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Wednesday, 1 June 2005
Page: 203

Miss JACKIE KELLY (4:43 PM) —The member for Swan joins all those opposite in saying how he would spend the surplus. If they had been in government for the last 10 years, there would not be one. They would be scrabbling around having interviews with Middle Eastern money men, looking for some way of meeting expenditure. They would be grossly overspent. They are the ones that hollowed out the logs. They sold Qantas, they sold the Commonwealth Bank, they sold CSL and they want to come in here bleating about the sale of Telstra. If the member for Swan had represented his constituent in that Telstra matter, he would have gone straight to the telecommunications ombudsman and had it fixed immediately and had her returned to her situation prior to taking up Telstra’s offer or got Telstra to deliver.

All of this reform of the regulatory environment of telecommunications has come about since Telstra has been partially privatised. When they owned Telstra and were running it, there was no telecommunications ombudsman to complain to. It was an appalling service. Everyone agreed about that. It was absolutely shocking, and there was nothing you could do about it. Now we have a responsive telecommunications giant. There are still some issues but, partially sold, it is a heck of a lot better than it was. Just imagine what it could be like if it were fully sold.

The member for Swan then continued to slur my good colleagues in the Nationals about their Roads for Recovery—the programs that they support that deliver infrastructure into the bush. Maybe that is the reason the coalition actually took seats in Western Australia—Hasluck and Stirling were returned to the government. If the ALP’s representation of the rural constituency is so great, where are the extra seats for the ALP in this parliament? Our Nationals colleagues, compared to the ALP, are expert rural representatives. They do a great job representing the bush and its interests against the state governments that universally ignore their issues and do not deliver the infrastructure they need. The response to AusLink—a very responsible national program about connecting our capitals and dealing holistically with the transport of goods and people around this country—basically ended up being Labor councils and Labor states squeaking out for federal funding for what are basically local government roads and state infrastructure.  For goodness sake: not only do we have to fix all the major issues like industrial relations reform, waterfront reform and tax reform; now the state governments are calling on us to fix their hospitals, their roads, their police forces and their schools. The list is endless. Surely, if we were doing such a bad job at the federal level, the ALP would have picked up a few more seats in Western Australia, rather than having Stirling and Hasluck returned to the coalition.

Quite clear from the member for Swan’s speech is the fact that the opposition is about axing the Roads to Recovery program. It is about squandering any surplus in incredible ways. Where are the moneys they got from the sale of the CSL laboratories, Qantas and the Commonwealth Bank? This is the same party that rolled over DFRDB contributions of members and government into consolidated revenue. Now, when the members of our military forces come to call on their pensions—and eventually this pension fund will have as much money exiting it as entering it—they will find that there is no DFRDB fund to finance that liability. Those opposite want to say, ‘That is all right. The current taxpayer can do that. We do not need a future fund. Let us blow this future fund on a whole bunch of things that the state and local governments should be doing but, because of their economic responsibilities, are not doing.’

The member for Swan was talking about the Nationals’ support for our Deputy Prime Minister. The backbench of the ALP, behind the Leader of the Opposition at question time, is the most enervated, bored, restless, unmotivated group of individuals in any parliament anywhere in Australia. They are totally used to opposition. They totally lack ideas. They have nothing but a mantra of ‘Sixty-five dollars is too much for politicians but $40 is okay.’ If they really object to this tax cut for higher income earners, then they should negate the lot. They should have the courage of their convictions and say so.

The taxpayer is not buying Labor’s fiddling with the fringes. They understand that this government has consistently delivered tax cuts to the vast majority of Australians over the last 10 years. They understand that we stand for tax cuts. The message that they are getting from the ALP through its opposition to these bills is that the ALP stands for high taxes and huge expenditure. They do not see the benefit of that. Just look at the New South Wales state government’s budget, introduced a week after the introduction of this budget into the House. Clearly people can see that Labor governments take money from the taxpayer and we return it.

This 2005-06 set of budget bills builds on nine years of strong economic performance. We have had strong growth, low interest rates for home owners, record low unemployment and more incentives for people to benefit from our economy and contribute to our society. This budget now focuses on returning people to the work force. It addresses trade shortages. It seeks to improve parenting in separating couples, with a focus more on their children and a parenting plan rather than on the issues that that couple may have with each other. It delivers targeted funding to two of the most mysterious and devastating diseases in our population: dementia and cancer.

It also delivers on my election promise of $7 million for a library at UWS at Kingswood, for which I have received a thank you letter from my vice-chancellor, Janice Reid, which I appreciate. I hope this library will improve the experience of learning for students at the Western Sydney campus. It is particularly important that we have the types of resources that Sydney and New South Wales universities do. I am known to be a strong critic of UWS, but that is because I want it to be one of the sandstone eight. My vision for University of Western Sydney is a premier university, a university that will be top of the pick no matter what for every student in Western Sydney. It should not be a university of which students think, ‘If I don’t get the TER to get into New South Wales, Macquarie or Sydney, I will go to Western Sydney.’ It is not acceptable. It is the only university in Western Sydney, for two million people in Sydney. It needs to start lifting its game and delivering to the section of people that it represents. It is far easier for students to stay at home in Western Sydney and go to university than try and attend one of the other universities where they have to make living arrangements away from home.

The other election promise that I have delivered on in this budget is $10 million for the Panthers stadium. While that stadium will predominantly still be for league, the new surface will mean that other sports, such as soccer, union and hockey, and non-sporting events, such as showjumping for horses, gymnastics and festivals, can all be held in that stadium with increased sitting capacity. The western grandstand will be upgraded to include an extra 2,500 undercover seats, and the corporate facilities will be upgraded to include an additional 300 seats, which will bring additional opportunities for sponsorship to the various sports. I understand Panthers have recently chosen the architect and that work will begin at the end of the league season this year in September. The work should be completed by June next year. I understand the NRL has agreed to a delayed series of games for the Panthers next year so that Panthers will get its fair share of home games in the new stadium when that facility is ready at the end of next season. I fully supported the Panthers submission by lobbying the Prime Minister and the Minister for the Arts and Sport to provide those funds. It is a project that the club has been working on for many years. Full credit to them for achieving that goal.

I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the great contribution of Roger Cowan, the CEO of Panthers for the last 30 years, who is retiring. He has a life of extraordinary achievement with Panthers. He has brought a number of facilities—sporting, cultural and otherwise—and forms of entertainment to Penrith at a time when the private sector failed to deliver to the citizens of Penrith. Roger did nothing that was not allowed within the clubs act. If the New South Wales government want to destroy the club industry, do not take it out on Roger and Panthers. Regulate appropriately if you do not feel that it is appropriate for the club industry to extend itself with Panthers. I would like to remind everyone that Roger at all times saved clubs that were going into receivership and closing. At no time did Panthers take over a club that was already financial and that was not asking for assistance from Panthers. We have rescued a number of clubs that would otherwise have closed.

If the state government has issues with that, there are other ways of dealing with it rather than opening up pokies into the hotels sector and populating gaming throughout an industry in the private sector. For all of the tragedy and social ills that gaming causes, it has no returns to society. The club movement was, I think, an excellent and admirable worldwide example of how to control and contain gaming and to deliver some great outcomes for the community. I think that the state government could have worked better with the clubs industry for other outcomes rather than set about dismantling the clubs industry by arduous taxation, targeted inquiries and increasing competition in the private sector with the hotels. Roger has seen the club industry through some very hard and challenging times. I wish him the best in retirement. I know he and his wife will retire in our local area and will be active in a number of things in our local community. I wish them all the best and acknowledge the great job they have done.

Mr Neville —All the best in the west.

Miss JACKIE KELLY —I wish them all the best in the west, and I acknowledge the great job that Roger has done for our community.

This budget also saw the setting aside of $8 million over four years for the National Community Crime Prevention Program in Western Sydney. The centrepiece of this initiative is a national community grants program, providing funds for grassroots projects, designed to enhance community safety and crime prevention by preventing or reducing crime and antisocial behaviour, improving community safety and security and reducing citizens’ fear of crime. I believe the closing date for the first round of grants in the Western Sydney program was 29 April. I hope that many community groups I approached did put their applications in and will be soon benefiting from those grants.

The other election promise I made was the offer of $1.1 million for a vermin proof fence on the ADI site. I am very concerned that the New South Wales government has failed to take up this offer. I received a letter from the New South Wales Minister for Environment, Bob Debus, proposing a macrofauna fence to restrict the movement of dogs and foxes. A macrofauna fence does not gel with all the environmental issues we looked at in that parkland and all the environmental issues that the residents’ action group fought hard to deal with. There is no point having parkland in the middle of what is essentially an urban area without a vermin proof fence. There are houses all around that ADI site. The reason it is in such pristine condition is that it has been fenced, and once further housing encroaches on that site it really will need a vermin proof fence that will prevent cats, particularly feral cats, and other introduced species from harming the flora and fauna, particularly the bird life. If we can get the Cumberland Plain forests back to their pristine condition, the bird life that goes with that community should come back too. That will only be possible if their nesting areas are preserved from cats and whatnot. In that way a vermin proof fence that goes two feet underground and has wires and barbed wire at the top, to stop that entry, is critical for preserving that site, for all the reasons that we fought so hard to preserve it.

It does not appear that the fence is in any way included in the plan of management. The last meeting of this plan of management is tomorrow night and so far nothing has come out of it to indicate that the state government is taking the R and E values of the site seriously. They are really not protecting the Cumberland Plain woodland and the flora and fauna on that site. Again we are relying on the state government to pick up where the federal government has left off, and again we are sorely disappointed.

The state government has also failed the people of Lindsay by so far refusing to provide an after-hours clinic at the Nepean Hospital. This is something that I lobbied to have in this year’s budget, but it is not accounted for in this year’s budget because the state government has so far failed to say where this clinic could go.

In their budget, the Carr government budgeted $900 million in extra funding for hospitals but half of that would have had to have been spent anyway to cover wage increases for existing staff under new awards. So for $900 million we are not getting any more staff; we are just getting an increase in the pay of existing staff. With the extra 4,000 patients admitted to emergency wards across the state this year—and that figure is quite consistent with expectations: you can imagine that emergency wards would see more and more people each year; that is a natural normal increase—the remaining money will barely cover increasing admissions and administration costs, let alone improving existing services at the Nepean Hospital.

When the Carr government introduced the pokies tax, they ran around quickly—not at the time they introduced it but two weeks later—and said, ‘We will spend all this pokies tax on our hospitals.’ I do not see that, I do not see anything in the state budget that remotely says there is an increase equivalent to the pokies tax revenue going to our hospitals for improved services and new services and more staff and more beds. There is nothing in this budget except normal increases, which any responsible state government would have had to fund. There is no real increase at all.

In August the federal government offered the New South Wales government the opportunity to establish an after-hours GP clinic located near the emergency ward of the Nepean Hospital to take some of the heat out of the emergency centre, which gets quite busy. We have seen a number of cases recently where Western Sydney hospitals have been on code red and patients have travelled many miles to be treated. Again, no effort has been made to take up this offer.

This budget has also established some health priorities, namely dealing with dementia and cancer. All too often we get the terrible news that someone we know has been diagnosed with cancer. It has deeply affected this side of the parliament at this time, with the death of Gary Nairn’s wife, Kerrie. Her funeral is on Friday, and I know that a number of people from this House will be attending. I believe Kerrie was diagnosed with cancer no more than five months ago. It is the number one killer of Australians. Everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.

I am proud that this government is delivering $189 million to strengthening cancer care over five years to try to lessen the impact of this devastating disease. The funding includes $4.1 million to develop and implement training courses for cancer nurses, $1 million to improve the support for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer and $4 million to improve the early detection of breast cancer. There is $17.6 million into cancer research, $21 million for cancer clinical trials, $5.5 million to establish a national research centre for asbestos related disease and $23 million to enhance palliative care programs. These are just some of the ways the money will be spent.

There is also $5.5 million to raise national awareness of skin cancer and $25 million over four years to discourage young people from taking up smoking. I am very disturbed by the fact that 25 per cent of 18- to 25-year-old females in my electorate in Western Sydney smoke—well above the national average. This campaign will be targeting those young women and the reasons they take up smoking. Through a national awareness program, this campaign will be trying to deter them from taking up smoking. In Lindsay there are about 7,000 in this age group, meaning that about 1,750 young women in Lindsay are endangering their health.

I am always disappointed to see young women smoking. I grew up in an environment where we knew that smoking kills. There were big efforts by our parents to discourage smoking. It is quite disappointing to see it on the increase in young people. As a habit smoking really does not have much going for it. It is detrimental to your health, it is expensive and there is already sufficient pollution in Western Sydney without having smoking contributing to it. It is the largest preventable cause of premature death and disease in Australia. I hope that these initiatives will have some impact on the young women in my electorate to give up smoking or to never take it up.

I commend these bills to the House. They are yet another example of good economic management and strong reinforcement from a reforming government. They are a tribute to our Treasurer and to our leader. The ALP should be ashamed of the statements that I know the members opposite will be jumping up to make about how they will spend the budget or a surplus that they seriously would not have had. They certainly did not have one in 1996. There is no state budget anywhere in Australia demonstrating a surplus. This is the only government that has consistently demonstrated a surplus. (Time expired)