Opinion pieces

Why a vote for Labor in the Hunter will count

May 07, 2019

But in the Hunter, is a vote for Labor really "a vote of no consequence"? Do voters prefer campaign "fireworks" to policies and promises that will improve their lives? 

The answer is unequivocally "no". Voters repeatedly tell politicians to stop the in-fighting and get on with governing.

Do "safe" seats fail to deliver for their communities? Also unequivocally "no", and Labor has the record to prove it.

When you drive on the Hunter Expressway it's because of a Labor government. 

The NewSpace city campus of the University of Newcastle was delivered by a Labor government, in conjunction with the NSW Government and the University of Newcastle.

If your children are improving at school because needs-based funding is delivering more resources, you can thank Labor. If you're receiving funding under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, it's because of Labor.

The Royal Commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse came about because of Labor in government. The Banking Royal Commission and the Royal Commission into violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation of people with disability came about because of Labor in opposition. There are many more strings to the Labor bow, not the least of which is Medicare.

If elected on May 18, a Labor government will deliver in spades for the nation: $14billion more for schools; $2.2billion more for universities; $1billion more for TAFE; 150,000 more apprentices; $2.8billion more for healthcare; $2.3billion for cancer care; $4 billion to make childcare cheaper; a $2.4 billion pensioner dental plan; and an $88million Safe Housing Fund to deliver transitional and emergency housing and 250,000 new affordable homes.

Reforms to negative gearing and capital gains will make housing more affordable for first-home buyers; an action plan on climate change will cut power prices, cut pollution and deliver a just transition for affected workers and communities. 

There are many more strings to the Labor bow, not the least of which is Medicare.

Tax cuts will include those earning less than $40,000, but exclude big business and the banks. These and many other policies are why a vote for Labor counts. See alp.org.au/policies/

Infrastructure spending and local commitments are why a vote for Labor counts. In the Hunter, Labor has already committed $250million to the Singleton Bypass, $1.6billion to the M1 extension to Heatherbrae, and $13million to complete stage one of the Glendale Transport Interchange.

The "announcements" of these last two projects by Shadow Infrastructure Minister Anthony Albanese were described by Mr Parris as "anything but inspiring", but the projects themselves will be a relief to holidaying drivers stuck in long queues and Lake Macquarie businesses itching to expand.

In each Hunter electorate, schools will be $20million better off under Labor, and hospitals will share in the $2.8billion Better Hospitals Fund.

Labor has committed: $10million to clean up drains contaminated by PFAS from Williamtown RAAF; $3million for the Boscawen Street Bridge in Wallsend; $2.3million to rejuvenate Throsby Creek; $2.5million for TV towers to improve digital TV reception; $2.7million for a cancer day treatment unit at Singleton Hospital; $1million for Maitland Football Club, $800,000 for a splash pad at Cessnock Pool, $350,000 for a music hub in Newcastle, and $300,000 to Garden Suburb Football Club, and $200,000 for the Richmond Vale Rail Trail.

Labor has pledged to open a headspace youth mental health centre at Cessnock, and to restore emergency relief funding to the Samaritans Foundation ($491,000), Swansea Community Cottage ($166,000), San Remo Epicentre ($103,000) and Muloobinba Aboriginal Corporation ($73,000).

At the University of Newcastle, specialist funding will help people who have experienced family violence into higher education ($1.65million) and young people study STEM ($580,000).

In the south, locals will benefit from Central Coast commitments to roadworks and shared pathways, including the Mannering Park Foreshore cycle path, and a boost for Wyong TAFE. We continue to make commitments to our region as they are costed and approved.

Meanwhile, those itching for "an entertaining leadership contest" can enjoy their Game of Thrones episodes. We'd prefer to be cast on the big screen in Avengers Endgame, in which the superheroes take a final stand against the evil demigod who has decimated the universe. May 18 is the epic showdown.

This opinion piece was published in the Newcastle Herald on May 7, 2019.