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Monday, 26 February 2018
Page: 1925

Ms LAMB (Longman) (11:15): I begin by thanking the member for Herbert for raising this motion this morning. She is a great local member, and I completely understand her frustration with this government, because I feel it too. The Prime Minister is looking down on Australia from corporate boardrooms and a harbourside ivory tower. When you do that, you don't see what's happening in the regions. Sure, the white-collar suits that he surrounds himself with are doing well. Company profits are up, big businesses are thriving and for the most part the capital cities are doing fairly well, but this prosperity hasn't made its way to the regions. As the member for Herbert explained a little earlier, areas like Townsville are struggling. In my role as the chair of Labor's Australian Jobs Taskforce committee, I've seen this firsthand. The committee travelled to Townsville last year, where I saw countless 'for lease' signs in the windows of buildings on Flinders Street Mall and throughout the CBD. The member for Herbert drives past and sees new ones regularly. It feels not too unlike my local area of Caboolture.

These regions have so much potential. The people are friendly and incredibly hardworking. The natural environment is beautiful. You don't have to go too far from Townsville and the Strand or the Centenary Lakes in Caboolture to know that the regions are beautiful areas. The locations are perfect for businesses and for public sector opportunities. One fatal element is holding these regions back: the absence of a government that cares. A government who cares, like a Labor government, would be standing up for the regions, not letting them down. Just last week—a prime example—Labor's leader, Bill Shorten, visited a number of towns in regional Queensland that have been all but ignored by the coalition. While the Liberals have been focusing their efforts on giving a $65 billion handout to big businesses, Labor has been hard at work announcing significant infrastructure projects that will create thousands of jobs and truly benefit the regions.

People in Caboolture, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville are not interested in the private lives of members of parliament, I can tell you that. They're not interested in the coalition's continual infighting; they're simply interested in jobs. The people in the regions want to know that decent and secure work is available to them, where they're renumerated fairly and the EBA agreed to by their employer isn't thrown out the window just for the sake of switching to a dodgy labour-hire company. That's what they want. Wherever possible they want to know that their jobs will benefit their community, not the interests of some huge foreign business.

The member for Herbert and I have been continually standing up for our regions in parliament. We've been holding the government to account and calling on them to support Queensland's regions. This is unlike government members in the regions, like the member for Dawson or the member for Capricornia. The member for Dawson knows just how badly the Liberals have been treating Queensland. He has threatened to cross the floor a number of times but in the end always votes with the Liberals to benefit big businesses. Instead of doing any meaningful work to strengthen Queensland, he has been doing a photo shoot that makes light of the recent gun violence, and I think that's absolutely appalling.

As I mentioned before, what I've heard from people all over Australia in my role as the chair of the Australian Jobs Taskforce is that they feel that they've been let down by the government. Instead of listening to them, the only discussions that the government have been involved in have been in the shadows, in corporate boardrooms, hidden away from average, hardworking Australian people. I've heard this wherever I've gone right across the country. What I also hear is hope—hope that at the next election Australians will vote in a government that cares. The Australian voters will take a really good, hard look at the ballot paper and know that when they put pen to paper only Labor will stand up for the regions, for jobs and for hardworking Australians.