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Tuesday, 12 May 2009
Page: 3518

Ms NEAL (5:12 PM) —I am very proud to get up and speak about this government’s record in creating, protecting and supporting jobs. I have to deal with the rather bizarre allegation by the member for Boothby that the Labor Party has never thought about jobs or workers but suddenly, after 100 years of campaigning on jobs, has to be reminded by the member for Boothby that jobs are important—it never occurred to us! I think he has forgotten very recent history. I ran in the seat of Robertson, now the most marginal seat in Australia. The minister who lost his seat there, with a massive swing, lost on the basis of a campaign and policy position of, ‘We want to be able to sack people more easily.’ They did not run on a campaign of, ‘We want to protect jobs;’ they ran on a campaign of, ‘We want to sack workers more easily and we don’t want to have to put up with any fairness test when we do it.’ That is why it is rather ludicrous for the opposition to come here and say that this Labor government does not care about jobs. Obviously, jobs are the most important thing we deal with. They have not been the most important thing for a week, a month or a year—they have been the most important thing for this government and the Labor Party for 100 years. It is quite ridiculous to be lectured by this particular shadow minister.

Last week at Umina Beach in my electorate of Robertson, I had the pleasure of announcing the Rudd Labor government’s commitment of more than $3 million to help Gosford City Council build a $4.3 million regional recreation precinct. This commitment was part of the government’s $800 million Community Infrastructure Program, part of the largest one-off investment in infrastructure in Australia’s history. The construction of this vital piece of community infrastructure will address a real need, and that is a good thing. It is great to see that we will have a better playground, better fields and better cricket pitches. All this is important, but what is most important is that this $3 million commitment will provide additional jobs in my local area.

You might remember the Mayor of Gosford. He is a Liberal Party stalwart; maybe even you know about him. He was a candidate for the Liberal Party in the last New South Wales election. He said of the Peninsula Recreation Precinct that it will ‘boost the Central Coast in many ways’. He went on to say: ‘This investment … is a supreme opportunity to support local jobs during the current financial climate’. Here we have it stated quite categorically by someone who probably is not a big wheel in the federal Liberal Party, who is not represented in this parliament, but who is smart enough and cares enough about his community to know that the federal government’s initiatives are doing things that are about protecting jobs and saving jobs—and that is a good thing. He is not carping about the fact that they did not think of it first; he is interested in what is happening for his community and in the jobs that are being saved.

And it is not just happening in the peninsula; it is not just happening in my seat. There are examples of this multiplied all around Australia. In virtually every local government in Australia the words of the Liberal Mayor of Gosford are being repeated. They are not just being repeated by Labor members. They are not just being repeated by Labor parliamentarians or party members. They are being reported by community leaders and people all around Australia. They are thrilled that this government is making job creation and protection a major priority.

In addition to these infrastructure measures the government has introduced far-reaching and broadly based economic stimulus packages. It was not just this week; the government has been thinking about this for a very long time. We had the $10.4 billion Economic Security Strategy in 2008. Did the opposition say, ‘Great! Isn’t it wonderful that this government is doing something about stimulating the economy? Isn’t it great this government is supporting 75,000 jobs’—as this stimulus package did? No. What the opposition said was, ‘We don’t support it; we don’t like it.’ Then we had the Nation Building and Jobs Plan—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Hon. BC Scott)—Order! The discussion is now concluded.