Our Statement on the Federal Budget

Today we drew attention to the upcoming federal budget and its implications for the Newtown Electorate.


Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) [5.56 p.m.]: This is my first private member's statement in this place. I see that these statements are an opportunity to bring matters concerning the people of the Newtown electorate to this place. Today I suggest that the biggest concern to those who reside and work in our community of Newtown is the looming threat of yet another short-sighted, politically motivated, and "pleasing our big-end-of-town and polluting mates" Federal budget. The Federal budget is due to be presented in a couple of hours in another place. Federal budgets have a significant impact on what a State government delivers and this Federal budget will have a significant impact on the people of New South Wales and it will be felt close to home in my electorate of Newtown.

We live in a society where State, local and Federal government boundaries do not dictate the way people live within a community. The decisions that will be handed down tonight at a Federal level will be decisions that are implemented and felt in the heart of the Newtown electorate. Vital public services will be forced to compete for ever-increasing scarce funds. This does nothing but further entrench divisions in our society in the already fragile and vulnerable parts of our community. For example, Newtown is home to the Asylum Seekers Centre, which I visited earlier this year with the Australian Greens Senator, and now leader, Richard Di Natale. The centre provides valuable services to many asylum seekers and refugees. In many ways it represents the acceptance and willingness of the people of Newtown to embrace those who have fled from trauma and government persecution, as well as addressing the ongoing detention of asylum seekers in our country.

Our community is also home to a significant number of renters and many people who are suffering from housing stress which has been brought about by failures of both State and Federal governments to address housing affordability. The Federal Government should be doing more to address this housing crisis. This is something that is felt every day by many people who live in the Newtown electorate. The Australian Technology Park is also within the Newtown electorate. Members may be aware that the Australian Technology Park, which has been slated for sell-off by the Baird Government, has faced threats to its innovation and research capabilities. Last year the Federal Government cut funding to NICTA, the National Information Communication Technology Australia research centre of excellence. This is yet another example of the way in which we are defunding research and innovation, which are both sources of interest and work to people who live in the Newtown area.

It is not only that our young scientists and academics are forced to leave Australia, it is also that the lack of investment robs Australia of future innovations and social capital that a thriving research sector requires. The Newtown electorate also is home to many unions in this country, including the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance [MEAA], which has seen its members suffer as result of cuts to the ABC and SBS, and the Australian Services Union, which has within its membership our support and community sector workers who are affected by regressive cuts in the Federal budget to community services and community healthcare centres. One issue that I believe is particularly relevant to the people of Newtown is the Redfern Legal Centre. Unfortunately, just the other day the centre had to send out a crowd-sourced funding campaign as a result of ongoing Federal Government cuts to its funding. The funding cuts will not allow the centre to deliver services that it previously provided and wants to provide to our community.

The University of Sydney is also within the electorate of Newtown and it is there that we have seen numerous protests against the Abbott Government's cuts to education and against the attempt to deregulate fees within the university sector. The New South Wales Government did not stand up for students to ensure they had access to ongoing affordable public education—it was the students, academics, general staff and the National Tertiary Education Union [NTEU] members, many of whom reside in the electorate of Newtown. They worked together to hold off the fee deregulation that was being imposed. The Federal budget is set to deliver various measures. I note that some members appear to be amused, but the impact of those Federal budget cuts will be implemented in New South Wales by decisions made in this place. We will have to pick up the pieces for the vulnerable people who will suffer as a result of Federal budget cuts. We must continue to fight against those cuts in this place.


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