House debates

Thursday, 15 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Albanese Government

3:16 pm

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I have received a letter from the honourable Leader of the Opposition proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely:

This Government's incompetence and breaches of trust which are harming the Australian people.

I call upon those honourable members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places.

More than the number of members required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Normally at the end of a double sitting week the Prime Minister will want to take the opportunity to do a summary to provide a snapshot of his beliefs on the messages that the government should get out after two weeks in this place. He was going pretty well, I might say. He was going through different quotes and comments. Then it came to the point where he let his guard down, and we saw a little snippet of 'the word is my bond' Albo. When he was referring to the question, 'Would the treatment of the family home change in relation to aged-care assessments?' asked very ably by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, he said this: 'There are no papers before the government.'

Do you know why there are no papers before the government? He knows that there is a report that the government is holding back because the Dunkley by-election is on 2 March. I suspect that on 3 March there may well be some papers before the government which talk about whether or not the family home will be taken into consideration to try to exclude some Australians from access to aged-care support as they age in this country.

What it quite ably shows is that this Prime Minister is prepared to do or say anything. Before the election he looked the Australian public in the eye and said on 97 occasions: 'We know that you're hurting. We know that the cost-of-living pressures are mounting and that you want support. I'm here. I'm Albo. I'm here to support you.' He promised on 97 occasions that $275 would be the amount that your power bills would be reduced by. He didn't say that it was a one-off occurrence. He didn't say that, over the course of the three years, you'd get a $275 reduction in your power bill. It was each and every year.

As I move around the country, I have the great honour of meeting literally thousands of Australians in the cities, suburbs and regional towns of every state and territory. At a time when this Prime Minister says that his word is his bond and that he can be trusted, I cannot find one person in this country who has received a $275 reduction in their power bill. How can he be trusted when he's never mentioned the figure of $275 since the election?

He said one thing to one audience before the election. He got elected. Australians reasonably believed that he would deliver on his word. Having made the promise on 97 occasions, he has never mentioned it. Somehow it's slipped his mind that he promised the Australian public that he would give this support to them and to their families, and he's completely and utterly backtracked on that commitment.

It shows that this Prime Minister can't be trusted. It shows that he leads an incompetent government. It shows that he is a weak leader, at a time when our country needs a strong leader to make the decisions not just for today but for tomorrow as well. So, it is the case that this Prime Minister has breached the trust of the Australian people. How can he go around the country looking people in the eye and on 100 occasions promising he would support them with tax cuts and then turn around and say he will not provide those tax cuts to Australians? We know that the government, over the course of the next decade, will reap about $28 billion worth of extra tax revenue as a result of what the Prime Minister has now promised.

Now, we support tax cuts for all Australians. When we were in government we supported stage 1 and stage 2. Stage 3—here's a tip for the Prime Minister—wasn't the start of tax cuts for Australians. Do you know what gave it away? It's No. 3, right? So, there was a stage 1 and a stage 2. When we were in government we legislated tax cuts for people on low and middle incomes. There was $200 billion worth of tax cut support to people on low and middle incomes. We put in place the low and middle income tax offset so that people, at a time when they were feeling pressure, would be able to receive those additional dollars in their pockets, because they worked for it. They worked hard for it. And the harder they work, the more of their money they should keep—but not under this government's approach, not for this Prime Minister.

This incompetent Prime Minister, this incompetent government, have gone about their business in a way that's actually harmed Australians. They've now had two budgets, where they know that inflation is a problem. As the Reserve Bank governor points out, it's a problem not just of the international factors—of what we've seen in the Middle East, of what we've seen elsewhere, in Ukraine. It's home grown, which is why core inflation in this country is higher than in the other G7 nations—comparable economies that have seen a reduction in their inflation rates and therefore their interest rates. It's higher here, because Labor can't manage the economy. Labor have made decisions in two subsequent budgets, where Australians reasonably thought they would see support to help them get through.

But what has happened is that this Prime Minister has presided over economic decisions that clearly have made it harder for Australians—those Australians in Dunkley, who at the moment, in places like Frankston, are really doing it tough on this Prime Minister's watch. They believed he was on their side, but they can't trust him anymore. They know that the tax cuts he's now implementing don't start until 1 July. He forgets to tell them that in the literature he puts into the Dunkley electorate. They're not getting that support until July. And when they look at what they are being told by the Prime Minister—that this is job done, that victory is declared, and here's your $15 a week—people are paying $24,000 a year more for their mortgage, in after-tax dollars. That's $40,000 gross. You're talking about $800 a week of gross income that they need to find to break even just on their mortgage repayments under this government.

The very willing participant in public debate at the moment sitting opposite me here, our good friend the member for Shortland, will be there tomorrow morning on the Today show with me, because his good friend the member for Corio—once he leaves here nobody sees him again; he goes MIA.

In the 2019 election the then Leader of the Opposition was there promising tax cuts and promising tax changes and, as it turns out, it wasn't that productive for him. I hope the current Prime Minister learns the lesson, because taxes on the family home, which is what this government is considering, as well as changes to negative gearing and a ute tax, a car tax, at a time when families are suffering, and taxing families when they want to go into aged care, which is an effective death tax, is not what they voted for.

The most recent example of this government's incompetence, the most recent example of the break of trust with the Australian people, is in relation to the release of these 149 individuals. I take very seriously the responsibility that we all have in this place, and I know all my colleagues do. We speak to victims of crime every day. People who work hard, many older Australians who've worked all their lives and paid taxes, want to be safe in their own homes, and many of them don't feel safe at the moment. The government promised that they would keep Australians safe, that they would implement and adopt policies that would go to providing a safer society. Instead, they took a decision to release 149 people, hardened criminals. Seven murderers, people who had committed rape and paedophilia, people who had committed domestic violence and other serious crimes—they released those people into the Australian community.

And have they committed crimes since they've been released? Yes, they have. Yet this incompetent minister comes in here and says that he promises—

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm sorry, Leader of the Opposition. Member for Hasluck, is this on a point of order?

Photo of Tania LawrenceTania Lawrence (Hasluck, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes. I just think that there's misrepresentation of what—

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

You need to state the—

Opposition members: That's not a point of order.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Excuse me! Are we all deputy speakers now? Let me listen. You are interrupting your own leader's speech here. Member for Hasluck, you need to state the point of order up-front.

Photo of Tania LawrenceTania Lawrence (Hasluck, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's the inference that the minister made the decision, when it was the High Court's decision to release—

Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I can't take that as a point of order, but I ask the Leader of the Opposition to proceed and just be respectful of our debating chamber.

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

Thank you very much, Deputy Speaker. This incompetent minister comes into this place, gives a commitment to the Australian people, and says: 'Trust me. I will contact those victims of crime and the family members of the murdered victims, who have been horrified by the release of these 149 people.' He gave that commitment in December in this chamber. The then Acting Prime Minister, the member for Corio, gave a similar undertaking, and yet we find now, in February, that those people have not been contacted. They've not been contacted, which only compounds their grief. There are many horrific crimes that have been committed, and this incompetent government—I've not seen an act of incompetence like it in my 20-odd years in this parliament—has put Australian citizens at risk, because this minister was happy for these people to be released. That's the reality. This minister stands condemned for their incompetence and their breach of trust with the Australian people. (Time expired)

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.

Opposition Member:

An opposition member interjecting

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

That's right; you remember him dismantling Medicare by forcing all Australians to pay a $7 co-payment, the GP tax. That was appalling, especially for our senior Australians, the people who built this nation. This is what he wanted to impose and tried so hard to do it. He said at the time:

… we believe very strongly in having a price signal. There's no sense me pretending to Australians that when you walk through the door of your GP that everything can be for free.

How out of touch can you get? Australians remember that. They know; don't worry. He also wanted to jack up the prices of essential medicines by $5 a script, making them unaffordable. What have we done, Madam Deputy Speaker Claydon? We have made medicines cheaper. We know that people need to be able to access them. He also wanted to charge Australians who needed to access public hospital emergency departments. How catastrophic would that be? He said at the time:

The government will also remove the restrictions on state and territory governments that prevent hospital emergency departments charging a modest fee for presentations.

Absurd! He froze the indexation of the Medicare rebate, undermining the viability of our great GP practices and increasing out-of-pocket costs. What have we done since we've been in government? We've tripled the Medicare rebate to make accessing bulk-billing easier—so important—because we understand that Australians need to have that cost-of-living relief.

We also saw the opposition leader, when he was health minister, rip more than $50 billion out of our public hospitals. Of course, we inherited this absolute mess, which our government is fixing with a massive investment in Medicare. The damage that was done was so wide ranging, impacting people and their health and wellbeing over the nine years they were in government. In fact, the opposition leader was so bad as health minister that he was named the worst health minister in 35 years in a pile of GPs and specialists. That is the reality, and that was just one of the many, many bad, bad policies that we saw from this government with all of their failures.

Let's not forget when he was the Minister for Home Affairs as well. The opposition leader as minister then wrecked Australia's system of immigration and border security. We saw this in the Richardson Review. You have all seen it and read the details. He left our borders wide open, our communities less safe and our economy weaker. This has all been detailed very, very clearly in the Richardson report.

We had that nine years of chaos. We had the three leaders. We are all seeing it played out in Nemesis, every detail of it, all the infighting. It is because those opposite were so focused on themselves and their infighting, and there was always the opposition leader there lurking about, undermining all the time. Their focus was completely on themselves.

We on this side are focused on the Australian people and delivering for them right across the board, particularly delivering the really important cost-of-living relief. But those opposite will keep on with their infighting. We are all waiting for Nemesis part 2. It will be good to hear about the Dutton years in opposition. It will be Nemesis part 2.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

The Dutton years when he's Prime Minister!

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

I don't think so. I don't think that is going to happen. Nemesis part 2 will be about the opposition leader and the infighting that keeps continuing. Clearly it does. You can see them sitting there today, completely devoid of any interest and enthusiasm when he speaks. It was pretty bad. No wonder. We know from Nemesis that they didn't trust him then. We can see it now on their faces that they don't trust him. It is not just all those opposite who don't trust him; everybody outside has worked it out because they know his long history of cuts and chaos. They know when Malcolm Turnbull, the former Prime Minister, described him as a 'thug', that he was pretty spot-on. They knew that was the case. They have worked him out. They know that he is harsh, with all those health cuts over such a long period of time, and they know the opposition leader is so out of touch with their concerns. He has no credibility because of his history. All he does is come out with all of this division and negativity and whinging. He has a long history of making cuts and causing chaos all over the place. Australian people are completely onto him; we know you mob are too. Everyone knows that the opposition leader is totally out of touch and they know the opposition leader cannot be trusted.

3:37 pm

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

Labor ought to know that unemployment now is higher than when we left government after COVID, and we had COVID to cope with. Labor promised real wages would go up; they have come down. They said, 'my word is my bond'—the Prime Minister's words, not mine—that they would stick to stage 3 tax cuts and they didn't. They said they wouldn't touch super and they increased taxes on super. They told people they would regulate the labour market and then they did the industrial relations changes. They have never properly consulted on too much at all. That is just a text I got from former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg. We miss him in this place, we do.

Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | | Hansard source

Table it.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

I tell you what, I can't table my phone. I need it for all the good messages I will send to you in the future when you have another tilt at the leadership, member for Maribyrnong. But I am glad that the member for Dobell is here. She is the regional health minister. She is also a former pharmacist and a very, very good one. It is true. She would be interested to note a pharmacist in Forest Hill, where RAAF Wagga operates.

Mina Estafanos has owned the Forest Hill Pharmacy for six years. In the past week he has had several customers opt out of filling their vital prescriptions due to cost. One elderly man even admitted he had stopped buying food just to get some of his daily medication. Now, we should be better than that. We should be doing better than that. Watching residents choose between basic needs prompted an enormously generous response from Mr Estafanos. He's chosen to provide free medication to his customers who are doing it tough—he's taking to social media and asking the community to bring in those who've been avoiding paying for their medicine. What a generous man. But he shouldn't be required to do that.

Yesterday this government decided to give $14 million to Foodbank. That's a noble gesture. Foodbank is the largest hunger relief charity in the nation. Fourteen million dollars—that'll help.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

That's nice.

Photo of Michael McCormackMichael McCormack (Riverina, National Party, Shadow Minister for International Development and the Pacific) Share this | | Hansard source

It is nice. It is absolutely nice, Member for Fisher. But they've also decided to give $40 million to advertising, promoting and marketing their stage 3 tax cuts. That is so shameful. That is so disgraceful, and everyone opposite knows it. If they were good members they'd go out and spruik it themselves. They'd put it on their own social media. They probably will. But when we think that they're spending $26 million more on spin doctors than they are on Foodbank—it's no wonder you've all got your heads down. You should be embarrassed by it. It's absolutely disgraceful.

Then you've got pharmacists, such as the one in my electorate, having to give away free medication to pensioners who can't afford it. Then we've got the Minister for Health and Aged Care—and I'd like the member for Dobell to listen carefully because she is the regional health minister and I know she comes to this place with a good heart—saying that, if doctors aren't bulk-billing, people should just go and pick up the phone and ring another one who might. That's all well and good in a city electorate like his in Adelaide, but it ain't good enough in regional Australia! It's hard enough to get a doctor, let alone one that might bulk-bill. If you don't want that first one and you're lucky enough to have another one on the end of the phone, it might be hundreds of kilometres away. You are in pain and you have to be forced to go hundreds of kilometres, because the health minister thinks that doctors are so prevalent in the bush that they're absolutely everywhere.

This government has put in place a truckie tax. They've absolutely hurt the Murray-Darling Basin irrigators by taking productive water away and sending it out the mouth of the Murray. That's the way they're going to make sure that we grow more Australian food. Well, it's not. That's going to lead to more imported food and higher grocery prices. They've put in place so many taxes, and then they come in here today, puff their chests out and say, 'We're delivering better tax relief for lower and middle-income people.' They never mention stage 1 and stage 2 tax cuts. They've put $26 million more into spin doctoring than they would into Foodbank.

This government stands condemned for all the taxes they've put on lower and middle-income people. They stand condemned for doing what they said they wouldn't do prior to the election—which was one great fib.

3:42 pm

Photo of Andrew CharltonAndrew Charlton (Parramatta, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's a pleasure to be talking about today's MPI topic, which is about incompetence and breaches of trust which are harming the Australian people. Friends, this topic reminds me of the first rule of glasshouses: don't throw stones. It's a pretty bad week for the Liberals to be talking about trust and it's a particularly bad week for them to be talking about competence.

We had this week, in their own words—the words of their own ministers and former members of parliament—a litany of confessions about the incompetence and lack of trust they showed during their term in government. Let me read you some of my favourites. John Alexander, the former member for Bennelong, who was replaced by the terrific current member for Bennelong. Just like the current member for Bennelong, a man of great integrity, he speaks the truth. This is what John Alexander said on the ABC on Nemesis: 'In looking at the nine years in power and our three prime ministers, the playing of politics was the No. 1 game, the No. 2 game and the No. 3 game. It's not productive and it's not edifying.' That's what said on ABC and that is right: it's not edifying. It is entertaining, but it is not edifying. That was the take of a former member of the Liberal Party and a former member of this House on the competence and the trust of the Liberals.

This is what Bridget McKenzie had to say in the Nemesis program. She described the period in government from the Liberals and Nationals as 'an internal war'. She said it was like 'being strapped to a suicide bomber—something horrific and catastrophic was going to happen'. That was Senator McKenzie's testimony on the trust and competence of the Liberals during their time in government.

Finally, Malcolm Turnbull—what would he say on this MPI about the trust and competence of the Liberals in government? Fortunately we know, because he gave a quote to the Nemesis program. He said, 'We were treating the government of Australia as a plaything.' This is the take of the former leader of the Liberal Party on the trust and competence that they displayed. Even Christopher Pyne on the same program had a hot take relevant to the MPI. He described the Dutton plotters as the Keystone Cops. This is a party who, in their own words, given testimony by people in their own ranks, showed a remarkable level of incompetence and lack of trust, condemned by their own statements.

This MPI is about trust, and it is about competence. How should we judge the trust and competence of this government versus previous governments? There'll be many different ways to do that. Many people will have their own perspective. But one way, as I said just before question time, is to judge governments by the range of metrics with which the Liberals themselves would have us judge them. As I said before question time, on the eve of the election, they put out their own list of metrics that they thought reflected their competence—a series of metrics of unemployment, youth unemployment, welfare dependency and income tax. This is what they wanted the Australian public to judge them on. They were so keen on these metrics that they printed 20 million of them and handed them to every single Australian on their way to the polling booth. When we go through them we see that, on metric after metric, the government that they are complaining about, the Albanese government, has overperformed the metrics that they themselves set down to be judged by. Whether it be unemployment, youth employment, welfare dependency or income tax, in every single metric this government has performed more strongly than the previous government—on their own metrics.

I'll take the point of order on inflation, because the Leader of the Opposition made a big deal of inflation in his rambling speech on this MPI. He said, 'Australia has higher inflation than every other member of the G7.' There are two problems with that, friends. First of all, Australia isn't in the G7. You can't just pick whatever group you want to pick. Secondly, Australia's— (Time expired)

3:48 pm

Photo of Luke HowarthLuke Howarth (Petrie, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

The MPI today is on 'this government's incompetence and breaches of trust which are harming the Australian people', and I couldn't sum it up better myself. This goes to character and to the character of this government. The Prime Minister has clearly botched and broken trust with the Australian people—a test of character. It's about integrity. What prime ministers say and do counts. Leaders of this country should be held to account.

Time and time again, this government and Prime Minister have proven they can't be trusted. The Prime Minister promised that life would be better under him, but instead people aren't seeing that. Day by day, they're struggling to get ahead. They're being crushed under the weight of higher interest rates, higher rents, higher food prices and higher mortgages—and who can forget higher electricity prices? On 1 May 2022, the Prime Minister said:

Labor has real, lasting plans for

    But it's gone up—

      But the interest rates have gone up 12 times, and rent is through the roof—

        They might have come down a little bit—

          There is now a $70 gap when you go to the doctor. It is $60 in some places. Bulk-billing is gone under the Albanese Labor government. The Prime Minister also promised 100 times that he would keep the legislated tax cuts. We know that he couldn't be trusted. His word was not his bond.

          The government has made bad decision after bad decision. They could have done a whole lot of other things besides breaking their promise on stage 3 tax cuts. They could have reintroduced LMITO rather than having that wound up, which gave $1,500 to millions of people around the country, including thousands in my own electorate. They could have reinstated the fuel discount that we put in place, of 22c a litre, that they let lapse. They could have not wasted half a billion dollars on a destructive and divisive Voice campaign, which they're now going to spend an additional $40 million advertising.

          Australians are hurting, but don't just take my word for it; take the word of local people in my electorate. Robyn White from Redcliffe said:

          Is it ever going to get any better? Families are really struggling. I thought our new Prime Minister would understand after his mum was a single mum and used to struggle. But families cannot cope. When is this government going to do something and help?

          Helen Paddon from Deception Bay said:

          I don't know how we're going to cover the cost of three kids going back to school this year. Weve never been in a situation where we can't. This year is going to be our hardest.

          Rachel Bishop from Bracken Ridge said:

          Groceries and fuel are increasing more than we can handle.

          And I could spend the rest of this parliamentary sitting day's time repeating quotes from local people. They're really struggling under the Albanese Labor government.

          This week an incompetent Albanese Labor government is also impacting our Defence Force. The Albanese government don't want the people of Australia to know that, in a time of unprecedented uncertainty, with conflicts in the Middle East and Europe and tensions in our own geopolitical area, this government is cutting defence personnel and dollars through indecision. Let me put it plainly: there is no new money for investment into defence this year or the year after or in the forward estimates. It's now expected that this financial year they will potentially only spend 1.6 per cent of GDP, which is woeful compared to the 2.04 per cent of GDP allocated for defence. Defence companies are leaving the industry in droves, unable to keep their heads above water. They're not investing in sovereign capability, despite the minister for manufacturing and the Prime Minister saying they would before the election. There were over a million jobs in manufacturing during COVID in this country, and the minister himself said in question time just at the end of last year that there are now under 900,000. That's a 10 per cent loss under the Albanese Labor government.

          We've also had personnel numbers drop. Did you know that right now we only have 58,427 full-time ADF members? Fewer than 60,000. The Chinese have two million, and the US have one million. I think Israel have 240,000 reservists. The target is 62,735; they're 4,308 below that. There's no pastoral care. We've got young women and men wanting to join the ADF around the country, and no-one says, 'Thanks for your application.' Under the Albanese Labor government, we have no plan, no vision, no integrity, no leadership and no clue about what Australia needs at this point in time, and Australians are waking up to this government. They know they deserve better.

          3:53 pm

          Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          When it comes to government incompetence, those opposite set the gold standard. They lived it, despite their collective amnesia. The Leader of the Opposition couldn't even competently run a leadership challenge let alone run a government department. Those opposite want to lecture us about government incompetence. They shouldn't look over the side; they should look into a mirror or, better still, rewatch Nemesis.

          After nearly 10 years of incompetence, the Australian people look to Labor to clean it up. We were put to work mopping up the former government's messes. The Leader of the Opposition alone had his muddy footprints of incompetence littered across multiple portfolios. Indeed, this leader brings new meaning to the expression 'Peter principle'—ironic as it might be to pair those two words. The Opposition leader wants people to think that he's tough. He likes to talk tough. But, when he was in charge of protecting Australians, in charge of our borders, he presided over a system that was incoherent and falling apart. The report that former Victorian police commissioner Christine Nixon wrote into exploitation in our migration system is the most damning insight into the Leader of the Opposition and how he would run this country.

          For almost the whole time he's been in parliament his whole public persona has been puffing himself up as the big tough guy on the border, but what did the Nixon review find? It found that there were serious and systemic problems with exploitation in the migration system. It found that the system had been used to perpetrate some of the worst crimes that there are—sexual slavery and human trafficking—under the watch of the Leader of the Opposition, the so-called tough guy on the beat. Former commissioner Nixon found there was delay and disfunction in the system, but she also found something else very interesting. For all the tough talk that we have heard over previous years from the Leader of the Opposition, he halved immigration compliance funding to the Department of Home Affairs. Could there be anything more hypocritical?

          We've also had the Parkinson report that detailed how the home affairs department was falling apart under the opposition leader's management. But it was the Richardson report that brought to light that hundreds of millions of dollars of Australian taxpayers' money went to companies that were engaged in all sorts of illegal and dodgy activity overseas because these contracts didn't attract proper oversight. This all happened on the opposition leader's watch.

          We're cleaning up the mess. As the Minister for Home Affairs said earlier, the opposition are like the pyromaniac that sets fire to the house and then stands in street to try and stop the fire engine getting to it. And this is just from the Leader of the Opposition's time in the home affairs portfolio. How about his time in the defence portfolio, which we've heard about from a number of speakers. What was he again? Their sixth minister? When people say, 'Consistency is key', I don't think they mean consistently changing ministers as we had right throughout the Nemesis period.

          And what is the opposition leader's legacy in Defence? Is it the dangerous capability gap the former Liberal-National government allowed to occur between the retirement dates of our Collins class submarines? The staggering incompetence which created this capability gap? The mismanagement that saw 28 defence capability projects running 97 years late—again, what a gold standard for incompetence. And then there's the diplomatic and foreign policy blunders in the Pacific. This all adds up to an opposition leader and a party who couldn't manage Defence last time, so what makes them so sure they can be trusted on Defence and national security now?

          And then there's the Leader of the Opposition's time in the health portfolio that can be summed up with one sentence: only one person in this parliament has been voted the worst health minister in the entire history of Medicare.

          The opposition leader has truly suffered from the Peter principle for the last decade, with each portfolio promotion leading to greater and greater incompetence and stuff-ups. They can't even pretend to look like a competent alternative in opposition. We just have to look at their actions in the chamber yesterday, and throughout the last few weeks with Labor's tax cuts: they're all about the talk, never about the walk.

          We inherited a nation that had suffered nine years of chaotic coalition incompetence, highlighted so well in Nemesis over the last few weeks. If those opposite want to be part of this debate with any credibility, they shouldn't be lobbying for a change of government. They should be rolling out the projectors and changing their leadership.

          3:57 pm

          Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          Isn't it funny how, on an issue like this MPI, which is about breaches of trust and integrity, those members opposite can only talk about—they don't want to address any of their own issues or problems.

          We see so many Australian families that are doing it tough. This mob have been in government for 18 months. I want to actually pay tribute to the member for Maribyrnong, the minister who's sitting at the table.

          Photo of Bill ShortenBill Shorten (Maribyrnong, Australian Labor Party, Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme) Share this | | Hansard source

          I seriously doubt that.

          Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          I do! I seriously do! Member for Maribyrnong, I mean this seriously. The member for Maribyrnong—and pardon me, Deputy Speaker Claydon, because I'm going to say 'honest Bill' here. The honest member for Maribyrnong—can I say that? When the honest member for Maribyrnong was the Leader of the Opposition, they ran a campaign of honesty. That has to be said. They said what they were going to do if they won government.

          The member for Maribyrnong, when he was the Leader of the Opposition, said they were going to make some fairly significant changes to taxation law. Everybody would remember the now Minister for Climate Change and Energy, who was the then shadow Treasurer, said, 'If you don't like it, don't vote for us.' They didn't, but at least this man had the courage of his convictions to put it out there on the table. He put it out there and said, 'I've got the courage of my convictions to put my policies on the table, and if you don't like it then don't vote for us.' They didn't, but at least he had the courage of his convictions.

          The current Prime Minister has won office in a situation of stealth. He never told Australians what he was going to do. He never told Australians he was going to change laws in relation to franking credits or superannuation. He told us that he was going to keep the stage 3 tax cuts. It's whatever it takes to win government. The member for Maribyrnong, for all his faults and foibles, was honest when he was the Leader of the Opposition.

          Where are we today after 18 months of this government? Food costs have gone up nine per cent. Gateway Care is a food bank in my electorate. They tell me that they have never, ever been busier. They have never been distributing more food to Australians on the Sunshine Coast than they are now. The cost of housing—I actually don't believe the figure here—has gone up 12 per cent. When you look at the cost of mortgages that have gone up, for the average Australian with the average mortgage, it's a $24,000 increase after tax on what they were paying under a coalition government. That's probably somewhere in the high 30s for the average punters. Can anybody in the gallery name me anybody in your sphere of friends—any Australian—that can honestly say they are better off today than they were 20 months ago? I don't think you can. I don't think anybody watching or listening to this today could say: 'You know what? I am better off. My family is better off. My bank balance is better off than it was when the coalition was in government.' Maybe the Prime Minister can say that.

          This is a Prime Minister that said, 'Vote for me, and I'll give you cheaper mortgages.' When landlords have to pay higher mortgages, what do they do for their investment properties? They've got to put the rent up. So rents are up, mortgages are up, and insurance is up 22 per cent under this mob. The reality is that this is so heavily impacting upon people's bottom line, because they've got to insure their car, their home and their contents—and another car, if they're lucky enough to have a second car. Insurance has gone up by 22 per cent in 18 months. What happens with that? (Time expired)

          4:02 pm

          Photo of Jerome LaxaleJerome Laxale (Bennelong, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          I welcome the opportunity to talk about this matter of public importance today. It's one that goes to government competence—or incompetence, as they put it. I'll just start by saying I haven't been in this place for too long. This is my first term. Not too much has been unexpected in this role, but one thing that has really stood out to me is the collective amnesia of those opposite when it comes to choosing their topics for the MPIs. In the past, we've seen them wanting to talk about cost-of-living relief when they've voted against nearly every solution that we've put up on cost-of-living relief. Today, they've got an MPI on government incompetence, totally not even recognising the nine years of absolute incompetence that those opposite left us, which is why the Australian people elected us to fix up their mess.

          I've only got four minutes left, but we've just seen 4½ hours of compelling viewing on the ABC, with 1.5 million viewers per episode, about incompetence after incompetence and mistake after rort. I made a little list earlier today as I was preparing for this MPI. It's a long list, and in the 3½ minutes I've got left, I'll start to talk about some of the incompetence we inherited and saw from those opposite. Of course, the Prime Minister fled the country and stayed overseas in Hawaii while the country burned. Then they tried to hide the fact that he was over there, and then he gave that horrendous interview where he said he doesn't hold a hose. Then we had the bungled vaccination rollout that left millions of Australians stuck in lockdown because the former government didn't ensure that we had an adequate or appropriate supply.

          Then we had car park rorts—$660 million worth of gold-medal pork-barrelling: 70 per cent of the commuter car park sites in coalition electorates, and none of the 47 project sites selected were proposed by the infrastructure departments. Before that we had sports rorts, and the Christine Holgate saga, where a distinguished, competent head of Australia Post was essentially sacked brutally on this floor by an incompetent former prime minister.

          We then had the climate wars—decades of climate chaos, inaction and repealing of legislation that was causing emissions to fall. And of course we had the words of the former leader himself, Malcolm Turnbull, who said that the Liberal Party had proved itself incapable of dealing with a reduction of greenhouse emissions in any sort of systematic way. I mean, some of these things in Nemesis over those 4½ hours—I'd forgotten how incompetent they were; I'd truly forgotten. Thank you to the wonderful ABC for documenting some of their gold-medal incompetence: knights and dames with Tony Abbott—giving Prince Philip a knighthood on Australia Day 2015—and the time Mr Abbott ate an onion live on television. I mean, what's going on there? Then of course there was his promise of no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS, only to then do it straightaway at the next federal budget.

          We had a former Speaker of this House, Bronwyn Bishop, get in a helicopter for an 80-kilometre ride—$5,000. They were a government that tried to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. We had the saga of the French submarines—total incompetence: spending $5 billion and not receiving as much as a canoe. We had the total rubbishing of international relations and the torpedoing of our relationship with China. And of course we now see the contemporary example of incompetence: the last two weeks of their response of Albanese government's cost-of-living tax cuts, where they've called the cuts Marxism. They've done backflip after backflip. They said they'd roll the tax cuts back, and then that they're not going to roll them back, and they voted for them in the House today.

          Contrast their record of competence against this one. We've been elected to deliver cost-of-living tax relief, and we're doing it. We've legislated for energy rebates. We've got huge cost-of-living tax relief going to Middle Australia and to Bennelong, where 81 per cent of people will be better off. This is a government that's competent and that's getting on with the job.

          4:07 pm

          Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          It's good to see that the member for Bennelong has so much time that he can sit back and watch television. If I were him I, as a marginal seat member, would be out in my community talking to my constituents about what they're worried about—and they're not worried about ABC television shows. They're worried about governments keeping their promises. They're worried about people who go to an election and make promises and then break those promises when they're in government. When I'm out doorknocking in my electorate, which is an important thing for marginal seat members to do, that's what I hear from the people of Sturt. They talk to me about promises made and promises broken.

          Some other speakers have outlined some of the national promises this government has broken, and I commend those remarks to the House. But I want to highlight two that are specific to South Australia, because they need to be on the record in this debate as well. And I'm glad my friend the member for Barker is here, because he knows, as I know, and he's as outraged as I am, about the appalling decision made by this government to scrap funding for the Truro bypass in the electorate of Barker. I care about his constituents, but I've also got a selfish interest in this, because my constituents are just as affected as the member's constituents are through that appalling broken promise.

          We want to get trucks off Portrush Road. We want to improve the freight corridors for the nation. We don't think that Highway 1 should run through the suburbs of metropolitan Adelaide. It does, and we had a plan to change all that. We had a plan to invest in the Greater Adelaide Freight Bypass, starting with investing in the Truro bypass, which would also be a great outcome for the people living in Truro, in the member for Barker's electorate. This government went to the last election never saying anything about scrapping that funding. The good people of Truro, like the good people of Sturt and the good people of South Australia had no idea that, if the Labor government were elected, they were going to scrap projects like the Truro bypass. It's absolutely heartbreaking for the people of Truro, for the people of my electorate and for the people of South Australia that this government has done that.

          There is another very significant issue looming—a great fraud to be perpetrated on the people of South Australia when it comes to shipbuilding. We are very frightened about a looming announcement that is following the usual path of being soft-leaked to the media. We know decisions have been made that are bad for South Australia. They were made months ago. They've spent months working on the political spin to try and turn a disastrous decision for South Australia into one that kind of looks like a good one—making a silk purse out of a sow's ear—and we ain't buying it in South Australia. We know that the Labor Premier is in on it. We've had the stunt visit to Canberra saying, 'I'm here to fight for jobs.' We've had all the little secret meetings that would have gone on, saying: 'Look, why don't we announce the review in Adelaide so they think it's a really good thing for Adelaide? Why don't we say, "There are all sorts of other shipbuilding opportunities for South Australia that are going to flow from this? We can't give any detail right now. Yes, we're scaling back the one tangible program that South Australia has: the nine frigates through the Hunter program. Yes, we're slashing that, which means thousands of jobs lost for the years of lost construction of those frigates." And we'll pretend that there's going to be some kind of mirage replacement for that, with no detail.'

          I think—I'd have a bet with the member for Barker, but he won't let me take his money—that they are going to try and come to Adelaide and make this announcement and pretend that it's actually good for South Australia. Some spin doctor said: 'Why don't you announce it in South Australia? Do it there and then they'll think that it's a really good news story, because why would anyone come to South Australia to deliver bad news in shipbuilding?' That is exactly what is going to happen. We are onto it but, more importantly, the people of South Australia will be onto it. They're not falling for this. They know exactly what happens when jobs are taken out of South Australia. The government went to the last election saying they supported continuous shipbuilding in South Australia. Like so many other things—whether it's cutting your power bills by $275, honouring stage 3 tax cuts, building the Truro bypass—once again, in shipbuilding, we're going to see an example of this government saying one thing in a campaign to get elected and then doing a very different thing after the election and breaking another solemn vow to the people of South Australia. They'll have their say about that, but I implore the government to reconsider these broken promises—reinstate funding for Truro and honour the nine frigates through the Hunter program. Invest in my home state of South Australia and keep your promises.

          4:13 pm

          Photo of Carina GarlandCarina Garland (Chisholm, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          A piercing statement was made by one of the previous speakers, the member for Fisher, which is that we're all worse off for this MPI from the Leader of the Opposition. I must say I tend to agree. Today's topic—honestly, those opposite really are experts on incompetence and breaches of trust. There are so many places to start with this one, but I think my colleagues who have highlighted some of the episodes from Nemesis really did hit the mark, particularly in noting the secret ministries. What an absolutely disgusting breach of trust that really undermined the very fabric of democracy in this country. I must say, though: for people who consistently undermine the national broadcaster, they have delivered some of the highest viewing figures for the ABC in quite some time—so congratulations.

          Viewing Nemesis was a really stark reminder of how much of a failure the last 10 years of government have been in this country, and it is a shameful thing. We heard that it wasn't a race to get vaccines when, of course, it was. When issues of public health were treated so flippantly in the way that those opposite have done, it should be little wonder that so many people now say that they've lost faith overall in institutions of government. It is the job of the Albanese Labor government to repair that trust.

          I think of a pretty despicable episode in my own community of Chisholm. Those opposite often wax lyrical about the need for improved mental health services. I was horrified to discover that, hidden in budget papers for some years, there was money for a Box Hill headspace in my electorate, which was never, ever delivered. The money was cynically held back so that it could become an election announcement ahead of the 2022 election. That is a disgraceful way to treat young people and real mental health needs in our communities. I'm delighted that that service, under our government, is now up and running. It is delivering much-needed services for young people in my community.

          We're talking about incompetence and dishonesty. We come into this place day after day for MPIs. So often, these topics presented to us simply invite us on this side of the House to hold up a mirror to those opposite and to remind them of the failures that have led to a situation where we are now having to spend so much time repairing the damage done to this country.

          But we're not letting the disaster of the last decade stand in the way of progress—not at all. Please don't think that that's what I'm suggesting. We are delivering cost-of-living relief for all taxpayers in our country. All 13.6 million Australian taxpayers will receive a tax cut from 1 July this year. But we've done more than just that. We've ensured that medicines are cheaper. By tripling the Medicare rebate, we've ensured that it is easier and cheaper to see a doctor. We've ensured that there is cheaper child care. We've expanded paid parental leave to encourage greater workforce participation, particularly by women, who tend to be carers. We're building more social and affordable homes. We've delivered fee-free TAFE. In a really important achievement for my electorate, 60-day dispensing of scripts has saved so many people money. My electorate is the greatest recipient, with almost 25,000 people receiving 60-day scripts.

          Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          Member for Chisholm, I'm really sorry. I know you look like you've got time left on the clock, but the time for this debate has expired now.

          Photo of Carina GarlandCarina Garland (Chisholm, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          I understand, Deputy Speaker. I've got so much more to say. I'll save it for another time.

          Photo of Sharon ClaydonSharon Claydon (Newcastle, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

          I'm sure. I hope you get an opportunity to continue in another part of parliament. It just, unfortunately, won't be the MPI. The time for this discussion has now concluded.