Matter of Public Importance - Albanese Government

28 November 2023

Ms BYRNES (Cunningham) (16:37): If the other side want to talk about a Prime Minister missing in action, there is no better example than the member for Cook, who during his tenure led a government which allowed 435,000 Australians who rely on the social safety net to be targeted by their own government under the cruel and unlawful robodebt scheme. What a disgrace. This was a government that was missing in action on our aged-care system, letting it fall into neglect. This was a government that let millions of visa applications backlog, meaning people were just left waiting for a decision to see if they come to or stay in this country, waiting to find out if they could build a family here, waiting to visit their loved ones or waiting to bring much-needed skills to Australia. This was a government which watched Australian wages go backwards and did nothing. Let's not forget that this government was so distracted and chaotic that the member for Cook had to have himself secretly sworn into almost every frontbench portfolio.

In comparison, the Albanese Labor government has not wasted a minute in advancing the lives of Australians. I was ecstatic to welcome Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to the Illawarra, not once but twice since February this year alone, where he spent time talking to members of our community and visiting our amazing University of Wollongong. Under Prime Minister Albanese, this government has spent the past 18 months trying to unite the country while the Liberals have been trying to divide and derail progress. For the past 18 months, I have not wasted a second in fighting and delivering for our community, including through $33 million to support Hysata to develop new facilities to deliver low-cost hydrogen in Port Kembla and $10 million to establish an energy futures skill centre at the University of Wollongong so we have the skilled workforce to build the grid of the future. We are delivering cheaper child care for around 5,700 families in Cunningham; $2½ million for a renewable energy training facility at Wollongong TAFE to support training in renewable energy technologies; just over $29 million for 936 extra places announced for the University of Wollongong; over $1.3 million to local community organisations for much-needed facility and equipment upgrades, including a new client transport bus for the Cram Foundation which arrived just last week; $66,000 for hardworking volunteer organisations in my community; a million dollars to support the University of Wollongong to find ways to keep Australia's grid secure through the renewable energy transformation; $20 million in Australian Research Council grants for the University of Wollongong—

Mr Violi interjecting—

Ms BYRNES: I can see the member for Casey over there, heckling. You're worried about the redistribution. I note the Liberal Party didn't even get their submission in; that's why you're worried!
We have also delivered $1 million for the Illawarra Legal Centre. We've invested $500,000 in community batteries in Warrawong, making renewable energy available to some of the most vulnerable in our community. We've also opened a Medicare urgent care clinic in Corrimal to help ease the pressure on our local hospital emergency departments. We've had funding upgrades for local schools, including Bellambi Public School, Nareena Hills Public School, Wollongong West Public School, Farmborough Road Public School, Waniora Public School, Woonona East Public School, Coledale Public School, Tarrawanna Public School, St Francis of Assisi Catholic Primary School and Edmund Rice College.

Aged care across the country was left in disarray by the former government, and we have been left picking up the pieces to ensure our older Australians are receiving the care they deserve. In aged care in the Illawarra we have backed in a 15 per cent pay rise for aged-care workers; achieved 24-hour nursing across our aged-care facilities 98 per cent of the time; funded 180,000 fee-free TAFE places for sectors in need, including in aged care across the country; partnered with the New South Wales government to deliver an additional 35 transitional aged-care beds in the Illawarra and Shoalhaven; and opened a Medicare urgent care clinic to also help with aged care.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER (Ms Chesters): The discussion has concluded.