Mr FITZGIBBON (Hunter) (13:52): At the risk of giving away my age, tonight's budget will be my 20th. It will also be the Treasurer's 20thwe are both members of the class of '96.
Like the Treasurer, I am hopeful that this will be a better budget than last year's budget, for different reasons. I hope it will be a good budget for the nation; Joe Hockey hopes it will be a good budget for him. I am here to stand on behalf of those who are living in rural and regional Australia in particular because, by any measure and indeed on the count of those in the Nationals and Liberal Party representing country areas, like the member for Eden-Monaro, last year's budget was an abject failure. When we cut higher education, it falls hardest on the bush. When we cut health, in falls hardest on the bush. When we raise petrol taxes, it falls hardest on the bush. And tonight, when the Treasurer cuts family payments and paid parental leave, it will fall hardest on those living in rural and regional Australia.
I say to all those on the other side, members of the Nationals and Liberal Party representing rural and regional Australia, stop being lions in your electorates and cowards in Canberra and start speaking up for your constituents, those who were smacked in last year's budget and those who again tonight will be the most disadvantaged as a result of this budget if what we read in the paper is proven to be right. I call upon them again to stand up for their electorates.