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Thursday, 24 February 2011
Page: 1482

Mr SIDEBOTTOM (11:18 AM) —I just remind the member for Wannon, after listening to you discussing exceptions rather than the rules, ‘I’d rather be negative than positive,’ and then reading the rest of your speech as a template prescribed by your party for presentation in both chambers, that not only do you not have a sense of history, my friend, but you have a selective memory and, in some cases, you have got total amnesia. First and foremost, I have listened to the mob on the other side trot this stuff out day in and day out as if, in the historical context, we have never faced a global financial crisis: we didn’t face it, it didn’t happen, and so any measures that we put in place were not necessary and did not help. But, of course, they know deep down that that is absolute rubbish. It did occur. We acted and—I see he is being fed lines now by his colleague. He couldn’t dream something up himself!

Mr Tehan —Madam Deputy Speaker, I seek to intervene.

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —No, you can’t. Sit down. I will be using my time, thanks.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms K Livermore)—Is the member for Braddon willing to give way?

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —No, I do not accept his question.

Mr Tehan —I rise, then, on a point of order, Madam Deputy Speaker. I wanted to remind my dear friend opposite that we went through the Asian financial crisis.

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —What is the point of order?

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —There is no point of order. I remind the member for Wannon that he was heard in silence in the chamber. I ask that he pay the same courtesy to his colleagues.

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —Indeed. I do thank the former government for trying to tackle the Asian financial crisis. But I would remind those opposite—before the member for Wannon rushes out of the chamber because he does not want to hear the truth—that we went through a financial crisis, we acted and this country stands in a much better position now than just about any other comparable country and economy.

Dr Jensen —Four people died as a result of that program.

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —You do not like hearing it. You would rather come out with the exceptions rather than the rule. Okay, there were issues in some of the programs. We understand that, but, I tell you what, many, many thousands of people got home insulation and it is safely installed and they are happy about that. If you want to tell me that all your schools in Wannon do not accept their BER projects as being important and greatly needed, then I will fly—and you know it! Yet they trot this rubbish out each time. I just want to remind them. I would like also to remind those opposite, particularly the member for Wannon, as he is rushing out the door, that this opposition’s record in terms of financial responsibility is appalling. In the last election—quickly forgotten by all those opposite—there was an $11 billion gaping, thumping, monstrous black hole! They don’t want to know about it.

Dr Jensen —What about your costings on the resource tax?

Mr SIDEBOTTOM —Here we go! Of course you can try and talk over the top, friend, but that just exactly indicates that you do not want to hear the truth—as is the case with the member for Tangney most times, because he likes to be a contrarian. We all know what that means.

The so-called cuts, the savings, that you were going to propose in a bipartisan way for the reconstruction levy—blow-out after blow-out and you know it. You are even double-counting half the time. Of course you cannot explain it. You have got Joe Hockey trying to explain one thing and Andrew Robb trying to explain another. Tony Abbott has gone completely silent. I do not know what has happened. It must be the continuation of that interview on the television! Just a nod, nod and a stare. ‘I don’t want to know anymore,’ he says.

Anyway, we know about the mob opposite. I would like to talk about some good news, and that, Madam Deputy Speaker—as no doubt you have given me some leeway there—is in Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2010-2011 and Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2010-2011. These appropriation bills will be dealing with $2.3 billion worth of appropriations for a number of fantastic programs, many of which actually affect my electorate. That is what I would like to concentrate on if I may.

First and foremost, part and parcel of the appropriation was $22.4 million to assist Tasmanian forestry contractors and employees respond to the challenges now facing the Tasmanian native forest industry. They are considerable. There is massive restructuring required in Tassie. I do thank all those that have sat down—many of them opponents, traditionally—to try to nut out a statement of principles to take that industry forward into the future. They have shown terrific courage and leadership, all of them, and I do thank them. I really hope that these guiding principles are able to restructure the industry into the future.

This appropriation delivered on our election commitment to respond to these challenges. We committed a $20 million package during the federal election, and more recently the government announced that it would increase the size of the package by more than 10 per cent to $22.4 million. We have delivered on that promise and that process is now well underway. Hopefully, those people chosen from the application round will benefit from this and we will be able to restructure the industry to have a sustainable future.

Another appropriation is $69.8 million brought forward from 2011-12 for DEEWR to meet contractual commitments for projects relating to the non-government schools component of the Building the Education Revolution which have been completed earlier than expected. Only last Friday I was able to open the Peter Chanel Centre at Marist Regional College, which is a new science and language complex. It has a fantastic design and is very student oriented, very community connected. I want to congratulate Sue Chen and the Marist College on a fantastic project. It joins many other projects in my electorate. Indeed, in my 63 schools there have been something like 95 BER projects and nearly $100 million worth of investment. It is fantastic, as it is throughout this country. I know community after community and school after school have benefited greatly from it. It was part and parcel of the jobs stimulus, and as a result many people were employed and jobs sustained because of the BER. Congratulations to all those involved.

I also notice there is $48.3 million, representing a reappropriation of amounts from the last financial year, for the non-government schools component in this instance, for trades training centres. What a fantastic program that is. In my electorate we have been very fortunate. We have a trades training centre already up and running at St Brendan-Shaw College. The latest one has just been announced at Marist College and I have two trades training centres in the Circular Head region, in Circular Head Christian School and Smithton High School, which has a year 11 and 12 annexe as well. Congratulations to all those people. Of course, these trades training centres will allow people to start to develop their skills earlier on and it will help build up our skills capacity for the future.

I will turn to some of the other appropriations which are so important and which will benefit every electorate. There is an additional $14.6 million to double the capacity of the Connecting People with Jobs relocation assistance pilot program to up to 4,000 places. I notice, Madam Deputy Speaker Livermore, and it is of course relevant to you and your area—and I commiserate with you on the damage that was caused there and I hope things are beginning to get underway and get back to normal again—a primary focus of the program will be to assist eligible unemployed Australians to relocate to Queensland to take up employment opportunities in flood affected areas. I also note the Attorney-General’s Department will provide $120.8 million to assist people in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia who have been adversely affected by the floods which began in late November 2010 and which have unfortunately been rolling out right through to the present. Tasmania has been included in that and, subsequently, areas affected by Cyclone Yasi.

There are other appropriations, and this one is very dear to my heart, as I am sure it is to many members. The Australian Sports Commission will be provided with $21.6 million to continue the Active After-School Communities program until December 2011. Madam Deputy Speaker, I think you actually spoke in parliament on this program. This is a wonderful program in my local area. Just to remind members, in Tassie they run 90 sites and, in my electorate, 20 sites. They are in places such as Sheffield, Latrobe, Devonport, Spreyton, Ulverstone, Riana, Burnie, Somerset, Wynyard, Smithton, Stanley and Strahan, to name just some of those important sites. Each child participating receives up to 80 free sports sessions, 80 free healthy afternoon snacks—I tried one of those; they were very good—and free access to a qualified coach and sports equipment in a supervised environment. That all adds up to a lot of fun and some healthy living and eating. Over 2,500 children participate state-wide in Tassie in 40 different sports. There is an amazing array of sports.

In term 3 of last year local coach Leanne Bissett was presented with a Tasmanian 5 Star Community Coach Award in recognition for outstanding coaching provided to children in the AASC program on the north-west coast of Tassie. Leanne works as a part-time development officer in north-west Tassie for Hockey Tasmania, so having her involved in the program gives the opportunity to create excellent pathways for children to move from the AASC program at schools into hockey clubs and associations. It is a fantastic program. I thank the Minister for Sport for extending the funding and I, along with no doubt lots of my colleagues, will be advocating that that funding be extended well beyond 2011. I thank all of those who have participated in the program.

Another area of appropriation that is very important—I moved a motion on this in this House, with the support as well of colleagues on the other side—concerns the provision to AusAID of $129.2 million for, amongst other things, contributions to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and to maintain Australia’s share in the International Development Association. Importantly, $20 million will be contributed to the global fund. This is part of a new $210 million commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, between 2011 and 2013, in support of the fund’s critical role in tackling these three deadly diseases. Every one of them is preventable and it is cheap to prevent them. So, with a lot of international goodwill and Australia playing its part in trying to tackle these preventable diseases, we can certainly help the lives of individuals and communities. But most importantly we are tackling poverty, which is at the essence of national and international security. If we can tackle poverty then we can genuinely and practically improve the lifestyle and life prospects of individuals. I know that that view is shared by all members whom I know in this House. I thank the government for the continuation of its support for the program.

I will finish with appropriations in relation to regional Australia, regional development and local government. There is an amount of $5.9 million to strengthen local engagement and improve whole-of-government coordination of policy for regional Australia. That is a really important initiative of this government. I look forward to the Department of Regional Australia, Regional Development and Local Government continuing to evolve its role, particularly working with Regional Development Australia as they continue to roll out their channelling and facilitation role. I look forward particularly to working with the Tasmanian group of Regional Development Australia.

The government will also provide an additional $100 million as part of the government’s partnership with local government. They are very important partnerships. Importantly, the government will also provide $30 million, which is a re-appropriation from 2009-10, to meet project commitments under the Regional and Local Community Infrastructure program, many of which fortunately found their way into my electorate. They have really helped to improve community capacity and the creation of many new facilities. It is so important to our local communities. I thank all those involved in local government. They play a terrific role and I look forward to their constitutional recognition in the future.