House debates

Tuesday, 7 February 2023

Matters of Public Importance

Cost Of Living

3:41 pm

Photo of Peta MurphyPeta Murphy (Dunkley, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I want to start by pointing out to the member for Riverina that the 10 reforms that the member for Fenner spoke about in his speech, which this government has introduced and which address the cost of living, apply to the regions, too. So, when you start by having a personal crack at the member for Fenner, who represents a city seat, it really is undermined a bit by the fact that the 10 reforms that he spoke about are regional-city-blind; they affect everyone and they benefit everyone, because we are a government that is here to represent everyone, no matter where they live, no matter what their background is, no matter who they are. We don't have to say the word 'regional' in order for our policies to benefit people who live in the regions.

The other point I want to make is that yes, a number of measures were put in place by this parliament during COVID-19 that went to saving lives, saving businesses and protecting people's wages. What is often forgotten when members of the now opposition talk about that is the role the Labor Party, in opposition, played in a constructive and consistent way to support those measures through the parliament—in fact, to advocate for a number of those measures, constructively and positively, for quite a period in order for them to then be adopted by the then Prime Minister and the then government. We worked in the national interest in a time of crisis and put petty politics aside in order to work for the benefit of the country as part of this parliament.

When you come into this place and you are a member of a political party and a representative of your electorate, you can decide: do you want to be here to be a builder, or do you want to be here to be a wrecker? Do you want to be here to make a difference, whether you're in government or in opposition, or do you want to be here to be a roadblock to your political enemies? Do you want to be part of investing in the future, or do you want to be here to simply play petty political games and pointscore and get on the daily news cycle?

When you're the Leader of the Opposition and you're in the party rooms of the coalition that makes up this opposition, you can decide: do you want to support national reconstruction; do you want to be part of the solution going forward from the crisis and the difficult times that we've been through and are still going through; do you want to support existing and new industries; do you want to support the creation of jobs; do you want to support economic recovery and growth in our local communities, in our regions and across the country; or do you want to score petty political points and try to win the argument or the news cycle of the day?

What are we here for in this parliament? Do you want to be not just the opposition but stubbornly and short-sightedly oppositional at all times? Is that the sort of opposition and political party that people on that side of the chamber want to be part of?

We have a cost-of-living crisis—we know we do—and everyone in this chamber knows that there is a raft of contributing factors to that, and everyone in this chamber knows that people who live in the inner city, the outer suburbs such as my community in Dunkley, the regions and remote communities are feeling the impact of that cost-of-living crisis, and everyone in this chamber, in their honest moments, will know that the 10 policy reforms and pieces of legislation that the member for Fenner referred to in his speech all go to dealing with aspect of that cost-of-living crisis. But there is no magic silver bullet. It is doing yourselves, this parliament and the country a disservice if you stand up in a debate and pretend that there is something that can be done within the next 24, 48 or however many hours to untangle the complex cost-of-living and inflationary crisis that we are in, but you can choose to be part of the solution if you want to.


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