Appropriations Bill 2022
House of Representatives
22 November 2022
I am pleased to rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, a bill which reflects on the contributions of the Albanese government in taking action on climate change; beginning to make some of the much-needed investments into housing; and recognising the importance of fixing up parts of our education system that are not working as well as they can. This is a budget which deals with some of the rorts and mismanagement that have been locked in under nine lost years of coalition government. It is a budget which makes an investment in Australians' future.
I want to talk about much of that, but I want to anchor it in the aspirations, interests and commitments of some young Canberrans. I want to do so through an interesting initiative, the Raise Our Voice Australia initiative. Raise Our Voice is a volunteer-run organisation that seeks to amplify diverse young, female, trans and non-binary voices to actively lead conversations in politics and in domestic and foreign policy. They've asked me to amplify the voices of young people from Fenner by reading their words in this parliament. So I'm going to begin my speech today with speeches from four young Australians, beginning with Amelie Toogood, nine years old. Amelie says as follows:
I am Amelie Toogood, age nine, from the electorate of Fenner in the ACT. I would like the new parliament of Australia to pay more notice to leptospirosis, a deadly disease that makes many dogs sick every year. Dogs catch leptospirosis by playing in and drinking infected water. It is currently prevalent in the ACT as well as in New South Wales and Queensland. As of the thirtieth of June this year thirty eight dogs are known to have contracted leptospirosis in Canberra, with twenty seven of them, seventy one percent, having died or had to be euthanised.
I moved to Canberra in January this year, and last month my dog moved from Cairns to Canberra to live with me. Since my dog, Jasmine, moved to Canberra I have been very worried about her. I am worried because of all the rain increasing the chance of her catching leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is found throughout Australia but it was only recently prevalent in Canberra. As leptospirosis is only new in Canberra many people don't know about it, don't know the symptoms and don't know how to help keep their dogs safe.
I call upon the new parliament of Australia to provide greater information to the people of this great nation about and to fund more research into leptospirosis. This information and research will help protect the approximately 5.5 million pet dogs that are loved by families across this country.
The second speech comes from Elsie Toogood, aged 11:
I am Elsie Toogood, age 11, and I live in the electorate of Fenner in the A.C.T.
I want the new parliament to have courage, courage not unlike activists. Women's rights activists such as Malala Yousafzai, who fought for girls' rights to go to school in Pakistan, and Annie Roiphe, the first-generation feminist and author of Up the Sandbox. Education activists, such as Julia Gillard, Australia's first female Prime Minister, who has devoted herself to educational equality. She is now the Chair on the Board of Global Partnership for Education. Racial equality activists are also an important factor in the world of activists. One of the first Black activists was Philip Randolph who was a labor leader and civil rights activist who founded the BSCP, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the U.S. nations first major labor union.
These people were brave and stood up for what they thought was right. Though they all fought for different things, they all had one thing in common, courage. They would bounce back from challenges and defend their thoughts and beliefs.
They all inspire me very much, though all in different ways and I would love to meet any one of them.
In summary, I think activists are some of the most brave and courageous people I can think of, and I want to be just like them one day. I want to have the courage to do what is right in this world, and I hope that the new parliament has the courage to use their power for gender-equality, racial-equality and equal educational outcomes for all children in Australia.
The third speech comes from Isabella Gooding, age 15. She says:
A successful future for Australia is one that improves on the advocacy for human rights. My name is Isabella Gooding, I am 15 years old and I live in Canberra. When I became an Australian citizen in 2020, I was taught about the values of, mateship and egalitarianism.
When applied, these principles build a fair and cohesive society. We must face the fact that these principles are not sufficiently afforded to marginalised groups in our nation. There is significant underrepresentation of refugees, first nations people and other minorities. Integration of diversity should be a natural part of Australian culture.
To bridge the indisputable gap, I propose that an opportunity is presented for marginalised groups to have their voices heard through the Australian Parliament. The raise our voice program provides an opportunity to bring representation of young, diverse perspectives. I believe that parliament should consider engaging in similar processes to hear from other sectors of society that lack substantial representation in the seat of power.
The purpose of democracy is to give everyone an equal voice. This can only be achieved through greater acknowledgement of minorities. In hearing diverse voices, we open a pathway to empathy. At the end of the day, parliamentarian or socially disadvantaged person, we are all human. I aspire to see an Australia where mateship and egalitarianism are extended to all.
The fourth speech comes from Isabelle Calder, aged 17. Isabelle says:
The Government has pledged to create more respectful workplaces, although when watching Parliamentary meetings, there is great disrespect amongst some politicians.
My name is Isabelle Calder and I am 17 years old, living in the Fenner electorate. I believe that in order to successfully achieve respectful workplaces in Australia, we need to focus on the role models everyone watches.
MPs and Senators are leaders. Leaders for children, leaders for adults and workplaces, and leaders who drive the country we want to become.
At my workplace we are expected to abide by a formal code of conduct, something Parliament is yet to implement. Respect everyone, do not talk over others, do not yell at others, be tolerant and inclusive, listen to other people's opinions and if you feel the need, respectfully disagree and politely bring up your own point. These are common and quite frankly, bare minimum expectations in the workplace. However time after time I have watched politicians yell at each other, talk over each other and disrespect each other. The leaders' behaviour in our country ultimately sets a precedent, not only for how Australians can treat each other, but also how other countries can treat us. It is time for leaders to have consequences for their poor behaviour as no one is above respect, especially those whose voices are already amplified.
I want to thank Amelie, Elsie, Isabella and Isabelle for these extraordinary words, which confirm my optimistic view of the future of the country, especially the role of young women in shaping a better Australia. We do need to shape a better tone for politics in this country. I pay tribute to the work that the member for Newcastle and her committee are doing in order to shape a code of conduct for this place, to change the tone of politics and to ensure a more diverse parliament. It is one of the strengths of this government that, for the first time, a major party has a majority of women in our party room. In the Labor Party room, there are 103 members, of whom 54 are women. That makes a substantial difference to the role that women play in the debates in the Labor Party room.
I also want to encourage one other extraordinary woman in our community. Thirty-eight-year-old Susan Marshall, who works at the My Rainbow Dreams cafe in Dickson, recently became the first woman to cross the line in New York in the Sri Chinmoy 3,100-Mile Self-Transcendence Race. That's 3,100 miles, which is a little short of 5,000 kilometres. Susan finished in 50 days and 16 hours, which means that, over that period, she ran just a shade under 100 kilometres a day. The Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile race has been held for 26 years, and, in that time, only nine women have finished. Indeed, considerably fewer women, and considerably fewer men, have ever finished the world's longest foot race than have summitted Mount Everest, which is why it is known as the Everest of ultrarunning. Susan is from New Zealand, but, as we do with Russell Crowe, we'll happily claim her! I want to acknowledge her and her support crew, particularly Prachar Stegemann, for the work that they did in getting Susan across the line and for inspiring the rest of us runners. I once ran a 100 kilometre race in Canberra with Susan, but now I realise that was literally just a day's work for her. Susan said, 'When people accomplish anything, we also have a recognition that we also have the potential.' She hopes that it inspires others to see that their potential is greater than they might have envisaged.
The Appropriations Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023 deals with investments in Australia, including investments in the national capital. After the previous budget, which saw the ACT get just one-fifth of our fair share of infrastructure spending, this budget ensured that the ACT received our decent share of infrastructure spending. The flagship infrastructure project was an investment of $86 million to fund Canberra Light Rail Stage 2A, in partnership with the ACT government. But we also invested $10 million for the Youth Foyer at the Woden CIT campus; $5 million towards the Garden City Cycle Route; $5 million for the Gorman Arts Centre upgrade; and $50 million to reopen and improve the AIS Arena.
There will be a new National Security Office Precinct in Barton, which will accommodate some 5,000 staff, new retail and hospitality amenities and new structured car parking around the Parliamentary Triangle, creating thousands of construction jobs during the period 2023 to 2028. You can think of this as business infill in the Parliamentary Triangle, and it will be important in creating more opportunities for people who work in the Parliamentary Triangle to shop and eat close to their place of work.
The Albanese government has an entirely different approach to the Public Service to the one the former government had. The former government literally decimated the Australian Public Service, with more than one in 10 public servants losing their job. Our approach is quite different. It's to invest in the Public Service, to scale back on the unnecessary consultants and contractors that have proliferated under the former government. Yes, there will be a place for consultants and contractors, but we need to develop core APS capacity. The work being done by Minister Gallagher, as Public Service minister, is critical in investing in a strong and effective Public Service. We see this in a whole host of agencies, with the removal of the arbitrary staffing cap and the recognition of the necessity of building up professional streams across the Public Service.
In the area of visa processing, we are putting more staff into frontline visa processing. We came to office with a visa backlog of one million. We've processed three million visas and now got that visa backlog down below 800,000. But it is a big issue for business. It's one of the top issues that arises in the many business forums that I speak at. We've provided additional funding of $42 million to accelerate visa processing, reduce the visa backlog and raise awareness of opportunities for high-skilled migrants in Australia's permanent migration program. Migration is something that can boost employment opportunities for Australian residents where key workers are coming in. It can boost the economic capacity of businesses. It is absolutely critical to Australia, because all of us except Indigenous Australians are migrants or the descendants of migrants, and the migrant legacy is an important part of Australia’s national identity.
The budget announced a National Housing Accord which will go a long way to addressing the supply and affordability of housing in the ACT. It delivers $350 million of additional federal funding to deliver 10,000 affordable homes over five years from 2024, on top of our election commitments.
A key issue for my constituents in Fenner is climate change. After nine years of inaction, we've enshrined an emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050. The ‘Restoring the Climate Change Authority’ budget measure provides that authority with an additional $42.6 million over four years from 2022 to 2023. We are announcing an annual climate change statement to parliament and increasing transparency around climate-related spending in the budget. We are investing $105 million to support First Nations people responding to climate change in their communities; $1.8 billion in strong action to manage the natural environment, including over $1 billion for the Great Barrier Reef. The Driving the Nation Fund will invest in electric vehicle charging stations. We're investing in hydrogen highways for key freight routes. Minister Bowen and Prime Minister Albanese, in international forums, have been sending a clear message to the world: when it comes to taking serious action on climate change, Australia is back in the game.