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Thursday, 27 May 2004
Page: 29376

Mrs HULL (1:55 PM) —It is a pity that my speaking time is going to be cut short by question time today because I would have liked to be able to expand at length on what little understanding the Labor Party has of rural and regional Australia. Just two days after the release of this government's fine budget, I had a call from my local media to question me about a press release that they had received from the Labor Party. The press release said that there was nothing in this budget for rural and regional Australians—that rural and regional Australians had missed out. I said to my local media, `I find this quite incredible.'

Does the Labor Party think that I do not have mothers in my electorate who are going to get a payment of $3,000 on the birth of their child that will rise to $5,000 by 2008? Does the Labor Party think that I do not have aged care facilities or that I do not have elderly people in my electorate who rely on care in hostels and nursing homes, facilities that will receive $3,500 per bed before 30 June 2004 so that they can upgrade their capital works and infrastructure? Does the Labor Party think that I do not have families in the Riverina who will benefit from the $600 increase in their per child payment under family tax benefit part A before 30 June 2004 or who will benefit again from a further $600 after reconciling their current year entitlement? Does the Labor Party think that I do not have single-income families in the Riverina who will see a change in their income test for family tax benefit B which will allow more mothers to access this payment whilst in part-time work? Does the Labor Party think that I do not have carers in my electorate who are caring diligently for people—their loved ones, family members and friends—who will receive a bonus $1,000 payment, and that I do not have people in my electorate receiving a carers allowance who might receive a bonus $600 payment? Does the Labor Party not think that I have these people in my electorate of Riverina? Does the Labor Party think that I do not have Riverina income earners who will benefit from the latest income tax cuts?

It was absolutely staggering to find that the Labor Party did not realise that in the Riverina I also have veterans on gold and white cards. These veterans will be able to see specialists now that we have given an extra 15 per cent for consultations with specialists plus 20 per cent for procedures, which is on top of their 100 per cent Medicare rebate. They can now be adequately assessed and care can be delivered to those veterans in my electorate of Riverina. Does the Labor Party not know that I have Riverina wineries that will receive a tax rebate of $290,000 annually under the wine equalisation tax-free threshold? Does the Labor Party not know that I have Riverina, Murrumbidgee and Coleambally irrigators and water providers in the business of providing water to primary producers who will have access to water facilities taxation concessions and land care taxation concessions that will enable them to effectively carry out their work with respect to the supply of water into the future?

Also, the Riverina has low-income earners, quite a significant number of whom contribute to superannuation. Does the Labor Party not know that those on incomes up to $28,000 will receive up to $1,500 from the government in a cocontribution of $1.50 for every $1 that goes into a superannuation fund? There are a significant number of things in this budget that obviously the Labor Party think do not apply to rural and regional Australia, and that staggers me. The lack of knowledge that they have about rural and regional Australia is quite surprising.

The SPEAKER —Order! It being 2.00 p.m., the debate is interrupted in accordance with standing order 101A. The debate may be resumed at a later hour and the member will have leave to continue speaking when the debate is resumed.