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Wednesday, 4 February 2009
Page: 309

Mr NEUMANN (7:40 PM) —We have seen in this place today more worshipping than we would see in a church, more sermonising and more devotion to a belief in a system than we would see in any mosque, synagogue or church around this country on this Appropriation (Nation Building and Jobs) Bill (No. 1) 2008-2009 and cognate bills. We have seen worshipping at the feet of Milton Friedman, devoted to Reaganomics—the failed free market fundamentalism of America.

We have seen no plan offered by the opposition in relation to our $42 billion Nation Building and Jobs Plan. We have seen carping and criticism. We have seen idleness, ignorance and apathy. The opposition’s response would be to do what President Hoover did: sit there and do nothing. Our response is more like FDR: we are listening to what the IMF says. The IMF said in late January this year that world economic growth projections are down to 0.5 per cent, the lowest since World War II. It called on its members to take new policy initiatives, a stimulus, and said:

Strong and complementary policy efforts are needed to rekindle activity

And that is what we are doing. As the Prime Minister said on 3 February this year:

This is not a question of choice. This is what we are required to do.

And I agree. We are required to do this because we need to support the men and women, the families and the young and old in this country. There are about nine newspapers in my electorate and one daily, the Queensland Times. I want to read from the Queensland Times and I note that this will be the first time I have read from that newspaper since I have been elected to this place. The acting editor, Linda Brady, said in today’s Queensland Times:

If you are a home owner, worker, single breadwinner, drought-stricken farmer or someone returning to study, you had plenty of reasons to smile yesterday. A full one per cent rates cut and the prospect of a $950 one-off handout is enough to delight most people in this increasingly gloomy economic times and understandably so.

It goes on to say ‘and $950 buys a lot of bread and milk’. I say to the member for Farrer that I am happy to come to her electorate. If she does not want the money, I am sure the schools in my electorate do. I heard the member for Higgins today making one of his rare sojourns in the House and it was one of those few occasions when he happens to speak. He was giving us his prophetic utterances. He went on about how he knew it all; he knew it was coming. But the coalition’s tactics, strategy and statements over the last election were so confused, how could you tell? But Pete is a prophet now. He is wise in hindsight.

It is interesting to see the response of those opposite: confusion reigns. I would love each one of them to go back to their electorate and do a mobile office this Saturday morning. They should go back there on Friday to visit their schools—primary and secondary—and tell them, ‘Sorry, I just voted against you getting up to $3 million.’ Let them see what the principal has to say in those circumstances. And let them see what the farmers have to say in rural electorates—so many now represented by Labor members of parliament. Go and have a talk to them about that. It is interesting that the NFF supports the package. The last I knew, the NFF were not affiliated to the Australian Labor Party. They are not an affiliated union. But, when I read what they had to say about the farm stimulus to spark economic growth in the country, I thought I might actually contact them to sign them up to the Queensland branch of the ALP. They were so much in support of what we are doing. It was a terrific response.

In my electorate there are 119 farmers and small businesses affected by the drought who will receive a hardship payment of $950. The member for Higgins and the member for Farrer can come to my electorate and explain to those farmers why they are not getting the $950. There are 63 primary schools and 14 high schools in my electorate and I would be interested in either one of them coming to my electorate and saying, ‘Sorry, you are not getting that capital funding for essential new buildings, upgrades and refurbishments.’ That is what they are saying to us, and that is what they are saying to the teachers, parents and children in those schools in my electorate.

Part of this package includes 133 new defence homes to be built in the electorate of Blair. That is $36.3 million to be injected into the Ipswich economy. Local tradies, sparkies and those who work in the wet trades will be doing the work. In the suburb in which I live, Flinders View, we have 54 new homes being built. In the adjacent suburb, Yamanto, there are 72 being built. And this is what the opposition are saying to the defence families in RAAF Base Amberley in my electorate: ‘We are not interested in supporting you with good quality, appropriate housing.’ Go and tell the partners and the wives and husbands of the Defence Force personnel in my electorate that they are not going to get those houses.

I spoke to two mayors in the three councils in my electorate: Paul Pisasale and John Brent. Paul Pisasale is the Mayor of Ipswich. Paul is a well-known fellow. He described the package as ‘excellent’ and he is looking forward to spending part of the $500 million that we are giving for community infrastructure. John Brent is the mayor of the Scenic Rim Regional Council. There are not many National Party members opposite but there are still a few, and some of them would know John Brent, I am sure—I have known him for years. John Brent is a good bloke and he does hard work for the local community. He worked for decades in local councils in the old Boonah Shire. He is now the new mayor of the new amalgamated council. John and I had a conversation today about the package and I told him I was going to say this in parliament today. John is very supportive of this package. And guess what: John is a very prominent member of the National Party in Queensland. It is a great package for the old Boonah Shire and now for the Scenic Rim. So I say to those opposite: have a talk to your Liberal-National Party colleagues—or Liberal Party or National Party or whatever you call yourself in Queensland. Go and have a talk to John. John will tell you what you should be doing. He wants the package so we can deliver on things, just as his council is delivering on the hydrotherapy complex in Boonah. We have done that; the coalition never did that in the Scenic Rim. We are delivering $667,000 to the Scenic Rim and they are going to put $480,000 of that into building a hydrotherapy complex for the local area. It is the Rudd Labor government that has done that, and John is looking forward to making an application for further funding for the Scenic Rim.

I spoke to Colin O’Connor, who is the CEO of the Lockyer Valley Regional Council. I campaigned hard in the last election in the Lockyer Valley Regional Council but I have to confess that I did not win the majority of votes in that area. It has traditionally been a conservative voting area. I did pretty well. I won the old Laidley Shire—just—but I lost Gatton. I am working hard to reverse that for the next election. But Colin said to me today that he is really looking forward to the package because they have a great arts cultural precinct on Lake Apex that they want to fund, and they want to fund it out of the kind of money that we are delivering in this package. I suggest that those members of the Liberal-National Party who are in the Lockyer Valley send an e-mail, or pick up the phone and ring Malcolm. Ring the Leader of the Opposition and tell him what they think. Do they want the complex at Lake Apex? It is a proposal that is going to bring a lot more money, commemorating the Lights on the Hill, the truck drivers and the coach drivers who have died in accidents—sadly—across the last year. I go to the Lights on the Hill memorial every year. It has a great precinct and it has a library that will be going up. It is a great investment.

We are talking about an injection of up to $15 million in the local area, and this is allied with the Rudd government’s injection of $47.2 million to relocate the School of Veterinary Science from Brisbane to Gatton. The Rudd government is delivering for the Lockyer Valley and the rural areas. The National Party have forgotten about the rural areas. But those regional and rural voters must remember this at the next election: it is the Rudd government that cares for the rural areas. We are the ones who are delivering for the rural and regional schools. We are the ones who are injecting the black spot funding—twice as much as the coalition government ever did under Mr Howard. And we are the ones who are delivering with this package. The coalition should stop opposing this, go and talk to their regional and rural constituents and have a look at what this will do for the local areas in terms of jobs and training, and assistance to farms and families in the working-class areas of Ipswich and elsewhere. To the opposition I say: support this package, get on board and stop opposing it.