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Tuesday, 20 June 2017
Page: 4416


Senator CHISHOLM (Queensland) (19:20): I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight the coming anniversary of the election of the Turnbull government, because whilst we are on our break the 12th month since the Turnbull government was elected will come up. We know what has happened in the last couple of weeks. We have seen the dysfunction and disunity on the Finkel report. We have seen the dysfunction and disunity this week with regard to Gonski 2.0. But I wanted to focus on what we have seen in Queensland over the last 12 months, because it really is a sorry tale that is particularly disappointing to many Queenslanders.

At a time when we know that there are some significant economic challenges in our state, this government has failed to deliver. They went through the election campaign last year, promising all sorts of projects up and down the state, but the reality almost 12 months on is there has been a failure to act on some of those key promises. The obvious one which deserves significant attention is the Northern Australia Infrastructure Fund. The National Party have been championing this for years. For three years they have been talking about it. For 12 months they have had it set up, yet it still has not created one job in regional Queensland and still has not spent one dollar. It has no doubt been a failure.

The other, particularly disappointing program that I highlight—Senator Nash did this—was from when they went around regional Queensland during the election campaign, promising regional jobs packages. Here we are 12 months later, still with not one job created and not one dollar spent, particularly in areas where there is significant unemployment. This government went around making promises and once again have failed to deliver.

There has also been a real slowness to act and crack down on the 457 visa issue, something that is of particular concern in regional Queensland, particularly as we are seeing an increase in labour hire and casualisation. That is another failure of this government to act.

And then of course there is the growing clamour for a banking royal commission. We are seeing lots of talk from the member for Dawson, but when push comes to shove he has always got an excuse for why he will not actually back a royal commission into banking. Again we have seen that in the other place in the last half hour. He talked a big game and he crossed the floor, but he did it on a vote that did not matter. We will absolutely be holding him to account because, when you look at those economic circumstances in regional Queensland, the looming penalty rates are going to be a real blow to those communities not only in regional Queensland but around Australia.

But the failure from this government continues. We also saw no money for infrastructure funding in Queensland out of the budget. We saw no commitment to Cross River Rail. The state Labor government in Queensland have had to go it alone on that vital infrastructure project for the growing South-East Corner. It is no surprise that the federal government did not put any money into Cross River Rail considering that in the five months before the budget was delivered the Treasurer, Scott Morrison, did not set foot in Queensland once. He had actually been to Germany more times than he had been to Queensland as he prepared that budget. It is no wonder it was a failure in the eyes of Queenslanders when the key architect of it does not spend any time in Queensland.

We also see this week cuts to education. If this is supported by this government, it will see in Queensland over the next two years a $732 million cut to public schools. They talk about innovation and agility, but how is that going to improve educational outcomes in Queensland and in particular regional Queensland, where we know the job opportunities are not as great as they are in other places? That is something we need to have a real focus on and which this government has not been able to.

And, again, the dithering on energy: we know they have failed to deliver on policies and announcements they made during the election campaign, but they have dithered on energy. They are backtracking on Finkel. They made some announcements today that are not going to have a short-term beneficial impact on the gas market that is so important to manufacturing jobs and jobs from industry—once again, another cross against this government. Here we are, almost 12 months on—a government that has failed Queensland; it will continue to fail Queensland, and we will continue to hold it to account on that matter.