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Monday, 24 May 2010
Page: 3716


Ms RISHWORTH (4:36 PM) —Before question time, in the debate on the appropriation bills, I was talking about the importance of the GP superclinics and, in particular, the positive impacts that similar clinics—the GP Plus Health Care Centres—have had in South Australia. That impact has seen, as I mentioned before, a decrease of presentations to A&E by 13 per cent from the postcodes in which the GP Plus Health Care Centres are operating. This is a particularly important initiative and I know that people in my electorate are very much looking forward to the opening of the Noarlunga GP superclinic, which is being built as we speak. However, it is not surprising to see, when we look at the opposition’s response to the budget, money once again being ripped out of the health area. The Rudd government is committed to health. That is why we have a national health and hospitals plan and why we are committed to delivering good quality health care to people around the country.

The Rudd government is also committed to the provision of quality childcare services. It is an important and very rewarding investment for the future. I regularly visit a lot of childcare centres throughout my electorate of Kingston. It is evident that childcare centres, parents and staff all want to ensure that children are receiving the best quality care in their important formative years. The budget provides over $273 million over four years to raise the quality of early childhood education and care across Australia. This funding will mean that parents within my electorate can be assured that their child will be receiving quality care by trained staff. Where needed, centres will receive capital upgrades to help services to meet the national quality standards. Families within southern Adelaide who have access to the Hackham West community JET creche can expect additional federal support for the provision of their much needed services. This is a key message of the government that families can rely on getting quality services through improved amounts of federal funding.

Access to justice is also a right of all Australians. In a further display of the government’s commitment to the people in my electorate and right around Australia, the government is to invest an additional $145 million over four years in legal assistance programs. An amount of $83,700 is to be provided to the southern Community Legal Centre for the Family Relationship Centre pilot to ensure they continue to deliver legal advice and assistance for separating families. This is a particularly important provision for any family going through a time of separation. It is extremely hard and very distressing and it is imperative that these people continue to receive quality legal assistance.

The government acknowledges the importance of providing a dignified and secure retirement income. As part of the budget commitment, from 1 July 2013, the superannuation guarantee will be increased from nine per cent to 12 per cent. This is an extremely important step that will significantly improve the retirement income and, indeed, the quality of life for many people when they retire. Even someone who is now 50 years of age will be approximately $22,000 better off at retirement, indicating just how important this measure is. Compulsory superannuation has been one of the great legacies of previous Labor governments. I am very proud that the Rudd Labor government is building on the previous legacy to ensure that when people do reach retirement they can establish, through superannuation, a better quality of life for their future.

Further to these improvements in superannuation, the government has also offered generous tax breaks to older Australians who have low super balances to help them boost their superannuation savings. Workers over 50 years of age with a total superannuation below $500,000 will be able to make concessional superannuation contributions up to $50,000. An additional $500 will be provided to workers on incomes up to $37,000 effectively refunding the tax that they already had to pay on super. This will have a positive impact on countless moderate income earners right around Australia and also in my electorate in the southern suburbs of Adelaide. The Rudd government remains committed to ensuring that all Australians are able to enjoy a secure retirement.

Right around the country the Rudd government has provided pensioners with greater flexibility in how they receive their payments. As part of the budget, from 1 July 2010, pensioners will be able to choose to receive their pension supplement quarterly rather than fortnightly. This provides pensioners with greater flexibility and choice in how they receive their payments. It also builds on, I think, the significant contributions that this government made in the last budget, the substantial reforms to pensions where, since coming to office, the age pension has been increased by more than $100 a fortnight for singles. This equals a real change in the quality of life for pensioners in my electorate of Kingston.

Australia does need more electricians, carpenters, chefs and welders—just to name a few. We need more apprenticeship training. That is one of the matters that comes up regularly as I visit communities. Young people tell me that they want to upskill themselves and to make sure that they are preparing themselves and getting the best opportunity to enter the workforce in skilled employment. One of the particular things that has been widely welcomed in my electorate was the Apprentice Kickstart program initiative announced as one of the responses in the global financial crisis to try and ensure that companies, despite having difficulty during the global recession, still continue to take on new apprentices. That is why the Rudd government is investing almost $80 million to extend the very successful Kickstart initiative. As mentioned this initiative has already boosted the traditional apprentice numbers above the pre-global recession numbers in just one year.

There were 24,400 young Australians who began an apprenticeship in the traditional trades last summer. I think this is a particularly important initiative. I note that in my electorate in southern Adelaide the Kickstart program has helped 92 local apprentices to get a start in their chosen field, and that is really important. I was speaking to one of the local building companies in my electorate that is undertaking a number of constructions with the Building the Education Revolution. They told me is that, because of the work that the Building the Education Revolution has provided, they too have been able to take on apprentices in the traditional trades to upskill them. The government is really committed to this measure and upskilling our nation was a particular focus in the budget. We invested over $660 million in the budget to ensure that our training system is responsive to the skills needed in our economy.

This is in stark contrast to the opposition, who have shown a complete disinterest in how we might tackle the skills shortage. It is very disappointing not just to me but to many in my local community that the opposition have announced that they will scrap the trades training centres in schools. This is really threatening an opportunity for young people in my electorate in the southern suburbs of Adelaide and right across the country to gain the skills they need for the future. I know how really important it is because I have heard firsthand from young people about how they want to take a different vocational path—maybe not year 12 and then to university to get a degree. They want to study a trade and get skills but they also want to finish year 12. Scrapping the trades training centres in schools threatens the opportunity for young people to continue on with their year 12 and also perhaps to get a certificate.

The coalition’s announcement has threatened trade centres that have been planned in my electorate: Willunga high, Hallett Cove R to 12 school, Reynella East high, Wirreanda high and Seaford. They all enthusiastically took up the program of trades training centres in schools because they want to deliver good training. It has been needed in our community. Young people want it. It is very disappointing that the coalition have indicated that they will axe this program and perhaps put at risk those trades training centres in the suburbs I have mentioned.

Turning now to the budget measures for small business. We all know that small business is the engine room of the Australian economy. Over 9,000 small businesses in my electorate will benefit significantly from the budget. The budget will provide for every one of those over 9,000 small businesses to instantly deduct the costs of assets valued at up to $5,000—an increase from the current $1,000 limit. These are real savings for small business owners and will make a big difference.

The other thing I have said many times in this place before is just how important the National Broadband Network is going to be for small businesses in my electorate. Despite the rhetoric we hear from the opposition, small businesses in my electorate have nominated lack of access to broadband as their No. 1 impediment to growing business and taking advantage of economic growth around the world. The plan to scrap the NBN as proposed by the opposition is of serious concern to many small businesses in my electorate. This is their No. 1 issue. I urge the opposition to rethink their proposal to scrap the National Broadband Network. It is critical to improving productivity for small businesses in my electorate. As I said, it has been nominated as the No. 1 issue for small business in the southern suburbs of Adelaide.

I would like to finish by saying that this budget the Rudd Labor government have put forward is a very economically responsible budget. It is one that really delivers on some of the successes we have had following the global financial crisis and will ensure that we continue to have a strong and prosperous future. (Time expired)