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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4379


Ms LEY (Farrer) (18:59): It is the day after the federal budget—a budget which sees this government talking the talk of fiscal consolidation but walking the walk of reckless spending and of injecting money into their latest vote-buying exercise, whatever it takes. What a walk of shame this is. When I read through the details of this budget I am in despair and disappointment about its effect on my electorate of Farrer. The budget is dominated completely by the carbon tax—even though it was not really mentioned by the Treasurer in his speech. It is, without doubt, the elephant in the room.

On 6 July last year, I extended a very warm welcome to the Prime Minister to come to my electorate to talk to my constituents face to face about her government's proposed carbon tax. My letter was penned in this House 309 days ago. I have had no reply; the invitation is still open for acceptance. The carbon tax is the overriding concern for families and individual members of my electorate, and there is a good reason. They know that it will push up the prices of everything—especially electricity, groceries and health care. If you want an idea of how this carbon tax will hit them—one you might not immediately think of—there is no better example than my home town of Albury, where the local council has just factored in the impact of the new carbon tax. The irony is that in the very first year Albury City Council expects to have a zero carbon tax liability. Despite there being apparently no impact, Albury has just drafted its budget for 2012-13 and it will bump up rates by over $150 a year per household. The mayor reported that the increases are needed to meet future carbon tax liabilities and increasing electricity and fuel costs. There will be an eight per cent increase in our electricity charges alone due to the carbon tax. The council has also calculated that the extra cost to recover for future local waste collection will be an extra $35 per annum per household for domestic waste. From day one, year one, my constituents are being hit, and that is before they even leave their house.

I was in Broken Hill at the fabulous Agfair last weekend, meeting the people of the far west of New South Wales. It was with them in mind that I looked through the budget last night and I found one thing—one item of any specific note for my electorate, which covers a third of rural New South Wales. The University of Sydney Department of Rural Health in Broken Hill has received money in the federal budget for part of a regional health package: $4.7 million. It was a project that I and many others supported and we are grateful. The Rural Doctors Association has welcomed the investment, with a big 'but'; the chief executive said that the budget does not do enough to ensure that rural communities have enough medical staff. The infrastructure spending might be still in place—just—but the actual incentives to get medical allied doctors et cetera to the bush is not there. On ABC Radio today, the Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasurer, Bernie Ripoll, said that the government is focused on keeping doctors in rural jobs. But why does this government get it wrong time and again? That was the program that was cut back in last night's budget.

Over the next four years, $5.454 billion is being stripped from Defence. This cut, of around 10 per cent, is the biggest single reduction in Defence investment since the end of the Korean War—but in entirely different strategic circumstances. I have Bandiana Army Base in the electorate of Indi, close to me in Albury-Wodonga. There is Kapooka in the electorate of Riverina, and the member for Riverina is concerned about that. There is also Mulwala, which is where propellant is manufactured for explosives and bullets that are used overseas. I will be watching very closely to make sure that none of these facilities is affected by this budget.

I also place on record my great concern for the veterans not only from the Korean and Vietnam wars but also from Iraq, Afghanistan and our peacekeeping forces, who need care and attention from the Department of Veterans' Affairs. The government had better not be cutting one single dollar from looking after our returned service men and women.

There is disappointing news from the Murray-Darling Basin in my electorate, and I will talk about that at another time. Essentially, the government is allocating over $1 billion to water buybacks post 2015— (Time expired)