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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Page: 4689


Mr NEUMANN (Blair) (12:18): The federal Labor government is committed to a strong economy, a fair society and a sustainable environment, unlike those opposite. The previous speaker, the member for Cook, talked about taxes and about expenditure and waste. Let us talk about the coalition's appalling record on the economy. Let us get a few facts on the table. In the peak period of the Howard government, tax as a percentage of GDP was 24.1 per cent; in 2011-12 it will be 21.8 per cent. Real government expenditure in the next five years will be one per cent, the lowest since 1980. During the last five years of the Howard government it was 3.7 per cent. Underlying inflation in March 2011 was 2.3 per cent. At the end of the Howard government period it was 3.5 per cent. Returning the budget to surplus by 2012-13—

Opposition members interjecting

Mr NEUMANN: Look at those opposite! The Treasury found an $11 billion black hole after the last election, and a $1 billion black hole as a result of their response to the Queensland, Western Australian and Victorian disasters. They could not even agree in their party room about how they should respond to those disasters. Where was the economic response in the shadow Treasurer's speech at the National Press Club? Where was the economic response from the would-be Prime Minister opposite? It was nowhere to be seen, because they have given up on running an economic argument against us. Where were the questions yesterday in question time about the economy? Nowhere to be seen. Those opposite are a big risk to the economy, they are a big risk to the future surplus and they are a big risk to employment because in my electorate they failed to invest when they were in government for 11 years. I will talk about that in a minute. They are a big risk because of the policies they took to the last election. They wanted to get rid of trade training centres and bring back Work Choices. We know they all want to do that because we see opinion pieces from those opposite that they want to do it. They would have ripped $1 billion out of the hospital system. That is what they proposed. They would have got rid of the NBN. Yet all the councils in South-East Queensland want the NBN, including many of those opposite. The member for Groom should have a talk to Peter Taylor, the mayor of the Toowoomba Regional Council. The member for Wright should have a chat to John Brent, the mayor of the Scenic Rim Regional Council, and also Steve Jones, the mayor of the Lockyer Valley Regional Council. They love the NBN. They want the NBN there, yet those opposite oppose the NBN. All the business committees and chambers of commerce in the Somerset Regional Council want the NBN. That is the reality. Those opposite should have a look at this. The truth is that they opposed our GFC response. There would have been 200,000 jobs put at risk by those opposite. They wanted to adopt the New Zealand National Party attitude because they thought that was the way to go. But there would have been unemployment in the retail sector and the construction sector.

They opposed the BER response, including $109 million in my electorate alone. Yet I see conservative councillors turning up to BER ceremonies everywhere. I bet those opposite have gone to plenty of BER ceremonies in their electorates but they would not tell the principals, the P&Cs, the schools and the schoolkids that they opposed it. They have done that every step of the way. There has not been a roads funding bill introduced into this House since I was elected that the opposition did not oppose.

There is clear evidence in my electorate of the opposition opposing road infrastructure that is so important for South-East Queensland. I will talk about that in a minute. Negativity is all that we have got from those opposite—opportunistic negativity, no plans, no alternative ideas on what to do. Every time they promise something they do not deliver. The last time we were here, the shadow Treasurer was parading, posing and preening around the press gallery, saying, 'I'll get the budget back into surplus in 2011-12.' Where was one word of how they would do that? There was not a scintilla, not a jot, not one little bit of evidence that they would do it. They did not have any plans to do it—none at all. Yet they come in here supporting, allegedly, the mining interests. And then there was that farce yesterday. If there had been a Labor government in Western Australia doing that to a coalition government here, they would have been screaming absolute blue murder, but they supported their colleagues and comrades in WA because we know the WA Liberals actually wag the dog.

Let us have a look at what we have done in my area that they oppose. There is, for example, the local employment coordinators, such as Samantha Wilson. We have the Ipswich Logan area coordinators; those opposite would oppose that. They would oppose the trade training centres that we see in Ipswich—$6 million has been provided for that in the budget. They would oppose the GP superclinics that acted so wonderfully well in the flood response. The BER halls in Esk and Fernvale acted as flood evacuation centres. They opposed every single assistance we gave to flood affected Queensland as well—all the emergency relief, the mental health funding and all the additional health assistance. Was there one word from those opposite about that?

The Leader of the Opposition could not even get the electoral demography or the flood geography of Queensland right when he got up in the chamber to talk about the floods. He thought the floods in Queensland were in Redcliffe, for crying out loud! He thought the member for Petrie had floods in her electorate. That is how little he understood of what went on. And as he drove out to Grantham, which he did a couple of times, he would have travelled on the Ipswich Motorway. The Ipswich Motorway is a $1.95 billion project linking Ipswich and Toowoomba. This is one of the projects that all the mayors and councils in South-East Queensland supported—even the LNP in Queensland supported it—but the Howard coalition government refused it forever. They opposed the Ipswich Motorway upgrade year after year after year.

In fact, if the member for Wide Bay, if he were on the treasury benches as the roads minister, would close the construction of the Ipswich Motorway, putting at risk 10,000 jobs. We put $155 million in this budget for the completion of the Dinmore to Goodna section. The farmers know it, the miners know it, the councils know it and the chambers of commerce know it: those opposite should support it. But they voted against every single bill in this place to fund the Ipswich Motorway. That is the truth. They have also said nothing about the Blacksoil Interchange—the intersection of the Warrego Highway with the Brisbane Valley Highway. The council of South-East Queensland mayors—led recently by the alternative Premier of Queensland, Campbell Newman, who was the mayor of Brisbane—wanted to support seven projects in the last election. Number one on the list was the Blacksoil Interchange. Did we hear one word of support for that project from those opposite? For the 11½ years they infested and sat on the treasury bench, did they support the upgrade of the Blacksoil Interchange? No—not once did they provide funding for it and yet it is a major intersection for the Lockyer Valley-Ipswich-Somerset regions. All the councils in South-East Queensland know how important national highways are. Kids go through this intersection, parents go through it, farmers go through it and mining company trucks go through it. When we committed to doing this work Steve Jones, the mayor of the Lockyer Valley Regional Council, supported it. So did Peter Taylor, from the Toowoomba Regional Council. Paul Pisasale from Ipswich City Council supported it. Graeme Lehmann, the mayor of the Somerset Regional Council, supported it. They all supported it. John Brent, mayor of the Scenic Rim Regional Council, also supported it. The only one of those people who is a member of the ALP is Paul Pisasale. The rest of them have been or are members of the LNP.

The truth about this is that those opposite failed. They talk about regional Queensland. The Regional Infrastructure Fund, the money we are putting into regions, totals $4.3 billion. Those opposite failed with road funding. Let me give a few facts. When they were last on the treasury bench, under Roads to Recovery Ipswich City Council got $1.18 million. In this budget, they are getting $1.31 million. That is a pretty good increase. Let us look at the Somerset Regional Council. The member for Dickson and the member for Fisher represented those areas for some time. In the last year of the Howard government, under Roads to Recovery Somerset Regional Council received $357,000. Do you think that is alright? It is the biggest land area in South-East Queensland, although the fewest number of people live there. In this budget we are contributing not $357,000 but $653,000—a massive increase; almost double. Those opposite will not fund the Blacksoil Interchange but we have put $54 million into it and the state government is putting $16 million into it.

Those opposite will not support the minerals resource rent tax that gives my home state of Queensland $2 billion in regional infrastructure funding, but we know that is important for small business and superannuation uplift. It is an important infrastructure spend. So all those members of the LNP opposite—the member for Groom, the member of the Wright and all the others—should hang their heads in shame for their failure to support infrastructure in South-East Queensland. They continually failed to do anything when they were in power.

In this budget we are investing a record $8.5 billion as part of our Nation Building Program across the whole period, from 2008-09 through this budget to 2013-14, to renew and expand Queensland's road, rail and public infrastructure. That is not bad, when you consider that the Howard coalition government gave half of that over the same period. They come into this place and say that they are standing up for regional Queensland and rural Queensland and seats like mine, but the facts do not bear that out. Look at local roads funding, the Blacksoil Interchange and the Ipswich Motorway, and the overall roads, rail and port infrastructure in Queensland. The LNP members in this chamber know very well that only we have invested in regional infrastructure across Queensland. They would not make any commitment to any of that. They opposed the Ipswich Motorway upgrade and failed to support the Blacksoil interchange.

Let us talk about the Warrego Highway, between Toowoomba and Ipswich. They put a pause on the money they gave to the Queensland government to maintain the Warrego Highway. Yet we have the state member for Lockyer all the time bleating about it. The member for Wright bleats about it as well, and the member for Groom talks about it, but they paused the funding for it. We massively increased the funding for the Warrego Highway, and the state government is putting in improvements all along the Warrego Highway. It is not perfect; a lot needs to be done. But the member for Wright, in the Gatton Star, said he could not find one good thing in the budget for his area. He knows that thousands and thousands of his constituents drive through the Blacksoil interchange, drive along the Ipswich Motorway, day after day after day. Those opposite should hang their heads in shame when it comes to road infrastructure in South-East Queensland. They should hang their heads in shame. I see the member for Capricornia. She knows very well that it is only the election of a federal Labor government that has helped Rockhampton and those areas. Those opposite failed in that regard. They are a risk to jobs. They are a risk to health. They closed down the Ipswich GP superclinic. The Queensland Times newspaper editorialised: 'Hands off our GP superclinic'. Those opposite want to shut it down. They would not support the local employment coordinators. They would not support the BER. They would not support the 10,000 jobs on the Ipswich Motorway. They will not support the Blacksoil interchange. They will not support the Roads to Recovery funding that we put in. They are a risk to the budget, a risk to the cost of living.

They are also a risk to health services across my area. Did they support our funding for the Kambu Medical Centre and the Ipswich General Hospital? Have they supported us with Medicare locals? The divisions of general practice in Brisbane's south and Ipswich and West Moreton want it, but those opposite do not want to support what we are doing in primary care infrastructure or local primary care. They will not support that either. The doctors in my area, through the western corridor from south-west Brisbane all the way to the Lockyer Valley and way up into the Somerset, all support it. We put in GP superclinics and upgrades to primary care infrastructure for local GPs in Flinders Peak. Dr Shera runs the practice there. There was $300,000 for that in my local area. Did those opposite support it? No, they did not. It took a federal Labor government to seriously invest in mental health and disability. There is $2.2 billion in this budget. Those opposite say things. When they were there for 11½ years, did we see massive increases in funding? We did not. Look at their record. They failed.

Local organisations in my area have warmly welcomed this. We have some fantastic initiatives and some fantastic organisations, like Focal Extended, AusCare, Spiritus Kinections, Jacaranda Clubhouse, Booval Community Service, Southern Cross Community Service, the Ipswich Regional Advocacy Service and many, many others who help people with disability who are suffering from discrimination and problems, help people with their lifestyle, provide respite care and tenancy advocacy, help people transition from education to work, provide accommodation assistance and more. These are wonderful organisations that we see locally. There are organisations like CATS Inc. I was there at their recent opening of a service in Raceview. They help young people, 16- to 24-year-olds, make that transition. These are great organisations that got money from the federal Labor government. My area was neglected for 11½ years by those opposite—roads, schools, health, disability services and mental health. They should hang their heads in shame for what they did to the people of the western corridor, Ipswich and all those areas represented by conservative members of this place.