Senate debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Business

Rearrangement

12:52 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

I'll come to arts and entertainment in a minute. The reason we need that transmission network and that funding for ARENA is to make sure that we can transition smoothly to 100 per cent renewable energy as quickly as possible and that we don't have outdated infrastructure stopping that transition. This is a great job-creating move. It's a great way to address the climate crisis and the economic crisis and the jobs crisis. It actually solves all three issues that the nation is currently facing, and it does so in a way that will create jobs and help people whilst also protecting the climate and modernising our grid and shoring it up into the future. There are no downsides to doing that—except that the renewable energy companies don't often donate to this government. Perhaps that's why the government hasn't thought to do it, so far.

The last bucket of money we've sought support for is, of course, for the arts and entertainment sector. My colleague Senator Hanson-Young has been incredibly tenacious on this issue. We think that at the very least a $2.3 billion fund should be dedicated specifically to the arts and entertainment sector. These folk, who kept our spirits alive in the face of the bushfires, who performed concerts and made artworks that helped people cling to hope in the darkest of times were, of course, the hardest hit when coronavirus came knocking. Again, it's no surprise that many of those workers are not eligible for the JobKeeper supplement because of the seasonal nature, or the casual nature, of their work. They've been doubly hit, and it's about time that this government actually started investing in and being proud of our Australian arts and entertainment industry, rather than perhaps showing the cultural cringe that we're seeing. This is exactly why we're moving that the Greens Coronavirus Economic Support and Recovery (No-one Left Behind) Bill 2020 be added to the list of bills for debate today.

I want to note with some happiness that it seems that the advocacy of my colleague Senator Siewert has, we hope, influenced the government to continue some of the jobseeker support past that cliff that it's due to fall off. We will be asking for details of that, of course, but I want to pay tribute to Senator Siewert for her many, many years of advocacy—firstly, for raising the rate and, in more recent times, for retaining the rate so that we don't have a widening gap between rich and poor in this nation, particularly when we are in a global pandemic. This is our chance to rebuild in a way that's fair, in a way that stimulates the economy and in a way that actually protects our environment and looks after our community. Surely that's the first job of government.

We look forward to the debate on that bill. It will be very interesting to see whether the government want to let the bill come on for debate. There are no prizes for guessing that they're probably going to shut us down, because, gee, they love doing that. We saw earlier today that they teamed up to gag the crossbench from raising inconvenient and politically sensitive issues in motions. So perhaps they're going to gag this bill and exclude it from coming on for debate as well. We're kind of used to that, but it still doesn't make it okay. This is meant to be a house of democracy, where we raise issues that our constituents ask us to raise, where we represent our states, where we represent the nation's interest and where we look to the future, not just to who took us out for lunch and donated to our re-election campaigns. It feels an awful lot like that is what happens at that end of the chamber. We are not expecting support for this bill to be debated, but it actually deserves to be debated, because it will help a lot of people and it will set this country up for a more sustainable recovery from a global pandemic.

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