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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6421


Mrs D’ATH (11:34 AM) —Can I say how pleased I am to be able to put questions to the minister. I believe that the budget initiatives under the minister’s portfolio are some of the most important measures that are coming out of this budget. Our infrastructure commitment is significant and extremely important both for jobs in the short term and for growth in the economy in the long term, but these key measures address those most in need in our community. I thank the minister for these initiatives. I know, when we talk about housing, I have way too many people in the electorate of Petrie who are on long waiting lists for social housing and who are homeless. I have some amazing community organisations, such as the Redcliffe Community Association, that right now are trying to once again deal with the negative publicity about homelessness and people having to live in tents and caravans or—even worse—in parks, on the street and in their cars.

These people are not just singles living alone but also families—women with children who have no roof over their head or for their children. It was fantastic to see, in this budget, more money committed towards social housing. I know that there are a number of new social housing units that are being built in my electorate but importantly that there are even more social housing units that are being repaired—properties that are sitting there right now not being used. This government has committed to fixing up those properties so that we can get them out into the community, available for people in my area, both young and old, who will now be able to have a roof over their head. It is certainly the first step in building their self-esteem and assisting those people to get back into the workforce and have a good quality of life.

That leads me on to some of the other important initiatives. I have to say, coming from my previous life as an industrial advocate and representing workers’ rights to being part of a government that has introduced paid parental leave, I heard some of the criticisms after the budget from the opposition members about why it is taking so long, not coming into effect until January 2011. What hypocrisy! This is the government which for 12 years did nothing and which had no interest in introducing paid parental leave. As far as they were concerned it was not the responsibility of the federal government. Paid parental leave is an extremely important initiative. This government did not sit back and wait. In fact, it started to act on paid parental leave as soon as—


Mr Simpkins —On a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker: this is about questions to the minister. Is there a question coming?


The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms JA Saffin)—There is no point of order. The honourable member for Petrie may continue.


Mrs D’ATH —I have a very important question to the minister on paid parental leave, because this is an important initiative. It is one that this government took and the previous government failed to even consider. We took the initiative. We listened to the Productivity Commission and we have introduced paid parental leave. Not only is it the responsible thing to do but it will also support women staying in the workforce. This will support families who want to have children but wonder how they are going to pay the rent or how they are going to be able to make the mortgage payments if one of them has to leave the workplace for a period of time. How are they going to make ends meet? This will help those families. You should not need to choose between work and having children. You can do both, and this government is going to make sure that we provide that assistance. Minister, I would like to hear from—


Mrs Mirabella interjecting


Mrs D’ATH —I am certainly interested in the opposition’s interjections on paid parental leave when they failed to do anything about it for 12 years. I would think that the members opposite would be very supportive of paid parental leave as opposed to interjecting about it. Minister, I am interested to know how the working people in my electorate can benefit from the paid parental leave scheme.