Morrison Government, Macquarie Electorate: Mental Health

March 31, 2022

What a waste these three years of the Morrison government have been —and the budget highlights how visionless the Liberals are. What a wasted opportunity it's been to accept that the climate is changing and to invest to make my local communities more resilient to the extremes of weather —fire, floods and storms. We have a $4 billion Emergency Response Fund, and not a cent has been spent in the Blue Mountains or the Hawkesbury, in spite of the three natural disasters in three years. The budget shows there's no plan to spend any of the fund there, in spite of the need for not just major repairs but support for councils to make improvements to the many fragile roads and infrastructure so they're more able to withstand the elements. The community needs a proper and coordinated plan for the future. They need confidence that things will improve. Building resilience is more than construction; it's about people being supported to volunteer their time —time and time again. And that's what my $4.95 million to local emergency services is about—$50,000 to every RFS brigade, $300,000 to improve the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury fire controls, and $1.1 million each to the Blue Mountains and Hawkesbury SESs to boost their ability to improve their fire station or headquarters and
be better prepared to step up when natural disasters hit.

What a wasted opportunity it's been to genuinely tackle the cost of living. There's been a decade of attacks on
wages, job security and Medicare. Pay simply isn't keeping up with prices, and, in spite of the $1 trillion in
debt, there is nothing to show for it. Short-term measures are not a plan. Families need much more—like Labor's
childcare plan so that, whether you have one child or more, you end up better off if you work. Our plan makes
four in five families better off than they are now.

What a tragic and wasted opportunity it's been for aged-care residents, who've seen no improvement in their
living conditions, in spite of the royal commission. And aged-care workers are no nearer to seeing decent pay
under the Morrison government. Nothing is going to fundamentally change until we fix the issues facing that
workforce—and this budget does nothing to address it.

What a wasted opportunity it has been to establish an anticorruption commission. Clearly, the promise 1,200
days ago by the Prime Minister was never to happen.

What a wasted opportunity for the arts—abandoned in this budget, the support switched off, when its emergence from COVID is still so fragile.

What a wasted opportunity it has been for women. Nine years ago, we were in 12th place on the global gender
equity scale. Now we're in 50th place. That is on the Morrison government's head.

What a wasted opportunity these last three years have been for veterans. The minister now admits a backlog of 60,000 claims, and, despite him saying he'd secured $96 million in funding, the budget papers show there is only $22.8 million in guaranteed funding over the next two years and no substantial increase in staffing. Veterans
deserve better.

What a wasted opportunity these years and this budget have been in closing the gap and in tackling housing
affordability, whether you want to own or rent. What a waste for public education. After years of outright
attacks on TAFEs and universities, no last-minute gifts are going to change anything. It's been more than a lost
opportunity for people with disabilities and their carers, who've had to fend off constant attacks on their right to
access support. No last-minute sweeteners will change the disdain that the Liberals have had for this sector. Nor
will pensioners forget the cuts and attempted cuts to supplements and concessions.

This is a budget whose sole purpose is to get the Morrison government re-elected so that they can waste another decade doing nothing other than trying to keep their jobs. It's a privilege to be in this place and a greater privilege to be in government, to shape who we are as a nation, not just to hold onto your job. The weight of the
responsibility is not lost on us as an opposition. We are ready to lead, for a fairer and more ambitious Australia.

The people of the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury deserve a government that cares enough to hold a hose,
to have a plan for the future and to be on their side, and that's a Labor government.

I want to congratulate a group of young people in my electorate who weren't willing to wait for the government
to solve the mental health issues that young people face. They came to me to support a headspace, and thank
goodness we haven't spent the last three years just waiting for this government, because it hasn't yet been
delivered. So we came up with a way for them to help people, and that's with posters and coasters going into
nearly two dozen of our local pubs and clubs. I want to thank these young people and Drinkwise, the Australian
Hotels Association and ReachOut for joining together on this national pilot.