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Tuesday, 28 February 2012
Page: 2194


Ms VAMVAKINOU (Calwell) (18:51): I am really pleased to rise today to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2011-2012 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2011-2012. It is very important that from time to time we get the opportunity to talk about the impact of budget measures on our electorate and to report to, in this case, the Federation Chamber on the progress of the funding of significant projects and significant programs in our electorates. My electorate, the federal seat of Calwell, has been a significant beneficiary of lots of government budget measures and so I am very pleased to be able to today speak about some of those measures.

As I have said on many occasions, the seat of Calwell is one of the 10 most socioeconomically challenged electorates in Australia and we—not from time to time but constantly—show up in the statistics as having a very high unemployment rate. Often it can go as much as seven per cent higher than the Victorian and national rates. We are an electorate that presents many challenges for government. The Labor government recognises the situation in my seat of Calwell and the challenges that are before it.

I want to speak about a particular program that has been of great benefit to my electorate, the $304 million package that aims to address the areas of education and employment, two areas where there is great need. They need to be funded and improved because education and health services are services in my electorate that blue collar constituents and constituents with no skills probably have the greatest need to access. I am very pleased to say that my constituents are beginning to very much feel the effects and benefits of that package, together with the effects of the government's strong, enduring and ongoing commitment to manufacturing.

Manufacturing, and manufacturing in the automotive industry in particular, is crucial to local employment in my electorate. In addition to that, it is also crucial to the overall national economy and our capacity as a nation to innovate and to continue to produce jobs in a new economy. I have often spoken about the Ford Motor Company, which is the largest manufacturing employer in my electorate, and I am very pleased to say that recently Ford, in a co-payment arrangement with the federal government, received a $103 million grant that will be used largely to upgrade the emissions performance of the very successful Ford Falcon and the extremely successful Ford Territory. The announcement of this grant was made after meetings in the Ford headquarters in Detroit between the Minister for Manufacturing, Senator Kim Carr; Ford Asia Pacific and Africa President, Mr John Hinrichs; and the Ford Australia President and CEO, Mr Bob Graziano. I can report to the Federation Chamber that the many people in my electorate who either work at the Ford factory or rely on the automotive industry and the car component industry for their jobs and for their livelihoods were very delighted that this co investment has come their way. Very importantly, it has ensured that the iconic Ford Falcon will be produced to at least the end of 2016, thereby guaranteeing their jobs.

Mr Bruce Scott: A great motor vehicle.

Ms VAMVAKINOU: It is indeed a great motor vehicle. I went to Ford with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Manufacturing. I cannot describe the gratitude of the people who work there, not only those who work on the factory floor but also the people involved in the innovation and the engineering. Making cars, as we have said before, is not just about the assembly plant. There is a whole process of involvement. They were delighted because they had come to the point where they were beginning to believe that they would lose their jobs and their livelihood. This would have an impact on their ability to educate their children and on their ability to access all sorts of things. They were delighted. And I am delighted to be part of a government that secures jobs not only in my electorate for the short term but which actually invests for long-term job growth in Australia and gives opportunities and hope to the broader community, especially to young people, that there will be jobs in the automotive industry and its component parts.

On another matter, late last year I was pleased to attend as the federal member the official commemoration of a $63 million investment to Nexteer Automotive, which is a manufacturing plant in my electorate in Somerton. This very successful local company received a significant amount of money to help them embark on a project to manufacture more environmentally friendly car parts. This will not only generate hundreds of new jobs in my electorate, but also bring Australia, as always, to the forefront of this sort of innovation. That is why it is very important to talk about protecting and developing our manufacturing industry. It is not just about the jobs on the ground but also about the future of its innovation capacity.

It is quite important to note that manufacturing companies invest more in research and development than companies in any other sector and it is this investment in research and development that will give Australia the skills and the tools to prosper in the 21st century. The member for Grey would know that because the member for Grey and I served on a committee in the last parliament that put a lot of thought into the area of research. This sort of investment in research builds. The development of high tech jobs and high value industries will eventually benefit our local community and advance the cause of this country. These investments will be helped along by the government's $5.4 billion A New Car Plan for a Greener Future, which includes the $3.4 billion Automotive Transformation Scheme. This will help strengthen the automotive supply chain by underpinning investment, building capability and expanding markets at an international level. This on a national scale will create more than 700 jobs and we are on track to growing that to 300,000 jobs by 2013.

The government's investment in manufacturing industries highlights, I have to say, the clear difference between the Gillard Labor government, which genuinely believes in an Australia that makes things, and the Abbott opposition, which has shown time and time again that, while it might like to talk about supporting manufacturing—and a lot of talking has taken place—when it comes to putting its money where its mouth is the honourable opposition needs to do some serious thinking. It is taxpayers' money and taxpayers include the people who live and work in my electorate who say to me time and time again that they—and the Opposition knows this—prefer their tax dollars to be reinvested back into the community to provide jobs for them and for their children.

Reinvestment of taxpayers' money is not a waste. Reinvesting taxpayers' money benefits the broader community. This is sensible, targeted reinvestment of taxpayers' money in their communities in the long-term interest of jobs and growth. That is not a waste of taxpayers' money. That is not the message that my community wants to hear. The message that it wants the parliament to hear is that they support and give a big tick to the government investing in the car industry and in the broader manufacturing sector. They do not want to hear words from the opposition; they want to see action.

As the local population grows—and it does in my community, as it does in a lot of others; my electorate in particular has huge growth corridors—it is becoming apparent that people are living further and further away from the cities. As such, commuting lengthy distances to work and spending a lot more time on the roads is becoming a significant part of the way of life my constituents and those who live in communities away from the city. We have all experienced it. My local council, the Hume City Council, has worked very hard with all tiers of government to try to reduce commuting times for our residents and to make our roads safer.

Broadmeadows, which is pretty much the centre of my electorate, has been identified as a central activities district that will see future employment growth and public investment, particularly in high density development supported by quality urban design. The Hume City Council administers a number of infrastructure sites related to the economic stimulus plan. There is a lot of expectation and action in my electorate. That action is obviously having a huge impact on the road network. All of these initiatives, I have got to say, would not be possible without the support of the federal government. I am very pleased to have identified another area which the Gillard Labor government is obviously targeting and addressing through funding.

The Department of Human Services community profile report of May 2011 indicated that the city of Hume has received some $4.4 million under the Roads to Recovery program and $135,000 for the black spots program, and that a further $771,000 has also been provided for various community infrastructure program projects. That include building sports facilities, extending footpaths and other street upgrades. If you have been to my electorate or anywhere near that area, you will know that it is a part of that huge 28-kilometre-long Western Ring Road and Hume Highway upgrade, which is being funded to the tune of $900 million out of the nation building program. That funding is to provide for a series of capacity and safety improvements. There is a lot of work being done in widening the lanes, reconfiguring road interchanges and integrating an overall freeway management system that will service the needs of the people in the north-western suburbs. The government has allocated $25 million from the Nation Building programs towards the construction of the new full diamond interchange at the Kings Road and Calder Freeway intersection in Taylor's Lakes. In January this year I had the great pleasure of opening this interchange. It was done nearly five months ahead of schedule, somewhat unusual for road works. On this occasion it came in five months ahead and, as a result of that, saved enough money for that to then rollover into other projects. My community has welcomed this particular project. It was a stretch of the road up on Calder which has been a real problem in relation to vehicle accidents. There have been some 39 vehicle accidents and 15 serious car crashes and, indeed, one fatality, so the people of the Kings Road interchange have fought long and hard to bring to the attention of the government their plight in relation to this very dangerous road network in and around their community. They are very pleased with the opening of the interchange. In addition, while it was being built it did create— (Time expired)