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Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Page: 4737


WYATT ROY (Longman) (18:58): I rise to speak to the three budget appropriation bills that are currently being debated. Without doubt, the most unsettling aspects of this budget are the omission of the carbon tax and the attack on ordinary Australians. How can Australians have faith in a budget that does not make mention of a significant new tax that will cost jobs and will make life tougher for families? How can Australians have faith in a budget that is ripping billions of dollars from families at a time when cost of living pressures are placing an almost unbearable strain on the budgets of families?

This is a budget from a Labor government whose only vision for the future of our country is one of new taxes. My electorate of Longman stretches over 1,239 square kilometres between Brisbane and the Sunshine Coast. Economic drivers of the region include tourism, light industry, farming, retail and small business. It is an electorate in the heart of Queensland's fastest-growing region. It is close enough to Brisbane for people to commute there to work. It is also close enough for people to enjoy the lifestyle, beautiful beaches, the Pumicestone Passage, a stunning hinterland and above all else a strong sense of local, smaller town community that make it one of the best places to live. It is, of course, not surprising that people are moving into the area. There has been an increase in population in Longman of about 30 per cent over the past 10 years. It is little wonder, then, that each time I drive around Longman I see new houses being built and new subdivisions being developed. I have recently been actively seeking the views of my community on the issues that matter to them. I have issued an electorate-wide survey to which I have received thousands of responses and I have held many listening posts all over Longman. Despite what many would rightly say are our natural advantages, people are often brutally disillusioned with the current Labor government. Without doubt, the federal issue that is of most concern to the people of Longman is the imposition of a carbon tax and what this will do to family budgets, local employment opportunities and how small businesses will survive. The state issues that the are the most concerning are the chronic failure to deliver local health services and the dreadful state of the D'aguilar Highway and the Bribie Island Bridge. The picture I paint is one of a community whose boundless potential is being hamstrung by uncertainty, a lack of trust in the federal Labor government and a lack of faith in a disastrous state Labor government that has neglected our community for too long. This budget has done nothing to generate confidence in my local community. This budget has done nothing to harness the opportunities of growth or to plan for the future.

Let me first turn to the carbon tax. I have repeatedly voiced my concerns about this toxic new tax after the Prime Minister broke her promise to the Australian people that a government she would lead would not introduce the carbon tax. Since the Prime Minister's announcement, I have had call after call, email after email and survey response after survey response and have been stopped countless times in the streets, at shops and at schools as locals express dismay at the introduction of the Labor/Green carbon tax and the Prime Minister's breach of faith with the Australian people.

As I have already said, life is getting tougher for the forgotten families in my community and they are struggling to make ends meet as the day-to-day essentials are increasing in price—something the Labor Party fails to understand. I will repeat what I said in March this year: the price of water has gone up. The price of electricity has gone up. The price of fuel has gone up. The cost of public transport has gone up. It is getting harder and harder for ordinary Australians to make ends meet. When ordinary Australians have reasonably expected to own their homes and aspire to a life better than that of their parents, under this Labor Government, this is increasingly not the case. Ordinary Australians have to work harder and harder. And for what? Is it to live a better life? Is it to give your children a better life? Is it to get ahead? No. Ordinary Australians work harder and harder not to achieve the aspirations we have previously taken for granted, but to pay more taxes to pay off the debt incurred by this Labor government.

Ordinary Australians do not have extraordinary expectations, but they do and should expect a government that will make their lives easier, that will stand up for them and that will look after their interests. Not under this Labor government. Under this Labor government, the lives of the locals in my community get harder, not easier. There is nothing in this budget for the many families in Longman who are doing it really tough. At a time when the cost of living is soaring, this Labor government has ripped the rug out from under the feet of ordinary Australian families.

Small business is undeniably the engine room of the Australian economy. It is the driver of employment and the realiser of potential. Yet small business in Longman is suffering from a crisis in confidence brought about by inconsistencies and incompetence in Labor government policy that seems to urge them on to failure, not to success. The carbon tax is causing an unsettling amount of uncertainty for small businesses. They are worried that their spiralling costs are going to climb even higher under the imposition of another tax and the harsh reality is going to see some of them close their doors.

Post budget, small business owners in my community are saying that the budget is a wasted opportunity that has done nothing to encourage employment or to engender confidence in the market place. Small business owners are saying to me: 'Can the government just get out of the way and support some of us so that we can thrive and employ more people?' The budget has not provided any relief or any reassurance that this is going to improve confidence in my community. The challenges facing small business, such as difficulty accessing credit, have not been addressed and interest rates will invariably go up as a result of the deficit, waste and mismanagement of this Labor government.

In my local community people just want a job and it is a vibrant small business community that will deliver this opportunity to them, not new Labor taxes. The Labor government will never understand the value of a hand up over a handout, that a meaningful job is the best form of welfare and that you cannot compensate someone who has just lost their job. Like the community at large, life for small business is destined to get harder under this Labor government. Given the growth in the Longman area and the potential generated by that growth, I want to see my electorate as an area of boundless opportunity. I want it to be a productive, vibrant community with its potential fully realised. I want it to be a powerhouse for the region and a place where people live, work and play. That is what growth should mean. We should not be afraid of it, we should embrace it as a way of responsibly growing our economy and providing jobs and increased opportunities for our community.

But for this to occur we need a plan for the future, not to play catch-up and not to use bandaid solutions. We need to ensure that the services available are adequate. We need to make sure that the community is confident that when they are sick they are going to be able to receive the care they need. We need to make sure that the commute to Brisbane, if that is where you work, is as easy as possible. We need to make sure that the major roads servicing the regional areas of my electorate are up to the task and are safe. We need to make sure that we have a culture of opportunity, where the greatest equaliser in our society is equality of opportunity, not subsidy. There was a time when Labor was led by a Queenslander who said he was here to help. This budget is not helping the ordinary Australians in my community.

It is crystal clear to me and the locals in Longman that infrastructure has simply not kept up with growth, starting with health. We have a hospital that is plainly stretched well beyond its capacity. I have talked about the Caboolture Hospital in this place numerous times and I will continue to talk about it over and over again. The locals deserve to be confident that when their child has a raging ear infection after hours they are not going to have to wait most of the night to be seen. When you are taken by ambulance to the hospital with an acute emergency you should not be ramped or redirected to another hospital across south-east Queensland. My constituents deserve better access to mental health services so that they can receive the care they need.

The expansion of the Caboolture Hospital is of fundamental importance to Longman. Everyone wants it. Locals want it, the doctors and nurses who do such a fantastic job at the hospital want it, I want it, and it is one of the things that I am determined to continue fighting for. The hospital needs more beds; it is as plain as that. The hospital has 187 beds servicing the region and 21 beds in the accident and emergency department. With the population of the region expected to grow to 200,000 by 2026, we are estimated to need some 600 beds and 52 emergency bays, with more than half of that by 2016. Together with increasing the hospital's capacity we need to redirect patients to other places to relieve the pressure on the hospital in the short and long term. Before the last election I was working with the Moreton Bay general practice network to help facilitate real after-hours care and expand after-hours GP services. This model has the benefit to begin support by GPs, allowing access to the family GP for after-hours consultations and relieving pressure on the emergency department of the hospital. It is a win-win model for the whole community. I remain committed to a commonsense, practical solution around issues of access to health care in Longman. I am sure that local GPs and healthcare professionals will always understand the needs of locals more than bureaucrats in Canberra do.

Mental health is an area of significant concern and an area close to my heart. I am told that mental health affects one in five people every year and one in two people across the course of a lifetime. We are in urgent need of early intervention services that are able to provide support before people require acute mental health care. At the last election, with my colleague Peter Dutton, shadow minister for health, I was proud to announce $60 million of funding for the establishment of an early psychosis prevention and intervention centre in Caboolture. This would have provided services to those who most need them and have relieved pressure on the hospital. I remain committed to the establishment of an EPIC in Caboolture. In this budget, the Labor government has provided only $2.9 million for expenditure in the next financial year for the whole country, and only $23 million in the following financial year—again, for the whole nation, not Caboolture. If we really want this critical service delivered in Longman, we need to change the government

I have also spoken in this place on numerous occasions about the woeful state of the D'Aguilar Highway and the Bribie Island bridge. The D'Aguilar Highway, like the hospital, is straining under the pressure of increased demand. It has, quite frankly, become a deathtrap. It needs to be upgraded urgently to cope with the increased growth in the region. The solution to this problem needs to be a combined state and federal effort. During the last election campaign, I announced a coalition commitment of an additional $12 million of funding to fix the black spots on the deadly highway, but more needs to be done. Passing lanes would also save lives, and I have repeatedly called on the Queensland state Labor government to urgently address this issue. After all, this is a state government road. The Bribie Island bridge is another arterial that is straining under pressure. It is the only access to and from the island and was designed decades ago to meet the demands of a small population. Bribie Island is now a large community that swells during the summer, and the bridge is plainly inadequate and needs upgrading. I am committed to ensuring upgrades for both pieces of infrastructure. If it were not for the waste and mismanagement of Labor governments, infrastructure and essential services would be delivered for my local community.

Longman is a growth corridor and warrants effective infrastructure to support it for the future as it inevitably grows. Now is the time to plan and prepare. Longman cannot afford to be left behind. I want Longman to be a community looking to the future with optimism and energy and looking towards opportunities. I do not want it to be a community that is consistently overlooked, with health services and infrastructure requirements overlooked. It is the forgotten people of Longman who are again being overlooked and neglected by this Labor government. I want my community to be a place where people want to settle and raise a family, where they will stay because there is work to be had, and where there is a great sense of local community. That is why I will continue to be a vocal voice in this place and elsewhere so that I can give voice to my constituents and strive to have their concerns addressed, something this Labor budget plainly fails to do.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Ms AE Burke ): Before I call the next member, I think the chamber should congratulate the member for Longman on his momentous occasion, his 21st birthday today. He will probably be the only person in the place to ever see his 21st birthday while here. Congratulations.