House debates

Tuesday, 27 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Cost of Living

3:55 pm

Photo of Kate ThwaitesKate Thwaites (Jagajaga, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I must say that the irony of standing up to talk on an MPI about bad decisions while made in government brought on by those opposite is certainly not lost on me today. So much of what our government is dealing with is a result of nearly a decade of bad decisions by those opposite. In the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments, we had times of drift, denial and delay from those opposite, yet they come in here today and bring on this MPI! Those people over there spent nearly a decade in chaos, focused on each other and their own internal leadership problems. There was nearly a decade of climate denial and inaction on one of the most pressing problems our country and, indeed, the world is facing. There was nearly a decade where they did nothing to reduce cost-of-living pressures. Certainly, reducing cost-of-living pressures for Australians was not at all the focus of those over there when they were in government.

In fact, we can look at their record. Under the Turnbull government, they made the decision to support cuts to penalty rates to reduce the take-home pay of workers. From those opposite we had the thought bubble around wanting to increase the pension age to 70. If that had of happened, that would have taken the Australian pension age to one of the highest in the developed world. We had, of course, the admission from those opposite when they were in government that low wages were in fact a deliberate design feature of the economy they ran. That's right! Under a Liberal and National government, it was a design feature for Australians to own less. Yet they come in here and talk about bad decisions from this government. This government is doing all it can to put a laser-like focus on addressing the very real cost-of-living pressures that Australians are facing.

Today we have had highlighted another topical area of neglect that we saw from those opposite: their lack of support for women and their lack of efforts to close the gender pay gap in this country. As a result of the actions of our government, today we've seen, for the first time, the publication of gender pay gaps for nearly 5,000 private-sector employers in this country. This is a pivotal step in transparency and accountability in addressing gender inequality. It wasn't done by those opposite. They were not interested in doing this work of helping Australian women to earn more, helping Australian families to be supported because women in those families are earning more. Those opposite did not care about that challenge when they were in government, and it seems they do not care about it now that they are in opposition.

Today we have Senator Canavan saying the gender pay gap report is 'useless data' because it doesn't even correct for basic differences like hours worked. The gender pay gap report is now the 'annual Andrew Tate recruitment drive'; it just breeds recruitment and division. That's the view of those opposite on the efforts to close the gender pay gap in the country. I have not yet heard the Leader of the Opposition say that he does not agree with Senator Canavan on that. That is incredibly disappointing because, as I said, what helps Australian families with the cost of living is Australian women earning more, Australian women having more in their pay cheques, and that is exactly what this government is trying to do.

Under this government Australian women are earning more. Wages are going up. Under this government Australian women will get a tax cut. Every single Australian taxpayer is getting a tax cut under this government. Again, look at the industries that women work in—nurses, teachers. People earning $75,000 a year are getting a tax cut that's more than double what they would have got under those opposite. Those opposite didn't want people earning $45,000 or less to get a tax cut—people like sales assistants and receptionists. Our government is delivering them a tax cut. We are doing the work that those opposite failed to do, with their bad decisions over nearly a decade in government. We know that Australians need cost-of-living relief and we continue to focus on that through our tax cuts, through our support for health and, importantly, through our work to close the gender pay gap, ensuring that Australian women get to earn what they should and keep more of what they earn.


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