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Monday, 27 May 2013
Page: 3890


Mr SIDEBOTTOM (BraddonParliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry) (17:35): I really do try to be positive, but that was an absolute nonsense comment. First and foremost, I do not doubt the member's sincerity in wanting an NDIS, but without Labor you would not have one, full stop. As for Tony Abbott, he has agreed to our NDIS program and our project. I have to say in terms of the budget—on which I heard a lot of waffle emanating from the other side—that our budget was so bad that they are going to accept it! So hello, hallelujah! Talk about a load of waffle—and do not be too sure about your tsunami, cobber. You know, the old weather forecasts are not that good at times. In your arrogance, that is fine, but be it on your head when the results come in.

Anyway, I am very pleased to support this budget through the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2013-2014 and related bills. It is a historic budget because it is in the Labor tradition of having a fair go—

An opposition member: The Labor tradition of debt!

Mr SIDEBOTTOM: and this year's budget highlight—which you are going to accept, by the way. You are going to accept it, so settle down.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Symon ): Order! I remind everyone that use of the word 'you' is inappropriate. Members should direct their remarks through the chair.

Mr SIDEBOTTOM: That is novel. That is very good. Thank you. You are absolutely correct. We are locking in a long-term funding model for the historic needs based investments in DisabilityCare Australia—locked in, over time, based on need—and the National Disability Insurance Scheme, along with the reformative National Plan for School Improvement, based on the Gonski review. The principles behind it? Fairness, equity and based on need. These are two needs based reform programs of historic proportions introduced by Labor and here to make it better for our disabled citizens, their families and those who care for them and also for our students in every one of our schools.

I strongly believe in DisabilityCare Australia and the National Plan for School Improvement. This will go down in history as part and parcel of the great Labor reforms like the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, the envy of the world; the Medicare system that we have, the envy of the world; and floating the Australian dollar—well, that is not the envy of the world, but it was very important for the economic development of Australia. These are proud achievements. These are Labor government achievements. No amount of waffle emanating from the other side is ever going to be able to deny that.

We have provided in our budget $14.3 billion over seven years to 2018-19 to roll out DisabilityCare Australia nationally, on top of—that is on top of—existing Commonwealth disability funding. DisabilityCare Australia requires a strong and stable funding stream to provide Australians with a disability, their families and their carers with the funding certainty they deserve, so they can have confidence that this vital reform will be locked in place. Come on board, states and territories of Australia. Do not worry about this government; worry about those governments, particularly coalition governments, Liberal governments in particular, and this so-called coalition opposition.

DisabilityCare would be especially important for families with children with disability, the scheme having a very strong focus on early intervention support. We know how early intervention services like physio, speech therapy and support for learning difficulties are critical in giving children the best possible start in life. DisabilityCare will mean that children with a disability get the right support early in their lives so they can reach their full potential as adults.

When the scheme is rolled out nationally in 2019-20, around 460,000 Australians with significant and permanent disability will get the support they deserve. In Tasmania, this means that around 11,000 people with disability will be supported by 2019-20. This enduring reform will greatly benefit the country and my region in particular where more than 2,100 people with a disability will be supported on an individual needs basis. This is great for the country, it is great for my state and it is great for my region but, most importantly, this will make a huge difference to individuals and families.

Two local constituents of mine relayed to me their perspectives of DisabilityCare as mothers of profoundly disabled adults. I would like to share those perspectives. They see a better future for the parents and carers of children with a disability. It is fantastic to hear 'a better future'. Before DisabilityCare, people would have to endure waiting lists to get equipment, indeed, sometimes for three or four or more years. There will be no more patching and making do to make something like a wheelchair last until your name finally comes up on the list for replacement. Parents and carers will not be reduced to essentially begging service clubs to assist in funding equipment and services. Indeed, how often have we seen families and friends fundraising for the disabled, trying to get funds from here and there to put towards an important piece of new or up-to-date equipment or to maintain worn out equipment?

DisabilityCare will take the stress out of crisis situations. Carers, parents and disabled persons will be supported in a crisis. Parents will be given piece of mind for the future. It is common for parents and carers to have a dread that in their death or their inability to continue to care, the disabled person will not be taken care of in a suitable manner. I can only begin to imagine what it would be like as a parent or close relative caring for a disabled family member to worry about what would happen to them once the parent became too old to properly care for them or became sick or even died. Having certitude of care and funding will be an enormous relief.

There will also be freedom of choice and not just that but more choices. No longer will the disabled have to accept mediocrity often because that is all there is available. Disability will also be more 'in the face' of the public. There will be more awareness, more acceptance and less social stigma. The disabled will be able to be matched to their abilities, not their disabilities, in the workplace and in social settings.

I thank these two mums for their thoughts and also for the great service they do for their respective children and the community. They, like so many other parents, families, friends and supporters of the disabled have campaigned long and hard for reform. I know how hard it has been to be heard and how abandoned at times they have felt. As government members and as a parliament, all of us in this chamber have legislated and now budgeted to make their lives and their children's lives better. It is a reform that every Australian should be proud of.

When it comes to the important area of school funding, the Gonski review highlighted what everyone already knew—that our school funding model needs to change. The emphasis should be and must be on needs. Too many schools and students are being left behind. Our school results have not been improving as much as they could, certainly in comparative terms. That is what the National Plan for School Improvement will change. This historic reform to school funding will create better Australian schools for generations to come, ensuring our classrooms, our teachers and our students are properly resourced. We can reach our goal of being in the top five education systems in the world by 2025. We need to keep pace with the rest of the world because investing in creating a smarter country will lead to economic opportunity and prosperity. It is not enough to be a clever country. We need to be smarter as well. Investment will increase year by year throughout the six-year period of the agreement.

This is the most comprehensive reform of school funding for 40 years. The plan will establish a national schooling resource standard, which includes a benchmark for student amount and extra money through loadings for students we know need it most. Loadings will be available to students from low socioeconomic backgrounds, Indigenous students, students with limited English and students with disability and will reflect school location and size. By making every school a better school, we will help young Australians get the best possible education to seek to secure a high-wage, high-skilled job for the future.

Unfortunately, in my electorate of Braddon, we have some of the highest levels of disadvantage in terms of educational indices. These programs are going to advantage my region and hopefully bring us in line with the rest of the country. This goes for all my schools in my region. The NSP will also be complemented with funding to improve and enhance teacher quality and training, expand local school decision making, and further develop high quality programs to improve literacy and numeracy as well as resource our classrooms so that all students can learn in the best of teaching and learning spaces, using the most contemporary of IT communications and research platforms. One of these, of course, is the National Broadband Network with all its unlimited potentialities and capacities. Unfortunately, those opposite not only oppose the NSP and the needs based funding and resourcing model it is premised on but they also oppose the future by opposing the NBN.

The National Plan for School Improvement and DisabilityCare are not just social and educational reforms, as important as they are, but they are also significant fundamental economic reforms. Needs based funding in the Labor tradition leads to a country where no-one is left behind due to where they live or their physical limitations. This leads to a country where everyone can reach their potential and be contributors to the nation's society both economically and socially. This is a better Australia, an Australia with and supportive of opportunity.

The budget strengthens the foundation of Australian agriculture, contrary to the views of some of those opposite. It prepares our farmers for future challenges and lays the groundwork for the opportunities of the Asian century which was absolutely reinforced on Saturday in Brisbane by the Minister for Agriculture Joe Ludwig and our significant resourcing of something like $40 million into the National Food Plan with a whole host of national initiatives associated with it, particularly the $28.5 million investing in an Asian food market research fund and to support the whole Asian century push and thrust both of the economy and in particular in relation to the food and fibre industry of this nation. It has been well received by the National Farmers Federation and other significant agricultural and agribusiness associations and organisations.

I congratulate the minister on this plan, along with the very important reforms that were announced most recently and budgeted for in the budget, particularly in terms of the National Drought Program Reform and the household allowance system that we have developed in its place and also importantly the investment in national farm assistance packages to assist those farmers and those viable organisations in our rural and regional Australia to cope with the difficulties that they are being challenged with at the moment—a whole complement of factors and influences—to allow them to try and get them through these challenges and at the same time to provide a pre-emptive tool for rural and regional Australia, particularly in relation to drought and its effects. I wish to reiterate the good work of Minister Ludwig, particularly on those programs and the National Food Plan recently announced.

The budget in terms of my electorate was very supportive with something like $119.6 million towards the Tasmanian freight revitalisation program. This will improve safety, reliability and competitiveness of Tasmania's rail network including upgrades to the West Coast Melba line and particularly in anticipation of the responsible economic development of mines in our region. I was very pleased to be at a mass pro-mining rally on the weekend at Tullah on the West Coast where the community sentiment was very clear that they want and support responsible economic development along with the proper protection of the environment where it is appropriate and necessary and that they want people, particularly from the hard Green side of politics, to accept balance.

Unfortunately we do not have much to look forward to on that side of things at the moment, because they are prepared to used every legal means to oppose any successful application agreed to by the Tasmanian government and the federal government. I thank Minister Burke for the fact that he did not list the entire Tarkine region on the national estate, but certainly significant Aboriginal sites and culture were recognised and for his acceptance of the application for Shree Minerals. I look forward to further applications from venture minerals on the west coast being successful. At the same time we can be assured that we will protect our very important environment. (Time expired)