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Monday, 24 May 2010
Page: 3740


Mr ADAMS (6:23 PM) —In the budget this year, Tasmania has continued to fare very well. The 2010-11 federal budget is about securing Australia’s long-term economic future. With what we were facing in Australia 12 months ago, the original forecast for the budget for 2009-10 was for a fall in the GDP of 0.5 per cent and unemployment to be at 8.25 per cent, with a deficit of about $58 billion. Things have been turned around quite well by the budget which has been brought down, with the opportunity for growth for 2010-11 being stated at about 3.25 per cent and unemployment to remain around five per cent, or I think even a little less, with a deficit of about $41 billion. So it is a bit of a different picture from last year.

We should commend the Treasurer for bringing that budget together. It reflects a commitment to strong financial management and the budget returning to surplus in 2012-13. This is responsible management which will mean that the government will halve peak debt and get the budget back into the black three years early. This was clearly a budget for the years ahead and for securing Australia’s future. It helps working families. I am particularly pleased about the commitments to health care, including GP services, superclinics and addressing the shortage of nurses. In the Lyons electorate, this has been a major question and I have been lobbying for many years now to ensure that we have the appropriate mix of health staff available to try to take pressure off the city hospitals.

I welcome the funding for skills training in renewable energy. In my electorate I have a major wind farm proposed for the Lake Echo area. I certainly hope that comes together in future. It is in the Central Highlands and only a couple of kilometres from the distribution hub for Hydro Tasmania. Concerning infrastructure and rail networks, I look forward to projects already underway in the electorate of Lyons and across Tasmania coming together. Other projects can be supported and some are already being funded. Here I think about Rhyndaston and the area of the old train route between Hobart and Launceston, built in 1880 with horse and cart, being renewed and many of the more rigorous curves of the rail being removed. It will be straightened considerably, which will mean less wear and tear on the train traffic using it in the future.

During the period this government has been in Canberra, there have been some great changes in emphasis in communities across the Lyons electorate, assisted by federal government funding. This has encouraged hard work and persistence from community members to come up with the projects which have been funded. Let us have a look at some of those projects, with a focus on the many good things happening in the communities around the Lyons electorate.

I keep reading in the national press about some problems with the Building the Education Revolution. I saw people today on the other side trying to promote politics around these projects, but every time I visit a school or attend an opening in the Lyons electorate I find very grateful and enthusiastic school communities who are delighted to have these funds spent in their area and on their schools. In some places they tell me that this is the first major upgrade of their facilities in 30 or 40 years. So, of course, they are very pleased to have these upgrades to take their schools forward over the next 20 years. Without funding of this sort, these communities would have found it very hard to achieve through fundraising the large amounts of money needed to build and equip any new facilities. These projects in small communities will benefit the whole community, not just the education community. In many of those small communities the school is a real community school, playing a very important role over and above its educational role.

They tell me that the new technology that has been provided, along with the upgrade of the infrastructure, has enabled children in more isolated areas to link into mainstream education programs and talk between schools. Both teachers and students are learning to use the IT together. Some teachers are finding the large whiteboards difficult, and the kids are teaching them as they go. It also helps the school to again become the focus of the community. I recently opened a new multipurpose building in Wilmot, costing about $250,000, which was funded through Building the Education Revolution. This funding allowed the online access centre to function more efficiently. It provided a great area for the local playgroup to meet and also for the whole school community to meet as one body. The online centres not only give people the chance to learn new skills and participate in e-learning activities but, in the case of small communities, also provide a place for people to come together and share experiences and ideas. The local playgroup will now have a new area in which to meet, giving local kids a chance to become familiar with the school atmosphere before starting school in the future. The learning programs across Lyons are a major success, and having an area big enough for those programs to come into play is a major opportunity for young people.

Another project was the refurbishment of the Carrington Mill at Oatlands in Central Tasmania. This was done just after the last election as part of the Rural Infrastructure Program. When you drive past Oatlands you cannot miss the Carrington Mill. It is a great landmark and tourist attraction in the Midlands of Tasmania. Many people do not know about this mill but it is playing a central role in the reinvigoration of the whole town of Oatlands. Over the past few years, Carrington Mill has received $1.2 million in federal funding, with matching funding from the state. The work is well underway. The long-term goal is to see the mill up and running again as a working venture. This will not only be a tourist attraction but will have a huge ongoing economic benefit for the whole area. Already, we have seen one new business open—a bakery specialising in baking bread using traditional methods. The bakery is now also holding courses in breadmaking. The overall plan is to turn Oatlands into a tourist precinct with many opportunities to experience within the area. It is also only a short distance from the highland lakes. The plans include the growing and harvesting of spelt wheat, a heritage variety of wheat, which is used in the grinding process at the mill. Existing attractions such as the Oatlands Spring Festival and local businesses and accommodation will all benefit from these major plans. This has been a long process that started many years ago with a vision to turn Oatlands from a quaint but fading country town into a tourist destination. It has taken much work and dedication from many community members, volunteers and the local council to make this dream a reality.

This is what these injections of funds into small communities are all about. They not only stimulate the economy but, in the process, can also motivate a whole region or two. Many of the success stories around Lyons owe everything to groups and committees of hardworking volunteers who persist in the face of many problems to achieve their goals. Recently, we have seen a new childcare centre called Little Penguin open at Bicheno. Over 10 years ago a group of parents saw a need for child care in the Bicheno and Freycinet communities. Since then, with a few changes in the committee over the years, the group has worked tirelessly to see its dream become a reality. This culminated with the opening of the centre, which is sponsored by the Northern Children’s Network, in May, and it was a wonderful event. This stimulated other investments in the local community—in particular, the upgrading of the primary school, which was opened just last week. The Beaconsfield childcare centre and early learning centre is another vital project that is being funded as part of the rollout of childcare centres in disadvantaged districts, and it is now well on the way to providing a good service to the parents of Beaconsfield and the upper Tamar Valley.

On the mainland there have been stories about pink batts. I can tell you that this program went down very well in the Lyons electorate. It was delivered mostly by local companies, and I guess that was the key to there not being many complaints. The only complaints generated were in more populated areas outside the Lyons electorate, where fly-by-night companies took advantage of gullible consumers who trusted them to do the right thing. I believe this was a good program. It has allowed many people to at least have some insulation in their homes, and I am sure that contributes to bringing down their fuel bills.

I believe we have again been responsible in this budget. We have moved to strengthen the economy to help Australian families where they really need assistance and to secure growth for the future. Our decisive action has kept the economy strong and protected jobs during the global financial crisis. We must now take decisive action to return the budget to surplus and keep our finances strong.

In Tasmania we are going through a major period of restructuring of our primary industries. We have been addressing the question of climate change in our agricultural industries and there have been some assistance packages to help with the delivery of water to drought-proof individual properties.

Now we turn to look at forestry. Despite the Greens attempts to derail any initiatives taken by the industry, there is general agreement that the restructuring of the industry needs to occur to retain a very important side of our economy. Federal capital already put into road and rail infrastructure will assist part of this and I know that there are close negotiations going on between the state and federal spheres and industry players to build a new and more sustainable industry.

We have the rollout of the National Broadband Network which is already underway in Tasmania. This will mean businesses and industries in Tasmania will be able to compete on an equal basis with those overseas as they access markets and opportunities. Without a fast and reliable internet service, this has been impossible to achieve before. Many people coming to Tasmania find a valley or a glen where they would love to live, but they are not able to get proper internet service so they have had to leave again.

Tourism is another area where Tasmania has an active interest as we have some of the most sought after tourist venues in Australia. I know our east coast has been featured as one of the most popular and heralded tourist destinations. Tourism is a $1 billion industry for the Tasmanian economy, and it is an industry that employs 14,000 people—some 16 per cent of all jobs. The federal government has recognised the importance of this and has launched a program called There’s nothing like Australia on a website in which individuals, states and businesses can interact with the marketing program to ensure that the places people visit and which they enjoyed most can be documented and spread to the whole world. So it will certainly help Tasmania to attract more visitors and thus create more jobs.

There are tax cuts in this budget as well, and a more simplified tax system that will allow automatic deductions from 1 July 2012. There will be modest income tax cuts for every Australian taxpayer from 1 July this year. Small business will also be given a tax break from 1 July 2012.

The new investments in the Launceston General Hospital, the rehabilitation work and the opportunities that will go on there are major investments in the health of Tasmanians. There are opportunities from the $417 million investment to improve after-hours access to GPs and primary health care. This is a major way of keeping people out of hospitals. There are the superclinics, and one is close to getting started in the electorate of Lyons. They are a wonderful opportunity to deliver primary health care. And, of course, electronic health records for every Australian who wants one from 1 July 2012 will be a major initiative, something which the other side failed to deliver to the Australian health system.

The money being put into mental health through this budget will also assist enormously, especially the 3,500 young people aged between 16 and 25 years who can benefit from early treatment support. This is a major opportunity as we know that early assistance and treatment in the area of mental health is of major benefit.

There are 39,000 training places for the Skills for Recovery program, with the Apprentice Kickstart initiative to support around 22,500 apprentices. This is targeted to small to medium businesses in areas where we, as a nation, need to improve those skill bases. There will be 140,000 Australians building core foundation skills such as language, literacy and numeracy. It is a tremendous program which will assist many apprentices getting started.

I mentioned infrastructure in the electorate of Lyons. There is the National Broadband Network being rolled out in parts of the Lyons electorate and other parts of Tasmania. The Australian Rail Track Corporation received about $1 billion in this budget. This will help to enhance rail and track throughout Australia.

So this budget is a very responsible one. It allows us to build on the programs before us, making sure that we are well placed in the global economy to deal with the changes that are continuing to face us. (Time expired)