Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (15:07): I’d like to take note of the ministers’ comments, but, first of all, I’d like to congratulate the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance on an outstanding budget that, as the Treasurer said today, is all about the future that not only we will live in; it is the economy that our children will inherit and live with.
Nowhere is the importance of this budget seen more clearly than in the measures for my own home state—and our home state, Senator Cormann—of Western Australia. Clearly, the measures in this budget assist the Western Australian economy to change and adopt new infrastructure and new jobs. The government’s plan for a stronger economy will support more jobs for Western Australian families and their children, and it sets up Western Australia for the future in a number of new industries. Already in Western Australia, as a result of these measures, there are 20,200 more people in work since the coalition was elected. Clearly, the unemployment rate in Western Australia is still far too high and we have more work to do. Again, that is work that this budget wholeheartedly endorses.
The Commonwealth government is working with Western Australia to provide $9.8 billion of vital infrastructure projects, including $2.8 billion for new major projects such as the $1.1 billion for METRONET, which I’m very glad to see is fully funding the Thornlie to Cockburn rail link, something I’ve been advocating for a long time, because it’s very important to get people in our eastern suburbs to jobs in the south of the city. There is the $944 million Perth congestion package, which includes $581 million for the Tonkin Highway extension to alleviate traffic problems that many of us experience every day. The list goes on and on.
I would like to also congratulate and acknowledge the support that this government is providing to Defence in Western Australia. Western Australia continues to play an important part in the defence of our nation, as very clearly outlined in this budget. Very clearly, this government’s priority is the safety and security of Australia and its people. Western Australia is already home to nearly 6,000 Defence personnel and to a number of key operational and support bases. Under this budget, Defence will expend over $1.5 billion in the Western Australian economy upgrading these bases. I understand that up to 80 per cent of those contracts that have already been let are going directly to local businesses in Western Australia. So, of 185 infrastructure subcontracts let, with more still to be let under this budget, 88 per cent are, in fact, going to local businesses in Western Australia, which, again, will provide very important jobs for Western Australians to support the defence efforts in Western Australia. These are all important opportunities for local Western Australian businesses, whether it be in Rockingham around Fleet Base West or at our bases in the north. There are now millions of dollars going into our regions, not just into facilities in and around Perth.
The government is now also commencing work, which has been confirmed in the budget, on final planning for the facilities and infrastructure to be built at HMAS Stirling to support the basing of the two new offshore patrol vessels and also for the creation of ‘Ship Zero’ as part of the government’s regeneration of the Royal Australian Navy. I was very happy to be able to host the Western Australian Labor Minister for Defence Issues here in Canberra yesterday to meet with Christopher Pyne, because work now has to commence on plans for the upgrade of the Henderson facilities not just for the Navy but also for our civilian shipbuilding capabilities and to take advantage of the opportunities Western Australia now has to develop its shipbuilding capability in the commercial sectors.
It was a very productive meeting. Off the back of this budget, at that meeting yesterday the federal and the state government agreed to work together on a master plan for the Henderson region, which the state government is leading with the support of the federal government. Work will also commence together on a plan for Western Australia and the defence industry more generally. Again, none of that would be possible without the provision of the funding in this budget. So I thank Minister Papalia for coming to Canberra yesterday to discuss these important initiatives on how we leverage off this budget to make sure that we provide infrastructure and support for WA industry. (Time expired)