Bill's Speeches

SPEECH - MATTER OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – OUT OF TOUCH GOVERNMENT - CANBERRA - THURSDAY, 17 AUGUST 2017

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Thank you very much, Mr Speaker

Today I want to have a conversation with Australians.

I understand that people are unimpressed with what they have seen in this place - indeed, this week, the last two weeks.

We are watching, sadly, the disintegration of a Prime Minister who, even though I wouldn't have voted him, offered the promise and the hope of a different politics to this country.

That hoarse and rambling, an unconvincing performance, failed to mention his Deputy Prime Minister more than once in ten minutes.

There was a resolution put forward by Labor in the standard parliamentary convention where we said the Deputy Prime Minister with a constitutional shadow over his eligibility should stand aside from his responsibilities - just as Senator Canavan, his colleague, did when confronted with a very similar set of circumstances.

And this was an opportunity for the Prime Minister to come forward and to say 'no, there's very strong merit to Barnaby Joyce', - that he is irreplaceable in the construct of the Government.

To explain the case for having double standards between Senator Canavan and the Minister.

But he didn't do that.

One reference to his beleagued Deputy Prime Minister in ten minutes.

But this is actually a symptom of the greater problem.

He spent more of his speech vilifying Labor, attacking unions, attacking his opposition than he could seriously mount about his vision for Australia.

So, there are two things that I want Australians to know in the next few minutes.

1. As long as the Turnbull Government is consumed by chaos and crisis - as long as it's very legitimacy of its mandate and its majority are under a cloud, it cannot and will not do it's day job. And:

2. I want Australians to hear from us that Labor is focused on the people of Australia and our plans for a better future for this nation.

Now turning to my first point, this crisis caused by the Government's negligence might seem like an obscure thing.

The "vibe" of the Constitution, as Dennis Denuto might say.

Or indeed, as the cynics in the ranks of the Government Ministry say oh this is inside the Canberra bubble, it is political correctness they might whisper on their right sights.

But Australians should know there are consequences.

If the Deputy Prime Minister's dual citizenship had been revealed earlier - if he had stood aside, done the right thing - this Parliament could have reversed the penalty rate cuts for 700,000 low paid workers.

If the Deputy Prime Minister had of stood aside we would have had the overdue banking Royal Commission that this country is demanding of the Parliament.

But they might also, the Australians following this, might well just say about the antics, what on earth is going on?

In the last week, we've seen this Prime Minister suggest that his opponent should be in jail.

They have suggested a treasonous plot - a plot with a dangerous foreign power, affectionately known as New Zealand.

But unfortunately, this Government becomes more desperate.

And I say to the Government: we understand that the more you attack us, the less you have to say about yourselves.

The more the bully, the less you have to say about the people of Australia.

Where on earth is that new style of leadership that he promised?

When we see neo-Nazis and white supremacists marching on the streets of suburban United States, our Prime Minister is reduced to criticising a local council in Australia.

In a time of international uncertainty with North Korean missile testing, with the threat of fundamentalist terrorism, Australians see their Foreign Minister embarking on a war - of words - with New Zealand.

Given it is his last week in the Gallery, I think we should hear from Laurie Oakes on that particular bit of strategic foreign policy genius, he wrote:

I think it's laughable.

It's a joke.

It makes the Foreign Minister look stupid. It makes the Prime Minister look stupid.

Well said, Mr Oakes and thank you for your service.

Mr Speaker

  • When our schools don't have the resources they need

  • When the TAFEs are closing

  • Apprenticeship numbers are falling

  • When woman fleeing family violence can't find a safe place to stay

  • When Aboriginal people are taken from us too soon because of preventable diseases

 

Australians are entitled to ask why is this Government spending $120 million on an unnecessary postal survey?

Australians are entitled to ask of the Parliament and the Government what does this Government have to say about people struggling with wages growth at its lowest level since records were kept.

Nothing to say to the Holden workers in Elizabeth.

Nothing to say to the workers in Penrith Plaza.

To the families swamped by power prices.

To young people priced out of University and priced out of the housing market.

To all of those Australians worried about handing on a lesser set of conditions to their kids, what do they have to say to them?

What do they have to say to Australians on the wrong side of inequality, which is at its highest level in 75 years.

This is the plan the Government offers Australians:

  • A tax increase to working people.

  • A tax cut for the top end of town.

The Foreign Minister and the Prime Minister publicly humiliated themselves with their bizarre conspiracy theories.

This is now a matter in our political history.

But we shouldn't forget that the Treasurer publicly humiliated himself on Monday when he was caught out trying to verbal the independent Parliamentary Budget Office.

But what I want to say to Australians is it is not the incompetence, and the trips and the missteps of the Government which most concern me.

It's the unfairness of their policies.

It's the ignorance they show towards the problems of inequality.

It is the people that the Treasurer and the Prime Minister fight for which concerns us in their priorities.

They don't fight for the workers who need a wage rise.

They don't fight for Australians who are underemployed, unrepresented and underpaid.

They don't fight for young people who are being beaten at auctions by investors being subsidies by the taxpayer.

This Government does nothing to help these people.

This Government fights for its people. The millionaires, and the multinationals, and the tax minimisers.

Let me be very clear.

In the Labor Party we do not begrudge the top 2 per cent of income earners – their success.  

But we think they’re pretty good at looking after themselves.

The Prime Minister and the Treasurer puff themselves up over their plan to increase the tax burden for 7 million Australians, and when we say no to that, they call it “the politics of envy”.

They think our plans to close loopholes for tax-minimisers, to introduce one set of rules in our taxation system for all, to stop the income splitting available to the few, not the many, the Liberals think, they accuse us of having a “war on aspiration”.

But this Government thinks that aspiration is getting a good tax adviser and minimising your income.

I think that Australians have a different definition of aspiration than this elitist, out-of-touch government.

Aspiration is handing on a better standard of living to your kids, a better quality of life, a better deal for your kids than you inherited from your parents.

Aspiration is:

  • A strong Medicare

  • It’s a good education for your children.

  • It’s a decent National Disability Insurance Scheme

  • And proper aged care for your aging parents.  

Aspiration is:

  • Working hard and getting ahead.

  • Aspiration is about able to afford to buy your own home.

  • Aspiration is being represented at work when you need assistance

Aspiration is about being able to marry the person you love.

Labor’s aspiration is for a fair go all round.

And we cannot afford to forget the Liberal rationale for their tax cut for millionaires.

They criticise Labor for saying that we don’t want to reduce the taxes of millionaires, and they call it the politics of envy.

They say when we want to restore the budget deficit levy, it is a tax on success.

So what they measure – success equals how much you earn.

But let me be very clear. Does that therefore mean, when this Government increases the income taxes of 7 million people, they’re not successful people? So therefore it is not a tax on success?

Let me say to Australians, that the Labor Party does not judge Australians’ success by money alone.

We don’t say that a childcare worker on $60,000 is not a success – yes you are.

We don’t say to a police officer on $70,000 is not a success – yes you are.

We don’t say to the teachers in our classrooms, the firefighters in our fire stations, the people working in regional Australia if don’t earn a lot of money, that you are not successful.

Labor understands, that success is whether or not you’re a good parent, a good neighbour, success is not measured by what it is your wallet, it’s what is in your heart.

And Labor will stand up for all of those facing tax income increases, under this Government.

And in conclusion I say to Australians, last night I had a conversation with 150 students at the ANU.

They’re worried about the cost of their degree going up  - they don’t know if they’re ever going to be able to afford to buy a home.

They’re frustrated by the lack of action on climate change – they can’t believe we’re even debating marriage equality through  a postal survey.

They’re worried about having their pay cut on their part time jobs.

They don’t know why this Government has such a lack of understanding for young people, but I assure them, we have the plans and we will deliver them.

ENDS


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