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Tuesday, 31 May 2011
Page: 5390

Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (16:40): I am delighted to speak here today in support of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2011-12 and cognate bills. While many countries around the world are still struggling to pick themselves up from the global financial crisis, Australia's economy is strong and unemployment is low. Make no mistake: we would not be back in the black by 2012-13 if it was not for this Labor government saving Australia from recession during the global financial crisis. This budget will deliver a strong economy, a sustainable environment and a fair society that provides every Australian with the opportunities to prosper and succeed in life.

Our first priority is keeping the economy strong, because that creates jobs for Australian families. With a strong economy, the government is making sure that the opportunities and benefits flowing from the mining boom are shared with all Australians, making sure that no Australian is left behind. Over 750,000 more Australians are in jobs today than were in jobs when the government first took office. That is in stark contrast to the 30 million jobs that were lost globally during the aftermath of the global financial crisis. Walk through Detroit or Athens and you will see the businesses that have shut down and the desolation that that has created through the unemployment that has affected thousands of families and children around the world.

Let us not forget that those opposite in the National Party and the Liberal Party opposed the economic stimulus packages. If their opposition had succeeded, we would have seen over 200,000 people out of work across Australia. In an electorate like Hindmarsh, that would have affected many thousands of families—children, siblings and partners. I have a stadium in the electorate called AAMI Stadium, where the AFL is played. The number of unemployed that there would have been would have filled four such stadiums. You can imagine the devastation that that would have caused in Australia. That would have seen many families collapse under the stress of being unable to meet their mortgage repayments and unable to deal with the cost of living. That is something that I am very glad did not happen in our communities across Australia.

In my electorate, from Somerton Park to Semaphore Park and from West Beach to Richmond, Torrensville, Lockleys and Mile End—wherever I go—my constituents want to know that they will be part of a future full of opportunity and that they will have a secure job now and into the future and that their children will have every chance to succeed, no matter what they choose to do. That is why we on this side are very proud to stand here today and say unequivocally that this Labor government has kept the economy going strong through the global financial crisis and through the natural disasters that we saw during this last summer. Not only that, we are bringing the budget back to surplus in 2012-13 as planned.

This year's budget will get us back in the black by making savings. In fact, this is the first time in 20 years that government spending is forecast to decline in real times. A strong budget means that we can deliver better services for Australian families and in this budget that included a transformation of our skills and training system and a record investment in mental health services—announced a couple of weeks ago in the budget. There is $22 billion worth of whole-of-government savings in the 2011-12 budget, continuing the government's strong track record in identifying efficiencies and making tough savings decisions. By delivering these savings the government has met its key fiscal commitments, including returning the budget to surplus in 2012-13. The spending decisions in this budget are more than offset by savings, meaning policy decisions deliver a net improvement to the bottom line of $5.2 billion across the forward estimates.

Just about every aspect of this year's budget will positively impact the lives of my constituents, so I would like to outline some of the most significant budget policies that were announced. First of all we are helping to ease the cost of living by providing tax relief for families and people on low incomes. In my electorate of Hindmarsh alone up to 3,000 families will be eligible to receive up to $4,200 extra each year per child aged between 16 and 19 under changes to the family tax benefit part A. That is 3,000 families eligible to receive that in my electorate. Thousands of my constituents on low incomes will benefit from getting a little bit extra money in their pay packets every week instead of having to wait until the end of the year, under changes to the low incomes tax offset. We have also lowered the tax you have to pay on your savings. You will get a 50 per cent discount on interest income up to $1,000. We have also introduced a standard deduction to make tax time simpler for four million Australians.

The second big part of this budget is the way we are supporting jobs and training in a way that has never happened before. This government is building Australia's workforce with $558 million to deliver tailored, quality training places through the National Workforce Development Fund. Nearly 3,000 apprentices in my electorate will be provided with a $1,700 tax-free trades apprentices income bonus which will encourage them to complete their critical trade qualifications. We know how important it is for apprentices to complete their training. We know that many drop out in the first year, less drop out in the second year and so on as they go through their years of training. We know those first 12 months are extremely important, and this will assist those apprentices to stay within the training and remain there and get their certificate and finish their plumbing, electrical or mechanic course, whatever apprenticeship they are doing. So the income bonus will encourage them to complete their critical trade qualifications. In my electorate 1,238 very long-term employed will also be offered assistance to prepare for and find work under the new work participation initiatives.

I frequently receive calls in my office, as I suspect all members do, from constituents who want to go back to do some part-time work but are worried that they will lose their eligibility for disability support pensions if they do. That is why I was delighted that the Minister for Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs has delivered fair and flexible new arrangements which will allow people on the disability support pension, the DSP, to go out and do more hours without losing their eligibility. This will help encourage more people to give work another go. We are also reforming the vocational education and training system with a further $1.75 billion on offer to partner with state and territory governments. Despite a tough budget, we have managed to deliver a health-care package as well which has the potential to significantly improve the lives of our constituents and the lives of the Hindmarsh residents in my electorate through record investment in health care, mental health, diagnostic imaging services and public dental services. There will be more access to GPs, more after-hours services, more money to train our nurses and funding to introduce individual electronic health records so that patients, doctors and all the medical professions can have information at their fingertips when they need it most. But, out of all the initiatives, the granting of a new MRI licence to a clinic in my electorate is particularly exciting, as it means that there will be more affordable MRI services for my constituents closer to their homes, especially for patients with common cancers such as breast and cervical cancer. I would also like to make particular note of the new $53 million package to improve access to public dental services, particularly for people on low incomes. Better public dental care is something that many of us on this side have fought for over many years, and I know that for many people in Hindmarsh these services have been a very long time coming. For their sakes, I am proud to have helped deliver some of those services.

These budget measures, from training opportunities to tax cuts, are going to make a really positive difference on the ground in my electorate of Hindmarsh. Hindmarsh is a wonderful community. It is full of passionate individuals working day in, day out towards their dreams and their goals. Small business owners in Hindmarsh can also look forward to more tax relief and simpler tax systems, which will give them more time to do what they do best and which mean less time slogging through paperwork and tax forms. Schools are also getting a better deal. We are determined to make every school a great school, with $425 million to reward top-performing teachers and an extra $200 million to support students with disabilities.

This budget is fantastic on a whole range of levels. It is getting us back into the black while, at the same time, making targeted investments where they matter most: in health and education, jobs and skills, and helping to ease the cost of living. I look forward to the people in my local community feeling the full benefits of the changes in this budget—people like Bob Owen, from the Netley Residents Association, who stood shoulder to shoulder with me for many years while fighting for an aircraft noise ombudsman and who continues to be a strong voice for his local community, and like Peter Bijok and his father, John Bijok, who campaigned alongside me for many years for the new King Street bridge in Glenelg, the construction of which has already started. These people are quiet achievers, but they represent the people of Hindmarsh. They are passionate, they are hardworking and they are deserving of a strong government which will deliver what they need most: a strong economy, job opportunities and great health and education systems.

I have worked with many people over the years to deliver for Hindmarsh, including $4.5 million for a new King Street bridge; $1.5 million for Surf Life Saving South Australia's new headquarters at West Beach; CCTV cameras for Glenelg; a new aircraft noise ombudsman; and the Glenelg to Adelaide recycled water pipeline, which will deliver recycled water all around the metropolitan area. But what gives me most pride is knowing that the federal government has delivered another budget which is responsible and fair and which provides those services for our communities that are most in need. Over the last few months I have been going around to different schools in my electorate opening BER, Building the Education Revolution, projects in many schools. It is quite plain, and you can see it quite bluntly. When we look back a few years at the global financial crisis and how we got out of it, we only have to visit a few of the schools, look at the infrastructure that is being built in those schools, and talk to the builders and ask them how many people were employed on each site. The answers that we get are anything from 20 to 70. When you multiply that across all the infrastructure projects, which number approximately 26,000 across the country, you can see how many jobs were created and you can see why we got out of the global financial crisis. As I said earlier, the Liberal-National Party opposed the injection of infrastructure and, had it succeeded, we would have seen thousands of people unemployed. We are the envy of economies from all over the world. When I speak to people from overseas, the first question they ask is: how did you fare so well with the global financial crisis? The answer is that we acted decisively, we acted quickly and we ensured that we stimulated the economy through infrastructure projects all around the country. As I said earlier, 20 to 70 jobs were created at each project. When you multiply that by 26,000 across the country, you can see why Australia did so well. I am very proud to be part of this Labor government. I am very proud to support the appropriation bills and this budget. I am very proud of the fact that we will be back in the black in 2013. I urge the members opposite to also support the budget. (Time expired)