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Tuesday, 7 February 2017
Page: 67

Mr ALEXANDER (Bennelong) (16:10): I am grateful to the member for Perth for raising this issue. We have a proud record to defend here, and I am very happy to speak to it.

As the representative of the fastest growing economy of any metropolitan electorate on the eastern seaboard of Australia, I know that we are making huge strides. An SGS Economics and Planning report released in the past six months ranked Bennelong as having the fastest growing economy in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania. Bennelong's economic performance was topped only by four mining based regions in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. This result is an indicator of the great success of our region, as people travel from around Sydney to access employment opportunities and high-quality services in our local community.

The beating heart of the Bennelong economy is our local small businesses, who have been greatly assisted in the last two federal budgets. Over 7,400 local small and medium-sized businesses have had their taxes cut and received tax breaks on purchases up to $20,000. This facilitates growth, more jobs for local workers, opportunities for local consumers and a stronger community for all local residents. As home to Macquarie Park, the innovation capital of Australia, not only are we creating jobs; we are also creating them in the industries of the future. This is a very exciting place, and I will be talking more about this over the coming weeks.

Beyond the confines of Bennelong, New South Wales is famously leading the way and showing other states how it is done. Unemployment continues to fall and is the lowest of all the states. We are also investing in the critical infrastructure needed to create jobs, help consumers and refit our ageing city. WestConnex will generate more than 10,000 direct and indirect jobs during construction, including hundreds of apprenticeships. The Commonwealth government has contributed $1.5 billion in addition to a concessional loan of $2 billion to Sydney's WestConnex project. Western Sydney Airport is expected to create over 11,000 jobs throughout construction. The Australian government is investing, over 10 years, $2.9 billion of the $3.6 billion Western Sydney Infrastructure Plan. Pacific Highway duplication is expected to create 4,500 jobs at the peak of construction this year, with an additional 13,500 jobs to be supported indirectly. Over the five years to 2018-19, the government is contributing $5.6 billion to finally complete the upgrade of the Pacific Highway to dual carriageway by the end of the decade.

Beyond my state, the Australian government are getting more people into work. Since the coalition came to office in September 2013, over half a million jobs have been created, with employment standing at a record high of just under 12 million in December 2016. Under this government, employment has continued to grow, rising by 0.8 per cent over the past year. We have a plan to grow the economy and create new jobs. We have made tax cuts and incentives for small businesses to employ more Australians. We have invested $1.1 billion in the National Innovation and Science Agenda, which is part of the government's commitment to establishing Australia as a leading innovation system. We are also investing $853 million into youth employment packages to help up to 120,000 young people take advantage of job opportunities as the economy diversifies and transitions to broader based growth. We have a 20-year plan to transform defence, building submarines, frigates, offshore patrol vessels and Pacific patrol boats in Australia, which will directly secure over 3,600 jobs as well as thousands more jobs through the supply chain.

We have signed historic free trade agreements with three of our largest trading partners. These are creating jobs and dropping prices for Australian consumers. A few hours ago I spoke here of my good fortune to represent a community with a large, vibrant, engaged diaspora of Chinese-Australians. At many local events we discuss the importance of building bridges between our two countries to allow even stronger linkages as partners in trade business and culture. The China-Australia Free Trade Agreement cements that bridge and will create many businesses and employment opportunities for Bennelong residents.

Finally, we have made record investments in infrastructure for roads, rail, airports and dams. This includes $220 million into the Regional Jobs and Investment Package to help regions in Australia diversify their economies, stimulate long-term economic growth and deliver sustainable employment. (Time expired)