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Thursday, 16 May 2013
Page: 3531


Mrs D'ATH (PetrieParliamentary Secretary for Climate Change, Industry and Innovation) (15:57): It is my pleasure to speak on this matter of public importance. I was starting to wonder whether in fact we were speaking on the matter of public importance. It took the member for Wide Bay nine minutes to mention the word 'families'—

Mr Wyatt: One minute.

Mrs D'ATH: —and it took the member for Menzies nine minutes to use the word 'families'.

Mr Andrews: It was in my first sentence

Honourable members interjecting

Mrs D'ATH: My question is in relation to Australian families. At what point did we redefine the meaning of 'Australian families' to exclude people with disabilities? When did we stop thinking of people with disabilities as part of a family? Those on the opposite side keep saying there is nothing in this budget for families; there is no help for families in this budget. In fact, the Leader of the Opposition said yesterday, 'No hope in the budget.' We see from the MPI that according to the opposition there is no help for families, no easing of cost-of-living pressures.

Despite hearing from the other side that they support the National Disability Insurance Scheme and the establishment of DisabilityCare Australia, what we see is the real truth when it comes to the opposition—how they value real reform in relation to disability care. They say there is nothing in this budget for families, and I say there is everything in this budget for families. There are families all over this country with children who have disabilities, family members who have disabilities, husband and wives who have disabilities, parents who have disabilities that are being cared for by family members. When do we in this country acknowledge these people as being Australian families? It is about time the opposition did.

We want to hear about slogans and what leaders are known for. We heard the member for Menzies talk about phrases from leaders, what they are known for and what people remember. I also remember the Leader of the Opposition saying there would be paid parental leave 'over my dead body'. The question is: if there was paid parental leave over his dead body, why is it that, in coming into government, the opposition would like to slug over 3,000 companies with a new tax to pay for paid parental leave? If we want to talk about well-known statements by leaders in this country I am happy to talk about the statements that the Leader of the Opposition has made in the past.

But let us acknowledge what we are doing for people with disabilities in this country. It would be really great to hear from those on the other side that they actually appreciate the value of that help and what it means for the hundreds of thousands of Australians with a significant and permanent disability and for their families and carers. That money will also mean peace of mind for every Australian. Anyone who has or might acquire a disability will have a new safety net to rely on. To those who say that there is nothing in this budget, my question is: what are you actually saying in relation to disability reform in this country that you are not genuine about supporting it?

This government is about providing a stronger, smarter and fairer system in this country. It is about supporting jobs and growth in this country. Again, those from the other side who have spoken on this MPI talked about there being no support for jobs or employment, in this budget. What do they think comes from investment in infrastructure? I was very disappointed to see that the member for Wide Bay, a Queenslander, did not stand up and support a budget that supports investment in infrastructure in Queensland. I heard him criticise the flood levy, a flood levy that helped rebuild Queensland after the significant floods in 2011. But when we talk about this budget, about investment in Brisbane—the Cross River Rail, the Gateway upgrade north, the Ipswich motorway, the $4.1 billion into the Bruce Highway package, the Warrego Highway upgrade, the Moreton Bay rail link—where was the opposition on these issues, on this investment in infrastructure?

We talk about what we are doing, about cost-of-living pressures and families. How about the fact that it is this government that introduced Australia's first paid parental leave scheme, that it is this federal Labor government that lifted the childcare rebate to 50 per cent, that it is this government that introduced the schoolkids bonus, that it is this federal Labor government that lifted the rate of the family tax benefit part A for teenagers, and that it is this federal Labor government that introduced the dad and partner pay? We do not hear those opposite talking about these initiatives.

We also heard that there are tax slugs for families. What about the fact that under this federal Labor government we have lower interest rates than at any time under the Liberals, saving more than $100 per week on an average mortgage? What about the lower taxes? There have been three consecutive rounds of tax cuts in addition to tripling the tax-free threshold. One million fewer people are paying income tax, and anyone on $50,000 is paying $2,000 less—that is how you help families in this country. I do not hear the opposition talking about those things. What about the fact that over 950,000 jobs have been created at a time when 28 million have been lost worldwide? What about the fact that our unemployment rate of 5.6 per cent is less than half that of Europe's, of 11.9 per cent? What about our AAA rating? If you want to take pressure off families, these are the things you have to talk about. What about low-income superannuation contributions? They were put in place from 1 July 2012—a tax cut of up to $500 per financial year to help low-income earners save for their retirement. How about the fact that if you actually want to help families into the future you give them the best education possible; you invest in high skills, in high-paying jobs. You do that by investing in education, industry and innovation in this country. You invest in research and development. That is what you do.

It took a federal Labor government to introduce a national curriculum across the country. For the first time, no matter where you go to school, you are learning the same thing. As someone who moved across borders as a child, I appreciate how far it can set a kid back to move across schools and find that they are teaching a single subject in a completely different way. You do not even have to move across borders; just by moving across government schools within a local area you would find they were teaching different things in subjects. That sets a kid back. A national curriculum is important, but so is investing in computers, libraries and multipurpose halls and new classrooms. What did the opposition do when they were in government? They provided flagpoles. That is great, but it does not help these kids' education.

How about investing in social housing and rental affordability? We have just announced a further $1 billion in new funding under the latest National Rental Affordability Scheme. If you want to talk about how to ease cost-of-living pressures on families, how about easing those rental costs in properties? I welcome the new NRAS properties in my electorate and the ones that have been built that have supported jobs in our local community and have provided more affordable accommodation in our local area.

If you want to talk about electricity prices and the carbon price, let us do that. Let us talk about the fact that the annual review shows that the household assistance has come out and provided adequate and effective support for families, because those cost-of-living pressures—electricity prices—as a component of the carbon price have gone up by less than the amount we have provided to families. If you look at what the individual states are providing in that area, you will see from their own figures—not ours—that last month in New South Wales the Independent Pricing and Regulatory Tribunal electricity price determination ascribed $3.25 to the carbon price there. In South Australian the regulator ascribed a $1.47 per week increase because of the carbon price; in Western Australia, $2.50 per week; and in Tasmania, $2.45 a week. So if those opposite want to talk about electricity prices, be honest: it is the network charges that are the problem, but I do not see one Liberal state government stepping up and doing anything about those cost-of-living pressures.

Let us talk about the opposition. We heard the member for Wide Bay say, 'We hope we would do better if we were in government.' Let us look at the 11 years that the Howard government was in government and having a surplus. Did they invest in health? No, they took money out. Did they invest in education? No. Did they improve the lives of people with disabilities? No. Did they invest in infrastructure across this country? Not at all, and we hear that they will still not do it. And they would not put one dollar into rail across this country. Urban rail is not a priority. Did we see them lift the base pension for pensioners when they were in government? No. It is only federal Labor that does that. (Time expired)