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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6751

Dr HENDY (Eden-Monaro) (15:48): The member for Hunter is—

Mr Fitzgibbon: Eden-Monaro is top of my target list!

Dr HENDY: And Hunter is on our target list. After the redistribution there might not be a seat of Hunter. We will see what happens.

Mr Fitzgibbon: You won't be here anyway!

Dr HENDY: The member for Hunter may not be here after the election after the redistribution.

Mr Fitzgibbon: I'll be here, my friend.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: The member for Eden-Monaro has the call and the member for Hunter will desist interjecting.

Dr HENDY: He is sensitive about that. He is also sensitive about the fact that he has been asked by his leadership group to raise this matter of public importance. He needed a lot of face to put forward the arguments he did today. We have already heard from the member for New England the hypocrisy of the Labor Party in terms of raising the fact that rural and regional Australia would not have a better friend than the coalition government. The fact is we are fixing the budget mess that these guys created over the last six years. We left them with a budget surplus and we left them with net debt of $40 billion and they ended their six years with $123 billion in future forward deficits and then left us approaching in 10 years a $667 billion debt. That is what we faced when we came into government. Now we have to fix that.

My electorate is a rural and regional electorate. It is very dependent on small business. In the course of the last six years some 519,000 jobs in small business were lost. In a rural and regional electorate, after you consider government jobs in teaching, in the provision of police services and in hospitals for example, small business is the largest employer. If we cannot put in place policies that support small business, we are dooming rural and regional Australia to a dreadful existence. That is what happened over the last six years.

In Eurobodalla Shire, one of the major shires in my electorate, the unemployment rate is over seven per cent. That is what we inherited. We have to fix that problem, so we are repairing the budget. That was one of the key policies that we put to the Australian population at the election and it is one of the key reasons we were actually elected in a landslide in the 2013 election. This budget, however, is not just about contributing; it is also about building Australia. The budget contains the biggest infrastructure project in the history of Australia. We have put forward a policy that includes $50 billion of expenditure on roads and other infrastructure and my electorate of Eden-Monaro is getting a down payment on that.

Only last Friday the then Acting Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, visited Queanbeyan in my electorate and announced a $50 million road project for the Queanbeyan bypass. This is a vital piece of infrastructure. It is not just about road safety in the Queanbeyan district; it is about an economic development project that the Queanbeyan City Council has regarded as its top priority for years now, which was denied by the former member for Eden-Monaro, whom I defeated in the election. He would not support that road project. I think it is actually one of the reasons that he lost the electorate in the election. A matter of weeks after the federal budget was released, we were able to announce that we would put forward $50 million: $25 million from the New South Wales government and $25 million from the Commonwealth government. We were also able to announce a number of black spot programs worth some $622,000 in the Eurobodalla shire, in the Bega Valley shire and also in Queanbeyan. These are the down payments for the changes that we announced in the budget. It is a fact that the coalition is looking after Eden-Monaro, and I am very proud of this budget.