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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4364


Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (15:58): I'm pleased to speak on this matter of public importance because it's an opportunity to emphasise once again just how this government's plan which was outlined in the budget will deliver a strong economy for our nation. We have heard speakers on the government side say this but it would appear that those opposite still need some reminding that, under the government's economic plan, jobs are being created, investment is rising and the budget is strengthening, which means we can guarantee the essential services that Australians and their families rely upon. It's a plan that will provide tax relief to encourage and reward hardworking people, back business to invest and create more jobs, all while ensuring the government lives within its means.

The plan outlined in the budget is also about keeping Australians safe. This means stopping the boats and keeping them stopped, protecting Australians from the threat of terrorism and giving our defence forces what they need to do their job as they protect our values and our freedom. We're doing this right across Australia, from our major international hubs to busy domestic interchanges, and all the way across our local community neighbourhoods. In each of these places where people gather and connect, we're working to stop those who seek to do us harm by equipping the Home Affairs portfolio and security agencies with the tools they need in a complex, fast-paced security environment.

I'd like to commend the Minister for Home Affairs, who is a great friend to the Central Coast, for his strong suite of measures in the budget, including directly investing $294 million to boost security at our airports. This includes enhanced screening capability for inbound air cargo in international mail, plus more police and Border Force presence at our busy domestic and international airports. For example, Newcastle Airport is just north of my electorate and used by many local travellers on the Central Coast. Newcastle is just one of the many regional airports receiving a boost in the 2018 budget to upgrade their security screening equipment. It means that travellers to the airport remain safe, along with the airport staff, infrastructure and cargo, and that our aviation sector remains protected from the evolving threat of terrorism.

There is also additional investment in this budget to improve scrutiny of visa processing and passenger screening and clearance of visitors and goods at our borders. This level of investment is welcome, but it is also important to help people feel safe in their own backyards and in places like our local parks, cafes or skate parks where their children play. This budget addresses this need by funding initiatives such as the Safer Communities Fund, an outstanding program which has been extended in this budget. The Safer Communities Fund is backed by the Proceeds of Crime Act, which means that the funding comes from the pockets of criminals confiscated by police and reinvested back into the community. Because of the significant demand, an additional $30 million was announced recently in this budget to expand the Safer Communities program for a third round. It's all about providing grants for local security infrastructure, such as fixed and mobile CCTV, lighting and other projects. These needs are ones that are identified by the police, local community groups and the local council.

Just last week, I was joined by the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs at the Peninsula Recreation Precinct to announce funding for more than 20 cameras on the Central Coast and associated surveillance systems—a major breakthrough that I've already spoken about in this place. This will provide CCTV infrastructure at important places, like the San Remo BMX facility, McEvoy Oval at Umina Beach, the new Banjo's Skate Park at Terrigal as well as the peninsula precinct. We met at the nearby Jasmine Greens Park Kiosk at Umina Beach to announce this funding, and I'd love to share some of the reactions I've had since.

Mr Hill interjecting

The DEPUTY SPEAKER ( Mr Hogan ): The member for Bruce is warned!

Mrs WICKS: Gabby Greyem from Jasmine Greens posted on Facebook:

What a delight to receive federal funding and real engagement in building a safer and thriving community on our Peninsula.

The Umina Community Group also posted, saying:

We'd like to share some exciting news with our community that was announced today with unanimous support from all in attendance. Some of the added benefits will be the installation of better lighting to make sure they are capturing clear images.

Hearing these local stories, coupled with the strong national security focus, highlights that this is not the sort of budget described by members opposite in this debate today but, in fact, the sort of budget that is all about keeping Australians safe. It's all about strengthening safeguards against persistent and evolving terrorist, national security and criminal threats, and that is only possible because of a strong budget and a strong plan for our economy.