It’s great to be here in Page.
This is a wonderful part of the world – fantastic weather, a clean environment and wonderful people.
But this part of the world also faces some real challenges.
Page is the 5th poorest electorate in this country.
Down the road there’s Cowper, the 6th poorest.
And Lyne is the 2nd poorest.
There’s a common denominator here – they are all held by the Nationals.
The fact that three of the sixth poorest electorates in Australia are in this part of the world tells you everything you need to know about the quality of representation being provided by the Nationals in the Parliament of Australia.
They are ineffective, directionless and divided.
They are almost as divided as their political overlords in the Liberal Party, who are still unable to explain to the people of Australian why they sacked Malcolm Turnbull and why they are on to their third Prime Minister in five years.
They are a rabble.
It’s all about the internals, never about the people of Australia.
Australians deserve better.
The people of Page deserve better.
Patrick Deegan will do better.
He’s from Casino. He’s a family man.
He and his wife Gail have raised four children in this community.
As a social worker and a local, Patrick has a deep understanding of the challenges facing families in this part of the world:
- Accessing medical care.
- Getting their kids educated and into the workforce.
- Struggling with inadequate roads.
- Trying to run businesses in the 21st century using 19th century copper-based broadband technology.
Patrick understands these problems and, as a part of a Labor Government, he wants to take genuine action to address them.
Page is a seat that Labor has held in the past.
If we campaign hard and present a positive plan for the future, we can win it again.
Kevin Hogan has failed this electorate.
Mr Hogan knows what we all know – that the Morrison Government is on the nose.
On one hand, he says he is sitting as a crossbencher because he says he is dismayed by the rotating door to the Prime Minister’s office under the Coalition.
But on the other, he lacks the courage to stand up as a genuine Independent and still calls himself a National.
Mr Hogan is having a bob each way.
But now it seems that even the Nationals don’t want him.
At the recent preselection meeting in Casino, even though he was the only contender, some Nationals wanted to delay the preselection so they could find someone better.
When Mr Hogan put his name forward, people in his own party said they would prefer an empty chair.
The same thing happened to Tony Abbott.
Indeed, in conservative preselections across the country, the Empty Chair is attracting very strong support.
THE CASE FOR LABOR
Kevin Hogan deserves to go.
His attempts to overcome his confusion about who he is are embarrassing.
But that’s not the main reason he should go.
His real failing is his inability to get outcomes for the people of Page.
Take my portfolio of Infrastructure and Transport.
In this part of the world, roads are critical.
But when it comes to infrastructure, this Government has been a failure:
- Parliamentary Budget office says infra structure investment will fall from 0.4 per cent to 0.2 per cent over the next four years.
- Over the coming four years, the amount of Federal infrastructure funding going to New South Wales will plummet by 70 per cent from $2.6 billion in 2017-18 to $825 million in 2021-22:
- Out of this year’s Budget allocations, 85 per cent of infrastructure investment is off on the Never Never.
- No progress on High Speed Rail.
- Underspend of $4.9 billion over four Budgets including, in NSW alone, $33 million on Black Spots.
Compare that to the performance of the previous Labor Government:
- Twentieth to 1st in OECD for infrastructure investment expressed as a percentage of GDP.
- Pacific Highway – Howard spent $1.3 billion over 12 years of neglect. We invested $7.6 billion over six years.
- Ballina Bypass, Devil’s Pulpit, Sapphire to Woolgoolga, Woolgoolga to Ballina.
- It took a Federal Labor Government to get action on the Pacific Highway.
- And it took a Federal Labor Government to promise, fund and build the Alstonville Bypass.
WE ARE READY
While Canberra has been operating like a three-ringed circus for the past five years, Labor has been diligently working on a plan for government.
Across our portfolio areas, we’ve been developing plans to get Government in this country back on track.
- Reverse the Coalition’s cuts to health and education.
- Provide adequate investment for nation building infrastructure.
- Rebuild the TAFE sector.
- Reform negative gearing and Capital Gains Tax to make housing more affordable.
- Act quickly to resettle asylum seekers who have been kept in permanent incarceration in third nations.
- Take genuine action to reduce carbon emissions, cut power prices and transition to a low-emissions future.
That last one is critical.
Communities around the nation want action on carbon emissions to protect the environment on behalf of future generations.
And businesses want policy certainty.
Yet after five years, the Government has thrown its hands into the air.
It has declared it not only can’t achieve action, but can’t even agree on a policy.
This mob have to go.
But for that to happen, we must win seats like Page.
Patrick Deegan will stand up for this community and make a real difference.
He’s experienced, he’s determined and he will be effective.
It’s with great pleasure that I launch his campaign.