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Monday, 15 June 2009
Page: 5996


Mrs D’ATH (4:38 PM) —I rise in support of the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2009-2010 and cognate bills before the chamber. Although the main purpose of the bills before the House is to propose appropriations from the Consolidated Revenue Fund to do with the 2009-10 budget, I believe the titles of the bills and explanatory memorandums do not do justice to what the 2009-10 budget delivered by the Treasurer will actually achieve for this country.

With the unemployment rate forecast to reach a peak of 8½ per cent during 2010-11, with a write-down of $210 billion from the government revenue, the only thing that a responsible government could do is bring down a budget to deal with major investments in jobs now and infrastructure in the long term. Of course, the initiatives outlined in the 2009-10 budget built on the Rudd Labor government’s stimulus package, which was announced late last year, that saw payments going to many people in need in the community. It delivered stimulus payments before the Christmas period, at a time when countries were under real pressures as a result of the global economic crisis—not the worst of it then but certainly a significant decline had occurred by then.

This federal government took very early action in pre-empting the decline in private investment. It saw the need for expenditure to be occurring in the community to support business. That stimulus package back in December 2008 provided stimulus for a very large sector in the electorate of Petrie—that is, the retail sector. We have seen figures in recent times that show that what we have experienced in Australia is extraordinary compared to what many of the developed countries around the world have seen in retail. This country is experiencing growth where other countries are experiencing significant decline. No-one on any side of this House can deny that growth in the retail sector supports jobs. You cannot support jobs if you have rapidly declining growth in the retail sector.

In addition, this government announced the nation-building package back in February of this year. That built on the stimulus package and started putting initiatives in place, investment in infrastructure in the short term, that saw jobs being supported locally. In my electorate of Petrie, 34 schools have already been successful in rounds 1 and 2 for Pride funding. They are doing work such as painting of classrooms, carpeting, buying new furniture, putting in electronic whiteboards, building covered walkways and building shade areas over playgrounds. This is no doubt going to stimulate local jobs. It is going to support manufacturing. It is going to support businesses who provide the materials, who provide the furniture and who provide the whiteboards in my local area. Those businesses consequently will be able to retain people in employment.

But also, in talking about all these initiatives, we should not lose sight of the long-term benefits for schools in all this. I know some may hold the view that building halls and libraries, repainting classrooms, putting new carpet on floors and getting new furniture does not necessarily support furthering a child’s education. I say to all of those people: go into those schools and talk to the principals, the teachers and, more importantly, the parents and the students who are benefiting from those changes in their schools. It changes the attitude of children when they go into a new classroom that is a fresh and vibrant place. It helps children learn.

No-one can tell me that sitting in a hall to have assemblies, concerts or graduation ceremonies does not put pride in a school and in its students compared to sitting on asphalt in the middle of winter or summer under a small covered area next to toilet blocks, which is what some of the schools in my electorate experience. I know one particular school that has to cancel the school parade every three or four weeks simply due to rain because the children are exposed to all of the elements by the current structure of the school. This school is very excited at the thought of having a school hall, which is something that they thought was never going to happen. That school is also getting an extension to the library and, with their Pride funding, doing many important refurbishments. Other schools are talking to me about how many electronic whiteboards they will have and that they will have enough to go around all of their classrooms because of previous investments that the schools have made in that technology. These are some of the initiatives that this budget builds on.

In my electorate we also have new social housing units going in. We have many social housing homes and units that are being repaired so that they can become available for people in the area of Petrie. I think one of the most important things that has come out of the 2009-10 budget by the Rudd Labor government has to be the investment in major infrastructure in this country. We have seen as a consequence of the two previous initiatives, the stimulus package and nation building, and importantly as a result of this budget the most significant investment in infrastructure that this country has seen in decades.

Without the government’s action the level of GDP would have been 2¾ per cent lower in 2009-10 and 1½ per cent lower in 2010-11. We cannot ignore these figures. Government action is expected to support up to 210,000 jobs and without action the forecast for the unemployment rate would reach 10 per cent. These may just sound like figures but in my electorate, my areas, my suburbs, that figure is certainly significant. With areas of my electorate already experiencing high youth unemployment before the global economic crisis we have to do everything possible to ensure that we support jobs and that is what this budget clearly does.

I commend this government for their $8½ billion investment in our roads, rail and ports. I know I have spoken in this House previously about my commitment to support initiatives such as a Redcliffe rail line—something that has been rallied for for many years in my electorate. The elected representatives in the area—state, council and federal—all support the need for a rail line. Although we will continue to have that fight, it is important that I recognise and put on the record my support that this budget is committed to improving the metro rail network in Brisbane. Irrespective of a Redcliffe rail line, if we do not improve the rail network in our CBD area we will struggle to cope with the demand for the public system. It would be extremely difficult for the state government to put on any additional trains or services until such time as major investment is done in the CBD area. I see investing in our CBD area as a step forward for the proposal to eventually get a Redcliffe rail line. Improving the central public rail network consequently sets a framework to expand the rail networks out in the metropolitan areas.

In relation to the commitment on clean energy, with Moreton Bay as the backyard to my electorate, it is true to say that many of my constituents understand the importance of addressing climate change. They were extremely pleased when this government signed the Kyoto protocol. We are doing what we can to pursue the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme and, at the same time, investing in clean energy. Importantly, in this budget, this government has invested $4½ billion in the Clean Energy Initiative, not only to assist Australia’s transition to a low-pollution economy but also, equally, to help build the jobs for the future by investing $2 billion over the next nine years to carbon capture and storage demonstration projects; $1½ billion over the next six years for up to four large-scale solar electricity generation projects; and $465 million to establish Renewables Australia—an independent body to support leading-edge renewable technology research and development.

This is, of course, on top of the commitment to the National Broadband Network, which is certainly welcomed in my electorate. I have many black spots. Despite being just outer metropolitan Brisbane, it is amazing how many broadband black spots there are in my electorate. I know that my local community have been eager to see the federal government commit to such an initiative and are pleased that we have done so in this budget.

I think it is very important to acknowledge the commitment in this budget to what is, I believe, a 25 per cent increase in research and development for business. When I was campaigning as a candidate, I lost count of how many times people said to me, ‘Why don’t we have a government that supports ideas and sees those ideas turn into businesses in Australia as opposed to watching these great ideas go overseas and grow from there?’ I certainly welcomed the initiative to invest more in R&D in our businesses and to turn those ideas into commercial reality.

Another initiative I would like to address in relation to this budget is the important commitment to hospitals. The $3.2 billion for the Health and Hospitals Fund will see much needed investment in the health sector. I am certainly pleased that we have one of the first GP superclinics announced in Queensland being built at Redcliffe, with a fantastic consortium—the Redcliffe Hospital Foundation and the University of Queensland. This clinic not only will provide care in relation to chronic disease and acute illnesses but also, importantly, will be concentrating on research and education—training up GPs, registrars, nurses and allied health professionals. We look forward to the day that that facility opens.

Lastly, I mention the commitment by this government to provide improvements to the payments to pensioners. I have 21,257 pensioner recipients who will benefit from this budget and this initiative. It is a welcome commitment by this government to increase the base rate of the pension payment. I know it will provide relief to many, many people in my electorate. It was an announcement that was certainly welcomed by many of the pensioners in my electorate. For all these reasons and many, many more that I will not have the time to outline, I commend these appropriation bills to the chamber.