***CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY***
Thank you Mr Speaker
This week we've seen the tale of two puppets.
I don't mean Punch and Judy or Bert and Ernie.
I mean the Member for Wentworth and Harold the giraffe.
They are both noble, stately, proud creatures.
They're both exotic. They enjoy a water view, they're at home with the safari set.
They're both famous for looking down on everyone.
And in some parts of the world, both are endangered species.
Now, we are hearing some familiar rumblings from the Liberal backbenchers.
They have started to wonder if anyone is listening to the Prime Minister. They're questioning, with the head-slapping conservative attitude - is our message getting through?
Yet the first puppet to get it in the neck wasn't the Member for Wentworth - it's our friend, poor old Harold the giraffe. At least he sticks his neck out for something.
This is what Life Education has said...
“The recent news that our 2017/18 Budget Submission was unsuccessful now finds Life Education defunded by the Australian Government for the first time in ‘literally decades”.
Sometimes it is the little things that speak volumes about the Government.
In a budget which contained:
- $65 billion given away to large companies, banks and multinationals.
- $37 billion protected for property investors.
- $19 billion for tax cuts to the top 2 per cent.
This mean-spirited government couldn't find $500,000 for a program that last year reached nearly 750,000 children, talking about a healthy lifestyle, about the dangers of drugs.
Now they say it was all an honest mistake, an oversight.
But I can tell Australians what wasn't an oversight from the Liberal Party and their country cousins the National Party:
- A $22 billion cut for Australian schools.
- Cuts to TAFE, training and apprenticeships
- Increasing the cost of university.
- Punishing graduates, especially women, by lowering the threshold which repayments have to be made.
- And the ongoing wreckage of Australian apprenticeships.
These are all deliberate acts of political vandalism and they undercut the key to our future prosperity - education and training.
Education is how we make our luck in this country.
I acknowledge the work of commodity sectors meeting world demand - that is fantastic. But that in some way, the world demand, is the luck that the world gives us.
But this budget does nothing to address the luck that we make for ourselves - being a clever country.
That is why, if we want to compete in the world, if we want to be able to cope, collaborate and create in a world where we the marvellous rise of India and China, and the countries in our region, then that is why only Labor has a plan.
It is why Labor will put back $22 billion into our school system. The $22 billion that the Liberals are cutting from government and non-government schools.
We heard today about the special school in the South Australian system. Mr Turnbull says they're adding more money in. But what the Member for Wentworth doesn't tell us is that they're taking that ‘increase’ using Mr Abbott's cuts as the base line.
The fact of the matter is that the Catholic education system in South Australia who run this school are desperate. They are the ones who parents will listen to.
All of the rhetoric from the Government saying 'trust us' is not going to wash with the parents.
And we know that some of those backbenchers with their heads down right now, that they understand that the principals and the parents aren't buying what Senator Birmingham is selling. That got their heads up.
Of course, we will reverse the trend of privatisation in our vocational education sector.
We will put TAFE back at the centre of vocational education where it should be.
We will help rebuild our TAFE campuses in the outer suburbs and the regions.
And we will back Australian apprenticeships on infrastructure projects.
We will have a one-in-ten rule when we get elected - one apprentice for every ten people employed on Commonwealth infrastructure projects.
And we will never support the Government putting up the price of going to university while they cut funding to the universities and while they lower the trigger-point at which Australians have to repay their HECs debts.
The more Australians learn about this budget, the less they like it.
The unfairness is showing through more and more everyday.
And this is especially true in the way that this government is steadfastly supporting an increase in the income taxes of every Australian above $21,000.
Increasing their income taxes but at the same time, on 1 July, supporting a tax cut for millionaires.
There is nothing fair about that.
And this government, in its cynical fashion is pretending that there is only one way to fund the National Disability Insurance Scheme.
Well, we've got some advice for the Government.
We have come up with a smarter, fairer way.
The ANU modelling shows that.
We've done our own homework.
We believe in a system which fund the social services of this nation without increasing income taxes on the battling, working middle class families of this country.
And this government loves to say:
'Well, we've increased Medicare levy before, let's bang it through again'.
But there's been a lot of changes in the last 4 years.
Back in 2013 wages growth was over 3 per cent.
Under these rotten twisters sitting opposite, wages growth has flat-lined at 1.9 per cent.
I bet when you tot-up the wages of senior executives, wages growth for low-paid workers is even lower.
We have got underemployment and casualisation at an all-time high.
This is a government who can deliver you a part-time job, but they are not so good at delivering full-time jobs.
Living standards are stagnating, and Australians know it.
Apprenticeship numbers have collapsed.
It is harder than ever for young Australians to enter the housing market.
And this Government's only plan to help battling people is to increase their income taxes.
They used to scream about a ‘budget emergency’:
- The deficit has gone up 10 times since then.
- The national gross debt is projected to hit three-quarters of a trillion dollars.
Now, they have moved off the budget emergency and they have got a new dose of hysteria: ‘the NDIS emergency’.
- These people know that they do not have to give a corporate tax cut of $65 billion.
- They could afford negative gearing.
- They do not have to give a tax cut to the top two per cent.
But no, their default position is to tax the working people of this country more and hope that no-one notices their largesse to the top end of town.
The Liberals can badge it whatever they like: a tax is a tax is a tax.
You are increasing taxes on a lot of Australians who do not deserve it, because they are too lazy to do the hard work and tackle vested interests in this country.
We have got a fairer and more progressive plan.
It has already been costed.
It produces more in the medium term to the bottom line, and it does not slug working people under $87,000.
We just heard that gobbledygook from that Prime Minister in question time.
What he did not say—when he was talking about marginal effective tax rates—is that, under their plan and ours, if you earn $87,000 and one dollar then you will pay the same.
What he did not have the honesty to say is that if you earn less than $87,000, you are a damn sight better off if Labor was in government.
We heard the plea of the millionaires: 'What about poor us?' - the Prime Minister gave it yesterday.
He said that somehow keeping in place a budget repair levy to deal with a deficit which has got worse, that this is a tax on success.
Let me just remind the Government of a couple of things about our definition of success.
If you are a building worker helping build the buildings Australia needs: you might not earn $180,000, but you are a success in my book.
If you are a childcare worker earning $60,000 a year, if you’re lucky: you are a success in my book.
If you are a teacher teaching our kids, if you are a policeman keeping us safe.
If you are one of eight million Australians who earn less than $87,000 - you are still a success in Labor's book.
We do not define the size of your paycheque and equate that to somehow being a better person or not.
The Prime Minister speaks about the tax on success for those who earn half a million and a million dollars.
Well, I think that their tax on the success of everyday Australians is something that we are going to call out, and we will call it out every day to the next election.
We are so beyond the debate of this government when they say that somehow they have got a fairer plan.
It is not fair to raise the income taxes of 8 million Australians when you've got other perfectly acceptable means of funding the functions of government.
And we suggest to the government, if you want to have a battle on fairness - bring it on because you are more lost than Burke and Wills.
You don't have view about it. You are out of touch about Australians.
And secretly, you all know your Prime Minister is the most out of touch Prime Minister in a very long time.