Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2017-2018

The Turnbull government’s 2017 budget is one that delivers fairness, security and opportunity, not just for those who live in inner-city metropolitan suburbs but for Australians in regional and rural areas, cities and towns.

It makes the right choices for Australians who are working hard to secure the better days ahead for themselves and their families.

This budget will grow the country’s economy and help secure more and better-paid jobs for all Australians.

We are continuing the solid work of the coalition government since 2013: creating the National Innovation and Science Agenda, which is helping to diversify Australia’s economy; protecting Australians through the Defence white paper, which backs local advanced manufacturing in regional Australia; opening up Australia’s trade potential through free trade agreements with China, Japan, Korea, and moving into Hong Kong as well; and protecting women and children from domestic violence through the $100 million Women’s Safety Package.

Health is the most important facet of life.

Health is actually your wealth.

This budget delivers on the election commitment to guarantee Medicare and deliver the world’s best health system, in which people in regional and rural Australia have access to the best health services and amenities that we can provide.

The government’s long-term National Health Plan is supported in the budget through guaranteeing Medicare and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

As we heard, there are 1,400 new medicines on the PBS, compared to 331 in Labor’s last three years.

That is really great news for Australians, including people in my electorate, who desperately need the new medications.

We are supporting hospitals, prioritising mental and preventive health and continuing our investment in medical research.

These are the measures that will make a real, genuine difference in my electorate of Forrest and throughout regional Australia.

As Nelson Mandela said, ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’

Students in the South West will be better off under the government’s education policy.

Schools in Forrest will receive $119 million more from the federal government next year, an increase of over 6.4 per cent, and over the following three years federal government funding to schools in Forrest will grow by over 20 per cent.

It is a massive increase.

Under our plan, federal funding to schools will be distributed on a needs basis, something that all of us should be supportive of.

Our plan gives all Australian schools a fair go, wiping away the 27 secret special deals that Labor signed up to, which were actually quite a slap in the face to David Gonski and his team.

As Ken Boston, the Gonski review panellist, said, Labor’s arrangements corrupted needs based funding.

Under this government, and unlike under those opposite, federal funding is based entirely on David Gonski’s recommendations.

Each student’s background, level of disability and socioeconomic status are assessed to ensure funding is truly needs based and fair.

That is a great boost for regional and rural students—students in your own electorate, Mr Deputy Speaker Hastie.

This budget makes the right choices to ensure a fair and responsible path back to a balanced budget.

The underlying cash balance will improve from a forecast deficit of $29.4 billion in 2017-18 to a projected surplus of $7.4 billion in 2020-21.

In simple terms, this means hardworking Australians and businesses will pay less tax in the future to pay down Labor’s debt.

In addition to Australia’s economic growth being in its 26th year, the budget is projected to be back in surplus in 2020-21, and net debt is projected to fall to 8.5 per cent of GDP over the next decade.

In addition to guaranteeing essential services that Australians rely on, like Medicare and the PBS, this budget will grow the economy, and the South West will play its role in this.

It is one of the engine rooms of the economy in Western Australia and, more broadly, Australia.

After a lot of very strenuous lobbying, the Bunbury Outer Ring Road completion is now one step closer, because I was able to secure $10 million towards this project.

As members of the chamber may well recall, the project will link the key transport and export opportunities throughout the South West, linking the Bunbury port and the new Busselton-Margaret River airport upgrade.

It will also improve road safety in the South West and reduce freight and passenger congestion in the region. It is a major issue, when you consider the amount of events and functions that are held throughout the South West.

The Busselton-Margaret River region is known as the events capital outside of Perth. I think I read in the newspapers that over the Easter weekend something like 100,000 vehicles travelled through to the South West from Perth.

The Bunbury Outer Ring Road is a key part of that, but more critically for the freight component.

At the start of the year the contracts had been signed for the Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport upgrade, and for this I secured $9.78 million.

This is an absolutely transformative project for the South West. The Busselton-Margaret River Regional Airport upgrade will, by next year, see international and domestic flights directly into that region.

The freight opportunities that will go with that are significant.

Members of the House may not know that we produce some world-quality produce—whether it is beef, lamb or the wonderful wine—in my part of the world.

You will see the truffles from Manjimup coming out through the Busselton regional airport as well.

From a very self-interested perspective, our dairy products are also world class, as is that fabulous fresh water crayfish, the marron.

For those of you who have not tried it, I am hoping that through the Busselton-Margaret River airport those sorts of wonderful products will be sent to the east coast.

If it is packed today, I hope it is on your shelves and in your restaurants tonight in this part of the world.

We have some fine wines and breweries as well in our part of the world.

Opening all of this up to international and domestic tourists is a massive step to further putting the region on the doorstep of the world.

We know that Margaret River is basically an internationally brand. The amount of people who will want to come directly into this region will be significant.

We have some amazing events, from the Margaret River Pro to the Busselton Jetty Swim. There are one-off triathlons. There is one event after another.

I am sure that from the gourmet escape all the way through we will see people from around the world flying directly in. I am very proud to have been part of that.

Housing affordability has been an issue for many people, from those trying to downsize to those trying to buy their first home. This has been the case for several years.

As the Treasurer said on budget night, by adopting a comprehensive approach to affordable housing, we actually can make a difference.

Through the tax advantages of superannuation, the government’s First Home Super Saver Scheme will assist people trying to get into the market for the first time.

People will be able to make voluntary contributions of up to $15,000 annually and $30,000 in total to their super to purchase their first property.

These contributions will be taxed at a reduced rate of 15 per cent, with withdrawals for the deposits taxed at a greatly reduced tax rate of less than 30 per cent of their income tax rate.

In other words, if someone is paying less than 30 per cent tax then they will not pay tax on their withdrawal, or their deposit, from their super account. That is great news for first home buyers.

As we all know, small business is at the heart of this year’s budget. I am really proud of that.

We are continuing to focus on those fantastic I think 3.6 million small businesses that employ nearly half of Australia.

We see them throughout rural and regional Australia. They do an amazing job in our small communities.

Of course, in addition to the tax cuts for the sector, the government is continuing the instant asset write-off for small businesses with a turnover of up to $10 million.

It is a fantastic opportunity for small- to medium-sized businesses. I look at some of the major transport companies that cart cattle and freight throughout the regions.

The tax cut is something they are so pleased to have. The instant asset write-off is used repeatedly. That is exactly what we wanted.

We wanted to give confidence to small business and get them to the point where there are able to employ more people.

I have repeatedly said that it is frequently small business that gives Australians their first jobs and it is frequently a small business that gives us our last job.

That is beside all the basic services that they provide. In my community small businesses support our local sporting clubs and our community service organisations.

Often they are the people in the fire brigade and St John Ambulance. They make a huge contribution.

We are also offering incentive payments to the states and territories to help cut red tape, particularly for small business.

It is the bane of their life. Generally it is, ‘We want the government to get out of our way and we want the red tape gone.’

This is just another example of how the government is delivering sound economic management and is assisting over 12,600 small businesses in my electorate of Forrest.

I have built and still have a business. These measures may seem simple to some, but they are massive to every small business, where every cent counts. Every cent counts in a small business.

As I have said, one of the greatest challenges is facing dairy farmers in the South West of Western Australia.

For the first time ever in Australia’s history we have seen some of my dairy farmers not given a contract with a milk processor.

This has caused incredible heartache. It has also caused great uncertainty in the region.

Those small business dairy farmers absolutely love their land and their cows. For instance, like many of our neighbours, our business has over 40 years of amazing genetic depth in our herds.

It takes an extraordinary amount of time to build a quality herd and a quality dairy business. It requires investment besides the blood, sweat and tears.

I want to finish this speech by acknowledging the dairy farmers that we lost in that way: Dale Hanks, Graham Manning, Tony Ferraro and their families.

We have another group now who may not have their contracts renewed. This wonderful industry has underpinned much of the economic stability of the South West in the majority of its history.

I see the appalling loss of these businesses and the effect on these families. One of the toughest things I have had to deal with as a member of parliament is seeing the milk of my neighbour Graham Manning no longer being required. He was producing in the top five per cent of milk quality in this country for 14 years. I see the loss of the workers from his property and the fact that he is no longer spending money in my local small businesses.

Measures in this budget are so important for all of us, but I want to thank those families and those men and women for their extended service to what has been an outstanding industry.

I commend them for their work and I thank them for it. Graham and Jane Manning were given a ceremonial milk bottle at our dairy innovation awards dinner.

They went through the history of this family. They were probably the first dairy farmers in Western Australia.

They actually milked cows at the edge of Mounts Bay Road in Perth underneath Jacob’s Ladder before they moved down to the South West.

In losing Graham and Jane Manning and the other farmers, we have not just lost those businesses and those farmers.

This was the fifth generation of dairy farmers in the Manning family. This was the last way he and his family would have chosen for him to exit the industry. I do thank him and I thank all of my fellow dairy farmers.