Thursday, 23 August 2018
I stand to support this vote of no confidence in this so-called government. What I have to say to Senator Scullion is: it's not about you. This is not about Senator Scullion. This is about getting a government that can actually deliver on the issues that the country desperately wants a government to deal with—health and education, getting a decent pay system and, for young kids here, climate change. The Arctic is on fire, and these people are just carving each other up.
There is so much that we need to do in this country to build a decent society for the future, and I have to say that cannot be done with some of the contributions that were made here. I just want to say to Senator Birmingham: I know that the Murdoch press are blaming you for where we are, and I think you've got some responsibility but not all the responsibility. What we've seen in this place over a period of time is an absolute obsession of the Liberals and the Nationals with each other. They don't care about what's happening in the rest of the country. They don't care that working people are losing their penalty rates. They don't care that working people have wage stagnation. They don't care that many families are struggling to put food on the table. They don't care that some pensioners can't afford to get an operation when it's needed. They don't care that the public health system is in trouble. They don't care that the education system is being built for the elite. This is about ordinary working Australians getting a government that works for them.
That's why the Prime Minister—if he is the Prime Minister now; I'm not sure—should go to an election and let the public make the choice. The choice is clear, and you've seen it here today in these contributions. The choice is the extremists in the Liberal and National parties linking up with Senator Hanson. We are going to have huge problems with this government—absolutely huge problems. Senator Anning's speech here the other day was about trying to take votes off Senator Hanson, and what's been happening in the Liberal Party is the Liberal Party falling apart because they want to pitch to the worst elements in our society. That's where we are.
What Labor cares about is getting a government that can actually work for Australians; a government that understands the key issues for Australian working families; a government that is not prepared to attack pensioners, as this government was prepared to do in 2014-15. If it had been up to this government, pensioners would have been about $80 a week worse off under that 2014-15 budget. And who's standing for the leadership of the Liberal Party? Peter Dutton, the former health minister under former Prime Minister Tony Abbott. And what was his contribution to society? A cut of $57 billion to the public health system. This is the guy who is standing up and saying, 'Vote for me to be the Prime Minister.'
The experiment by the Liberal Party has failed. The Liberal Party experiment was to put someone in as Prime Minister who was supposed to be a moderate, to stand up and appeal to the centre ground of Australia. The extremists, the far Right in the Liberal Party and National Party, were never going to let that happen. And, because Prime Minister Turnbull did not have the courage or the backbone to stand up to the far Right, who will line up with Senator Hanson, they just demanded more and more from him, and he gave up his values, he gave up his principles and he capitulated to this mob.
We must have an election, because we can't have Senator Hanson here, pushing division, in a position of power in a Liberal-National Party. Senator Hanson came from the Liberal Party. Senator Hanson should go back to where she came from; she should join the Liberal Party. She could be a minister in the Liberal Party. That's how poor the talent is in the Liberal Party: she could be a minister—maybe some time in the future.
But what we need is a Labor government who looks after the public in this country, who wants kids to get a decent education, who wants people who are ill to get health care and who wants to make sure that workers can bargain and not have their wages stagnate. These are the issues that are important in this country. We must not allow the extremists like Senator Hanson and those that are trying to pull down—well, those who have pulled down this government, because this government's gone. This government's gone. We must go to an election and we must get a decent, stable government in this country, and that can only be with the Labor Party.