Tuesday, 1 August 2023
Matters of Public Importance
Cost of Living
Our learned friends opposite would actually do well to reminisce and reflect on their great hero Winston Churchill, who said, 'My friend, the opposition sits in the benches across from you, but the enemy sits behind.' It reminds me of another great military strategy, the old pincer manoeuvre, where you simultaneously attack the opposition from both sides. That is what's happening to the Australian people under this opposition at the moment. They are being attacked on both flanks. They're being told that the Australian economy is in terrible shape. They're being told that their government is providing a disservice to them, while simultaneously voting against every single measure that this government is trying to put in place to make the lives of Australians much better, to ease the pressure on those people who go to the supermarket and spend their money.
I don't know if you're like me, but I remember going to the supermarket. I'd just duck in for a carton of milk, a loaf of bread and a couple of things, and it would always magically be $47. Now it seems to be $97. Things have gone up. But that's not because Jim Chalmers is the Treasurer or because Anthony Albanese is the Prime Minister; it is because we are seeing a world that is under pressure and change. What this government has done has responded to those pressures. What we are seeking to do here with the assistance of those opposite: the Liberal Party, the National Party, the Greens and the Independents—let alone what is going on in the other place this afternoon—is to take the pressure of Australians.
The Treasurer today said that Australians are under the pump. We know they are. We get it. We are legislating to back that pressure off, but we are doing it single-handedly, with no help from the opposition, with no help from the Leader of the Opposition and with absolutely, categorically no help—in fact active impediments—from the Greens. They're not only blocking housing; they are stopping it. They do not want that construction. Heaven knows whether they don't want to chop down the trees or dig up the minerals to make the steel—I'm still a bit lost on that. They don't want to build any houses. They won't even pass the bill on the good paper over in the Senate.
Let's get a few facts straight here in this debate this afternoon. It's a matter of public importance about the Prime Minister breaking promises. Let me say: every person who has been in this place and stood at that table down there and made an oath—whether or not they've got the bible or any other sacred book with them or just said to themselves they're going to affirm it—has come here to affirm that they will make the lives of Australians better. Yes, this place is a contest of ideas, and we all welcome that. But there are some absolute truths, and they are before us. We are saying: the Australian people need a hand; why would you vote against it? That's the criminal thing here.
If I were actually able to give any sympathy whatsoever to the Greens, it would be because they're bearing more of their share than they should be because the coalition is simpering and hiding behind their trouser tails and saying, 'No, it's all the Greens.' Let me tell you: if you voted Liberal or National, the members in this place who you put in place to represent you are not voting in this place to help you. It is an absolute scandal.
We know that Australians are feeling the pressure of the rising cost of living, but, as part of the Labor team, I am working closely with this amazing frontbench, this terrific government. They're coming up with good ideas and they're putting them into legislative form. All those opposite have to do is say 'yes'. It's not that difficult.
Those opposite conveniently forget that, under their final months of government, the cost of living was still out of control. Interest rates were starting to rise, not stabilising, as we've seen. Inflation was soaring. Don't get me wrong, there were also some global incidents happening then too, but now we see that things are still going on in the world. The Ukraine war continues. Those opposite had no plan, no direction and simply no idea of how to reduce or manage the effect that any of these things had on Australian families. I tell you what: this government has ideas. We have energy, we have legislation and we will help you. Those opposite just say 'no'.