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Thursday, 6 March 2014
Page: 1926

Ms PARKE (Fremantle) (15:50): The Prime Minister does not understand Western Australia, and this government takes WA for granted. The Prime Minister has said he intends to model his approach on the leadership of Premier Barnett, and that is precisely what worries people. Despite a rising year-on-year revenue stream, the Barnett government has failed to invest in essential community infrastructure and public services. Funding to schools is being cut, hospital service delivery is being delayed, promises about public transport are being broken, and environmental protection has been steamrolled. That is the model that the Prime Minister apparently admires so much.

The most pressing need in metropolitan WA is for better public transport and better transport planning. Yet Mr Abbott has made it clear that he has no interest in supporting public transport investment and infrastructure. In fact, during the campaign he said, 'We have no history of funding urban rail and I think it is important that we stick to our knitting.' WA's rising congestion needs the creation of an effective second-tier public transport network to link up an expanded hard-rail system. While the Prime Minister knits away at whatever he is knitting, WA's urgent infrastructure requirements grow with each passing week. That is precisely why the former Labor government invested more in public transport than all previous governments combined, including through critical contributions to transformative projects in WA like Perth-Link and the sinking of the Perth-Fremantle rail line. That is why the former Labor government went to the last election committing an additional $500 million to agreed transport projects in WA, in recognition that a capital city in the hardest-working and fastest-growing state in Australia needs infrastructure to match that growth.

In my electorate of Fremantle, the contrast when it comes to transport infrastructure could not be stronger. The Perth-Mandurah hard rail line—a visionary project of the former WA Labor government, led by the now member for Perth and shadow parliamentary secretary for WA, has catalysed transit-oriented development in the south metropolitan region and now forms the spine of a flourishing community in the cities of Melville, Cockburn and Kwinana. But we also need to see the delivery of east-west links that should connect the Murdoch Specialised Activity Centre and Fiona Stanley Hospital to Fremantle and that in time should connect Cockburn Central back to the burgeoning development planned along the Cockburn Coast.

There is another enormous disconnect between this Prime Minister and the interests of people in Western Australia, and that is on the issues of natural resources and the environment. WA is a state with enormous resource wealth, and the greatest wealth in Western Australia is vested in those things we own and share together. That includes iron ore and LPG, which Western Australians expect will be developed in a manner that respects the environment, that creates local employment and training opportunities, that sustains a healthy WA manufacturing sector and that returns a fair dividend to all Western Australians through taxes and royalties.

We are proud of our resources industry and we are proud of the contribution it makes to the Australian economy as a whole. But we know that the mining boom must deliver lasting benefits for all Western Australians, and we know that corporate and community priorities are not always the same. In WA we do not forget that, in the early response to the GFC, resources companies cut 15 per cent of their workforce through the mechanism of individual contracts. We do not forget the arrangements put in place by the Barnett government that allow mining-related manufacturing work to go offshore. Those are not acceptable outcomes of what should always be a compact between the private sector and the community. A healthy and productive resources sector requires a fair and frank partnership between industry and government, not the kind of hands-off, anything goes, blank cheque approach of the coalition.

The greatest shared resource in Western Australia, the most important form of our common wealth, is the environment—our forests and oceans, our coasts and farmland, our places of great Indigenous and cultural heritage—and here is another fundamental disconnect between this government and the people of Western Australia. Only this week we heard a further instalment of the Prime Minister's attitude to the environment. He believes the protection of old-growth forests is the product of extreme ideology rather than being a mainstream value. There was another Liberal leader who held that view in Western Australia. His name was Richard Court and it took the hard lesson of the 2001 state election to remind him that Western Australians are passionate about the natural environment we all share.

And I can tell you that support for marine protection in Western Australia is just as strong. The careful design and adoption of a comprehensive network of marine protected areas in Commonwealth waters was one of the Labor government's greatest legacies—an achievement made possible by reaching an evidence-based consensus between the wider public, dive and marine tourism stakeholders and commercial and recreational fishers.

So let there be no doubt that, with his disregard for essential public transport infrastructure, his disregard for old-growth forests and marine conservation, and his endorsement of a Barnett government that has cut school funding, mismanaged our hospitals and lied about the delivery of transport projects, this Prime Minister has no idea about the things that matter to Western Australians and the things that are necessary to support a strong and sustainable WA in the future.