Wednesday, 22 October 2014
Consideration of Legislation
We have another example now of the government curtailing and stifling debate within this parliament. We have significant legislation before us which has a very real impact on the lives of some of the more vulnerable Australians. The intention from the government is to crunch this through at the time where, to anyone's knowledge, there does not even appear to be a deal they have cut before the Senate.
So let's not pretend that this is the government rushing something through this House because they need to get it into law through the other place. What we are seeing right now is a government of stifling debate for one purpose and one purpose only, they do not want the case to be made. The reason the government is shutting down debate on this bill is they don't want there to be a debate in the people's house about the impact of this legislation. The reason that the government is shutting down this debate is because they do not want Labor members to have the opportunity to give the speeches that Liberal members are too scared to give—and that is to call this government out for the unfairness of the measures in the budget.
It is an exact extension of what we saw in question time—an exact extension where this government knows that they have brought forward a budget where those of us who represent electorates which are not at the wealthier end of Australian society have been hit in a way that the electorates of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have not. And that is not simply a problem for members in this parliament who are members of the Labor Party. It is not simply an issue for us. Yes, the person who is most affected in terms of electorates is the member for Blaxland. The community second most affected is my own. But electorates within this chamber—the member for Reid, sitting there at the back, his electorate is one of the ones—have been harshly treated by this budget in a way that the electorates of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have not.
It is one thing for the government to want to come in here was something that is nothing more than straight out and out unfairness, where they have not simply made a decision about what you might call fiscal consolidation; they have made a decision that the poorer you are, the more you will contribute to it. They have made an up-front decision that the burden here will go to those who can least afford it. The poorer your electorate, the more your people are hurt. The wealthier your electorate, the less the people are hurt. If there is a concept of class war happening in this parliament, we know exactly where it is coming from—exactly where it is coming from.
So it is no surprise that those opposite are doing what this government and this House during this term had become addicted to doing, and that is shutting down debate, whether it is moving that a member be no longer heard or moving that debate be brought to closure altogether. Moving the closure of the debate in the first 11 months of the last parliament happened once. In the first 11 months of this parliament it has happened on 48 occasions. Be in no doubt, those opposite, as you move to shut down debate within this chamber on the unfairness of the budget, you will not be able to shut down the debate that is happening out in the community, because the community know exactly what this government is doing to them. The community know the unfairness of a budget where the Prime Minister will only say: 'Oh, look, we are trying to get things back to surplus. Oh, yes, it it's all about debt.' It is the same debt they made unlimited the moment they came into office; the same deficit that they doubled within a few months. What this is about is one very simple thing: taking more the from people who can afford it less. That is what the budget does. You can look electorate by electorate and the story is clear. The two people who are up to their necks in this budget are representing the two electorates of the privileged where they hardly get touched, and that is the electorates of the Prime Minister and the Treasurer.
The extraordinary thing that we heard today earlier in this chamber from the Prime Minister is his unwillingness to admit that that is what they are doing. He wanted to maintain an argument, 'Oh, but if you factor the carbon price into account, everything's different,' without knowing that the carbon price was already factored in to every question that the opposition asked today. There is no cover for the government in this. That is why they are now resorting to the only potential cover they think they can find, and it is silence. It is to shut down the debate in this House, even though they know they are not ready to hear it in the other place.
They will have the numbers to shut down this debate in this House, and some of the people representing electorates that deserve to have somebody stand up against this budget but who sit on the other side I have no doubt will participate in voting for this debate to be silenced. Maybe that makes the situation a little bit easier when they return to their electorates, because no-one needs to ask about the speech that they did not get a chance to make. But be in no doubt: there is a debate throughout the community that the community understand what is happening. They understand the unfairness of this. They understand what these measures do and they will not be silenced. And we, when we are outside this chamber, will not be silenced. Within this chamber we will use every form of the House that is available to us. We will use it and we will use it relentlessly. But every time a motion like this is brought to the House and the debate in this chamber is silenced by a government that wants to make sure that count of use are not heard, be in no doubt: the public know exactly what is going on. The public know how vulnerable people are being targeted. The public know what a cut in the pension looks like. The public know what cuts in family payments look like. The public know what putting your retirement age off looks like. The public know exactly what this government is doing and they and us will not be silenced.