1 year ago




94 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 manufacturing to 50 per cent, up from the current two per cent. With that will come really important apprenticeships. While Colin Barnett, Liza Harvey and their mates here in Canberra in the Turnbull government are sitting back and doing nothing about congestion in Western Australia, Mark McGowan and WA Labor have a real alternative plan. Metronet is about connecting the suburbs of Perth to fix our congestion problem. We want a circle line around the state, revolutionising Perth's rail system, providing our state's very first east-west rail link so that commuters are not having to travel into the CBD and back out again when there is a more direct route. This means the Forrestfield line to Ellenbrook; a line to Yanchep, the North and Byford to the east; as well as a new train station in Karnup in the south. We know that Metronet is smart, affordable and achievable and it will bring Perth in line with some of the best cities in the world when it comes to public transport, and I firmly believe that is what Western Australians deserve. We have also a stark contrast between Mark McGowan and Colin Barnett in the privatisation of Western Power. Colin Barnett and Liza Harvey are making such a mess on this issue. They have made such a mess of the state budget. Their solution is to privatise Western Power to make a quick buck, despite One Nation's opposition to its privatisation. But we know that a vote for One Nation is in fact a vote to privatise Western Power. After recklessly squandering the revenue from the mining boom, the Liberal government has a plan to privatise Western Power to fix their budget problems. It is a short-term solution that is actually going to leave our state worse off, because we will forgo the $500 million worth of revenue that Western Power brings in every year. It will see rising power prices and it is a cost that people who are under the financial pressures that they are already under simply cannot afford. We know that people in WA want Western Power to stay in public hands, which is why a Labor government would not sell Western Power. We outlined just this week a comprehensive plan to reduce state debt—a plan that would keep Western Power in state hands. It is a plan that invests in education. We know that education is a key priority for families across the state. It is certainly a key priority for my own. We want to see more than 1,300 local jobs created by investing in new school infrastructure across the state—10 new primary schools in the outer suburban growth areas, secondary schools with major upgrades and $30 million to be invested in regional schools, which is reversing eight years of neglect by the Liberal-Nationals government. We want to see investments in science and coding in primary schools to prepare our kids for the jobs of the future. We want to put education assistants back into public schools. They were ripped out, leaving many of our state's most vulnerable children neglected in the classroom. We want to allow school communities the option of hosting quality childcare providers on-site to make life easier for busy families like my own. These are just a small highlight of some of the plans WA Labor has to ensure that we have quality education for our children in our state. We also know that health care is an issue that many voters are talking to us about. Our approach is to put patients first. It is about doctors and nurses working on the front line to provide world-class health care to patients. It is about investing in an upgrade at the Joondalup hospital, with $160 million worth of resources there. It is a campus for a very large and growing urban community that is currently travelling a long way to the city to get basic hospital services. We want to build medi-hotels at major hospitals to free up hospital beds, reduce waiting times for surgery and allow patients a chance to recuperate. We know that many hospital beds are taken up because people do not have reliable care at home. They may not live with anyone who can look after them, but if there is a medi-hotel they are only a phone call away from the hospital, and we think that is a really important initiative. We also want to see urgent care clinics to ensure that people are able to get after-hours care, reducing pressure and waiting times at our overstressed hospitals. These are just some of the issues we are taking into this election. I want to highlight that Mark McGowan and WA Labor are very much ready to govern in WA. They are bringing fresh ideas to the state, and I am really proud to support our excellent candidates there. I know that only Mark McGowan has a plan for WA—a plan that invests in schools, public transport, Metronet, public hospitals and patients and will keep our Western Power in public hands. With just 25 days to go, I am really looking forward to getting out and talking to voters about a much brighter future for our state. Queensland Economy Senator ROBERTS (Queensland) (20:43): As a servant to the people of Queensland and Australia, I need to start by saying that I love to learn, and what I learn I like to share, especially about the state I represent. Last month I had the fortune to travel for 2,000 kilometres across the state to almost the South Australian border and covered many climatic and topographic regions. And I felt re-energised doing it—loving to listen, it is so easy, with so much going on in the state. CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 95 The first people we listened to were farmers Trevor and Wendy Cross, near Bundaberg. Trevor said to me— and I can still remember him in his work clothes, an easygoing, knockabout bloke who has been very successful due to using his brains. He said to me that farmers who cannot make a profit should get out. I notice that he works in an industry with very small margins on very high volume and enormous risk, and that is why he needs to be so well managed. He produces 14 different types of fruit and vegetables, and he exports some of them. I realised there, yet again, that the customer is the best regulator. He employs 350 backpackers; some of them are from overseas, but most are regulars. They come from as far away as Victoria every year. Why? Because the locals will not work, according to Trevor. He cites tax, red tape, green tape, blue tape—that is the UN tape— and payroll tax, and he sees the need for comprehensive tax reform. As I have heard somewhere else, we cannot make the poor rich by making the rich poor. I went to Bundaberg and unveiled a transparency portal—a concept that people loved. It was at the time of the pollies' perks scandal with Sussan Ley and Julie Bishop. That night we had dinner with Damian Huxham, Jane Truscott and Ashley Lynch. They are passionate about Queensland, as were so many other people in the Bundaberg RSL club. As Damian said to me, all the people want is a fair go. The next morning, after staying the night in Bundy, we visited Tony Brierley of Brierley Wines in Childers. What a surprise—he is a biodynamic and organic farmer who learnt how to make wine in the traditional Italian way. He is a real character, with many other side businesses on the go. He is having a go, and his initiative and research led him to this business that he built out of nothing. Quite a character. It brings back fond memories. Then we went on to Biggenden, where we met Tyler the butcher. He has done three apprenticeships—light diesel and heavy diesel and then he went into butchery. He is willing to work as an apprentice to a butcher who he had to hire to be his boss and overseer. He talked about many innovations in the town and his own innovations for his own market. The Biggenden butcher shop was shut down until his parents, who are farmers, bought it. Tyler talked about things as diverse as the irrigation of Colton, which would turn that wonderfully rich volcanic soil into a remarkably productive region, and all by just buying a pump and installing it near, I think, Paradise Dam. He talked about the changes underway in his town and in his industry. While in Biggenden I visited Eddie Chandler and his wife, who have the local post office franchise. They are swamped with trends and changes. The internet has dramatically increased the number of parcels and the percentage of parcels he has to deliver. The number of letters is plummeting, which reduces his income, and he is tied to an old formula—it is up to five years old, I believe, from memory. That formula is out of date for his revenue. Yet the CEO of Australia Post makes over $5 million a year. Changes are happening and the old guard at Australia Post is out of touch, choked by systems. Then we drove onto Mondure, where we met Poppy and Robyn Cross. Poppy is a sawmiller and a timbergetter, and he will not employ people anymore because of the regulations and the red tape. What a character he is. Poppy has a shed that is famous for miles around. It is a national treasure. The evening dinner was instructive. Poppy and Robyn invited quite a few of the locals off the property and out of the town, and, to a person, they are disillusioned with the political class, disillusioned with tax and disillusioned with red tape. What is the point? The world is changing, but the political class are anchored by old, outdated governance policies. The next day I met Mike and Andrea, cotton and beef farmers. What an amazing couple. Mike talked about multi-peril insurance instead of the subsidies that seem to be dragging down farming in many, many ways. He talked about Cubbie Station, and what an eye-opener that was. We will be going back into the south-west next week to go specifically to Cubbie Station and other areas. Mike and Andrea showed their initiative, their dedication and their competence but, sadly, they do not employ anyone. They do all the work themselves. They invest at great risk in their heavy machinery, their scientific management of their crop and their scientific management of their water that they have to buy. Why no employees? Too many regulations and too much tax. So they have to work very, very hard on the land. Again, there are more and more changes. The next day we went Dalby, where I met with a mechanic named David Wheelahan. He is faced with a change too—a simple change. I had never thought of it—the improvement in cars. Cars now come with stainless steel exhaust pipes, so they do not rust, and his exhaust and mechanic shop does not have the same work. He is now working creatively in improving cars. So, he is at the mercy of change as well, but he is taking hold of it through his initiative. Then we went onto Chinchilla, where we met Hamish and Kim Munro, the owners of the local McDonald's. He is also the chairman of Chinchilla Community Commerce & Industry. In Chinchilla they are facing a slump in the gas price and unemployment, yet it is difficult for them at the McDonald's to get people to work—in a town with high unemployment. So they actually employ four Indians at McDonald's, and they are finding them to be fantastic workers. Chinchilla Community Commerce & Industry, wonderfully, said that their aim is to make the CHAMBER

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