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Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Page: 4617

Mr RICK WILSON (O'Connor) (16:20): It's my lucky day today, not only to be able to contribute to this debate on the member for Rankin's matter of public importance but also to follow the member for Macnamara, who's made a couple of extraordinary statements through his contribution, one of them being that the member for Rankin, had he been the Treasurer, would have acted months before the coronavirus. Well, we'll never know whether the member for Rankin had some sort of crystal ball, but we do know that he would have been busy implementing his $370 billion worth of new taxes. That's what he would have been doing. We know that. We know he would have been dismantling negative gearing. Imagine how that would be impacting the construction industry at the moment. So we do know a couple of things that the member for Rankin might have been doing, had the disaster occurred of a Labor government being elected last 18 May. But fortunately that didn't happen.

I think it's worth taking a moment to reflect on those very dark days at the end of March, when the national cabinet were meeting at least every couple of days and the Prime Minister was holding a press conference at the end of those meetings to inform the nation of the decisions that were being made. We heard of businesses being forced to close and the job losses that were coming. Obviously the health crisis was paramount at that point in time, but the Prime Minister also made it very clear that, at the same time, we had an economic crisis coming towards us.

One of the things that gave me and, I'm sure, many Australians who were watching those early press conferences great heart and confidence was that, when the Prime Minister was asked about what he considered was an essential job, he said, 'Every job's an essential job.' Every job is an essential job. I've spoken in this place previously to acknowledge and thank some of the people who kept working through those dark days—the people who work in supermarkets, serving customers and stacking the shelves, and the truckies delivering those goods. Through those dark days, they were still turning up to work. They were fronting the public and taking the risk, and they deserve enormous credit for that.

As that economic crisis started to unfold, the government announced the JobKeeper program, and immediately afterwards I had a phone call from a very good friend of mine who owns a car dealership and employs 61 people, including six apprentices. She said to me: 'This is a lifesaver. This is going to save my business and it's going to save those 61 jobs.' And that was repeated 4,100 times across the electorate of O'Connor—4,100 businesses and individuals accessed that support. I happen to know that that dealership is now back on its feet and, if not running at full capacity, then certainly, in the lead-up to the end of the financial year, getting a lot of interest in new vehicles. That's partly because of the $150,000 instant asset write-off—another initiative of the government to boost the economy and part of our plan to get businesses back on their feet and people back in jobs.

So that's the impact of the JobKeeper program. As part of the government's plan to reinvigorate the economy, we stand firm for the electorate of O'Connor. And the mining sector across my electorate never faltered. Every year it produces over $10 billion of income for our nation—it was $11.4 billion in the past financial year. And there are plenty of projects that are ready to go that just need their approvals. I note that the assistant minister who is assisting the Prime Minister with deregulation is here in the chamber this afternoon, and I know that part of the government's agenda and its plan going forward is to make those approvals quicker and simpler so that we can get those projects up and running and producing income for this nation.

The other sector across my electorate which hasn't faltered, is standing firm and will produce income and revenue for this nation going forward is the agriculture sector. Our grain exports, our meat exports and our wool exports will carry this nation forward. I've got to say, I was very, very pleased to hear today that the live export ship the Al Kuwait is loading at the moment and will be on its way to Kuwait shortly. (Time expired)