APPROPRIATION (PARLIAMENT) BILL
APPROPRIATION (SPECIAL OFFICES) BILL
APPROPRIATION (1995-96 DEBT RETIREMENT) BILL
MOTOR VEHICLES TAXATION AMENDMENT BILL
BUSINESS FRANCHISE LICENCES (PETROLEUM PRODUCTS) AMENDMENT BILL
ROAD IMPROVEMENT (SPECIAL FUNDING) AMENDMENT BILL
STATE REVENUE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT (HOWARD AND COSTELLO) BILL
Ms MOORE: Moore Park and Centennial Park are not luxuries for the inner city community; they are a lifeline for the health and sanity of people living in the highest densities in Australia. Last year Centennial Park and Moore Park were visited by five million people from 22 municipalities that have the lowest ratio of open space of any other group in New South Wales. I shall refer now to the lack of infrastructure funding for the inner city,
particularly with regard to increased pressure on waste disposal. The budget has no allocation for waste management. Though the Government has committed itself to phasing out the Waterloo incinerator, a closure date has not been announced. This hesitancy has been justified by the need to find an alternative solution to waste disposal.
A report by the Eastern Suburbs Waste Management Inquiry released last December outlines alternative solutions. It is imperative that the Government review this situation, as serious questions have been raised about the toxicity of the incinerator ash. This ash is trundled across the metropolitan area to landfill sites and is a health concern for those living near the incinerator and those living near the dump site. The Government's inaction about closing the incinerator and its lack of funding allocations for this important environmental issue will delay the development of a regional waste plan for the area. I acknowledge the good work that the Government has done for public housing. After emerging from the appalling administration by Joe Schipp when he was housing Minister, I welcomed the policy set in place when Gabrielle Kibble took over as director and Robert Webster was Minister. The Labor Government has continued that excellent work over the last year.
The estate advisory boards and the new tenants participation programs that replace regional tenant councils are important ways of empowering and involving public housing tenants by encouraging them to participate with government agencies to address serious problems of all Department of Housing estates, which are certainly evident in Surry Hills and Woolloomooloo. The budget has allocated $283,000 to the housing associations in Darlinghurst and $1.7 million for general housing requirements. I pay tribute to Jennifer Westacott, whose pro-activity, energy and competency make an enormous difference to the lives of public housing tenants. The Government made a pre-election promise to increase funds to the home and community care program, but real increased funding is lacking. My electorate has a large aged population, which is increasing. It is critical and beneficial to the State that aged people be allowed to remain in their homes. Adequate funding has not been provided for that important program, even though funding has been provided for the Olympic Games.
I refer to the social cost of the 1988 bicentennial celebrations. Those celebrations had enormous impact on my electorate, with loss of low-income housing. Elderly residents, particularly in boarding houses, were summarily thrown out of their homes. The area has not recovered from that experience, which is a warning to the Government for the impending Olympic Games. I am disappointed that the budget ignores the homeless and the pressures on housing in the lead-up to the Games in a city that has the highest house prices in Australia. I urge the Government to progress the recommendations of the social impact study for the Olympics to ensure that the inner city and Homebush do not suffer massive housing losses, particularly with the anticipated increased demand for rental properties and increased real estate prices in the lead-up to the Games. A responsible government will ensure that the problems experienced with the bicentennial celebrations are not repeated. This becomes more imperative with the recently mooted Federal Government cutbacks that will necessitate the State Government finding approximately $900 million in revenue over the next three years. [Extension of time agreed to.]
I am concerned about the impact these cutbacks could have on the housing budget and on inner city communities, particularly on people with specialist needs. In my electorate those living with HIV and AIDS need inner-city housing and access to services and medical facilities in and around the St Vincent's Hospital precinct. I shall now refer to policing. My electorate suffers the highest rate of street crime and other forms of crime in the Sydney metropolitan area. The Kings Cross and Surry Hills police patrols have heavy workloads and work under extreme pressure. Because of the nature of criminal activity in Kings Cross, policing is much more difficult and complex than in many suburban patrols. The Surry Hills patrol, which services the Entertainment Centre, has the highest concentration of restaurants, pubs and clubs in the metropolitan area. Surry Hills police are also responsible for policing sporting venues in Centennial Park and Moore Park.
These factors place tremendous pressures on those police, who have the highest workload per head in the metropolitan area. I have continually asked the Premier and the Minister for Police for an increase in the number of officers - not probationary constables - who have the level of experience required to meet the complex policing issues of areas such as Kings Cross and Surry Hills. While the recent appointment of six probationary constables to the Kings Cross and Surry Hills. While the recent appointment of six probationary constables to the Kings Cross and Surry hills patrols is welcomed, it is not an adequate response to the needs of the inner city. I cannot stress enough the need for experienced uniform officers patrolling the streets. The Government should discontinue the 2 x 2 police activity during the day. Police must remain working with partners in the dark lanes of Kings Cross late at night, but single officer patrols on the streets during the day are a better way to spread resources.
The inner-city community would certainly welcome the bobby on the beat approach, which has worked successfully in London. Drug trafficking in Kings Cross and muggings and bag snatching in Double Bay must be stopped. The increasing number of violent incidents in the Woolloomooloo housing estates must be reduced, and sporting crowds at Surry Hills and marauding homophobic gangs in Oxford Street must be controlled. The royal commission's investigation of the Kings Cross
patrol has revealed extensive corruption and serious misuse of police powers: the open sale of narcotics, violence, availability of unclassified pornographic videos, gaming and drug distribution corruption. In my electorate police deal daily with these issues. Surely these combined factors reveal the need for increased numbers of police officers patrolling these highly volatile areas. As the population increases, in accordance with Federal and State government policy, policing problems will also intensify. Despite my constant call for more police officers to match the increasing population, the budget has not provided an adequate allocation.
On a more positive note, I commend the Minister for Police for acting quickly upon the interim report of the Wood royal commission by setting up the Police Integrity Commission and appointing a new Commissioner of Police. I thank the Minister for Police for being one of the most readily accessible and responsive Ministers in the Government. I shall refer briefly to the health allocation for the Bligh electorate. I am particularly concerned about the lack of planning for, and the health and wellbeing of, the inner eastern community. The electorate of Bligh has unique health care concerns and special needs ranging from a very large HIV-AIDS population, mental illness, problems associated with aged care, and drug and alcohol addiction. In 1995 the eastern and southern area health services were amalgamated. There were great concerns in the Bligh electorate that the east, which has the intense problems I described, would suffer as a result of that amalgamation.
The Government has allocated $5 million for redevelopment of St Vincent's Hospital and $2.458 million for redevelopment of Sydney Eye Hospital. However, cutbacks in health for this area are of major concern. I do not believe that the Government should seek to recover the $900 million shortfall in the Federal budget from that area. With increased urban consolidation, the pressure on already tight health services will only become worse. I call upon the Government to adequately plan for the increasing pressure on this critical and vital social service. In conclusion, people in the inner city area are disillusioned about the Government's interference and abandoning of the planning processes that were initiated for their protection in the visionary Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.
The inner city community is disturbed about the way in which that visionary legislation is constantly circumvented and overridden. We will pay for that in the long term. We paid for the Brereton excesses of the 1980s, and the inner city community is depressed because it is now realising that it will have to pay for the Carr excesses of the 1990s. Residents in the inner area are very angry about the litany of dictatorial decisions that are affecting the amenity of their environment. I call upon the Government to stop the development deals, begin responsible planning and start providing for the social and infrastructure needs that are essential if our city, the most important city in Australia, is not to continue a downward spiral into urban decay and degradation like so many cities in the United States.
Mr McBRIDE (The Entrance) [10.42]: The second Egan budget is another triumph for the Carr Labor Government. It is the second time that this Government has delivered in terms of Labor's goals. It assists families, home buyers and in particular farmers and the rural community. It assists economic growth and job growth in the State. Most importantly, it pays for the Olympic Games up-front. Anyone who is familiar with the Olympics in other countries will be well aware of the Montreal experience. For 24 years the people of Montreal paid a state tax to cover the cost of the Montreal Olympics. That State tax was removed only this year.
Importantly, the Government has made specific allocations in the budget for the Olympics. The Government is committed to paying for the Olympics up-front. The people of New South Wales will not be left with a legacy like that of Montreal, Barcelona and other cities, where the populations have had to pay for the Olympic experience for generations. Most importantly, the budget improves core priorities. It improves teacher numbers, hospitals, roads, community services, policing, the environment, public housing and public transport. In comparing this budget with the last budget of the coalition Government, which was presented by the now Leader of the Opposition, the commitment to Labor's goals is even more revealing; yet it is achieved in the context of a balanced budget. The comparison is stark.
The last budget of the coalition Government provided for a deficit of $350 million; the second Egan budget provides for a surplus of $5 million. In the budget, some $442 million has been allocated to the Olympics, that is, an increase of 820 per cent in the allocation in the last budget of the coalition Government. The aggregate total expenditure in terms of education is $3.924 billion, which is an increase of 8.9 per cent on the last budget of the coalition Government; the total aggregate budget for health is some $5.61 million, which is an increase of 7.7 per cent on the last budget of the coalition Government; and the total aggregate budget for the police is some $979 million, which is an increase of 11.1 per cent on the last budget of the coalition Government.
The budget allocation for community services is important. We hear so much about the need for community services, yet for two consecutive years the coalition Government underspent the community services budget. In this budget, the total allocation for community services is $1.108 billion, which is an increase of 18.7 per cent. That increase is not surprising, given the Government's commitment to one of the core priorities of a Labor government. I shall return to the interesting issue of policing, in particular a patrol in my electorate. For two years
the budget for that patrol was underspent because the coalition Government had a practice of reducing the cost of patrols. In terms of promotions and other incentives, officers were rewarded for providing a budget surplus.
Numerous complaints have been received about the services provided by the police in my electorate. It is to the credit of the patrol in my electorate that, since attitudes changed, complaints about the lack of police services in the Entrance electorate have been rare. It is to the credit of both the Labor Government and the police that they have turned this around and are making a real commitment to get on with the job of policing in my electorate. The total aggregate budget for training is $1.094 billion, which is an increase of 7.9 per cent on the last budget of the coalition Government, and the total aggregate budget for the environment is $91 million, which is an increase of 17.8 per cent. As I said, in the second Egan budget the Government has honoured its promises and is working to meet the core priorities set by Labor governments. Undoubtedly Treasurer Egan has demonstrated that a Treasurer can be both creative and responsible.
It is all right for Opposition members to knock creativity; I can understand that. Treasurer Egan has proved to be creative and he has delivered. It is not simply a matter of doing things by rota, as the previous Government did. That Government simply listened to Treasury and did whatever it was told. However, Treasurer Egan set the priorities and the Government has delivered in terms of those priorities. It gets up the noses of Opposition members that this is a successful budget. I shall quote from a couple of newspaper articles that reflect on the State budget and give some indication of its success. Piers Akerman, a noted right-wing columnist - someone whom we always expect to be critical of the Carr Labor Government - wrote in the Daily Telegraph on 22 May:
All credit to Carr as he swipes at privatisation
The Carr Government's second budget is disarmingly modest in its goals and achievements despite the hype which accompanied its launch.
He further stated:
It is a carefully constructed mid-term document designed to keep the financial institutions happy. It is unadventurous, it is on course.
In other words, Piers Akerman says that Labor has delivered. The headline of the editorial in the Daily Telegraph of Wednesday, 22 May was, "A Budget of fiscal prudence". How about that? I reckon the Treasurer would have slept soundly the night after he read that. The editorial stated:
As a political document, the expenditures are designed to appease the most vehement of Mr Carr's Government's critics - the rural sector, trade union movement and those people in the western suburbs who have been traditionally counted as Labor voters.
The editorial further commented:
Having watched his Federal Labor mates decimated at the last election, and carrying in the back of his mind an awareness of the unhappy swing in his own popularity pendulum, Premier Bob Carr may have been tempted to use the opportunity of yesterday's Budget to buy his way back into favour.
Mr Debnam: In assets sales.
Mr McBRIDE: Yes, what is wrong with that? Assets are sold and converted into new assets. New Olympic assets will be a legacy for the honourable member's children, his grandchildren, and their children. Those assets will be there for a hundred years. People sell their assets and reinvest their money in new assets. People sell their homes and buy new ones. That is what the Government is doing under this Minister - reconverting assets that will remain a legacy for our children, grandchildren and their children. The simple fact is this is a good budget. An article by Rachel Morris entitled "War on child abuse backed by rise in grants for carers" on page 4 of the Daily Telegraph of Wednesday 26 May dealt with an area of particular concern. The article stated:
The Budget delivered yesterday is a prudent fiscal blend. For the first time in eight years, the Treasury estimate is for a small budget surplus. Discounting one-off proceeds of $140 million to the budget sector as a result of equity restructuring -
Payments to the State's 4,000 foster carers will increase by up to 50 per cent this year as part of an unprecedented $32 million boost to the community services in New South Wales.
Child protection and welfare is a major issue in my community on the central coast. On a number of occasions there have been events relating to that type of issue and they are quite disturbing. I am delighted with those extra allocations. We treasure nothing more than our children. I am proud to be part of a Government that has made a real commitment to our children. The budget has a small surplus. As we all know, last week's Premiers conference has driven a hole through that bottom line of the budget. The abolition of the sales tax exemption for the State Government would have represented a loss of about $1.6 billion over three years. Subsequent changes have resulted in some $300 million per annum being lost over a three-year period, representing a $900 million deficit.
The Treasurer has to be given credit for the way he dealt with that issue. The easy way to deal with that issue is the way it has been dealt with in other States - by pushing up the price of cigarettes and beer. The Treasurer has shown creativity in trying to minimise the impact of the Howard and Costello tax, the HAC tax, on ordinary people in New South Wales. The three key elements of that
are the 0.5 per cent increase in stamp duty on the purchase of a motor vehicle, the change in the payroll tax and a minor increase in land tax from 1.5 per cent to 1.65 per cent. It is a credit to the Treasurer and the Carr Labor Government that he has come up with a creative way of looking at the situation in trying to minimise the impact on ordinary people and families of this State. That is a true reflection of a Carr Labor Government looking after its core responsibilities and its community.
I now turn specifically to my electorate, in particular the budget allocations for roads. The allocation of $2 million for the Renwick Street roundabout included the widening of the Pacific Highway at Wyoming. This is a major traffic intersection in the southern end of my electorate. It will complete a vital link in road works that have already been completed in the south in terms of the Pacific Highway and north up to the Manns Road roundabout. I am delighted that this money has been allocated in this budget. It was a commitment that Labor made in Opposition and has now honoured. I compliment the Minister for Roads on the allocation of funds for the completion of Wyong Road, which is a major project of about seven years duration on the central coast. The total estimated cost of Wyong Road is $61.3 million. In this budget $6.6 million has been allocated for the Chittaway to Tuggerah rail bridge section.
Another $3.5 million to complete the works is included in the estimate for the next financial year. Also, $1.67 million has been allocated for road maintenance in The Entrance electorate, and $1.1 million has been allocated to The Entrance Road. Another major roadworks projects is the widening of the bridge over the main northern railway line at Tuggerah. This project is worth about $1.2 million and the actual works are an extension of the bridge. The footpath has been extended onto the existing bridge and the existing footpath will be converted into a fourth lane. That is vital to the Wyong Road connection and the widening of the bridge from three to four lanes will achieve the right traffic movements. Pedestrians have been catered for by the addition of the new pedestrian footpath across the bridge.
The roundabout project at the junction of Chittaway Road, Ourimbah, cost $1.1 million and is only just recently completed. It was a black spot on the arterial road network of the central coast. I am pleased this work has been recently completed and is a major addition to roadworks in that area. Another issue of great concern to me is the recent announcement that a major planning study is to be undertaken of roads in the Gosford-Wyong area. The investigation will address upgrading the Gosford-Wyong coastal connection route from east Gosford to Doyalson via The Entrance. I have argued on a number of occasions in a number of forums that production of an integrated plan of arterial road works on the central coast is most important.
I am proud the study will produce a 10-year plan for works and a 25-year strategic plan. It is well overdue. It was done when Laurie Brereton was Minister for Roads in the Wran Government. Nothing has been done in that regard for the last decade. In fact, there was not even a strategic road planning section in the Newcastle Roads and Traffic Authority office. So the central coast roadworks have stagnated. The uncoordinated approach to road works hopefully will be addressed by producing this 10-year plan. I am pleased to acknowledge also that some $7.6 million has been allocated to Tumbi Umbi High School, a long- running issue. That allocation will allow for the completion of stage 1, the junior high school, in the first term of next year and the senior high school will be completed in term two of next year.
This is a tremendous commitment by the Minister for Education and Training to education in my electorate. In this case I compliment the members of the community, the dedicated band of parents and citizens who on behalf of their children and their community pursued me and the previous local member to have those works completed. There is a budget allocation of $749,000 to improve Ourimbah public school - an interesting school with a great history. Ourimbah public school, one of the oldest public schools on the central coast, has what one could call historic buildings. The Carr Labor Government has made a budgetary allocation for the restoration of those buildings. Almost three-quarters of a million dollars has been allocated for continuing works at that school.
Mr Cochran: We need a new school at Jerrabomberra.
Mr McBRIDE: The former Government had seven years to do something about that, but it did nothing. I refer briefly to policing. An amount of $500,000 has been allocated for the extension and refurbishment of The Entrance police station. I congratulate the Minister for Police on that budgetary allocation. That allocation is in addition to the provision of an additional three police officers at the end of last year and the establishment of a volunteers in police group at The Entrance patrol. Two weeks ago I met some of those people and the officer in charge. I congratulate the officer in charge and the VIP group who are part of the task force at The Entrance patrol. I suggest that other honourable members take up that option as it is good for the police, the community and those in the service. I will make only one other comment as I do not have much time available to me.
Mr Cochran: Take an extension of time.
Mr McBRIDE: I will not ask for an extension of time as I have done a deal with the Leader of the National Party. Opposition members should show him some loyalty in the same way that I have shown him some loyalty. I wish now to refer to growth on the central coast. At the moment
Ourimbah campus is an annex to the University of Newcastle. There is a great opportunity to use it as a flagship to establish the central coast as an economic, stand-alone region. I would like to see Ourimbah campus as a university. At the moment it incorporates both the Workers Educational Association and TAFE. However, I do not believe that it should become a university only in the year 2010 as has been suggested by some people in the educational area; it should happen straightaway. We must identify the central coast as a stand-alone community in this State.
Debate adjourned on motion by Mr Stewart.
The State's 6,800 children in care are the big winners in the Government's Social Justice Budget Statement which targets society's "vulnerable members" and has made child protection a major priority.
House adjourned at 11.03 p.m.