Speech: Appropriation Bills 2020

Speech: Appropriation Bills 2020 Main Image

Mrs PHILLIPS (Gilmore) (17:39): I'm very pleased to be here today talking on this budget appropriation bill. I thought: what am I going to talk about today? I actually thought: I'm going to go to people in Gilmore and ask them what they want from the budget, what they would have liked to have seen in the budget, and what the lasting legacy could be. I said 'Be bold, go for gold—whatever you want.' Let's see. These are the words from people in my community. You can see that there are quite a lot of comments here from people; and that was over quite a short period of time. I want to thank them for providing this feedback.

The first feedback that I want to mention is the enormous number of travel agents that have contacted me saying that they need targeted support for travel agents. What we have seen, what travel agents have gone through with closed international borders, has just been horrific. Travel agents haven't been able to sell a takeaway coffee or a takeaway meal. They really rely on those international borders being open. So while the government has cut back JobKeeper, our travel agents are still there with those closed borders and doing it tough. So I call on the government to provide that targeted support for our travel agents that that industry desperately needs. Our travel agents do wonderful work in our local community. They support our local schools, our local shops, our local events. They're really, really important for local jobs. I have seen a number close down. The government needs to support travel agents.

Now I want to go to some of the other comments that I have received. Veronica says that for her number one would be affordable housing. She also says a train line that goes to the border—we're talking about the New South Wales South Coast here—a bypass for Nowra and Ulladulla; and encourage and support innovative small businesses to revitalise our dying CBD areas. She says, 'I could go on. Good luck today.'

Veronica raises some really important points. We could be investing more in social and affordable housing. It's a sure way to kickstart investment in our local jobs and to improve our social housing through repairs that we desperately need. On the New South Wales South Coast we've been through the bushfires, the drought, three disaster declared floods. Our community needs help. We don't have airports. We don't have train lines south of Bomaderry, but people really want help and support.

That was Veronica. Gordon says they'd like a pension update. He says, 'The Liberals keep cutting the pension.' We have seen so many cuts to the pension. Pensioners just want a fair go. I have one of the highest numbers of aged pensioners in Australia in my electorate.

The budget has also excluded people over the age of 35 from the job hiring incentive, and I have had so many people contact me about that. It is discriminatory and it is not going to help, particularly in those regional areas where we have a lot of people that have moved there a bit later in life. It is going to hurt them.

Tony says, 'Keep it local. Build more social housing.' I think that's a flavour that we'll see through this. He says, 'Establish and run some aged care facilities, not privatised, to set the standards for that industry.' And I want to take this opportunity to thank all our aged-care homes and facilities and all our aged-care workers for the wonderful work that they're doing, not just through COVID, but again, through the bushfires where they have actually had to ensure people's safety over many, many months. I want to really say thank you there.

Tony also wants to see more funding for mental health in Gilmore, especially for young people. I do welcome initiatives in the budget around that, but I do want to see more funding for prevention and building resilience in our community. Just recently I was at a Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention and Awareness Network bereavement and remembrance ceremony with local people. That was put to me there: we need to invest more in prevention and resilience around mental health. We have had a lot of suicides in my electorate and we need to do a lot more there.

Alison says, 'Spend the $2 billion Morrison allocated for bushfire recovery so those in our community have a home.' The fact is that less than half of that funding has been spent. We still have people that are not in their homes, and we're approaching the 12-month mark from the bushfires.

Clinton says: 'Thank you, Fiona. Don't we still have people living in caravans and tents after losing their homes to bushfire? Can we put the future on hold and look after the present?' Well, Clinton, I don't think we can put the future exactly on hold, but you're correct—we do need to make sure that people are looked after, and that means spending the $2 billion in bushfire recovery funding that was said to be there.

Ben has a rather long list here, but I think it's really important. Ben says: 'The budget did nothing to address our public housing and homelessness crisis. Building public housing creates jobs, and a well housed population are more productive,' and I couldn't agree more with Ben. Ben goes on to talk about public transport, and I'll read this: 'Also there is nothing to address poor public transport in regional areas. Currently in the Eurobodalla, the bus services aren't a viable alternative for the unemployed to use for transport to get to and from work. If an unemployed person doesn't have a car or drivers licence, they can't travel for work.' I won't read the rest of it, but we always talk a lot about workforce participation and how to get workforce participation up, but one of the big things that we need is more public transport in regional areas to help people to be able to actually get to jobs.

Kerry says, 'We need more affordable housing,' and, as we can see, that's definitely a flavour from these comments. Kerry also says, 'We need better public transport to the coastal villages by regular services up and down the highway, and shuttle buses going between the villages and the highway.' The government spent a lot, $30 million I think it was, on that airport land in Sydney, but what about spending that money in regional areas and helping people so that they can get to work? Pat says, 'More funding for our public schools, better public transport'—there it is again—'more public housing, better legislation to stop wage theft, action on climate change and no nuclear power in Gilmore.'

Margaret says: 'A fairer deal for our refugees. Everything else fails behind this. We are not doing the right, legal and compassionate thing for these people who have committed no crime.' Margaret goes on to say, 'Better funding for public schools, action on climate change and investment in green power with the money we save on running prison camps.' Margaret raises a really valid point, because people in my community, refugees and businesses, have said to me there was nothing there through COVID to help people, and businesses were saying that people need support, so Margaret raises a very valid point.

Jo says that she'd like to see a federal ICAC—a very common theme here. These are people from my community, so I think it is really important in this parliament that we actually listen. She also says that we should have job creation by focusing on shifting to a carbon neutral economy and social housing and have more for public education. Jo says that school infrastructure in the region needs serious attention, and I'll come back to that more as I speak.

Robert says, 'I would like to see more of the proposed budget being allocated to the construction of public assets. The country does need to borrow money. Where it's spent is the question. Sure, building roads will create jobs during construction, but that's where it stops. By building hospitals, schools et cetera, it not only creates jobs during construction but also continually employs and benefits people for the life of the asset'—a really important point. Roseanne says, in dot points: 'Social housing, more help for the homeless, upgrade our hospital, better roads, better services around beaches like coffee shops but not big malls, and how about public aged care?'

Maureen says she would like to see an emergency control centre for disasters in the Eurobodalla, and anybody who visited Moruya—it probably would have been hard to visit Moruya during the bushfires—saw they operated out of a small community hall, so they had no dedicated emergency management centre. It's really important that we make sure that we have centres that are appropriate so that our police, our SES—all of our emergency people—and our council have a centre and that they can be set up to help coordinate the bushfires. We know that in the Nowra area they have a dedicated centre. They don't have that in Moruya. I would certainly encourage other areas around Australia as well. We need to be prepared for future bushfires and we need to make sure that we have appropriate emergency management centres. Maureen also says, 'Funding to help the Eurobodalla become a renewable energy hub'—we have many keen groups in the Eurobodalla, the Shoalhaven and Kiama around that—'and to act on native wildlife extension and the protection of our precious oceans and marine life.'

Liz wrote to me and is very passionate about better funding of our public schools. Liz says her local high school has 22 demountable units and the biggest support unit on the South Coast. She said, 'The Bay and Basin is a growing area and, with population growth, student numbers are growing. We need a senior campus built with a TAFE so students in the Bay and Basin area have greater access to TAFE.' We have to remember as well that these are areas in which you can't just hop on a bus and go to the local TAFE, so it's absolutely critical that we have good transport as well.

John says, 'Schools that don't leak.' At the Bomaderry High School there's been lots of flooding, roofs have caved in and there's possum excrement—everything you could possibly think of. John says, 'Classroom desks that are fit for purpose' and 'Where is the $2 billion for bushfire recovery?' Gabrielle says, 'Ulladulla is suffering a rental crisis because owners of investment properties are Airbnb-ing them for the summer holidays.' She said, 'We need homes for the most vulnerable.' Nicole says, 'Treaty.' Jort says he wants 'infrastructure that is future-proofed, four-lane each-way highways, dual train lines, and airports that you don't have to drive hours to get to.'

Kay said that she wants 'pensions that reflect some respect for the generations that have formed this country and not have them discriminated against constantly.' Sandra says she wants 'fairer treatment for older jobseekers with health problems. We are made to feel like we are a burden to Centrelink.' Again, I would say that the government should reconsider its hiring subsidy to not discriminate against people who are over the age of 35. Sylvia says, 'Ulladulla Public School is in desperate need of capital expenditure. Our children and community deserve a facility that can at least accommodate their education needs.' Wouldn't it be great if the federal government put infrastructure spending into something that makes a difference to people and is a long-lasting legacy for our children and our grandchildren? Alex says, 'More funding to trades, education and welfare. Less pork-barrelling and have a federal ICAC instituted.' Dawn says she wants 'the Uluru statement to be accepted and enacted, more environmental protections to be put in place for our wildlife and habitat, stronger penalties for crimes against women, religious freedoms to be entirely scrapped, and manufacturing powered by sustainable energy.'

Sam wants action on climate change. Leanne wants to remove the freeze on hiring in the Australian Public Service. David says, 'Schools, roads and hospitals—all important infrastructure.' Simon said, 'Green jobs'— there's a great idea—'and dental.' One of the biggest things that people contact me about is the lack of public dental care. We could be leaving a lasting legacy and setting that up as well. Thank you, Simon. Carol says she wants 'action on climate change and a rise in the JobSeeker rate.' She said, 'We have high unemployment and resulting poverty, and we need an increase in funding to the NDIS.' Increasing the permanent rate of JobSeeker is a really important part. People cannot live on $40 a day. The government could be choosing to leave a legacy. This is what people from the South Coast have said they want in the budget.