House debates

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Grievance Debate

Morrison Government, Bonner Electorate

6:42 pm

Photo of Ross VastaRoss Vasta (Bonner, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

As we come to the end of the year, I rise tonight to look back on the last 12 months. It hasn't been easy, and we've certainly faced our fair share of challenges. But, with the support of our government, Australia has moved forward to secure its recovery, and now we're setting our sights on reopening to the world. We know the best way to stay safe right now is by getting vaccinated. In Queensland, there are 76 per cent of us now fully vaccinated. Australia is leading the world in our response to the pandemic. We have some of the highest vaccination rates, we are one of the most prepared to deal with outbreaks and variants, and our economic recovery is unrivalled. Jobs are coming back. Unemployment nationwide is at a 12-year low. I've seen many businesses in Bonner benefiting from how we've been able to deliver jobs. In fact, over 5,000 businesses in my electorate have taken advantage of JobKeeper since the start of the pandemic.

Over the year I've spent time visiting local businesses and their staff, from Mount Gravatt's badminton espresso and Rochedale's Cache Cache cafe to local Aussie manufacturers like Murarrie's Cyborg Dynamics Engineering and Wynnum's Couplemate trailer parts.

We're also reducing our emissions whilst growing our economy. We're delivering a balanced approach to achieve this through our commitment to securing our fuel sovereignty. This is happening in Bonner at the Ampol refinery in Lytton, with a package securing 550 direct and local jobs. It's backed by our expanded $250 million Future Fuels Fund investment, which empowers consumers to drive the car that they want.

We're delivering for better roads, faster commutes and making sure Australians can get home sooner and safer. We've invested a further $1 billion into road safety upgrades, to save lives, and a further $1 billion in local road infrastructure projects. In Bonner, long-awaited upgrades to the Linden crossing are underway. I've been fighting for this upgrade since 2017, when over 7,000 locals in Bonner signed my petition to fix Linden crossing. We were successful, and in 2019 our government committed $85 million to this worthy project. This month we commenced the first stage of safety upgrades to the crossing. I recently invited Assistant Minister for Road Safety and Freight Transport Scott Buchholz onsite to see the progress made to date, and I look forward to welcoming him back when the works are complete.

My electorate is home to the Newnham Road and Wecker Road intersection, and I'm proud to have secured $12 million in funding for this project to make the intersection safer, which will be delivered by the Brisbane City Council, with works currently underway. Our government has also allocated $40 million to fixing the notorious Rochedale roundabout, which will improve the safety of commuters and cater for future traffic demands in this growing suburb. There's also the $15 billion Inland Rail project connecting Melbourne to Brisbane. Currently, plans have it terminating at Acacia Ridge in Brisbane's southern suburbs. This means freight for the port of Brisbane must be trucked in on existing roads—unless a dedicated Inland Rail link is created. That's why I'm fighting to deliver a dedicated underground freight rail connection between the Inland Rail and the port of Brisbane.

When it comes to health, this year I have spoken in the House on multiple occasions about spinal muscular atrophy, also known as SMA, which, sadly, occurs in one in 10,000 births in Australia. With no cure, this disease is the No. 1 genetic cause of death for babies under two. But Queensland is one of the few remaining states left that don't include screening for SMA as part of its newborn bloodspot screening program, and I've been calling the Queensland government to account, sharing the stories of families in my electorate whose little ones are currently battling this disease, like Kate and Grant Gough's beautiful girl Oakley, who was diagnosed at eight weeks old. Life-saving testing exists and has been rolled out in other states, while the Queensland government continues to stand idle. I will continue to speak up for these families because no child should be disadvantaged by where they are born this country.

Every Australian has the right to be safe. That's why our government remains committed to ending all forms of violence against women and children. Since we came to government, we have invested more than $1 billion to keep women and children safe, and this year we invested a further $1.1 billion in women's safety. I've been working closely alongside many hardworking services in our area, like Carina's Beyond DV and the Small Steps for Hannah Foundation, who provide dedicated support to women and children, helping them to escape violence and abuse.

This year I unveiled my plan to deliver more mental health services on Bonner's bay side. It was launched through a bay-side mental health survey which collected over 500 anonymous responses and highlighted the needs of locals. I kept up the momentum by convening the Bayside Mental Health Working Group, involving local mental health and community providers. This group has since met on multiple occasions, bringing these important voices together and determining how we can fill the urgent gaps in our area. I've also shared my plans with the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, David Coleman, who has provided his support. Currently I'm working with the Brisbane South PHN on a mental health plan that is intended to be tailored to the youth of the bay side.

This year, Bonner celebrated the return of our iconic Wynnum Fringe Festival, which took place over six jam-packed days this month. Festival founder Tom Oliver has once again outdone himself. It was a true celebration of the arts, with the Morrison government proudly securing its return as an annual event by delivering $236,000 in funding. It has been another challenging year for our arts and creative sectors, but we're seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

We're also making a real difference to the lives of Australian families. I'm regularly visiting our local childcare centres and kindergartens, spending time with the staff and children, and learning what we can do to support them. During these visits I always read and donate If I Was Prime Minister by Beck and Robin Feiner. Last month it was donated to the vibrant kindergarten class at C&K St Catherine's Community Kindergarten in Wishart. The children loved the book so much that they created and sent me their own version, which told the story of what they would do if they were Prime Minister.

I also want to take this opportunity to recognise Bonner's amazing and hardworking school communities, who have demonstrated this resilience once again this year. I've brought Parliament House to several local schools through mock parliaments, where they debated topics such as whether junk food should be served in school cafeterias and whether Brisbane should host the 2032 Olympics—which we will now be doing. Bonner Youth Advisory Council also met each term this year, and we even kicked off a Junior BYAC for students in year 5 and year 6. It's so exciting to see our leaders of tomorrow in action. It's been a big year, but our government has continued to deliver across all sectors for all people in all of our communities.

Photo of Mark CoultonMark Coulton (Parkes, Deputy-Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

There being no further grievances, the debate is adjourned and the resumption of the debate will be made an order for the next day of sitting.

Federation Chamber adjourned at 18:51