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Thursday, 28 February 2013
Page: 1336


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (15:48): It is a sad day when the Labor Party get excited because their leader, the Prime Minister, announces she is going to spend a couple of days in Western Sydney. You would think they might get excited if the Prime Minister went out and made some really good policy announcements of things that were going to take Australia forward, but no, the Labor Party get excited because the Prime Minister is going to stay in Western Sydney. It is absolutely extraordinary.

It was raised earlier today, during question time, that perhaps the Prime Minister should commute from the city, from Kirribilli House, out to Rooty Hill. My good colleague Senator Fierravanti-Wells followed up and said exactly the same thing, that the Prime Minister should commute from Kirribilli out to Rooty Hill. But apparently it is a little bit too far to go through the traffic for the Prime Minister and she has got to stay out there. It is extraordinary. I drive further than that for bread and milk.

The focus on the Prime Minister's trip to Rooty Hill is nothing short of breathtaking. She is only doing her job. It is what she should be doing. She should be going to Western Sydney. She should be going to talk to people out there. I suspect that they will tell the Prime Minister exactly what they think about what her government is doing. I also suspect that not all of it is going to be positive. That may well turn out to be the biggest understatement we have heard in this place for quite some time, but we shall have to wait and see. People across this country are so fed up with the Labor government and their complete inability to run the country properly, and I suspect the good people of Rooty Hill and Western Sydney are thinking exactly the same thing.

My advice for the Prime Minister is: once she has been to Western Sydney, once she has been to Rooty Hill, keep going. Go over the Great Dividing Range, go over the sandstone curtain, and go to regional Australia. I can tell you, Mr Deputy President, I would be jumping through hoops if there were as much fuss and as much focus from the Prime Minister about going to regional Australia as there is about her going to Rooty Hill. This is a Prime Minister who continues to completely ignore regional Australia.

If the Prime Minister went over the sandstone curtain, she would get to Bathurst and she could talk to some students who would tell her that this Labor government is doing absolutely nothing to give regional students equity of access to education, that she is doing absolutely nothing to change the current unfair rules for independent youth allowance, which mean that our young people who are accessing independent youth allowance, as pretty much the only means of financial assistance when they have absolutely no choice but to leave home, come up against a parental income test cap.

So guess what? If their parents are police officers or schoolteachers, because of what they earn that student is precluded from getting independent youth allowance, and that is absolutely wrong. I suspect the Prime Minister would be told that loud and clear if she went beyond Rooty Hill and further west, further than those 40-odd kilometres west, out into regional Australia. She would get to Orange, where she could talk to medical students, and to CSU about their excellent proposal for a medical school—because it is about time this Labor government started listening to the fact that health in regional Australia needs to be addressed. But this government and this Prime Minister simply are not doing that.

The Prime Minister could then kick up a little bit, still going west, and go to Forbes and talk to dairy farmers. She could explain to them why she said that dairy farmers would not only survive but thrive under the carbon tax. I tell you, Mr Deputy President, there is nothing that will convince those dairy farmers that this Prime Minister has any understanding at all of the dairy industry, because to say that is completely stupid. The imposts going on the dairy industry are enormous.

The Prime Minister could keep going west, to WA. She could tell the beef producers over there that the live export ban that decimated their lives, that was put in by the Prime Minister, was what she called a 'short-term disruption' in her address to the Press Club. The Prime Minister shattered these people's lives with an export ban that was absolutely not necessary, and she calls it a 'short-term disruption'!

If the Prime Minister keeps going west through regional Australia, she will eventually end up in Perth, where the government has stolen $480 million from the regional development fund to put a road around Perth airport. I do not know about you, Mr Deputy President, but that looks pretty much like a city road to me! It is about time the Prime Minister got out into the regions: go to Rooty Hill and keep going west. (Time expired)