Appropriation Bill No. 1 & 2

13 October 2016

I rise today to follow on from the member for Dobell in her first parliamentary debate

contribution. It is an honour to follow her words of wisdom and experience, particularly in the health sector,

which is important not only for my electorate but for every electorate in Australia. Today as we deal with these

appropriation bills, I will be focusing on the first 100 days of my election and that of the Turnbull government.

The member for Dobell explained the importance of the parliament not only working together but working.

I gave my first speech yesterday in the House of Representatives and then it was only a matter of hours later

that we saw once again this government and this parliament fall apart. This is week 3 for the member for Dobell

and I, day 10, of a so-called new government, and we witnessed yet again the government fall to pieces on the

floor of the parliament. You could say one strike was bad enough in the first week when government members,

ministers and senior ministers thought it more important to catch aeroplanes to fly home, to leave their job. In

my community, you do not leave work early; you do not just put your feet up; you do a full day's work because

that is what you are employed to do, just as we are employed to pass legislation—like for marriage equality.

The important issue related to these bills today is we saw a senior economic minister, the person charged with

the responsibility of delivering outcomes, the person charged with the important responsibility of looking after

our finances not knowing what she was voting for but more importantly not apparently caring what she voted for

either. For the first time since Federation, we saw a coalition government voting with the Labor opposition to

deliver our amendments. This is pretty serious stuff. The government today is simply saying well, it is just one

of those things. One of those things we have also witnessed in the first 10 days of representing our communities

is $107 million slipped off as part of a package. Another of the things we have also saw was the Senate running

out of work to do. And of course we also saw the government lose control on the floor of parliament. So I would

particularly say to the Minister for Revenue and Financial Services: pay more attention to your job because our

nation's finances are in your hands. Sadly they are in her and this government's hands.

Today I will be focusing on a couple of important issues as a part of the appropriation debate, particularly in the

areas of infrastructure; the delivery, or lack of delivery, of the NBN; and accessible and affordable health care.

On the issue of infrastructure, in my first contribution to this chamber I will be putting fairly and squarely on the

agenda the issue of the Ipswich Motorway upgrade. This is a critical issue for my local community. I spoke about

it in my first speech to the House of Representatives, and each and every day I will be championing this issue.

Looking at the facts on the table: the former federal Labor government invested around $2.8 billion to complete

the Dinmore to Darra section. When you drive around my community, the record speaks for itself. Only Labor

has invested in real infrastructure. For 12 or 13 long years we had inadequate representation in our community,

with Liberal representatives doing absolutely nothing on the Ipswich Motorway. It took the election of a Labor

federal government, working hand in glove with a Labor state government, to deliver the real economic and

infrastructure reforms that our communities have needed.

Labor committed to this upgrade in 2013, but, of course, the incoming Abbott and Turnbull governments failed

to advance the project. And there was a little bit of time during that when we had a terrible experience, which

was, of course, the Newman government in Queensland. That toxic experience was rejected, quite rightly, by

the community. It had one of the largest majorities in Queensland's history and it only took 36 months—36

months too long—for the Newman government to be wiped out, as it should have been, for refusing to deliver

on infrastructure commitments, for refusing to deliver for my community. If it was not bad enough that they

were not delivering on infrastructure, they also took an axe to frontline workers, health workers in particular,

and our community suffered for it.

Thank goodness the Palaszczuk Labor government and the transport minister, Mark Bailey, have championed

this issue, alongside my colleagues the member for Moreton and the member for Blair, Shayne Neumann, who

has long been an advocate for infrastructure delivery for the south-west corridor on the outskirts of Brisbane,

right up through to Ipswich city. Labor is committed to this important, vital infrastructure project.

We are putting this Turnbull government on notice: it is now time to deliver. We have got to see that bottleneck

end, that valve relief. I know, living in a suburb near the Ipswich Motorway—my friends, my neighbours, the

people I work with, the community groups I serve, they all tell the same story: they are sick and tired of sitting

in traffic day in, day out. They want to be home with their families and businesses want to be able to get around

a lot quicker, so this is an important, critical piece of infrastructure. The Labor record will show that it delivers

important projects like the Redcliffe rail project—this was championed by a former federal member of this place,

Yvette D'Ath, and opened a matter of a week or so ago—under the stewardship of Wayne Swan, who allocated

those hundreds of millions of dollars to deliver that project. The Turnbull government is very good at cutting

ribbons, taking selfies, catching the train and perhaps having people talking to the Prime Minister—or not, as was

the case most recently—but we know, when it comes to delivering projects, it is only this side of the chamber

that actually gets on, allocates the funds and delivers those projects.

Another issue I will be focusing on today in my first address to this chamber will be the failure of the Turnbull

government to hear the message about Medicare. It has been 100 days since we saw a pretty bad performance

by the Prime Minister on election night—more like a tantrum—saying that the Australian community had got it

wrong. I know, in my own community and sitting in the parliament now, we have had lectures from the health

minister and ministers from the Turnbull government saying that it was all a scare campaign. It was all scary

and it was somehow mischievous. I will tell you what is scary: what this government is doing in this budget to

the healthcare needs of my community and every other Australian. There are major cuts to frontline services,

cuts to medicines and cuts to services that my community relies on. I am sick and tired of having lectures from

those opposite, because the proof is in the pudding. I know that in my community, right throughout the election,

I had GPs contacting me; GPs campaigning by my side; and health professionals right across the electorate on

election day, in surgeries, in practices across the Oxley electorate, who simply wanted a fair go for their patients.

Those opposite in the government simply say, 'Well, we're not going to listen to that message.' You would think,

looking at the chamber now with all of those members lost on the other side of the parliament—with fantastic

new members like the member for Dobell, who championed as a health professional herself and who is now

serving in this parliament—that they would hear that message. But, sadly, they have not. We will continue to

fight for a fair go for constituents and a fair go for GPs and hardworking professionals.

If you are listening to the government, mate, they like to say: 'GPs are wrong. The health practitioners are wrong.

The community is wrong. The AMA is wrong'—but they are right. They need to start really listening to the

concerns of those residents out there, residents who contacted me during the campaign and who continue to

contact me about their concerns about the shambles that this government is creating in health care in this country.

On the issue of the NBN, this is a sad story that the government is refusing to acknowledge. In my community,

where we are seeing that digital divide, I have spoken to small-business operators. I have spoken to young

families who are moving into one of the fastest growth corridors in the nation in my electorate, through the

Greater Springfield development. They just want a fair go when it comes to NBN. They want to make sure that

the commitments that have been made by this government are met. We know we were promised a lot by the

innovative Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, who promised that we would have it cheaper, we would have it

quicker and it would be faster—failure on every account. We know that, because our communities are telling

us that message. The business community is telling us that over and over again—inferior technology delivering

an inferior outcome. We know that the issue of faster, quality broadband is not just a way of life for many

younger Australians. It also connects some of the seniors in our community as well to make sure that they have

the opportunities.

It is bad enough that this government keeps outsourcing and privatising with their agenda, ignoring the warning

signals from whistleblowers within Health and Human Services who are now saying that times for claims for

Medicare are blowing out. We have shut down Medicare interface offices. I know in my electorate that has

occurred. We are now pushing people to go online. We are now pushing more and more people to use online

services. The facts are that there are a large number of Australians who simply have not caught up and who do

not have access to quality internet services—made worse by those not delivering on their commitments on the

NBN, I may add. But they know that they need those services put into place.

The NBN rollout and faster and accessible broadband is critical for access to quality health services, for young

students completing their senior studies and for studying online. We know that frustration from so many

young Australians because they do not have access to quality services. Our internet speeds now are completely

collapsing under this government. They keep dropping, year in, year out. I only wish that this government would

actually hear these messages, particularly around the NBN.

In the rollout in my own community, there has been delay upon delay. We know it is a critical piece of

infrastructure. I am going to keep championing this as a major issue in my own local community because the

business community has asked me to do this. The education communities and the health services community

have also asked me to make sure that this is a priority.

It is a privilege to serve in this place, but it is more important that all of us ensure that we keep this government

to account when it comes to its budget. We know that we have seen the budget deficit blow out under this

government. The centrepiece of the budget was, of course, a $50 billion tax cut, giving wealthy individuals

earning over $180,000—around the top three per cent of income earners—a tax cut to their marginal rate. I know

those opposite. That is their priority. Their priority is to always look after the top end of town and to make sure

that those at the high income levels get a tax break. I am here to tell them—through you, Mr Deputy Speaker

—that my job here is to make sure that we have budget repair with fairness. We have to make sure that the

budget repair is done with fairness. It is bad enough that this budget is cutting $30 billion from schools. There are

$100,000 university degrees, the plan to increase the cost of medicine, a plan to have the world's oldest pension

age, and also the lack of reform in child care and education. I will keep fighting for these issues because that is

what the Oxley community has sent me here to do.