Thursday, 16 August 2007
I am glad to see that the member for Hasluck is proud of his electorate. Indeed, I noticed that he made reference to some companies, and it is a great thing to see good Australian products being made there and elsewhere around the country. Of course, currently those employees, if they are in the federal system, are subject to Work Choices—legislation that the member for Hasluck voted for and supports. He supports it and knows that employees do not have basic rights to protect their own conditions of employment. He knows that in the electorate of Hasluck there are employees suffering as a result of the government’s disregard for those people. He has to confront the concerns of employees in Hasluck and be honest with them. Do not come up here to Canberra and vote for Work Choices—I say to the member for Hasluck, through you, Mr Speaker—and then go back to the electorate and pretend that you are not a big advocate of Work Choices. I am sure the electorate, if they do not know now, will know soon the government members who have indeed spoken in favour of that extreme and unfair set of laws.
This afternoon I want to raise some concerns that I have about the disregard that the government has for the householders of Australia. Indeed, I think it is fair to say that, while the Prime Minister and the Treasurer feud, householders of Australians suffer. While the government fiddles, the dreams of the young families wanting to buy their home or even keep their own home burn. Australian families with mortgages have endured nine consecutive rate rises—five since the Prime Minister promised to keep interest rates at record lows.
Recent data from the 2006 census has shown that my electorate of Gorton has the dishonour of ranking No. 1 in the state of Victoria for households suffering from household stress. Over 35 per cent of households in Gorton use more than 30 per cent of their income to repay their mortgage. More than 35 per cent of the households of my electorate pay more than 30 per cent of their income just to maintain the mortgage and keep their house. That is a frightening figure. I am very concerned that, if there is another interest rate rise—indeed, as a result of the most recent interest rate rise, people may lose their homes—there will be even more pressure. The government, of course, cannot guarantee that that will not happen, even before the next election. So we have grave concerns in my electorate about householders under enormous pressure, which I find obviously very disconcerting but particularly troubling given that the Prime Minister, at the last election, promised to keep interest rates at record lows.