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Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Page: 4125


Mr NEUMANN (BlairParliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing and Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General) (12:53): I speak in support of the appropriation legislation. This legislation is about making Australia stronger, smarter and fairer, and making the Ipswich and Somerset regions in south-east Queensland stronger, smarter and fairer. We are supporting jobs and growth—I will outline how that happens in the budget—and we are also making it smarter, through our historic investments in the national plan for school improvement, and making it fairer by delivering DisabilityCare Australia to 3,800 people with disability in the Blair electorate, and 4,300 carers who care for them.

In really challenging times—at a time when revenue write-downs have made a huge impact on the budget—this federal Labor government has made a very big commitment to jobs, growth and economic development. We have seen the economy grow by 13 per cent—five times faster than the US and Germany—since we have been in power and since the global financial crisis. We have seen 960,000 jobs created while the rest of the world has seen about 28 million jobs lost during this time.

We have a AAA credit rating and have kept inflation low. And people in my electorate are paying, on average, about $100 less in terms of interest payments every week than they were under the coalition government led by John Howard. So this government has been economically responsible but has invested strategically in Ipswich and Somerset as well is in Queensland generally.

I will talk about a couple of portfolio areas before I talk about the local issues in my electorate. First, as Parliamentary Secretary to the Attorney-General I am pleased to see the increase in legal aid funding. The previous coalition government gutted legal aid funding in this country. Everyone knows it, they know it, the law societies know it, the bar associations know it. The impact on disadvantaged and disabled people, Indigenous and low-income Australians was felt very tragically and the systems in the courts were clogged as a result of the coalition's attitude to legal aid. We have reversed this in large part. In our first budget we put in about $53 million extra in legal aid funding in 2008 and we have increased legal aid funding in this budget. We have increased legal aid funding over the next two years to legal aid commissions by an additional $30 million on top of the $420 million already allocated. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander legal services received a $12 million boost, and it was a great privilege to call Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services around the country to advise them of that increase and to speak with people like Shane Duffy from Queensland, to talk to him and see the impact that that is going to have on the services they deliver not just in Queensland but throughout the country.

Community legal centres will be boosted by $10 million over four years, and this is in addition to the $32 million they received this financial year and the $160 million since federal Labor came to office. The contribution of 138 community legal centres to this country cannot be underestimated in creating a fairer society. Sadly, in my home state of Queensland the LNP state government under Campbell Newman has seen fit to cut funding to legal aid, to legal services and to community legal centres, to get rid of the drug courts, the Murri courts, to get rid of funding to organisations that help those in need. They reckon they are tough on crime but they are not tough on crime, they are not even tough on the causes of crime. They are more interested in boot camps than they should be and they are obsessed about those sorts of things. At the same time they are happy to boot out tenants in Housing Commission facilities across Queensland and in low income areas in my electorate like Riverview and Redbank Plains and elsewhere. That is what they are doing at this time. We have budgeted for an increase in funding to those types of services, having to step in last year with $3 million. We have stepped in again with $2.5 million at a time when Liberal governments around the country do not have a problem with this, nor do Labor governments' tenancy advice services, but the Campbell Newman government did. So we have provided funding recently in relation to this budgetary item. I am very pleased to see what we have done in that regard.

I am also pleased as Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing to see the commitment that we have made in relation to two independent clinical registers for cardiac devices and breast implants, a $5.1 million commitment. We have got several successful clinical registers run by medical craft groups, professional organisations. These are in relation to joints—shoulders, hips et cetera—and these registers we are going to create follow in the footsteps of the National Joint Replacement Register established by the Australian Orthopaedic Association in 1998 with the help of the Australian government. That is a budgetary item of about $5.1 million and I am pleased to see that happen.

I am pleased too that we have followed up the commitment we announced on 7 April this year in supporting what is now known as paid leave for living organ donors. It is a $2.6 million commitment. It means that if you wish to donate, say, a kidney, and 90 per cent of living donors donate a kidney, or partial a liver, you will get paid to employers six weeks of salary support to be passed on to the donor, who usually gives that kidney to a loved one or a close friend, often to a child or spouse or partner. This is the commitment over two years and we will review and consider outcomes of the trial in early 2015.

Living donors make an incredibly generous offer. We believe this act of kindness should be financially supported. Clinicians tell us that the six-week period is appropriate, that it will be paid at the minimum rate of pay, the national minimum wage, which is $606.40 a week. I reject the headline on the Sunday Telegraph which talks about 'Cash the kidneys'—it is completely erroneous. The six-week period is for two weeks of pre-surgery evaluation and four weeks for the convalescence.

Living donors will be able to apply to the Department of Human Services and the funding will be paid to their employers by the DHS. I am very pleased to see those sorts of items. We have also provided another $800,000 to the Food and Health Dialogue, which I chaired at a roundtable this morning. That money will continue the good work done to take about 2,200 tons of sodium out of our food on staples such as bread and cereals. The work being done by the Australian Food and Grocery Council, the Australian Heart Foundation, other health providers and other interested parties is making a difference. That $800,000 has been budgeted for as well. We have a record amount of funding for health and hospital services, particularly contrasting the LNP government in Queensland, which sacked 4,140 public servants, frontline doctors, nurses and clinicians, and gutted $3 billion out of the health system. We are increasing funding to Queensland a record $3 billion, an extra $1.1 billion across the forward estimates to hospitals in Queensland. At a time when the coalition in Queensland sees fit to defund services, we are increasing services to Queensland and nothing contrasts more to Queensland in the budget we have produced compared to the LNP government in Queensland, and more so to those opposite. Let me give a couple of illustrations of that.

In my electorate we have a number of rural towns. We have a little town called Esk at the heart of the Somerset region where there is a civic centre opened with $2 million of federal government money, through the Regional Infrastructure Fund. Those opposite opposed it—they opposed every last cent. We see in this budget $500,000 for the Kilcoy showgrounds upgrade. Those opposite opposed it. We have just announced another $500,000 for the Toogoolawah arts and cultural project to the Summerset Regional Council, which will revitalise Esk, Kilcoy and Toogoolawah. Those opposite claim they support regional and rural areas, but they oppose the funding for them.

When it comes to road funding, the budget contrasts what we say compared to those opposite. Election after election, vote after vote, those opposite have opposed the Ipswich Motorway upgrade between Ipswich and Brisbane—every election. They went to the last federal election with a policy to stop construction on the Ipswich Motorway. That is what Warren Truss, the Leader of the National Party, announced: stop construction and put 10,000 jobs in south-east Queensland at risk. This budget, having provided $2.5 billion or more in previous budgets, we have provided for the last section of the Ipswich Motorway $279 million. The first instalment, the down payment, is on the Darra to Rocklea section, all in the electorate of the member for Moreton and a bit in the electorate of the member for Oxley. My electors in Blair use it every day on their way to and from Brisbane. Those opposite have not said a word about this. The LNP candidates in Blair and Oxley are hiding from the media. That is what the Queensland Times records on their front page. The LNP candidates in Oxley and Blair are hiding and will not make one cent of a commitment.

It took the Leader of the Opposition five years, six months and 16 days to come to the electorate of Blair.

He does not announce a dollar in his budget reply speech to our community. He does not even tell the local media he will be there so that you will look at the transcript of what happened. There is nothing on local issues, no commitment to the Ipswich Motorway and no commitment to Kilcoy, Esk or Toogoolawah. Nothing there. But in the budget, we provide those sorts of things. What a contrast between those opposite—who could not care less about regional and rural Queensland—and us.

What about important rail projects in Queensland? What about the Brisbane Cross River Rail? Having agreed with the LNP Lord Mayor of Brisbane, the Brisbane council and the LNP Queensland state government, and having signed up memoranda of understanding, with letters back and forward, we agreed to provide money in the budget. We provided $715 million towards the construction of this core project—10 kilometres of new underground tunnel—from Yeerongpilly to Victoria Park. There will be four new underground stations that will help increase the capacity of the Brisbane rail network. And the member for Brisbane opposes it. The LNP members opposite oppose it. They claim they support Brisbane and South-East Queensland. This is a rail project for all of South-East Queensland—for members in Oxley, Blair, Moreton, Brisbane, Griffith, Ryan and Bonner. But those opposite oppose it. They need to get onto their colleagues and comrades in Queensland and tell them to not bother turning up to the events when we are announcing it.

We agreed with the Queensland government to do it and we put a record amount of funding into road projects. All the opposition leader can say is that he will do parts of the Bruce Highway. They put in $1 billion in 11½ years for the Bruce Highway in Queensland—we put in over $8 billion. Look at a map of the Bruce Highway and a map of Queensland. There is project after project done by this government. Those opposite are opposed to one of the most important projects currently under construction in South-East Queensland: the Blacksoil Interchange. It is the most important project, said the mayor of the council of south-East Queensland. It is a $93.4 million project and the federal government put $54 million into it. Those opposite voted against it again and again. It is now under construction. There are 100-odd jobs being created by Fulton Hogan, the construction company.

That is the difference between Labor governments and conservative governments. We invest. We believe in jobs, growth and economic development in Queensland—those opposite oppose jobs, growth and economic development in Queensland. We believe in disability care—those opposite have more positions than you could poke a stick at. We believe in national improvement in schools—those opposite believe in school autonomy and class sizes going up. That is their only answer. We believe in making sure that every kid gets an opportunity and every child, whether they be from a working-class background in Ipswich or a rural community in Somerset, gets a chance in life.

This budget is all about jobs, growth and economic development. Those opposite should hang their heads in shame that they oppose so many budget measures. They oppose everything that is for the benefit of Queensland, everything that is for the benefit of Ipswich and everything that is for the benefit of the Somerset Region.