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Tuesday, 21 August 2018
Page: 8014


Mrs SUDMALIS (Gilmore) (19:44): When we come to this parliament, we come with the intention of making a difference. In many instances I've had a terrific list of achievements such as Triple Care Farm's youth ice detox facility, over $240 million for road upgrades in Gilmore, over $500 million invested in HMAS Albatross for the base redevelopment, new facilities for the Seahawk and Romeo helicopters and the training facilities for Navy and Army helicopter crews. I've delivered $155 million for the new Nowra bridge and four intersections. In 2017 we announced $13.8 million for the Far North Collector Road as a vital first step in this project.

Jobs growth in Australia has had the best year on record, increasing for the 17th straight month—the longest run ever of jobs growth. It's reflected in our local area. Overall unemployment in Gilmore was sitting at 8.9 per cent when I came into the job as the local member. It's now at 7.7 per cent, and local youth unemployment has almost halved. The South Coast regional jobs investment package will create up to 1,000 jobs in our region, from Berry to Moruya. In 2017 the Gilmore apprenticeship drive saw over 1,300 participants gain an apprenticeship. Our new Local Employment Initiative Fund will directly support employment projects in the area such as mentoring programs and the upskilling of people looking for work so that they're job ready. Our new employment facilitator in Gilmore and our Incubator Support Initiative will also support our local residents to find jobs.

These are all Gilmore-specific but I'm also part of a government that has a long-term view for improving the quality of life for all Australians. More than a million jobs have been created since the Liberal-National government was elected in 2013. More Australians than ever before have full-time jobs. Full-time employment has risen by a robust 3.2 per cent over the year, nearly three times the decade average rate of 1.1 per cent. We're providing an additional $2.4 million a year for national disability advocacy programs in New South Wales and Queensland. We've also guaranteed that children with autism will continue to receive intensive support through specialised learning centres.

Our tax relief for middle- and low-income earners will greatly benefit our local and whole Australian economy. In 2018-19 over 10 million Australians will get tax relief, with 4.4 million Australians receiving the full $530 benefit. Ninety-four per cent of Australian workers will not face a higher marginal tax rate of more than 32½c in the dollar, with low- and middle-income earners our first priority.

We're increasing the pension work bonus. People can get an extra $50, which takes the bonus up to $300 a fortnight. We're expanding the Pension Loans Scheme to boost their income. We're delivering record investment in schools—an average of 50 per cent more funding per student over a decade. A new childcare package will provide more support for more than 5,000 families in Gilmore. There are record levels of hospital funding, with a new agreement to deliver a 30 per cent increase over five years.

However, the more you work for resolutions for different groups, the more general and complex the cases become. As a local example, Michael Dignam and Liz Lewis, who run the Milk and Honey Cafe in Kiama, may face the prospect of losing their business after issues surrounding the extension of their lease and their lodgement of an expression of interest application. This cafe is well known and popular in Kiama, and we should be doing everything in our power to help. Sadly, it's a battle that lies with the state government, Crown Lands and local government.

Another example is changing the way subcontractors are paid when tier 1 contractors, like Lendlease, refuse to make good on their debt responsibilities. Mark Nelson was subcontracted by Hewatt's Construction, and Hewatt's was subcontracting for Lendlease to work at HMAS Albatross. Lendlease, I believe, did not show proper due diligence. Hewatt's were paid but went into administration. There are frustrations in the process, and these are outlined in the investigative material that I supplied to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman.

Finally, and more immediately, there is the issue that I and many in my electorate consider a crisis facing our dairy farmers. Recently I wrote to the CEOs of Coles, IGA, Aldi and Woolworths, requesting that they consider increasing the amount they pay to farmers—just 20c a litre, 20c a dozen and 20c a kilogram for produce to help our farmers. For the last eight years the price of milk has been fixed at $1 a litre. It's pathetic that nothing else on our shelves has remained constant during this time.

In 2017 it was reported that:

The ACCC found the dairy pricing system to be outdated and skewed in favour of the … processors, with farmers enjoying no real bargaining power and limited scope to rearrange their businesses and milk contracts to either accurately predict their current incomes or improve their selling options.

Our local farmers in Gilmore want to have the ability to futureproof themselves, to build their own resilience and to be able to look after themselves. There is more we can do, and that's why I'll continue to fight for them and their families. (Time expired)