PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
MONDAY, 29 AUGUST 2016
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I just want to welcome the full shadow ministry to its first meeting.
And might I just say, how fortunate we are to have such a strong team, such a diverse team.
We return to Parliament focused on the needs of Australian people, whereas the Government is giving all signs of being paralysed by their internal divisions.
We set the agenda in the last Parliament.
We led the policy debate.
We weren't prepared to be a small target.
And we will continue in that fashion in the 45th Parliament.
Indeed, we've started by last week proposing $80 billion in Budget repair which is fair.
Also, we've provided Mr Turnbull with the opportunity to restore confidence in the superannuation system, which he's damaged so horrendously with his ambush on superannuants on Budget night.
Today though, we've seen that in response to our offer to repair the Budget, to add stability to superannuation, to get it back on track, Mr Turnbull's come up with a new political phenomena – the 25-point battle plan.
But in his 25-point battle plan, I notice there's no reference to NBN, which of course was Mr Turnbull's responsibility for much of the last Parliament.
There's no reference to local jobs or advanced manufacturing.
There's no reference at all to climate change.
And no reference at all to Medicare, which arguably was the single biggest issue in the last election.
And of course, he doesn't talk about schools.
So we have a 25-point battle plan, and as one of my colleagues here pointed out in the meeting immediately preceding this, 23 points of Mr Turnbull's 25-point battle plan were Mr Abbott's 23-point battle plan.
So much for change.
And of course, what we see is they're reheating Tony Abbott's cuts and Joe Hockey's rhetoric, and they're reheating much of the failed 2014 Budget.
We will continue to be a strong opposition. All of you will be formidable in your representation of your electors and the people of Australia.
We will also be a strong alternative government in-waiting.
And one of the biggest issues which we will be dealing with in coming weeks will be the future of marriage equality in this country.
The quickest and most effective way to deal with marriage equality is to have a vote in the Parliament.
The case has not been made out to subject Australians to a $250 million, funded opinion poll by taxpayers, which Mr Turnbull cannot make his own MPs accept.
It's as ludicrous as this.
Australians can be fined for not voting in the plebiscite, but no Liberal or National MP has to vote according to the plebiscite.
And I think even more importantly, underpinning this debate, is that for children and families in same sex relationships, why on earth should they be subjected to a vile, negative campaign about the quality of their parents' relationship?
Why should teenagers and young people determining their sexuality, be forced to have to undergo a public campaign of vilification?
So there are many problems with the plebiscite.
Not the least of which is that Mr Turnbull's been vetoed from even using the words "marriage equality" in the plebiscite by his own right-wing.
The quickest path to resolving this issue would be a vote in the Parliament, and that's what we will be seeking to do in coming days and weeks.
And of course, we will continue to push for a royal commission into the banking sector.
The witness protection program which this Government's affording the big end of town is breathtaking in its arrogance.
Before the election, Mr Turnbull thought that a lunchtime lecture was enough to put the banks back on the right track.
He explained before the election that the corporate regulators were enough to keep the banks honest.
Since the election, he has been feeling the hot breath of public opinion on his neck, and is determined to try and say that he's doing something, but only a Turnbull leadership could come up with a parliamentary committee, controlled by Liberals, with even less powers than the regulators, to do something more than the regulators.
And now some of his MPs, having been embarrassed by the lack of leadership and the bungling of this government, have now decided to skip the commission and go to a new court.
The issue is that Australians want to make sure that the rip-offs don't occur and they depend upon us to stand up for them.
We approach the new Parliament, both in the spirit of constructiveness with our offer for Budget repair which is fair, for restoring the confidence in the superannuation system, but also, promoting, I think, the best interests of Australians on topics as important as marriage equality, through to a banking Royal Commission and of course, to finish off, Mr Turnbull's 25-point battle plan is already a failure because he can't talk about Medicare.
If Mr Turnbull wants to find the sensible centre, he will discover the sensible centre is in the High Streets of Australia where you you've got Medicare, and it's in the hospitals of Australia and it's in the bulk-billing GP surgeries.
If you want to be in the sensible centre, do no harm to Medicare. That will be our position and we encourage him to join us in the sensible centre, defending Medicare.
I'd like to thank you all and congratulate you all.