Speeches

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE - WEDNESDAY, 24 JULY 2019

July 24, 2019

HANSARD

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY 24 JULY 2019

MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – THE GOVERNMENT’S FAILURE TO ADVANCE A POSITIVE AGENDA IN THE NATIONAL INTEREST

If there was any more evidence needed that this is a government without purpose and without agenda, all you would need to do was listen to each of those members opposite in this MPI today.

This is, as we've seen, a government without an agenda, led by a Prime Minister who wants us all to believe that he somehow Bradbury-ed his way to becoming the lead muppet of his very own muppet show. This is a government under which we've seen the slowest economic growth since the global financial crisis. Australia is now in the longest per capita recession since 1982. But this government treats it like the first rule of Fight Club.

The national economy has fallen from the eighth fastest growing in the OECD in 2013 to the 20th. Stagnant wages are growing eight times slower than profit. There is rising underemployment and youth unemployment. In my electorate I've got 16 per cent youth unemployment. There is slowing employment growth—five years of weak productivity, weak household spending, falling consumer confidence and weak business conditions, including a sluggish retail sector. Business investment is at its lowest since the 1990s. Living standards are growing slower under the Liberals than they ever were under Labor.

The only plan this government seems to have is a plan to deliberately keep wages low. Let's not forget, that's the centrepiece of their economic policy. That's it: keep wages low. Where are the bills pursuing the recommendations of the royal commission? Where are the bills on superannuation, on Newstart, on training and education, on health, on wage theft? Where are they? This is now the second week we've been here, and we've got a Senate that's run out of legislation. We've got a Minister for Families and Social Services who called the pension 'generous'—66 bucks a day. My mum's on the pension, and I can tell you now, that's not generous. She gets by because she's lucky enough to have a family who supports her when she needs to pay that electricity bill or that water bill or that gas bill. But I know there are many pensioners out there who don't have that, and it is an absolute affront to all those Australians who worked hard enough all their lives and are now on a pension for that minister to call it generous. It actually makes me really angry. That's it. That's their agenda: keep wages low, the pension is generous. Oh, and there's one more—how good is homelessness! That's the spin. I can see the ads now, developed by their very own ad man, the Prime Minister: 'How good is homelessness!'

Australians need leadership. Australians deserve leadership, and they have charged each and every one of us here with providing that—each and every one of us, on both sides of the House, on all sides of the House. Instead, they have a government with no purpose that is either unable or unwilling to bring to this House an agenda that addresses issues—issues of wage stagnation, issues of underemployment, issues of poverty and homelessness, and an economy that under their watch is failing everyday hardworking Australians. This is the government we have. They like to talk a lot about people who have a go. I find it very interesting when this government talks about people who have a go. How about you give them a go? How about you help them have a go? How about, for those who have a go but don't always get a go, you come into this place and you stand here and do something for them? You help them. Because, until then, until we have a government that leads, a government that governs, a government that at least has an agenda, something we can talk about—give us something!—this is not government. This is not governance. And this government will continue to be a government without purpose.