House debates

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Pensions and Benefits

3:55 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

We just heard from the previous member—I'm not sure what her electorate is, I'm sorry; it's one of those faceless no-name backbenchers—that there was no automation in the previous system under the Labor Party. Herein is the lie. The minister for the NDIS went all the way back to the 1990s. I don't have to go back to the 1990s to show that this program, that Labor calls robodebt, was something that they actually dreamt up. I can go back to 29 June 2011 when the member for Maribyrnong, who comes into this chamber beating his chest over this, and the member for Sydney put out a press release. In the press release the member for Maribyrnong said:

The automation of this process will free up resources and result in more people being referred to the tax garnishee process, retrieving more outstanding debt on behalf of taxpayers.

That's case closed. We just heard before that there was no automation in the system. I've got a press release here, from 29 June 2011, where the member for Maribyrnong talks about automating the process and how much money it will save.

Now the government has realised that the system was flawed. The government has realised that the system that had been in place for a long time—the automation of it instituted by the Labor Party—is flawed, and the Prime Minister, on 11 June 2020, apologised. He apologised in this House. He said:

And I would apologise for any hurt or harm in the way that the government has dealt with that issue and to anyone else who has found themselves in those situations—

in response to a question from the member from Maribyrnong. But we haven't heard any apology from the Labor party who instituted the program, who now stand up and pretend they that they had nothing to do with it, claiming that it is a lie. Fact check: press release, from 29 June 2011, with the member for Maribyrnong stating:

The automation of this process will free up resources and result in more people being referred to the tax garnishee process, retrieving more outstanding debt on behalf of taxpayers.

They came up with it! These people, these hypocrites, these people who have the audacity to preach integrity from the den of corruption, come in here and tell us that it is all our fault and we should hang our heads in shame when they actually came up with it. It was a scheme that existed under Labor. It was a scheme that existed under the coalition. And it is a scheme that we are now doing away with. But what chutzpah to come in here when they developed it. What chutzpah! And what absolute disgracefulness to actually point to suicides and say that those suicides were a result of this program. What a disgrace to actually allege that members of this House have blood on their hands. What a disgrace. That is what they do.

The previous member on our side actually said that there is quite a lot of research about mental health and suicide and they should not be—under all the research that's available, all the mental health guidelines that are available—claiming that one particular event has caused a suicide. We know that no one particular event actually causes a suicide. But that is what they're doing.

If they want to go there, if they want to get that personal and talk about who caused whose deaths, we can look back in very recent history to a little scheme that Labor dreamt up called the pink batts scheme, which did have a royal commission into it. The royal commission determined that people like Matthew Fuller, a 25-year-old who was electrocuted in Brisbane; Rueben Barnes, a 16-year-old who was electrocuted in Rockhampton; Mitchell Sweeney, a 22-year-old who was electrocuted in Cairns; Marcus Wilson, a 19-year-old who died of heat exhaustion, died under the program. It was determined by a royal commission that Labor did indeed have blood on their hands. The commissioner said:

In my view each death would, and should, not have occurred had the HIP

the Home Insulation Program—

been properly designed and implemented.

That is the problem. These guys do not go through the detail. They didn't go through the detail when they instituted the automation of this. It's now up to our government to fix it—and fix it we have—and compensate, and we are. (Time expired)


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