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Thursday, 19 June 2014
Page: 6754


Mrs ELLIOT (Richmond) (16:03): I am pleased to be speaking on this MPI, which is about the government hurting rural and regional Australia with its new petrol tax and unfair budget. I will actually be referring to that in my speech today. In regional areas it is the National Party that is driving this cruel and unfair budget, particularly through the petrol tax. In my area, on the North Coast of New South Wales, we call this the National Party petrol tax. It will be one of the many legacies of the National Party for a very long time to come in rural and regional Australia. Every time people fill up, they will be saying thanks to the Nats for the petrol tax. This tax will go up twice a year in line with inflation from August this year. This tax increase is a broken promise, and indeed the whole budget was a budget of broken promises. These broken promises will hurt pensioners, families and seniors, with all this array of cruel cuts and unfair increases in the cost of living. The people of regional and rural Australia have every right to feel totally betrayed by this budget of twisted priorities and many broken promises. There are so many of them, including the $80 billion cuts to hospitals and schools, the unfair doctor tax, pension cuts, education cuts, deregulation of university fees and cuts to council assistance grants as well.

I held a rally in my electorate last week in response to the Abbott government's cruel and unfair budget, and I want to thank those hundreds of people who attended my 'fighting for a fair go' rally last Thursday at the Tweed Heads Civic Centre. In particular, I thank those who travelled a very long distance to make their voices heard. The rally was arranged in response to the overwhelming community concern about this unfair budget and in response to the budget of broken promises. Before the election the Prime Minister and all of his candidates—in my area they were all National Party candidates—were running around saying there would be no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to pensions, and no new taxes. All of those National Party candidates on the North Coast were saying there would be no new taxes but the fact is they were not telling the truth. This budget contained all of those things—all of those things they promised would not happen. Many of these issues were raised at the rally.

I especially thank our guest speakers who came along. We had Walt Secord, an MLC from the New South Wales parliament and shadow minister for the North Coast and shadow minister for roads, and also Ron Goodman, Labor's candidate for Tweed in the state election. Both spoke about the unfairness of the budget. The rally heard an array of concerns that locals had. The petrol tax was one of the major issues brought up, because it is particularly unfair for those people in regional and rural areas who do have to travel so much further. The doctor tax also came up, because that will really impact on people in regional areas. Reference was also made to cuts to pensions, family payments and education. Some state issues came up as well, one of the major concerns being the increase in people's power prices that will occur due to the New South Wales Nationals' plan to sell off the poles and wires. That was a big concern—the National Party selling off those poles and wires will push up the price of electricity for people in regional New South Wales.

People brought many signs to the rally, saying nobody voted for the petrol tax, nobody voted for extreme university fees, nobody voted for a doctor tax and nobody voted for pension cuts. The fact is that both the federal government and the New South Wales state government are out of touch with the concerns of people struggling week to week. One of the sentiments raised at the rally was that surely Australia is a better place than this; surely we are a fairer place than we see in this government's cruel and nasty and unfair budget. At the conclusion of the rally there was a resolution passed. The rally resolved that I raise in parliament the fact that the people of the North Coast reject the Liberal-National Party's unfair budget and acknowledge the fact that this budget is harmful to families, seniors and young people. The people of the North Coast condemn this unfair budget.

When we talk about National Party betrayals, the petrol tax is surely up there as one of the biggest betrayals. Another big betrayal is in relation to the Pacific Highway. I would like to point out that in this budget there was no new money at all for funding of the Pacific Highway compared to when we were in government— $7.9 billion in funding for the Pacific Highway and not one cent from them. I was very proud in my electorate to have delivered the federal funding for both the Sexton Hill upgrade and the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale Pacific Highway upgrade. There was $350 million in funding for the Sexton Hill upgrade. It has been open a couple of years now and it is fantastic. Also there was $550 million in federal funding for the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale upgrade which is going to be finished very soon—all that money delivered by the federal Labor government, nothing from the other side.

In contrast, we see the Nationals cutting services, slashing infrastructure funding and increasing taxes. At both the state and federal level the National Party are 100 per cent behind the cruel and unfair budget cuts. They are responsible for the doctor tax, they are responsible for the petrol tax, they are responsible for cutting family payments and pensions. Each member of the National Party should be deeply ashamed. They are cutting pensions of the people who have built our nation, our seniors. They are bringing in a petrol tax. They should be deeply ashamed. It is the National Party that betray the people of regional and rural Australia, and people will remember that for years to come. (Time expired)