House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Albanese Government

3:27 pm

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Social Services) Share this | Hansard source

I'm really pleased to be speaking on this matter public importance on trust. I don't think the irony is lost on anyone that it's coming from the opposition leader. This is outrageous. Ask any of his colleagues, or, better still, let's revisit Nemesis. There we had the former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull describing him as a thug. We look at Nemesis, and what do we see? A litany of incompetence, infighting, cuts and chaos. We can see it all on your faces today. There wasn't much support for him at all, and the cuts and chaos continued. We saw that incompetence over—what?—three leaders and nine years. There he was, the opposition leader, always lurking about and plotting lots of cuts and chaos in all his ministerial roles.

Of course, Nemesis shows us they were totally consumed with themselves, whilst also there were a whole series of harsh cuts and failed policies. All we get now from the Leader of the Opposition is negativity—whinging and negativity, constantly. There are no positive policies. We never hear any of them, just non-stop whinging. They haven't got a plan to relieve the cost-of-living burden on Australian families. They've got nothing to offer the country except negativity and division.

What we do know is that the Leader of the Opposition wants Australians to work longer and get paid less. That's what we know about him. The fact is the Leader of the Opposition is out of touch and cannot be trusted. In contrast, our government, the Albanese Labor government, is focused on delivering for the Australian people. Our No. 1 priority is addressing cost-of-living pressures. We know people are doing it tough; we understand that. This government is proudly delivering a tax cut to all Australian taxpayers, and a bigger tax cut for Middle Australia to help with the cost of living. This builds on our targeted relief that's already in place. That includes electricity bill relief. It includes making medicines cheaper—this has made a huge difference—and making it easier and cheaper to see a doctor. It includes cheaper child care and expanding paid parental leave. We're building more social and affordable homes and increasing rent assistance. We've also delivered fee-free TAFE, which has made a huge difference for training opportunities for people right across the country.

As I've said, the Leader of the Opposition has made it clear that he doesn't believe in tax cuts for Middle Australia. We know that. They've had so many different positions and policies right across the board. The fact is these tax cuts are good for Middle Australia. They're good for helping with cost-of-living pressures, good for labour supply and good for the economy. Our tax cuts mean that 11.5 million taxpayers will receive a bigger tax cut. That's the reality. Nurses, teachers and police are some of the most likely to benefit, with more than 95 per cent of these taxpayers getting a bigger tax cut.

Let's look at this in the context of how strongly Labor supports Australian workers and improving working conditions right across the board, whether it's job security, working conditions or tax cuts. It's only Labor that supports all of these initiatives.

As I said before, the opposition leader wants Australians to work longer and get paid less. He even applies that to our brave and hardworking police officers. Let's have a look at that in terms of Labor's right-to-disconnect laws. They're so vitally important for workers across the country and especially important for our police and emergency services personnel. I'm a former frontline police officer and I know how important it is for police to have incredibly good working conditions, especially the right to disconnect. They need to have that work-life family balance. But the opposition leader is opposed to the right to disconnect—of course he is; he's so negative. Unbelievable!

A lot of police have contacted me saying they are absolutely appalled that the opposition leader has taken this stance. Our police do an incredible job, and Labor back them; we do. We know they've got to have protected working conditions, but the opposition leader is so out of touch he wants to get rid of all these laws that protect their working conditions. In fact, it was only a couple of days ago that the Police Federation of Australia came out and condemned the opposition leader for this. I'll quote what they said in relation to the opposition leader's actions, which is that they are 'disrespectful and wrong'. Even they're onto him. Everybody's onto him. We're all onto him. He can't be trusted.

I stand with the Police Federation of Australia. I stand with the police across the country. I stand with workers across the country—with Middle Australia, who are doing it tough. They're onto you and they're onto the opposition leader. They know that he cannot be trusted. That's just one of the many examples we see when it comes to the policies the opposition. In fact, we finally have seen an election policy from them: they want to take away more of workers' rights; that's all they want to do.

I would like to focus on the record of the opposition leader when he was health minister. I remember it. I was here, and we saw this. Every day we heard from our local constituents about what he was doing, and particularly about how he was destroying the health system in this country. Let's have a look at what he did in trying to dismantle Medicare.


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