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Wednesday, 23 May 2018
Page: 4484


Dr GILLESPIE (LyneAssistant Minister for Children and Families) (16:21): The 2018 budget has delivered on our plan to make a stronger economy so that everyone benefits. It guarantees essential services like Medicare, schools, hospitals, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and it allows us to build the massive infrastructure that the nation requires.

Firstly, I want to compliment the Treasurer on his initiative in the tax plan. In my electorate of Lyne, we have 51,000 taxpayers. Most of them aren't from the big end of town. Most of them are hardworking mums and dads, running their small businesses or working in our hospitals and schools. They are going to be better off because of the low- and middle-income tax offset. Each person in that bracket will be $530 better off. We're also raising the tax threshold for when you go up to 37c in the dollar from $87,000 to $90,000. So that's addressing bracket creep. They're my people. Most people in my electorate are earning that sort of money. There is a plan in the future to extend the benefit and get rid of the 37c tax rate so that the expanded $90,000 limit will go up to $200,000, and you will only be paying 32c in the dollar. That is a long-term benefit for people who are working hard. We want to incentivise them. We want to let them keep more of their own money. It's not our money. The people on the other side treat it as though the government owns all your money, and they'll let you keep some of it. They've got it back to front.

We're incentivising small business. We love small business because, as in my electorate, they're the biggest employers. We've got to empower them. We've reduced the company tax rate to 27½ per cent for companies with a turnover of under $50 million. The other side want to put it back up and only allow it for businesses with a turnover of under $5 million. They've got to be joking. Anyhow, that's the way they think on that side.

For small businesses in my electorate like the many that turned up at the Dungog Business Awards, it was a celebration of so many great businesses. While I was there, I visited the Tinshed Brewery. Jimmy Cox and Haley Collis have got to be congratulated. The craft beer industry is getting a benefit, too, from this budget, because the alcohol excise for small boutique craft breweries is being reduced so that they can get the same deal as the bigger breweries. It means that he can now put his craft brewery kegs into restaurants and the smaller outlets. It wasn't viable for them to put their product into the smaller restaurants and bars, because those places don't have a big enough turnover. It means the amount that they are paying in excise is reduced and the level they get goes up to $100,000. But there are many other craft breweries in the Hunter and in the Hastings, at the northern and southern ends, that will benefit, like Black Duck Brewery and many others. Mad Abbot and lots of other boutique breweries will get big help from this so they can compete.

As I mentioned, we are also paying for the infrastructure that's allowing people to get home sooner and safer. We are building transport lanes and freeways, which means goods can get to market a lot more cheaply and efficiently. It means tourists from Brisbane and the Gold Coast can come down to the beautiful Mid North Coast. Whether they want to visit Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens or the beautiful Great Lakes area of Forster Tuncurry, they will soon be able to come all the way from the Queensland border on a dual-lane freeway without a traffic light. We've just announced $971 million to complete the Coffs Harbour bypass, the missing link. It means the roads will be safer and it will be great for business and great for transport costs. Things will be delivered into the region more cheaply and we will get our exports out.

We've also announced the Roads of Strategic Importance fund. There is money going into the north of Australia and Tasmania, but in our area, in New South Wales and the other states, there's $1.78 billion not yet allocated. We'll be able to use that to work on roads like the Bucketts Way and Thunderbolts Way, which is an avenue of commerce for beef, dairy and poultry, all the agricultural, horticultural and tourism industries around Stroud and Gloucester, down through Lorn, Largs, Bolwarra—all that area. From the south, they go into the Newcastle market. The middle of the electorate rely on the Buckets Way and Thunderbolts Way. A huge amount of tourism dollars flow into the Gloucester valley, Stroud and the area going down into the Hunter, and these roads connect the Pacific Highway; they connect Taree up to Tamworth. It's such a good idea.

We have got guaranteed extra funding for health. New South Wales public hospitals are getting an extra $39½ billion out of the new hospitals agreement. With that, they will be able to expand services. There is a 29 per cent increase over the five years of the hospitals agreement. That's $8.94 billion extra. That means places like the Manning Base Hospital, Gloucester hospital, Wauchope hospital and the New South Wales health department will have extra funds from the Commonwealth.

Our senior Australians are getting a better deal too. We have 40,000 people aged over 65 in my electorate. Everyone on a pension likes to earn a bit of extra money so that they can have quality of life and keep themselves active. We've raised the limit of the amount that you can earn without it affecting the amount you get on the pension. That amount has gone from $250 up to $300 a fortnight. We've also got new skills programs and entrepreneurial and mentoring schemes for senior Australians aged 45 and over who need to get back into the workforce. The Pension Loans Scheme allows people to draw down on the value of their house and contribute to super. So we are also looking after senior Australians. We have delivered extra nursing homes in the southern part of the electorate, at Peter Sinclair Gardens in Hawks Nest, at Largs, at the GLAICA development at Forster or up in Wauchope. We have extra beds allocated to Gloucester. I'm hoping that Anglicare can get on with it and build the nursing home that we've given the funds for. And we have allocated an extra 14,000 high-care home support packages around the country because people want to age in their own homes for longer. We are delivering in spades. For my small businesses, we have continued the instant asset write-off, because we know it's targeted. Businesses will only buy equipment that is going to help them grow their business. So we're empowering them to get more equipment or assets that will allow their businesses to grow.

Child care is getting a huge extra 3½ billion dollars. Senator Birmingham, the Minister for Education and Training, has spoken about this, but this budget will be what pays for that. We've got $440 million around the nation in the next year to allow 15 hours at preschool, or prep—whatever age you turn in your year before school. In the Lyne electorate, we've got just short of 2,000 children that will benefit from that. That means they'll get their 15 hours of preschool in the year before they go to school. And the childcare arrangements will mean that people are better off, particularly in the income band in my electorate, where I live.

When the new childcare system comes in, people who are earning $80,000 will get a benefit that will mean they're $8,000 better off. The $7,500 cap is being removed for those people. The more they work then the more they can get the subsidy to keep their children cared for, getting their early learning and education while the parents are able to work.

There is better funding for schools being delivered in this budget too. In the Lyne electorate, there is $30.9 million extra out to the year 2027 for all the schools—government, independent and Catholic schools—because we're delivering. We've grown the economy and we've got extra revenue in that allows us to pay down the debt that had been locked in through spending by the people on the other side before they left. We've controlled our spending and grown the economy.

That's part of our plan. The other side gives these Dutch-auction-giveaway prizes, but people see through that. They know you have to pay for it. We will come in with a balanced budget a year sooner. We know how to make the economy work. We empower small businesses and entrepreneurs, and people who work hard, and we want them to get ahead. You can look at the NDIS, which we are funding—we're not having to put up the Medicare levy. Again, everyone wins when we get a stronger economy. It's part of our plan.

In the health space, I've mentioned the extra funding for hospitals, but there is also the extra funding for pharmaceutical benefits—the drugs that we all rely on at some stage of our lives are so important. We have funded new drugs like SPINRAZA. I've got several children in the electorate who have spinal muscular atrophy, and I was speaking to one of their mums. She was in tears about how her son, Finn, was going to get the treatment that he deserves. But we have to pay for it somehow, and that's why growing the economy is so important.

There are plenty of people from my former life who I've treated and cared for and who have suffered from a cancer of one sort or another. Whether it's the new funding for KEYTRUDA in refractory lymphoma, or other drugs—KISQALI for breast cancer—there are thousands of patients who are going to benefit from this. Since we came into government, there has been an absolutely amazing explosion of new medicines that have been funded on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. That totals $8.3 billion of new drug funding. That is a fantastic outcome.

We are taking the recommendations of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee and finding ways to fund them. I congratulate the Minister for Health on his novel agreement, getting old drugs that were holding up funding the new ones off the PBS, so that we have a system of paying for them now. There are always going to be new drugs, but we have a strong economy with extra revenue coming in. There are 140,000 fewer people depending on welfare now than there were when we came into government. It's the lowest level of people depending on welfare. The best welfare is a job. With policies that have empowered the economy, small businesses and large businesses, we have got rid of red tape and reduced taxes where we can in a responsible, measured fashion. We've got over a million people working in new positions because of those policies. That's part of our plan. The other side gives away trinkets and things, but they don't address the fundamental reliance there.

For any budget, state or federal, you've got to have the revenue. That's why our plan to grow a strong economy is delivering dividends. It's a really sensible budget. Coming into surplus means we can start paying off our debt—the nation's mortgage—that has come as a result of all these locked-in spending programs that the other side left when they left government. They have blocked all the other things that we've tried to do to save and control our budget. But we've grown the economy and we've grown the pie, so revenue is up. Our multinational anti-avoidance legislation has delivered $7 billion in extra tax revenue. We are giving small businesses help by lowering their company tax and giving them instant asset write-off, and the growth in small business employment has been 23 per cent higher than other employment. We've got a lot more to do, but this budget has been a great budget. Everyone ought to rejoice in the fact that we're coming back into surplus.