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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 3972


Mrs WICKS (Robertson) (17:45): I rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2018-2019 and the other appropriations bills before the House and commend the work of the Treasurer in particular for his work on this budget. This is a budget that is good for my electorate on the Central Coast and is good for Australia. In my time today I'd like to talk about five local examples of why this is the case. Firstly, we're delivering safer communities in places like McEvoy Oval at Umina Beach. Secondly, we're backing small businesses like Six String Brewing at Erina. Thirdly, older Australians are being supported while also being protected from Labor's retiree tax. Fourthly, we're seeing tax cuts for almost 60,000 low- and middle-income earners in Robertson while guaranteeing the essentials like Medicare. Finally, we're delivering infrastructure that our region needs, like better local roads and infrastructure that rejuvenates Gosford and our region, such as the performing arts and conference centre.

I'm starting with safety and security, because I know that for many people of all ages this is their No. 1 concern. Last week we were joined by the Minister for Home Affairs, the member for Dickson, who met with local residents at Ettalong Beach, and then a couple of days later by the Assistant Minister for Home Affairs, the member for Mitchell, who made a significant announcement at Umina Beach. I thank both of them for joining me on the peninsula, because this was a week when we took another step forward in uniting with our community against crime, vandalism and antisocial behaviour.

At Umina Beach, we gathered at the fabulous Jasmine Greens Park Kiosk to announce new funding from the government's Safer Communities Fund for CCTV cameras to keep our region safe. The cameras will be located at the Peninsula Recreation Precinct, where the cafe is located, at McEvoy Oval at Umina Beach, at the San Remo BMX park and at Banjo's Skate Park in Terrigal, where construction is underway. The funding boost was welcomed by local community leaders who came with us to hear the news firsthand over a coffee and some beautiful food prepared by Gabby Greyem, including Rod Unsworth and Mark Nitsos from the Umina Community Group, Stuart Field and his son Ronan from Woy Woy Peninsula Little Athletics—one of the groups who use McEvoy Oval—Matt Sawyer from the Peninsula Touch Association, Matt Cooper and Senior Constable Paul Scollon from Umina Beach PCYC, Central Coast councillor and advocate Jilly Pilon—who was also there to speak about Banjo's Skate Park—and Detective Inspector John Zdrilic from the Brisbane Water police district in the New South Wales Police Force. Of course, we were hosted by Gabby Greyem from Jasmine Greens, who really has been a tireless community advocate, particularly on this issue.

Police tell us how CCTV cameras are an effective crime prevention measure, a valuable investigative tool and a deterrent to antisocial behaviour. McEvoy Oval, a local community hub as well as a sports field, will be covered, and it will help to protect the new amenities block, which was recently opened thanks to funding from all three levels of government and the local clubs themselves. The driving force behind that project was Kylie Brown from Woy Woy Peninsula Little Athletics Club, who told us that the club facilities at McEvoy Oval are often targeted, sadly, by vandals with graffiti, including just a few days ago, and in fact goods were stolen from the sporting clubs, resulting in a flow-on cost to the community to repair that damage. So Kylie said that this CCTV funding is most welcome at such a pivotal time for the club.

The funding is being committed under round 2 of the coalition's Safer Communities Fund, and I'm advised that the budget also allows for a third round of funding, which we are already starting to plan for and will no doubt advocate for. Keeping our communities safe also benefits small businesses, and there's great news in this budget for them too. Our economic plan has delivered more than one million jobs into the Australian economy over the last five years, which is of great benefit to so many households and businesses. Parts of our ongoing plan are our small- and medium-business tax cuts, which will help more than 15,000 local businesses with turnovers of up to $50 million if they're incorporated and up to $5 million if they're unincorporated as they look to invest, employ and pay their workers more.

This budget also extends the popular instant asset write-off for small businesses for a further 12 months. Small businesses with turnovers of up to $10 million can benefit from writing off assets costing less than $20,000, and I'm advised that well over a thousand local businesses in my electorate have already taken advantage of this great initiative.

But, ultimately, it's not the government that creates jobs; it's business, which is why we need to listen to industries who have specific needs so that they can continue to grow. One of these industries is craft brewers, many of which are Australian owned, such as Six String Brewing in Erina and Block 'n Tackle in Kincumber. This budget means that craft brewers and distillers will no longer pay additional tax, allowing them to compete on fairer terms with large beverage companies. As part of our commitment, the government will increase the amount beverage companies can claim back on their excise and extend the concessional draft beer excise rate to smaller kegs like the sizes typically used by craft brewers.

To find out exactly how our local brewers would benefit, we went down to Six String on a Friday afternoon for a drink and a chat with Chris Benson and Ryan Harris, owners of Six String, along with Chris's wife, Sharon. Chris told me the announcement was a much-needed recognition for independent breweries as an emerging industry with different needs from the bigger beer companies. As the owner of a small business, Chris said this tax cut will make Six String more flexible, with increased cash flow allowing them to expand, employ more staff and invest in things such as larger tanks to increase the capacity of the brewery itself. It will open the doer to new local products. They've got a number of new beers, such as the delicious and inventive chai latte beer, and it's expected to lead to a downward pressure on beer prices. Nationally, there are around 380 craft breweries in Australia, employing the equivalent of almost 2,400 people, and I commend this budget for backing small businesses like these.

Building a strong economy also means we can keep supporting older Australians and guaranteeing the essentials like Medicare. My electorate has almost 31,000 people over the age of 65, and in this budget we made some important announcements providing more choice so they can live healthier, more independent and safer lives. This includes more financial security by increasing the pension work bonus, expanding the Pension Loans Scheme and delivering relevant skills and training advice to help workers build their careers or transition to jobs in new industries. We're also offering more choice, with 14,000 additional high-level home-care places by 2021-22, adding to the 6,000 places provided since last year's budget.

The budget also guarantees the funding of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, which is a major breakthrough so that Australians with a permanent significant disability receive the best care we can provide. It's important for my electorate on the Central Coast, where, once it's fully rolled out, it will directly help almost 3,000 people and their families.

There's also a strong focus on health in this budget. To begin with, hospitals will receive record funding. Under our new agreement, New South Wales public hospitals will receive over $39.5 billion over the five years to 2024-25, delivering an additional $8.9 billion in funding the compared to the previous five years—up 29 per cent. Medicare, medicines and mental health are also getting a boost, including through the legislated Medicare Guarantee Fund, meaning we can help people to access life-saving medicines for breast cancer and spinal muscular atrophy. I've already spoken with the Minister for Health about the wonderful $1.3 billion National Health and Medical Industry Growth Plan, which will transform and save lives through world-leading medical developments as well as create tens of thousands of new jobs. This includes $500 million for the Genomics Health Futures Mission, which will help Australians live longer and receive better treatment personalised to their medical needs.

This funding boost comes at a really ideal time for the Central Coast where we're seeing an exciting transformation in Gosford with the arrival of the new medical school and research institute on the grounds of the newly upgraded Gosford Hospital. This is a game changer for our region: an $85 million project funded across this government, the New South Wales government and the University of Newcastle. As well as providing a university presence in Gosford and all the jobs and opportunities that will bring, we will also have links with the University of Newcastle's global advisory board, which has connections with the great universities of the world, like Cambridge and New York. It will be a centre of excellence in medical teaching and an international hub for integrated healthcare research and innovation. A collaborative task force has already been working behind the scenes on how the medical school and research institute can be the catalyst for even more jobs, growth and opportunities, including by potentially attracting major corporations to choose Gosford as their base.

As my team and I were meeting with local families across Saratoga and Davistown on Saturday, many people were pleased to hear about this project and some, like Edith on Davistown Road, were also concerned about what we are doing for young people. So I'm pleased to see this budget delivers $110 million in additional investment in child and youth mental health services, with a focus on providing mental health services to children within the school setting. There's also $338 million in new mental health funding with a focus on suicide prevention, research and older Australians. An additional one million people will receive diagnosis, treatment and recovery through a new Million Minds Mission in mental health research with funding of $125 million over the next decade.

For those who need to see a GP without worrying about their hip pocket, the number of GP services that are bulk billed continues to rise, with figures from the July to March period of around 648,000. This is an increase of more than 111,000 since Labor were last in government, with the total percentage of GP bulk billing services sitting at 86.6 per cent, which is up three per cent since the coalition was elected. We will also guarantee the essentials when it comes to schools funding, with government and independent schools funding in my electorate rising by $43.4 million when comparing this school year to the 2027 school year. The Catholic school system across Australia also receives a boost. Funding growth for Catholic schools will be $2.93 billion from now to 2027, a growth of 46.3 per cent. And children of preschool age will benefit from a multimillion-dollar preschool funding boost, which, in my electorate, will mean over 2,000 children will be able to access 15 hours of quality early learning in the year before school.

But families are also concerned about the cost of living and that is why a central part of this budget is tax relief, with a focus on low- and middle-income earners, particularly on the Central Coast. Almost 60,000 taxpayers in the Robertson electorate alone will receive an offset of up to $530 a year under our plan to reduce cost pressures on household budgets. For example, a high school teacher earning $75,000 will have an extra $530 in their pocket from the budget year onwards, with an extra $3,740 in their pocket over the first seven years of the tax plan. A shop assistant in Erina on $45,000 will have an extra $440 in their pocket from the budget year onwards, with an extra $3,380 in their pocket over the first seven years of the tax plan as the tax relief increases. We are also lifting tax brackets to ensure wages don't get eaten by higher taxes and to ensure the government lives within its means. What this translates to is a forecast return to a modest budget balance in 2019-20, increasing to a projected surplus of $11 billion in 2020-21, meaning we will no longer be borrowing to pay for essential services.

Finally, this budget helps deliver the infrastructure that the Central Coast deserves by confirming funding for major projects. We are investing $10 million to help Gosford's long-awaited world-class regional performing arts and conference centre on the site of the former Broadwater Hotel on Mann Street, which will fulfil a decades old dream of our community. The government has invested $7 million towards projects that rejuvenate Gosford such as the regional library learning hub. We are also delivering on our commitment to 600 new jobs in the nearby ATO building. The Somersby Industrial Estate, Banjo's skate park and Terrigal Trojans House upgrade were all confirmed in the budget, along with roads funding for the Central Coast Council through the Roads to Recovery Program election commitments such as the upgrade of Oceana Street at Copacabana. Other road commitments are either already completed or well under way, such as the roundabout on the intersection of Langford Drive and Woy Woy Road in Kariong and Ryans Road at Umina Beach.

Thousands of hardworking local commuters are also benefitting from our commitments, which I'll shortly speak about in more detail elsewhere in the House today. This includes NorthConnex—the M1, M2 missing link—plus our commitment to continuous mobile coverage on trains with Wi-Fi at train stations. These commitments are on track, along with funding from the New South Wales government business case to investigate faster rail options between Sydney and Newcastle.

I strongly commend this budget and these appropriation bills to the House. I do so because of all the reasons outlined today but also because of people like Meredith, from Daleys Point, who wrote to me to say thank you. She said she was so glad there is better help for older people still needing to work. She made particular mention of the Treasurer, who said that, ultimately, it is not the government's money to spend but belongs to the hard-working people of Australia. On a personal note Meredith said, 'Thank you for your kind birthday wishes and birthday card.' Meredith, I hope you had a very happy birthday and that you can plan for even more birthdays in the future with even greater confidence under this government. I commend these bills to the House.