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Government Performance

Hansard ID: HANSARD-1323879322-129714

Hansard session: Fifty-Seventh Parliament, First Session (57-1)

Government Performance

Ms PRUE CAR (Londonderry) (16:58:34):

I move:

I move that this House:

(1)Notes that after 12 years of Liberal-Nationals Government in New South Wales:

(a)the Government's obsession with privatisation has meant $93 billion of assets has been sold off, leading to a cost‑of‑living crisis and worse services;

(b)we have an education system which is failing our children because one in nine young teachers are leaving the profession and chronic teacher shortages are causing declining student outcomes;

(c)we have a health system that has been neglected with emergency wait times at an all-time high, a hospital system that is stretched and nurses who are overworked and under-resourced; and

(d)the State has lost over 40,000 jobs because this Government does not back domestic manufacturing.

(2)Calls for a fresh start for New South Wales.

I am very keen to debate the motion this afternoon. Though the motion is self-explanatory, I will outline why Labor has brought it to the Chamber on the second last day of Parliament for the term and as we reach the end of the third term of the Liberal‑Nationals Government in New South Wales. Let us look at the first issue. Under the Government, $93 billion of public assets have been sold off. There is a very long list of assets. The Government has a long record of privatising public assets that were once owned by the people of New South Wales. They include Port Botany, Port Kembla, the Port of Newcastle, Eraring Energy, the M7 rental payments, Vales Point, Transgrid, Ausgrid, HomeCare, Land and Property Information, Endeavour Energy, Sydney Motorway Corporation—the list is too long to read out. One might say it is quite a record, but it is not one to be proud of.

At the end of the day, privatisation has resulted in a cost-of-living crisis that the people of New South Wales must bear every day, and members know that is true. The truth is that the New South Wales Government will wear that record like an albatross around its neck. Selling off public assets has made the cost‑of‑living crisis much worse. Let us look at manufacturing. Under the Government, New South Wales has lost almost 42,000 manufacturing jobs.

Government members interjected


Members opposite might groan, but it is very important to the future of this State if we are losing 42,000 jobs because the Government has prioritised overseas manufacturing. That is a shame. The Government said that New South Wales was not good at building trains. How could we forget that? The Government decried domestic manufacturing, but let us look at its record. The new intercity fleet was built in South Korea—that went really well. The ferries were built in China and Indonesia—that went even better. The 38 Northern Beaches B‑line buses were built in Malaysia, the trains were built in China, the Metro Northwest trains were built in India and the light rail vehicles were built in France and Spain—and we all know what happened there.

All members know that our constituents are crying out for work for themselves and for the sake of their children, and yet the Government has consistently awarded contracts to overseas manufacturers when we could have been creating jobs in this State. Look at the New South Wales health system. More people presented to emergency departments with the highest category emergency than ever before at over 110,000 in one quarter. Half of patients with the highest category emergency did not start treatment on time. That is the worst result on record. In western Sydney, three in four of the highest category emergency treatments did not start on time. At Blacktown Hospital, nine in 10 of the highest category emergency treatments did not start on time. That is unacceptable.

I urge all members to think about the constituents who I know are coming to them with horror stories from emergency departments. I must make the point as I know from personal experience that there is much improvement to be made to the health system in New South Wales. The wait times that sick people must endure to get treatment in this State is unacceptable. I now come to education and education outcomes. Relative to other countries, between 2006 and 2018 New South Wales students have dropped from sixth to twenty-third in reading, ninth to thirty-first in maths and third to twenty-third in science.

Relative to other Australian States, between 2012 and 2018 our students have dropped from fourth to sixth in reading, third to fifth in maths, and third to fifth in science. This year's NAPLAN shows that year 9 boys are struggling to not even reach the national minimum standard when it comes to grammar. Coincidentally, those boys have been at school the whole time that the Liberals and The Nationals have been in office in New South Wales. That is why this side of the House speaks about the chronic teacher shortage that besets our State—this is the result of that. Fewer teachers in our schools means worse outcomes for our children. What is more important for a government to provide than quality health care and first-class public education for our children and for our future?

The truth is that education outcomes have continued to go backwards, and that has correlated directly with the decline in investment and finding teachers to be in our classrooms. It is a shortage that the Government was warned about time and time again, and it has failed to address it. It has failed to recruit the teachers that this State needs, and it will be one of its lasting legacies. What a legacy that would be. It is shameful what the Government has done to teachers in this State and, therefore, to students. Mass privatisation, second-rate overseas-built public transport, a cost-of-living crisis, school outcomes going backwards, and a health system stretched to breaking point—after 12 long years, the case could not be clearer that New South Wales needs a fresh start.

Mr MARK COURE (OatleyMinister for Multiculturalism, and Minister for Seniors) (17:05:54):

— I begin my contribution to the public interest debate by moving a small amendment or minor modification. I move:

That all words after "House" be deleted and insert instead:

(1)Notes that after 12 years of Liberals-National Government in New South Wales:

(a)this Government has made record investment in schools, hospitals, roads and rail across New South Wales;

(b)this Government's infrastructure investment in New South Wales has created hundreds of thousands of jobs right across the State, delivering record low unemployment;

(c)this Government has delivered record investment for our regions with a $3.3 billion Regional Growth Fund;

(d)this Government is delivering $7.2 billion in practical cost of living relief to families through more than seven different rebates, concessions and measures to boost household budgets, including Active kids, Creative Kids, Back to School vouchers, the Toll Rebate Scheme and the Energy Bill Buster program;

(e)this Government has delivered transformative tax reform to give more first home buyers the opportunity to get the keys to their first home.


Order! I seek clarification from the member for Oatley. Is the member still moving his amendment?


It is still the amendment. It is a large amendment, making a minor modification. We are just tweaking the motion.


It is an unusually long and detailed amendment.


I am only halfway through.


I hope the member for Oatley concludes shortly in the three minutes or so he has remaining. The member has the call.


The amendment continues:

(f)this Government is delivering a universal year of pre-kindergarten for all children who live in New South Wales and invested a record $15 billion in childcare and early childhood; and

(g)this Government has responded to the challenge of a transitioning energy market and climate change through its Electricity Infrastructure Roadmap to ensure households have access to cheap, clean and reliable electricity—

I thank those opposite for supporting that electricity road map—

(2)Agrees with the former Labor member for Bankstown's assessment that "NSW Labor is not ready to govern";

(3)Calls on NSW Labor to stop complaining, stop the slogans, end the "Year of the Strike" and develop policies for our State's future.

Would the Assistant Speaker like me to read the amendment again?


I will restate the amendment if the House divides on it.


Perhaps my time should be reset.


I ask the member for Oatley to provide a copy of the amendment to the Clerk.


This public interest debate is nothing but a cheap opportunity with empty words and low-rent slogans. On this side of the House, we are building better hospitals.

Government members interjected.


Time expired.

Audience participation, please. From Stronger Schools to caring for the environment and strengthening the economy, the New South Wales Liberal-Nationals Government will continue delivering for the people of New South Wales. It is crystal clear that this year's budget supports families and builds a brighter future for everyone in New South Wales—and I do mean everyone. We are leaving no-one behind, including, of course, diverse communities across New South Wales. It has been 12 years of turning this State around from a slow, lagging, run-down place to a booming economic powerhouse. This Government is delivering record infrastructure spending on roads, rail, schools and hospitals that makes this State the best place to live, to work and to raise a family. We are delivering for western Sydney. We are providing cost-of-living relief of more than $7.2 billion in rebates, concessions and measures for working families across New South Wales. We have created hundreds— []

Mr CHRIS MINNS (Kogarah) (17:11:06):

If anything demonstrates 12 years of this Government's time in office, it is Melissa, who is an emergency nurse at Liverpool Hospital. She sustained a rib fracture after a punch from a patient suffering a mental health episode. Because of short staffing on the ward, her colleagues were unable to monitor patients and administer medication on time. Karen found Campbelltown emergency department so overcrowded that she was forced to self-administer antibiotics to her 81-year-old mother with a post-surgery arm infection after being told it would be more than a seven-hour wait. People were sitting on the emergency department floor and nurses were handing out blankets for them. Macquarie Fields resident Kelly's son was shuffled around from emergency to resuscitation to short stay and then back to emergency after suffering an anaphylactic shock.

In the face of undoubtedly devastating examples across New South Wales—in particular, in western Sydney—the response from the New South Wales Government to repeated instances of health failures was to say to the people of this State and the frontline workers, in particular, "Why don't you go and work in a third-world country?" Nothing about wages, nothing about conditions and nothing about the circumstances on the ground. All it could say was, "Pick up, head off overseas." We have seen it over and over again—whether it is wages, conditions or the circumstances related to privatisation.

I will read some quotes from senior Ministers in this Government. On the Government's pay deal for frontline workers, we heard, "It's completely fair and reasonable, and, indeed, it's very generous." Inflation in New South Wales is 8 per cent. In the face of overwhelming evidence of under-investment in infrastructure in the west, another member of the New South Wales Government said, "The people of western Sydney have never had it so good." In response to the chronic teacher shortages across our Department of Education system, the education Minister called those claims a "beat-up." In relation to a chronically and utterly devastated health system in this State, the New South Wales Government labelled those specific allegations "utterly ridiculous." At the end of the day, we must ask: How did the Government and this Premier, in particular, inherit the most popular government of any jurisdiction in this State—and, indeed, this State's entire history—and then drive it straight into the gutter?

The truth is that there is absolutely no empathy or understanding from anyone on the Government benches about what real people are going through every single day of their lives. Have we ever heard the New South Wales Premier stand up in this Parliament or elsewhere and say, "I understand what you're going through when it comes to high electricity prices"? Have we ever heard him express any empathy in relation to the teacher shortages or the health disaster in this State? Has he ever expressed anything other than the perpetual sense of a land tax, privatisation and holding down wages and conditions for frontline workers? That is the trifecta of solutions. I can see the member for Willoughby nodding.

The Crown.

That is the trifecta of solutions from the New South Wales Government—a land tax, perpetual, 80 per cent hopefully, more privatisation and pulling down as many wages and conditions for frontline workers as this Government possibly can. Who is asking for this? Who is suggesting that this should be the rhetoric or the policy response from a responsible New South Wales Government? When Parliament rises in a couple of days, what will be this Government's solution? Without a doubt, it will be to appoint Stuart Ayres back to the New South Wales ministry. The bloke was running a JobSeeker program for hacks inside The Nationals and the Premier's response will be to bring him back into the New South Wales Parliament. It will potentially send Matt Kean off to Egypt to suck up to royals, as if he is auditioning for the next season of

Look at the list of people who have abandoned this Government in the last few months: Gladys Berejiklian, Jonathan O'Dea, Trevor Khan, John Ajaka, Rob Stokes, Geoff Lee, Victor Dominello, David Elliott, Brad Hazzard, Melinda Pavey, Gabrielle Upton, Andrew Constance, Niall Blair, Steve Bromhead, Chris Gulaptis and Kevin Conolly. The list includes one Premier, one Speaker, one President, 14 Ministers, six backbenchers—23 MPs. Who could blame them? Our beef is not with all the people who have left this Government in the last few months. It is with the dregs who are remaining. The truth of the matter is that this State needs renewal and this team is nowhere near up to the task. The fact remains that their best people have gone and their best days are behind them. It is time for a fresh start for New South Wales.


Order! I would like the member for Upper Hunter to be heard. The member for Upper Hunter has the call.

Mr DAVID LAYZELL (Upper Hunter) (17:16:33):

I came here today and thought I was going to hear some good ideas from members opposite—and I just got slogans.

Mr Christopher Gulaptis:

No ideas—none!


No ideas, no policies, no backbone and no ticker. We do not hear anything from them. They are hiding under the table. All they do is throw stones—that is all they do. Yet members on the Government side of the House are taking on the challenges of the day. We have spent 12 years transforming this State after you people left it in a mess. You left it in a dire situation. We have built this State to be the premier State—New South Wales, the premier State. We are proud of what we have done. All members opposite do is talk down our State and absolutely pull down this State. But it is a great State and I am very proud of the absolute transformation we have seen. We are producing a credible and strong future for families in New South Wales. I am very proud of what we have done. Labor members talk down and demonise privatisation. What this Government has done with asset recycling is transform this State. This Government has actually put the money back into the economy. We are now so busy building infrastructure.


The member for Rockdale will come to order.


We are building a better place. We only have to look at the regions. The regions are the best we have ever seen them. They are absolutely going gangbusters compared to how Labor left them. We only have to look at the roads, the stronger country roads. I tell you what, we are producing and we have a lot more work to do. Imagine if the regions were in the state that Labor left them in. My goodness, after seeing the floods, bridges—


The Clerk will stop the clock. It is great fun. I can see everybody is enjoying the debate—members from both sides—and I am happy for that to continue. There is a little bit of noise to the right of the Speaker's chair and I need a little bit of quiet. I think Hansard would be having some difficulty. We will have a free-running debate, but members should be mindful that the noise is a little bit difficult for Hansard. The member for Rockdale is a particular culprit. The Clerk may restart the clock.


Some serious transformations have happened in regional New South Wales. I am very proud of the roads and bridges that have been built. The program for replacement of the old timber bridges is now so busy that we are struggling to find contractors. It makes a huge difference when we can take trucks over bridges that previously had had no money spent on them during 16 long years of Labor. The member for Clarence would remember 16 long years of Labor. There is a whole generation out there that cannot remember. It is terrible. Let me now turn to health infrastructure. We all know what has happened: The State of New South Wales has been absolutely transformed in health infrastructure. We have been building hospitals all over New South Wales.

Mr Christopher Gulaptis:

Because they never would.


We all had to move to Queensland when Labor was last in power. Of course, I am very proud of some of the construction that is happening in Muswellbrook and all the way up through the Upper Hunter. I am pleased to see some good investment that is happening throughout regional New South Wales. We have invested over $2 billion in 2,700 projects—the sorts of projects that change people's lives. They include sporting fields and community groups—the sorts of things that make life better. That is exactly why I am standing in this House right now. That is because it is making lives better for people in regional New South Wales. We boosted the Regional Growth Fund by $1.3 billion to bring the total of the fund up to $3.3 billion. We have seen what a Federal government does to regional spending. It pulls the money out of the regions and that is exactly what members opposite will do to regional New South Wales. We have seen money ripped out of areas all over regional New South Wales.

Those opposite trash talk manufacturing in this State, which really frustrates the people of the Hunter Valley and the people of Upper Hunter. I invite members opposite to visit any of the manufacturing facilities in my electorate. We have some of the best manufacturing industries in the world. I can tell members that some of the mining technology we work on is the best in the world, but Opposition members trash talk this State. They are not ready to govern and not ready to even pick up a stick to fight for this State.


The member for Coogee will cease interjecting. I welcome the decorum of the member for Heffron. The member for Heffron has the call.

Mr RON HOENIG (Heffron) (17:22:23):

The once great Liberal-Nationals Coalition is now like a dying carcass as a wave moves through Australia, sweeping aside the arch conservative zealotry—and New South Wales is next. As we watch the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party sweep The Nationals from their rural heartland in western and south-western New South Wales, as NSW Labor takes the regional areas of Lismore and the Far South Coast and as the teals move to take the northern suburbs and possibly the Eastern Suburbs seat of Vaucluse, the message is clear: After 12 long years, the New South Wales Government has reached its use-by date. Their best days are behind them and the people of New South Wales want a fresh start.

Government members' zealotry and privatisation of government monopoly assets have left the people and businesses in this State with no protection from a competitive market or no regulator to control prices, giving those beneficiaries of their largesse super profits by increasing prices and reducing services. So bad were the privatisations of Port Botany, Port Kembla and the Port of Newcastle that the chairman of the ACCC described it repeatedly as the worst example of anti-competitive privatisation. This Government's conduct caused him to change his personal philosophy of being pro-privatisation to determining and announcing the people are right. He is now opposed to privatisation because of the example that this Government set. Privatisation of bus services throughout the regions of Sydney has produced the ire of tens of thousands of people as their services are cut, their routes truncated and on-time running reduced substantially.

It was announced in 2012 that WestConnex would be privatised at a cost of $10 billion and that the project would include building a road to link the M4 and M5 with Port Botany, and would be designed to improve access for moving freight to the port. That project has now cost $23 billion and does not go within eight kilometres of Port Botany. The Government will never recover the billions it has outlaid, and motorists are paying for it in outrageous tolls. It refused to build trains, ferries and trams in this State to provide local jobs and local economic investment. Instead, the Government chose to have them manufactured overseas and every purchase made has been embarrassing. Indonesian-built RiverCats to be used on the Parramatta River do not fit under bridges. They were full of asbestos, could not be reversed and cannot be used at night. The Manly ferries that were built in China do not fit the Manly wharf at low tide. They cannot handle the swells in the harbour, because when they tried to use them the windows cracked and the rudder fell off.

The trains for the Intercity fleet were bought from Korea at a cost of more than $2 billion and they do not fit on the tracks or in the tunnels. The cracks in the Spanish-built trams that were bought for the Inner West Light Rail were so great that someone could have stuck their head through them. The Government was warned about teacher shortages in 2019 but it has taken no action. Now we have merged classes, cancelled classes, overworked teachers leaving the education system and our education standards are falling against most competitive countries in the world. Our health system is in crisis not just because of the pandemic but because this Government has underinvested in staff in every part of the system. Those wonderful people to whom we entrust our lives are under extreme pressure to the extent of exhaustion because of the conscious decisions that this Government has made. After 12 long years, the Government's best days are behind it and its time is up. New South Wales needs a fresh start.


Order! I remind members that interjections are disorderly.

Ms FELICITY WILSON (North Shore) (17:27:40):

I must say, I feel a little starstruck today. I am not sure how others feel. The Leader of the Opposition came to the House today and I am so excited to see him in person, not just in video footage on Twitter. He actually came to the House. We should all congratulate him on his 173rd speech since being in Parliament. Well done to the Leader of the Opposition.


Order! The member for North Shore will not lead the House in unparliamentary behaviour.


He has been here two years longer than me and I have almost 800 speeches. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition on turning up. Turning up to work is really a fresh start for the Leader of the Opposition. He has left it until the second last day to do it, but we are very excited to see him in the Chamber and hear his contributions. He obviously does have a lot of style, if not substance. It is great to see that style today, so thanks, Chris. It is so good to see you. What we know in this place is that the notion of a fresh start is not going to go far for Labor. As we have heard from the member for Bankstown, everyone in the State knows that NSW Labor has not changed. We can put lipstick on a pig, but we know it is still a pig. That one is a special one for the member for Wollondilly, shall we say.

We know that Labor likes to get excited in this place occasionally. They like to come together occasionally. It was nice to see its members turn up because their Leader is here. Usually when he wants them to do something, they do not. Usually when he wants them to get together, they do not. Usually when he wants them to support him, they do not. But it is nice today that they all turned up. It is nice to see that a lot of Labor members turned up to support their leader today. It is exciting to see they have filled those benches. Long may NSW Labor stay there. They look fantastic underneath Wentworth. We love looking at Labor members from the Government benches. We love seeing them over there, so they can stay there for the long term.


Order! There is too much noise in the Chamber.


The people of this State know that NSW Labor cannot be trusted. It cannot deliver outcomes for the community. It let down the people of this State time after time. It is so sad that all that Labor has brought to us today is a slogan, "A fresh start". It elicits to mind toothpaste commercials. It elicits to mind people running through fields of daisies.


The member for Canterbury will come to order.


It elicits beautiful, exciting motherhood visionary concepts and the charisma, grace and charm of a vacuous, empty, same old Labor—the rotten Labor that lets down New South Wales time and again. I am sorry but Labor cannot fix the brand by saying it is fresh, because it never will be.


The member for Rockdale will come to order.


The stink has stuck to Labor. Today it is trying to apply mistruths to the facts.


The member for Terrigal will come to order.


I say "mistruths" because I am being generous and kind. Its members are talking about education and health. Bring it on. We have no concerns talking about education and health. We do not just talk, we deliver the outcomes—unlike Labor, which closed 90 schools. We have built and upgraded 200 schools. Labor closed 2,000 hospital beds. We built or upgraded 180 hospitals, with another 130 on the way. Labor members come to this Chamber and complain about our teachers, saying say they are leaving their profession, leaving our students behind. We say they are not. We say the facts do not speak to that. We say that the facts show that our teacher retention rate is at 98 per cent.

Facts are a challenge for Labor. We know almost 7,000 new teachers have joined the profession this year alone. Mr Minns would know that if he ever turned up to work. We spent more than $60 million supporting our teachers' development this year. We have 10,000 more teachers in our system than in 2011 when we got rid of that lot! In its last 15 years Labor closed more than 2,000 hospital beds. We all know that. Who got the health system up to scratch for a global pandemic? We did. Labor would never have been able to it. Its members stink. They always have and they will never change. The only people who can deliver for New South Wales are the Liberals and The Nationals. That is why we are staying on this side of the Chamber and Labor members can enjoy sitting on that side of the House.


Order! There is too much audible conversation in the Chamber. The member for Canterbury will cease interjecting.

Ms PRUE CAR (Londonderry) (17:33:24):

In reply: I was sitting there thinking, "How am I going to wrap up this debate about where New South Wales should be headed as we approach the election next year?" Then the member for North Shore provided me with all the material that I needed. This is the reality. It would be funny if it was not so tragic and true. This State is facing some serious issues. People are waiting longer than ever in emergency departments. There is a chronic teacher shortage and burgeoning and cancelled classes in almost every area of the State affecting education outcomes. After 12 years this is what the Government has come to. The member for North Shore launched a bizarre attack on the character of the Leader of the Opposition, which was a little obsessive in my opinion.


The member for North Shore will come to order. The member for Terrigal will come to order.


Imagine being a nurse or a teacher, begging the Government to listen to you, and what is its response? Imagine being a frontline worker saying, "I actually want more than thanks. I would like to be valued so that more of us can work in the public sector to deliver services." By the way, they are the people who got us through the pandemic, not the Government. The Government has responded by giving them real pay cuts. The member for North Shore made jokes because she thinks it is all fun. The Liberal-Nationals have been in government for 12 years and have completely lost touch. The answer to everything is, "You are not complaining correctly. Everything is fine, just listen. Everything is fine. On the North Shore everything is fine."

In western Sydney it is not fine. At Blacktown Hospital it is not fine. In the classrooms of rural and regional New South Wales as well as in the inner city of Sydney—there are teacher shortages everywhere—it is not fine. The Government puts its head in the sand and the people of New South Wales will deliver their verdict in March next year. We desperately need a fresh start in this State. After 12 years, surely even those opposite cannot seriously think this Government's best days are in front of it when all it has got is the member for North Shore making crap jokes. That is the best it has got.


The member for North Shore will come to order. The member for Terrigal will come to order. The member for Upper Hunter will come to order.


There is a reason the Government is under attack on both flanks. It is because after 12 years it is tired, it is out of touch and it is in big trouble in March, because the people of New South Wales can see right through it.


Members will come to order. We will deal with the original motion and the amendment moved by the member for Oatley.

Mr Ron Hoenig:

Point of order: I suggest that the amendment is out of order, first, in relation to its length—as the Assistant Speaker observed—but, most importantly, because it replaces the entire motion. It removes all words after "House." An amendment must bear some remote relevance to the motion before the House. An entire motion cannot be replaced with a completely different motion.


I thank the member for Heffron and I appreciate his point. However, there is precedent regarding amendments moved by members on both sides of the House, particularly during the public interest debate. I do not uphold the point of order.

Mr David Harris:

Point of order: I draw your attention to Standing Order 159 in relation to the amendment. The mover has failed to sign the amendment. Therefore, I ask that it be ruled out of order.


I will seek clarification, but I have a copy of the amendment that has a signature.

Mr David Harris:

That is the signature of the Clerk to say it was checked.


Members will come to order. I do not need their assistance. I rule the amendment out of order. I uphold the point of order of the member for Wyong.


The question is that the motion be agreed to.

The House divided.




Motion negatived.