NSW NOT SAFE AS HOUSES

The Coalition government is due to return Australia to surplus from next financial year.

Despite the improving financial standing of the nation, the Labor Party proposes to hit the economy with $200 billion in new taxes.

Labor will turn Australia into a high tax paradise. There will be brand new taxes on houses, shares, superannuation funds, trusts and there will be higher personal income taxes for millions.

Small businesses, typical “mum and dad” investors and the economy at large will suffer from this swag of unnecessary taxes.

One of the worst new taxes is Labor’s housing tax.

The housing tax has two elements: (1) a ban on negative gearing on existing homes and (2) a reduction on the capital gains discount for assets held for more than one year from 50 to 25 per cent.

This proposal will end the practice of deducting investment costs (such as loan interest) against wage and salary income unless the investment is a new house. This overturns a fundamental principle that expenses are deductable for tax purposes.

There are three significant problems with this new tax.

Firstly, this will do nothing to boost housing affordability – indeed it will likely increase rents.

Labor’s attack focuses on the evils of negative gearing exercised by “property barons” and have promised to improve housing affordability.

Labor says: “this policy will see a boost in new housing and will provide young families with the chance to find a home, and will take pressure off inner city housing markets that are predominantly made up of existing dwellings”

Any link between banning negative gearing and increasing affordability is totally confused.

How would increasing housing taxes which reduces investment in housing create more homes?

With studies showing the policy will dry up investment into both new and existing houses, it is more likely we will end up with fewer houses which are worth less with higher rents.

Cadence Economics’ study for the Master Builders Association shows the housing tax will reduce supply of housing in Australia:

“Changes to limit negative gearing to new dwellings and reduce the CGT discount to 25% are estimated over the next five years to reduce new dwelling starts by between 10,000 and 42,000.”

Meanwhile according to housing market experts Corelogic Data, the prospect of misguided tax policies are already impacting the supply of new homes:

“Potentially investor sentiment is being weighed down by the potential for changes to taxation policies related to housing should there be a change of government.”

Secondly, Labor’s housing tax is poorly targeted.

Australians with more modest assets will suffer the worst consequences. The policy cancels the ability to deduct investment expenses against wages but not against non-wage income.

70 per cent of people using negative gearing have one property and have a net rental loss of less than $10,000.

Treasury says people earning less than $100,000 will be able to claim on average 28 per cent of their investment costs (unless they invest in new housing). Whereas people earning more than $109,000 will be able to keep claiming 86% of their investment costs in existing housing.

Big wig investors will be able to use income derived from non-wage income such as investments in other houses or complicated investment schemes.

Property tycoons win out whilst the nurses, teachers and police investors miss out.

The Centre for Independent Studies has said: “the proportional benefit of negative gearing is substantial at low income levels. This could include non-working spouses holding negatively geared property. Abolishing negative gearing will disproportionately hurt the lower income earners.”

Thirdly, it is unclear what the purpose of this policy is; and when it starts.

On purpose, despite the policy being likely to reduce housing supply and therefore affordability, its confused stated aim is to improve housing affordability by reducing investment.

Even one of Labor’s key budgetary advisers Bob Officer says “What is the social cost associated with home ownership or investment in housing? As a generality there is none. In fact, one could argue for a social benefit in that providing housing encourages better citizenship and social cohesion.”

Why would any political party want to reduce investment in housing?

In reality, it is a populist exercise which has the illusion of smashing rich people when it simply reduces opportunities available to all working Australians.

Surely now that Sydney and Melbourne house prices are falling by 9 and 6 per cent respectively, even Labor will not maintain the lie this policy will increase affordability.

On timing, Labor’s official website says:  “Labor will limit negative gearing to new housing from a yet-to-be-determined date after the next election.”

Newspaper reports claim the Opposition Leader is “unsure” when the policy would start. Sound good? Only if you don’t want to buy a house, rent a house or invest for the future.

Australia is soon to be back in surplus and cannot afford amateur hour economic management.

Andrew Bragg is the Liberal Senate camdidate for NSW

LIFESAVING FUNDING BOOST TO PROTECT BEACHGOERS

Beachgoers will be safer across the state, thanks to a major funding increase for Surf Life Saving NSW from the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said Surf Life Saving NSW will receive an extra $16 million over four years for new jet skis and vehicles, additional emergency response beacons, community engagement officers and an innovative new beach wi-fi project to educate tourists.

“This investment is another major boost for Surf Life Saving NSW,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Surf Life Saving NSW’s volunteers and staff do an amazing job keeping our beaches safe and this latest increase to their funding will enable them to save more lives.

“We have invested heavily to ensure that Surf Life Saving NSW and our volunteers have got all the tools and technology they need to do their jobs.”

Mr Grant said, “Our lifesavers do an outstanding job across our coastline each year, and the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has been a very proud supporter of their efforts.”

“This funding would strengthen that support, and lead to new staff across a number of areas including East Ballina, Warriewood, Nowra, Tathra and Tighes Hill in the Hunter region.”

Community engagement staff work in the community and run programs to help educate people about beach safety.

Mr Grant said the investment announced today will also enable Surf Life Saving to improve safety at more remote locations.

“As part of the package, 10 new Emergency Response Beacons (ERBs) will be installed at coastal black spots to better protect swimmers,” Mr Grant said.

“This new technology has already been a great success, and allows beachgoers to access help in secluded, unpatrolled areas, with the beacon sending a quick alert to have support dispatched during emergencies when any time saved could mean a life saved too.”

Mr Grant said funds will also be allocated for an exciting beach wi-fi trial to better communicate with and educate swimmers, particularly international visitors.

“This will involve real-time safety alerts being issued to beachgoers’ digital devices within the red and yellow flags, translated into seven different languages,” Mr Grant said.

“These crucial updates could prevent drownings, especially for people who may not speak English and aren’t as familiar with the conditions.”

Surf Life Saving NSW CEO Steve Pearce welcomed the Government’s pledge and said it will also provide major operational support across the organisation’s 129 clubs.

“This would allow us to purchase more jet skis and the wetsuits, lifejackets and helmets needed to operate them safely, while also increasing our training efforts,” Mr Pearce said.

“More jet skis in the water, more emergency vehicles on the land, and more training for staff all equals better outcomes for coastal communities, and ultimately more lives saved.”

Today’s investment comes on top of strong support for Surf Life Saving NSW and water safety initiatives:

  • Over the 3 years from 2016/17, the NSW Government has committed more than $9 million in water safety funding including:
    • $4 million over three years to enhance rescue capabilities, $220,000 of which ensured all Surf Life Saving branches had a new jet ski;
    • $1.7 million annually to provide essential lifesaving services; and,
    • $202,000 over three years for a pilot program to install emergency markers at key risk areas along the NSW coastline.
  • $4 million to upgrade and build new Surf Life Saving Clubs – a doubling of the previous funding.
  • Investments in new technology, such as drones, to assist lifeguards and prevent drownings.

EXTRA HIGH VISIBILITY STREET POLICE TO HIT THE BEAT

Communities across Greater Sydney will benefit from having extra police on the beat, with 100 high visibility officers set to join the ranks as part of the NSW Government’s historic investment in frontline policing.

The NSW Liberals & Nationals Government is investing a record $583 million to deliver 1,500 extra police – the biggest single increase for the NSW Police Force in more than 30 years.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Minister for Police Troy Grant and NSW Acting Police Commissioner Gary Worboys announced today that 100 of these new officers will be deployed to high visibility foot patrols across NSW – including many in Sydney – ensuring that communities are even safer places to live and work.

“These new high visibility street teams will provide a reassuring presence right across our suburbs and play a vital role in disrupting and preventing crime and anti-social behaviour,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“The NSW Government is delivering record breaking frontline services for schools, hospitals and our emergency services. Our careful economic management is allowing us to deliver the improvements that will make a real difference for everyone in NSW.”

Along with providing high visibility foot patrols, the new officers announced today will also be deployed to major events, transport hubs and busy areas.

Mr Grant said the boost in resources would also give police greater capacity for ongoing local community and business engagement.

“They call it the thin blue line – but that’s hardly the case with more and more officers on our streets serving the community and proactively targeting crime,” Mr Grant said.

“Having this highly-visible deployment means police can gather more intelligence to tackle emerging crime trends head-on, and increase community confidence in local policing by addressing any concerns from retail owners, residents or other community members.

“The presence of more men and women in blue will also make criminals think twice before breaking the law. With more eyes on them, there’s more chance of being caught and charged by police.”

Acting Commissioner Worboys said modern policing is not just about making people safe, it’s also about making people feel safe.

“That’s why a highly-visible presence in our major city is so important,” Acting Commissioner Worboys said.

“We know New York, Paris and London have moved towards a highly-visible presence. It’s only natural the largest city and biggest economy in Australia would follow.”

The high visibility street teams will operate across five  NSW Police Force regions, with a large contingent of 40 extra police set to be deployed across the Central Metropolitan Region.

The officers will be specifically trained in intelligence gathering so they can proactively identify conflicts ranging from local level issues to the most serious indicators of violent extremism.

They will work closely with Police Area Commands and Districts across their respective regions while also complementing the work of specialist officers across the Force.

Along with today’s announcement, all 58 Police Area Commands and Police Districts will receive an Elder Abuse Prevention Officer and a Child Protection Register Officer.

A further 91 officers will be deployed to Region Enforcement Squads and Raptor Units to fight serious and organised crime.

RECORD NUMBER OF INTERN DOCTORS IN 2019

More than 1000 medical graduates this week start their hospital ward rounds across NSW – the largest intake ever – as part of the Government’s internship program.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard said $107 million has been invested in the internship program to support 1021 junior medical positions.

“The new crop of interns is the next generation of talented professionals at the frontline of our health care system which is one of the best in the world,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“Thanks to this Government’s strong financial management, we can deliver record investment into to new hospitals as well as hospital staff. I am incredibly proud that the Liberals & Nationals Government has invested close to three-quarters of a billion dollars since 2011 to boost the internship program in NSW.

“Under Labor, the investment in the program was just $63 million in 2010. This year we will invest $107 million and offer 251 more places to interns than under Labor.

“Our health credentials are unmatched and this builds on the additional 16,000 frontline health workers we have already employed since coming to government , an increase of 23 per cent.”

Mr Hazzard said NSW offers more funding and internships than any other state or territory, and leads the nation in efforts to improve the wellbeing of young doctors.

“A lot of work has been done over the past 18 months since we held the JMO forum about how we can better support our junior medical officers,” Mr Hazzard said.

“Change will take time as we are turning around a cultural way of thinking prevalent in the profession worldwide but we are committed to supporting those who support us.

During their first year, graduates will complete compulsory terms in the specialties of medicine, surgery and emergency. The second year focuses on consolidating professional practice and experience in different clinical settings. The interns will rotate through a network of metropolitan, regional or rural hospitals, as well as GP practices.

LABOR’S PLAN TO REJUVENATE GREAT KEPPEL ISLAND

A Shorten Labor Government will invest $25 million to rejuvenate Great Keppel Island, helping to grow tourism, create jobs and deliver an $80-million-a-year boost to the region’s economy.

Great Keppel has amazing, untapped tourism potential but it is held back by a lack of basic infrastructure, including drinking water and a reliable power supply.

Federal Labor’s investment – which matches the Queensland Government’s investment – will deliver new infrastructure for permanent and reliable electricity and water supply on the Island.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten will visit Great Keppel Island on Wednesday morning to make the announcement.

“I’m taking a hands-on approach to job creation in Central Queensland,” Mr Shorten said.

“This is a beautiful part of Queensland with massive potential. You just need a government in Canberra that listens and acts.

“Russell Robertson has been on the phone to me about how important this investment is. He’s done a fantastic job advocating for Great Keppel Island and the entire region.”

Shadow Minister for Regional Services Stephen Jones said water quality and reliable power supply presents significant challenges for island businesses and residents.

“The island relies on diesel-powered generators as the main source of power, and access to drinking water is through rainwater harvesting or bottled water from the mainland. This is costly and time consuming, and is holding Great Keppel back,” Mr Jones said.

“This funding will see key infrastructure built on the island, including a permanent and reliable supply of power and drinking water. Our investment will aim to grow tourism on Great Keppel and the surrounding region, supporting existing tourism operators, residents, and future tourism development projects.”

Shadow Minister for Tourism Anthony Albanese said with improved infrastructure, it is expected that the island will accommodate about 860,000 visitors, workers and residents a year, and contribute more $83 million per annum to the local economy.

“We know tourism operators need reliable water and power, and the lack of these basic services is a barrier to investment. Labor’s commitment will allow for sustainable development, meaning more visitors, more jobs and more money going to local businesses,” Mr Albanese said.

Labor Candidate for Capricornia Russell Robertson welcomed Labor’s investment to rejuvenate Great Keppel Island.

“This is a great day for the Capricorn Coast. I’ve been working for months to secure this investment for our region, and now we know a Shorten Labor Government will deliver it,” Mr Robertson said.

“I’ve been calling on both Bill Shorten and Scott Morrison to make this commitment, but Bill is the only one who has listened.

“Michelle Landry has been too caught up in the chaos in Canberra to secure this funding. She’s forgotten Great Keppel Island exists at all.

“Great Keppel is the most beautiful on the Great Barrier Reef. Everyone knows that infrastructure funding for Great Keppel Island will mean more visitors, more jobs and more money going into our local economy.

“As your local member, I’ll make sure Great Keppel gets the investment, infrastructure and jobs it deserves.”

Mr Shorten said only Labor is committed to rejuvenating Great Keppel Island.

“I believe in a fair go for all Australians, and that means a fair go for Central Queenslanders.

I’m determined to deliver job-creating infrastructure for Central Queenslanders, and I can pay for it because I will make multinational companies pay their fair share of tax.”

Governments Must Support Communities Says Greens Senator After Visit to Williamtown and Bobs Farm to Talk PFAS Contamination and Sand Mining

Australian Greens Senator For NSW, Dr Mehreen Faruqi, has visited the Port Stephens area and heard first hand from local residents about their concerns over multiple threats in the Williamtown, Saltash and Bobs Farm areas, including PFAS contamination and a proposed massive increase in sand mining.

On the PFAS contamination issue, Senator Faruqi said:

“Residents are sick and tired of having to fight the federal government for compensation for the pollution of their land and water by the Department of Defence. They have been fighting a David versus Goliath battle for years.

“I’m concerned to hear that there has been no ‘off-base’ clean up and remediation of contaminated water and soil, especially in the drains.

“I sat on the Senate Inquiry into the issue and I strongly believe that there needs to be a proper compensation package. Importantly it must include buybacks of properties that have been significantly affected.

“The Federal Government caused the PFAS pollution so they must take full responsibility for it. The community has waited long enough. Communities have suffered enough. It’s time to take concrete action to help them. And it’s time concrete action is taken now.

On the proposed sand mine in Bobs Farm, Senator Faruqi said:

“The proposal for a huge new sand mine at Bobs Farm is very concerning and has the potential to impact on the water supply for nearby farms and will involve significant clearing of bushland. Parents at the nearby school are really worried about the pollution from the mining as well as the nearly 200 truck movements a day right past the school.

“This project clearly doesn’t have community support and has significant environmental risks. I’ll be making a submission opposing the proposal” she concluded.

Man charged over the alleged misappropriation of NSW RSL funds

A former Returned Services League (RSL) NSW State President has been charged with fraud following an investigation by the Financial Crimes Squad.

In December 2016, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad established Strike Force Whitbread to investigate reports of the misappropriation of funds within the NSW RSL.

Strike force detectives obtained large volumes of documentation early in the investigation, which have undergone forensic accounting analysis.

Following extensive inquiries, police met with a 70-year-old man at Armidale Police Station about 9am today (Wednesday 23 January 2019).

He was charged by way of a Future Court Attendance Notice for two counts of dishonestly obtain a financial advantage or cause disadvantage by deception.

The man is due to face Downing Centre Local Court on Thursday 7 March 2019.

LABOR’S PLAN TO IMPROVE CAIRNS HOSPITAL ED

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver better emergency care for the people of Cairns by investing in a major redevelopment of the Cairns Hospital Emergency Department.

A recent review of the hospital called for a number of high priority improvements to the emergency department while a more substantial expansion is planned.

Labor will invest $15 million to deliver these improvements as part of our Fair Go Action Plan to protect Medicare and fix our hospitals.

This commitment comes on top of our promise to put $60 million towards a new dedicated training facility at Cairns Hospital, which will help attract and retain health workers in Far North Queensland.

The new facility will help address the critical health workforce shortage that risks undermining the quality of health care in this region.

But that is a longer-term project.

The Emergency Department redevelopment is something we can deliver in the next 12 to 24 months – delivering tangible health benefits to this community.

The redevelopment will improve safety for patients and staff alike and bring down wait times.

It will include:

  • An increase in adult short stay capacity from 8 to 16 adult beds
  • A 4-bed pediatric short stay unit
  • Improvements to resuscitation bays and trauma treatment spaces
  • Front of house improvements to provide dedicated space for ambulance offload
  • And better telehealth facilities.

Population growth has made Cairns Hospital Emergency Department one of the busiest in Queensland, with activity going up by 4 per cent each year. In 2017-18 the number of presentations exceeded 70,000 for the first time.

That’s why we have to invest now in this hospital.

Labor believes Australian should get the best quality health care whenever they need it – no matter if you live in downtown Brisbane or Far North Queensland.

That’s why the last federal Labor Government invested $12m in Cairns Hospital through our Health and Hospitals Fund.

The Liberals on the other hand just cut and cut and cut from health. As Treasurer, Scott Morrison cut from health and hospitals in every Budget he authored.

His government has cut $7.2 million from Cairns Hospital under the current 2017 to 2020 funding agreement.

That’s equivalent to 20 nurses, or 11,000 emergency department visits, or 17,500 outpatient appointments. And it’s part of a $160m cut to Queensland hospitals and a $715m cut nationwide.

Now Morrison is trying to lock in those cuts for another five years – a dud deal that the Queensland Labor Government is resisting.

Labor will reverse the Liberal cuts with our $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund, which we will use to fund projects like this one.

Only Labor can be trusted to fix Queensland’s hospitals.

ROCKHAMPTON RING ROAD A CERTAINTY UNDER LABOR

A Shorten Labor Government will unlock productivity and jobs growth in Central Queensland by investing $800 million to build the Rockhampton Ring Road in partnership with the State Labor Government.

This is a transformative project which will support around 780 direct jobs during its delivery, ease congestion on the Bruce Highway, and make Rockhampton as even better place to live, work and raise a family.

The Ring Road will run from the Yeppen Roundabout, along the western side of the airport to a third bridge crossing before reconnecting with the existing highway at Parkhurst – see attached map.

It will take thousands of trucks a day out of the CBD and off suburban streets, both speeding up the movement of freight along the east coast as well as improving safety for local residents.

Importantly, investments such as this are a critical component of a serious decentralisation policy because they provide regional centres with the infrastructure and services they need to grow and prosper.

This commitment follows yesterday’s announcement that a Shorten Labor Government will boost local jobs by ensuring more government contracts and major projects such as the Ring Road are delivered by local businesses employing local workers.

It was the former Federal Labor Government that first began investigating the planning for the Rockhampton Ring Road when we commissioned the Fitzroy River Floodplain and Road Planning Study in June 2009.

The study, completed in 2011, backed the project.

But after nearly two full terms as the LNP MP for Capricornia Michelle Landry has been unable to advance the Ring Road.

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver the project, not just talk about it.

When it comes to the Bruce Highway, the LNP’s record is one of cuts and broken promises.

Indeed, according to figures released by its own Infrastructure Department, the Morrison LNP Government will slash Federal investment in the highway over the next three years by $700 million if it wins the coming election.

Federal Labor’s commitment to the Rockhampton Ring Road builds on our strong track record of delivering for Central Queensland the last time we were in office. This including the major Yeppen Floodplain project which upgraded the Bruce Highway to prevent Rockhampton being cut off from the south, even during a one in 100-year flooding event.

LABOR’S NATIONAL HYDROGEN PLAN

A Shorten Labor Government will deliver a $1 billion National Hydrogen Plan to create new blue-collar jobs, support new businesses and supercharge Australia’s renewable energy industry.

Hydrogen is an emerging industry that has huge potential to deliver significant economic, employment, energy and environmental benefits for Australia.

Hydrogen gas is an energy source that can be produced through the process of electrolysis using renewable energy, meaning it can leverage Australia’s world-class renewable energy to make much cleaner hydrogen competitively.

Developing a hydrogen industry will deliver new opportunities for manufacturing, transport and electricity generation.

As the global demand for hydrogen surges to an expected $215 billion market by 2022, Australia is uniquely placed to benefit from the development of this new, job-generating industry.

Analysis by ACIL Allen projects that hydrogen exports alone could be worth $10 billion in 20 years, and create 16,000 new blue-collar jobs – mainly in regional areas.

Most of the benefits of hydrogen development will be in regional Australia. For example, the deep sea water ports of Gladstone and Newcastle are well placed to support a hydrogen export industry.

While benefiting the nation as a whole, regional Queensland will be the big winner from Labor’s plan.

Labor is taking a hands-on approach to supporting the new jobs and industries Queensland needs for the future.

We want regional Queenslanders to have good, secure blue-collar jobs for the future in existing and new industries.

Hydrogen can be the next great energy industry for Australia – and Labor has a plan to make it happen.

Labor’s six-point plan for hydrogen will:

1. Allocate $1 billion of funding from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation to support clean hydrogen development, from Labor’s commitment to double CEFC’s capital by $10 billion.

2. Invest up to $90 million of unallocated funding from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency to support research, demonstration and pre-commercial deployment of hydrogen technologies.

3. Establish a $10 million ARENA funding round for hydrogen refuelling infrastructure around the nation, from within ARENA’s unallocated funding.

4. Invest $40 million of unallocated funding from the CEFC Clean Energy Innovation Fund to target hydrogen technologies and businesses that have passed the research and development stage.

5. Implement regulatory reforms that will help the industry develop and prosper, including reforms to support the use of existing gas pipelines for hydrogen, reforms to support the shipping of hydrogen, reforms to better support the storage of CO2 from blue and brown hydrogen production, as well as other reforms to support hydrogen use and production.

6. Establish the National Hydrogen Innovation Hub in Gladstone with an initial investment of $3 million. This will kick-start early commercialisation of hydrogen technologies, provide a hub for investment and research agencies, and provide opportunities to leverage LNG infrastructure to support hydrogen exports.

A Shorten Labor Government will make Gladstone the hydrogen capital of Australia.

Hydrogen means more investment in Australia, more exports from Australia, and more blue-collar jobs for Australia.

Australia has everything to gain from the global transition to more renewable energy. But to secure the new industries and jobs it will deliver, we need a government that has a plan to foster and grow the industries of the future.

That is exactly what Labor’s National Hydrogen Plan will deliver.

Further information on Labor’s National Hydrogen Plan can be found here.