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Thursday, 20 September 2012
Page: 7529

Senator POLLEY (TasmaniaDeputy Government Whip in the Senate) (15:19): I say from the outset that I do not usually like to comment on what those opposite say, but Senator Williams has given me the opportunity. I think it is amazing that he would talk about what has happened in the past in Queensland when his own colleagues in the coalition, with Campbell Newman, are setting a world record in total destruction of the public service in Queensland, cutting the services of those most vulnerable in the Queensland community. He comes in here to talk about what has happened with the economy in the past in Queensland when those opposite do nothing but talk down the Australian economy. We on this side and, more importantly, the Australian community know that the Australian economy is very strong. We were the government that guided the Australian community through the worst global financial crisis in my lifetime—and even before that, believe it or not. The people of Queensland put their faith in Campbell Newman, as misguided as that has turned out to be, and what has he done? He has used every trick in the book to distract from the ruthless budget cuts that he is making to the most vulnerable in Queensland.

But let's talk about the positive things that are happening. We want to talk about what is happening with the economy and the investment in the resource areas of gas, oil and minerals. We know that there has been an increase of some 34 per cent into the mining industry alone. We know that since 2007, when the Labor government came into power, there has been a massive $919 billion of private business investment despite the global financial crisis. But, when we talk about the economy and those opposite try to paint the Labor Party as a government that has been unable to manage the economy, I think we need to look again. When Mr Abbott, the leader of those opposite, does nothing but have a negative policy and lead a party that is talking down the Australian economy, if there is concern in the economy, it is brought about because of the negativity of those opposite. We do not hear about the black hole in excess of $70 billion of those opposite. One hopes that the media will at some stage scrutinise their policies. One hopes they will answer and allow the community to know how they are going to fund any policies of any substance they come up with going forward.

I think we also need to talk about housing. I thought it was quite interesting that those opposite would want to talk about housing. Mr Deputy Speaker, I can give you some facts in relation to what is happening there. But before I move onto that, I want to say that those opposite spent 11½ very long years in government and at no time did they have a housing minister. The only reason that they have a spokesperson for housing now is that the Rudd Labor government and the Gillard Labor government put homelessness on the political agenda in this country. Time and time again, those opposite come into this chamber and want to rewrite history, whether you talk about homelessness, whether you talk about aged care or whether you talk about health. We know on this side and, more importantly, as I said earlier, the Australian community understand that we actually do have policies to provide housing for the most vulnerable in our community. We have taken on the plight of homeless people, whether they are individuals or families. We recognise, too, that unfortunately in this country there is a growing incidence of homeless women—women whose relationships have broken down or who have not had access to superannuation. I might add that at every turn those opposite oppose anything when it comes to superannuation and looking after those most vulnerable.

I put on the record that, on 30 June 2012, the Minister for Housing and Homelessness announced that 16 projects worth $112 million had been approved for funding under the Building Better Regional Cities program. Some of the projects being funded are in New South Wales, in places like Lake Macquarie, Lismore, Maitland, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Tweed Heads and Wagga Wagga. If we go to Victoria, there are projects in Bendigo, Shepparton and Warrnambool. There are also projects in Western Australia. We will put our record up against yours— (Time expired)