House debates

Tuesday, 20 October 2020


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2020-2021, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2020-2021; Second Reading

7:26 pm

Photo of Ms Catherine KingMs Catherine King (Ballarat, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development) Share this | Hansard source

In the short time we have left this evening I'll start my contribution and continue it tomorrow. Obviously throughout this year Australians have faced their first pandemic in a century and their first recession in 30 years. The COVID crisis has tested us in ways we never expected. We've had to spend long periods of time without seeing our friends, families and colleagues. Many in our communities have lost their jobs as Australians have selflessly put the health of the broader community above their own material interests. It's not been easy, but we are getting through it.

This year's federal budget was a chance to address the twin crises that Australia is facing: the COVID pandemic and the recession that has been exacerbated, lengthened and deepened by the weaknesses in the economy because of the decisions that the Morrison government has made in the past six years. But it also had the opportunity to rebuild in a way that left a legacy, that reformed many of the structural problems we've got within our economy and society, and that built in resilience into our communities.

Unfortunately, that is not what the government did in this budget. This year's budget leaves us with a trillion dollars in Liberal debt, but it leaves behind no long-term, lasting legacy. A trillion dollars of Liberal debt, but millions of Australians are still left behind, denied the support they need and forgotten by the government when they need it most.

In my own community of Ballarat we've faced our fair share of challenges over the past month. Whilst we have escaped the extended hard lockdown endured by Melburnians, our businesses again were forced to close and our community again closed down as the virus unfortunately re-emerged across our state and, at times, in our own community. Our community has borne these challenges well. We know why we were doing it, and we're proud, in regional Victoria particularly, of our success. But that doesn't mean that it has been at all easy. Many in our community are still out of work. Many businesses are closed and many are still struggling to get by.

Rather than providing extra support through the budget, the Morrison government is continuing to cut the JobKeeper payments, leaving around 20,000 people in my community worse off. With nearly one million Australians unemployed and unemployment expected to increase, it frankly makes no sense for the Morrison government to be withdrawing support, not just from Victorians, but from those industries that are going to take quite some time to recover, such as aviation and tourism. Without a comprehensive jobs plan to actually replace it, it is a very, very blunt mechanism. Our community is just coming out of lockdown and businesses are just beginning to reopen—not all of them yet. Now is not the time to be withdrawing that support, just when we're literally getting up onto our knees.


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