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Thursday, 4 April 2019
Page: 14890


Ms BUTLER (Griffith) (16:09): It is such a pleasure to follow the member for Goldstein. I do hold him in high regard, though obviously not as high as the regard in which he holds himself. He is a fine member of the Australian parliament but one who is, sadly, quite wrong about most of the things he addresses in this place. It has also been a pleasure, of course, to listen to the other coalition speakers in this MPI debate—again, quite wrong, but somewhat entertaining.

What we have today is a genuine matter of public importance about this government's failure to have a real plan for the future of this nation. Nowhere has that been more evident than in this week's budget—the greatest con job of a budget in many, many years; a con job of a budget that seeks to tell the Australian people that this coalition government will be delivering for them, when in reality only a Labor government will deliver an economy that works for everyone.

The young people of Australia have been rightly complaining about the fact that there is very little in this budget for them. The youth unemployment rate remains in double digits, including in my own electorate, yet there is nothing from this government in terms of a vision for the future of work for young Australians. There is nothing in this budget that talks about what they're going to do in relation to this unemployment rate. Of course, they have tried to suggest that they will be promoting more apprenticeships, but the number of apprenticeships they have raised in this budget, that they have said they will promote, isn't even enough to cover the shortfall in apprenticeships that has occurred since this coalition government took office. Young Australians want to know what the government is going to do for them.

Never has the lack of a youth minister been so evident as in this week's budget. The government is forgetting young people. Young people aren't even featuring on this government's radar, and I think the young people of Australia are going to make very clear that, if the government doesn't care about them, come election day they will certainly not care about this coalition government. I certainly look forward to young Australians en masse standing up and speaking out and raising the issues that matter to them come this federal election.

Another example of the failure for young people is that there was nothing said this week in the budget about the government's failed Youth Jobs PaTH Program, a program that since its inception actually has had fewer than 4,000 young Australians go through an internship and get a job. That is 4,000 across the country. I'm not talking about in a single electorate; this is across the country. When there is 50,000 long-term unemployed young people in this country, they have every right to be disappointed in this government's failure when it comes to youth unemployment.

I wanted to say in relation to this budget and this week's demonstration of a failure of a plan that it is incredibly disappointing to see the failure to even admit the ongoing, locked-in cuts to public funding for public schools—$14 billion in cuts. That is $14 billion across this country. It is an absolute disgrace that the government is failing to reverse these cuts to public school funding. In my own electorate, no matter what school I go to, people want to see better funding for public schools. Whether it is the biggest of the public schools in my electorate, the state high school, or the smallest, they want to see much better support for schools funding, because our kids deserve a world-class education no matter what school they go to.

I am also gravely concerned about the failure of the government to address their cuts to hospital funding. In my electorate alone, there's $26.7 million in cuts to hospitals, including Princess Alexandra, the Mater Hospital and the Queensland Children's Hospital. It's not good enough. People in Queensland deserve to have hospitals funded properly. It will take a Labor government to restore the funding that the LNP has cut.

For me, the most disappointing thing out of this budget—and it is a crowded field—was the failure to commit real funding to congestion-busting infrastructure in my electorate of Griffith. There is no federal money for Cross River Rail. Yet again there is no federal money for this transformative project that is absolutely necessary to bust traffic congestion in Queensland. Labor has committed $2.2 billion of federal money to go to this project if we form government. The Deputy Premier has called for it, the Premier has called for it, and we will deliver it if we are elected come May.

I'm also gravely disappointed by the failure to commit funding to the Coorparoo-Cavendish Road level crossing removal project. They know it's important, we know it's important; why has the coalition, once again, failed to deal with this major south side traffic snarl? There must be a change come May.