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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Page: 6112


Mr GEORGANAS (Hindmarsh) (12:31): I am very pleased to speak in support of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013 and cognate bills, for the 2012-2013 budget. I am very pleased to do so because the first thing that comes to mind when we are talking about the budget and the delivery of the budget is that you need to do it on the back of a very strong economy. Without a strong economy you will not be able to implement the very good things that are currently happening.

We know that from when this government first came into government, back in 2007, until today 800,000 new jobs have been created, with another 300,000 on track by the end of 2013. We know that these jobs were not just created by the click of a finger or by sitting back and doing nothing; these jobs were created through good initiatives by this government and through the strong economy that we have built.

We bulletproofed the Australian economy and kept it out of recession, which was very important to get us to the stage where we are today. If you look around the world you see what is happening in Europe—in Greece, in Portugal, in Italy, in Spain and in Ireland—and in other parts of the world. Look at what the US has been through since 2008—its economy is just starting to pick up now. Our economy has been going strong all through that period.

It was strong because we took decisive action when the global financial crisis hit. Again, I reiterate in this place as I have done many, many times before; there was a lot of criticism about our infrastructure packages from the opposition and a lot of criticism about the BER. These were projects that kept us out of the doldrums when the rest of the world was suffering. For example, when I visit a BER project, one of the questions I always ask is: how many people did it employ? And the answer always comes back that it was anything between 50 to 200 people. When you multiply 26,000 projects, just like the BERs that I visit in my electorate, across the country and you see the number of people who were employed, you can see why we got out of that financial crisis. We did not sit back and fold our arms, as we were told to by the opposition—we actually took decisive action. That has assisted us to build this strong economy, to bulletproof the Australian economy and, as I said, to keep it out of that recession.

At the same time it has spread those good benefits of the mining boom, helping families on modest incomes and small businesses. Only last week we heard the announcement of 8,000 new jobs in WA—8,000 new jobs! What a great announcement. What a great announcement to be able to say that we are creating 8,000 new jobs and, at the same time, ensuring that the mining boom is spread evenly across the country. That is great news. Most governments around the world would fall over backwards to make an announcement like that.

There are obviously things that we have to do to get those 8,000 jobs up and running—for example, ensuring that we have the skills to be able to fulfil those positions. I am very pleased that there will be training positions along with new apprentices and of course positions for Indigenous and Aboriginal people in mining. That is a terrific story, and I think it is something that we should not fear or run away from. This is a very important announcement.

At the same time we are delivering the new schoolkids bonus: $1.3 billion—$410 a year for primary schoolchildren and $820 a year for high school children. This is on top of delivering Australia's first national paid parental leave scheme, increasing family payments for teenagers and raising the childcare rebate to 50 per cent of out-of-pocket costs. These are good things we have done because, as I have said, we have a good economy in place to be able to bring these projects to fruition and ensure that we deliver and spread the benefits of the economy across the nation.

Many good things are happening, and I support this budget because it will deliver big time for my electorate: for pensioners doing it tough; for families working long days, doing it tough and struggling to make ends meet; and for the vulnerable in our community. The measures in this budget reflect those true Labor values of our government: fairness, jobs and opportunity for all. They are the things that we see from this government. It is absolutely paramount that we deliver for those people.

I will take the opportunity to highlight some of the measures in this particular budget, the 2012-13 budget, and what it means on the ground for thousands and thousands of people in my electorate of Hindmarsh. We on this side of the House understand the pressures of families who work long days, living pay to pay and spending what little they have on themselves after paying the bills for the kids' school fees, the groceries, the electricity bill, petrol, mortgages et cetera. That is why we are easing the pressure through tax cuts and increasing payments. In the electorate of Hindmarsh, thousands of people, as I said, are now benefiting from these initiatives. We also have boosted the assistance for older people to support them in their retirement or while still working. We have introduced new initiatives to help younger people support themselves while studying or learning a trade.

Paid parental leave is a very positive initiative, and I am delighted that 906 local families in my electorate of Hindmarsh are benefiting from Australia's first paid parental leave scheme. Just this week I spoke in the chamber in favour of the Dad and Partner Pay scheme, which will see dads get two weeks paid leave to be with mum and the baby when it is born. I cannot tell you what a difference that would make on the ground. I spoke, as I said earlier, last week about what a difference it would have made to me when my boys were born if I could have spent those two weeks at home. I know there are many people today in the situation I was in back then. I actually had to change my shifts to be able to stay at home and assist my wife and do what I could to help in the first two to three weeks. At the time, as I have said before, I was driving taxis full time and I changed my shift from six at night to six in the morning so I could get home and give my wife some respite and look after the newborn babies when they came home. It was absolutely exhausting, and a bonus like the one that has just been announced would have been a godsend for my family back then. I know that there are thousands of people out there in exactly the same position that I was in 28 years ago for the first and 24 years ago with the second one.

The baby bonus is another great initiative. In my electorate, 710 local families benefited from the baby bonus last year and many of these families received $500 more of their payment upfront to help pay for the initial costs of setting up the baby's room, buying prams, clothes and all the added expenses that come up when a newborn comes home. Family tax benefit A is another initiative of this Labor government. The families of about 2,600 Hindmarsh teenagers turning 16 over the next five years will now receive up to $4,200 extra in family payments if their child stays at school. That is under our boost for teenagers as part of family tax benefit A. Another great initiative is the advance payment of the FTB A. We have 6,351 local FTB recipients who may be eligible for an advance payment of up to $1,000 to help them meet unexpected family expenses. We all know that life is not always predictable. We know that things happen—the car might break down, you might have a medical emergency and, when you are living on a low income, it can be very hard to find extra money when you need it. So this will go a long way to easing stress on families who are already overloaded trying to balance work, family, study and sport commitments, which as the dad of two boys myself I know is not an easy job and does not slow down as they get older.

We have 4,261 local families who will be receiving the childcare rebate in the electorate of Hindmarsh, and they are now benefiting from Labor increasing the childcare rebate from 30 per cent to 50 per cent of parents' out-of-pocket costs and the increase in the maximum payment to $7,500 per child per year. There are 4,261 local families in my electorate who now have the option of claiming their childcare rebate payment fortnightly rather than having to wait to the end of the year, so it is easier to make ends meet.

Twenty-nine thousand local pensioners are now benefiting from Labor's historic pension reforms, including the biggest increase to the pension in 100 years. Single pensioners on the maximum rate are receiving an extra $154 per fortnight, and couples on the maximum rate are receiving an extra $156 a fortnight combined. I have 3,275 local families in Hindmarsh who have received an annual $600 carer's supplement boost to assist with the financial pressures associated with caring for a loved one. In addition, those who care for a child with a disability now receive an extra $1,000 per year. Also, 29,000 local age pensioners in my electorate can now keep more of their pension if still working. After changes by this Labor government, pensioners can earn up to $250 a fortnight without it being taken into account as income under the pension income test. These are all good measures.

We have also realised that we need to support apprentices and the skilled labour workforce. Six hundred and sixty-three local apprentices training in skill shortage areas are being supported with $5,500 in total government support to help them complete their qualifications in my electorate.

I turn next to the household assistance package. From May, more than 8,000 local families in Hindmarsh will receive extra money through family assistance payments. A typical family in my electorate will get $529 through both tax cuts and family assistance payments. With regard to family tax benefit A and B, 7,500 FTB A recipients in Hindmarsh will receive up to $110 extra a year per child and 6,000 FTB B recipients will receive up to $69 extra a year per child as of this month. More than 1,300 families will receive an extra $289 per year in increased income support, as well as assistance through increased family payments. I mentioned pensioners earlier. I have 29,000 local pensioners in my electorate who will receive an extra $338 a year for singles and $510 for couples combined in their pensions. Payments have started to go out this week. I have more than 2,200 local self-funded retirees, and they will receive an extra $338 a year for singles and $510 for couples combined from May. More than 3,700 local job seekers will receive an extra $218 a year for singles and $390 for couples combined as of this month. I have over 2,200 students in my electorate who will get an extra $177 per year. The amount they get will depend on their rate and type of payment—for example, Austudy, Abstudy or youth allowance.

Many people will benefit from the tax cuts. Approximately 53,000 local taxpayers in my electorate will receive a tax cut on 1 July. Around 44,000 taxpayers will receive a tax cut of at least $300, and 4,000 local residents in Hindmarsh will pay no tax at all due to the tripling of the tax-free threshold. The average wage earner in Hindmarsh now pays approximately $1,200 less tax than in 2007-08 as a result of Labor's tax cuts for low- and middle-income families. From July, Labor will put up to $500 into the superannuation accounts of 22,000 local workers who are earning up to $37,000. These are low-paid workers and this will be a big benefit for them. As I said earlier, importantly, dads in my electorate will be able to apply for Labor's new dad and partner pay scheme, which begins on 1 January 2013. These are all very good benefits.

There are also nation-building programs taking place in my electorate. We have seen a rollout of the biggest road and rail program in the nation's history, with work beginning, progressing or being completed on a long list of large and smaller scale projects. For example, in my electorate, I have been proud to secure $4.5 million funding for the new King Street bridge, which opened on time and on budget at the end of last year and has been much welcomed by local residents, businesses and tourism operators.