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Wednesday, 2 June 2010
Page: 5052


Mr MARLES (Parliamentary Secretary for Innovation and Industry) (9:39 AM) —Two weeks ago the Prime Minister came to Geelong to announce federal government funding for the Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre at Deakin University. It was Mr Rudd’s fifth visit to our city as Prime Minister and his third visit in less than two months. In these visits there is a clear message about the Labor Party in Geelong. Labor has put Geelong firmly on the national agenda. There is no doubt about it. We may have once considered ourselves to be a city that was easily overlooked because that is what happened during the Howard years—but not anymore. The Prime Minister’s first visit was to open Deakin University School of Medicine at Waurn Ponds, and then he was in Corio to chair the community cabinet at Corio Bay Senior College. He has visited Geelong Hospital and seen the progress of the new GP superclinic in Belmont. Two weeks ago, he announced government funding of $37 million towards future fibres research, which will put Geelong in a unique global position to grab the huge opportunities to come with the projected growth in demand for carbon fibre.

Rudd government policies are driving investment, developing infrastructure, creating jobs and securing an enviable quality of life for all of us who proudly call Geelong home. Mr Rudd’s visits also tell us that this commitment by the Labor government to secure the best outcome for Geelong is backed up with unprecedented personal support from the Prime Minister. It is support we did not see from John Howard when he was leader of this country, and we have yet to see it from the current Liberal leader, Tony Abbott. While the Prime Minister has taken the time to visit our region five times since the election, Tony Abbott has come but once. This speaks volumes for the contempt that Tony Abbott is showing the people of Geelong. He expects their vote but does not deign to come in person to seek it. Mr Abbott’s only visit to our region created headlines when his car was involved in a near miss on the Princes Highway. The ensuing debate was all about road safety but there was no word from Mr Abbott about what the Liberal Party in government would do for Geelong. It appears that not even a cent has been promised to improve the road he had brought to national attention. We have come to expect this from the Liberal Party in Geelong.

Geelong’s Liberal candidates cannot even bring themselves to feign support for the raft of funding cuts their leaders propose for the Geelong region because they know those cuts will drive a knife through the lifeline of support and investment that is currently being provided by the federal government. Out would go the education and health reforms, school and hospital improvements, the Corio Bay Senior College trade training centre which is giving our kids workplace skills, the green car fund, the renewable energy fund and the climate change adaptation fund.

The Rudd government is about growing Geelong into a regional city with a liveability ranking that is the envy of the nation. It means our kids are able to find a satisfying local job when they finish studying at Deakin. Kids will be getting the best possible schooling at Chilwell Primary School with its new classrooms, at Newcomb Secondary College with its new language centre and at St Patrick’s School with its new library. They along with students at the 126 other schools are feeling the full benefit of new school facilities. But do not expect the same from the opposition. Vision requires courage and commitment, and they clearly do not have either.