Tuesday, 22 November 2022
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Second Reading
There is no doubt, it is beyond dispute, that Australians have it very tough at the moment. Cost of living is going through the roof, inflation is going through the roof and energy prices are going up. As we saw in this budget, it has never been tougher to balance the budget. Unfortunately for the Australian people, Labor have missed the mark with this budget. It's not delivering solutions today to the Australians who need support. In fact, it's showing that things are going to be worse under Labor. It's only getting harder to make ends meet, and there is no real hope for Australians coming out of this budget.
We need to understand what's at stake here. We can talk a lot, and I will talk a little bit, about the numbers, but just last week I was in the electorate of Casey and filled up the car with petrol—and I did note how expensive it was—and I went in and was speaking to the service attendant, and she was telling me a story of the day before, when a couple had filled up their car and had gone in to pay and started crying. The reason that they started crying is they did not have the money to pay for that fuel. That is the reality of what we're dealing with with this cost-of-living crisis. It is literally people not having the money to pay for their petrol, for their food, for their energy—to have to make choices.
Those people need solutions now, and, when we listen to the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, every solution they provide is something into the future. There are some good initiatives in this budget that we support as well—I'm not denying that—but every solution they come up with is about things happening six or 12 months from now. The reality is that when you literally cannot afford to put petrol into your tank or to pay your electricity bills or to eat food, you don't care about what's happening in the future. You need support now. And we're not getting that support in this budget for Australians.
In my electorate of Casey, we're also having infrastructure being ripped out of our community, which I will touch on. I must say, sitting in this House listening to many speeches from those on the government side, they are very happy, as is their right, to brag about and celebrate the many investments that their communities are getting. It's hard not to smirk with the irony when, about six to 12 months ago, they were complaining about the very same practice, but that is the way politics works. It's really clear when you look at this budget, when you listen to the Prime Minister or when you listen to the Treasurer that this isn't about solutions for real Australians. This is actually a budget full of politics and spin.
It's not really surprising that it's a budget that is all about politics and spin. I'm a big believer in business and I spent my career in business, and the first thing we always did was have a look at who's making the decisions and understand their motivations and their history. So I thought I would understand the Prime Minister and the Treasurer, the two figures that are making the decisions on this budget that are affecting Australians. What's their experience in business and in the real world outside of the Canberra bubble?
I had a look at the Prime Minister. I wanted to understand his history. It's well documented. He's been in this House since 1996, which is a great achievement for the Prime Minister, but it does show that he's spent a lot of time in these halls on an income that's guaranteed every week. That's not a criticism. It's just the reality of our roles, and I acknowledge I now have that luxury as well. But I looked back; we've all had a career before politics. What did the Prime Minister do? Surely he spent some time in business? No, the Prime Minister was a union official and a staffer before he entered this House. So he's never had to make those decisions to employ people and make choices. The Prime Minister has no experience in business and has had guaranteed income for a long time.
Surely our Treasurer? He does have a PhD, I do note. He hasn't worked in business—I'm jumping ahead; I'm going to ruin the punchline—but he does have a PhD. I thought, 'Oh, well, he's got the economic qualifications to manage the economy, so that should give us some comfort.' But then I thought I would actually have a look at this PhD that the Treasurer has. It's actually not in economics. It's not in finance. I am happy to put my hand up and say that I had made that assumption about the Treasurer, running our economy, who is a doctor and has got a PhD—I assumed it was in economics, and I've been under that assumption for a little while. But then I did the research. The great thing is our histories are all there. The PhD is in political science. I was like, 'Wow.' I did an arts degree, majoring in politics, so there's nothing wrong with that, but I don't know whether it equips you—