Wednesday, 30 March 2022
This budget of bribes makes the climate crisis worse, locks in tax cuts for the wealthy and makes housing more expensive. The budget gives coal, oil and gas corporations more than $37 billion, but climate spending is cut by 35 per cent. If you're on a low income, you get a one-off $420 payment. But a billionaire gets $9,075, not as a one-off but every year as a tax cut. There's $13 billion of public money—your money—going to push up housing prices but no new money to build affordable homes. But the good news is we are less than 50 days from kicking this terrible government out, and this budget shows why that day can't come soon enough.
Coal and gas are the main causes of the climate crisis. Gas is as dirty as coal. We need to get off coal and gas, not give them more of the public's money. We need to make coal and gas corporations pay a fair share of tax, not pay them to mine and burn our future. The Prime Minister has admitted that the climate crisis is making the country harder to live in, but this budget puts people's lives at risk. There's $300 million to open up new gas fields like the Beetaloo and $50 million for gas pipelines we don't need. Vague promises from Liberal and Labor to get to net zero by 2050 won't make up for opening more coal and gas mines. There are 114 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline backed by Liberal and Labor. In the middle of a climate crisis, they are throwing more fuel on the fire. This budget funds more floods.
The floods turbocharge that other crisis we're facing: the housing crisis. This budget makes housing more expensive. The Liberal Party—with Labor's support, it must be said—are handing $13 billion to the wealthy and property investors, which just pushes up prices for first home buyers, locks people out of housing and drives up rents, which are growing three times faster than wages. Four hundred thousand women over the age of 45 remain at risk of homelessness, and renters and first home buyers are getting locked out. But this budget uses public money—your money—to put housing even further out of reach. Unless we change course, young people simply won't be able to ever afford a home of their own and will struggle to keep up with rising rents.
Last week, I was in the Northern Rivers, where the floods ruined thousands of homes. Today, parts of Byron Bay, Lismore and other areas are again flooded. I was there with our local Greens candidate, Mandy Nolan, who joined me here in Canberra this week before returning to help her community deal with the floods. Her message to the Treasurer this week was the same one that I heard in Richmond before the floods. Before the floods, the Northern Rivers of New South Wales was one of the least affordable places to live in the country. Many people are still rebuilding from the fires two years ago. They needed action on the housing crisis years ago, and they need it now. But the Prime Minister was in hiding, offering no answers to people now struggling to find long-term, affordable and secure homes as they rebuild their lives.
Labor backs the billions of dollars in the budget to investors and the very wealthy, which will put even more people out of reach of housing. That's why people in places from Northern Rivers to inner-city Brisbane and Melbourne now back the Greens' plan to axe the handouts to people with more than one investment home and to build one million affordable homes that people can buy into for $300,000 or rent as public housing for 25 per cent of their income. That would tackle the housing affordability crisis.
This budget also makes Australia a more unequal place by dismantling our progressive tax system. The tax measures in this budget, which Labor backs, will see someone on the minimum wage pay the same tax rate as a CEO. By siding with the Liberals on the budget's stage 3 tax cuts, Labor and Liberal are introducing a flat-tax system, a trickle-down nightmare ripping $184 billion out of the budget so there's less money for public schools and hospitals. It is clear now that this government will not keep us safe. This government will not keep people safe from the climate crisis and they won't put a secure roof over your head. But the Greens will. We will kick this government out, build affordable housing, and keep coal and gas in the ground. We will tackle the housing crisis, we will cap rents and we will give renters more rights. We will push for a freeze on all new coal and gas projects, restore a price on pollution, drive investment in clean energy and make Australia a renewable energy superpower. This unfair budget shows it's time to kick the Liberals out. It is time to put the Greens in balance of power. (Time expired)
I'm pleased to say that this is a budget that has delivered for many, many Australians and many, many people across my electorate of Forde. I look at this budget and look at what we're doing as a government, and we acknowledge that there are people hurting as a result of the cost-of-living rises. Sadly, most of these issues, such as supply chain disruptions and the war in Ukraine, are out of our control. That's why we've moved to introduce a number of measures to cut the cost of living and reduce the impact of these increases. One of the biggest hits to the hip pocket has come at the petrol bowser, and that's why I'm pleased to see in the budget handed down last night that we have slashed the fuel excise by half for the next six months. It will mean a 22c-a-litre saving, which is roughly $30 a week for a two-car family or $700 over six months. Tens of thousands of motorists in my electorate of Forde will benefit from this move.
The budget also includes a one-off $420 cost-of-living tax offset which will benefit thousands of people across the electorate of Forde, particularly in places like Eagleby, Beenleigh, Loganlea, Boronia Heights, Waterford West and Logan Reserve. There's a $250 cost-of-living payment to be delivered to over six million pensioners, carers, veterans, jobseekers and concession card holders, including, importantly, self-funded retirees who have a concession card. That's a benefit to some 17,000 pensioners across the electorate of Forde.
The Logan area in my electorate is one of the fastest growing regions in Australia, including—I should add to that—the northern Gold Coast. And the member for Wright, who is here in the chamber, also represents an area that is growing very, very quickly. If you drive around, you see the new houses springing up in places like Park Ridge, Pimpama, Ormeau, Yatala and Holmview into the member for Wright's electorate at Yarrabilba, Flagstone and New Beith. All of those sit next to each other, and you'd be amazed at the difference in houses from 10 years ago, when we both first got elected, to the number of houses now. It is extraordinary and it's why I am so pleased to see in this budget the First Home Loan Deposit Scheme being expanded to 50,000 places, which allows even more people in my electorate to be able to purchase their first home with as little as a five per cent deposit. We know, from talking to our constituents about the rents they're paying now, the difficulty of accruing a 20 per cent deposit to avoid lenders mortgage insurance, which is getting increasingly expensive. So this measure will be of enormous benefit to many in my community and I'm sure in the member for Wright's community as well.
In addition, one of the joys of growth—as you would know, Mr Deputy Speaker—is a need for infrastructure. I can say that I'm very proud of the announcements in this budget for the electorate of Forde, the largest of which was a $1.21 billion upgrade to the Brisbane to Gold Coast rail line from Beenleigh to Kuraby for a faster rail upgrade. The number of tracks will be increased from two to four; there will also be improvements to seven stations, including Beenleigh, Bethania, Loganlea, Edens Landing and Holmview, and five level crossings will be removed. These works are scheduled to begin in 2024 and to create 6,700 direct and indirect jobs.
In other budget boosts for my community there's a $4 million investment in the Beenleigh Connection Road and City Road intersection in the north of the centre of Beenleigh and $11 million for a business case for future stages of the Coomera Connector. This is in addition to a number of major investments in road infrastructure already occurring across the electorate. My priority is to see our roads made safer and to reduce congestion. Not only do we need to get people home to their families more safely; we also need to ensure that the tradies and the businesspeople in our community are able to get from one place of work to the other more quickly. I am pleased to say the Morrison government continues to deliver for the community of Forde.