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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4434

Mr GOODENOUGH (Moore) (10:15): I'm pleased to speak in support of these appropriation bills, which make provision for the moneys required to be appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund as part of the 2018-19 budget to fund the day-to-day operations of the Commonwealth. This budget forms part of the government's plan to build a strong, prosperous economy while funding the operations of the government. The centrepiece of the budget is that it ensures that the government lives within its means through disciplined fiscal management, maintaining a pathway to the projected surplus in 2020-21.

The growth in government payments has been limited to 1.6 per cent, and, from this year, no longer will the Australian government be borrowing for recurrent expenditure. Keeping taxes below 23.9 per cent as a share of gross domestic product means that Australians will not be unfairly burdened and economic growth will not be constrained. Disciplined fiscal management, ensuring that wage growth is matched by productivity growth, helps keep inflation under control, which in turn takes pressure off interest rates. Maintaining low interest rates is important to ensure housing affordability for millions of Australians paying off their mortgages in our suburbs.

I thank the Prime Minister for visiting Perth in April to announce the $3.2 billion infrastructure package for Western Australia, as an interim measure to partially alleviate the inequality in GST distribution to our state, pending a more comprehensive review by the Productivity Commission into the methodology of distributing funds between states. This positive outcome has been achieved through the advocacy of the team of West Australian members and senators.

For the people in my electorate of Moore, the federal budget delivers more than $320 million for local projects, including $158 million for the Joondalup hospital extension, $108 million for the extension of the Mitchell Freeway northwards to Romeo Road, $50 million for a new cybersecurity research centre at Edith Cowan University, and several millions of dollars in financial assistance grants to the City of Joondalup.

Federal investment in the Joondalup hospital will meet the medical needs of one of the fastest growing areas in Australia, delivering an extra 90 public hospital beds, 75 mental health places, eight new operating theatres, and specialist medical facilities. When completed, local patients will have access to a regional hospital with more than 880 beds, delivering world-class medical services locally, without facing the prospect of a two-hour commute to Royal Perth or Sir Charles Gairdner hospitals for their treatment.

The much anticipated extension of the Mitchell Freeway for six kilometres north of Hester Avenue to Romeo Road will connect residents of the coastal corridor around Alkimos, with Joondalup as their closest regional CBD, boosting demand for goods and services and supporting the growth of Joondalup. Widening the Mitchell Freeway southbound by adding an extra lane to the sections between Hodges Drive and Hepburn Avenue and Reid Highway to Erindale Road will alleviate traffic congestion as a top priority for residents faced with traffic congestion daily. Currently, federal funding to widen the freeway southbound for seven kilometres between Cedric and Vincent streets has been delivered, with the construction scheduled to commence later this year. The total cost of the project is $40 million, with the federal government contributing $32 million in funding and the state contributing the balance. It is necessary to widen the southern traffic congestion point on the approach to Perth's CBD, prior to commencing works further north, in order to minimise traffic banking up along the length of the freeway.

I would like to place on record the importance of maintaining financial assistance grants to local government authorities across Australia, in particular in my electorate, where the funding is used by the City of Joondalup to deliver community facilities, upgrade local roads, minimise traffic congestion and improve road safety. The strong level of federal funding support to local government has been maintained in the current budget in order to deliver services and amenities for local ratepayers of the City of Joondalup.

A key measure in the budget is the provision of tax relief to encourage and reward hardworking Australians through a plan, which will be implemented over the next seven years, for lower, fairer, and simpler income taxes. From 1 July 2018, immediate tax relief up to $530 will be provided to low- and middle-income earners earning between $48,000 and $90,000 annually. In addition, increasing the income threshold of the 32.5 per cent tax bracket from $87,000 to $90,000, from 1 July, will reverse the impact of bracket creep for some 200,000 taxpayers, and in the medium term, the abolition of the 37 per cent tax bracket will further simplify the tax system and provide incentives to income earners. Due to increased revenues from a stronger economy, there will be no increase to the Medicare levy. By maintaining the current capital gains tax discount of 50 per cent for assets held for more than a year, the Liberal-National coalition government will protect the interests of those who save and invest for their future financial independence and self-sufficiency. In contrast, under Labor's proposal, 75 per cent of capital gains will be taxed at an individual's marginal tax rate. The coalition government will also maintain the existing negative gearing arrangements to assist people who save and invest for their future financial security and independence in retirement. The coalition will oppose Labor's plan to stop surplus tax credits on dividends, on which company tax has already being paid, being refunded to shareholders on lower incomes, which will affect 1.6 million Australians, 200,000 of whom receive part pensions and 14,000 of whom receive full pensions. An estimated 97 per cent of people currently receiving refunds are on annual taxable incomes of less than $87,000. The Turnbull government has an economic plan to encourage business investment and create more jobs, through measures such as legislating for lower taxes for Australian businesses, extending the $20,000 instant asset write-off, and investing $75 billion in transport infrastructure across our nation.

Our government is supporting international competitiveness and exports in the agricultural, defence and medical industries. The government's plan to reduce corporate tax rates is designed to maintain Australia's international competitiveness in an increasingly competitive global marketplace. As emerging nations in our region become more automated and mechanised through the adoption of new technology, Australia must reform and innovate in order to stay competitive in terms of trade and investment. Australia's total agricultural exports increased by an impressive 27 per cent between 2012-13 and 2016-17. Export deals with China, Japan, South Korea and many countries in the ASEAN region have opened up markets for Australian producers. The budget provides $51.3 million to expand our network of agricultural trade counsellors in Asia, Europe and Latin America.

Through a strong economy the coalition government is able to guarantee the essential services that Australians rely on: continuing to guarantee Medicare; pharmaceutical benefits; record funding for new hospitals, with the states; and full funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which will benefit around 1,839 people and their families in my electorate. The budget includes new and amended items on the Medicare Benefits Schedule and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, including cystic fibrosis testing, 3D breast cancer screening, and MRI tests for prostate cancer. Bulk-billing for GP visits remains at record levels, with 84.3 per cent of GP visits in 2016-17 being bulk-billed, representing three million more visits than the previous year. The budget includes $1.4 billion for new and amended listings on the PBS, including medicines to treat spinal muscular atrophy, breast cancer, relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis, and a new medicine to prevent HIV. $6.2 million has been invested in the Insulin Pump Program to increase the availability of insulin pumps for children with type 1 diabetes.

To meet the needs of our ageing population an additional 14,000 high-level home care packages have been provided for the in budget. In my electorate 145 aged care places have been approved for Southern Cross Care on the site located on the corner of Burns Beach Road and Connolly Drive in Currambine, including 60 specialist rooms, and services for people with dementia. The planned facility will offer an integrated health, wellness and residential care service, with housing options for downsizers to continue living independently with in-home care services as well as medical support of GPs and allied health professionals.

From 2 July 2018 the government will ease the cost-of-living pressures for nearly one million families by implementing the new childcare package. Families on incomes of around $187,000 a year or less will no longer have an annual limit on the amount of childcare subsidy they receive. This covers more than 85 per cent of families with children in child care. More than 348,000 young Australians will have access to 15 hours of quality early learning in the year before school, including more than 2,071 children in my electorate. The government's needs based funding model for schools delivers an additional $24½ billion for Australian schools over the next decade, representing a 50 per cent increase in funding per student. This is based on the 23 recommendations of the Gonski review. The budget also provides permanent funding for a National Schools Chaplaincy Program, providing an additional $247 million to more than 3,000 schools over the next four years.

The budget invests in strengthening airport security and improving national security architecture. Measures include investing $294 million to increase the capabilities of the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Border Force at nine major domestic and international airports, enhancing screening capability for inbound cargo and international mail, and installing new advanced screening technology at 64 small regional airports across Australia. The coalition has invested in our defence forces to provide new offshore patrol vessels and Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft. The government has stepped up efforts to stop drugs and illegal weapons at the border before they hit our streets, as well as enhancing measures to manage biosecurity risks to protect our environment, agricultural exports and tourism sector.

Our government is introducing significant reforms to ensure welfare is targeted at those who genuinely need it and that working-age recipients comply with their obligations to look for work. The compliance rules have changed, requiring welfare recipients on drugs to undertake available treatment. Cashless welfare cards require 80 per cent of welfare payments to be spent on food and living essentials, and a trial of drug-testing for welfare recipients is being sought. The government will save $203 million over the next five years by increasing the waiting period to four years for newly arrived migrants to access certain welfare benefits from 1 July 2018. In summary this legislation forms part of the government's fiscally responsible plan to balance the budget, reduce debt and build a strong, prosperous economy whilst funding the traditional functions of government such as health, education, social services and national security. I commend the bills to the House.