Senate debates

Tuesday, 11 May 2021


Budget, Costa, Mr Frank Aloysius, AO

10:04 pm

Photo of Sarah HendersonSarah Henderson (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise tonight to speak about the 2021-22 Morrison government budget. This is a budget which leaves no Australian behind. This is the next stage of the Morrison government's economic recovery plan to build a stronger Australia. There is no doubt that Australians and Victorians whom I proudly represent have had a very, very tough year. We've endured lockdowns, separation from our friends and families, unemployment and many other consequences of the global pandemic. This budget continues the Morrison government's work to put us back on track. It reflects our ironclad commitment to ensuring all Australians benefit from our economic recovery. It guarantees services, creates more jobs and keeps Victorians safe from COVID-19.

I want to reflect on a number of initiatives in tonight's budget, starting with the government's commitment to implementing the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety, with some $18 billion worth of funding for the aged-care sector, including substantial support for mental health, suicide prevention and people living with disabilities. Most importantly insofar as our support of the aged-care sector is concerned, we are also ensuring our aged-care workers are better paid and better trained. Something that will make a massive difference to seniors who are staying at home are some 80,000 additional home-care packages. All of this extra funding brings our total commitment to aged care to some $119 billion over the next four years, which is the most significant investment in aged care in Australian history.

The budget makes child care more affordable for families; funds essential infrastructure; supports new construction jobs and homeownership; and provides record funding for schools, hospitals and, of course, the vitally important NDIS.

The budget includes some $10 billion of targeted infrastructure spending on road and rail projects around the country, including a $2 billion initial investment for a new Melbourne intermodal terminal servicing Inland Rail. There's another $1 billion to extend the Local Roads and Community Infrastructure Program to deliver upgrades for local roads, footpaths and community infrastructure. Of course, this allows local councils to have the certainty to decide the projects which are most important to their communities, providing they're shovel-ready, because this is a program that drives jobs and gets shovels in the ground as quickly as possible.

Across south-western Victoria, which I represent as a patron senator, there is more funding for many major infrastructure project projects which are underway, including better and safer roads and more reliable rail. In the Geelong region in this financial year, for the Barwon Heads Road duplication, for instance, there's another $90 million. For the Waurn Ponds to South Geelong rail upgrade, another $105 million will flow this financial year. Some $69 million will be delivered under the Geelong City Deal to continue our support of the tourism economy, particularly around the Twelve Apostles, along the Great Ocean Road and in Geelong centre. In the Ballarat region, there's $35 million for the Ballarat line upgrade stage 2, including more funding for the Western Freeway. In the Bendigo region, there is a massive new injection of funding for the Calder Highway for road safety upgrades of some $15 million.

The budget commits another $1.7 billion to child care over four years to help working families cope with childcare costs. The government will raise the childcare subsidy for families with two or more children under five years old to 95 per cent, up from 85 per cent. This is forecast to save some 250,000 Australian families around $2,200 per year.

For those Australians affected by natural disasters, the government has committed some $600 million for natural disaster recovery to help Australians rebuild their communities after natural disasters hit. These measures include funding for bushfire and cyclone proofing as well as measures to ensure telecommunications resilience, a vital element in any disaster response.

A major part of this budget is its support for women. It includes a support package of some $3.4 billion, which will target women's safety, economic security, health and wellbeing. These include women's safety measures for women fleeing domestic violence. There's also a very significant women's health package, some $334 million, to support women's health, including funding for cervical and breast cancer treatments, endometriosis and reproductive health.

The budget ties national objectives to local needs. If I consider the massive investment in mental health and suicide prevention, this is a landmark reform for our nation. This is going to make the most extraordinary difference to so many families, including the 65,000 or so Australians who attempt to commit suicide every year. There is very substantial funding in the budget to support those people after they leave hospital. Traditionally, they would have left and had no ongoing support.

These numbers that we hear in the budget are so often abstract—a billion dollars here, $10 billion here, $100 billion here—but this is money being spent by our government to secure our economic recovery at one of the toughest times in our history. It's so important that, at the end of the day, it ends up on the front line. That is why, as we've heard, there's another $1.7 billion or so for vaccines right across the country. We know how important our investment is in our health response, including in vaccinations.

The 2021 budget is the next stage of the Morrison government's economic recovery plan to create a stronger Australia. I'm very proud of what our nation has achieved so far. I'm very proud of the way in which our government has stood up for all Australians. I'm incredibly proud that this is a budget that leaves no Australians behind. The absolute landmark massive investment, particularly in aged care, in mental health, in infrastructure, in tax cuts, in backing small and family businesses, in driving job creation, will help Australians go from strength to strength.

In the short amount of time I have left, I want to mention a very significant event happening tomorrow in Geelong. Tomorrow, Geelong farewells one of its favourite sons. Frank Costa's funeral is tomorrow, and many people from my city and the region will gather. He will go down in history as one of Geelong's most significant citizens. In fact, he was a dynamo. So many of the projects and investments that we have delivered and so many of the policy changes that we have achieved, and the transformation of the Geelong city, have been driven by Frank, including when he was steering the committee for Geelong. He has left an incredible legacy. He was such a wonderful community leader. He was a leading philanthropist. He was a good friend, he was a mentor, and he was the heart and soul of the Geelong community. My sincere condolences to Frank's wife, Shirley, his eight daughters and the broader Costa family. I say vale, Frank Costa.