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Wednesday, 4 June 2008
Page: 4565

Mr BIDGOOD (11:28 AM) —This budget delivers for the workers in Dawson and across the nation. All politics is local. Yes, we delivered tax cuts. We promised them and we delivered them, and we did so more efficiently—not four major tax bands but three tax bands. It is all about local politics. It is all about the family around the kitchen table. It is all about looking after working people and their families, treating them with dignity and respect.

So what does this mean in the seat of Dawson? It means that we are going to deliver on building a multipurpose stadium for the people of Mackay and the region. The previous, National Party member for Dawson went to two elections promising and promising without ever delivering one cent to the rugby league and junior rugby league stadium over 11 years. It is absolutely terrible. The Rudd Labor government has delivered, not what the former member promised, which was $5 million, but $8 million—in full, in the first six months of its term. Yes, all politics is local. We have delivered for the Mackay region.

In this financial year $20 million will be spent on the Townsville Port Access Road. That is part of an overall development of $95 million. We will deliver on basic, essential infrastructure for the people of Dawson. Also, in the sugarcane town of Ayr in the Burdekin shire, the Burdekin Bridge is going to have an upgrade worth $50 million over the next four years, and in this financial year we will deliver $4 million to begin that upgrade. Yes, all politics is local. Yes, the Rudd Labor government is delivering for the people of Ayr and the Burdekin shire. We also believe in delivering skills, training and education for the people of Dawson. Yes, we have delivered again—a $14 million mining technology innovation centre. The first $3.5 million will be delivered in this tax year. Yes, all politics is local. Yes, we are delivering for the people of Dawson.

The previous member for the seat of Dawson promised funding but never delivered one dollar. There has not been one dollar delivered for the Mackay aquatic park facility, which was a joint venture between three levels of government: local government—the Mackay City Council; the state government; and the federal government. Yes, the promise was made, but guess what: not one dollar was delivered. It is left to this government to actually roll out $4 million in this financial year for that. We do deliver. All politics is local and we are delivering for the people of Dawson.

Not only that, we are also delivering $4.8 million in Roads to Recovery funding in this 2008-09 tax year. We have amazing growth in the seat of Dawson due to the ongoing resource mining boom. We have acres and acres of cane fields along the Bruce Highway being converted to industrial estates. Access to the Bruce Highway and the facilitation of the movement of goods and services are vital. I am pleased to say that we are delivering locally for the people of Dawson in helping productivity and in upgrading Connors Road and Farrelleys Lane. We are going to deliver $1.1 million to get that process started to facilitate access to the Bruce Highway. Not only that, we will also be upgrading Farrelleys Lane from Temples Lane through to Boundary Road. Some 3.5 kilometres of road will be upgraded to make the two-lane Bruce Highway into four lanes. The overall cost of that will be $50 million. There is a total of $150 million being spent directly on the Bruce Highway by this Rudd Labor government in the seat of Dawson. How much was delivered in the last 11 years? Guess what: nowhere near $150 million.

We can talk in millions and millions of dollars, and that is great, but what made me so happy was to deliver for the Dolphins Soccer Club in Bucasia, in the northern beaches of Mackay. All that the club had asked for was $112,000. They had been asking other levels of government consistently. They were given lip-service but not one dollar. Guess what: this Rudd Labor government has delivered to the Dolphins Soccer Club $112,000 in this tax year. When I went to the soccer fields and I met Darryl Gibbs, the coach and team manager, and all the young soccer players on a Saturday morning, they were so delighted and so overwhelmed that the big hand of government had come to their little community and given them a helping hand. You should have seen the joy on those kids’ faces. The manager said to me, ‘James, I honestly did not think we were in the frame to get any funding, with all the cuts that were going on.’ And I said, ‘Darryl, nothing pleases me more than to be able to deliver to the grassroots, to the poor kids who need a helping hand.’

That club is going to service an area of northern Mackay which is one of our fastest-growing residential areas due to the resources boom that is taking place. Members would be aware that the Queensland Resources Council has said that by the year 2015 we are going to need an extra 15,000 resource workers in Queensland. And one in four of those jobs will be in the Bowen Basin. The people who work in the Bowen Basin live in the electorate of Dawson. Our government will facilitate the major infrastructure for the Bruce Highway and also deliver socially, for sports; because the people of Dawson love their sport. They work hard and—guess what—they play hard too. We are facilitating not only basic infrastructure but also social activity.

Under the Rudd Labor government three major funds have been established. The first is the education fund. We have clear political determination to deliver for the children across this nation in every single school, regardless of whether they are public or private. We want a smart country. We want smart education infrastructure, and we have made clear decisions to invest in computers and in technical facilities in every school across the country. And that is being facilitated by our education fund—something which was lacking in the last 11 years. Why was it lacking? It was lacking because there was no political determination, no political will and no real vision to make it happen. But this government has made it happen.

The second fund that we have established is the Infrastructure Australia fund. It deals with issues like Roads to Recovery, port access roads and helping the productivity not just of the electorate of Dawson but of the whole nation—helping export productivity through shipping out our resources around the world. That is a very important fund.

Third but not least is the health fund. Again, we have taken it very seriously. We have decided that there is a political determination to invest strongly in elective surgery, to invest and make things happen. An extra 25,000 elective surgery operations will take place because of the political determination of this government to make it happen: political will, political action and a direct result to everyday people.

Of course, we must not forget our seniors. What a fantastic result for them. They are going to be $900 a year better off. The utilities allowance under the previous government was just $107 a year. Now, under the Rudd Labor government, we will be paying out $500 a year, $125 every quarter, and it will be paid quarterly, in time to pay those quarterly utility bills. Why is this? It is because we listen to everyday people. We listened to our seniors, and they said, ‘What is the point of having just $107 paid half now and the other half in six months? We need it in time for the bills when they come.’ This government listened to what everyday seniors were saying, and we have delivered an increase from $107 to $500 per year, paid quarterly. Yes, our seniors are much better off under a Rudd Labor government.

Carers are $2,100 a year better off under the Rudd Labor government. Again, they are better off because we had the political determination, the political will, to make things happen. If we had not made those decisions, our carers, as they were under the previous government, would be $2,100 a year no better off. But under Labor they are better off.

Good news was delivered yesterday by the Reserve Bank of Australia, which chose not to increase interest rates. I believe it is because of the good fiscal management that this government has demonstrated to the people of Australia. The financial markets have responded, and interest rates will not rise—as a result, I believe, of good stewardship of the nation’s money. This is really good news for everyday people paying mortgages. As we know, there have been 12 straight interest rate rises. Well, we have put a stop to it. Yes, there have been cuts, but those cuts and good fiscal management have delivered the largest surplus that this nation has ever known: $22 billion. What a fantastic achievement! Without that surplus, we cannot deliver on the promises to everyday working Australians, families, our seniors and our carers.

I commend the political determination of this government. I commend the budget. It is a fantastic budget that meets so many needs in this nation, whether it is the needs of working people and their families, our seniors and our carers or whether it is the needs of the business community and our international export community. This budget is helping productivity and helping everyday people. It is good for small business, it is good for big business and it is good for everyday people. This is a fantastic budget that delivers for the whole nation.