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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6352


Mr SYMON (4:56 PM) —It is my pleasure to speak on this matter of public importance. It is interesting to hear the member for Cowper talk about flexibility in industrial relations. Flexibility is more than a one-way street, which is what we got with Work Choices—no choice. Labor delivered the Fair Work Act, and that delivers on promises that we took to the people at the last election. We promised to rip up Work Choices if elected with our Forward with Fairness policy statement. We did and, in two weeks time when it finally comes in, working people will be able to have a job with fair pay and fair conditions, and so they should. They will not be ripped off under the rotten Work Choices system, which is what happened year after year, and we still have those stories coming out now.

One thing we should be talking about is jobs, employment. What do we hear from the other side about creating employment? We do not hear positive stories about how to create employment. We only hear gloom and doom. We see hands up in the air but there is no actual response—there is no plan or idea. Unlike the opposition, the Rudd government has put in place economic stimuluses. The point of these is to create jobs in the economy and not just in certain sectors. As the member for Blaxland said, a job in construction flows right through to other areas of the economy where those services are needed. Many people do not even see those jobs on a day-to-day basis.

I would like to go through some of the projects that are out there right now creating real jobs that will have fair pay and fair conditions for workers. The recent federal budget marked the third phase of the Rudd government’s stimulus plan, investing $22 billion in our nation’s infrastructure. That is on top of the $28 billion of investment in infrastructure in the economic security plan of February. That comes on top of further investment in last year’s Economic Security Strategy.

There is the energy efficiency program, where householders can install insulation in their houses if they do not already have it. That is an Australiawide program. It is enormous. So many households that do not have insulation now will be able to have it. There will be $1,600 worth going into their roof. How does it get into their roof? People come out to their house and install it. These are real jobs and they are ongoing because this is going to run for a number of years. With that, you have to manufacture insulation. What do we hear from Bradford? Bradford in Brisbane are working 24 hours round the clock now to try to keep up with demand. They have put on another 70 staff. So far only 27 houses up to the end of last month have actually had insulation installed. There is a huge number to go beyond that.

Let us have a look at infrastructure in terms of road and rail and the number of jobs that that can create and is creating right now. We have work on the Geelong Ring Road in my state of Victoria, worth $125 million and 60 construction jobs. There is work happening on the final stage of the F5 Freeway upgrade in Campbelltown, New South Wales. That is starting very soon and is worth 130 full-time jobs and 70 part-time jobs. We have construction on the Alstonville bypass which is happening now, with 140 jobs. The Brighton bypass and transport hub means 380 jobs. And the Mandurah Entrance Road has 80 jobs on-site and more supported off-site.

And then there is rail. We hear a little bit about rail these days because the Rudd federal government is investing in rail—not just in interstate freight rail but in urban public transport as well. That has not happened from the federal government level in a very long time. More than 200 jobs have been supported by the increased demand for concrete rail sleepers by the Australian government’s $1.2 billion interstate rail network program. Fifty people are employed at Austrak’s Geelong factory, more than 65 at their Wagga Wagga factory. Sixty people are employed at Rocla Sleepers Mittagong factory and another 60 or so are employed at Rocla Sleepers in Grafton.

Talking about rail, right in the middle of my electorate is a road and rail project happening right now. That of course is the Springvale Road underpass. That is a $140 million project to relieve a huge bottleneck through the eastern suburbs of Melbourne. Like most grade separation projects, it takes a lot of planning, it takes a lot of work to get it done and it employs a lot of labour whilst it is happening. This job has already started. You can go down there today and you can see people working on the job. They were not there a month ago. The thing about this particular project is that those opposite tried to block this project only last week when they tried to amend the nation-building and jobs program. They did not manage it, fortunately because the 100 people that will soon be working on that project might otherwise not have actually been employed. The most astounding thing about this is that those opposite actually campaigned for this project for years on end. They did not deliver it and then when the money came through they tried to put it down. That is typical of what we hear from the other side time after time. Many people over there do not understand infrastructure. I am certain of that. We hear it time after time, day after day.

Social housing is another one of our programs under the economic stimulus which is employing people right now, and that is a wonderful thing. In my own particular electorate of Deakin there are 66 houses under the maintenance program that are happening right now. When you go out and visit them and you talk to the tradesmen who are out there, the builders and their teams of people they have doing it, they tell you, ‘We’ve had to put on extra people because of the demand.’ This is a very good thing. It is not just maintenance. It is also building of new houses—20,000 across the country. That is a program that is estimated to create 15,000 jobs over the next two years.

Defence housing is another one. My electorate does not have any defence housing, but many others do, and at the moment work is underway on 233 defence houses—brand new ones. Three hundred and forty-seven contracts have been awarded, and the contract for the 400th house is expected to be awarded around now.

My favourite part of the stimulus package, because I know how much those on the other side do not like talking about it, is the Building the Education Revolution. We have the National School Pride Program which is rolling out right now, which is employing people not only in my electorate but in the electorates of those opposite as well. It is a wonderful thing for their local economies, and a wonderful thing for Australia’s economy, that people are out there working. That is a great thing. As part of the stimulus, employers like Spotless Group recruited 40 full-time positions and now have 569 workers, including apprentices, working on school and housing maintenance projects under the stimulus in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania and here in the ACT.

The school maintenance program, the National School Pride Program, is one thing, but of course to me the enduring thing about Building the Education Revolution is the infrastructure build which is known as Primary Schools for the 21st Century. They are substantial jobs. They are long-term. They will take up to a year—in some cases more—to be built. And they are, again, in every electorate. These are real jobs. Some are just at the starting stage. Some have still got their applications in. In my electorate of Deakin alone so far there is $39 million invested in jobs, projects, and infrastructure for our local schools. These are schools that have not had money put into them by those opposite. They have been left alone year after year. Why is that? They just do not care about it. When it comes to the House they vote against it. Creating jobs is something that those opposite like to talk about, but creating jobs is not something that those opposite actually do. They do not have any positive things to say about the subject. They cannot understand why investment and why stimulus are actually connected to jobs. It is about time that those opposite woke up and actually understood that they are.