Paul Fletcher MP

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When I gave my maiden speech to the House in February this year, I mentioned key policy areas in which I hoped over time to be a voice for change. One of the areas I spoke about was the process of commercialisation of innovation—that is, moving smart ideas from the laboratory to the market place. In my speech at that time I mentioned that I saw this as requiring:

I am pleased to have the opportunity to speak on this package of legislation, the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Close of Rolls and Other Measures) Bill (No. 2) 2010 and related bills. This is a debate about several important changes to the rules governing our electoral process, and nothing could be more important to the proper functioning of our democracy. All of us involved in the political process rightly take pride in the operation of the Australian democratic system. The work of the Australian Electoral Commission is absolutely central to that, but obviously it operates under rules laid down—laws laid down—by this parliament.

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This budget is a debt and deficit budget. It is a window-dressing budget which is presented in a deeply misleading way. It is a budget from a government which has misdiagnosed the economic challenges facing Australia and is consequently following the wrong strategy. And it is a budget of missed opportunities.

I rise to raise a matter of grave concern to residents in my electorate of Bradfield. The New South Wales Labor government has added another chapter to the shameful story of undemocratic planning decisions in Ku-ring-gai with the approval by the Minister for Planning, Tony Kelly, of the Ku-ring-gai Town Centres plan. This plan will permit developments of between six and nine storeys in the town centres of Roseville, Lindfield, Pymble, Gordon, Turramurra and St Ives. It is a gross violation of the principle that local planning decisions should be in the hands of people who live locally, who are accountable locally and who are concerned about the local impact of those decisions. But, by contrast, this plan has been approved by a Labor minister in Macquarie Street with little knowledge of—and even less sympathy for—the unique heritage and character of the Ku-ring-gai area. Frankly, there is a large element of political payback in what state Labor is doing to the upper North Shore, because they perceive it as an area which votes Liberal.

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When it comes to the use of communications networks there is inevitably a balance to be struck between the convenience of being accessible to all—being able to call anybody that you like and equally being available to be called by anybody you like—and the issues that that involves in terms of exposing yourself to being available to be called by those who you may not wish to hear from.

I rise to address the issue of value for money in Commonwealth procurement, particularly in the area of education. I refer to the specific case of the Gordon East primary school. I asked a question about this of Minister Gillard in the House yesterday and I was brushed off with the standard answer that when the government looks into these issues it usually finds that the opposition has got it wrong in some way and in fact the quote that we are comparing the actual cost of the BER funded project with is a quote that has been done on a different basis. The very distinctive thing about the case I mentioned yesterday in my question is that when I was talking about the comparator in the experience of Gordon East primary school, I was talking about actual spending in the last five years. The Gordon East primary school built a 180-square metre large special learning room for a total cost of $170,000. That comes to $920 a square metre. In contrast, the block which is presently being built at Gordon East primary school under Building the Education Revolution will cost, together with a little bit of work in the administration area, $2 million. When you do the maths, as I pointed out to the minister in my question yesterday, that produces a cost per square metre of $4,870, roughly five times as much as was paid by the school in 2005.

Authorised by Paul Fletcher MP, Level 2, 280 Pacific Highway Lindfield NSW 2070.

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