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- Start of Business
- FAIRER PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES BILL 2009
- FAIRER PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES (MEDICARE LEVY SURCHARGE) BILL 2009
- FAIRER PRIVATE HEALTH INSURANCE INCENTIVES (MEDICARE LEVY SURCHARGE—FRINGE BENEFITS) BILL 2009
- FAIR WORK (STATE REFERRAL AND CONSEQUENTIAL AND OTHER AMENDMENTS) BILL 2009
- GUARANTEE OF STATE AND TERRITORY BORROWING APPROPRIATION BILL 2009
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2009 BUDGET MEASURES NO. 1) BILL 2009
- COORDINATOR-GENERAL FOR REMOTE INDIGENOUS SERVICES BILL 2009
- SOCIAL SECURITY LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (IMPROVED SUPPORT FOR CARERS) (CONSEQUENTIAL AND TRANSITIONAL) BILL 2009
- MIGRATION AMENDMENT (PROTECTION OF IDENTIFYING INFORMATION) BILL 2009
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2009 MEASURES NO. 2) BILL 2009
- FINANCIAL SECTOR LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (ENHANCING SUPERVISION AND ENFORCEMENT) BILL 2009
- HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (VET FEE-HELP AND PROVIDERS) BILL 2009
- MINISTERIAL ARRANGEMENTS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- DISTINGUISHED VISITORS
- QUESTIONS WITHOUT NOTICE
- PRIME MINISTER AND TREASURER
- AUNG SAN SUU KYI
- PERSONAL EXPLANATIONS
- AUDITOR-GENERAL’S REPORTS
- MINISTERIAL STATEMENTS
- MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE
- HEALTH WORKFORCE AUSTRALIA BILL 2009
- THERAPEUTIC GOODS AMENDMENT (MEDICAL DEVICES AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2008 
- TAX LAWS AMENDMENT (2009 MEASURES NO. 3) BILL 2009
- HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPORT AMENDMENT (VET FEE-HELP AND PROVIDERS) BILL 2009
- CAR DEALERSHIP FINANCING GUARANTEE APPROPRIATION BILL 2009
- Start of Business
- Sir Donald Eckersley
- Bennelong Electorate: Consumer Confidence
- Tangney Electorate: Internet Access
- Deakin Electorate: Ringwood Soccer and Multipurpose Sports Pavilion
- Indi Electorate: General Practice
- Dobell Electorate: Proposed Coalmine
- Swan Electorate: Belmont Medicare Office
- Forde Electorate: Rivermount College
- Workplace Relations
- Sri Lanka
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 1) 2009-2010
APPROPRIATION BILL (NO. 2) 2009-2010
APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENTARY DEPARTMENTS) BILL (NO. 1) 2009-2010
- Baldwin, Robert, MP
- Bevis, Arch, MP
- Jensen, Dennis, MP
- Rishworth, Amanda, MP
- Secker, Patrick, MP
- Sullivan, Jon, MP
- Simpkins, Luke, MP
- Livermore, Kirsten, MP
- Stone, Dr Sharman, MP
- Jackson, Sharryn, MP
- Moylan, Judi, MP
- Bradbury, David, MP
- Schultz, Alby, MP
- Parke, Melissa, MP
- Pyne, Chris, MP
- Sidebottom, Sid, MP
- Southcott, Dr Andrew, MP
- Marles, Richard, MP
- Second Reading
- QUESTIONS IN WRITING
Wednesday, 27 May 2009
Ms PARKE (5:58 PM) —I rise today to speak in support of Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2009-2010 and Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2009-2010 which underpin the Rudd Labor government’s nation building for recovery budget. It goes without saying that each and every Commonwealth budget is a matter of great significance, but it is hard to not feel that the 2009-10 budget is a particularly important document. That is because the 2009-10 budget is a blueprint designed to address the worst global downturn since the Great Depression. It is a budget framed in the face of revenue that will evaporate to the tune of some $200 billion over the period of the forward estimates. It is a budget that in response to the global recession and the savage contraction in private demand will seek to provide some essential cover for the gaping hole in Australia’s economy, with initiatives that follow a very simple rubric—that is, that we should do everything in our power to support jobs now through investments for the long-term benefit of this country.
The saving and funding initiatives that this budget contains and the policy reforms it implements are designed with one overriding principle: to put Australia on the path to a rapid and substantial recovery. It involves tackling difficult issues that our political opponents failed to tackle during the unprecedented economic sunshine of a global commodities boom; it involves navigating Australia through a period of deficit that is both unavoidable and necessary. We do not shirk the challenge that confronts this country, as it confronts nations around the world.
As the member for Fremantle, I can say that this budget includes a range of achievements large and small and that it takes big steps forward in areas that are of particular concern to my constituents. It tackles the issue of providing greater support for the elderly and the disabled in our community and for carers. It tackles the fiscally unsustainable revenue-to-expenditure churn that the Howard government practised and it provides a historic investment in areas that have long been neglected—areas like education, infrastructure, community assets and energy efficiency.
Households in Fremantle, and indeed across Australia, will soon see in their daily lives the proof of these nation-building initiatives. They may take the opportunity to install photovoltaic cells on their roofs, insulation in their ceilings or new gas hot water systems. Their kids’ or grandkids’ primary school will have a new library or multipurpose hall. The roads they drive on will benefit from massively increased black spot funding. In many cases their public transport options will increase and improve. There will be projects in their local communities that receive the support necessary to sustain green employment opportunities and trainee places.
Taken together, these bills and the measures they give rise to hold within them the blueprint for Australia’s secure, prosperous and sustainable future, and I want to discuss a few of these measures in more detail. The first matter I want to address is the long overdue reform of the pension payments system in Australia. This outcome of the budget is itself an instructive model of the Rudd government’s process. This government recognised that pensioners had been left behind and proceeded to give this problem due consideration through the mechanism of the independent Harmer review. It was on receipt of the Harmer review’s report that the government took action in this budget to comprehensively improve the Australian pension payment system.
From this budget forward, the single rate for the age, disabled, carers, spouse and veteran income support pensions has been increased to two-thirds of the combined couple rate, as recommended by the Harmer review. Pensioners across the nation, including more than 17,440 people in the Fremantle electorate, will benefit from up to an additional $32.10 per week for singles and $10.14 for couples. Three-quarters of single pensioners will receive the full increase.
The new pension supplement, which replaces four separate allowances for GST, utilities, telephone and internet, and pharmaceuticals, will simplify the ancillary payments to pensioners. The supplement will initially be paid on a fortnightly basis in combination with the pension itself, but from July 2010 pensioners will have the choice to receive half the supplement on a quarterly basis.
In addition to the pension increase, carer payment and carer allowance recipients have also been guaranteed an annual $600 supplement to help cover the unavoidable extra costs that come with the incredibly important task of providing care to those who most need it in our society. I am sure that the Corfield family of White Gum Valley—who I have come to know, and am honoured to know, through the ‘Adopt a Politician’ awareness scheme—will appreciate this extra support in their daily effort to confront the uncertainties of life with their daughter, Chloe, who suffers from Rett syndrome. This permanent supplement will hopefully allow the Corfields just a little bit more breathing room as they struggle to pay for the specialist therapies and medications that help Chloe achieve the best quality of life possible.
This government recognises that carers undertake some of the most necessary and difficult work that exists within the realm of the human condition. It is a labour of love, of absolute compassion, and it is work that is undertaken on behalf of all of us. It is only right that government supports the carers in our society, and we should always bear in mind that the expenditure to support that work in Australia is but a fraction of the value that carers save the Commonwealth through their efforts.
One of the initiatives that will be particularly welcome in Fremantle is the expanded support and recognition of midwives. The Rudd government’s commitment to strengthening Australia’s midwifery services follows the release of the maternity services review report. A number of the recommendations in that report are consonant with the views of numerous groups and individuals in my electorate, not least Community Midwifery Western Australia’s Pregnancy and Childbirth Centre, located in North Fremantle. They will welcome the government’s decision to commit $120.5 million over four years for the introduction of Medicare supported midwifery services to provide greater choice for women during pregnancy, birthing and postnatal maternity care. This measure includes $3.1 million in capital funding in 2009-10 for Medicare Australia.
The new arrangements will allow midwives to work as private practitioners, provide services subsidised by the Medicare Benefits Schedule and prescribe medications subsidised under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule. The government will also provide subsidised medical indemnity for eligible midwives working through collaborative arrangements in hospitals and healthcare settings. To ensure that Australia maintains its strong record of safety and quality in maternity care, a safety and quality framework, including professional guidance and advanced midwifery credentialling, will be developed and implemented. A new 24-hour, seven-days-a-week helpline will also be established to provide antenatal, birthing and postnatal maternity advice and information to women, partners and families during the antenatal period and up to 12 months following the birth of a child.
I am aware that this measure will also assist women in rural and remote areas by expanding the Medical Specialist Outreach Assistance Program to provide integrated outreach maternity service teams for women in under-serviced areas. The expanded teams will include midwives, obstetricians, general practitioners and other health professionals such as paediatricians and Aboriginal health workers. Additional funding will be provided for the professional development of midwives and for general practitioners to undertake additional training to become GP obstetricians or GP anaesthetists.
I want to turn now to consider some of the most substantial short- and medium-term benefits of this budget. It is no exaggeration to say that this nation building for recovery budget will literally change the landscape in my electorate. It will deliver a wave of significant and in some cases long-awaited improvements to 52 schools in the Fremantle electorate through the National School Pride Program. I am really pleased to see that the construction of a new library or multipurpose hall has already been approved for 25 primary schools through the first two rounds of the Primary Schools for the 21st Century Program. Through helping schools to apply for their precise maintenance and building needs, I know, for example, that Caralee Primary School will receive new smart boards worth $100,000 and that Spearwood Alternative School will be able to adapt the cafeteria section of their multipurpose building to fit in with their kitchen garden plans.
The changes to the landscape include a series of critical improvements in the area of transport safety, with an additional $850,000 allocated to road black spots, including $400,000 to supply traffic signals at the intersection of Spearwood Avenue and Barrington Avenue in Bibra Lake, and $200,000 to construct a roundabout at the intersection of McCombe Avenue and Winterfold Road in Samson. As the chairperson of the WA Black Spot Consultative Committee, I welcome the many instances of remedial work undertaken in Western Australia through this program. Once again, this is work that supports jobs and makes a critical and lasting improvement to safety on our roads. Members around the country will welcome the fact that this budget, in allocating $119.5 million, has doubled last year’s level of national funding for the road Black Spot Program.
A recent evaluation of the national Black Spot Program showed how highly effective it is in saving lives and preventing injury. In its first three years, the program was judged to have prevented at least 32 fatalities and more than 1,500 serious injuries. What is more, it is estimated that for every dollar spent on these safety measures, we reduce the costs of road trauma by $14. This makes the provision of additional funds all the more welcome. Similarly, the Boom Gates for Rail Crossings Program is aimed at making an equivalent contribution to improving safety at more than 250 high-risk crossings around Australia, and I am glad to say that this will include the introduction of further protection measures at seven crossings within the Fremantle electorate.
As I have said, this nation building to recovery budget is changing the landscape in Australia. Under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Project Fund there will be a range of new and exciting developments that add to the social capital in communities across Australia. There are two projects in the Fremantle electorate that will go ahead thanks to the critical assistance of the Rudd government.
The first involves the new Coogee Beach Surf Life Saving Club, which will receive $2 million for the construction of an integrated community facility project, consisting of a sustainably-designed, two-storey clubhouse that will accommodate a cafe, gym, change rooms and a multi-use space. An interpretation centre will highlight the area’s environmental and Indigenous cultural heritage, and the site works will include improved beach access and facilities such as paths, showers, barbecues and a children’s playground. The club will also rehabilitate four kilometres of vegetation in the surrounding regional park.
The second approved project in my electorate is the development of the Hilton Community Precinct, an initiative of the City of Fremantle to which the Commonwealth is committing $3.5 million. Planning for the Hilton precinct project has been in the works since 2005. Hilton is an old, established suburb which has undergone a flood of residential development over the last few years. However, much of the existing community infrastructure dates back to the 1950s and 1960s, and the developments aim to integrate disjointed facilities to create a more user-friendly and cohesive town centre.
The Police and Citizens Youth Club will be linked through the construction of a new arts workshop with the nearby progress hall, which will also be upgraded with modern amenities and a toy library for the benefit of the large number of young families in the area. Landscaping and improved pedestrian access points will refresh the streetscape, providing a modern, welcoming focal point for the Hilton community. Both of these projects will make an immediate and a lasting difference to their communities.
Just as the local and community infrastructure program is designed to support local employment as a by-product of building new facilities right across Australia, so it is that the government’s Jobs Fund programs will result in valuable heritage and environmental projects while supporting at-risk jobs and creating training opportunities. In the last fortnight I have been very happy to write letters of support and recommendation in relation to several exciting proposals from community groups, not-for-profit organisations and local governments within the Fremantle electorate. Time does not allow me to mention them all but I do want outline a couple of the proposals to give a sense of the potential that these projects contain.
I have supported, for example, the Rottnest Island Authority in their application for funding to support jobs that focus on maintaining the island’s unique built and natural heritage environment. Rottnest has a fascinating but also tragic history as a place of imprisonment for many Indigenous people in the early years of the Western Australian colony, and subsequently as Fremantle’s first line of defence during World War II, with its extensive network of guns and tunnels that were constructed as a base for the region’s defence force. In addition to this unique Indigenous and military heritage, Rottnest also has significant environmental values. Of course, Rottnest is now a vibrant and widely popular tourist destination for both domestic and international tourists.
In its proposal, the Rottnest Island Authority is seeking funds to implement new strategies aimed at developing and maintaining the island’s heritage and thereby providing heritage employment and training opportunities. The authority intends to employ an Aboriginal heritage officer to redress the current insufficiency of available information on the island’s Indigenous history, and a cultural heritage interpretation and tourism officer, whose role it would be to promote the island’s significant defence heritage through cultural and tourism based initiatives. In addition, the proposal includes funding to complete conservation works on the Governor’s residence, which is one of the oldest colonial buildings in Western Australia.
I am confident in saying that the Fremantle electorate is among the federal districts with the very highest heritage value. Of course I welcome the support that exists within the framework of this budget for heritage work and the training and expertise that is necessary to enable that work to occur now and in the future.
The second proposal I want to mention has both a Jobs Fund aspect and an infrastructure employment fund aspect. As a starting point, Greening Australia WA has applied, under the Get Communities Working stream, for funds to allow the native species environmental restoration of a section of degraded bushland within Booyeembara Park in White Gum Valley. The site work will occur, as with all Green Corps projects, through the provision of a certified vocational training program in conservation and land management up to certificate II level, with Challenger TAFE delivering training to certificates III and IV.
Then, in what will potentially represent stage 2 of the project, the City of Fremantle will make an application for assistance under the infrastructure employment fund to support the construction of a Green Building Council of Australia five-star rated, multi-use building. This will form, in part, the new headquarters for Greening Australia WA but will also provide both space for general community use and dedicated space for a range of important local groups, namely the Fremantle Men’s Shed, Fremantle Environmental Resource Network ,or FERN, the popular Western Farmers Market, White Gum Valley Precinct and Booyeembara Park Task Force and Friends.
If it is approved this entire project with its comprehensive and innovative environmental jobs and training focus will serve the triple purpose of creating jobs now, providing training opportunities for the green jobs of the future and creating a much needed and best practice facility and community hub for the long-term benefit of the wider Fremantle community. Indeed, each of the Jobs Fund project proposals I have mentioned demonstrates the government’s guiding operational theme at work, that is, to invest in projects that support jobs now and that create the jobs of the future—the community infrastructure of the future, the education and social capital of the future.
This budget and the appropriation bills that form its foundation constitute the government’s blueprint for building a stronger Australia. It is a budget framed in extremely difficult circumstances and in the context of great and continuing uncertainty. But it is also an opportunity because in difficult circumstances people come together and governments are given the chance and the responsibility to act in the national interest for the long term. That is what the Rudd government is doing. I support these bills and the historic Nation Building for Recovery blueprint that they represent.