12 May 2021
They say that this is a budget for pandemic recovery. What they mean is that this is a budget for political recovery. The Morrison government's media release for their federal budget infrastructure investment should have read: 'The Morrison government manages to spray $589 billion but still miss one of the fastest growing corridors in the country.' They have not announced a single cent for infrastructure in my electorate of Lilley.
I really made it as easy as humanly possible for the Morrison government. I spent six months asking my electorate's constituents what they wanted from the federal budget. I asked them online. I asked them at mobile offices. I compiled all of their answers. I sorted and prioritised all of their answers based on numbers. I literally hand-delivered a list of projects, crowdsourced from my constituents. I tidied it up into a neat little eight-page document. I sought to table it in the House, and, when I was denied, I walked it around to the Treasurer's office. I physically handed this document over. I could not have made it simpler for the Morrison government to assist people in Lilley and provide vital infrastructure, yet they have still managed to squib it. It is actually unbelievable how incompetent this government can be when they've had eight years of practice at this point.
There was nothing for Gympie Road, which the Morrison government's own Infrastructure Priority List categorises as high priority. There was nothing for the Rode Road, Beckett Road and Queens Road roundabout near McDowall primary school. There was nothing for Robinson Road West in Aspley and Geebung—a boundary I share with the member for Petrie. There was nothing for sound barriers along the Gateway Motorway in Deagon to curb increased noise for residents who live near the Gateway Arterial Road. There was no park and ride for the 750 commuters who try to park at Northgate on weekdays to get to work. The Prime Minister and the Treasurer need to face up in question time and explain to my 108,000 constituents why these desperately needed Northside infrastructure projects were not funded.
The budget, which we hear was aimed at addressing the perception that the coalition doesn't care about women, seems to involve returning a lot of money to essential services that they have spent eight years cutting. I spoke with two community centres in my electorate last week, ahead of the budget, and their feedback was unanimous: the emergency COVID funding distributed to the state governments should never have been emergency COVID funding, because they desperately needed that same funding long before COVID ever hit and they will continue to need it for years after COVID has gone.
Northside Connect, in Nundah, used their funding to increase their family solicitor's hours by one day a week, and they hired a new legal support officer to help women who are fleeing domestic violence to navigate that process and complete all of the paperwork. But they still have a three-week waitlist of women who need their help, and that money expires on 30 June. SANDBAG also received modest emergency funding, but it is nowhere near enough to support the immense pressure they are under. To date this year, SANDBAG has processed over 200 police referrals for counselling about domestic violence. They are well on their way, in Sandgate, to having triple the number of referrals about domestic violence that they received last year. Triple since last year—that's how bad domestic violence has gotten since the start of COVID. They have 80 women waiting for counselling—80 women who have fled domestic violence and now must wait six months to receive any counselling support.
Sharon, Yolandi and Nicki at Northside Connect and Kylie and her volunteers at SANDBAG are busting their guts every single day to help women fleeing domestic violence. The emergency funding that they, together, received from the federal government—from this Morrison government—is still less than what the member for Bowman will continue to get paid in his remaining time in parliament. That is the priority of this government. When it's all said and done, when we sift the actions from the words, that is where they are choosing to put their money.
They say this is a budget for pandemic recovery, but it is actually a budget for political recovery. Half of one per cent, or $3.4 billion, of the whole budget of $589 billion is going to women's economic security. We're about to hear what an amazing priority women's economic security is, but it is half of one per cent of the entire budget. That is a pretty shady ladies' budget if you ask me. Half of that is $1.7 billion for child care, because apparently child care is only a problem for women, according to the Morrison government. Apparently child care isn't a problem for parents or a policy issue for Australian families; it's just something to hand to the ladies as an offering—asking for forgiveness after all of the crimes they have committed over eight years.