Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019-2020 and related Bills

31 Jul 2019 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (12:46): I'm delighted to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2019-20 and cognate bills today because they really go to the heart of what we are doing as the Morrison government to deliver on our plan for a strong economy. There are a range of elements to our plan for a strong economy, which we took to the Australian people at the May 2019 election, and they're all really important things that we will be doing for the Australian people.

First of all, of course, is that we will be creating another 1.25 million jobs over the next five years. We have a really proud record on jobs creation throughout the terms that the coalition has been in government. We saw 1.3 million jobs created from September 2013 when we came to government. We know there's nothing more important than making sure every single Australian who wants a job can get a job and that every single Australian who wants to have a go will get a go. That's why we're firmly focused on making sure that we are creating as many jobs as possible for hardworking Australians.

We also said that we would maintain our budget surpluses and pay down the debt that was left to us by the previous Labor governments. And we're certainly getting on with delivering our budget surpluses. We will deliver the first budget surplus in more than a decade. This is something that I'm incredibly proud to be a part of, and I just want to congratulate the Prime Minister and the Treasurer and all of our ministers for their hard work and for making this possible. As we announced in the federal budget this year, in 2019-20 we will deliver a surplus of $7.1 billion; in 2020-21, a surplus of $11 billion; in 2021-22, a surplus of $17.8 billion; and, in 2022-23, a surplus of $9.2 billion. This is all while doing a range of really important things for the community, like delivering tax cuts and guaranteeing investment in essential services like health and education, in our environment and in roads
and rail infrastructure. We'll also, as always, make sure we keep Australians safe, because there is nothing more important than keeping our community safe and secure.

In terms of tax cuts, it was really exciting to come back to the federal parliament after the election and see that the first thing that we were doing—and the first thing that we delivered—were tax cuts for millions of Australians. These cuts are putting money back into the pockets of hardworking Australians. As I often say—I say it all the time in my community; I'm sure people are getting sick of hearing it, or maybe not—the money that hardworking Australians earn is their money, and I want them to keep as much of that as possible, because, at the end of the day, people are best placed to spend their money on what they want to spend money on. I would much prefer that people spent their hard-earned money than have governments spending it for them. That's why I am absolutely delighted that more than 10 million Australians will receive immediate tax relief thanks to the tax package that we passed as soon as we came back to the federal parliament. We know that millions of Australians have already put in their tax returns and are benefiting from this. Low- and middle-income earners with incomes up to $126,000 will receive up to $1,080 per individual, and dual-income couples will receive $2,160. This is all about, as I said, enabling hardworking Australians to keep more of their money that they have earned.

We're also making sure, through the tax reform that we put through, that we're delivering longer-term reform so that eventually 94 per cent of Australians will pay no more than 30c in the dollar. This was a really important part of our tax relief package, because the issue of bracket creep hasn't been addressed for some time. Again, we want to make sure that hardworking Australians are keeping as much of their money as possible.

In the last parliament, we delivered tax cuts for small and medium businesses. My electorate of Boothby is home to so many wonderful small and medium and family businesses. I'm delighted that we have already lowered the tax rate for these businesses to 27.5 per cent. We have fast-tracked tax cuts for small and medium businesses so that, by the year 2021-22, small and medium businesses will be paying only 25c in the dollar. That's what we have done so that we are supporting our small and medium and family businesses and making sure that they can reinvest in their businesses and can employ other hardworking Australians.

In terms of education, we are doing very good work in preschools, schools, universities and vocational education and training. When it comes to vocational education and training, we're investing over $525 million to deliver the skills and training that we need to help more Australians get a job in their chosen field. I'm particularly excited that, in my home state of South Australia, we're going to see so many defence jobs coming online. We're going to be training a lot of people so that they can take advantage of the offshore patrol vessel work that is coming online, as well as the work on the future frigates and submarines. We know we need to train up and grow a skilled workforce so that they can get a job in these areas, which will be wonderful.

In terms of our schools funding, I'm delighted that public schools in my electorate will receive, on average, a 60 per cent funding increase per student over the next 10 years. That's really important, as well as the funding we are providing to preschool, early childhood education, and universities.

Hospitals and health care are another thing that we are able to increase our funding for, thanks to our plan for a strong economy. We have increased Medicare funding. We have increased hospital funding. There is record bulk-billing. An issue that resonates so much with my local community, and probably with every single person around the nation, is that we have invested more than $10 million listing new medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. I think it's well over 2,000 new or amended medicines that we have managed to now list. These are medications that might cost people tens of thousands of dollars if they had to fund them themselves, and, in so many instances, they are life-saving or life-changing medications. So I'm incredibly proud of the fact that
the Morrison coalition government has managed to balance the books so we can afford to invest in the PBS and make sure that people are getting the medication and the help that they need in their moment of crisis and, often, distress.

In my local electorate, I'm incredibly proud that I worked with the Minister for Health to secure federal government funding to reactivate the Repat hospital site. The Repat hospital is a much-loved community hospital. It was established to look after and care for war veterans and it operated for just over 70 years, until the state Labor government made the very devastating decision to shut it down during their last term in government in South Australia. This caused enormous distress to my local veteran community and to my community more broadly, because so many people received treatment at the Repat. It was—and is—a place where people felt very safe. They felt loved and they felt cared for. So I worked very hard with the Minister for Health, and I'd like to
acknowledge and thank him today for supporting me to secure funding to help the South Australian Marshall Liberal government reactivate the Repat hospital.

Federally, we have committed $30 million to establish a brand new severe brain and spinal injury unit. This will be a wonderful and very important addition to the treatment that's available to people who have had catastrophic brain or spinal injuries. This will be in a place that is easy to access, that's quite central for people across metropolitan Adelaide to access, and, as I said, the Repat precinct is a place where people have always felt safe and always felt very well cared for. I know that there are a lot of former Repat staff who are really keen to come back and work at the site, which is really exciting.

Federally, we are also placing one of the specialist dementia care units on the site as well, and the state Liberal government, the Marshall Liberal government, is going to establish a best-practice dementia care precinct on the Repat site, which is really important for our community, especially in light of the devastating Oakden scandal, which, unfortunately, happened under the previous state Labor government. People who most needed our care, our most vulnerable citizens, were not being looked after and cared for as they should have been. So, I'm just delighted that we will be putting these people, some of our most vulnerable citizens, in a place where they will again feel safe and secure and will never, ever again be out of sight or out of mind for the community or for governments.

In addition to that, we're also investing $5 million to establish a residential eating disorder facility at the Repat site and on the precinct as well. Again, these are people who are vulnerable and who need specialist care and attention in a place that is safe, caring and loving.

On top of that, we are making sure that we are bringing our veterans back to the site. Of course, some of them may need the services that we are adding to the site as well. But we are making sure that not only will we have an offering for our veteran communities—they can use the hydrotherapy pool and the new gymnasium facilities and also the new cafe that will go in there—but we are providing $5 million in funding to establish a Veterans' Wellbeing Centre. This will bring more people into the site. It will mean that veterans who are using the hydrotherapy pool or the gym, or both, and are then having a coffee with their friends—which is exactly what used to happen on the Repat site before the Labor government shut it down—will also be able to access advocacy and other wellbeing services when they're on the site. So it's going to be, very much, a hub, and it's going to be a
place where there will be a lot of people coming and going to get the care that they need. It will provide a really exciting and vibrant focus for my community, and everyone is incredibly excited about what's going on there.

The other day in this chamber I spoke about the infrastructure investments that are going on around my electorate. As I regularly say here and when I'm at home, the Morrison Liberal government is all about busting congestion in my community, and we've seen so many great projects already off the ground—some of them actually concluding. The Oaklands crossing grade separation, for which I managed to secure the first-ever funding commitment from a state or federal government when I was the candidate for Boothby and then increased that funding when I got elected, is pretty much entirely complete. There is now a train underpass, and this 40-year-old problem for my community is fixed. We've just seen the Flinders Link rail project commence. That's a $125 million
investment that will attract something in the order of $1.5 billion of university and private sector investment to build new health infrastructure, new student accommodation and a retail precinct. It's really exciting that our small investment has leveraged very large additional investments that will mean more permanent jobs for our local community, will bring more students into the area and will also help out the hospital nearby.

The Darlington upgrade is well and truly underway. The state government has come on board to partner with us to deliver the Hove rail crossing grade separation, which is another really important issue. We've now committed something like $2.7 billion to the North-South Corridor. We will be fixing the Fullarton Road-Cross Road intersection, the Springbank Road-Goodwood Road-Daws Road intersection and also one of my local roads, the James Road-Old Belair Road intersection. So there are a lot of very exciting things going on in that space.

Our plan for a strong economy also means that we can afford to do the very best by our environment, both in a global sense and in a local sense. We've got a lot of really exciting programs that will support very important local environmental works. We are also investing $3.5 billion in our climate solutions package to reduce emissions across a range of industries. As I have said regularly, and I will continue to say: we will meet our target to reduce Australia's emissions to 26 per cent on 2005 levels by 2030.