House debates

Monday, 22 March 2021


Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021, Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2020-2021; Second Reading

5:49 pm

Photo of Matt ThistlethwaiteMatt Thistlethwaite (Kingsford Smith, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for the Republic) Share this | | Hansard source

I move the amendment in my name on behalf of the shadow Treasurer:

  That all words after "That" be omitted with a view to substituting the following words:

"whilst not declining to give the bill a second reading, the House notes:

(1) one trillion dollars of debt will be accrued but there is not enough to show for it;

(2) too many Australians will be left behind when the Government cut Jobkeeper at the end of March;

(3) two million Australians are still looking for work or more work;

(4) important policy areas such as child care and social housing remain unaddressed by the Government;

(5) the Government's response to the crisis in aged care is inadequate; and

(6) the Government's budget is riddled with rorts at the expense of a proper vision for the country".

In just about every single economic measure that there is, Australia has gone backwards under this government—in almost every single economic measure. They are worse now than when they were elected in 2013. Wages growth, the principal important factor in ensuring that Australians keep pace with the cost of living, has gone backwards dramatically under this government. And they have no plan whatsoever to stimulate wages in this country and ensure that the average hardworking Australian can keep pace with the cost of living. In fact, they've made it worse by putting in place policies that actively discourage wages growth, such as cuts to penalty rates that they championed some years ago in the hospitality and service sectors that are now bearing fruit and seeing workers in those industries take home less pay for working on weekends and doing shifts than they did when those penalty rates were still in place.

So, Australians are falling further behind in their family incomes under this government. Yet, at the same time, the level of household debt in Australia has been increasing, and Australia is now one of the most unaffordable countries in the world when it comes to household debt, principally because, once again, housing affordability has got worse. And, yet again in Australia, particularly in capital cities, house prices are like a runaway train, out of control. Do you think this government is interested in ensuring that younger Australians have the support they need to get into the housing market? Not on your life. Australians are going backwards when it comes to housing affordability and household debt under this government.

The productivity of our economy, the amount of income we generate per worker in this country, has been falling under this government. That's a significant achievement, I must say! Ever since records have been kept of labour productivity in Australia, there's always been growth. Generally we used to just argue over the level of that growth, not over the fact that it's going backwards and declining, that there is no productivity. In fact, there's now the opposite, and that is that Australians are generating less income per employee than they had under the Labor government. So, I've got to give it to them: they've set a record, this government—the first time in Australia's history that labour productivity has actually gone backwards, under their watch. It's certainly nothing to be proud of.

Wealth inequality has been increasing under this government. We see that not only in the figures but also in the policies of this government, which do nothing to ensure that there's a fairer distribution of income in this country. And the government is now planning another stage of income tax cuts, which overwhelmingly benefit the most wealthy Australians and those who are on incomes above $200,000 a year.

But it gets worse. The policies that this government's put in place to deal with COVID and to try and assist workers to ensure that they stay in employment—as the member for Fenner has pointed out on several occasions and has done great work in researching—have actually entrenched this inequality that we have in wealth in Australia by providing government support through the JobKeeper allowance to some of the most wealthy Australians, who then thumb their nose at the Australian worker and the Australian taxpayer by refusing to pay it back when they make a massive profit and distribute it as dividends and executive bonuses. I mean, you cannot make this stuff up! There are Australian workers that are struggling to make ends meet. There are many Australian small businesses that aren't going to survive at the end of this month. We know that. They're going to hit the wall. When JobKeeper ends, small Australian businesses are going to end, and so are the jobs that are associated with those small businesses. But this government isn't interested in looking at supporting those businesses beyond the end of March. This government isn't interested in asking the likes of Harvey Norman, who made a half-a-billion-dollar profit over the first half of the financial year, or Premier Investments, which made a profit—they were happy to take a government subsidy from the taxpayer. They pocketed JobKeeper and are refusing to pay it back. Yet struggling Australian small businesses, whose owners have generally mortgaged their homes to make sure they can survive, will go to the wall. They will go to the wall because the government is not interested in helping them one bit but won't ask Harvey Norman to pay back the $22 million in JobKeeper that they pocketed while they still made a half-a-billion-dollar profit and managed to do a distribution to shareholders. It says everything about this government, and that is why wealth inequality is getting worse under this government.

In the area of our environment, climate change, trying to put in place measures to protect our kids' future, you'd have to think that one of the most fundamental responsibilities we have in this place is to protect the next generation of Australians from a phenomenon that is affecting the universe, and the world, that we know is going to occur and that every single scientist worth their salt says is occurring. But not under this government. If you look at the department of energy's website and its quarterly reports on carbon emissions, you will see that carbon emissions in this country, on an annual basis, have been increasing under this government. Our environment has been getting dirtier. Our environment has been getting more pollution that is going to leave an unsafe environment for our kids. In fact, it's well-known that Australia ranks 54th of 61 countries on the global climate performance index in 2021. That is an absolute disgrace.

We were actually reducing our carbon emissions in this country. When Labor was in government we put a price on carbon emissions. And guess what? They started to fall; the policy actually worked. Yet we became the only country in the world that said: 'We've got a successful policy that's reducing carbon emissions. Let's get rid of it so the big polluters can start polluting again and we hand an unsafe environment on to our kids.' What country does that to its citizens? What country does that and leaves that sort of future for its children? I'll tell you what country does that, a country run by the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government. That's exactly what they did. They removed the price on carbon emissions and—guess what?—carbon emissions have been going up again. I will admit that emissions have fallen over the past 12 months, but that's because of COVID. It's got nothing to do with this government's policies at all. Because of COVID, Australians weren't driving on the road as much, they weren't consuming as much electricity, and export industries shut down for a period and our carbon emissions decreased. It had nothing to do with this government's policies.

When it comes to a hospital waiting lists—a fundamental policy that people expect from their governments is one providing adequate healthcare services—they're getting worse under this government. We all saw that it tried a GP tax in 2014. Hospital waiting lists are now blowing out.

If you want an indictment on this government, look no further than aged care. The title of the interim report of the aged care royal commission is one word, Neglect. It says everything about this government. It's a perfect description of this government's approach to aged care—neglect. We know that there are now over 100,000 elderly Australians in this country waiting for an aged-care package. The majority of them are waiting for a level 4 package, one of the more serious levels of aged-care package. Thank you to all those hardworking elderly Australians who served our nation in wars and who built this country. What are we going to do for you? We're going to cut funding for aged care. Liberal policies are going to mean that we're going to take nurses out of nursing homes so there's no requirement anymore for a nursing home to have a nurse on duty. The standard of care is going to fall. We're going to put 100,000 Australians on a waiting list and—guess what?—28,000 of them have died waiting for an aged-care package under this government over the last two years. Thank you to elderly Australians from the Morrison government!

When it comes to the National Broadband Network, Australia has become an absolute joke. Only this government could come up with a policy whereby it could say: 'We're going to stop Labor's fibre-to-the-premises policy and we're going to come up with a policy that is inferior and doesn't provide the same download speed—that is, fibre to the node or fibre to the kerb—and then we'll use copper for the rest of the connection. Copper is an outdated technology, and we're going to make sure that this not only results in an inferior technology but costs the nation more.' Guess what? In a few years time, we'll have to go back and reinstall new technology, because it will be outdated, at an even greater cost to the Australian taxpayer. Only a coalition government, only the geniuses on that side of the parliament, could come up with a policy whereby you institute an inferior technology that costs more than the original plan. That is what has happened under the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison government. What's the result? Again, Australia goes backwards. We are now 61st in the world when it comes to average download speeds for Australian households and businesses. I think there are only three nations in the OECD behind us. What a remarkable achievement for this government to have Australia fall to 61st in the world for average download speeds!

When it comes to investment in research and development and trying to build for the future, again this government ensures that Australia goes backwards. In 2013, Australia invested 2.1 per cent of GDP in research and development. What's the figure now? It's 1.79 per cent. We've gone backwards under this government. The result is that business investment in Australia under the coalition government—believe it or not—has fallen. It's fallen quite dramatically. Australian businesses aren't investing anymore because there's no support, there's no government plan and there's no map for the future from this government about how you stimulate research and development in emerging industries and produce that incentive for businesses to invest. It's simply not there.

We now have a working poor in this country. They're working in insecure employment and worried about whether or not they're going to have a job next week. They're without the necessary conditions and necessary supports to maintain a liveable lifestyle.

That is the reality of life under this coalition government. In every single measure, whether it's wages growth, productivity, business investment, household debt, housing affordability, wealth inequality, climate change, hospital waiting lists, aged care, the National Broadband Network, investment in research and development or security of work, Australia has gone backwards under the Morrison government. That is a damning indictment on the government and their approach to supporting the Australian people.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Is there a seconder for the amendment?

Photo of Emma McBrideEmma McBride (Dobell, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Mental Health) Share this | | Hansard source

I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.

Photo of Maria VamvakinouMaria Vamvakinou (Calwell, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The original question was that this bill be now read a second time. To this the honourable member for Kingsford Smith has moved as an amendment that all words after 'That' be omitted with a view to substituting other words. If it suits the House, I will state the question in the form that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.

6:05 pm

Photo of Julian SimmondsJulian Simmonds (Ryan, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It was interesting to hear the contribution of the member for Kingsford Smith to the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2020-2021. I'm obviously strongly in favour of the substantive bill before us. It's such a shame that, after everything that Australia and Australians have been through over the last 18 months with COVID-19, still we see Labor MPs, like the member for Kingsford Smith, come into this chamber and resort to the politics of envy and to cheap political points about class warfare, when Australia has achieved so much together over the last 12 months. I do not understand why Labor MPs can't get on board with 'Team Australia'.

The member for Kingsford Smith spoke about JobKeeper and the JobKeeper program as a negative. It's extraordinary! It has kept hundreds of thousands of people in jobs. It has allowed the economy to come back to such an extent that there are now more jobs in Australia than there were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, Labor MPs find a way not to be on 'Team Australia', not to support Australians, and not to congratulate them for what they have achieved in keeping their small businesses and their businesses together and in keeping their employees connected to businesses. They find a way to make it about partisan politics, and it's just such a shame. The member for Kingsford Smith even had the audacity to come into this place and talk about insecure work and try and blame that on some fault of the government. First, they like to pretend that COVID-19 didn't even happen because it doesn't suit their political narrative, but, second, we had an industrial relations reform package of bills in this place not so long ago which included a better pathway for casuals to get into long-term, secure employment. What did Labor MPs do, including the member for Kingsford Smith? They voted against it; they didn't support it. They didn't support the whole package because they wanted to play partisan politics with something that had been negotiated with both business groups and the unions in order to provide more employment for all Australians coming out of COVID-19. That just shows you everything you need to know about how the Labor Party views Australia coming out of COVID-19. They view it as a political partisan game-playing exercise. We on this side of the chamber view it as an opportunity to push Australians forward, create more jobs, help them into secure employment, and help them provide the opportunities and certainty for their families which have been missing over the last 18 months during the COVID pandemic.

I digress a little bit from what I intended to speak about today, because, substantively, the appropriation bills are some of the most important mechanisms that we have to deliver for our electorates. I have to say that it is a privilege every single day to come into this place and represent my electorate of Ryan. I was born there. I've lived my entire life there. I was raised there and educated there—the whole kit and caboodle. I now raise my young family there, and I make that point simply to emphasise how much of a privilege I know that it is to represent the people of Ryan and how dedicated I am to delivering for them. There are so many things that I know our area needs and that I have committed to deliver, and I wake up every single day and work to tick them off my list.

Before I move on to the local commitments that the appropriation bills are allowing us to deliver, I want to talk about what is pressing in the electorate of Ryan at the moment, and that is the vaccine rollout. It's being embraced by local residents. I had the pleasure of sending out information just last week as we moved to the 1b stage of the vaccine rollout and of talking to the residents of Ryan about the nine GP clinics that are already signed up to deliver the vaccine. They include Kenmore respiratory clinic, the SmartClinics Walton Bridge at The Gap, the Ferny Grove Family Practice, the Bardon Rainworth Medical Centre, the Keperra Family Practice, the Brookside Family Clinic, Myhealth Toowong, the Fiveways Surgery at Taringa and the Bellbowrie Medical Centre.

I want to encourage Ryan residents to be patient. I know how enthusiastic they are to get the vaccine. These GP clinics are working very, very hard to make sure that they take bookings and schedule people going forward. There will be more vaccines to roll out, so don't stress if you don't get a booking straightaway. There are plenty more vaccines coming from our locally manufactured vaccine stop, which is something only a very few number of countries in the world have been able to achieve. We've been able to achieve that in Australia because of the foresight of the Prime Minister and the leadership team in making sure we secured local production of the AstraZeneca vaccine at CSL. This has been so important and will continue to be so important for our rollout.

So please be patient if you can't get in straightaway. Be friendly and kind to the staff at those GP clinics because they're going to have more vaccine rolling out. And there's going to be more GP clinics joining the rollout as well, so there will be the opportunity for everyone to get the vaccine. But I'm so pleased that I'm standing up here in this place talking to Ryan residents about having patience in getting the vaccine rather than the other way around and having to encourage people to get it. I know that my electorate has seized the opportunity to get the vaccine as a way forward and a path back to normality, so that we can get back to doing the things that we love in Australia.

I want to focus specifically on the local commitments I've made to the people of Ryan which the appropriations bill allowed us to achieve. One of the most significant of these was to fix local roads. I am conscious of the frustration of Ryan residents as they spend time stuck in congestion each and every day—the fact that they want to get home to their families sooner and safer. I am dedicated to making this happen. There's no easy silver bullet. We live in a beautiful part of Brisbane—a beautiful part of the world. As the member for Brisbane knows with his area, when you have a beautiful part of the world more and more people want to move there. They want to live there and we don't want to stop those families from doing that, but as we get that growth we have to cater for it with appropriate infrastructure. That's what I've dedicated myself to doing.

One of the bottlenecks that we're tackling is the Indooroopilly roundabout. During the last election I secured $50 million in federal funding to fix this well-known choke point. I am happy to say that I'm working with the Brisbane City Council, which has matched this funding—that's very exciting. We have got straight on with the job since the election. We went to public consultation on two draft designs that were being proposed by Brisbane City Council. There was an overwhelming response from local residents for the overpass option. Thank you so much to all the local residents who participated in that consultation process. Obviously, that option was chosen because it was the overwhelming option.

The detailed design and planning work is now almost complete. I see surveyors on the Indooroopilly roundabout site all the time as they work to finalise that design. It won't be too long until we see a shovel in the ground this year. This has been a project that has taken a considerable amount of time. I reckon I was involved back in 2010 or 2011; I stood on the roundabout with then Lord Mayor Campbell Newman to talk about how the council wanted to purchase this particular site in order to enable the upgrade to occur. But it was only on being elected to federal parliament as part of the Morrison government's team that I was able to secure the $50 million in federal funding that allowed this project to actually get underway. Now we're going to see shovels in the ground later this year.

I really want to thank Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner and the Brisbane City Council for acting so swiftly, because they too are seized by the importance of tackling traffic congestion in our local area. I'd like to say that all levels of government are seized by that opportunity but they are not. Unfortunately, the Labor state government continues to obfuscate, delay and stall our very dedicated efforts to fix local traffic congestion in the Ryan electorate, including in the western suburbs. The bottleneck just down the road, on Moggill Road at the Kenmore roundabout, is unfortunately another story entirely. During the last federal election, again I was successful in fighting for and securing funding of $12.5 million for this much-needed project. It was then a long and gruelling local campaign, along with Dr Christian Rowan, who is the state member for Moggill—the LNP state member, I might add—to drag the state Labor government, kicking and screaming, to match that funding. They finally did that in September 2019. Since then, we have unfortunately heard crickets. We've been persistently lobbying them to get on with the job. Finally, now in 2021—another 18 months later—they've managed to release some draft plans for consultation. Again, I really want to encourage all local residents, because they know their suburbs the best. I grew up at Moggill—my family is still there, and I know what it is to drive through that roundabout every day. The residents are the ones with the local knowledge, so I really urge you to give your feedback to the TMR officials, who are leading that consultation process, and myself, so that I can fight to ensure that we get the best outcome out of this $25 million upgrade. We fought for the funding for so long. The consultation is currently open, so please be part of that.

Another example of where the state Labor government have been, unfortunately, dragging their feet is with the funding that the federal government has provided as part of the appropriation bills—that is, the $10 million to do a scoping study to upgrade the Metroad 5. This is something that is dear to the member for Brisbane's heart, as well as mine. As it is, the member for Dickson is also keen on this. The three of us, together along with the member for Petrie, are all seizing on the importance of upgrading the Metroad 5. It is a very, very difficult and congested road to navigate for everyone from Bardon, in my electorate, and in Ashgrove, in the member for Brisbane's electorate, to right along that corridor. The federal government put $10 million on the table to find out what it would cost and what a larger upgrade would achieve. We would love to see something come out of that planning study from the state government so that we can help ensure that we fight for that funding. You've got at least four federal MPs who are very keen to fight for an upgrade and funding for Metroad 5. It would be great for the state government to get off their hands and use that $10 million that has been provided to them from the federal government to present us with some options we can fight for on behalf of local residents.

I am pleased to say, because the Morrison government has made another commitment of $112 million to duplicate the Centenary Bridge, the work is progressing on that with the state government. I will certainly do everything in my power to make sure that we hold them to account. All of those funding commitments—the $112 for the Centenary Bridge; the $10 million for the Metroad 5; the $12.5 million for Kenmore and the $50 million for Indooroopilly—all adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars that I have fought for and have secured and that the Morrison government has provided in just the last few years, since I was elected in 2019. It shows what can be achieved when local members work together. I'm proud to say that I worked together with my LNP colleagues at the state and local government level to help fix local roads and help reduce congestion for local residents.

We're also contributing to a significant project: the Gresham Street upgrade. To all those residents in The Gap, don't worry. Although a lot of that previous funding has gone to the western suburbs corridor, there is plenty of funding for residents at The Gap and elsewhere in the electorate, including for the Gresham Street Bridge. I know that community has been waiting on that for a long time. The Brisbane City Council is getting it underway, because of funding from the federal government. And we're fixing other black spots like that, at the entrance of St Lucia, which is a key local safety upgrade.

While I still have time I want to mention that the electorate of Ryan is home to the Gallipoli Barracks in Enoggera, so we have a fantastic veteran community. Many soldiers, after they retire from the forces, continue to call the local electorate of Ryan their home, and our community is all the better for it. I'm always conscious of delivering funding and services for our veteran community. That includes significant funding that has come from the Morrison government saluting our service grants. One, in particular, has funded a project for the Royal Australian Regiment Corp to assist and restore the forecourt of the Contemplation Building and the RARC National Memorial Walk, which is a very, very important project.

Another for the Moggill Historical Society has been used to publish important biographies of those locals who served in the Second World War. I've spoken to them about that and seen some of their fantastic historical work that they are undertaking. It's great to see that preserved in print for the long term.

We've also got $100,000 in federal funding, that came out of the recent budget and appropriations bills, that is going to go to a brand-new Australian cadet unit, the first ever at Brookfield, which is being supported by the fantastic team at the Kenmore Moggill RSL. I was very pleased to get behind this project and secure this funding. The values that a cadet unit instils in our young Australians are so very important in this world, where you can otherwise get lost in social media and a very much selfish society from time to time. The commitment to serve that the cadet unit instils in our young women and men is to be applauded. I'm very pleased to support it and these appropriations bills more generally.

6:20 pm

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

I'd also like to make a contribution to this cognate debate today on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2020-2021. Have we ever seen a government that has spent so much to achieve so little? At a time when people are grappling with the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Australians need and deserve more—far more than what they're getting from this government. People need a vision for the future, a vision for jobs and a plan to kickstart our economy and get us through this recession. However, what we're seeing beyond this government's spin, photo opportunities and headlines is a trillion dollars of debt and not much to show for it.

Madam Deputy Speaker Vamvakinou, I invite you to have a think. When was the last time you heard those opposite say anything about debt and deficit? It seems to have gone off the agenda, and it will be off the agenda for the next 30 years. That's not to say that investing was not the right thing to do, but when Labor had to invest during the global financial crisis what was the position on that side? The position was, 'Let's wait to see how bad it gets.' Those were almost the exact words of the then shadow Treasurer. They weren't going to expend on it. Then they spent the next seven years talking about debt and deficit. Those opposite should wake up and think about the country for a change as opposed to their own political skins.

The reality is that there are too many Australians being left behind. They're being left behind with the government's cuts to JobSeeker, as it plans to do at the end of the month. We will have one million Australians still looking for work. We are seeing a failure in business to invest, with business confidence being shaken, and a failure to invest in actual job creation programs and the creation of aged-care and childcare opportunities. What is really important in a situation like this is investment in social housing. This is what the nation needs—a government that understands community, but more importantly a government that puts the needs of the community ahead of its own political welfare, a government that is focused on the national interest and a government that understands that lives and livelihoods have, quite frankly, been destroyed through this pandemic.

What the nation doesn't need is a government that has been riddled with—I hesitate to use the term 'corruption', but think of the safer community grants, the sports grants, and the distribution of some of those community grants all being linked to either marginal seats or seats which are being targeted. Many on this side have thought, 'That should be one of the reasons we should have a national integrity system'—one which has been talked about by this side and by the Independents. We understand there is some report floating around, but it hasn't reached reality yet. This is what has occurred in terms of the distribution of grants. I'm not going to go out and point the finger over issues of corruption, but where we're disputing public money it must be done in a fair and transparent way. Time and time again we have seen people try to justify the distribution of this money, saying it was very much needed in those marginal Liberal seats. Let's bring on a national integrity system, for the benefit of the public, to ensure that their money is being spent well.

We have a government that, quite frankly, has missed an opportunity to help rebuild this economy and develop a plan for the future of our country that delivers stronger, fairer, more-secure jobs and one that is focused on the future of all Australians—an inclusive future for Australians. It is beyond doubt that our economy was struggling before the pandemic. We had casualisation of the workforce, underemployment was at a record high, we had stagnant wages and we had slow growth and low business investment. They were the economic indicators before the pandemic. It shows that there's a long way to go. Obviously the government didn't bring about the pandemic, and I stand by the comments I've made before: I think the government has handled the pandemic well. I'm not quite as sure about the rollout of the vaccines, but it has handled the pandemic in a very responsible way. That doesn't take away from the fact that the government has got to address those economic indicators that, as I just suggested, were in operation prior to the impact of this pandemic.

Rather than addressing the systematic problems that we have and that have only been heightened by the pandemic, this government has introduced short-term policy that gets them through to the next election rather than policy that is of long-term transformational benefit to the economy and to the nation. With the support due to stop at the end of this month, it is vital that the government put in place a plan to tackle the current jobs crisis, particularly for the two million Australians who are searching for work or for additional hours. Treasury estimates that 100,000 Australians may lose their jobs when JobKeeper is abolished. To put that in perspective, in my electorate alone it is estimated that 2,300 businesses will be directly affected. That accounts for more then 7,000 workers who will be impacted. Further, recently released data reveals that Fowler will be the third-worst affected area in the nation under the Morrison government's proposed cuts to job support.

The end of JobSeeker payments will see a devastating impact on my community, which is already over-represented in disadvantage. As I've spoken about many times in this House, Fowler is, regrettably, one of the most disadvantage-affected electorates, certainly based on the ABS statistics, when applying the Socio-Economic Indexes for Areas data. While I'm very proud of my community—the colour and the vibrancy that its diversity delivers—sadly, my community is not wealthy. We are over-represented in disadvantage. To put a figure on it, for those opposite, the average household income in my community is just a little over $60,000—that is household income. So, withdrawing the JobSeeker payments, the coronavirus supplement and JobKeeper directly impacts in such a vicious way in my community. The last month's data that was released by the Department of Social Services also details the added strain that the removal of JobKeeper payments will have on my community. The Guardian Australia found that the hardest-hit areas will be the working class suburbs and regional communities. In that analysis, Fowler was ranked as the third most affected area, losing up to $3½ million per fortnight.

For many, this support has been a lifeline. The removal of the remaining coronavirus supplement at the end of the month will only further add to the hardship. The removal of support at such a critical time for Australians is, quite frankly, a national shame. We have people who are struggling to keep a roof over their head and put basic food on the table, and yet we've got a government that thinks an increase of $50 a fortnight to the Newstart rate simply does the job. Well, I tell those opposite that this increase is not sufficient and it is an insult to those people who are facing the difficulty of getting by on a day-to-day basis.

The government also fails to provide adequate support for families struggling with the cost of child care. Australians are paying some of the highest childcare fees in the world at the moment, with childcare fees increasing by 35 per cent under this government's watch. Unfortunately, this has resulted in many families having to choose between working for nothing and staying at home. Families are being locked out of the system because they simply can't afford it. The issue is raised regularly with me—as no doubt is the case with probably every member here—by local parents. Making child care more affordable is not only important for families but also important and good for our economy. It is for this reason Labor, business economists and experts have all been calling for urgent childcare reform. This reform is important now more than ever as we work our way out of the pandemic, with many parents having to adjust to reduced income and stressed employment opportunities.

Let's not forget the government's involvement in the current aged-care crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly exposed vulnerabilities in our aged-care system, where we have regrettably seen more than 670 tragic deaths. Remember what the interim report from the aged care royal commission was called, the royal commission that the government was taken, kicking and screaming, to hold. The interim report was titled Neglect. The final report, only recently handed down by the commission, which made 148 recommendations, has found that our system of aged care fails to meet the needs of the most vulnerable elderly Australians. The commission has also expressed the need for fundamental change in our aged-care sector. While it's pleasing that the government actually did make an immediate response and injected money into the system as a consequence of the recommendations, we must remember that this is the same government, the same mob who, over the last eight years, relentlessly attacked the aged-care sector, making several significant cuts, leaving the aged-care system in crisis. It was the Liberal government that ignored the warnings of over 20 major reports and proceeded to rip $1.7 billion out of aged care simply to prop up failing budgets. Too many Australians have suffered after years of neglect. It must be getting hard to put trust in the government that says it's going to fix aged care but has taken step upon step along the way to do the exact opposite. What should be bipartisan here is that our elderly and vulnerable must be afforded the respect, care and dignity that they deserve and a system that caters for that.

I often speak about homelessness and housing affordability across the nation, particularly in my area. In my area, it is certainly something where we have, as I said earlier, an overrepresentation of disadvantage. Notably, we are one of the highest recipients of refugees in the nation. Research conducted by the University of New South Wales under the Everybody's Home campaign shows that 44 per cent of households in Fowler are living with rental stress. The research found that there are also 1,700 people experiencing homelessness in Fowler and an additional 5½ thousand social housing properties are in critical shortfall. That has young people couch surfing, people living in cars and all that sort of thing. And this is happening under our watch in a modern society. The pandemic has only exacerbated the issue in my community and indeed across the nation but, unfortunately, this area doesn't seem to be deserving of the attention of those opposite. To this end, I'd like to thank the incredible organisations that work so hard to help people in such desperate need. One of those is Tracy Phillips and Bonnie Support Services, which has seen increased demand during the pandemic for emergency accommodation, largely stemming from domestic violence and matters unfortunately escalated during the pandemic. We also take the opportunity to call on the government to invest in social housing, which we know on this side can be a powerhouse for lifting the economic growth and the creation of jobs in the country.

6:35 pm

Photo of Angie BellAngie Bell (Moncrieff, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I find it very interesting that the member for Fowler took this opportunity in this debate on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021 to bring up Labor's response to the GFC, allowing me to actually highlight or at least look at the differences between how Labor responded to a crisis and how the LNP government responded to a crisis. We all remember that what we got under the Labor government was the pink batts debacle. That was pretty much the response from those on the other side. I like the member for Fowler. It's great to see the member for Fowler here in the House. I respect the member very much and it's good to see you well again, member for Fowler. He's a terrific fellow and I enjoy his company but on this particular thing we disagree. Our government actually invested $250 billion in jobs and here we are, 11 months later, with an unemployment rate that is at 5.8 per cent. I think that that money was well worth it. The debt that we currently face was necessary to keep our country going, and that's what our government has done—kept our country going. The member for Fowler talked about a short-term policy for a short-term what, crisis? Indeed, JobKeeper, as we know, was a short-term policy arrangement in response to twin crises—the economic and health crises that we have been facing—and it is our government, the Morrison government, that has held together businesses, certainly in my electorate of Moncrieff.

This debate on the appropriations bill gives me the opportunity to talk about some of those programs that I wouldn't otherwise get to talk about, that are under way on the Gold Coast. So I will take this opportunity to tell Australians and those in my electorate the sorts of things that we've been doing. I will start with the obvious one—that is, of course, tourism on the Gold Coast—which was about a $5 billion industry across the Gold Coast and provided one in six jobs before coronavirus hit. The Moncrieff tourism businesses and the many businesses that benefit from the tourists' spend have made it clear to the government over the last five or six weeks that the best assistance they could have would be tourists back through their doors and that's what we delivered with the $1.2 billion tourism package announced just last week. It may have been the week before—the weeks are blending into each other here this month. We announced that when we were up at Currumbin sanctuary up on the Gold Coast, where we outlined the support package for tourism businesses to get tourists back through the doors—that was, around about 800,000 tickets at half price that the government is supporting to help the tourism sector get on its feet.

The Gold Coast has been a dramatically affected by that announcement. We have already seen uplift. We have seen the Gold Coast and Cairns neck and neck for the most googled destination across the country and there were 14 other destinations that were also supported through that package. Our economy has recovered 85 per cent of its fall from COVID-19, but many are still doing it tough, and we know that those tourism and events operators, particularly on the Gold Coast, are doing it tough. Things are a little bit easier now that some of the measures put in place by the state government have been lifted and we have a little bit more certainty around the borders. Of course, that's the certainty that we need with this tourism and aviation package. We managed, as I said, to get the unemployment rate back to five per cent. That meant, in February, there were 88,700 new jobs. That puts us back to the figure that we were at 11 months ago, which is that 13 million Australians who are now in jobs. That's definitely something to be celebrated—an absolutely fantastic result for our economy.

Getting back to the tourism package: as I said, there were 800,000 half-priced airline tickets. There were some changes to affordable loans for small to medium enterprises. There are about 32,000 small businesses in my electorate alone. Many of them rely on the tourism sector—the cafes, the restaurants, the accommodation providers. Many tourism operators, mum and dad businesses that we have been supporting through JobKeeper, will now have people coming through their front doors and booking tours, which is fantastic news.

This direct support is to keep planes flying and airline workers in their jobs. The Morrison government is backing Gold Coast tourism businesses by getting tourists back on the planes, with tickets discounted by 50 per cent, and knocking on the front doors of the tourism operators. The half-priced tickets will be available on airline websites from 1 April. It's very exciting to get those bookings online so that we can have more people travelling around the country to those 15 destinations.

This support package includes new international aviation support to help Australia's two international passenger airlines. Without airlines we don't have a tourism sector, so I'm sure everybody in this chamber would agree that's a very important measure. That will maintain more than 8,000 core international aviation jobs. It's very important that we keep those jobs in place so that we can fly around the country and, when the international borders open up, we can fly around the world. So support for regular passenger airports to meet their domestic security screening costs is really important.

A new Aviation Services Assistance Support Program will help ground-handling companies meet the costs of mandatory training, certification and accreditation to ensure they maintain their workforces so they can stand them back up when the market expands again and the borders open up. The domestic aviation security screening charges rebate will be reinstated for more than 50 regular passenger airports. That's 50 airports around the country that are so important to jobs and so important not just to domestic tourism but to international tourism as well, when that comes back.

Many businesses in Moncrieff have graduated from the JobKeeper program. At its peak, I had 10,500 businesses on JobKeeper in Moncrieff, and most of my colleagues seem to have around 5,000 businesses in their electorates on JobKeeper. In Moncrieff it was quite a large number, about 30 per cent of all businesses across my electorate. So JobKeeper has been very important to the local economy on the central Gold Coast, and businesses thank me. Every time I go to an event in my electorate—a chamber event, a tourism event, a timeshare event—people thank the federal government publicly for what we have done to keep their businesses running. Some businesses still need that bridge, so we are backing businesses that are prepared to back themselves. That's what we do on the Gold Coast. With the SME Recovery Loan Scheme, businesses can borrow money—some skin in the game. That's what we do on the Gold Coast, the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well. The government will expand and extend its SME loan guarantee scheme as part of its commitment to support up to $40 billion in lending to small and medium enterprises. Under the existing scheme more than 35,000 loans worth more than $3 billion have already been provided to SMEs, helping thousands of small businesses get to the other side of this pandemic. And that's what's important—that bridge to the other side. We're coming out of that now, with unemployment rate having dropped down to 5.8 per cent and more people in jobs in February. The SME Recovery Loan Scheme will also now provide an increased government guarantee, increasing from the current 50-50 split between the government and the banks to an 80-20 split. This will encourage more banks to support small business, and demonstrates the government's commitment to back those businesses that are prepared to back themselves.

The expanded scheme will also increase the size of eligible loans. They will increase from $1 million, under the current scheme, to $5 million. That will allow businesses to borrow more money. Businesses with a higher turnover will also benefit under the expanded scheme, with the maximum eligible turnover increased from $50 million to $250 million. So we're expanding those measures as JobKeeper steps down, as it inevitably must.

Maximum loan terms under the expanded scheme will also increase from five years to 10 years, providing businesses and lenders with greater flexibility. The expanded scheme will also allow lenders to offer borrowers a repayment holiday of up to 24 months. Again, that is to help businesses in that period so they can build their business, get back on their feet and move forward to the very bright future we have for our economy in this country.

Importantly, the scheme will enable eligible businesses to refinance their existing loans, which is a new measure we've added. This will allow SMEs to access the more concessional interest rates available under the program and to better manage their cash flow through an extended loan term and lower combined repayments. So the Morrison government really does know how to support businesses to protect and create jobs, and that stands in that 5.8 per cent unemployment figure. That is what the government is being judged on by the Australian people and that is what we have delivered just this month.

Also, the Morrison government's boosting apprenticeships subsidy is being expanded. It has already helped create 100,000 new apprenticeships in only five months. I'm pleased to report to the House that 900 of those are in Moncrieff. It's very exciting for the good people of Moncrieff to know that there have been 100,000 new apprenticeships in just the past five months. The government is removing the cap on places, providing a full 12 months of support for employers who engage an apprentice or a trainee between 5 October 2020 and 30 September 2021. The government's investment in the program is $2.4 billion, which is quite a large investment in that program.

The program expansion will support hundreds more apprenticeships in Moncrieff, and I look forward to seeing those apprentices around my electorate. I know we need more apprentice motor mechanics, so I will do a bit of a shout-out to those young people in Moncrieff looking for an apprenticeship. There are opportunities all over Moncrieff for motor mechanics. I encourage them to retrain now. It's a great time to move into an apprenticeship. A good example of the success of the boosting apprenticeships subsidy is Patriot Campers in Molendinar in my electorate. They have added two apprentices.

The upskilled educated workforce Australia needs comes from STEM opportunities for Australian women. Up to 600 Australian women will be encouraged to study science, technology, engineering and maths while they're working, as part of the expansion of the Morrison government's Women in STEM Cadetships and Advanced Apprenticeships Program. There are many programs that the Australian people haven't heard about. Mainly we hear about JobKeeper, JobSeeker, the supplement, JobMaker and JobTrainer. We don't hear about some of these other programs the government has in place, particularly this one. A total of 37 STEM courses were approved in the recent application round, including an associate degree of engineering; a diploma of applied data science; an advanced diploma of cybersecurity, which is a very relevant one; a diploma of science; and an associate degree in agribusiness, which is really important for the regions.

We have very many businesswomen in Moncrieff. Early Risers comes to mind. That's an organisation in Moncrieff that has been engaging with me regarding the Boosting Female Founders Initiative. I was at a breakfast function close to International Women's Day. There were very many women there very excited about the Boosting Female Founders Initiative. The Morrison government is supporting entrepreneurial women to build their businesses, to take on global markets and to create local jobs—and we want to see local jobs—with the opening of a new $11.6 million funding round for the initiative. I encourage women to take up this opportunity. Grants of between $25,000 and $400,000 are available to Australian startup businesses that are majority owned and led by women. This is $52.2 million of competitive grant funding, plus $1.8 million in mentoring services.

With many different programs at the federal level, constituents rightly wish to know how that translates to their local area. There are very many good examples of the Morrison government delivering for the good people of Moncrieff. There are too many to mention them all, but they include school programs. I have very many beautiful schools in Moncrieff, and I enjoy going to visit all of them. We also have local community fund grants that have been delivered to very many organisations across Moncrieff. I thank the community for the good work that they do to build stronger communities and for sticking together during this COVID-19 health and economic crisis that we have all been through and for the great work that those organisations do to hold everything together across the community. It's very much appreciated.

6:50 pm

Photo of Anne AlyAnne Aly (Cowan, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Once again I get to stand up and talk about my home state of WA. Often when I speak of WA I like to remind people that 'WA' does not stand for 'wait awhile' but in fact stands for 'way ahead'. After the resounding win by the McGowan government in the WA state election I'm beginning to think that those on the other side think 'WA' stands for, 'Where are ya?' Get it?

I'm not one to overegg the results of the state election, and I said so on the night of the state election as well. But I do believe it's a resounding success that, as I mentioned, the Mark McGowan government has basically decimated the WA Liberals, which now holds just two seats. It's an unprecedented success and, I might add also, a very well-earned success by the McGowan government. I do think that the results of the WA state election should, at the very least, be a wake-up call that voters in WA can't and will not be taken for granted by the federal Liberal-National government.

It has been 22 months since the Prime Minister stepped foot in Western Australia, and that goes well beyond the duration of WA's closed border regime. There is absolutely no excuse for it. There is no excuse for it because the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, managed to visit Western Australia during the state election campaign, but the Prime Minister was nowhere to be seen. While I was out there speaking to people during the election campaign and doing my regular weekly meetings in parks around Cowan, it was noticed. It was noticed by a lot of people in Western Australia, who felt that the Prime Minister had left Western Australia behind and completely forgotten about Western Australians. Premier Mark McGowan even publicly invited the Prime Minister to visit, and yet the Prime Minister did not take up that invitation. He did not visit Western Australia during the state election and, as I mentioned, hasn't even bothered to set foot in Western Australia for 22 months. Twenty-two months—it's crazy, right?

As many in my home state of Western Australia are well aware, we are currently looking at and waiting for the government to make a long overdue decision on the full-cycle docking submarine maintenance program. This is a very big talking point in Western Australia, as you would know, Deputy Speaker Goodenough, coming from Western Australia yourself. The decision on the submarine maintenance program was scheduled to be announced early last year, but we are yet to hear from the government or the Prime Minister about what that decision will be. It's a year later, and Western Australians are still waiting. We don't even have a basic timeline so that we know when we could even expect a decision. Now we're being told that there are suggestions coming from the government that the decision will be pushed back until the next federal election. So, Western Australians, you can wait a while longer. Premier McGowan put it this way. He said, 'It is incomprehensible'—that was the word he used—'that the Commonwealth government continues to delay this decision.' Western Australians are waiting. They're waiting for their jobs to start. They're waiting for a program to start that's going to bring investment to Western Australia. Western Australia is the best placed state to undertake the full docking submarine maintenance program given that the submarine fleet is already based in Western Australia. We have the workforce and the industry expertise to do that work. It's a no-brainer. It is absolutely a no brainer that Western Australia should be doing this work, that the contract should be awarded to Western Australians creating Western Australian jobs. The delays are particularly disappointing given that the minister responsible, Senator Reynolds, is from Western Australia. In fact, many of the senior people in this government are from Western Australia but seem to be letting WA down time and time again with their indecision and their inability or unwillingness to stand up for their own home state.

We saw that most recently with the backing by this government of Clive Palmer's contest over the opening of the WA border. One of the reasons that Labor was re-elected at the state level, and with such an unprecedented level of success in the recent state election, is that people in WA knew and understood exactly what this government was doing when they backed in Clive Palmer's High Court challenge of the WA state border. The voters in Western Australia won't quickly forget this. I know that members of the government like to downplay their support for Clive Palmer and the push to open the borders. They want us to forget that embarrassing moment in time but Western Australians won't forget. They won't forget that this Prime Minister defended—defended—the Commonwealth's decision to join Mr Palmer's action. They actively joined the action by Clive Palmer to bring down the WA border. At the time the Prime Minister said:

…it is highly likely that the constitutional position that is being reviewed in this case will not fall in the Western Australian Government's favour.

Well, luckily Mark McGowan didn't listen to the Prime Minister and continued the fight against Clive Palmer, who was backed by the Prime Minister and backed by the Attorney-General.

A few weeks ago the High Court published its reasons for its decision to allow Western Australia's hard border to remain. It found that Western Australia's border was justified to prevent a potentially catastrophic event. Every single Western Australian is grateful. Those who visit our great state are in awe of the fact that we have come through this pandemic relatively unscathed due to the actions, the strength and the determination of our Premier and of our state Labor team.

What did the Prime Minister do when Labor resoundingly won the WA state election, decimating the WA Liberal Party to just two sitting members? I am not here to gloat about that. I do feel for those people who have lost their seats, and I have said so publicly. However, the hubris of this Prime Minister claiming responsibility for it, claiming that the WA state Labor government's success was because of him, I find quite astounding really. It's quite laughable, isn't it, that the Prime Minister should claim that the win by Mark McGowan and the WA state Labor team was all because of him? I've got to tell you, Deputy Speaker, many Western Australians actually agreed with him. The ones that I have spoken to have agreed, arguing that it was in fact the very fact that the Prime Minister stayed away from WA that helped the Labor victory. It's quite an extraordinary thing for the Prime Minister to claim that a victory by a WA state Labor government is all because of his actions.

In the short time I have left, I do want to talk about the looming end to JobKeeper. In just a few days, JobKeeper will cease. I've been contacted by several small businesses. It's the small and medium-sized enterprises that are particularly worried and concerned about the looming cliff they face when JobKeeper ends. These are businesses that have really been left behind. JobKeeper allowed them to continue to just keep treading water or to just keep their heads above water over this period. Because of the end of JobKeeper, they are now facing the very real impact and the real prospect of having to close their doors entirely and let go of employees that they've had for years—some for a couple of decades. Along with the end of JobKeeper, we're going to see a huge rise in unemployment as these jobs go, particularly, as I mentioned, in small and medium-sized enterprises. For example, I've got tourism operators and travel agents in my electorate who were already left behind, quite frankly, by this government and who are now feeling the sting of this government's actions even more acutely. They are not looking forward to next month. People on JobSeeker are also not looking forward to next month. In WA, we've got rising rents. Prior to COVID, in the outer suburbs particularly, we already had higher rents, lower house prices and a really high level of mortgage stress, as well as unemployment, particularly youth unemployment, in suburbs like Wanneroo and Girraween.

Western Australia has come out of this largely unscathed, and we've done extremely well economically. But there are industries and small businesses in Western Australia that have relied on JobKeeper, and there are individuals who have needed to, and will continue to need to, rely on JobSeeker. After JobKeeper ends and when JobSeeker goes back to what it was prior to the pandemic with the paltry addition of $3.50 a day, these people are going to be left on the scrap heap, particularly women over the age of 50 who have lost their jobs. Some of them have worked for two to three decades at the same firm or the same small business. Having lost their jobs, they are facing a very bleak future. They are unable to find work. There are no incentives for other companies to hire them. They know that they have talent, skills and experience, but they are desperately wondering what's going to happen to them when JobSeeker and JobKeeper end—when JobKeeper is ripped away from all of these businesses and they have to close their doors, when people have to start repaying their mortgages, and when the moratorium on rent is removed. The real pain of this pandemic, apart from the physical and health pain, is really going to be felt economically over the next few months, as this artificial bubble that we have bursts. I don't really see a vision from this government of how they're going to help all of those Australians who are going to be left in a dire situation, come the end of JobKeeper and the JobSeeker supplement. I really don't see anything that's going to give any hope for the future to those women over 50 who are facing unemployment and those small family businesses owners who have poured their heart and soul into their businesses and will have to close their doors. Caterers, tourism operators, small business operators, and small to medium-sized restaurants and cafes: all of them are going to have to close their doors after JobKeeper has been ripped out. What an insult to them, when they read that some of the big businesses have had millions and millions of dollars worth of JobKeeper and paid that out in bonuses. The response from this government has been, 'Well, good on them!'

I love my state of Western Australia, as I know you do, Mr Deputy Speaker Goodenough. We aren't 'wait-a-while', we are way ahead and we will continue to be with the strong local leadership of the Mark McGowan government. But Western Australians don't deserve to be left behind by this government, and they'll remember that. They'll remember what this government and this Prime Minister didn't do for them come the next election.

7:05 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak in support of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021. I'd like to start by reflecting on some of the macro commitments made through these appropriations to our economy more broadly and then perhaps zip down into some of the projects that I am very proud to be working on with cabinet colleagues of mine in the Morrison government to deliver in my electorate of Sturt.

Firstly, a lot of speakers, including the previous speaker, have been talking about some of the programs that have been put in place in response to the economic response needed to the coronavirus pandemic that struck this country a little over 12 months ago. In particular, of course, there were the JobKeeper and the JobSeeker policies and the other supplementary payments that were made—other economic support payments, like what we did in child care and in so many different areas where we needed to undertake a significant economic response to the economic challenges of ensuring that we protected the health of Australians. Unfortunately, that meant needing to make some difficult but important decisions to hibernate elements of our economy whilst we protected all Australians, but particularly vulnerable Australians, from the risk of the coronavirus pandemic taking off in this country like it did in so many other parts of the world—in fact, in almost every other part of the world.

For everything else said about this time in history, it will be remembered for decades and centuries to come. I think about the performance of this country—not just of the government but of the people of Australia—in protecting our health and the risks by all coming together and accepting the very significant and difficult decisions that needed to be made in order to protect our health. There was the economic impact of that and the fact that everyone needed to work together to agree to follow the directions of Commonwealth, state and territory agencies and the fact that almost all Australians—and in my state of South Australia I would say it was every South Australian—understood and supported this, and came together in this time of crisis. It saw some of the greatest elements of the Australian character on display.

Obviously, though, in doing so, at the Commonwealth level we needed to undertake a very significant economic response to ensure that we were supporting the people, businesses and families of Australia. Whilst many of them were put under enormous economic stress and hardship, with many businesses at risk of closing permanently and many employees at risk of being told by their employer, 'The situation is unpredictable and dire and I have no confidence in the future so I have to make the decision to lay you off; there's too much uncertainty for us and we're making that decision now,' I think that the JobKeeper program, announced soon after the early responses, such as the closing of the international border, were made in March last year, will go down as one of the greatest examples of protecting jobs in the history of this country—and of any country, frankly. It compares as an exemplar against the types of responses put in place around the world and in previous examples, where governments haven't taken action to put a floor underneath jobs, effectively saying to businesses, 'We're taking your payroll onto our balance sheet.' To have the cooperation of the employer class with the employees of Australia so that program could be rolled out is one of the great stories of economic salvation and it has driven economic success.

We only need to look at the unemployment statistics released by the ABS last week to see, beyond our wildest dreams, how amazing the rebound has been for employment, particularly for some categories that we had the highest concern about—female employees, who were disproportionately affected by some of those economic shutdowns, and young people. And of course in this budget we've had some very specific measures to support young people back into the employment market. We know from the experience of previous recessions, particularly Labor's recession—the Keating recession—that young people, when they're unemployed, can take the longest to get back into employment, as well as some of the social challenges and the dislocation from a future that entrenched, long-term unemployment brings for young people. Avoiding that is something we saw as one of the highest priorities.

I'm very proud to be part of a government that has done this. In my electorate, for example, around 3,200 businesses and organisations accessed the JobKeeper program, and obviously there was the JobSeeker increase and the supplementary payments that were put in place—the $750 one and the $250 one. More than 40,000 people in my electorate were eligible to access these payments in their first rounds and a little over 30,000 people in the subsequent rounds. Most electorates would have very similar statistics, as all our electorates have about the same number of electors. There was no part of the country that was particularly less affected or more affected by these economic decisions. So, I suspect that every member of this House has similar stories of what a spectacular amount of support was put in place, at that level of percentage of people who accessed support, thanks to the decisions we made.

In these appropriations we have some important industry commitments. In particular, as a South Australian I'm very passionate about what we're doing in defence industry. We've of course got the submarine program and the frigate program, which are both thankfully being constructed in Adelaide. We've got the Osborne South shipyard. I had the pleasure of being out there for BAE's first cutting of prototype steel, just before Christmas. That shipyard is an unbelievable asset that is being built by Australian naval infrastructure by the government to build nine frigates, and we intend many more surface vessels into the future. Amazingly, that will be dwarfed by the Osborne North shipyard, which is in the early stages of construction now, where the 12 Attack-class submarines will be built for the Royal Australian Navy—tens of billions of dollars of economic activity in my home state, creating thousands and thousands of new jobs for decades to come.

With those two programs, along with other investments in defence industry that are happening at the Edinburgh RAAF base—and of course we've got the Woomera test range in South Australia—we are the defence state; we are the defence industry state. This is the government that is making enormous commitments to the future of defence industry across the country, particularly in my home state of South Australia and my home city of Adelaide.

Allied to defence, of course, are industries like the space sector and the cyber sector. I'm very proud that Adelaide was chosen to be the home of the Australian Space Agency. That agency is now open and operating at the Lot 14 site, the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, just on the boundary of my electorate of Sturt. Whilst we appreciate that Commonwealth commitment, which is about a $40 million commitment across the establishment and recurrent expenditure in the first years of that agency, the most important thing about it is that Adelaide is going to be the natural home for space industry development in this country. It is an industry that has infinite capability here and across the planet as a growth industry. It will be tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs. And I have to confess that I hope the lion's share of those jobs are in my home city of Adelaide. Many of the people who are already working in that sector live in my electorate of Sturt.

We're also funding the Cooperative Research Centre for Smart Satellite Technologies and Analytics, which is an industry partnership with the University of South Australia. This is a $250 million program across the various private sector, government and tertiary institutions that are involved in that collaboration. The smart satellite CRC project will see enormous additional industry development in the satellite and general space sectors in South Australia, and in cybersecurity.

In cybersecurity there are enormous investments being made, again, in Adelaide. We've got the A3C, the Australian Cyber Collaboration Centre, which happens to be also located just adjacent to my electorate, at Lot Fourteen precinct. They've got an impressive cyber range, which I think is certainly the largest in the country and probably the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. These are all really exciting examples of the future that my electorate of Sturt, the city of Adelaide and our nation has in these vital future industries. These are the growth driver industries: the defence industry, the space industry, the cyber industry and the creative industries. No-one would say there's not a huge future for these industries to grow employment opportunities into the future, and I'm very grateful for the decisions, the policies and the investments in this budget that are going into those industry sectors. Of course, we've got other industry investment through the Modern Manufacturing Fund, which picks up on some of those that I've mentioned already, like defence and space, but also med tech, agriculture, so on and so forth. I hope to see some of that expenditure come to my electorate.

In the final few minutes, I just want to quickly touch on a few local projects. I'm very grateful to have three urban congestion-busting infrastructure projects in my electorate of Sturt, including the Magill Road and Portrush Road intersection upgrade and the Glen Osmond Road and Fullarton Road intersection upgrade. The third is actually on my boundary with the seats of Boothby and Adelaide. These are all bottlenecks and they're all excellent examples of two great governments—the state and federal Liberal governments—working together to deliver practical benefits to the lives of the people of Sturt and the people of Australia.

The Magill and Portrush one, in particular, which is the largest at $98 million—a joint fifty-fifty investment between the Commonwealth government and the state government—is right in the heart of my electorate. In all the data, that is seen as one of the great bottlenecks in metropolitan Adelaide, with 65,000 vehicles travelling through it each and every day. Portrush Road is, of course, Highway 1. We've got lots of heavy freight that comes through my electorate. We've got schools all along the route. We've got, of course, commuter traffic. The Magill Road, which is the other road at the intersection, carries a lot of cement from the quarry in the Adelaide Hills, as well, of course, as commuter traffic. So that one in particular I'm very excited about. I know that in the next couple of weeks we're going to be on-site announcing a successful tenderer. That project is well underway already, but it will be exciting to see some of the early outcomes of that project, which is really going to transform the traffic flow and the experience of families and businesses in that area.

I'm also very proud of the money we're committing to the Magill Village Project, and I was very pleased to hear today that the state government, through their stimulus fund, are providing the final funds to complete the entirety of that project. That's a great local project for the people along Magill Road, through Magill, Tranmere, Kensington Gardens, Kensington Park and right down to near my electorate office at St Morris. It's going to be great to have the Magill Village. We've already undergrounded the powerlines there, but the streetscaping, the tree planting and the traffic softening is going to make that a really vibrant place for families to go and get a coffee, to enjoy pre and post recreation activities. It's going to be a great boost to the small businesses and the economy of that area. I can't wait to see that project, hopefully in the next 12 months, come into fruition.

For the Max Amber Sportsfield, where we've committed $5 million towards the $10 million project, jointly with the Campbelltown council, demolition has occurred on the old clubrooms there. That, again, is going to be a fantastic outcome for local sporting infrastructure. We're going to see an excellent facility for the existing football and cricket clubs, but we're creating a new netball club, which I'm really excited about. Of course, the facility is going to have appropriate female change rooms—not just for the new netball club; for women's cricket and football we're going to have the sort of facility that female participants deserve. It's also going to see an excellent upgrade to an important piece of local sporting infrastructure there at Max Amber.

The final one I want to mention is the Kensington Gardens Reserve, where we've put $3 million. Again, just recently, the state has tipped in a bit extra on top of what we've put in—the Burnside council. That is going to be a great environmental outcome for that site. We're getting rid of the dangerous polluted duck pond and creating a nice wetland instead that won't need to be fenced off as children won't be at risk of drowning anymore. It happens to have a unique connection, given that it's adjacent to the Kensington District Cricket Club, famous, of course, for being Sir Donald Bradman's cricket club and being near the home that he lived in for so many decades in the heart of my electorate. That's an exciting project that, again, is underway.

These projects are all being funded in this budget because we're committed to investing in local community infrastructure, local sporting infrastructure, local public amenity, and making sure that our neighbourhoods are safe and secure. I'm so grateful to the Treasurer and the Morrison government for what we're investing in my electorate of Sturt. I look forward to fighting for more funding in the future, and I know that people in my electorate are very grateful for what this budget is doing for them.

7:20 pm

Photo of Madeleine KingMadeleine King (Brand, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Trade) Share this | | Hansard source

Labor supports the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2020-2021 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2020-2021. I also support the amendments moved by the member for Kingsford Smith. I had hoped to speak this afternoon more on the resources portfolio, but I'm going to spend a few moments reflecting on some of the reports we've seen in the media, just a couple of hours ago.

After reports today of further debasement in this parliament of the women in this place and the workplace itself, I would not be surprised, quite honestly, if the women who work here, and particularly the staff, simply walk off the job and leave the men to the revolting mess of their own creation. What we've seen today in news reports is behaviour that beggars belief. It's disgusting. We're all tarnished by this behaviour—all the very decent, hardworking, honest, good people who are elected here or who work here, whether they be our staff, as members and senators, or the support staff that make sure we can do our job. We all, because we work here in what should be a magnificent place, are tarnished by the behaviour that we've seen reported in previous weeks and again tonight. It's a shocking indictment on this place. As I said, we're all tarnished by this vile behaviour, and perhaps we should be. We've allowed this behaviour to go on for decades—not, perhaps, the individuals in this chamber right now, who haven't all been here this long. But a culture has been allowed to pervade, and erupt in, this building which has seen the most vile, debased acts of the utmost arrogance and the utmost entitlement—acts of disrespect towards women and disrespect towards fellow humans in treating a workplace in this manner.

Who would blame female staff in this place if they just walked out tomorrow and took some action to demonstrate just how debased this workplace has, clearly, become and the way some people choose to treat it. I know everyone in this chamber today would agree with me that what we have seen in news reports tonight is just the most horrific thing you could imagine. We all now get to walk around our offices and think: 'I wonder what happened before I got this office. What did happen in here?' There might be a few red wine stains from time to time that are cleaned up well, but now we know there is much more going on than I ever imagined. I've worked here for five years, and, before I was elected, I worked here as well. That this kind of thing was happening never entered my imagination. Call me naïve, and I probably am, but what I would say to the female staff and to all the staff is that I'm sorry. To all the good, decent, hardworking people who are committed to their parties, to the policies we talk of and to the arguments we have civilly in this place, I'm sorry for what you're all going through. I feel exhausted. I'm sure many feel exhausted by it—obviously not as exhausted as the victims of sexual violence and domestic violence right across this nation. To all the women in this place who will be feeling even worse tonight than they would have felt just last week, I want to reassure you all that, as an elected member of parliament, all my colleagues and I are thinking of you finding yourselves in a vulnerable situation that we really would never want to see again.

We all talk about this being a moment in time where the culture of this place may change. One hopes that if the culture of this place changes we can do some very good things right across the country where the systemic abuse of women and domestic violence can come to an end. If it can't start here and be successful here I guess there is little hope for it happening across the nation. The people that work here, those that are elected here, are those elected leaders of the nation and a lot of people who work here want to be elected as leaders of the nation. If this behaviour is to continue or to be seen again what hope have we got for the nation that we seek to lead—if we cannot behave properly and with respect to every human that works in this place. To all the women and to all the good, honest men who are working hard to fix this as well: I thank you for your commitment, for sticking with us and for sticking with your work through this place. But, to be honest, if you did walk off the job tomorrow I certainly wouldn't blame you one little bit.

As I said before, I came here tonight to speak about the resources industry. I was very proud to take on the resources portfolio in addition to the trade portfolio on behalf of the federal Labor opposition. I look forward to working with it into the future. I want to recognise my immediate predecessors in the resources role, the member for Chifley and the member for Hunter—both strong, energetic and practical supporters of a strong Australian mineral resources sector.

I acknowledge the member for Burt, another proud Western Australian. As a proud Western Australian I've seen firsthand the impact a strong, successful—pardon me, and the chair and the member for O'Connor is here as well—mining and resources industry can have on this country, which now accounts for half of Australia's total exports and directly employs more than a quarter of a million people, many of them in regional areas.

I suppose many of us in Western Australia sound a bit like a broken record when we describe the resources industry, but it is the engine room of the nation's economy. I repeat it so often because it's absolutely true. In my additional role as shadow minister for trade, as well as being the representative for an electorate known for its heavy industry, I've been fortunate enough to witness some of Australia's huge nation-building projects in the making. This includes the INPEX Ichthys LNG Project in Broome and its main facility in Darwin, Woodside's North West Shelf Project in Karratha and more recently the Pluto gas project in Dampier, Chevron's Gorgon Project on Barrow Island and, of course, the Wheatstone LNG project in Onslow. There are so many others that have made great job-creating contributions to this nation and that keep on keeping on.

It's important that every Australian understands the value of the sector, not just to the broader Australian economy but to the hip pockets of the hundreds of thousands of workers across the country, and of course their families. When you're in the resources sector and you're a fly-in fly-out worker, which is often the case, your whole family is involved in that job because the worker isn't always there, so the family takes on an additional burden during those weeks away.

My links with the mining industry began long before I was born. It's a history that I had some time to reflect on during a recent trip to Kalgoorlie in my new role as the shadow minister for resources. It's a family story. In the 1890s, following the sudden death of his wife, my great-great-grandfather, Eli Pizer, packed up four of his children and his life in Melbourne to join the luck of the gold rush in Kalgoorlie. Eli Pizer wasn't a miner but he started a handsome cab service to move the lucky and the luckless around that great booming town. One of his sons, Thomas, my great grandfather, went on to provide the critical service of running the Clydesdale horses that hauled kegs of beer to the hotels that shot up during the greatest gold rush Australian has seen. These days if you go to Kalgoorlie—I know the member for O'Connor represents the area—you will know by the magnitude of the Super Pit gold mine that, all the other activities there on the eastern border, it feels like that rush never ended and will continue for some time.

While I was there I went to the Kalgoorlie cemetery. After a bit of searching I found and visited the grave of my pioneering relative Eli Pizer and reflected on his story, which is a story shared by many Western Australians whose forebears quite frankly did leave Melbourne and Victoria. They came from the goldfields of Victoria to the goldfields of Western Australia. Indeed, it was those Victorians that we can blame for our Federation, or thank for, because we know they changed the votes quite substantially. As a person who's very pleased that Western Australia is part of the Federation I will always support it. That time and the contribution of the gold rush literally to the Federation was— (Time expired)