Standing up for Canberra

Jobs and the Australian Economy 2010

When I saw this MPI this afternoon, I was a bit surprised and wondered to myself where the member for North Sydney has been during the 43rd Parliament. Has he not been listening? I do not think so, because he has been so hell-bent on destroying, cutting and slashing that he cannot hear above the din of chainsaws, demolishing balls and jackhammers in his head. Had he listened, he would have learnt that Labor saved this country from recession. He would have learnt that we created 650,000 jobs. That figure makes me think about what is happening in the UK and the US at the moment, and what is happening in Europe. Just recently, I heard of 500,000 public service jobs being slashed in the UK. Compare that to 650,000 jobs being created here in Australia.

Had the member for North Sydney been listening, he would have learnt that we have an unemployment rate of 5.4 per cent. Again, compare that to the UK, the US and Europe, where the unemployment rate is double that. Had he been listening, he would have learnt that we are heading for a surplus in three years time. That makes me cast my mind to the extraordinary and tragic situation in Ireland at the moment, where they are being bailed out by the EU. Where are we in Australia? We are heading towards a surplus in three years time, we have created 650,000 jobs, we have unemployment at 5.4 per cent and our workers are now working under Fair Work arrangements, enjoying good pay and conditions.

Had the member for North Sydney been listening, he would have heard about the infrastructure that we are creating in this country, that we are building after decades of neglect. He would have learnt that we have doubled the spend on roads, that the spend on rail has gone up tenfold. He would have learnt that we have invested $16.2 billion in the Building the Education Revolution for children now and for Australia’s future. He would have learnt that we are overhauling the health system and increasing the number of GPs, doctors, nurses and carers throughout the country, and he would have learnt that we want to improve productivity in this country through the National Broadband Network, that we want to ensure that this country stays up to date with what is happening in the world and continues to be innovative and productive. That is why the National Broadband Network is so crucial.

Had he been listening he would have learnt that Labor is doing an enormous amount to ease the costof-living pressures on families. On 1 January next year we will introduce paid parental leave, an amazing achievement after decades of fighting by women for this. It will benefit not just women and men but also all families. It is thanks to Labor that this amazing achievement has happened. Had he been listening he would have heard about the increase in childcare rebates from 30 per cent to 50 per cent and also the range of reforms we are introducing in that area to improve the delivery of standards of child care and the education, fulfilment and commitment of childcare workers. Had he been listening he would have heard that the pension had gone up. My mother is on the pension and she was greatly relieved to hear that news. It was thanks to Labor that that has been delivered for both singles and couples. Had he been listening he would have heard about the education tax refund for uniforms, the dental health system for teens and also the plans we have for super so that Australians can enjoy prosperity and decent conditions when they retire. Had he been listening he would have heard about the tax cuts—18 per cent for people who are earning $50,000 a year. That is nearly 20 per cent over three years, putting more money in families’ pockets. And had he been listening he would have also heard about the increase that we are planning in family tax benefit A.

The investment that Labor has been making in this country, and also the efforts it has been making to reduce the cost-of-living pressures, has extended to Canberra, thanks to the Gillard Labor government. We now have cranes everywhere around the city. We have not seen cranes on the horizon of this city for decades. Now we have roadworks everywhere, which I know cause some complaints amongst my constituents, but it is the first time for decades that we have had roadworks. Now, for the first time in decades, we have millions of dollars being invested in our schools. Parents, students, staff and the grandparents of Canberrans are very grateful for the investment we are making in their schools.

Had he been listening he would have realised that the Gillard government is deeply committed to the people of Canberra and deeply committed to investing in our future to ensure that we continue to grow and thrive. I contrast that with what happened under the coalition government in 1996. I contrast that with the fact that when the coalition government came to power they axed 30,000 jobs in this town.

Mr McCormack—Rubbish.

Ms BRODTMANN—They axed 30,000 jobs—go back to it.

Dr Mike Kelly—Shocking. The whole region was affected.

Ms BRODTMANN—As the member for Eden Monaro can attest, 30,000 jobs that had an impact not just on this city but also on this region. As a result of the axing of those jobs, we went into a countercyclical recession for four years. The coalition does not care about Canberra; it does not care about the Public Service. It has complete disdain for it. Not only did it impact on the Public Service but also it impacted on the region as businesses closed down. It had a knock-on effect right throughout the economy, and that lasted for four years. Only now in some parts of the city are we gradually getting out of the recession that was caused by the coalition government. We still have empty shops as a result of its complete disdain for the Public Service and for Canberra.

Not only does the opposition have complete disdain for Canberra’s existence but 10 years ago it also had complete disdain for 30,000 jobs. The coalition’s promise to public servants in Canberra if it was to win office again in 2010 was 12,000 more job cuts, plus an increase in the efficiency dividend. This is what the coalition promises Canberra. It has complete disdain for this city and the Public Service.

The member for North Sydney has obviously not been listening to what has been happening in this 43rd Parliament over the last few weeks. He obviously has not been listening to the significant range of achievements that this government has delivered for the people of Australia and, most importantly, for the people of Canberra and the significant effort it has gone to to ease the cost-of-living pressures throughout Australia. He feigns concern that he is worried about the people of Australia. If he is concerned about the people of Australia, he is certainly not concerned about the people of Canberra. He and the coalition are intent on destroying this city. The coalition destroyed it in 1996 and it took 15 years for it to be rebuilt. The coalition is intent on doing it again in 2010 and onwards. Do not pretend otherwise. It should not pretend that it is interested in this city and the welfare of the people of Canberra in the guise of Christmas cheer.

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