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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 6006

Mr CRAIG THOMSON (Dobell) (19:45): If it assists the member for Casey, I will ask the Assistant Treasurer as part of my question: what are the inflation rates and the unemployment rates for 2012-13 as well as 2011-12? That was not what I was going to get up to talk about, but I know that you wanted to get that question in and I am making sure that that question is asked so that the Assistant Treasurer can answer it.

I wanted to talk about how well received the budget was in my electorate, for a number of reasons, and then I will come to a specific question about my region. My region has a lot of commuters. We have higher unemployment than the rest of the state and we are one of the 10 areas in Australia that is being singled out and looked after in this budget in relation to unemployment issues. That is important to note by way of background for the question that I want to ask. But we also have a number of large industries, predominantly food processing. We have Sara Lee, MasterFoods and Sanitarium.

In fact, the Leader of the Opposition came to Dobell the other day to visit Sanitarium and talk about the price of Weet-Bix. It was great to have him in the electorate. I said that while he was up there, if he wanted to talk about climate change, the opposition leader was very welcome to come with me to look at the flooding around the lakes. Today we actually have people being evacuated around Tuggerah Lakes due to flooding. We have houses falling into the water at Norah Head and North Entrance. So I was happy to show him, if he wanted to come to an electorate to look at what climate change is about. He came to the right electorate. Unfortunately, he was more interested in a stunt about Weet-Bix than in that.

Having made those points, the primary area of employment on the Central Coast is small business. Small business is what employs the most people. We have a great record in terms of small business and innovation on the Central Coast. We have a BEC that this government funded in previous budgets. I was talking to Wayne Gates, the CEO, only last week about how successful it has been in mentoring and growing businesses there. But what I am particularly interested in is what sorts of packages there are in this budget that will assist small business. In particular, we also have a large number of tradesmen who buy their vehicles. They commute down to Sydney to do a lot of work. In fact, I think my electorate has one of the highest proportions of tradesmen in Australia, so I am very interested to see what measures in this budget would assist tradespeople and small business people. I seek an answer to that from the Assistant Treasurer, along with an answer to the important question about unemployment and inflation in the year 2012-13 which the member for Casey tried to ask last time.