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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Page: 13685


Mr LAURIE FERGUSON (Werriwa) (19:36): At the outset, I disassociate myself from the vicious attack on the member for Solomon recently made by the former Chief Minister of the Northern Territory, Marshall Perron. Turning to the issue of the moment, this weekend I will be attending two functions in connection with floods in totally separate parts of the world, El Salvador and Cambodia. Those floods, recent coverage of the Bangkok floods, ABC coverage this year of moves to perhaps abandon the Cartier Islands and move people to Papua New Guinea and speculation about the future of Kiribati certainly drive to the fore the monumental effort of this government over the past year in carbon action. We know that this world is very imperilled at the moment. We know that most members of this parliament on both sides, quite frankly, understand the man-made contribution to climate change. It is of central importance that this country has pressed ahead on these matters, at the same time ensuring a future for the industries this country will be moving to in the long term.

In reviewing the year, we see a government that has brought in Australia's first national paid parental leave; has increased the childcare rebate from 30 to 50 per cent; has worked on the beginnings of a national disability insurance scheme; has engineered the biggest boost to pensions in Australia's history, with the maximum rate increasing over the last two years by around $148; is rolling out an affordable high-speed broadband network; is putting more than $2.2 billion into the long-neglected area of mental health; is establishing trade training centres; and has creating more than three-quarters of a million jobs, including nearly 100,000 in the last year. That is on a national scale, but in our electorates we see the same kind of action.

In my electorate, in 58 schools there have been 138 projects driven through by this government in cooperation with the state government. I have been to 28 openings at schools ranging from the 130-year-old Glenfield Primary School to Ajuga College, established in the last few years. Today I noted that students from Macarthur Adventist school were here in the parliament. They have also been recipients of the efforts by this government aimed at ensuring that people were kept in employment, that apprentices and trainees could finish their periods with employers, that building materials companies remained operating, that building companies did not collapse, and that people could go into shops and spend money that they had in their pockets. In my electorate the projects included 14 multipurpose halls, with 12 completed as of 31 August, 11 libraries, 17 outdoor learning areas and three new science centres—and the openings roll on. For instance, last Friday I attended a fete and the concurrent opening of four new classrooms at Glenwood Public School.

We have also seen the continuation of a number of other measures in the electorate, including diagnostic imaging coming to Campbelltown Hospital. The complaint of the Liberal member in the area was that it is going to take some while to get approval for it to be used for public patients. Quite frankly, let us worry about the fact that they did not have diagnostic testing for a decade, rather than imperfections of what has actually been delivered. Another measure is the widening of the Brooks Road to Narellan Road section of the F5. Another issue that matters to some extent in my electorate relates to problems with anti-dumping provisions. I have been acting with Viridian Glass and other companies about this and I am pleased to see that the government has finally got around to doing something effectively with regard to anti-dumping measures for this country.

In contrast, we have an opposition which opposed the stimulus payments to protect jobs and keep people in employment, opposed Medicare Locals, was critical of superclinics, doubted the value of ending state-federal rivalry in the health system, opposed trade training centres and was against apprenticeships. And the nadir of this opposition was reached this morning with the performance of its deputy leader on Fran Kelly's program, when we heard a kind of schoolgirl, toilet innuendo against the Prime Minister. The opposition has sought to denigrate people on a personal basis, most particularly the Prime Minister. I remember when people complained about Prime Minister Keating. Quite frankly, that was a Sunday school picnic compared to this kind of denigration of people in public life. But the Leader of the Opposition has got form on this. We all remember the republic convention and how it became a referendum about politicians and trusting them. (Time expired)