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Monday, 21 May 2012
Page: 4815


Ms GAMBARO (Brisbane) (19:20): It gives me great pleasure to rise to speak in response to the 2012-13 federal budget—Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2012-2013 and related bills—on behalf of the people of Brisbane. My unwavering motivation and commitment is always to be a voice for my constituents in the parliament of Australia, and it is in this capacity that I speak to these bills today. The 2012 federal budget will be primarily remembered for two things. It will be remembered as a class war budget—a budget that Julia Gillard and Wayne Swan tried to use to divide the nation—and it will be remembered as the carbon tax budget—the budget reminding everyone of those infamous words uttered by the Prime Minister before the last election, 'There will be no carbon tax under the government I lead.' It will act as a monument to the gross breach of trust with the Australian people.

One of the things that have been refreshingly absent from modern-day politics in recent decades has been this rhetoric of class warfare by our leaders. As the Leader of the Opposition has stated recently, Malcolm Fraser did not engage in it, Bob Hawke did not engage in it, Paul Keating did not engage in it, John Howard certainly did not engage in it and, to his absolute credit, the member for Griffith did not engage in it when he was Prime Minister. But this pattern has now changed.

In recent weeks we have seen the leader of our nation stoop back down into the depths of playing divisive class politics. In an interview Julia Gillard stated:

We're the Labor Party and we make absolutely no apology for saying we are here to serve low and middle income Australians and Mr Abbott is here to serve the rich.

Again, she described the Leader of the Opposition as 'a cosseted silvertail, who needs to get off Sydney's North Shore and talk to some real families'. We saw the member for Banks just earlier continue on with his class warfare rhetoric. This type of rhetoric serves only one purpose—that is, to divide our nation against one another. It is really offensive to my constituents in Brisbane and it is unbefitting of a Prime Minister of this great country of ours to act in this very undignified manner.

I now want to turn to some of the specific issues that directly affect the constituents of Brisbane. The occasional care funding that this government cut and has not recommitted to is a major concern in my electorate. The coalition have committed to restoring funding, should we return to government. However, occasional child care should not be underestimated. It is an important service to our mums and our communities. This government continues to talk about flexibility in child care, but it has absolutely ruined the day-to-day life of many families in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. It is not full-time childcare but it serves a very useful tool for stay-at-home parents who have to deal with necessary appointments. It is also a very valuable service to mums who work part time and also families who work part time. The cost of this service, for the whole of Australia, is approximately $12 million over four years. In terms of a multibillion-dollar budget that is petty cash to this government. The Kitchener Road childcare centre, which I have spoken about many times in this House, has existed for over 40 years and is in danger of closing all because $40,000 was cut from the occasional day care funding program.

I am really disappointed that, in my electorate, Kingsford Smith Drive continues to be passed over by this government and by Infrastructure Australia. There will be 3.5 million people coming into Brisbane airport by 2025. This is the major arterial road that everyone uses to get to the airport. It is the economic hub of Brisbane.

It is the main connector from the city to the airport and the Bruce Highway. As we know, it is Queensland's most important piece of infrastructure. Brisbane City Council is fully committed to this upgrade and has committed $1.5 million to continue studies for the option 2 upgrade, which is a proposal to upgrade the road to six lanes. However, these works cannot go ahead without contributions from the state and federal governments.

My constituents in suburbs such as Wooloowin, Ascot, Clayfield and Hamilton have to put up with the daily inconvenience of this road being consigned to a car park all hours of the day and all hours of the night. There is no peak hour—it is peak hour all day.

I am pleased to see a number of community grants and sporting grants still continuing and still being funded in my electorate. But I am very disappointed at the recent cut to COASIT in Queensland under the Community Partners Program. This welfare organisation does a wonderful job in helping the Italian community. As we know, many people who speak another language quite often revert to their native tongue, particularly when they are suffering from dementia or age related illnesses.

A key part of our liberal philosophy is that the government must help people who cannot help themselves. This organisation richly deserves the funding that it receives from the government. Dina Ranieri and her team do a wonderful job there at Newmarket. I cannot understand how the government can fund the Greek community—I am not saying that the Greek community does not need funding—but have decided not to fund the Italian community. It just beggars belief. I just do not know how they could do that. It will impact on many families who have elderly parents living with them, requiring in-house carer services, particularly for dementia.

I now wish to turn to the economic message and some of the general aspects of the budget. This budget projects a wafer-thin $1.5 billion surplus for the 2012-13 financial year. However, we all know that this will not be delivered. This government has a very sad track record when it comes to the difference between budget projections and budget outcomes. For example, in the current year the deficit has blown out to $44 billion. That is a doubling—I repeat a doubling—of the deficit that was promised just 12 months ago. And, with the projected surplus so small, it only needs a few tiny things to happen such as the terms of trade changing only slightly and the surplus will be completely wiped out.

But what is more interesting is the way that this surplus has been manufactured. Accounting tricks and manoeuvres have been constantly used in this budget. It would have made Houdini a very proud man. The government has made cuts by deferring spending in defence and deferring the commitment to spend 0.5 per cent of gross national income on foreign aid by 2015. A deferral is not a cut; the spending has got to occur eventually.

This government has also brought forward spending of grants to local governments, to the tune of $1.1 billion, into this financial year; therefore not having to account for it in the 2012-13 budget.

Then we have all those wonderful changes to the 'schoolkids cash splash.' We voted against it in this parliament. So we have increased expenditure this year and artificially reduced expenditure next year. Using the graphs from the budget papers, the member for North Sydney demonstrated in his speech to the National Press Club:

We already know that the Government is taking a novel approach to compensation for injury by paying $1.5 billion to people this year before the carbon tax actually starts on 1 July. Although if you believe their ads it has nothing to do with the carbon tax … they just want to give you money.

And further:

We also know that the Coal Sector Jobs Package seems to save jobs this year, give up on jobs next year but then it has a change of heart and starts saving jobs the year after and in subsequent years.

He went on:

It seems as though nation building also takes a holiday in 2013 as the Government brings forward $1.3 billion of spending a few months so it does not appear in next year’s accounts.

And of course there seems to be just one year, the first surplus year, when we don’t have to spend money on clean energy, but every other year we need to spend over $1 billion.

This is clearly a very dodgy surplus based on very dodgy accounting tricks. If a business used these tricks to try to manufacture a profit or loss outcome they would most likely be prosecuted. We also see the spectacle of the government supposedly delivering a surplus yet increasing the debt ceiling by $50 billion. An appropriate analogy for this would be a private business delivering a profit but increasing its borrowings to fund general expenditure. It is simply not sustainable. I might finish this point by quoting something that Margaret Thatcher once said, and she makes a good point:

The problem with socialism is that sooner or later you run out of other people's money to spend.

If you want evidence of this—and the members of the government opposite always talk about Europe—you only have to look at the eurozone. If this government continues going down that track it will find out the hard way.

I would now like to discuss the carbon tax. It has been noted by my colleagues that this is the first budget after that fateful day when the Prime Minister blatantly broke her promise to the Australian people. This decision will have a profound impact on the constituents of Brisbane. A survey by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of 850 businesses in Queensland produced some very telling results: over three-quarters of Queensland businesses believe the implementation of the carbon pricing mechanism will have a negative impact on their business. What is even more concerning is that 21 per cent of businesses indicated that the energy increases arising from the carbon tax will have a critical impact on their overall business viability. The commentary from the business community about this budget has been scathing because they know that business, and particularly small business, is the big loser in this budget. Small business in and around Brisbane is struggling.

I wish to turn to the impact of the carbon tax on council rates in our beautiful city. The Brisbane City Council is the largest council in Australia and has a budget bigger than that of Tasmania. It has also been named by the government as one of the top 250 polluters. Consequently, the carbon tax will cost the Brisbane City Council approximately $65 million over four years. This is despite the fact that Councillor Graham Quirk, the Lord Mayor, and his council currently purchase 100 per cent green power for their buildings, they offset all their carbon emissions from public transport and vehicle fleets, they are planting two million trees, and they have protected more than 500 hectares of bushland from development over the past four years by bringing that land into public ownership. The Lord Mayor recently stated that council will be left with no choice but to pass Labor's carbon tax straight on to ratepayers. He also revealed that, between 1990 and 2010, Brisbane City Council more than halved its annual carbon emissions from 500,000 tonnes to 220,000 tonnes. The members for Lilley, Petrie, Moreton, Oxley and Rankin should hang their heads in shame for voting for the carbon tax, which will cost their constituents dearly each and every year.

I also want to raise the issue of single persons and, in particular, the many young people who live in my electorate. Unless they receive some form of government welfare payment they will receive minimal reward for the contribution they make and particularly for the increasing costs of living they will face under this carbon tax. These are not rich people. These are ambitious young people trying to get ahead and succeed in life and they are being hit by this government at every turn. They have recently been hit by the news that their health insurance costs will go up. These are young people living in New Farm, Teneriffe and Newstead, many of whom are single Australians working hard to get ahead.

The coalition has a strong vision and plan to deliver hope, reward and opportunity for all Australians. As outlined in detail by the Leader of the Opposition and the shadow Treasurer, our plan is based on improving public finances, lowering and simplifying taxation, boosting productivity and engaging more closely with Asia and our region. As we get closer to the next election our team will further outline our plans to improve the nation. Australians deserve better. They are crying out for competence and leadership from the national government. Only the coalition has the track record and the vision to deliver that.