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Wednesday, 10 February 2010
Page: 1118

Mr NEUMANN (12:25 PM) —I rise to speak in support of the Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2009-2010 and the Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2009-2010. In the time allotted to me I intend to speak about what the Rudd government is doing in terms of local and regional community infrastructure in my electorate of Blair, and also what we are doing in terms of infrastructure relating to school funding. This nation building goes hand-in-glove with supporting jobs and getting us through the global recession, and this is particularly important in South-East Queensland. I have lived in Ipswich all my life, and my family has lived for many generations in the area I have the honour to represent. The Ipswich and West Moreton area is the fastest-growing region in South-East Queensland, which is the fastest-growing area in Australia.

Apart from Ipswich, there are regional council areas to the north, the north-west, the west and the south—Somerset, the Lockyer Valley and the Fassifern Valley. These regions include Hattonvale, Glenore Grove, Fernvale and rural communities such as Boonah. These are extraordinarily fast-growing regions, with people moving there from overseas and interstate. But these councils face the challenge of council amalgamations. The Somerset region is a new council, formed from Esk and Kilcoy. The Lockyer Valley Council was formed from Gatton and Laidley. The Scenic Rim Council is an amalgam of the Beaudesert Shire, the Boonah Shire and part of Logan City. These councils face infrastructure challenges, which are so important. They face the challenge of getting these communities together to form the kind of community life which is necessary. Areas such as Boonah and Kalbar have not always seen eye-to-eye on issues. Accordingly, the Scenic Rim Council has challenges. Gatton and Laidley have had a friendly rivalry for a long time, as have Tagoolawah and Esk. Putting people together and building a sense of community is important. This is why the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure Program is so important. The appropriations bills deal with this sort of funding.

The Intergenerational report just released by the Treasurer makes it clear that Australia faces substantial change in the next 40 years. We need to lift our productivity by investing in skills and giving our young people every opportunity. But we need to invest in infrastructure as well. The Building the Education Revolution funding is critical to ensuring that our young people have 21st-century libraries. I went to Ipswich East State Primary School for seven years. It was across the road from me. We did not have the kinds of library facilities which I hope will be provided under the BER across so many schools in the Blair electorate.

The infrastructure funding in my area was sadly neglected under the Howard coalition government. The best example of that was the Ipswich Motorway, the most important arterial road in South-East Queensland, linking the rural areas of Ipswich and Toowoomba to Brisbane. The Rudd government is putting $2.5 billion into the Ipswich Motorway, upgrading it, making it six lanes and also improving the service road and bikeways which are so important for community life along that western corridor.

What the government is doing in facing the economic challenges that confront it is critical to the people who live in the western corridor south-west of Brisbane and the rural areas outside. If we want to build a strong future for the fastest-growing region in South-East Queensland, we need to make sure that we increase the funding for it. Within the boundaries that the Blair electorate had in the 2007 election, the BER funding is providing 313 projects, totalling about $124 million across 85 schools. There are literally thousands of people who have jobs and are keeping jobs by reason of that funding.

The Somerset Regional Council—which has been added to the Blair electorate for the next election, as it lost Fassifern and Lockyer—is receiving, across 28 projects in 18 schools, $20.8 million in BER funding. I have spoken to a number of the school principals in the Somerset region. Recently I had the privilege of talking to David Raine, the principal at Fernvale State School, inspecting the school and looking at the infrastructure funding there for the multipurpose hall and the new library. David has been at that school for about 10 years, and he said how wonderful the school funding is. I also spoke to Ray Maddison, who has been the principal at Kilcoy State School for a long time as well, and Ross Robertson, the principal at Kilcoy State High School, about the BER funding in those schools. Each of those men, who have been at those schools for a long time, spoke about the importance of not just supporting local jobs but giving the young people in those areas every opportunity. Whether they live in Kilcoy, Fernvale, Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane, those young people should have every opportunity in life.

We are also partnering with local councils, because local councils are at the coalface of our communities. The Australian Local Government Association says there are about 6,600 elected councillors in Australia. There are many hundreds of councils across our continent. They provide very important infrastructure: social and community infrastructure, town halls, community centres, libraries, public squares, sporting and recreational facilities, walking tracks, playgrounds, tourism infrastructure, footbridges, bus shelters—you name it, they provide it. In our community infrastructure funding, we are giving those councils the money they need to provide for the community life in those regional and rural townships west of Ipswich and in Ipswich itself. We have provided record amounts of money for those councils.

In the general purpose and local road financial assistance funding for the 2009-10 year, the cash payment made, for example, to Ipswich City Council was just over $5.6 million. In the Lockyer Valley, it was just over $2.9 million. For the Scenic Rim Regional Council, it was just over $3.2 million, and for Somerset it was just over $3 million. For each of those councils, this is a record amount of money for general purpose funding and funding for local roads. If you travel on those roads in the rural areas outside Ipswich, you know how important that is. I have spoken to Councillor David Pahlke, whose rural division makes up much of the rural areas of Ipswich, about the importance of road funding in those rural areas of Ipswich city itself.

Partnering with local councils has made a big difference in my area. For example, for many years a lot of people have campaigned hard for the construction of a hydrotherapy centre in Boonah, and I pay tribute to the many people who have campaigned so hard and long and who have recently received plaudits from the local council and the local community. The Boonah Shire Disability Support Group, ably led by Natalie McDonald and her husband Kevin, has done great work in partnership with the Rotary Club and the Lions Club of Boonah, working hard to ensure that funding has been given for the construction of the Scenic Rim health and hydrotherapy centre. On 17 May 2009 I had the privilege to do a sod turning with the Scenic Rim mayor, John Brent. I commended the council for putting federal government money to the tune of $480,000—out of the $667,000 given to the council—to that project. This is important community infrastructure, providing jobs in the local area and also tending the health and fitness levels of the area.

We have provided an enormous amount of money to the Lockyer Valley Regional Council area, and the council, to its credit, has put that money into upgrading things like the Lions park at Laidley, the streetscape enhancement for Patrick Street in the middle of Laidley, the Lake Apex playground equipment which the children will benefit from in Gatton and the upgrade of the of the Laidley skate bowl. It is very interesting to see young people across the region using those skate bowls and skate ways to get away from committing acts of vandalism and violence. It is important to provide barbecues and better parks, better shelter for people as they wait for a bus—such as in Winwill in the Lockyer Valley—and to refurbish our parks. This is what the council has done with the federal government money in the Lockyer Valley. I have spoken to mayor Steve Jones and been told that that is what they have done in the past and that is what they will do with the most recent funding.

The Ipswich City Council has put money into many projects with the federal government money. On 16 December 2009 I, with Ipswich mayor Paul Pisasale, was pleased to launch the Terrace Sails, a cafeteria at the Ipswich Civic Centre. The federal government is providing money to help the Ipswich City Council undertake the refurbishment and redevelopment of Ipswich CBD, and, to the credit of the council, they put money towards this project. There was also a canteen opened there. The Ipswich Civic Centre was officially opened in 1975 by then Labor Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. Since that time the facility has become more than a hall; it has become a premier entertainment venue, not just for shows but for eisteddfods, for weddings and for ceremonies—and I have attended many citizenship ceremonies in that locality. I am pleased that the council has undertaken to use some of that money that we gave for community infrastructure, totalling $921,000, towards that project. In fact, the council put $336,500 towards that outdoor area and the Terrace Sails cafe.

There are many other projects the council undertook with federal government money in partnership, such as the disability access footpath in Canning Street in Ipswich, curbing and channelling in Redbank Plains, the construction of an ecofriendly public toilet in Springdale Park, improved disability access in Barkell Street and the Cobb and Co display at Rosewood Community Park, which is another great project. All these projects are important for community infrastructure, for the lifestyle and livelihood of the people of the Ipswich and West Moreton area. But none of it—not one cent of it—could have been done without the support of the Rudd Labor government.

It is a shame, and it is to the discredit of the opposition that they have opposed funding and the Nation Building Economic Stimulus Plan which is so vital to the Ipswich and West Moreton area. The funding here has made a difference and will continue to make a difference in Ipswich and the rural areas outside. I just cannot understand why those opposite oppose the economic and infrastructure stimulus. Dozens of people have come and told me that it has been important for their areas. A number of school P&Cs have spoken to me about why the nation-building funding was important. For example, Craig Isaacs, who is the president of Immaculate Heart School P&F Association, a great little school in the Ipswich area, has told me:

My children attend Immaculate Heart Primary. As a parent and current President of the P & F … I am pleased to see the government improving our schools’ infrastructure, benefiting the economy and investing in our children’s future.

Julie Jackson, the Vice President at Boonah State School P&C Association, says:

The federal government investment in our school has been enormous. As a parent I am thrilled to see the improvements underway. This is a great investment in my children’s future and the entire community will be able to benefit from the new facilities now and into the future.

Troy Barton, President of Riverview State School P&C Association, says:

Construction is well under way at our school thanks to the BER … building programs and our school is getting a much needed face lift. The outdoor learning centre and the new hall will be valuable assets that we believe the whole community can benefit from.

Councillor Andrew Antoniolli, who happens to be the councillor in Ipswich City Council for the CBD, who also is the President of St Joseph’s Primary School P&F Association, says:

Our children have been going to St Joseph’s since 2000. As a parent it’s great to see this investment in their school. The new classrooms and library will greatly improve the learning environment and benefit the entire school community. It’s an investment for the future and good news for Ipswich.

Indeed, the nation-building plan and the economic stimulus we have given Ipswich and West Moreton area, is good news—as Councillor Antoniolli says—because it makes a difference. Those practical things do make a difference.

I want to finish in the time that remains by talking about some community infrastructure we have put into the Somerset region. I was very happy to be at the Australia Day awards in Esk recently and see the enthusiasm on the young people’s faces as they were competing in the skate park competition. Around $120,000 of federal government money went into the construction of the skate park just opposite the Somerset Regional Council headquarters. Every single time I have been in Esk I have seen young people at the skate park. They absolutely love it. I have to confess that there is a picture in a few local newspapers of me on a skateboard, which caused great merriment in my household, with my daughters. It is a great community facility. The Esk fitness trail was constructed for $167,560. I admit that council workers were using that fitness trail in a sort of ‘Life. Be in it’ campaign. They were encouraging Mayor Graham Lehman to also get involved. This is a gravel surface walking trail on Sandy Creek in Esk. It is important.

Recently I was also in Fernvale, where the Campdraft Park amenities block was opened by Senator Mark Furner and myself. That was the construction of a 65-square-metre facility containing showers and toilets. This is important for tourism as well as for the pony club. Finally, there is the $2.1 million that the Rudd Labor government is investing in the indoor sports centre.

But there is another important piece of funding for regional and community infrastructure, and that is the $10 million that the Rudd Labor government is giving to Ipswich city for the Springfield Central Parklands. Recently the first stage was opened by Premier Anna Bligh; Ipswich Mayor Paul Pisasale was there, as were a number of other people. I want to congratulate Springfield Land Corporation, particularly Maha Sinnathamby and Bob Sharpless, and to acknowledge that Bob and his wife were also specially mentioned on the day and that they have had the first stage named after them.

This important community infrastructure will make a big difference in the election of Blair and the whole western corridor. It is the Rudd Labor government which is making a difference. But, sadly, by indolence, by idleness and by ignorance, those opposite have failed community infrastructure. And, sadly, they have voted against the very infrastructure which I have described in detail today.