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Thursday, 28 May 2009
Page: 4766

Mr TURNOUR (3:02 PM) —My question is to the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel. Will the minister update the House on the progress of Defence Housing Australia in constructing the 802 houses funded under the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan?

Mr SNOWDON (Minister for Defence Science and Personnel) —I thank the member for Leichhardt for his question and thank him for joining me in his electorate on 19 May when we launched the defence healthcare trial in Cairns. He is a strong supporter of the defence community and he was with me as we delivered on another election promise from the Rudd government. I note also for the member for Leichhardt that, under the Australian government’s nation building for recovery program, there are 236 projects in his electorate, projects that are supporting jobs and small businesses in suburbs such as Woree and Redlynch.

As we know, this is a part of the government’s program of nation building for recovery, supporting jobs, business and infrastructure for Australia’s needs for tomorrow. Of course, we know that, if the Liberals had their way, not a single one of these projects would commence. You would be aware also that, as part of this nation building program and as part of the government’s decisive action, we announced expenditure of $251.6 million in funding for Defence Housing Australia. This is to construct 802 dwellings for Australian Defence Force personnel and their families in metropolitan and regional centres.

I am pleased to be able to announce that DHA have made significant progress since this announcement. Nationwide, over 260 houses have been contracted to date, tenders for over 650 houses have been issued and major site works have begun on over 180 houses. Unfortunately, though, as ever, the opposition has not supported this measure. The following members are significant. The member for Herbert, the member for Hunter, the member for Mayo, the member for Gilmore, the member for Groom, the member for Indi, the member for Flinders and the member for Gippsland all voted against Defence Force families having new homes built in their electorate.

Opposition members interjecting—

Mr Baldwin —Mr Speaker, I rise on a point of order.

The SPEAKER —Order! It is not a point of order but you are making a point.

Mr Baldwin —Mr Speaker, I would not have called the member for Hunter not a supporter of Defence Housing Australia. I think he would counsel his own minister—

The SPEAKER —I understand. The member for Paterson will resume his seat.

Mr SNOWDON —Of course, I meant Paterson’s curse, not the member for Hunter. Unfortunately and sadly, while these members say they advocate for Defence Force families, they failed miserably when it came to the opportunity to show their support by voting for this investment in this chamber. No doubt, as we have known, they will be shameless in attending any ceremonies celebrating the handover of the new homes.

Of course, we expect them to carry placards. Those placards should say, ‘We are here in body but not in spirit because, unlike the members of the Labor Party, who have Defence Force families in their electorate, the provision of this additional housing for Defence Force families and the job and business opportunities it creates, we do not support.’ That is what they have done by voting against these proposals in this chamber. Yet I note that the member for Herbert got up earlier this afternoon and spoke about the need for people to stand up for regional Australia. I ask the member for Herbert: when is he going to stand up for the people of regional Australia? When is he going to stand up for the people of his electorate? The fact is that he voted against it.

Mr Lindsay —Mr Speaker—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Herbert will resume his seat. The minister has the call. The member for Herbert has other ways of dealing with the matter that is causing concern.

Mr Lindsay —Mr Speaker, on a point of order—

The SPEAKER —All right. The minister will resume his seat. The member for Herbert on a point of order.

Mr Lindsay —Mr Speaker, when is the minister going to deliver the family medical centre for Lavarack Barracks?

The SPEAKER —Order! The member will resume his seat and then leave the House for one hour under standing order 94(a).

The member for Herbert then left the chamber.

Mr SNOWDON —When he leaves he might read the Townsville Bulletin and explain why—

Opposition members interjecting—

The SPEAKER —Order! Those on my left will come to order.