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Wednesday, 3 April 2019
Page: 14706

Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (19:49): I might take this opportunity to express my best wishes to all of those people who work at the parliament who are retiring at the end of this term. I know of course, Mr Speaker, you will have done so in private, as well. I'm sure you've also expressed your public regard for those people who are leaving us at the end of this term.

I rise to speak about last night's federal budget. I regret to tell you that it is yet another federal budget from the coalition government that fails to fund Cross River Rail. This project has been a project of national significance now for many, many years. It is crying out for federal funding. It is an absolute shame that the government has failed to provide a federal contribution to Cross River Rail. We need this project in the south-east corner to help bust traffic congestion, to help improve public transport and to help people get to work. The federal government should have funded Cross River Rail. If Labor wins the election, we will fund Cross River Rail.

I also want to make some remarks about other traffic congestion issues in my electorate of Griffith, on the south side of Brisbane. Everyone on the south side knows the importance of removing the Cavendish Road level crossing at Coorparoo, but the government has failed to provide any funding to remove it. It is not just me who knows this is an important project. The LNP-led council recognised the importance of it in the 2014 city plan and, as you are probably aware, the South East Queensland Council of Mayors identified it as a priority in 2016, and as recently as this year, the Council of Mayors, in their 2019 mass people movement study, again identified this as a really important project for our area.

The government should be putting federal money into removing the level crossing at Cavendish Road in Coorparoo. It is not good enough that people in Coorparoo, in Camp Hill, in Carina and in Carina Heights, and all the suburbs around that area—not just in my electorate, but beyond into Bonner and into Bowman—have to put up with this major traffic snarl when they are just trying to get the kids to school or trying to get into the city to go to work of a morning. This issue must be fixed. I have been talking about this issue for the entire time I have been elected. I want this government to make a contribution to the removal of the Coorparoo Cavendish Road level crossing. If they won't, then they should be looking at what they can do to partner with other levels of government to get a contribution for this, because my locals are sick and tired of this Coorparoo level crossing. It is one of the highest volume level crossings in the state of Queensland—it is in the top two—in terms of traffic that goes through the level crossing. It causes major congestion, particularly in the morning peak. This government needs to put its money where its mouth is. You talk about congestion-busting infrastructure. Well, where is the money for the removal of the level crossing at Coorparoo?

I also want to raise with the House some concerns I have about some other policy issues. Unfortunately, last night's federal budget baked in the Liberal-National government's cuts to public school funding. It is a $14 billion funding cut that the Liberal-National government has imposed on public schools. It will take a Labor government to fix school funding. In my electorate alone, the cuts mean $16.43 million for public schools in Griffith over three years. We will restore that funding if we are elected at the next election. A future Shorten Labor government, if elected, will make sure, through the Fair Go For Schools program, that those funding cuts—$16.43 million for public schools in Griffith over three years—are restored. Our local schools deserve the best possible funding outcome, because they deserve needs based funding. The kids who go to those schools deserve to get a world-class education. No matter what school you go to on the south side, you deserve to get an excellent education, and Labor will make sure that we restore the funding that's been cut from education by the Liberals and Nationals.

We'll also restore penalty rates. We have repeatedly sought to get this House to vote to restore the penalty rates that have been cut, but the sad fact is the coalition government supports the cuts to penalty rates. There are 13,214 retail and hospitality workers in Griffith who have had their Sunday penalty rates cut under the LNP. By employment, retail is the fifth-biggest industry in my electorate—6,568 workers—and hospitality is the fourth biggest, at 6,646. Those working Australians rely on their penalty rates to put food on the table and to pay the rent. They can't trust the Liberals to restore them. Labor will restore the penalty rates.