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- Start of Business
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Mr McDOUGALL, Mr COSTELLO)
(Mr GARETH EVANS, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Mr NUGENT, Mr COSTELLO)
Regional Headquarters Program
(Mr BEAZLEY, Mr TIM FISCHER)
Former Government Business Enterprises
(Mr HICKS, Mr FAHEY)
(Mr MARTIN, Mr TIM FISCHER, Mr BRUCE SCOTT)
(Mr LLOYD, Dr KEMP)
(Ms MACKLIN, Mrs MOYLAN)
Wreath Laying Ceremonies
(Mr DONDAS, Mr BRUCE SCOTT)
(Mr TED GRACE, Mrs MOYLAN)
Fraser, Mr Justin
(Mr TAYLOR, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Mr GARETH EVANS, Mr RUDDOCK)
(Mr WAKELIN, Mr SHARP)
(Mr SAWFORD, Mrs MOYLAN)
(Mrs DRAPER, Mr WILLIAMS)
ABC: Rugby League Broadcasts on Radio
(Mr MAREK, Mr JULL)
Kids Help Line
(Mr BEDDALL, Mr TIM FISCHER)
(Dr NELSON, Mr SHARP)
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE: ADDITIONAL RESPONSES
(Mr KELVIN THOMSON, Mr ACTING SPEAKER)
Newspaper Clipping Service
(Mr SLIPPER, Mr ACTING SPEAKER)
Minister for Family Services
(Mr SAWFORD, Mr ACTING SPEAKER, Mr LEO McLEAY)
- JOINT HOUSE DEPARTMENT
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL'S REPORTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- WOODCHIP EXPORT REGULATIONS
- APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 1) 1996-97
- MATTERS REFERRED TO MAIN COMMITTEE
- Western Australian Police Force
- Textiles, Clothing and Footwear Industry
- Tribal Colours of the Pacific
- Information Technology
- Captain Cook Commemoration
- Lindsay By-election
- Procedural Text
QUESTIONS ON NOTICE
Alice Springs to Tarcoola Rail Line
(Mr Tanner, Mr Sharp)
(Dr Lawrence, Mr Warwick Smith)
(Dr Lawrence, Mr Warwick Smith)
(Mrs Crosio, Mr Sharp)
Western Sydney Regional Development Organisation
(Mrs Crosio, Mr Sharp)
Aboriginal Land Councils
(Mr Tuckey, Dr Wooldridge)
(Mr Mossfield, Mr Downer)
(Mr Crean, Mr Prosser)
New Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Building, Barton ACT
(Mr Hardgrave, Mr Jull)
- Alice Springs to Tarcoola Rail Line
Tuesday, 17 September 1996
Mrs GASH(9.47 p.m.) —I rise to speak in response to the budget on behalf of the people of Gilmore and on behalf of those Australians who gave us a go at the recent election. I do not believe anyone was under the illusion that this was going to be a budget of goodies for the nation. The deficit left by the previous government had seen to that. However, I believe the response to the budget by the people of Gilmore has been positive, with the constituents knowing there was a job that had to be done and being prepared to take up the challenge.
As a woman, I fully understand the feelings of trepidation experienced by many families in the lead-up to the budget. The source of this unfounded fear was a campaign of misinformation by the Labor Party directed at those who feel most vulnerable in our society—the elderly and the infirm—the very same people who worked so hard to make Australia what it is today.
The basis of this campaign was that we were a government without compassion; that we were simply economic rationalists who cared about figures and not about people. In retrospect, this makes me extremely angry, particularly in the light of the success of the budget that was brought down on 20 August, a budget that has drawn praise from all quarters as both fair and honest.
With regard to our aged population, it is our responsibility to allow them dignity and provide them with the security they need and deserve. The budget has provided for this. However, an intolerable situation arose when the opposition waged a campaign of uncertainty against the aged in the wake of the budget. I refer, of course, to our efforts to overcome the deterioration of nursing home facilities.
Within the framework of the budget, there was scope made available to raise the standard of nursing home facilities through capital investment. The opposition chose to interpret and run with the line that this meant a $26,000 entry fee to nursing homes. There is no set entry fee. Yet they would not let the issue drop. As late as question time today they continued to attack and engender fear in our aged population. These were and still are underhand tactics, seeking short-term political points at the expense of our senior citizens. Those who cannot afford to pay to enter a nursing home will not have to do so.
There can be only $2,600 per year drawn down for a maximum period of five years. Only those who can afford an entry contribution will pay one. I ask the question: is it not fair that those who can afford the expense of an outlay do so? Is it not better that we maintain nursing homes of high standard, allowing all users the same high quality accommodation as was established in the hostel system by the Labor government?
Mr Latham —Are you going to whip the hat around?
Mrs GASH —Would you like to speak for a while?
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Mossfield) —Order! The House will come to order.
Mrs GASH —Thank you. Indeed, is it not the philosophy of the Labor Party for the wealthier to look after the not so well off? It begs the question: what were the opposition doing over the last 13 years? I do not believe that they were planning for a secure and comfortable life for our elderly, a sector of the population that will be increasing, as we all know, in future years, one that we in this House will all reach before too long.
This government is forward thinking. It is not out to make cheap political points. This is why the Australian people so overwhelmingly opted for change at the recent election. The recent budget also recognised that there are many people in our population who do want to work. I think everyone in this House agrees that opportunities have to be created. The difference lies in the fact that this must involve positive outcomes.
People cannot be shoved into training programs which are the whim of a government, and mickey mouse programs at that, but which bear no relationship to the needs of employers. The unemployed are not cattle that are to be moved from program to program to cook up the figures.
The Australian population demands real jobs—a fair day's work for a fair day's pay. A job that provides dignity and a sense of self-worth for an individual is the vital ingredient to a happier and more productive society. The framework for the creation of such an outcome was again created by the Treasurer (Mr Costello) when he brought down the budget on 20 August. This government has demonstrated that it is responsible, that it can make the hard decisions and that it is prepared to take out the political cost of reductions in spending, because we are intent on laying solid foundations for the future generations of Australians. Every Australian knows that if you are earning $300 you cannot continue to spend $400 without coming to a financial calamity. As a responsible government, we are not prepared to borrow to pay our interest and ignore our immense debt.
Gilmore is a disadvantaged area with an enormous amount of potential. It is my overriding goal to see that it goes beyond the possibilities that it possesses. The news that HMAS Albatross was to receive an injection of funding and has been earmarked for future investment was welcomed by both me and the electorate. Albatross is already a hive of activity. The knowledge that the government continued recognition of it as a key defence establishment has boosted the morale of its officers and men. Moreover, it provides the much needed stability and career advancement that has not previously been so assured.
These men and women are critical to the security of the nation's future. They recognise and respond to the knowledge that their role is of the utmost importance. They are also aware of the amount of money that the government and the Australian people have invested in them. We cannot afford to allow these men and women to feel insecure or uncertain about their positions. They are vital to ensuring the security of our nation.
I stated that my mission was to see Gilmore fulfil its full potential, and I believe the Treasurer on 20 August provided the scope for this to be achieved. Without doubt, the key element to this was the long awaited announcement of incentive for small business.
For too long employers, who will inevitably be the people and the organisations that absorb the massive unemployment in our area, were denied the opportunities they deserved. Their entrepreneurial spirit and financial investment were being restrained by an arrogant government. The previous administration had legislated to such an extent that the business community was aware that in such an environment the risks far outweighed the potential rewards.
One of the keys to establishing momentum within the small business sector and the economy as a whole will be the scrapping of the unfair dismissal law. I call on those in the Senate who hold the future of the workplace relations bill in their hands to allow the abolition of this law. It must be done in order to allow businesses to take on employees and to expand their operations, secure in the knowledge that they will not be burnt at a later date. Further to this, I must stress that fear and intimidation have no place in today's societies. The roles of the employer and the unions are changing and must continue to do so. We have to work in harmony to create jobs and wealth for all Australians.
During the election this government ran on the platform that the family would be of paramount importance, and our policies would certainly reflect this. I think it gave all members on this side of the House a great sense of pride to see this commitment carried through in full. The difficulty in fulfilling this commitment was intensified primarily by the backdrop of the tight fiscal restraint made necessary by the economic mismanagement of the previous administration.
The family tax initiative gave back to those who contribute the greatest to our society—the family. For too long they have been ignored. I commend both the Prime Minister (Mr Howard) and the Treasurer for providing families in Gilmore and across the nation with the incentives and rewards that are rightfully theirs.
Voters across Australia made their voices very clear on the day of the election. With their votes came a plea for accountability—accountability as to where their money was going. The Australian people realised that they could no longer afford programs that had no outcomes—programs that were only being put in place for political gain. In line with this, the people of Gilmore took great heart in seeing that some of the difficult problems afflicting our area and society in general were tackled in this budget.
I note with pride the package relating to a 100 per cent increase over three years for marriage and relationship counselling. Not only is this government committed to the strong in our society but it recognises the needs of those experiencing difficulty with the trials of life, at times through no fault of their own.
This leads me to another area, again particularly poignant for Gilmore—youth suicide. The national youth suicide strategy, recognising and emphasising the particularly acute nature of this problem in rural and regional Australia, is a welcome initiative. I pray that we can make inroads into this tragic situation, one that has traditionally been brushed under the carpet.
An area arising from the budget for which I have received positive feedback is that of home and community care, known as HACC. This is of great importance within Gilmore. Many groups have welcomed the decision to standardise fees for services as both fair and just. The increase in funding of six per cent over four years for HACC has been seen by community groups as a well thought out approach to an ever increasing service and demand. Once again, this has been a very positive outcome from this budget.
May I now revert back to those who hold the balance of power in the Senate. I implore them to display leadership in allowing the sale of one-third of Telstra to go through. We were up-front with the Australian people during the election and they chose the option of implementing one of the most important environmental packages in the history of our country. I lay particular emphasis on this because Gilmore is blessed with some of the most magnificent natural gifts in the nation, the crown jewel being Jervis Bay. This package has been praised by conservationists and environmental groups throughout my electorate. We must be allowed to reap the full benefits of this momentous environmental package.
Continuing in the environment vein, I commend the government on its creation of the green corps. This innovative program is particularly pertinent to Gilmore as we have many unemployed young people who would find inspiration in being able to commit themselves for a period of time to working towards the protection and betterment of our coastline and landscape. The government providing a program of this nature shows that it is truly in touch with the mood of the people of Australia, and young people will be able to gain a qualification while maintaining some of the pristine areas within the Gilmore electorate. It is an exciting and thoughtful policy.
The qualifications that participants will receive relate to landcare management, forestry plantations, heritage protection and aspects of marine biology. However, most of all it is for our youth to learn and share in our greatest asset of all, that being the aquaculture and marine based industry. We have the perfect location for what we know will be an area of growth; that is, discovering the potential for food cultivation in our oceans.
There can be little doubt that the formulation of this budget was always going to be a difficult task. The previous government—and I refer to Mr Keating—showed considerable hypocrisy in the manner in which they left the finances of this nation. The Labor Party and its then `world's greatest Treasurer' boasted to Australians of his fiscal responsibility during the 1980s. However, this was abandoned once Mr Keating became Prime Minister in the early 1990s.
The budget brought down by the Treasurer on 20 August began the clean-up of the financial mess left behind by the previous administration. I am very proud to be part of a government that is prepared to accept its financial responsibility without abandoning its social conscience. I believe the recent budget to be the first in a series of benchmarks that this government will provide to the people of Gilmore and Australia as a whole.
When I say this, I refer to both its honesty and fairness. This was reinforced by the introduction of the charter of budget honesty. The Australian people will no longer tolerate being deceived by politicians, as they were by the former Prime Minister when he told the people of Australia that the budget would be in surplus. Our charter represents the first step in re-establishing this trust that the population should have in their representatives in government.
There is a new breed of politicians in this parliament. We may not always be politically correct, but we do believe in honesty and integrity. It is my ultimate goal to see both sides of the House take a more bipartisan approach to issues of national importance, and the economy is a case in point. I applaud the member for Cunningham (Mr Martin) on his earlier remarks this evening. Opposing for the sake of opposing, without cause or conviction, is futile. Thoughtful and stimulating debate is productive. As I said earlier, the days of formal ideology are essentially over.
Gilmore should be one of the shining lights of Australia. I commend this budget on taking the first difficult step in addressing the economic and social problems that confront not only my electorate but the nation as a whole. Moreover, I commend it as a budget that showed the courage to take the initiative to return Australia to economic prosperity, which both our generation and future generations deserve.