October Budget 2022

APPROPRIATION BILLS 2022-2023 - HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

I rise to speak in this appropriation bill cognate debate today, and it is my absolute pleasure to speak about the appropriation bills that deliver the Albanese Labor government's first budget. The budget delivered by the Treasurer in October sets out the priorities for this government, and those priorities match what we took to the election. The budget delivers responsible cost-ofliving relief that doesn't put pressure on inflation. It makes targeted investments to build a stronger and more resilient economy and begins the hard yards of budget repair so that we can pay for what's important. The most important thing, I think, for members of my community, when I talk to them, is Labor's commitment to action on global warming and climate change, and passing the legislation that legislated that target, and the commitments that were made in the budget to make Australia a renewable powerhouse—the Powering Australia plan.

The budget established the $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund to support innovation in existing industries and the creation of new industries in regional areas. This is really important because as we transition it's often the regions where attention to job security is lacking. We need to ensure that, when moving into this renewable space, workers in the regions are looked after, and ensure that we create jobs in those regions. There is an $8.1 million fund over three years in this budget to progress research and support the commercialisation of seaweed as an emissions reducing livestock feed supplement; again, this is important for the regions. There is $95.6 million in funding over nine years to support 10,000 people to complete a New Energy Apprenticeship and the $9.6 million New Energy Skills Program.

This budget steps out how we will respond over time. It sets us up to make that transition to cleaner, cheaper energy, which in the longer term will impact on power prices. It has a $15 billion commitment to establish the National Reconstruction Fund, including up to $3 billion for the Powering Australia plan. This budget will introduce a $345 million electric car discount which exempts eligible electric cars from fringe benefits tax and the five per cent import tariff.

So the budget is thoughtful. It's thoughtful about how we're going to make this transition. It's thoughtful about incentivising the move to renewables so that we can have a speedy impact on that target for renewable energy and therefore a speedy impact on the target for global warming emissions reduction. There's a $14 million commitment over four years to conduct on-road emissions and fuel consumption testing of light vehicles sold in Australia, and the introduction of the Commonwealth fleet target to ensure its fleet purchases and leases will be 75 per cent electric by 2025. So it's a thoughtful budget in this space. It makes sure that we're moving in the right direction. In terms of electricity, it's established Rewiring the Nation with a $20 billion budget in lowcost finance to expand and modernise Australia's electricity grids at the lowest cost. It's also announced the first Rewiring the Nation electricity transmission investments to provide concessional financing for the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria, offshore wind projects and renewable energy zones in Victoria and the VictoriaNew South Wales interconnector, the KerangLink.

The budget is structured. It responds to the lack of action from those opposite over 10 years to ensure that Australia meets its commitments. It also ensures that in doing so we set ourselves up for that renewable future, that we become part of the solution and, in doing so, move forward. The budget also strengthens Medicare, another election commitment. The Australian government's budget begins the task of strengthening Medicare after a decade of cuts and neglect—and I know this on the ground through my community. The changes those opposite made to the distribution priority areas saw 30 per cent of GPs leave my community. Across the city of Wyndham—that's 300,000 people—30 per cent of our GPs left, putting extraordinary pressure on the health system, extraordinary pressure on families and extraordinary pressure on individuals to try and get to see a doctor.

Well, this budget has some of those answers. This budget establishes 50 Medicare urgent-care clinics, one of which will be in my community, taking pressure off our already overwhelmed emergency department at the Mercy Hospital for Women. Happily, we also have a state Labor commitment to an extra $100 million for that emergency department to double its size. This is really going to start work on the ground in my community.

We also have measures in this budget to make medicines cheaper. For the first time in the PBS's 75-year history, the maximum cost of general scripts under the PBS will fall. The maximum co-payment of $42.50 will drop to $30 from 1 January. This will be pleasing in a community like mine, where families may have more than one script that they're paying for each month, and it'll stop the pressure on them to have to make a decision about which script to fill and which script not to fill. That's important, obviously, in health.

The budget delivers in education. It delivers 480,000 fee-free TAFE places and 20,000 university places that will be targeted to communities like mine, to first-in-family students and to young people from low SES communities to pursue a higher education. These are important things in this budget to get this country back on track and to make sure that your postcode doesn't determine your life's outcomes or, in fact, your income.

It also includes our plan for cheaper child care, which in my community—which has the highest number of zeroto five-year-olds in early education in the country—will have a positive impact for over 10,000 families. Ten thousand families in my community will have savings here. It will also free up, it has been calculated, 37,000 effective full-time workers by allowing women to access a fourth or fifth day of work without having a financial penalty attached. It's an extraordinary piece that will help 1.26 million Australian families. It will have positive impacts in terms of gender equity. It will see women engage in the workforce more readily, and that will see, in communities like mine, families increasing their potential income.

It also works in terms of infrastructure. This budget makes a commitment of $2.57 billion to Victoria, a state that has been starved of infrastructure funds for nearly a decade by those opposite. This includes, most importantly in my local community, a $57 million contribution to build the Ison Road bridge, which will be matched by the state government. This will allow thousands of cars that currently go into Werribee to leave Werribee and go out to the M1. This means that, in areas like Jubilee, Wyndham Vale and Manor Lakes, people will be able to go straight over the Ison Road bridge and drop down onto the M1. So it will make commutes shorter, save people time and bust congestion through the centre of the city of Wyndham. This budget also commits $2.2 billion over five years to the Victorian government for the construction of the Suburban Rail Loop East project, and I know other members from Victoria will be very happy to see the impacts of that.

It's a budget that works for my local community. As well as that, Wyndham has been put back into the list of Distribution Priority Areas. We heard a question today in question time, the implication of which was that somehow the metropolitan area is robbing regions to do this. The fact of matter is that this government has also put in place steps to ensure that we can attract and retain doctors from overseas, not just into regional Australia but into areas like the area I represent, where we have high growth and high numbers of young families who suffer high impacts when they can't see a GP. So I thank Minister Butler for his commitment to a community like ours to ensure that those things are happening.

In terms of local commitments to my community, I also welcome a small but significant contribution to our Wyndham Interfaith Network: a $20,000 commitment to support our interfaith network to put back into place, post COVID, their annual dinner, where representatives from across our faith communities come together to share, to build understanding and to build cohesion. Then they take that back into those individual communities. They work together on projects to ensure that all our communities of faith are respected and engaged in ongoing conversations in communities like mine. It's a really important initiative and I absolutely welcome that that is listed in this budget.

We also have in this budget for my community a commitment to a toy library. There are 300,000 children between zero and five in Wyndham—the highest number of zero to five-year-olds in the country. There is a little pocket that I represent called Wyndham Vale that has incredibly intense numbers of zero to five-year-olds in our early learning centres and preschools. There's a $20,000 commitment here to assist the Wyndham City Council in establishing a second toy library, one specifically for Wyndham Vale, where those children will have access to quality toys and their parents, in joining the library, will also have access to a conversation, sharing and potentially opportunities to join other clubs and connect into our community. It's a small commitment, but it means an enormous amount in communities like mine where we are building communities every day, where people move into our new suburbs and new housing developments. Their first point of connection might be that early learning centre; it might be the library; it might be the toy library where those families started to connect.

Another local commitment is a commitment of $500,000 to the Werribee Central Sports Club to assist in their redevelopment of Galvin Park. For the club and the 800 families that engage in the Werribee Central Sports Club through football or netball or cricket and come together all weekend, summer or winter, that will make a huge difference. It's just one indicator of the way this government cares about the grassroots as much as it does the highlight figures.

There is also money in this budget for a commitment to assist in our local waterways. In new housing estates we are often now using the stormwater in creation of wetlands or putting water back into wetlands or natural creeks. This happens all over my electorate in every new housing development. The commitment is made by this government in this budget to support that waterway development, to ensure that we keep litter out of those waterways and to ensure that we are creating family-friendly spaces in all of our housing estates. So I'm really pleased about that commitment as well.

It's an important budget. It's a budget that puts down the indicators, if you like, and sets out the priorities of the Albanese Labor government. It's about bringing people together. It is about people coming together to look forward. It's a budget with a vision for the future. It's a budget that serves communities like mine as much as it serves communities across this country. It's a budget with attention to the regions as well as to the metropolitan areas. It's a budget that understands the way Australians live their lives. It's a budget that understands aspiration and doesn't punish it. It's a budget that understands that workers need a pay rise. It's a budget that delivers for all Australians.

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