Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Matters of Public Importance
I rise to speak on this matter of public importance, and I'd like to start by thanking my very good friend, fellow Collingwood supporter and senator for Victoria, Senator Ciccone, for this dorothy dixer. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to highlight the role the Morrison government has had in delivering jobs, guaranteeing essential services, keeping Australians safe and taking care of our country. Let's be frank: for those opposite, the past week must've felt like the red wedding episode of Game of Thrones. I believe Senator Ciccone is probably the only Victorian parliamentarian not checking for reds under the bed at the moment.
For many Victorians, the past year has been a year like no other. From the drought to the bushfires and now the COVID pandemic, the Morrison government has been there every step of the way. It is coming up to a year since I took my seat in this place, so let's go to the highlight reel and discuss what the Morrison government has actually delivered. In my first week in this place, we delivered $158 billion in tax cuts—not a bad start to the year. In response to the drought, the Australian government committed over a billion dollars across the country to support the drought response recovery and preparedness actions.
Then the bushfires came along. Earlier this week I spoke about the significant support that the Morrison government had given to bushfire victims. I was also lucky enough to spend some time with BlazeAid down in Gippsland, where I saw firsthand the damage that the fires had done. It was clear to me that the effort needed to recover from this is going to be enormous and long lasting. To that end, the Morrison government delivered on that as well. Through the National Bushfire Recovery Agency, we've committed $2 billion to the Regional Bushfire Recovery and Development Program. Of that, $1.3 billion has been spent so far. That has looked after 281,000 Australians, who have received direct financial support through disaster recovery allowance payments. Additionally, 23,000 businesses have received direct financial assistance.
Then, while we were working on the bushfire recovery, the coronavirus pandemic hit. The Morrison government initiated one of the most successful responses in the world, saving tens of thousands of lives and millions of livelihoods. The Commonwealth, in supporting people during the coronavirus pandemic, has already committed $260 billion towards mitigating the economic impacts of the coronavirus. In that, there is $70 billion worth of payments rolling out for the JobKeeper program, including the $1,500-per-fortnight wage subsidy keeping 3.5 million Australians in their jobs. For those who lost their job or didn't have one, we've established a new time-limited coronavirus supplement to be paid at the rate of $550 per fortnight on top of the existing $550 per fortnight. To say that there has been a failure in letting people fall through the cracks is just not true.
There have also been payments of up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits. Additionally, $200 million will go to more than 300 charities to support the community. For mental health, $48 million to support the pandemic response plan was presented to national cabinet last week. In order to get the country moving out of the pandemic crisis, we have committed a further $1.5 billion to immediately start work on small priority projects defined by the states and territories. Of that, $1 billion is going to projects that are now shovel-ready and $500 million is reserved specifically to target road safety works. I should remind the Senate that this builds on around $7.8 billion worth of projects we brought forward since last year.
I'd just like to show that the combined contribution of the states and territories totals only $36 billion. So the federal government, the Morrison government, has delivered eight times what the states have done. In my home state of Victoria, they've only delivered a paltry $5.2 billion in initiatives. So, colleagues, I think it's safe to say the Morrison government has not failed in any way, shape or form but has delivered incredibly well for the country.