Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2019-2020 & Appropriation Bill (No. 4) 2019-2020

26 Feb 2020 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby—Government Whip) (12:12): I'm delighted to speak on these bills today, because they illustrate the heart of the Morrison government's agenda for a strong economy. Securing Australia's prosperity depends on a thriving economy. More job opportunities, improved living standards and better essential services are only possible with the right economic settings in place. Our government is dedicated to creating more and better paying jobs, and I'm pleased that over 1.5 million more Australians are in jobs since our government was elected.

Unlike those opposite, on this side of the House, we believe that hardworking Australians should always keep more of their hard-earned money. I'm proud of our government's commitment to making taxes lower, simpler and fairer. We have delivered tax relief for over 10 million taxpayers around the nation, and our legislative plan means that, after six years, 94 per cent of taxpayers will pay no more than 30c in the dollar.

Small businesses, as we know, are the lifeblood of our local communities, and I'm proud that our government has delivered tax relief for the 3.4 million small and medium businesses employing over seven million Australians around the nation. Only a coalition government can be trusted to deliver tax relief for working families and businesses, and we fought, and we will continue to fight, Labor's plans for higher taxes, whether those taxes are on our retirees, on housing incomes or investments.

Under successive state and federal Labor governments, Australians were hit hard with creeping electricity prices. For many people, particularly our self-funded retirees, our age pensioners and those on fixed incomes, switching on the air conditioner or heater became an unaffordable luxury. Australians deserve better. This is why our government has worked to reduce power prices by stopping price gouging by big energy companies by passing our 'big stick' legislation, which introduces significant penalties for companies that rip off their customers. We've banned sneaky late-payment penalties. We require energies to pass on savings to customers. And we're investing in new power generation, with 12 projects shortlisted, including six renewable pumped-hydro projects, five gas projects and one coal upgrade project in the works.

Our strong record of responsible economic management has seen our government provide record funding for public hospital services, increasing funding from $13.3 billion in 2012-13—before we came to government—to more than $29 billion in 2024-25. With GP bulk-billing rates at 86.2 per cent, which is up from 82.1 per cent when Labor was last in government, more Australians than ever are able to see a GP when they need to.

A fundamental pillar of our health system, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, continues to enjoy record investment under our government, with nearly 2,300 medical listings worth over $10 billion added to the PBS since we came to government. In practical terms, this means that life-saving medicines which can normally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, are available in some cases for just $6.60 for those who hold concessions or $41 for general patients per script.

In the defence sector, our government is protecting Australia's future security and interests by investing over $200 billion over the next 10 years to modernise Australia's defence capability, securing our nation while strengthening our defence industry and creating Australian jobs. Our defence industry is made up of highly skilled men and women, and I'm very excited about the growing defence industry job opportunities in South Australia, which will see increased demand for workers with trade, technical, science and technology skills. Of course, the most important thing is that we are doing this to protect the men and women of our defence forces, who work so hard and put their lives on the line to protect all of us here at home.

Just last week, I was delighted to have the Minister for Industry, Science and Technology, Karen Andrews, visit the Tonsley Innovation District in my electorate of Boothby to announce a $2.9 million project supported by Innovative Manufacturing CRC, BAE Systems and ASC Shipbuilding—great opportunities for students and people wanting to get into the defence sector. Underpinned by our commitment to a strong economy, our government is dedicated to ensuring that industry and researchers collaborate as much as they possibly can, working closely together and allowing us to grow Australian jobs and further develop our defence industry capability.

It's often said that an important measure of a society is how it treats its vulnerable, whether they are the very young or the elderly. Improving aged care for all senior Australians is one of our government's key priorities, and it's why one of the first acts of our Prime Minister was to call the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety to make sure we get care for our senior Australians right. In terms of aged-care funding, I'm delighted our government is delivering record investment across the aged-care system, up from $13.3 billion in 2012-13,  growing to $21.4 billion in 2019-20, up to an estimated $25 billion in 2022-23. That's an increase of over $5 billion of extra support for older Australians over the forward estimates.

Australians are living, on average, longer than they were 50 years ago. Ensuring they have choice in aged care and that they have the proper support to remain in their homes if they wish to do so are essential to ensuring their quality of life. Since the 2018-19 budget, the government has invested in providing 44,000 new home care packages at a cost of $2.7 billion, and the number of home care packages has increased from around 60,000 under Labor in their last year of government to almost 160,000 in the year 2022-23, which is an increase of over 160 percent. Again, I might remind those opposite that, despite Labor's plans for $387 billion in new taxes, at the election, Labor made no additional funding promises in their costings for home care packages or additional funding for aged care quality workforce or residential aged care.

Only a Liberal government, a coalition government, can keep Australia's economy strong and support our senior Australians to receive the very best quality of care that they deserve. As such, it's wonderful to see the reactivation of the Repat Health Precinct underway in my electorate of Boothby. I've previously spoke many times in this place about the devastation that was felt across my community, South Australia and particularly in our veterans' community when the former South Australian state Labor government announced the closure of the Repat hospital in 2015. Labor's heartless, cruel decision hurt so many people. However, I'm delighted to say that the Morrison government is supporting the Marshall state Liberal government to reactivate the Repat and return this site to a thriving health precinct where people will once again receive the very best of health care available.

With $30 million of Commonwealth funding provided for a specialist state-wide brain and spinal centre at the revitalised Repat precinct, the Repat will provide excellent care for people who have experienced acute brain and spinal injuries. The Repat will also provide the very best dementia care in South Australia, and I think it will be the best dementia care available in the nation as we are partnering with—and this is a landmark partnership—the nationally respected aged-care provider HammondCare. HammondCare will deliver an innovative cottage-homelike environment for people with dementia at the Repat site. The project represents a multimillion-dollar investment in caring for people with dementia and very severe dementia, and it will provide around 120 jobs for South Australians.

I'm very proud that the Morrison government will feature in this partnership, as we are providing funding for the operation of a Specialist Dementia Care Unit at the site as well. We are also ensuring that the much loved Repat Chapel, remembrance garden, museum and SPF Hall will be protected and preserved as community assets for future generations. And we are committed to once again making sure that the Repat is a centre for veterans in our community and, as such, we're providing $5 million in federal funding to establish a Veterans' Wellbeing Centre in the heart of the Repat, where our veterans feel safe and feel loved.

I'm pleased to report that close by we are heading towards the finalisation and conclusion of the Flinders Link Project. That's expected to wrap up in the second half of this year. With joint state and federal funding, Flinders Link involves a 650m extension of the current Tonsley rail line up to Flinders Medical Centre and the Flinders University. This will finally link the Flinders Precinct with the city. Additionally, this project will see the construction of two new train stations and an integrated shared pedestrian and cycle path right next to the railway line, giving people new transport options. Fourteen of the 20 Flinders Link rail bridge girders have now been installed, and residents are beginning to see what an incredible impact this will have for our local community and the area.

Late last year I was delighted to have the Prime Minister; the Minister for Population, Cities and Urban Infrastructure; Premier Steven Marshall; and the SA Minister for Transport visit the site with me to see this incredible project underway. The Flinders Link Project will mean that local residents have a brand-new public transport option. Staff and patients at Flinders Medical Centre will have a brand new public transport option and so, too, will 25,000 students at Flinders University, plus all of the staff who support them. This is going to unlock billions of dollars of local investment, including new student accommodation at Flinders University, new educational facilities and healthcare facilities. It is a really important and exciting project for our local area.

We're also working on a range of other local infrastructure upgrades to bust congestion around my electorate. Boothby is an electorate that is relatively close to the city, and we have a lot of people pass through our electorate every day on their way to and from work. Therefore, we are undertaking the Darlington upgrade, which is a $600 million contribution by the federal government. There is also the joint state-federal upgrade of Fullarton and Cross Road intersection, the Hove Level Crossing project and the Goodwood, Springbank and Daws Road intersection
upgrade. We're also investing in fixing the Mitcham Hills road corridor.

I was particularly excited to see the Australian Space Agency formally launched by the Prime Minister last week. This is incredibly exciting for South Australia. We've invested tens of millions of dollars to place the  Australian Space Agency in Adelaide, which will act as a launching pad to triple Australia's space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by the year 2030, which will open the doors for so many local businesses here, and we look to attract many new businesses as well.

I am particularly proud of our government's strong record on environmental protection and emissions reduction through our $3.5 billion Climate Solutions Package. This includes our $2 billion Climate Solutions Fund, which will support practical emissions-reducing projects such as capturing methane from landfill and storing carbon in forests and soils. We're also investing $1.4 billion in the Snowy 2.0 renewable energy project, which will supply many homes with zero-emission pumped hydro energy. We are also doing a range of other things in this space. Importantly for so many communities around the nation, we've also created the $100 million Environment Restoration Fund to support practical action on waste and recycling. This will also protect our rivers, waterways and coasts and support our threatened and migratory native species. This is very important to my local residents, who include some very active volunteers in the hills and along the coast. They are people who care very deeply about the environment and do a lot of incredible work to protect our natural heritage, our native vegetation and our flora and fauna every day. I want to conclude by thanking them and all the other volunteers in my electorate for the wonderful work that they do each and every year in Boothby