House debates

Thursday, 4 April 2019

Matters of Public Importance


4:20 pm

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

It is somewhat alarming that here we are on the eve of an election and the matter of public importance before the House is on the government's failure to have any plan for the nation, Indeed, we see there was barely a plan to deliver speakers for the matter of public importance today, so that's a worrying start. But when I listened with great care to the budget coming down on Tuesday night I was also questioning what new measures for Australian women were to be found anywhere in it. I was listening very carefully—and nothing. And you ask: 'Really? Seriously? What kind of government thinks it is okay to bring down their last budget, especially one on the eve of the election—one that they are taking to the Australian people—that ignores 50 per cent of the Australian population, and they think they will get away it?' I have news for this government. How do you think you are going to be returned to government when you have no plan to address the gender pay gap, for example, and no plan to address the gross inequities that continue to exist in superannuation? We know that for the minister here they don't have many women to consult with in the party room, let's face it. There are not many women for you to chat to about these issues and clearly there is no-one in your party room who is capable of standing up and bringing up these issues so as to make sure they are on the table for you to address in government. You have had six years to think about how you might tackle the fact that there's a massive gender pay gap still in Australia, six years to think about how you might address inequities in superannuation, six years to think about how you might deliver paid domestic violence leave for the women of Australia and six years to think about how you might go about restoring penalty rates—penalties rates that affect the lowest paid workers in Australia. And who are the lowest paid workers in Australia? Australian women. You've had six years to think about how you might invest in and bring us into line with the rest of the OECD on early childhood education. We got—what was it?—a 12-month reprieve for four-year-olds to have early childhood education in the budget. There was nothing beyond a year for that and no mention at all for three-year-olds. This is a government that thinks it is still okay for all Australian kids to be lagging way behind the rest of the OECD when it comes to developing young people.

I know the member for Griffith raised a number of issues impacting on young people, but I'll tell you what: the Australian school children who came to see me during the climate change strikes that took place around the nation are onto you guys. Gosh! They know you have no plan for their future. They know you have no plan to deal with climate change and no plan for energy. Actually, you have had 13 plans; it's just that you can't settle on a plan for energy. No-one in the party room can actually agree on how we tackle things like a national energy policy.

Importantly, the issue of trust was raised earlier. I thought: that's right, no plan for delivering integrity into the Commonwealth government any more—no plan for a national integrity system. Well, not one with any teeth that can actually do anything, that's for sure. What is it that this government is going to the new election with? We all know there are endless scare campaigns in store, banking on the fact that Australian people have very short memories, I think—that somehow the Australian people might forget that you have had six years to stand up and do some serious reform in this country. But, no, you didn't take the opportunity to do that. You had a budget last Tuesday night that professed to be a plan for infrastructure in Australia. I understand most of it is Albo's plan for infrastructure, now funded by you, which is not bad. But in my electorate: a big zip

There's no money on the table for the Bascawen Street bridge, which I'd written to the Deputy Prime Minister about. I've got a suburb, Wallsend, that gets inundated when it rains. It has had a flood mitigation plan on the table. We sought some money—$3 million to $4 million—from this government to build a plan so the people of Wallsend could have the flood mitigation plan implemented, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing in the plan for the Bascawen Street bridge. I'm devastated about that. The people of Wallsend will be devastated about that. It's time this government came to grips with the fact that they have nothing. (Time expired)


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