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Tuesday, 10 September 1996
Page: 3863

Miss JACKIE KELLY(5.35 p.m.) —I rise tonight in support of the 1996-97 budget brought down by the Treasurer (Mr Costello). I must support it because it is in line with what the voters of Lindsay wanted when they voted for me and the Liberal Party on 2 March. The seat of Lindsay is made up of a lot of hardworking young families. Sixty per cent of our labour force commutes out of the electorate to work. We have a few large businesses, such as Boral, BHP, ACI and Panasonic, but largely our businesses are owner operated retail, automotive and specialty businesses.

Our large number of PAYE wage earners, with children from the first, second and sometimes third marriages, are working hard to get ahead to pay off a mortgage and to provide a future for their children. We have a number of single parent families working hard. The one thing that is important to these young people who are busy raising a family is a future—a future for themselves and a future for their children, and that is what this budget provides. It provides a responsible, controlled restraint of government expenditure with the ultimate goal of getting Australia out of debt by the year 2000.

The people of Lindsay do not want their representatives dancing around to the tune of noisy minorities; they want their representatives in mainstream Australia. They want to be represented by people who truly seek to serve and to protect the future of Australia and its children. They do not want people caught up in their desire to stay in power at all costs, no matter what lies it takes, what money is spent or what debt is accrued.

I think it is apt to remind people of the reason why there was such a massive defection in the heartland of Labor in the seat of Lindsay. In the 1995-96 budget, Labor tried to tax the family home with the builders' hardware tax. It was defeated by the Liberal Party. Under the Fraser coalition government, home loan repayments were 19 per cent of the median monthly family income in 1983. Under Labor, they rose to 27 per cent. Under Labor, 24 per cent of all families had no family member employed and more than 600,000 children under 14 were living in families where no-one had a job.

In the 1991 recession—the recession we `had to have'; `things do not get better than this'—over 400,000 people lost their jobs. By the 1996 election, a similar number of people got their jobs back in full-time employment. Although the Labor Party might crow about continuous quarters of growth, for the people of Lindsay walking around the markets, walking around the shops and going to spend their wage it has meant very little.

What this budget means to me and the people of Lindsay is that the government will take in $130 billion of revenue from the Australian people—and they will spend every last cent of it on Australians and Australian programs—yet the opposition want to oppose $19 billion worth of savings in the across-the-board cuts that have been made by the Treasurer and the cabinet.

This budget is carefully thought out and comes as a package. It is like when you save for Christmas. You know how much you have to spend on Christmas. You know that you have $30 to spend on mum, but you have a terrific mum and you would like to spend $50 on her. You know that if you spend $50 on mum you are going to have less to spend on dad and less to spend on your brother and sister. No matter what you do, if you overspend your budget in any area it blows it out and, come Christmas Day, certain sections of your family will ultimately be disappointed. Our budget is fair, it is reasonable, it is across the board. The Australian public has received it as such, and the people of Lindsay agree.

If you have made a budget and it balances, then you have to stick to it. By sticking to this budget and the cuts that have been made through 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99, we will come out the other end into the black. We will gradually pay off that bankcard debt. We all know that bankcard rates are 20 per cent and that going loans are 10 per cent. That is basically what happened to Australia when we lost our triple A credit rating—we went from an ordinary loan at 10 per cent to having to pay bankcard rates of 20 per cent.

The key link between the interest rates the government is paying on its loans and the amount of debt that the government is carrying—the member for Oxley (Ms Hanson) pointed out that we do have the highest per capita level of debt—is that, when you are trying to pay back that sort of debt, your housing interest rates are similarly high. An across-the-board cut in interest rates would benefit the people of Lindsay more than anything else and would be exceptionally fair.

The electorate of Lindsay has a young area and a number of new subdivisions. A number of people from disadvantaged backgrounds have worked exceptionally hard to get ahead, to pay for a better future for themselves and their children—only to see it eaten away by way of mortgage repayments. They just cannot maintain an adequate standard of living. The best we can give them is a drop in interest rates. That is why the people of Lindsay voted for the Liberal Party on 2 March. They had had enough of the extravagant spending of Labor. It gave everyone a nice warm, fuzzy headline but at the end of the day it put us in debt—a debt that our children will have to pay off.

This budget is the start of a long haul out of debt. We will not be back in the black until the year 2000, and it does mean having a government with the courage to bite the bullet and stick with it. Over time, people will see a future. That is exceptionally important to the youth of Lindsay. I could give you a lot of statistics, but all you really have to do is walk around my electorate and talk to the young kids, to the people at the clubs, at the front of the CES and at the markets and you will realise that they do not see much of a future for Australia. That concerns me greatly.

We have a nation where someone like me who is not exceptionally wealthy, who is not well connected, who is not related to anyone exceptionally famous or influential can make it into parliament. I stood up along with thousands of members of Lindsay who came out in their droves to help me as I was struggling along with my pamphlet distribution and telling people what the Liberal Party was going to offer. They told me, `We are fed up. We know where the Labor Party are going—we have followed them for 13 years. Let's go in a different direction. Let's try it. Let's go. Let's see where we are going to head.' And they did. They said, `Anything is better than the direction in which we are heading.'

We have come down with this budget which has met with resounding acclamation as responsible and fair, and a step in the right direction. So what is it in this budget that is of specific relevance to the people of Lindsay? We have had a number of very good initiatives that will help the greater western Sydney area. As I have mentioned before in this place, I head up the Greater Western Sydney Task Force. It is made up of a number of Liberal members of parliament in greater western Sydney. It has a lot of political unity, a lot of common drives and a lot of common desire to get proper representation for the people of greater western Sydney. It is something that the divisive, factionalised, split-up, self-interested Labor members in the area have ignored for so long.

The reconstruction of vital infrastructure out in Lindsay was ignored at the expense of Liverpool and in other areas, where possible, the people of Lindsay were simply ignored and forgotten. They have risen up in droves; they have created a very marginal seat; and their vote counts. They are not going to go back to being taken for granted. They want their share of the cake. They don't want to be overlooked. They want to stand up and be taken into account when any government decisions are made. This Greater Western Sydney Task Force I am heading up does exactly that: it has five MPs who are going to stand up and say, `Hey, what about greater western Sydney?' As the member for Macquarie (Mr Bartlett), who is in the chamber, will testify—he is the secretary on this task force—he is concerned to see that our area continues to get the representation it deserves and the attention that is warranted by 1.8 million people living in the greater western area of Sydney.

We are tired of the New South Wales Labor government's attitude to local health services, its broken promises on removing the tolls on the M4 and its irresponsible promises that it has no intention of keeping—as well as the former Labor members' promise to remove the trunk dialling charges to Sydney. These are just some examples of Labor making a promise with no intention of keeping it and not really worrying about it when it was not kept.

All I am asking for the people of Lindsay is a fair go to stand up and get on with the job—give us a chance. The direction in which we were going was not appropriate. We all agreed with that. There was a massive defection from Labor's heartland to the Liberal Party.

Mr Bevis —It surprised you, didn't it?

Mr McDougall —It surprised you, too.

Miss JACKIE KELLY —I was surprised; I'll admit that. I was really surprised at the level of defection from people who had always voted Labor; it was no longer the Labor Party that they knew. The level of defection was not just that they voted for Jackie, it was a matter of coming out and actively helping me. They said, `I'm a member of the ALP but I will help you because I reckon our leadership has really lost the plot. It's the same old guys, the same being taken for granted, and the same feathering your nest and padding yourself.' The atmosphere in the electorate during that campaign was almost tangible.

I don't ever want that area to be taken for granted again. It has unique features in Australia and, for a rower, the Nepean River is obviously one of them. I have done a lot in terms of conservation of that river and protecting it as a very valuable recreation area for the local people and community groups. With the help of a few rowers, kayakers and triathletes we have weeded that river back and we have a number of plans in line down the track to put a permanent feature on the Hawkesbury-Nepean in terms of dealing with blue-green algae and the weed problem.

Lindsay also has a large defence area. It is surprising how much defence happens out in greater western Sydney and how many defence people there are who have retired into the area from defence. There is an extra $1.7 million in this budget to further develop local defence facilities. That is important because under Labor defence spending was reduced quite severely from nearly 2.3 per cent of GDP down to 1.9 per cent of GDP currently. A lot of allegations have been made that defence did not get cut but in real terms the defence budget has been reduced by 0.5 per cent—but there is hope of maintaining that level of defence funding. That is incredibly essential if Australia wants to ever stand alone as a self-reliant military power.

Despite Labor's announcement last year of the cut in its funding for education, I am pleased to announce that the Howard government saw fit to do otherwise. It is continuing its funding for the Greater Western Sydney Education Centre. Labour market programs are very important to western Sydney. We will be spending $5.4 billion in the next four years on labour market programs, which is, in fact, more than Labor's $4.9 billion in the last four years—that was immediately before Working Nation kicked in.

Our expenditure of this money will be directed at achieving real jobs. That money will be paid when real jobs are created or people are seriously employed. That has an immense effect on the people in my electorate. I can list several people I know personal ly and anecdotal evidence of numerous people who have been through three, four or five different labour market training programs and still do not have a job.

Mr McDougall —They would never have got one.

Miss JACKIE KELLY —Certainly not. When you look at tertiary education in my electorate, my electorate is not up to the Australian average in terms of tertiary qualified people; we have more tradespeople. With the absolute dwindling of apprenticeships this has been a major concern to the parents in my area. Where can their kids get an apprenticeship?

This is where MAATS, the modern Australian apprenticeship and trainee scheme, comes in. It provides a number of vocational education and training arrangements within a workplace and provides a lot of incentive for industry to take on apprentices. That will surely help with the high levels of youth unemployment in my area. It is a significant improvement provided by this budget for the people and particularly the young kids in my area since apprenticeships available to them have become almost non-existent unless they know someone or their father is in a trade. It is a very much aspired-to career—a lot of our young people in Lindsay aspire to a career in one trade or another. The vocational education that they will receive in school, the MAATS initiative and a number of other initiatives in this budget will certainly help in that area.

The biggest help that we can give those young kids is to reduce the budget deficit, lower interest rates, give business a fighting chance of getting ahead of the overheads and the mortgage repayments and give them an opportunity to grow and create jobs. As I have said before, governments do not create jobs; private industry does. It is only with the growth in private industry and jobs in that sector that we will be able to get out of the unemployment crisis that we are in. Otherwise it is simply a matter of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul, with the government employing people in labour market programs or in the government—and around and around we go while we tax fewer and fewer people in the private sector to pay for a growing public sector.

The lowering of living standards in the last 10 years is another significant issue. They certainly have come down in my electorate. People just do not seem to be able to take vacations, and their living standards in terms of the lifestyle opportunities for their children have been grossly affected.

I commend this bill to the House. The budget really has to go through in its entire form because, as you well know, Madam Deputy Speaker, you really cannot chop one thing and support another without taking from some other area. It really is the budget that is providing us with some direction, while the opposition has absolutely no direction to take us in, except where we were headed on 2 March.