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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1670

Mrs McNAMARA (Dobell) (17:12): I rise to support appropriation bills No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 and in doing so highlight the many ways in which this government is delivering for Dobell. In September 2013 the people of the Central Coast voted for a better future, strong representation and a government that would deliver real solutions to address our region's issues. Since my election I have worked hard to deliver directly to Dobell over $72 million worth of infrastructure and community programs. After many years of neglect by the previous government, the families, businesses and residents of Dobell are now receiving proper representation and delivery of much-needed infrastructure and community grants. And I am pleased to say that the government has delivered—or is in some case in the process of delivering—all our election commitments, and we are already starting to see the results.

In total, over $16 million has been invested in local roads. Prior to the election, the government pledged to upgrade The Ridgeway at Tumbi Umbi and Jensen Road at Wadalba. These are two local roads that, as a result of population growth, have seen increased utilisation. Our investment means that local residents can now travel more safely around our community; $1.9 million has been allocated to address notorious road black spots at Berkeley Vale, Holgate, Charmhaven, Toukley and Wadalba. And Gosford and Wyong shire councils have received an allocation of $12 million in Roads to Recovery funding to allow for the maintenance and upgrade of our local roads network. This is in addition to the Financial Assistance Grants which will see the two councils receive $23 million over five years to invest in local infrastructure projects in Dobell.

Last Friday I joined with the Hon. Jamie Briggs MP, Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development, to announce that work on NorthConnex had commenced. NorthConnex is something that members opposite know quite well. For six years they talked about delivering the M1 to M2 'missing link' but never delivered. In just 17 months this government has delivered $405 million to the project, finalised plans, secured contracts and ensured that construction is underway. NorthConnex will generate approximately 8,700 jobs for New South Wales, providing a boost to local businesses. The twin nine-kilometre tunnels, running under Pennant Hills Road, will bypass 21 sets of traffic lights, provide an alternative route to the Pacific Highway and save motorists at least 15 minutes of travel time. But, most importantly, NorthConnex will mean a reduction in commuting times for the approximately 15,000 Central Coast motorists who commute south from the region on a daily basis. And, for the people of Dobell who commute south every working day, NorthConnex will mean shorter and safer travelling options, less time in traffic and more time with their families.

In addition to NorthConnex, the federal government is also spending $195.8 million on the M1 Productivity Package, which will see much-needed upgrades to stretches along the M1 Pacific Motorway and, notably for the commuters of Dobell, an upgrade of the M1 between Tuggerah and Warnervale from four to six lanes. This government is focused on delivering productivity-boosting infrastructure, which will create and support jobs on the Central Coast, and throughout New South Wales and Australia.

Creating jobs is one of my highest priorities to address, in particular, the youth unemployment issues on the Central Coast. In working closely with schools and education providers it is paramount that we support school leavers with their transition to work and further education. That is why I lobbied for and secured $2.7 million to support new skills and training centres in Dobell. Working with Central Coast Group Training, the Central Coast largest employer of apprentices, the government has already delivered a new jobs and employment centre at Tuggerah. In addition, planning is now underway for a second skills centre, to be located at North Wyong. These two centres are integral in addressing our region's above average youth unemployment rate by providing achievable outcomes and, importantly, skills and job opportunities to our young people.

Government programs have, for too long, lacked coordination and failed to significantly reduce youth unemployment. This is an issue I am working to resolve. Dobell is one of 18 priority employment areas across Australia to have implemented the Work for the Dole program. This means that 18- to 30-year-olds who have been unemployed for 12 months or more and who are receiving Newstart and/or youth allowance are now required to participate in Work for the Dole. I strongly believe that all Australians capable of working should be earning, learning or participating in Work for the Dole. Work for the Dole is an important part of this government's plan to assist young people gain the skills and experience they need to move from welfare to work. In addition to Work for the Dole, many young job seekers are receiving hands-on experience through the government's Green Army Program. Dobell has already benefited from six round 1 projects, which have seen environmental work undertaken at the Central Coast Wetlands, Kanwal, Noraville and The Entrance North.

I have been privileged to spend time in the field with Green Army participants and to hear firsthand the importance of the experience they are receiving through the program. I have also had the opportunity to welcome the Hon. Greg Hunt MP, Minister for the Environment, to visit our local projects and observe firsthand the value of the program for local participants. Some of those who are participating are studying environmental sciences and are using this program to gain practical experience. Meanwhile, others have joined the program to improve their skills and increase their chances of finding permanent employment.

Recently, I was able to announce an additional four projects for the Dobell electorate under round 2 of the Green Army Program. I will continue to work with local environment groups to deliver Green Army projects and provide this important experience for young job seekers interested in a career in land conservation, horticulture and the environment.

When we talk about the natural environment in Dobell, we are always drawn to Tuggerah Lakes, the jewel in our crown. I am happy to inform the House that the $3.3 million, delivered by this government, to improve Tuggerah Lakes through the Coastal River Recovery program is already delivering results.

Over the years, rapid urban development on the lake's foreshore has contributed to the degradation of Canton Beach, with an infestation of sea wrack. Prior to the 2013 federal election, I took Minister Hunt to Canton Beach to witness this damage. Last year I was able to welcome Minister Hunt back to the same spot at Canton Beach to inspect the results of the reprofiling and regeneration of Canton Beach. The results are truly amazing. For the first time in many years people are now using this beach, enjoying swimming and kayaking on Tuggerah Lakes. We said that we would restore the lakes to their former glory and we are on track to achieving this. Our funding will enable similar reprofiling and regeneration to be undertaken at other lake beaches, including Long Jetty and The Entrance.

The revitalisation of Tuggerah Lakes is vital to the Central Coast economy. Our economy is highly dependent on tourism. By improving the condition of Tuggerah Lakes we aim to attract visitors to the area to experience the beauty of the lakes and, in turn, support our local small businesses and tourist operators.

The government has also delivered $700,000 to complete the upgrade of the Norah Head Boat Ramp. The boat ramp is the only sea-access point in the Dobell electorate and is an essential piece of economic infrastructure. The new boat ramp ensures all-weather access to the ocean off Norah Head and encourages people to take advantage of one of our best assets, which is our natural environment. Sports tourism and the ability to host regional and national sporting championships is my vision for the Central Coast.

Through my personal lobbying, the government has provided $1 million to commence planning studies for the Tuggerah Sports Precinct. This is a project that will deliver economic benefits to the Central Coast through increased sports tourism and, importantly, more jobs. The Tuggerah Sports Precinct will not only enable the hosting of regional and national sports events; it will also provide local sporting clubs access to high-quality sports fields and facilities for local competitions.

This investment will help realise my determination, as the member for Dobell, for the Central Coast to become the sports tourism capital of New South Wales. However, there is more to deliver. For the 9,000 businesses in Dobell, which is the engine room of the Dobell economy, this government is implementing measures to provide support, and practical measures to assist them to thrive and prosper. Over $285,000 has been delivered through export market development grants and a further $150,000 through T-QUAL tourism grants to support local businesses in Dobell.

Last month I welcomed the Hon. Bruce Billson MP, Minister for Small Business, to Dobell, to meet with local business owners and representatives. It is extremely important that we maintain open, consultative dialogue with small businesses. We are improving the environment in which small business operates, and a key component of these changes is our deregulation agenda. Since the election the government have announced over 400 red tape reduction measures, which has resulted in a net reduction of over $2.1 billion in compliance costs. Last October, the government removed approximately 1,000 pieces and over 7,200 pages of legislation and regulation. This was in addition to our first repeal day last March, when over 10,000 pieces and 50,000 pages of legislation and regulation were scrapped, resulting in over $700 million of compliance savings. Unnecessary regulation stifles productivity, deters investment and innovation, and presents barriers to job creation. I understand that you cannot have a strong and healthy society without a strong economy to sustain it, and you do not have a strong economy without profitable business.

In addition, I am working to ensure stronger and safer communities. Through the government's Safer Streets Program, local communities and business centres throughout Dobell will share in $370,000 of new CCTV equipment. This will improve safety at Berkeley Vale, Wadalba and Blue Haven, and will boost business confidence in the Wyong CBD, the Toukley business precinct and the Kanwal shopping centre. Wyong Shire Council will receive funding for mobile CCTV equipment and a new graffiti trailer to combat localised crime, illegal dumping and graffiti. This is just a small snapshot of the $72 million investment over the last 17 months in Dobell and of practical support being provided to local businesses. However, I am also committed to strengthening my local community and empowering people with opportunity.

As federal members of parliament we spend much of our time here in Canberra. This makes the time we spend in our electorate and amongst our community extremely special and most rewarding. One of the highlights of my role is visiting local schools. Since my election, I have worked closely with principals, teachers, students and parents to ensure our children have access to quality education. Our local schools are outstanding. We have dedicated and professional staff who are committed to seeing our school students succeed and our school community grow and prosper. I am proud of the many achievements of young people in my electorate: people like Nathan Conner and Maddison O'Gradey-Lee, who I have spoken about previously in parliament. These young people are outstanding role models for others of their age. I am committed to working with the youth in my electorate and, through the establishment of the Dobell Youth Advisory Committee, I am receiving quality feedback from tomorrow's leaders on the issues that matter to them. It is important to understand and appreciate that the decisions we make today will impact upon our children and future generations.

It is imperative that we engage with them and include them in our decision making, and also that we all understand the importance of getting national debt under control so that our legacy to younger Australian is prosperity, not poverty. On many occasions, it has been my pleasure to share with the House the inspirational stories of local groups and volunteers who dedicate their time to strengthening our community. As a community, we are determined to combat unemployment, mental health issues, family violence and child abuse. These are important issues which I have raised previously in this parliament. Unfortunately, there are no easy fixes, but it is imperative that we maintain constant vigilance and keep these issues at the forefront of the public's mind. Inspirational organisations in my electorate such as Share the Love, LEAP, the Iris Foundation, the Glen Centre, the Wyong Neighbourhood Centre, Next Step, Coast Shelter and Lifeline, just to name a few, have dedicated staff and volunteers who spend their time helping others. These people are the glue that hold our community together and make Dobell the great electorate that it is.

It is exciting that this year marks the Centenary of Anzac, a time where we will all come together and commemorate the legend of Anzac. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime event that will unite us in a common cause. I have had the fortune of working with the dedicated members of our local returned service organisations—in particular, the Entrance-Long Jetty, Toukley, Wyong, Wamberal-Terrigal RSL sub-branches and the Tuggerah Lakes Nashos. The Centenary of Anzac allows us to join with Australians young and old to commemorate our coming of age. The Anzac Centenary grants program will mean all in our community can join in this commemoration. The residents of Dobell should be extremely proud of the time and effort being put into this commemoration by our returned service organisations and the opportunity they will have to mark this special occasion.

This is just a small sample of the tremendous things happening in Dobell. I will continue to work closely with people in my electorate and to be a strong voice here in Canberra. I look forward to the many opportunities I will have to highlight the achievements of the people of Dobell. I am proud to call the Central Coast home, and I will continue to fight for and deliver for Dobell so we can all share in a more prosperous future. I commend these bills the House.