Senate debates

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Bills

Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Promoting Sustainable Welfare) Bill 2018; Second Reading

1:48 pm

Photo of Richard Di NataleRichard Di Natale (Victoria, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

Well! It seems that things have moved quite quickly! The Australian Labor Party cited FECCA as a reason to support this piece of legislation. They said that this legislation had the support of the Federation of Ethnic Communities' Councils of Australia. Yet I've just come across a publication from SBS from which it appears that FECCA are reviewing their position and, I understand, will be shortly issuing a statement saying that they do not support this piece of legislation. It appears that the only reason that FECCA initially indicated that they could live with this was that they feared that a worse bill was coming because we didn't have the support of the crossbench—or they were misled. They were clearly misled, because, had they spoken to members of the crossbench, they would have known that the majority bloc of the crossbench does not support this, or any other, legislation. So, if FECCA are going to be issuing a statement announcing that they do not support this legislation and the Australian Labor Party were citing FECCA as evidence of why this legislation was needed, I can only assume that the Australian Labor Party now will be reviewing their position.

As FECCA made clear through various submissions as the peak body for a number of different ethnic communities in Australia, this legislation rips a billion dollars away from those people who have come to Australia to make Australia their home and ensure they get access to the sort of support that Australians deserve. There was a time when Australia would have considered it part of the reason we have such a successful multicultural country that we support people when they come to this country and, as a result, they make better citizens in return for that support. Yet here we have the Australian Labor Party joining with the government in a deal to rip a billion dollars away from ethnic communities, from newly arrived migrants, and at the same time we have a government saying it wants to bring forward tax cuts to people on $120,000 a year. That's not what a decent country does.

Given we've now had this position from the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils that they are reviewing their support and are likely shortly to issue a statement indicating they do not support this piece of legislation, and given that the Australian Labor Party have based their support on representations from some of these peak stakeholder groups, I'm looking forward to the Labor Party now also reviewing their position and reversing their support for this bill. There was a time when the Australian Labor Party were a party that represented not only people who had been here for generations but people who came to make Australia their home and to contribute—the many millions of families from right across the world who have made Australia a better place. There was a time when they understood that the architecture for successful multicultural policy relied on supports for people when they first arrive here to help them find employment, get education, learn English language skills and, in the event that they might be unemployed for a short period of time, provide them with the income support that they need. Of course, we know that as a result of those supports—as a result of ensuring that Australians or people who are shortly to become Australian citizens receive that support—those individuals made an incredible contribution to this nation. The evidence shows that, as a result of migration, we've got greater economic growth, we've got more job creation and we've got greater investment. It's been a net positive for Australia. One can only assume that the Labor Party are fearful, in the lead-up to an election, that the government will run a campaign against them based on this anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, 'divide and conquer' approach. It's to the great shame of the Labor Party that they— (Time expired)

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