you're a Queenslander, so we'll probably disagree here. To the shadow minister: Casino is the beef capital of the world, member for Chifley. Do not believe that it is Rockhampton.
It's not Rockhampton. To further prove that, we have made—please don't shake your head, Deputy Speaker—a $14 million investment into the saleyards there, our premier saleyards. Good for animal husbandry and good for local commerce. The meatworks across the road employs 1,000 people, so the upgrade of that saleyard was very important. I've got 15 seconds left and I've got four council areas to go. But very quickly, what we've done is we've focused on local infrastructure that has supported local jobs. That's been our focus, together with what we've done with tax cuts from free trade agreements, to keep our economy as healthy as we can. Thank you.
Can I just say it is great to have the member for Chifley kick us off this afternoon and have him back in a frontbench role. It's really important. He's someone who can speak about serious things and do it with an element of good humour. I think that's something that we need in Australian life and certainly in Australian politics.
At the other end of the emotional spectrum, it is sad to say that in time to come, members of the government will probably get together and reflect on the fact that they made an art of doing very little with the trust that they were given by the Australian people. They've been here for seven years now, maybe eight years by the time it's all done—three terms in government—and they will have to reflect on what they've done here, which has been a lot of noise and lots of announcements, lots of press releases and lots of media stunts. But it has amounted to two-fifths of not very much. Some might say, 'Well, there's a kind of evil genius in that.' There's a narrow political frame in which you would say, 'If we can get away with that, if we can keep saying we're doing things without actually making a difference in the lives of ordinary Australians, why wouldn't we?'
But I just think we're here in this place to do more than that.
I was interested in what the member for Page said. I guess that's always a challenge if you ask a Prime Minister in a three-term government, with seven or eight years here: 'What would you put on your list? If you were sitting around having dinner with your friends or out walking in your community, what would you tell them are the hallmarks of what you've achieved in your time?' The member for Page talked about big business tax cuts—at a time of record profitability, in the name of some sort of trickle-down philosophy whereby that will turn into jobs. Does it turn into jobs? The evidence says: no, that doesn't happen. We're told, 'We'll take away penalty rates, and that creates greater flexibility and that will turn into jobs.' Has it turned into jobs? That's not what's happened. They make a song and dance about trade agreements. Say you went around Australia right now and you stopped people in the street who are doing it tough or are finding it hard to get work and are concerned about their future, worried about the fact that TAFE has been smashed and degrees are about to double in cost. Do you think that if you said to them, 'We've signed these seven trade agreements,' that would be much solace to them, to the people who are actually experiencing the economic and social conditions that apply in Australia today?
The slogans, the press releases and the announcements don't cover for a lack of delivery. You really have to ask: what is the point of spruiking a $2 billion Bushfire Recovery Fund if you haven't advanced any money out of that for people who have lost their homes and lost their livelihoods? What's the point of having a $4 billion Emergency Response Fund if you don't actually advance any money to support people who have been smashed by Australia's first national-scale climate change emergency in the bushfires that we saw last year, which burned through 12 million hectares and killed more than a billion Australian animals? What's the point of trying to find clever ways of pretending that you're acting on climate change when during this government's first five years emissions rose in this country? At best, with some clever accounting tricks, you've reduced emissions over seven or eight years by one per cent. The previous Labor government reduced emissions by 15 per cent in six years, and we put in place all the things that have done any work on that front since that time and defended them despite the relentless attack from those opposite.
What is the point of pretending that the NBN fiasco is actually some sort of achievement? What is the point of pretending that the multitechnology mess—the great 'recoppering of Australia' escapade—has done anything other than deliver a broadband network that is obsolete at the point of delivery? What should have been the key building block of productivity and broad economic participation in Australia's future has been absolutely wrecked by this government.
In the end, it does not matter if you feel like you're getting away with it. It doesn't matter if you think that in here you can smile and wink and say, 'We think we win the day,' or 'We think our lines are cutting through.' What matters is what's happening or not happening for the Australian community. And what we see is a falling share of Australia's productive value for working people and a growing digital divide because of the hopeless NBN that's going to make life more difficult for those in rural and regional Australia and those facing socioeconomic disadvantage. There has been virtually no progress on homelessness, no meaningful progress when it comes to closing the gap, and a failed environmental protection framework. I mean, you're the government. Wouldn't it be good to be able to reflect in years to come and say, 'We did something; we moved the dial for the Australian people'?
I was very tempted, when I saw the subject of this matter of public importance, to pull out my appropriations speech that I gave only two weeks ago, where I spent 15 minutes talking about the achievements of the government in Grey—but of course I've only got a five-minute speaking spot this time, so I would have had to abridge it far too much. So I'll have to start all over again.
It's a bit like a 'gimme', a free kick, to be talking about the delivery of government support back into an electorate like Grey. It's often said in regional areas that if you've got a safe seat you don't get any attention. Well, I've held this seat now for five elections, and I've never seen the largesse from the federal government coming back at the kinds of levels that we're seeing at the moment. There is over $700 million committed to highway upgrades at the moment, and they are underway. I'm very pleased. What we're talking about—and this is what the subject is—is the government living up to its commitments.
Before the last election, in the weeks leading up to the election, I announced that we would be providing $64 million to begin the duplication of the Augusta Highway, north of Port Wakefield. Sure enough, it was delivered in this year's budget. It's there ready for the DIT in South Australia. They are working on the planning now, and then they will get the works underway. If we're talking about things that the government has committed to and then delivered, I'm very pleased at the moment to be driving past and driving through Port Wakefield. Port Wakefield sits at the top of Gulf St Vincent. It is the place where the national highway goes straight on to Port Augusta and the alternative route peels off onto Yorke Peninsula. It is the access road to Yorke Peninsula, which is a popular spot for a lot of reasons. It's great farming country and it's a great tourist spot. There are a great many beaches around Yorke Peninsula. It's got enormous history. In fact, there is a mining history in Moonta, where we've just delivered $5 million for heritage purposes, I might say. But, to come back to Port Wakefield, the turn-off is called 'crash corner', for good reason. It's been a bugbear of parents, in particular, and families as they send their loved ones off on that road during busy holiday periods when the traffic can be jammed up for kilometres. In August 2018, we committed to a complete rebuild—an overpass. It's happening now. So, if we're talking about things not being delivered, it was actually promised then and it's happening now. The bulldozers are in, the graders are in and it's all underway.
Further north at Port Augusta is the Joy Baluch AM Bridge. The Great Western Bridge, which was the walkway for Port Augusta, closed down about four years ago, and I started campaigning to get a duplication of the Joy Baluch AM Bridge there. It was promised in the lead-up to the last election, and it's in this year's budget. Work is underway on that bridge at the moment. That is exactly what government is about; we say what we're going to do and then we deliver it. Over 20 mobile phone towers have been delivered in Grey. We said we would put in a black spot program. For the benefit of the member for Chifley—and welcome back to the front bench, member for Chifley—let me say that, from his very rural spot of within 50 kilometres of the centre of Sydney, he may not appreciate just how necessary mobile phone towers are in rural and regional Australia. But let me tell you, Member for Chifley—because you haven't been around as long as I have—your government were in power for six years. They didn't break any promises on mobile phones; they actually just didn't deliver anything. In fact, they did break one promise. Two billion dollars had been committed to a future fund for telecommunications in the bush by the Howard government. Guess what? Former Prime Minister Rudd came along and hoovered that up and he said, 'I'm going to use that and I'm going to put another $2 billion with it'—so that was $4 billion—'and I'm going to build an NBN network.' With $4 billion! We know how well that went! So, if you're talking about governments that actually say they're going to do something and then get out, roll up their sleeves and get the job done, you're talking about this government—the Morrison government. I'm very pleased.
I can talk for another 10 or 15 minutes on what's happening in Grey— (Time expired)
When people look back on the Morrison government, they're going to talk about the tale of two governments: one of glossy press releases and great announcements that look really great and the other of appalling, abysmal delivery or, even worse, no delivery at all—an announcement and then nothing.
If you want a really good example of that, just look at aged care. I'm going to talk first about home care. Around 100,000 to 120,000 people are on the waiting list for home care. I've been sitting in this House, year after year, listening to budget after budget, where they announce new places for home care, and the waiting list doesn't go down. So what is going on here? The reason is that it's an announcement with no delivery. Minister Hunt said the government had provided an additional 50,000 home-care packages since the 2018-19 budget at a cost of more than $3 billion, so the waiting list should have gone down. But then the royal commission reveals that, in fact, it's not 50,000 new home-care packages; it's 300. Announcement, 50,000; reality, 300. What a difference. Great announcement; appalling, abysmal delivery. Yet we've got people out there waiting for home-care packages and many people have died while waiting, and this government is making announcements that make people feel that something might change when it won't.
In the most recent budget, we see another announcement: an additional 23,000 packages. Let's hope they're right. Let me assume for a minute that, contrary to all past experience, they government are actually going to deliver. Let's look at what it actually is: 23,000 packages over four years. Only 2,000 of them are level 4—that is, 2,000 of them are the ones that stop a person from going into aged care. Two thousand packages over four years—that's 500 a year. Assume for a minute—again, not what usually happens—that they're evenly spread across electorates and the government don't pork-barrel the Liberal electorates. Let's assume that. That means 14 new level 4 packages over four years—that's three a year—for Parramatta. That's actually what they have announced. Yes, do the maths. I can see the members over there questioning it—get your little calculator out on your mobile phone and do the maths! You've announced—
Yes, exactly: do the maths. You've made an extraordinary announcement. You've actually announced three level 4 home-care packages in my electorate per year for the next four years. Congratulations! What a wonderful photo opportunity that was, but what an extraordinary—I was going to say 'lie' but I know I can't use that word. But how extraordinary that you've misled the people in Parramatta in that way.
Let's look at what else the government have promised. Back in 2018, in the A Matter of Care strategy, the government promised to set up a task force to look at staffing requirements for aged care. That was back in 2018. None of the strategy's 14 measures have been implemented. They've done nothing. Back in 2017, there were two government reports into elder abuse, the ALRC report, Elder abuse: a national legal response, and the Carnell-Paterson report. Both were published in 2017. Four years later, the government says they're actually going to set up the review that they promised back then—for 2021. That's four years later. Meanwhile, we've got 100 reported assaults of the elderly every week, with up to 1,000 unreported assaults every week, and that's been going on for four years. The government made the announcement four years ago that they were going to do something about it—and nothing. And now, finally, four years later, they announce that they're going to set up the Serious Incident Response Scheme that they promised four years ago. Honestly, this is the reality of this government—not the glossy announcements that we get all the time; not the wonderful press releases; not the market-tested announcements. The reality is something quite different, and it's truly shocking.
Let's look at the NBN. Parramatta is the second CBD and geographic centre of Sydney. It's the capital of the third-largest economy in Australia. We were promised the NBN in 2016. We were promised it in 2018. We were promised it in 2020. The minister says it's finished. We're not getting it until 2022! The second CBD of Sydney, the geographic centre, the capital of the third-largest economy with the second-largest workforce of any economy in the country—bigger than the entire state of South Australia; sorry, South Australians—is not getting the NBN until 2022. And they're saying: 'Sorry; there are heritage issues.' It's Parramatta—who knew? Honestly! Everything you learned about in school, about the Rum Corps, about Macquarie—it all happened in Parramatta. There is heritage there. Every time we build anything there's heritage. It's not an excuse. Again, it's an announcement without substance. Honestly, it's the tale of two governments—but the real one is appalling.
I rise to speak on this matter of public importance proposed by the member for Chifley, and I'd like to thank the member for Parramatta for highlighting some of the government's great initiatives and some of the Morrison government's fantastic announcements.
Opposition members interjecting—
I'd also like to congratulate the member for Chifley on his return to the front bench. Hopefully, when the inevitable leadership change arrives, he stays there, because he seems to be a sensible type, and I do like and respect the member for Chifley. Being sensible, however, on that side is not always welcome, and maybe the member for Hunter could give him a few pointers on that one. Unfortunately for the member, the pressure is on in his new role and he's been handed the same lines that weren't working for the current Leader of the Opposition because they're just not credible to anyone who is listening to them during the pandemic. The real failure of delivery in this place is the failure of the Labor Party to make a meaningful contribution to emissions reductions over the course of 14 years. The Labor Party just continue to make themselves irrelevant to everyday Australians, who expect better.
Let's look at the Morrison government's record of delivery that Labor deliberately ignore. They ignore the $70 billion in JobKeeper that has gone out the door—the Treasurer's words. It doesn't suit their narrative. Just in Moncrieff alone, JobKeeper is supporting a revised number of businesses. There are now 10,500 businesses on JobKeeper in Moncrieff.
Moncrieff light rail has enjoyed support from all levels of government. The federal government, the Morrison government, has contributed $95 million to stage 2 and is contributing $269 million to stage 3 that will go from Broadbeach down to Burleigh Heads and that is underway. We completed the last section of stage 2, and stage 3 is now underway. We have delivered that and we have kept our promise.
Of course governments should and do make announcements about plans. It keeps people informed and it invites scrutiny. The Morrison government, as we know, is trusted to deliver for the Australian people because we stand on our record. The Morrison government has committed $750 million to the Coomera Connector, which is an important piece of infrastructure that leads to Moncrieff. You don't have to take my word for it that it will be built, but you should ask the Labor Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk if and when the Queensland government will proceed with that project. The Stronger Communities Program is another good example of Morrison government delivery in Moncrieff. No, they are not quite as visible as the large projects like light rail, but these community projects are very important to the good people of Moncrieff.
Some of the projects underway have been funded with over $626,000 from the Morrison government. I will just outline a couple: a $13,000 contribution to the upgrade of stage lighting at the Southport High theatre—that is important to that school; close to $6,000 for the Southport Bowls Club to upgrade lighting and power; $20,000 towards the upgrade of the patrol operation centre of the Broadbeach Surf Life Saving Club—that is very important. Moncrieff is a safer place for families to drive now, thanks to over $2.75 million in recent Black Spot projects. I'll just list some of them: Alexander Drive, Armstrong Way, Highland Park, Ashmore Road, Carrara Street in Benowa, Ashmore Road and Racecourse Drive in Bundall, Gold Coast Highway, Waterways Drive in Main Beach, Hinkler Drive, Mortensen Road in Nerang, Southport-Burleigh Road, Southport Nerang Road, Sunshine Boulevard, Markeri Street in Mermaid Waters—that is pretty close to where I live—Surf Parade, Australia Avenue on Broadbeach, Surf Parade and Chelsea Avenue, Broadbeach. All of these projects I have just listed in my electorate are finished and completed—box ticked. Thanks to the work of the Deputy Prime Minister, Moncrieff is directly benefitting from over $1.2 billion in infrastructure projects, regional development and cities measures. Indeed there is a similar story in other portfolios—clear evidence of a strong record of effective and efficient delivery.
The good work continues with the JobMaker hiring credit that Treasury has advised will support 450,000 jobs. The member for Chifley may be a little too busy in his new portfolio working out how not to get caught in the crossfire between the member for Hindmarsh and the member for Hunter, so let me help him out a bit on what the Morrison government has been delivering for his electorate. There are around 76,400 taxpayers in Chifley. I know Chifley well. I used to work in that area of Blacktown, Mount Druitt and Rooty Hill—I know where you are. Those 76,400 taxpayers will receive up to $2,745, thanks to the Morrison government. That is about $200 million to the good people of Chifley. (Time expired)
The topic for this debate is how the government's failure to deliver is hurting everyday Australians and it really does go to the very heart of what is wrong with this government and this Prime Minister. Everything is political. Truth doesn't matter anymore. You can just say stuff; delivery doesn't matter. You just pop up and say stuff. You don't have to actually do the hard business of governing and delivering. You actually just say stuff. It is all about spin and marketing. The Prime Minister makes the announcements but he never delivers. It is all about the photo-op—the daggy dad, the dodgy little hat; 'I'm just an ordinary suburban guy,' who happens to be the Prime Minister and a former Liberal Party hack; 'Just an ordinary suburban dad, I am.' He's a fake. He was the head of Tourism Australia—
but, sure, I'll withdraw the word 'hack'. He was the head of Tourism Australia and he was sacked from that role. He's a failed marketing guy. In life, words do matter. What you say actually does matter. But, at the end of the day, it's not what you say; it's what you do. And the Prime Minister is a fake.
Bushfire recovery—how many billions has he promised? Nothing's been spent. Aged care and home care—there are over 100,000 senior Australians in this country desperately waiting for a home-care package. In the last two years, 28,000 of them have died waiting for a home -are package. In every single budget under this government, including when the Prime Minister was the social services minister and then the Treasurer, they pop up and say, 'We're going to have more home-care packages; it's all fixed.' The royal commission said that 300 of the 50,000 home-care packages they promised had been delivered. It's all spin and marketing. It's a house of cards. You cannot believe that anything the government announces will actually happen.
The biggest problem in this debate is trying to choose what you're going to talk about. We've tracked 58 pages of announcements in the seven years the government's been in office and the Prime Minister's been hanging around the cabinet table. There are 58 pages of stuff they've announced in every portfolio: aged care, communications, foreign affairs, defence, economics, industry, trade, VET. With everything they promise, you've got to wonder whether it will ever be delivered.
On the National Disability Insurance Scheme—I see the minister sitting over there—the government thinks it's just a piggy bank to balance the budget. They promised $4.6 billion more and they ripped it out of the budget to prop up the fake surplus that never happened. Remember 'back in black'? How did that go? Where are those coffee cups? It was the fake surplus that never even happened. Some of this stuff is not life or death. They should have done it. 'We're going to build some dams.' How many dams has the government built? Zero. Not a single dam has been built in over seven years. There was the $100 million recycling fund. How much has been spent from that? Zero, not a single dollar. The COVIDSafe app—$70 million for an app that was going to transform contact tracing. The app can't find anyone. It's found 14 people. That's $5 million for every person it's traced. All spin, no delivery.
Then there are all the jobs programs. On the most recent one, the JobMaker scheme—it should be called the 'job faker scam'—the Prime Minister told us at budget time it was going to deliver 450,000 jobs. That was a good announcement—it sounded good—except then at Senate estimates his officials had to admit that that's not actually true; it's only going to deliver maybe 45,000 jobs. He says one thing, but the truth is very different.
Around budget time, he said there was going to be an increase from 1.3 million to 1.5 million people relying on unemployment benefits. That fell to bits, because they had to admit at Senate estimates that, by Christmas, there will be 1.8 million Australians relying on unemployment benefits. He told those people—people who were losing their jobs through no fault of their own—that the government would be there for them, that they would get the support they need. Except what has he announced this week? A third cut to JobSeeker. The supplement is going from $550 to $250 to $150. In my electorate, this matters. You don't just say 'job' a lot; you actually need a jobs plan. Apprenticeships—seven years of tradie crisis. It's not caused by COVID. Right now in this country there are 140,000 fewer apprentices than when the government came to office. Their latest plan for 300,000 more doesn't even cover the $3 billion in cuts to TAFE.
Does anyone seriously believe the government will deliver a vaccine by March? The government's deal only covers one in five Australians. It doesn't even cover the healthcare workers and the vulnerable people. It's a scam and the Prime Minister's a fake. (Time expired)
I am so pleased to be able to talk about all that we are delivering, all the commitments we're delivering for Australians, and particularly for Australians in my community of Lindsay. The member for Chifley will be pleased to hear that, when you fight for something really hard, not only do you get the commitment you promised during an election campaign but you double that and you get it fully funded and delivered in a budget. That's what's happened with Dunheved Road; there was $63½ million promised in the election campaign, and I delivered that. We wanted that road fully upgraded. There was $427 million from the Morrison government, and that road is being delivered for our community in Lindsay.
That is not my only commitment. I have seven pages of commitments that are being delivered across Lindsay. These include commuter car parks so people can park their car and get to where they are going safer and quicker, to ease congestion on our roads. It also includes something I am really passionate about: healthy, active living. We're investing in Penrith Valley Regional Sports Centre, investing in our local sporting fields so kids can have those opportunities to play sports, to stay active. That is something I am really passionate about because in Lindsay we have more than the state average levels of obesity in both kids and adults. I think that is a really important issue that we need to address, so I will be fighting hard for more funding for healthy, active living in my community. Another really important commitment that is being delivered is a mental health hub in Penrith, which is a much-needed investment in our community, particularly during coronavirus and as we emerge from the pandemic.
In addition to all of these commitments, it was really great to have had the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Housing come to Lindsay not too long ago, just the other week. That's where we announced the extension to the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme. We visited a building site in Mulgoa that's going to employ 40 to 50 people on this one site—tradies, contractors coming in, local people and, most importantly, local jobs. We are delivering the support people in our community need to get their foot in the door and into the housing market—the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme, the HomeBuilder Program, the First Home Super Saver Scheme. We are delivering for our communities and we are delivering for Australians. We are helping more people—those aspirational people that we're working really hard for—to purchase their first home. For our tradies, the investment means more building sites and, as I said, more local jobs.
As we emerge from the coronavirus pandemic, creating more local jobs is really at the heart of our economic recovery, so we're delivering support and incentives for small businesses to grow, to expand, to scale up and to explore opportunities. Something I am very passionate about is supporting our manufacturing industry. In Western Sydney, that really is about advanced manufacturing. We're investing in the manufacturing of the future. I really do believe that Western Sydney holds the key to the new era of manufacturing. I am so pleased that the Morrison government is backing our manufacturers.
I was very pleased that the Treasurer made his very first stop after handing down the budget to my electorate of Lindsay. We met with small-business owners, manufacturers, local families and members of our community and we heard firsthand how our investment and support programs are helping people—from swim schools to hotels, child care, industry and more. Very much the feedback from them is that JobKeeper has been a real lifeline through the coronavirus pandemic. They are so grateful that they have been able to keep local people employed and doing their jobs.
We have delivered tax relief for over 80,000 people in Lindsay. This is delivering for our communities, meaning more people get to keep what they earn. We have extended the instant asset write-off, and over 15,000 businesses have access to that. It is so pleasing. I went to a manufacturer the other day and they told me they're investing in their business and the equipment that they need to emerge and be really successful post coronavirus. That's fantastic. This is what this is all about: backing our local businesses so they can employ more local people. We're delivering for everyday Australians, aspirational Australians and the hardworking, resilient small businesses that will employ and lead our economic recovery.
It was Estee Lauder, the global cosmetics giant, who famously marketed her wares as jars of hope on the promise that they could deliver much-sought-after eternal youth to millions and millions of women. I have always thought there was something inherently cruel about that—something inherently cruel about promising people something that you couldn't or wouldn't ever be able to deliver. Don't get me wrong; I certainly believe that hope is a powerful force. Indeed, I have come to rely on hope many more times in my life than I care to recall. But you can't eat hope. You can't feed your children hope. You can't pay the mortgage with hope. You certainly can't erase wrinkles with hope. And you can't connect to the internet with hope.
This government, led by a marketing man, tries to sell itself on hope. And how often have we seen this? How often have we seen the big announcements, the press conferences? It is a whole lot of fanfare, and then they just scurry away, back to their suites, off to another media engagement, as Australians wait—in hope. I have here a folder of no less than 58 pages of examples where the government has made an announcement, with huge fanfare, and then failed to deliver, on aged care, bushfire recovery, child care, reforms to the Family Court, funding for the arts, cybersecurity, defence, agriculture, jobs, education, training, emergency management, foreign affairs, national security, infrastructure, tourism, the NDIS, veterans affairs, corruption and integrity—58 pages, across every single one of these portfolios and more. There were big promises, big announcements, but nothing to show for it except a trillion dollars of debt—hope in a jar.
Our goal is for every household and business to have access to broadband with a download data rate of between 25 and 100 megabits per second by late 2016—
Late 2016! Well, we're now in late 2020—that's four years on—and the copper NBN is still failing to deliver minimum speeds to up to 120,000 households. You can't download hope.
Across Perth's northern suburbs and in my electorate of Cowan, the government's failure to deliver on its promise has caused significant harm to families, to individuals and to businesses. For example, Kristy in Alexander Heights is still waiting on the NBN. Helen in Greenwood tried to connect to the NBN for two weeks and ended up getting worse speeds than she was getting when she was on ADSL. Her house, although connected to the NBN, utilises fixed wireless, because it's the only option that delivers even the minimal speeds that her family needs in order to do basic internet-based tasks. Joanne in Hocking has been trying to get connected to the NBN and is absolutely frustrated. In fact, she's given up hope, stating: 'I have no faith that this will happen. I have no doubt that my NBN won't be connected anytime soon.' Gillian in Marangaroo has been trying to get on the NBN since July this year, and six months later she's still waiting. Arn in Alexander Heights wrote to me saying that most of the homes in Alexander Heights have been receiving the minimum speed, but not his home, because it's connected to FTTN, utilising old copper, which is the basis for not reaching the minimum speed.
Australians don't need hope in a jar; they don't. They don't need to be sold promises by a marketing man who knows very well how to craft an announcement but doesn't know how to hold a hose.
The suggestion put forward today that the government is somehow not delivering for the Australian people is yet another example of a lack of understanding when it comes to job creation, and it shows a lack of understanding when it comes to getting our economy back on track as we come out of the worst economic crisis in 100 years. This crisis was caused by a global pandemic, and the Australian government have released a plan, and are delivering on that plan, to bring Australia out of the COVID-19 recession. Not only that, but the government's plan is designed to carry Australia not just out of the pandemic but also into the future. When the global pandemic struck earlier this year, the government understood that it needed to act in order to save jobs and support those people who lost their jobs as a result. The government didn't just make empty promises. It took action, and it delivered.
The government's JobKeeper payment has supported 4,000 businesses in my electorate of Longman, supporting them through the pandemic and keeping them connected to their employees. Across Queensland, as of 18 September, 188,805 registered businesses received JobKeeper payments totalling around $10.7 billion, and we have extended the JobKeeper payments to help businesses that continue to struggle as a result of this pandemic. Around 12,488 individuals in my electorate of Longman have received the coronavirus supplement, which was added to JobSeeker to provide additional support through this crisis. Around 66,300 taxpayers in Longman are benefiting from tax relief of up to $2,745 this year, as a result of the tax relief measures which were delivered by this government.
To support new investment and increase business cash flow, the government provided a temporary tax incentive to allow around 13,600 businesses in my electorate of Longman to write off the full value of any eligible asset they purchased. This built on the government's successful instant asset write-off measure announced earlier in the year. The cash-flow boost has helped around 3,600 small and medium businesses, providing payments to help businesses in Longman to stay afloat. Around 23,064 age pensioners and 3,311 carers in my electorate will receive extra support payments of $250 in December and a further $250 from March next year.
How anyone can see this data and still claim this government is not delivering for the Australian people is beyond me. But there's more. Health and hospitals funding to my state of Queensland has increased by $609.1 million, compared with the 2019-20 budget, to $5.6 billion. Payments to Queensland for public hospitals have increased by 105.1 per cent. Housing and homelessness funding to Queensland has increased by $7.9 million. Education and skills funding for Queensland is $5.4 billion. This is 72 per cent more than what was spent on education and skills in 2012-13. This includes $4.8 billion for quality skills, $315 million for national skills and workforce development, and $83.1 million for early childhood education.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has committed to invest an additional $14 billion in new and accelerated infrastructure projects across Australia over the next four years. Just this week, work is beginning on a major $662.5 million Bruce Highway upgrade in my electorate, with a federal government contribution of $530 million. Work is also about to begin on the $163.3 million New Settlement Road overpass in Narangba, to which the federal government contributed over $130 million. These are projects we are not just announcing but delivering. But there's more. Work is well underway on the $30.4 million Bribie Island-Old Toorbul Point Road upgrade, which we contributed $20 million towards. Work has been completed on the new $61.7 million Boundary Road overpass in Narangba, with a federal contribution of $49.3 million. We've also made the D'Aguilar Highway safer for road users, and we've installed smart managed motorway signs along the Bruce Highway to keep motorists informed about traffic conditions. Under the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program, we have provided Moreton Bay council with around $5 million to begin key local projects that are shovel-ready. In my electorate of Longman, the projects funded under this program include: a new fauna crossing at Woorim, a park upgrade in Caboolture, soccer field lighting at Dakabin, and a new footpath in Elimbah. Moreton Bay council also received around $25 million under the Roads to Recovery program. We've also delivered seven blackspot upgrades, with two more on the way. The list goes on. I feel like Tim the Demtel man: 'There's more! There's more! There's more!'