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Thursday, 13 October 2011
Page: 11929

WYATT ROY (Longman) (12:04): I would like to take this opportunity to talk about an important and growing concern in my community: the ever-rising number of locals who have hit hard times, many finding themselves homeless. I am increasingly concerned about the number of locals who are coming to me who have lost their jobs because the business they work for is struggling or because they have substance-abuse problems or are in the midst of a family breakdown or difficult circumstances. Across the federal seat of Longman we suffer from six per cent unemployment. In Caboolture we are at 10 per cent unemployment. I have spoken on a number of occasions in this place about the number of small business owners who have spoken to me about how difficult conditions are for small business. Time and again, they talk to me about spiralling costs and declining confidence. Time and again, they tell me that they feel that the government is getting in the way and making life harder for them rather than getting out of the way and leaving them to get on with running their business.

Yesterday in this House the members of the Labor Party voted in favour of yet another tax on hardworking locals in my community. They voted in favour of a tax on those small businesses, which are already struggling. Those members of the Labor Party voted for making a bad situation worse. They voted for higher electricity costs, higher water costs, higher rates costs, higher grocery prices and higher transport costs. It is clear that the Labor Party of today have forgotten and walked away from the very people they once claimed to represent. These decisions have repercussions for the families in my community. Instead of there being a thriving small business sector that is the engine room of employment and prosperity in the region, businesses are closing and people are losing their jobs. Their lives are being made harder, not easier.

I will share some of the stories of the people who have come to my office recently seeking help because of the desperate situation they are in. A mother with five children lost her job in January after the Queensland floods. She fell behind in her rent and ended up being evicted. The youngest of her children was 18 months old. When the mother first came to see me, she was living with a friend of hers in a two-bedroom flat. Her friend had two children. Obviously this situation was unsustainable, so this poor woman ended up living in a car. Fortunately we have an excellent organisation—Caboolture Family Haven—in my electorate, and this wonderful institution was able to help this family. Another story is that of a father with a six-year-old daughter who recently lost his job. He also fell behind on his rent. He was absolutely desperate when he called my office, seeking assistance with this situation before he and his young daughter could be evicted, and again Caboolture Family Haven was able to step in and assist this man with housing.

I have had even more desperate calls to my office from small business owners who can see their life's work disappearing before their eyes. We need a government that supports small businesses and makes it easier, not harder, for them to thrive, to prosper and to employ people. We do not need a government that is imposing more taxes and regulation and strangling the life out of the very sector that is responsible for employing people and growing the economy.

Recently, at one of my Listening Posts, which I regularly conduct around my community, I had two gentlemen come to see me towards the end of the day, at about five in the afternoon. One of the men had discharged himself from hospital that day and was shaking and having trouble staying on his feet. He was clearly struggling with substance abuse. There was nowhere I could refer this man so that he could sleep safely for the night, so I rang Phil from Friends of the Street, an organisation that works tirelessly to help the homeless in my community. Phil came immediately with food and his usual sensible and practical advice, but this man was in a bad way and could not be left to sleep on a bench in the park. All we were able to do was to take him back to the hospital—it was the only place where he could be safe and cared for. The Caboolture Hospital is already straining under the pressures of population growth in our region; surely there is somewhere else this man could have gone for the support he required.

Along with my colleagues in the coalition I will continue to fight in this place and in my local community to see that in this nation we have a society which can give a hand-up to our most vulnerable people, a society which has hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and that we have a government which rewards hard work and creates a society based on opportunity, where forgotten Australians can get ahead in life; a society which rewards hard work and says to people, 'When you are down, if you work hard you have every opportunity and ability to get ahead in life.' That is the Australian society that I want to see, and that is the Australian society that the coalition is fighting for.

Question agreed to.

Main Committee adjourned at 12: 10