That is a bit rich coming from a member of The Nationals. I state at the outset that I do not support the motion. The Nationals are the party of sports rorts, Bridget McKenzie and the king of pork-barrelling, John Barilaro. We all remember the sports rorts—a $100 million community sports infrastructure program that was pork-barrelled in Federal Coalition seats. The blatant rorting was so bad that even Scott Morrison felt compelled to step in and try to act. It is timely that The Nationals bring this motion to the House on the very same day that the Department of Premier and Cabinet has released its report into the sports rorts saga. Those opposite should read the morning newspapers. The report found that Bridget McKenzie breached ministerial standards in administering the scheme. Of course, we cannot forget the NSW Nationals' pork‑barrelling—$177 million in bushfire recovery funds went to Coalition-held seats. Shameful. When pushed on this issue during the upper House inquiry, John Barilaro said:
You want to call that pork-barrelling, you want to call that buying votes, it's what the elections are for.
No accountability. No transparency. After a decade of neglect by The Nationals in New South Wales and in Canberra, the recent budget finally restored some funding to regions like the Hunter. This is critical funding to clean up The Nationals' mess. I provide some facts for the House. There is $2.2 billion for regional connectivity, made up of $400 million to expand mobile coverage and improve the resilience of the communications system, which is necessary; $30 million to accelerate Australia's agricultural sector through the On Farm Connectivity Program—that is a fact—and $200 million for two more rounds of the Regional Connectivity Program for communications infrastructure in rural, regional and remote communities. Communities like mine will certainly take advantage of that. We struggle with phone reception all the time and it is only a Labor government in Canberra that takes the issue seriously.
What we have is substance, not theatrics. No funding area has seen a bigger boost than health since the Albanese Government was elected. Under the Liberal-Nationals, the distribution priority area classification for the Hunter was changed. That has led to major shortages of local GPs and added pressure on local emergency departments. The Premier says it every day. Where were The Nationals then? They were missing in action. It gets worse, because those opposite teamed up with the Morrison Government to shut down our local GP access clinics. I said at the time that my community was outraged and that it would put more pressure on our emergency departments. But the cuts went ahead anyway, and emergency department waiting times increased. At Belmont Hospital only 61.5 per cent of patients who presented at emergency began treatment on time. That is a disgrace. It is not only below the State average, but also the lowest percentage on record under those opposite.
Thankfully, the Albanese Government has restored funding to re-establish GP access clinics. I applaud it—and so does my community. Labor has gone further by announcing in the recent budget 50 Medicare urgent care clinics, including one in Cessnock. That is welcomed. The Nationals have a disastrous record on health in our regions, and the people know it. That is why they are looking to Labor for answers. Today we heard the Premier in question time talking about the urgent care clinics. I move:
That the motion be amended by omitting all words after "House" and inserting instead "Notes that the New South Wales Government has overseen a health system in crisis that is failing rural and regional communities."
I remember when I was elected to this Parliament The Nationals had 17 members in this House. Four years later, they were down to 13. One wonders what will happen in March 2023. Let us see how that goes. The truth is the motivation for these theatrics is people in the regions know that when it comes to the tough issues, like selling out farmers and privatising the Newcastle port, The Nationals do not have the backbone to stand up for the regions. I do not support the motion. It is nothing but theatrics. As the member for Port Stephens said, if this is the best The Nationals have got, I suspect their numbers will go south.