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Tuesday, 25 June 2013
Page: 6958

Mr NEUMANN (BlairParliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General) (16:28): We have heard from those opposite a list of fiction. I am going to give a list of facts in relation to what this government has done to make Australia a stronger and smarter and fairer country. We heard the deputy leader of the coalition, the Leader of the Nationals, talk about wages and labour costs in two speeches in the last hour or so. On each occasion he inferred quite clearly that in fact wages were too high in this country and that we had to drive down wages. This is from a person who voted for Work Choices on more than two dozen occasions.

One of the proudest days I have had in the six years I have been in this place was when we got rid of Work Choices. We know what Work Choices did. It drove down wages and made it more difficult for Australian families to be able to meet their costs of living, pay for the education and health needs of their kids and the recreational pursuits that they wanted for their families. The reality of those opposite is that they brought in Work Choices in this country and the result was that on average women and low-paid earners lost about $115 per week from their wages and salaries.

They bleat in this place about adverse impact on families. I would have more respect for what they had to say if they supported things that actually helped families. For example, we increased the childcare rebate from $4,354 per child to $7,500 and doubled the funding for child care. One of the first acts of the Howard coalition government when they came to power in 1996 was to rip a billion dollars out of the childcare sector in this country. In addition to that we are putting millions of dollars into child care to assist in increasing wages and conditions and making fairer each and every place—whether it is bush kids in my electorate or some other childcare facility in any other place in Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane or in any regional part of this country—to make sure that people get a fair go when it comes to the workplaces of this country.

With respect to wages and conditions we have provided $2.8 billion for the social and community sector to fund the equal remuneration order that took place with respect to Fair Work Australia. Those opposite did not support that. It was 150,000 low-paid workers—people who work in childcare centres; in domestic violence facilities, helping women in distress; people working in the tenancy advocacy services—who all got assistance. Of those 150,000 low-paid workers, 120,000 were women. So we are helping Australian families. If those opposite get on the Treasury benches, on average a family with a couple of kids going to school will lose about $15,000 because they will lose their Schoolkids Bonus. What I cannot understand about those opposite is that they supported an education tax refund. We brought the Schoolkids Bonus in to make it easier for families to not have to keep a list on the fridge of all the expenses for computers, uniforms et cetera. Those opposite opposed it and their policy is to rip it away.

Superannuation is a big difference between us and them. They want to impose a $500 tax on low-income earners. If you are earning up to $37,000 a year you will pay $500 more in tax every year under a coalition government. They oppose our increase to the superannuation guarantee from nine per cent to 12 per cent over a number of years. They oppose it again and again because they have never believed in superannuation. The Leader of the Opposition at a press conference on 23 March last year said:

We have always as a Coalition been against compulsory superannuation increases.

They are against families' financial security in retirement. By our superannuation reforms we are boosting by $500 billion the benefit to Australian families by 2037—a $500 billion increase in superannuation to help Australian families. That is government policy on this side helping Australian families, opposed by those opposite. Again and again they voted against superannuation assistance for Australian families. For a 30-year-old on average full-time wages the government's changes will put an additional $127,000 into their superannuation by the time they retire at 67 years of age. That is the difference.

When it comes to telecommunications there is also a big difference. The member for Wide Bay is in a regional seat in Queensland. I am in a regional seat in Queensland as well. What the Liberals and Nationals intend to do to regional Australia is to put them into the technological Neanderthal days. They will make sure that these people will be disadvantaged compared to people who live in Sydney and Melbourne. If you live in, say, Bulimba in Brisbane or Toorak or Vaucluse, you will get access to high-speed broadband and you will have to pay the $5,000 to connect the fibre to your home because they will leave it at the node and will make you pay for the connection to the premises. If you are living in the Lockyer Valley or the Brisbane Valley or Wide Bay region, you will have to pay. It is broadband for the rich and nothing for the poor. That is typical of those opposite when it comes to telecommunications.

It is not just that, it is other areas as well like education. They are opposed to the National Plan for School Improvement. In the last hour or so I had a phone call from the Queensland Times newspaper talking about the study in relation to schools in the Ipswich and West Moreton region and the fact that we were underfunded. I said to the journalist, Peter Foley: 'Listen, if they pass the National Plan for School Improvement and Campbell Newman signs up, we will be in a position where Queensland schools will get an average $2.2 million more.' Barry O'Farrell in New South Wales has had the wit and wisdom to do this—they will get an average $1.6 million more for schools in New South Wales. So Campbell Newman and the Leader of the Opposition in this place believe that a person's state of origin determines their educational outcome. That is exactly their position.

As Peter Doyle, school principal at Springfield Lakes State School in my electorate, said in the Queensland Times recently, teachers are paying thousands of dollars to pay for the education needs in their classrooms. If the Queensland government sign up for the National Plan for School Improvement, schools in my electorate will benefit to the tune of about $184 million, making sure that their families are assisted, so that mums and dads do not have to put their hand in their pocket all the time. It means that schools like Bremer State High School get about $13.9 million more than the current funding for the next six years. Redbank Plains State High School, another big high school in the Ipswich and West Moreton region, would get $12.2 million more. Ipswich state highway would get $10.5 million more. It applies to electorate after electorate across this country, making an impact for families, helping them with their education needs.

The member for Wide Bay talked about infrastructure and the like. He said that we were not doing Regional Development Australia projects around the country. He must be politically blind when it comes to that. I could point him to things in the Lockyer Valley, the Brisbane Valley, Ipswich and other parts of Queensland where Regional Development Australia funding has been rolled out for major community infrastructure, creating jobs and supporting Australian families.

The member for Wide Bay was opposed to the biggest road infrastructure project we had in South-East Queensland in the last six years, the Ipswich Motorway upgrade, with 10,000 jobs being created and sustained. He voted against it and campaigned for three federal elections his opposition to it. He talks about helping Australian families, jobs creation, growth and economic development. Those opposite have been opposed to it again and again. And guess what? We have more than doubled the road and rail funding in Queensland in the last six years. We have done that in the first stage. We have put more money in road, rail and port infrastructure in Queensland than the coalition ever did in their 12 years in office—supporting jobs, growth, development; sustaining jobs during the global financial crisis, creating 960,000 jobs, when those opposite voted against it again and again.

They talk about the car industry and manufacturing, but they would take half a billion dollars out of the car industry, leaving 255,000 jobs in the car industry at risk in the southern parts of Australia. That is what they would do. They do not support jobs; they want to drive down wages. They do not support education reform; they disinvest in health. They take away doctors and health services in this country, making it harder for health services and costs to be met by Australian families. That is the legacy of those opposite. And that is why they should not be on the treasury bench.