House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Albanese Government

3:16 pm

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | Hansard source

Normally at the end of a double sitting week the Prime Minister will want to take the opportunity to do a summary to provide a snapshot of his beliefs on the messages that the government should get out after two weeks in this place. He was going pretty well, I might say. He was going through different quotes and comments. Then it came to the point where he let his guard down, and we saw a little snippet of 'the word is my bond' Albo. When he was referring to the question, 'Would the treatment of the family home change in relation to aged-care assessments?' asked very ably by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, he said this: 'There are no papers before the government.'

Do you know why there are no papers before the government? He knows that there is a report that the government is holding back because the Dunkley by-election is on 2 March. I suspect that on 3 March there may well be some papers before the government which talk about whether or not the family home will be taken into consideration to try to exclude some Australians from access to aged-care support as they age in this country.

What it quite ably shows is that this Prime Minister is prepared to do or say anything. Before the election he looked the Australian public in the eye and said on 97 occasions: 'We know that you're hurting. We know that the cost-of-living pressures are mounting and that you want support. I'm here. I'm Albo. I'm here to support you.' He promised on 97 occasions that $275 would be the amount that your power bills would be reduced by. He didn't say that it was a one-off occurrence. He didn't say that, over the course of the three years, you'd get a $275 reduction in your power bill. It was each and every year.

As I move around the country, I have the great honour of meeting literally thousands of Australians in the cities, suburbs and regional towns of every state and territory. At a time when this Prime Minister says that his word is his bond and that he can be trusted, I cannot find one person in this country who has received a $275 reduction in their power bill. How can he be trusted when he's never mentioned the figure of $275 since the election?

He said one thing to one audience before the election. He got elected. Australians reasonably believed that he would deliver on his word. Having made the promise on 97 occasions, he has never mentioned it. Somehow it's slipped his mind that he promised the Australian public that he would give this support to them and to their families, and he's completely and utterly backtracked on that commitment.

It shows that this Prime Minister can't be trusted. It shows that he leads an incompetent government. It shows that he is a weak leader, at a time when our country needs a strong leader to make the decisions not just for today but for tomorrow as well. So, it is the case that this Prime Minister has breached the trust of the Australian people. How can he go around the country looking people in the eye and on 100 occasions promising he would support them with tax cuts and then turn around and say he will not provide those tax cuts to Australians? We know that the government, over the course of the next decade, will reap about $28 billion worth of extra tax revenue as a result of what the Prime Minister has now promised.

Now, we support tax cuts for all Australians. When we were in government we supported stage 1 and stage 2. Stage 3—here's a tip for the Prime Minister—wasn't the start of tax cuts for Australians. Do you know what gave it away? It's No. 3, right? So, there was a stage 1 and a stage 2. When we were in government we legislated tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes. There was $200 billion worth of tax cut support to people on low and middle incomes. We put in place the low and middle income tax offset so that people, at a time when they were feeling pressure, would be able to receive those additional dollars in their pockets, because they worked for it. They worked hard for it. And the harder they work, the more of their money they should keep—but not under this government's approach, not for this Prime Minister.

This incompetent Prime Minister, this incompetent government, have gone about their business in a way that's actually harmed Australians. They've now had two budgets, where they know that inflation is a problem. As the Reserve Bank governor points out, it's a problem not just of the international factors—of what we've seen in the Middle East, of what we've seen elsewhere, in Ukraine. It's home grown, which is why core inflation in this country is higher than in the other G7 nations—comparable economies that have seen a reduction in their inflation rates and therefore their interest rates. It's higher here, because Labor can't manage the economy. Labor have made decisions in two subsequent budgets, where Australians reasonably thought they would see support to help them get through.

But what has happened is that this Prime Minister has presided over economic decisions that clearly have made it harder for Australians—those Australians in Dunkley, who at the moment, in places like Frankston, are really doing it tough on this Prime Minister's watch. They believed he was on their side, but they can't trust him anymore. They know that the tax cuts he's now implementing don't start until 1 July. He forgets to tell them that in the literature he puts into the Dunkley electorate. They're not getting that support until July. And when they look at what they are being told by the Prime Minister—that this is job done, that victory is declared, and here's your $15 a week—people are paying $24,000 a year more for their mortgage, in after-tax dollars. That's $40,000 gross. You're talking about $800 a week of gross income that they need to find to break even just on their mortgage repayments under this government.

The very willing participant in public debate at the moment sitting opposite me here, our good friend the member for Shortland, will be there tomorrow morning on the Today show with me, because his good friend the member for Corio—once he leaves here nobody sees him again; he goes MIA.

In the 2019 election the then Leader of the Opposition was there promising tax cuts and promising tax changes and, as it turns out, it wasn't that productive for him. I hope the current Prime Minister learns the lesson, because taxes on the family home, which is what this government is considering, as well as changes to negative gearing and a ute tax, a car tax, at a time when families are suffering, and taxing families when they want to go into aged care, which is an effective death tax, is not what they voted for.

The most recent example of this government's incompetence, the most recent example of the break of trust with the Australian people, is in relation to the release of these 149 individuals. I take very seriously the responsibility that we all have in this place, and I know all my colleagues do. We speak to victims of crime every day. People who work hard, many older Australians who've worked all their lives and paid taxes, want to be safe in their own homes, and many of them don't feel safe at the moment. The government promised that they would keep Australians safe, that they would implement and adopt policies that would go to providing a safer society. Instead, they took a decision to release 149 people, hardened criminals. Seven murderers, people who had committed rape and paedophilia, people who had committed domestic violence and other serious crimes—they released those people into the Australian community.

And have they committed crimes since they've been released? Yes, they have. Yet this incompetent minister comes in here and says that he promises—


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