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Thursday, 30 May 2013
Page: 4676

Mr ADAMS (Lyons) (12:33): The appropriation speeches allow members to relate details of the budget to their electorates and see the work individual members have put into particular issues. But the debate also allows us to speak of the future and to relate the budget to the building blocks and the ongoing vision for our regions and areas of representation.

From my point of view, in relation to the broader picture this budget has been very fair to the electorate of Lyons in Tasmania. It has taken up many of the areas in my electorate which have been needing attention for many years and perhaps the biggest one is the road and rail infrastructure. I thank the government for their ongoing commitment to providing safe and up-to-date transit systems which take into consideration the size and population of our state and the need we have to shift freight and people.

In the 2013-14 budget, not only does it continue the roll out of the federal Labor government's capital works program but also it identifies future funding priorities within the nation's regional highways and urban public transport infrastructure put to the front of our funding priorities. In the global world of the 21st century good infrastructure matters very much indeed. Through the establishment of Infrastructure Australia we have overhauled the way our nation plans, prioritises, finances, builds and uses its infrastructure. When you think about it—and Deputy Speaker, you have been in the parliament a long time now—with Australia having a body focussing on infrastructure we are trying to bring together a port strategy for our nation. We are an export nation and for the first time in history we are looking at how our ports operate and at our future infrastructure needs. It is well overdue. I note during the Howard years all those ships in Queensland which were laid off, queued up waiting to get into ports, and the bottlenecks caused because we were not dealing with infrastructure.

The total public and private investment in the nation's roads, in rail, in electricity generation and in water storage facilities is now 42 per cent higher in real terms than during the last full year of the former government, 2006-07. In part that has been driven by much greater investment at the national level. In fact, we have already committed $60 billion as part of our national building program to modernise the nation's road, rail and public transport infrastructure. Delivering the new road and rail infrastructure our cities need will require a partnership not only between governments but also with the private sector. That is why we are taking the next step with new innovative ways of attracting greater private investment in public infrastructure. Importantly, Federal Labor's approach involves investing in both urban road and rail infrastructure. If not tackled in such a balanced way, any growth in the Tasmanian economy will be brought to an abrupt halt by lack of basic infrastructure to service the private sector.

Federal Labor's investment in Australia's vital infrastructure extends well beyond the limits of our cities to the highways which connect our regions carrying much of the nation's wealth. Two-thirds of our infrastructure budget is earmarked for projects in rural and regional Australia. The 2013-14 builds on that, adding to what is already the largest road construction program since the creation of the national highway network nearly 40 years ago. Tasmania has benefited to the tune of $500 million, which will continue the upgrade of the Midlands Highway which connects all parts of my electorate to the south and to the northern ports, and carries the freight load through rail and road—important linkages for Tasmania.

Rail infrastructure includes replacing sleepers, rail and ballast along key sections of the main north-south line, including through the Rhyndaston area of the Lyons electorate, with the federal contribution being $75.9 million. This is the rail was put in place, I think, in the 1880s and 1890s when rail was built in Tasmania—so, a long time ago—and this will help straighten out some areas and help build those big trains at the hub in Brighton, also in the electorate of Lyons, just on the outskirts of Hobart, so that we can build rather large trains which can then carry cargo into the northern ports area.

Other infrastructure funding includes assistance towards the development of our irrigation schemes and to deal with some of the issues of country roads through black spot programs, which are working very well, or through the national building program—and I am pleased to see that the straightening and widening of the Port Sorell main road has been included for $1 million. There are also numerous local road additions, which I know communities will welcome, including those bridges in the Mathinna area and through that region. I know there is more to be done. But this government is making the right infrastructure funding decisions for the nation's future, and building infrastructure across the length and breadth of Tasmania that will stand the test of time.

As people are aware, I have been representing the electorate of Lyons for some time and it means that I am aware of the needs and aspirations of the people who live there. We have had many battles, but the biggest battle of all is to keep jobs in local communities. Providing services in those small towns and rural areas around my electorate ensures that people remain in those areas.

The Building the Education Revolution and its ancillary programs have been one of the greatest assets to small towns and have been highly appreciated. Because Tasmania was set up a little differently from the mainland of Australia, I believe we gained the most out of these programs. Comments from all over Lyons include: 'We haven't had any work done on our school for over 50 years and this will set us up for the next 50. Thank you very much and thanks to the federal government,' or, 'I went to school in this building and I am so happy that the school is still here and being appreciated in this centenary.' It means that the town can retain a few professionals. It means that the community can have a centre in which to gather—and often these schools become the centre of those communities. Just look at the school hall in Dunalley, built under the BER. The hall is on a slightly lower level than the school and so, when the school was burnt to the ground, the hall survived and it delivered a lot of essentials to the community in the first few days after the fire. It became the centre in which the community gathered for emergency assistance, along with the local pub.

So the BER delivered the bricks and mortar. Now Gonski can deliver the improved quality of education to go with it, through a new funding model. This is not just about keeping students in school beyond year 10; this is about monitoring and delivering a system in which our kids can gain a good, meaningful primary school education and can then move from secondary to tertiary education with the relevant skills to follow a career path. And the key is primary education: if you do not have the skill base of primary education, it is very hard for you to go on to higher education. Education has changed so much, even over my lifetime, that we need to keep improving and making relevant our education to the workplace. I have been able to share the joy of these communities in improving such an important building block for our nation. I know the trades training centres have helped so many young people get a focus on their future working situation in my electorate. These have been a great success. This is a wonderful piece of policy coming into being, and we should enhance that process into the future.

Health facilities have been another vital aspect in keeping our dispersed communities safe and well. My Lyons jewel in the crown of health facilities has been the Kentish medical centre. It was developed with the help of a building provided by the state government—an old infants school which had become surplus to need once the BER money built a new infants school on the primary site—and a dedicated doctor in this area who had a vision for his community, to get out of the old, broken-down wooden cottage which had served primary health-care delivery in the Kentish municipality for a long time, but with a vision to improve much more than that. With this, there has been the further upgrading of the Tandara Lodge on an adjacent site as an aged-care home. If I had to go into a home anywhere in Lyons, this would be the one. As well as Sheffield, we have renewals of the Longford Medical Centre and the vision for a new centre at Brighton, now under construction; and Sorell and Bridgewater have also benefited.

Then we have the Living Longer Living Better aged-care program, which has come about after extensive discussions in the community. The Living Longer Living Better aged-care reform package provides $3.7 billion over five years. It represents the commencement of a ten-year reform program to create a flexible and seamless system that provides older Australians with more choice and control, and easier access to a fuller range of services where they want them and when they need them. It also positions us to meet the social and economic challenges of the nation's ageing population. These reforms give priority to providing more support and care in the home, better access to residential care and more support for those with dementia, and to strengthening the aged-care workforce. They are being progressively implemented from 1 July 2012 to give earlier benefits to consumers and providers but also to ensure that there is a smooth transition by consumers and providers with sufficient time to adapt and plan ahead for future reform. These are all important and valuable reforms.

My biggest challenge, though, has been jobs. Since the monumental changes to the forest industries and the loss of so many jobs, communities have been ripped apart. Then came the bushfires, and the tragic aftermath of those left many timber communities reeling. The forest agreement has taken three years to come to some resolution, and there are still issues now with change taking place, and that is coming into being, with smarter methods and new systems. We need to find new markets and reskill our workers, and this is happening but it cannot happen overnight.

I commend the budget and look forward to the implementation of many of the programs throughout the budget.