Wednesday, 3 April 2019
It's been six years, three Prime Ministers and three Treasurers—let's face it; the Nationals, with only two leaders, make the Liberals look stable. Six weeks before an election, we got the Liberal budget last night, and it is an absolute con.
The biggest con of all is a projected surplus achieved by short-changing the NDIS—by underfunding people with disabilities in our communities. In the electorate of Lalor, our people support the NDIS. Australians across the country, in the main, support the NDIS. They support making a contribution, knowing that that contribution will go to ensuring support for people with disabilities. What did they find last night? They found that this government has been underfunding that program, leaving people in need of support, leaving people without wheelchairs. I got an email this morning from a local family who have said quite bluntly that they've just become aware in the last month or so that they need intervention for their three-year-old child. What have they found? They've found that there's going to be a stretch to eight months before they're going to get any support. That is the con of this budget.
It's also a con of a budget because this government's running around talking about how well it's funding schools. Like lots of members, I was out the front yesterday with the Australian Education Union, looking at the difference a Labor government will make to state schools across this country. As a former principal and as a former teacher, let me tell you what that means in the seat of Lalor. It means $30 million across three years for the state schools in our area. I know that is going to make a real difference. The reason Labor commits to those things is that we understand the value of education. This government only understand the cost, and that's why last night they failed to fund four-year-old, 15-hour access, universal kindy funding for more than one year. They've done it again. They say, 'Let's back it in, let's say we'll fund it for one year.' That's how much they value early education, that's how much they value educators, that's how much they value the sector.
I tell you what this budget didn't do last night: it didn't do anything about getting wages off the deck. It didn't do anything about restoring penalty rates. In fact, last night's budget says a retail worker will get a $250 tax cut, while a banker will get an $11,000 tax cut. That retail worker won't get their penalty rates back under those opposite. The only way they'll get their penalty rates back is if they vote for a Shorten Labor government in six weeks.