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Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Page: 86


Mr TIM WILSON (Goldstein) (12:33): It's a privilege to follow the member for Lyons, because some people regard when you're being criticised by the opposition as ineffectual. It's like being hit with a wet lettuce. I prefer to compare it more to being hit with soggy Glad Wrap. It's kind just of annoying, it has no real purpose and it ends up backfiring as you get splattered along the way. The member for Lyons will understand that he is heading to the next election where I've no doubt his incompetence and incapability to be able to deliver for the good people of that state, and of course his electorate, will backfire to the point that he will be defeated but that is his cross to bear.

I'm incredibly proud to support the budget and the passage of this legislation. It's incredibly important because at the heart of it is what we need to do to build and harden the resilience of Australia to get through the ongoing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you go back to a little over 12 months ago, we all looked at the global circumstances that Australia faced. There were factors that were outside of our control; a virus that had its origins in Wuhan, China, was spreading across the globe. This government, at every point, have taken strong, effective decisions to make sure we can secure our borders, which is the biggest public health measure this country has taken. By doing so, and by introducing a system of quarantine, we have largely been able to keep the virus out. There have been—what should we call them?—burps or situations where there have been blowouts, particularly in the great state of Victoria, which took on an enormous burden because of our state government's mismanagement of hotel quarantine and its incompetence in keeping the virus contained within Victoria so that the rest of the nation was not infected. We have now contained that. Of course, other states have had to take prudent and responsible measures at different times as well.

We have seen further cases, yesterday and today, in Victoria, which is a reminder to every Australian that this pandemic is not over. I say that in the context that this pandemic continues to pose a very serious health risk. If you are eligible to get vaccinated, please do. Luxuries or risks associated with not being vaccinated are far outweighed by the risk of being infected with COVID-19, particularly for the elderly and immunosuppressed. We cannot lose sight of that in the comfort that we have secured just because we have kept the virus out. Victoria has shown that can end in an instant, and you'll be back in exactly the same risk profile that the rest of the world experiences.

That's the health side. There's also the economic flowthrough as a consequence of COVID-19 should we have a significant outbreak. That is why the focus of this budget is looking at what we need to do to harden and secure families, individuals, communities and businesses to continue to survive this pandemic, but also to be the foundation of our prosperity as we come out of it. The success of our country is not driven from Canberra down. It is not driven by corporates down. It is not driven by unions down. And it most certainly is not driven by the three of those collaborating to impose situations on the Australian people. Prosperity doesn't come from the few; it comes from the many. It comes through innovation. It comes through drive. It comes through work. It comes through prosperity. It is driven by people taking risks, because you cannot have reward without risk and responsibility. The success of this country comes from the citizen, the family, the community and the enterprise up, and we should never lose sight of that—and that is who the Morrison government are backing every step of the way.

In so many of the programs we have implemented throughout this COVID-19 pandemic, our focus has been on how to back you, the people, not you, the corporates, the big businesses, the unions or this city of Canberra. And we've done so through measures like the JobKeeper plan, which has delivered 8,700 businesses and 30,300 employees in the Goldstein electorate support throughout the period of COVID-19. Now, when JobKeeper was coming up to its deadline in March, Labor went on this long tirade about how the wage subsidy had to continue to operate into the future. The hard data shows that we now have a lower unemployment level than we had before the pandemic. So to embrace the continued support of JobKeeper, firstly, is economic delinquency, negligence and irresponsibility and, secondly, the adjustment would only have been greater had we continued to go on. But that does not mean Labor have changed their talking points, because leopards cannot change their spots.

We, as a government, have made sure we have provided tax relief of up to $2,745 this year through the low- and middle-income tax offset for 56,300 taxpayers in the wonderful Goldstein electorate. We provided tax incentives that allowed 24,600 local businesses to fully write-off the value of eligible assets they purchased against their tax liabilities, and 8,300 local businesses will be able to use the extended loss carry-back measure to support cashflow and confidence. We know that, at this critical time, cash flow is the basis upon which businesses succeed. More to the point, it is their lifeblood and, if it is cut off, they will fail.

Everywhere I go I hear of a consistent trend, which is: we need skills and we need labour because we have plenty of jobs; if only there were people to fill them. The very clear focus from this government is to make sure that those who are unemployed have pathways back to secure employment and to a position where they are able to stand on their own two feet, support their families, own their homes and be the foundation of this country's success. But in many cases there is a need to bridge the divide that occurs. That's why we've extended and expanded the JobTrainer fund, which will support 450,000 new places that will upskill jobseekers and young Australians seeking to achieve work.

This budget invests in major roads and rail projects and in road safety and community infrastructure programs that are supporting additional jobs. There's $3.4 billion committed in the great state of Victoria alone. If you drive around the Goldstein electorate at the moment, in many places you'll see signs of major investments, from upgrades to roads to lighting projects, making sure that our community is in as strong a position as it can be to support people.

But we know that people face different barriers and challenges throughout their working lives. Many families, particularly when they have young children, balance the tension between raising children in a family and, in some cases, needing a dual income to pay for things like their mortgage and their lifestyle. That's why there has been significant investment in this budget to improve access to affordable child care, particularly for families with multiple children. There are 960 families in the Goldstein electorate that will take advantage of that.

This budget delivers a record investment in aged care. Goldstein is proud—and I say that very specifically—to be the home of many of the private aged-care providers in this country, because, unlike the ideological madness that's put out by the Victorian state government, we understand that, if you want capital on the table which can grow the places for aged care so people can get the support and assistance they need, the government cannot do it alone. Our role is to work with private enterprise, free enterprise, to create the environment where you get investment so that you get quality homes, quality services and quality access to support and if you need help you can get it.

We're proud to be the home of many private aged-care providers from across Australia. There are 26,317 senior Australians living in the Goldstein electorate who will get additional assistance from the providers of aged care through additional supplements in the ACFI funding. That's important, but, to be frank, I think we need to do more to free up funding for aged care, particularly in terms of individual responsibility. I have given speeches in the House about this in the past. If you look at aged care from the perspective of responsibility, you have the responsibility of contributing to capital because it's displacing people from their homes. We need to acknowledge that. There's a responsibility around management and providing services, which is a mixture of responsibility between individuals and the taxpayer. When it comes to access to health services, pharmaceuticals and the like, that traditionally falls back on taxpayers. We should be looking at that as a system of responsibility. That is the only basis upon which we can provide sustainable aged care to support the number of people who will need places at the standard and with the quality and dignity that we expect, not just as a government but as a country. What older Australians want for themselves is to be in a situation where they can go into aged care and live out their days with dignity. If we don't make sure there's responsibility on everybody, all we end up doing is underwriting inheritances and advantaging those who are well off at the expense of taxpayers overall.

Those aren't the only areas, in terms of service delivery, where this government is providing to make sure we get the assistance that people need at every stage of their life, from child care all the way through to aged care. The federal government has been giving significant funding to investment in local infrastructure. This is an election promise that we have delivered on, and we'll continue to deliver on it as we work with the state government and councils regarding commuter car park upgrades. In the City of Glen Eira we have increased the funding for the development of the Bentleigh commuter car parking from $4 million to $9 million. Bentleigh residents, this means that, with the approval of the council, you're going to have access to more commuter car parks. Council have agreed to use their land to develop the site so that you can catch a train more easily and earlier, without having to run around and find a car park. The streets surrounding the Bentleigh railway station will be in a better position, being freed up for people who want to use them both for residential purposes and also for accessing the Centre Road shopping strip.

The same has occurred in Elsternwick, where, working with the council, there's been an additional $2.5 million to take total funding for an upgrade for community car parking to $9 million—again, aiding Glen Eira residents and those in surrounding communities to access parking. In Bayside, the Hampton station parking upgrade on council land is progressing, with a feasibility study to be completed before the end of the year. We want to see that project go ahead, every step of the way. When I go and stand at Hampton railway station in the mornings and speak to commuters, they consistently say, 'We need more access to car parking.' The state government has been a challenge, but the councillors are working with the federal government to deliver.

Unfortunately, after assessment, the soil at Brighton Beach station has been deemed too sandy to take additional weight. But, at the North Brighton station, the parking upgrade is awaiting approval by the Victorian state government to use their land. Federal funding has been increased by $4.3 million, to a total of nearly $7 million. Once the state government gives the tick-off, we will progress with developing that site so more people can have access in and around North Brighton and of course to the Bay Street shopping strip.

The same is also true in Sandringham. We are awaiting approval from the state government to use their land. We have ensured that there is access to additional car parking at Sandringham station, but I have to say that I am very worried and very concerned that there have been allegations that the state government aren't planning to support the upgrade of additional parking at Sandy station but are seeking to take away the existing car park and that is why they have been blocking the upgrade of additional parking at Sandy station. What that will mean, if the state government get their way and take away those additional community car parks, is fewer people catching the trains, fewer people relying on them, and those people who need to access or park at Sandy station will be moving around surrounding streets and there will be no additional car parking.

We, the Morrison government and of course myself as a local federal member, are 300 per cent committed to delivering on this project if only the state government would let us. But, more critically, I will fight with the state member, Brad Rowswell, every step of the way, if the state government chooses to take away the existing car parking at Sandy railway station because they want to put additional rolling stock there. They would be selling out the Sandy community at the expense of capital improvements so that they can indulge votes in other parts of the state. It's wrong. We know it's wrong. We have to stand up against them if they go down that path.

Other critical investment in our community includes $1 million in Bayside City Council's Elsternwick Park Nature Reserve project, which is the gateway for many people from Melbourne, along the Nepean Highway, down to the city of Bayside. This reclaimed land from the old Elsternwick Golf Course is going to be a significant nature reserve which is going to facilitate water cleansing, which is going to improve the outflow that goes to Port Phillip, while also making sure that it provides a beautiful nature reserve for local residents in and around the adjoining point of the city of Port Phillip, the city of Glen Eira and the city of Bayside.

Another significant funding opportunity includes the $400,000 that has been given to the Black Rock Yacht Club to rebuild the roof on their clubhouse, a project that Bayside has wanted to see delivered for a very long time but has not been able to secure the funding for. The Morrison government has come along and backed that. At every stage, we have a budget that delivers for communities and builds the strength, resilience and security of communities as the foundation not just for today but for the nation's continued success.