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Tuesday, 14 February 2012
Page: 1267

Mr WYATT (Hasluck) (18:16): In rising to talk on Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2011-2012 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2011-2012, I was reminded of the fact that the total additional appropriation being sought is a little over $3.1 billion. The other interesting element to this was the re-appropriation that is occurring between a number of agencies. I am a firm believer in small government with Australia's legislators creating an environment that allows for small business to grow and for its people to take more responsibility for their own decisions. Too much interference from big government confuses the commercial sector and creates an atmosphere where people increasingly rely on guidelines for where to live, how to shop and even how to think. An example of this is that the Gillard-Greens government have introduced nearly 20 new taxes and the multiple layers of red tape that our families and small businesses and the manufacturing sector have been facing since 2008.

I propose direct investment into critical projects, less bureaucracy and reducing duplication of projects, building on the purpose of Federation, where the Commonwealth has a lesser role in managing the states and territories than it does now. That is why I am calling on the government to fund the following projects and initiatives within Hasluck that help provide the conditions for sustainable growth not only in Hasluck but, more importantly, in Western Australia. At the heart of these projects is laying down the infrastructure for growth to occur.

An important area that needs federal funding is the Nicholson Road-Garden Street intersection. This is a massive issue for the people in the south of Hasluck. Southern River, Gosnells, Thornlie and Huntingdale are the growth areas of the south-east. In these areas, the number of new housing estates over the past several years has been escalating and commercial premises have opened as a result. Unfortunately, the transport infrastructure has not kept pace with this growth. This is not news to the Labor government. They have known about this issue for several years. What needs to happen here is an injection of federal funding to create a rail grade separation and additional lanes to be added to the current road structure.

Let me acknowledge the WA member for Southern River, Peter Abetz MLA, who has been campaigning for these upgrades since 2008. Since my election to Hasluck, I have joined Mr Abetz in his fight and we will advocate at the state and federal level for this issue to be progressed. I would also like to acknowledge the Premier, Mr Colin Barnett, and the transport minister, Troy Buswell, who have injected $500,000 into planning works in the cities of Canning and Gosnells, which also committed three quarters of a million dollars into the planning phase. However, the councillors of the city of Canning are holding up the work, and I call on the Mayor of Canning to ensure that work is started to support this critical piece of local infrastructure. I also call on the Gillard Labor government to fund the completion of this project. In addition, the Berkshire Road-Roe Highway intersection in High Wycombe is equally important. A recent truck rollover and lane closures highlighted the urgency of this upgrade, and a substantial injection of federal funds in concert with state funds will allow this to occur. It is something that I have been tirelessly working for behind the scenes since my election. The WA government certainly has a role to play in this, as does Main Roads, and I have met with all parties several times to try and bring the issue to the front of the planning queue.

The mining boom in WA offers both reward for effort and opportunity to workers, but also places a strain on existing infrastructure. Heavy haulage vehicles that come from Hazelmere, Gosnells, Forrestfield, Maddington and Kewdale and head north on the Roe Highway carrying freight, heavy mining equipment, housing and specialised units put pressure on existing road infrastructure. I am constantly approached by businesses, families and individual residents about this issue.

I want to emphasise the fact that Western Australia is responsible for producing a disproportionate amount of Australia's wealth but gets little in return from the government. Instead, Western Australia's taxes are used to support the south-eastern region of Australia and WA receives little in return. This puts incredible pressure on the state government to maintain existing government services, provide the infrastructure required for Western Australia and deliver a better way of life for all Western Australians. I am not proposing cost shifting but am arguing that, where there are successful industries, Commonwealth governments have a responsibility to provide a commitment to the development of infrastructure and ensure that commercial opportunities are realised and supported. In developing the economic base of any country it is important that Commonwealth governments of all persuasions focus on the fostering of economic opportunities that will benefit Australia and position us as a strong trade nation within the global economy. Governments of the past have been bold enough to invest in Australia's major infrastructure needs such as the Snowy Mountains Scheme, the Ord River Dam and the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I challenge the current Gillard government to have the gumption to support the development of the northern regions of Australia rather than hinder through their short-sighted policies.

I want to turn to Midland and in particular the extension of Lloyd Street in Midland. This passes through the residential and commercial precincts on Morrison Road and ends at Clayton Street just short of the Hazelmere industrial area. This creates challenges for local industry and businesses. Obviously federal funds will be required to make this a reality and lay the foundations for further growth in the Midland-Hazelmere region. This issue is well known to both the state and City of Swan, who have worked together to plan the grade separation of the heavily used freight rail line and the road, allowing easier access for emergency vehicles to the future Midland Health Campus. Let me congratulate Alyssa Hayden, a member of the Legislative Council, and the CEO of the Swan Chamber of Commerce, Mrs Sandra Wallis, for their continued advocacy on this and on many other issues of importance through the City of Swan.

At the other end of the electorate pensioners and young families in Gosnells forgo a doctor's appointment due to waiting lists, the expense and the lack of bulk-billing. If you think that this is over-reacting, I have direct quotes from three people in Gosnells who I spoke to when doorknocking. One said:

I can no longer afford to go to the doctor because I can't get in to see one that bulk bills.

Then there was a quote from a young mum on Corfield Street:

If I need medical advice I speak to my chemist.

The next quote is the most damning of all and does not come from someone in a developing nation but from a pensioner in Gosnells, just 30 minutes from the Perth CBD:

I can't afford to see my doctor when I need a new script for my medication, that's why I ration my medicine or take it every second day.

This is disgraceful and highlights the need for better access to primary health care in Gosnells. The City of Gosnells recognises this increasing issue and is fully supportive of every effort to improve health services in the area. There are good GPs and facilities in Gosnells, but not enough to cater for the booming population of new Australians that increasingly call Gosnells home, and there are certainly not enough GPs that bulk-bill. There are over 90 different language groups in Gosnells, which brings additional demands to the local area. Prime Minister, funding is need to give battling families in my electorate better access to affordable primary healthcare services.

Still inside the City of Gosnells, the Richard Rushton Community Centre is in desperate need of refurbishment or replacement. It is currently used by several community groups, the local primary school and private citizens, but years of heavy use have taken their toll on the building. The Richard Rushton Community Centre is rapidly deteriorating and this could result in its decommissioning. This would be a blow to the local community of Gosnells and it is critical that it be repaired. The City of Gosnells has this on its 10-year plan but cannot afford to repair it at the present due to the extreme load it is bearing with the rapid growth in the area. Ask the teachers, students and parents at Wirrabirra Primary School how important this facility is to their community and what it would mean to them if it were forced to close. A relatively small injection of funds from the government would have a major positive impact on the families of Gosnells and the surrounding areas of Thornlie and Huntingdale. I am sure there are hundreds of similar facilities across the country in desperate need of an upgrade, and it is hard to imagine how much better the social fabric of the country would be if federal money were spent wisely on projects such as this.

A key area in my electorate that needs attention is disability services and cutting the red tape for people accessing Centrelink. For the families of people with disabilities, life is hard enough without putting further obstacles in the way. One of the first things I did when I was elected was to initiate Hasluck's Disability Advisory Group, where stakeholders and families in the electorate meet with me regularly to discuss the issues of importance around disability. A major issue that needs urgent federal attention is the endless red tape that faces people living with and caring for someone with permanent disability. The biggest frustration of families who have a member with a permanent disability is the requirement to fill out multiple forms on an annual basis to prove their disability, even though it has not and will not change. This requirement, if not followed, can result in ineligibility for benefits from the government. That is not only discriminatory but degrading and embarrassing for the carer and the person with a disability to have to front up every year and prove their disability to receive their benefit. This highlights the inefficiency of the excessive red tape requirements, and I call on this government to invest in cutting red tape for people living with permanent disability.

One resident approached me in Forestfield shopping centre. She is incapacitated and relies on wheelchair mobility every waking hour of her life. It was clear from talking to her for a moment that her disability is severe and permanent. But she is required to attend a meeting every year to prove this. She expressed her absolute frustration at the annual ritual. I am committed to working with my colleagues in the coalition to cut the level of red tape for people with a permanent disability, and I call on the federal government to spend more time solving this issue for people in my electorate and across Australia.

The Gillard government proudly promotes the NBN as the silver bullet solution to the internet problems faced by everyday Australians. I notice that in the appropriation bills there is an increase in funding, and supporting broadband and better access to better services is of critical importance to the people of Hasluck and, in particular, to those in the Southern River area in the south-east region of Perth. I have received numerous calls, letters and emails from residents in the communities of Southern River, Huntingdale, Martin, Kalamunda and Gooseberry Hill concerning their inability to access broadband internet services. Many residents in Hasluck still do not have access to dial-up internet. When these residents have phoned Telstra to inquire or complain, many are told they will have to wait up to seven years before they will get faster broadband services due to the protracted rollout of the NBN. Seven years—longer than the Second World War but probably shorter than the time it has taken and will take for the Craig Thomson investigation to be finalised. How is small business supposed to flourish in the digital age when many still resort to using dial-up internet, a technology that was outdated for many a decade ago? Once again, the state member for Southern River, Mr Peter Abetz MLA, has been very vocal on this issue, and I join his efforts to improve the situation and call on the federal government to make this rollout in Hasluck a greater priority for the NBN Co. I cannot accept that in 2012 people in large parts of my electorate are living with this outdated technology. The issues I have raised today are not exhaustive of what needs urgent federal attention and funding in my electorate, but they provide a snapshot of what is going on and the neglect that areas of Western Australia face from the east-coast-centric Gillard-Greens alliance.

I call on the Prime Minister to urgently make funds available for these upgrades and projects in my electorate of Hasluck and give greater attention to the needs of all Western Australians. I think that within the appropriation of $3.1 billion, and certainly with underspends within Commonwealth budgets and realignment of funding within the budgetary processes, attention should be given to the needs of those battling families we all talk about within this chamber and within the main chamber.