State Budget and Western New South Wales

About this Item
SpeakersGrant Mr Troy; Deputy-Speaker (Mr Thomas George); Hay Ms Noreen; Williams Mr John; Barr Mr Clayton
BusinessUrgent Motion, URG MOT

Page: 5677

Motion Accorded Priority

Mr TROY GRANT (Dubbo—Parliamentary Secretary) [3.37 p.m.]: I move:
      That this House supports the Government's budget commitments to Western New South Wales.

I am pleased that the House supported this motion being accorded priority because it highlights the reversal of fortunes that has come across western and regional New South Wales. We were well aware during the election campaign that western and regional New South Wales wanted a voice in government. What underpins that is the opportunity to have the hopes and aspirations, as well as the needs and services, of our communities realised. The people in western and regional New South Wales often are asked to do more with less and to travel that bridge too far. They are fed up with that attitude. The O'Farrell-Stoner Government and the first budget by Treasurer Baird have renewed their faith and hope in State government. People in regional New South Wales hold very strongly to the view that if you give your word on something, you keep it. For too long, as I outlined when I was giving reasons why this motion should be accorded priority, for nine long years just in my electorate alone, the previous Government promised hospital upgrades for Forbes and Dubbo and a new hospital for Parkes.

Mr Kevin Anderson: For Tamworth too?

Mr TROY GRANT: I will get to Tamworth. For nine long years that Government contributed nothing until its last budget when it included some money for the Dubbo upgrade. That was the extent. The new shadow spokesperson on health, Dr Andrew McDonald—

Mr Ryan Park: A fine member.

Mr TROY GRANT: I disagree with that description. He is a fine man and I thank him for helping my colleague the member for Myall Lakes in the House the other day. No doubt the member for Macquarie Fields is a man of high character, but his political ability reflects the misfortunes of those with whom he associates. He told one of the local newspapers in my electorate, the Parkes Champion-Post:
      If the Government is going to give you a new hospital, they've only given you $3 million to plan it with, so that's really bad news.

That is an astonishing comment. The member for Tamworth highlighted that the Dubbo electorate is not alone in suffering. My friend the member for Wagga Wagga knows only too well about unfulfilled promises for health investment, infrastructure and service delivery. Tamworth quite rightly is a hub of regional New South Wales. I called this wonderful community home for about 14 years. Tamworth is a major centre that holds an annual major event.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Wagga Wagga and the member for Wollongong are not taking part in this debate yet. They will listen to the member for Dubbo in silence.

Mr TROY GRANT: The behaviour of those opposite is a little like an Austin Powers movie except it is not that funny. If the member for Charlestown could bring a cat into the Chamber and give it to the Leader of the Opposition, the House would have a dead ringer for Dr Evil. We will not treat this State like a joke as those opposite do. We have provided significant investment through this first budget. The House should support the commitments to western New South Wales. The lists are long and endless, but I shall draw the attention of the House to just a few. The budget has provided $160 million for the Great Western Highway, which, of course, does not apply to all of western New South Wales. We are part of this State and do not believe everything should centre on us.

All our western communities work together to contribute to the State's economy, from our food bowls to our tourist routes—through the wonderful Monaro area or to Tamworth to experience that major event every January. Western New South Wales needs infrastructure—roads and links—to help make this State prosperous. The Great Western Highway is just one example of the good news in the budget. The budget has provided my electorate with an injection of funds totalling $1.4 million in infrastructure for the Golden Highway and Ballymore Road. This was an election commitment and again honours a promise made by the then Opposition, now the Government. Twice a day this diabolical intersection places schoolchildren at significant risk.

Unlike those opposite, we can deliver on our promises because the Coalition shadow Cabinet visited western New South Wales twice during the election campaign. Now in government, that Cabinet represents regional and western New South Wales through the Minister for Western New South Wales, who is doing a terrific job of addressing the diverse issues we face. This budget focuses not just on health and road infrastructure but also talks about front-line services. The Treasurer has delivered a budget that underpins the important issues. As I described in my local press, this budget is a fantastic first step in turning around this State. Despite the economic peril in which we found ourselves, this budget will make sure we are able to realise front-line services in health, nursing and police.

Ms Noreen Hay: Tell that to the public sector.

Mr TROY GRANT: You're no Liz Hurley; just be quiet. This budget is an absolute commitment to front-line services, infrastructure and all the things that western New South Wales needs to be a major contributor to our State's economy and to regional New South Wales.

Ms NOREEN HAY (Wollongong) [3.44 p.m.]: The last comment from the member for Dubbo proves that he is no Tony McGrane or Dawn Fardell. I have an amendment to the motion. I move:
      That the motion be amended by leaving out all words after "That" with a view to inserting instead:

      "this House notes that the budget:

      (1) provides neither improved services nor infrastructure for western New South Wales, nor for anywhere else in New South Wales;

      (2) attacks the most vulnerable in our community;

      (3) provides for sacking of government workers and cuts to services; and

      (4) foreshadows that the Government will fund its forward capital program by selling government assets, including the electricity poles and wires.

As offensive as some comments in this debate may have been, they do not alter the fact that the Illawarra received zero from the budget.

Mr John Barilaro: The members didn't work hard enough.

Ms NOREEN HAY: The member for Monaro has not been here long enough to warm his seat. As the member for Keira said, the budget did not provide a dollar for Bulli Hospital in his electorate.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Wollongong will be heard in silence.

Ms NOREEN HAY: Bulli Hospital did not receive a dollar from the budget even though funding was promised.

Mr John Williams: You got more nurses.

Ms NOREEN HAY: How many more nurses did we get for Wollongong Hospital? Let us see. As of today, that hospital got almost zero as far as commitment of dollars to health; the only new commitments were those of the previous Labor Government. The Illawarra region received a commitment in the lead-up to the election to maintain the free shuttle bus, but received zero for any new services. In the Illawarra's hour of need, facing the axing of many hundreds of jobs by BlueScope, this State Government has provided only $5 million to match BlueScope's $5 million. That is a paltry amount of money considering the impact of those job losses on the Illawarra community. The Government gives $300 million plus to clubs and $400 million in payroll tax cuts but provides only $5 million to assist an entire community that will be seriously impacted by many job losses, including some of the foreshadowed 5,000 public sector jobs to be cut.

Mr Troy Grant: Point of order: My point of order is that the amendment is not relevant. The amendment of the member for Wollongong notes:
      (1) the budget provides neither improved services nor infrastructure for western New South Wales ...
Wollongong is not in western New South Wales.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I have received similar amendments over the past three days. The member for Wollongong clearly is speaking to her amendment.

Ms NOREEN HAY: Is it Dumbo or Dubbo?

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Murray-Darling will cease interjecting.

Ms NOREEN HAY: Many of the 5,000 public service workers set to face the sack will be from the Illawarra region. It is unacceptable that in its first budget the Government delivered almost zero to the Illawarra at a time of need when it promised to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people of the Illawarra. This budget gives nothing to the people of the Illawarra.

Mr Kevin Anderson: Point of order: My point of order is under Standing Order 129. The member for Wollongong is speaking to the Federal issue of the carbon tax and related job losses.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! There is no point of order. The amendment says, "nor for anywhere else in New South Wales."

Ms NOREEN HAY: Wollongong pensioners are also set to be hit hard by the $10 weekly increase in social housing rents, effectively decreasing their hard fought for $30 pension increases. The O'Farrell Government is ripping off our pensioners, including ex-service men and women and war widows, to pay for its election promises that are sending the budget into the red. First home buyers—young families—will miss out on stamp duty concessions worth tens of thousands of dollars. The Government does not care about young families, but we do. You may not care about pensioners and returned service personnel, but we do.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Wollongong will direct her comments through the Chair. I call the member for Murray-Darling to order.

Mr Troy Grant: Sit down.

Ms NOREEN HAY: You and I are going to have words. There will be a $12 increase in electricity bills on top of the Government's decision to increase electricity prices by 18 per cent on 1 July. Water prices are likely to increase as a result of the privatisation of Sydney's desalination plant, and parents will be forced to pay fees for State-run preschools. It is offensive to suggest that those opposite have done anything for regional Australia. [Time expired.]

Mr JOHN WILLIAMS (Murray-Darling) [3.51 p.m.]: It gives me great pleasure to speak to the motion about the forgotten land—forgotten by the former Labor Government and left out to dry. We had an organisation called Country Labor: Country by name but not by nature. Nothing came our way in western New South Wales under the previous Government. As a member of Parliament, the greatest honour that can be bestowed on you is when the Broken Hill branch of the Australian Labor Party writes to the paper and declares—

Ms Noreen Hay: Point of order: My point of order is in relation to the use of props.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! There is no point of order. The member for Murray-Darling is referring to an article from a newspaper for which he will give a citation.

Mr JOHN WILLIAMS: It is the Barrier Daily Truth published on 13 September 2011. The local branch of the Australian Labor Party was complementary as to what Broken Hill has received under this Government. As members of the House will be aware, the Payroll Tax Rebate Scheme (Jobs Action Plan) Bill 2011 was introduced less than six months ago. The Government announced that 62 new jobs had been created in the Murray-Darling electorate. That never happened under you. In Broken Hill 44 new jobs were created. The local Labor branch is very pleased with those 44 jobs.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! The member for Murray-Darling will direct his comments through the Chair.

Mr JOHN WILLIAMS: The local branch is very happy with those 44 jobs and complimented the Government on that achievement. It also showed concern about the 5,000 jobs that would be lost but recognised that that would translate into front-line—

Mr Ryan Park: Point of order: My point of order is under Standing Order 129. The comments of the local Australian Labor Party branch said are not relevant to this debate.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! There is no point of order. The member is referring to comments made in relation to the budget.

Mr JOHN WILLIAMS: This is about the budget, buddy. It is lost on you because you do not understand this—it is way above your head. The fact is the local Labor branch recognises that the 5,000 jobs that will be removed from middle management will translate to front-line jobs in the west. We will see more teachers, nurses and police out in western New South Wales. Poor old Noreen is bitter because she represented Wollongong when Labor was in government and did not receive funding and now she represents Wollongong on the opposition benches and has received nothing from this Government. The member for Wollongong should go out and start talking to her constituents and representing her electorate.

I am happy about the Government's confidence in putting together a budget that will do good work. The previous Government talked about a triple-A credit rating that was created by not spending any money. The fact is that the expenditure in this budget will hit the ground; it will not be rolled over again and again—the money will be spent. Western New South Wales will certainly be the winner as a result. Jobs are very important in western New South Wales. Under the previous Government the fisheries in Broken Hill were shut down, Roads and Traffic Authority jobs were removed, they took jobs out of the courthouse, and there was a continual wind down of public sector jobs in the electorate of Murray-Darling. Some 110 jobs were removed from Deniliquin and the former Government did not care. They were middle-management jobs that it moved back to the city. I am glad that we are going to see some front-line staff replace them. [Time expired.]

Mr CLAYTON BARR (Cessnock) [3.56 p.m.]: I bring to the House today the budget of the lowest common denominator. I refer to it as a budget of the lowest common denominator because in this document—members are welcome to read it—there are two sets of figures for the preceding year. The first is what is budgeted for, anticipated, planned or targeted, and the other is what was achieved. The Government has gone through both sets of figures and picked the lowest on each occasion. Government members have approached the task with a mindset of, "What is the easiest one for us to get to?" And the Government's answer is, "The low one. Let's pick the low one, even if that means we are going backwards". This is certainly the budget of the lowest common denominator—let us put that on the record now.

Given that the member for Dubbo has raised the issue of the west, I think it is important to talk about a matter that is important to all members of the House—although some may care more than others—and that is water catchments. Water catchments are a fairly relevant topic across the State and the country as a whole. What has been done with regard to water catchment budgets? The Border Rivers-Gwydir water catchment area will receive $7 million less; the Central West will receive $500,000 less; the Hawkesbury-Nepean will receive $5 million less; the Hunter and Central Coast will receive $2.6 million less; the Lachlan is going to go up—

Mr Matt Kean: There is some creative accounting there.

Mr CLAYTON BARR: No, they are all in here.

Mr Matt Kean: You didn't read the paper.

Mr CLAYTON BARR: The funding for Lachlan is going to increase.

Mr Gareth Ward: Point of order: I remind the member for Cessnock that he must direct all comments through the Chair and, in doing so, must not mislead the House in relation to budget figures.

The DEPUTY-SPEAKER (Mr Thomas George): Order! I uphold the point of order. I remind the member for Cessnock that he should direct his comments through the Chair.

Mr CLAYTON BARR: I agree entirely with the point of order. Funding for the Lachlan is going to increase. It will get an extra $800,000. Funding for the lower Murray-Darling catchment is minus $150,000.

Pursuant to standing and sessional orders business interrupted and motion lapsed.