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Tuesday, 29 May 2012
Page: 6119


Mr MARLES (CorioParliamentary Secretary for Pacific Island Affairs and Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs) (13:02): The 2012-13 budget is a budget which has delivered a surplus on time, as promised. It is a budget which sets up our country for the future, building a stronger economy and at the same time creating a much fairer community. It is a budget which will spread the wonderful benefits that this country is getting through the mining boom to all Australians—noting that we do have a patchwork economy, where many, particularly in the south-east corner of our country, are not enjoying the benefits of the mining boom to the extent that others are. So this is a budget that will deliver for them.

It is a budget that protects low- and middle-income Australians. It does this by providing more money to families and small businesses and supporting the most vulnerable members of our community, through tax cuts, so that all taxpayers earning up to $80,000 will get a tax cut, including the tripling of the tax-free threshold and increases in the pension for more than 3.4 million pensioners. It is a budget which provides for an increase to family payments. It is a budget which provides the Schoolkids Bonus, which helps families with the costs of their children's education. It is a budget which will help support people who are living on allowances and it will also help people through the parenting payment. It is a budget which will introduce for the first time the historic National Disability Insurance Scheme, which, in the fullness of time, will represent just about the biggest advance in social policy in this country since Medicare. It is a budget which will see a blitz on public dental waiting lists.

I want to talk a little bit about how that broad picture of the budget will apply specifically in my electorate of Corio. In my electorate, 8,550 local families who have school kids will receive $410 in the case of primary school children and $820 in the case of high school children. That adds up to nearly $9 million worth of assistance for families in the electorate of Corio. More than 11,000 local families will receive an increase of up to $600 through family tax benefit A, from 1 July 2013.

Through the minerals resource rent tax we are seeing an increase in superannuation for 42,500 local workers in the Corio electorate. They will see their superannuation increase from nine per cent to 12 per cent. That is going to add almost $108,000 to the projected retirement income of an average 30-year-old worker. From July, Labor will put up to $500 into the superannuation accounts of 23,500 local workers earning up to $37,000. For 14,600 small businesses in Corio, Labor is giving an instant tax write-off for each purchase of an asset below $6,500—which, again, is one of the many benefits that flow from the minerals resource rent tax. In addition to that, the first $5,000 spent on a new motor vehicle will also be able to be written off.

In addition to those measures, there is also being rolled out as we speak the household assistance package, which will support families with any modest increases in prices which occur as a result of putting a price on carbon. More than 11,300 families in the Corio electorate will receive additional money as a result of the assistance payments. A typical family in my electorate will get $529 through both tax cuts and family assistance payments. In excess of 10,800 family tax benefit recipients in the electorate will receive up to $110 extra a year per child, and 9,200 family tax benefit B recipients will receive up to $69 a year per child.

More than 26,700 local pensioners will receive—with the rollout beginning yesterday—an increase in their pension. There will be a lump sum of $250 for singles and $380 for couples. From March next year, pensioners will receive another increase in their fortnightly payments which will see in total an increase of $338 a year for singles and $510 for couples. More than 1,000 local self-funded retirees will receive an extra $338 a year for singles and $510 for couples.

More than 5,000 local job seekers will receive an extra $218 a year for singles and $390 for couples. More than 2,500 students in Corio will get up to $177 extra per year. That amount will depend on the rate and type of payment they get at the moment in terms of supporting their studies, be it Austudy, Abstudy or Youth Allowance. About 46,000 local taxpayers will receive as a result of the household assistance package a tax cut from 1 July. Around 38,000 taxpayers will receive a tax cut of at least $300, and 4,000 local residents will pay no tax at all due to the tripling of the tax-free threshold.

All of that represents a concerted effort on the part of this government to tackle two of the great economic challenges facing our nation. The first is to make sure that the enormous benefits which flow to us through the resources boom are there for all Australians, because the essential product of that resources boom—the resources which lie underneath our ground—is owned by all Australians.

The second great challenge is placing a price on carbon so that we can develop an industrial base going forward which is much less dependent upon carbon, in a future world where dependency upon carbon is going to be penalised, and doing that in a way which does not have an impact on low- and middle-income households. They will get through this a package of assistance that will cover, and in some cases more than cover, any increase in costs associated with putting a price on carbon.

This budget and the work that has been done on that comes on the back of a very significant record of achievement on the part of Labor in power since 2007 in relation to the Corio electorate. We have seen an unprecedented level of federal government support and engagement in the electorate of Corio. I want to take a moment to describe some of those. It is a very impressive record of achievement, which is unprecedented in terms of the way federal governments have impacted upon the Corio electorate in the past.

As a result of the Labor government we will see the $3.2 billion regional rail link, which separates regional and metropolitan trains as they enter Melbourne. The City of Geelong has a vital connection with Melbourne, with a growing number of those living in Geelong working in Melbourne. This will see an infinitely more reliable and faster rail service to Melbourne, a service that does not see trains from Geelong and Ballarat caught up in the metropolitan, transit traffic jam that occurs every morning. This is a significant piece of infrastructure that will change the daily lives of working people in Geelong.

There has been $50 million spent on the rail upgrades at Geelong Port, which will make it an easier port to access from both directions and will put a focus on the significance of the port for Geelong's economic future—and that equals jobs. Deakin University's Australian Future Fibres Research and Innovation Centre has had $37 million dollars spent on it. This is a collaboration between Deakin University, CSIRO and the Victorian Centre for Advanced Materials Manufacturing.

We often talk of the old economy and the new economy, and the high-tech manufacturing jobs of the future—making carbon fibre and working with carbon fibre is the high-tech manufacturing of the future. This research centre will have a world's best research furnace for carbon fibre production, which will set up Geelong and our region to be the centre of carbon fibre research, manufacturing and production. This is an investment in future manufacturing jobs.

We have seen $26 million spent on an integrated cancer care service at Barwon Health. This acknowledges the extent to which Geelong is, in a sense, a regional capital of Victoria's south-west and a really important centre for making sure that health outcomes of those living in regional Australia are the same as those living in our capital cities. We have seen the construction of a fantastic new Australian Taxation Office building in Little Ryrie Street, which is now also the centre for the Department of Human Services in Geelong. This brings together, in one building, all the federal services that the people of Geelong rely on—in a state-of-the-art green building—and employs hundreds of local people.

We have a trade training centre, which I had the pleasure of visiting on its second day of operation, at Northern Bay College. It is a fantastic facility. It provides vocational training in the north of Geelong, where it is so badly needed. Another $4.2 million has been committed to the trade training centres at St Joseph's, Sacred Heart, Clonard and McKillop colleges, the next cluster to receive that benefit. We have seen $62 million provided in assistance to support manufacturing industries across 20 programs. Importantly, we have seen $10 million provided to Simonds Stadium, the home of the Geelong Football Club. It is part of a $46 million build on what is the southern-most stand of that stadium, setting the stadium up to be the most important piece of regional sporting infrastructure in the country.

We have seen $10 million spent on the Geelong Library and the Heritage Centre, which is a really important spend. It develops the Geelong Library and protects our city's most important and valuable records. Both were funded out of the first round of funding from the Regional Development Australia Fund. Millions of dollars have been spent on road improvements. This includes an announcement made a couple of weeks ago of $390,000 to fix four black spots in our city. Expenditure of $2.8 million has been made on five stormwater harvesting projects so that we can be much smarter in the way we use our water. A legacy of the drought is that we are now using our water in a much cleverer way. This will set us up for the next time we go through a dry patch. There has been $3.1 million spent on the renovation of the iconic Eastern Beach complex in Geelong, which is really one of the most important historical venues that we have in Geelong. It is a place which, to this day, is a gathering spot, particularly in the summer, for so many of our citizens to enjoy Corio Bay. A smaller amount of money but just as important, $391,000, has been spent on the Kardinia Park netball complex upgrade. Looking forward, there will potentially be an upgrade of the Point Wilson Waterside Infrastructure Project. Point Wilson pier is the only major ordnance pier that we have in Australia. Remediating Point Wilson is a high priority of this government. The wharf there is the sole Defence facility in the country which is capable of receiving strategic imports of explosive ordnance. This project is a long-term strategic investment that will extend the life of the wharf through to 2055.

Our government has faced the global financial crisis and steered our country through it such that we have the best economy in the developed world. Our government has faced the patchwork economy, an enormous challenge, and is spreading the benefits of the mining boom to all parts of Australia. We have a plan to do both. We have done that in the face of relentless negativity on the part of the opposition, which does nothing other than appeal to the darker angels of our nature and deny any innate optimism that exists amongst Australians to see a bright future ahead. This is not what Australians will respond to. What the Labor government is providing is a sense of hope and a sense of strategy about taking our country forward.