Senate debates

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Matters of Public Importance


6:10 pm

Photo of Bridget McKenzieBridget McKenzie (Victoria, National Party) Share this | Hansard source

It gives me great pleasure to stand to contribute tonight on behalf of the Nationals and on behalf of every single senator, I think, on the coalition government benches to back this budget in. This is not just a budget for blokes, as the other side wants to make it out to be; this actually is a budget for everyone.

As I was reading the motion here before us, it's the trite structure of the sentence; it's reverting to type—pull out your Marxist doctrine, flip to page 6—the righties are only in it for the millionaires! I'll tell you what the righties are actually in it for: we're in it for every single Australian—working men and women, young people and people from rural and regional Australia, who I've been sent here to represent. Senator Thorpe, I welcome you to the Senate from our home state of—well, the 'Republic of Dan-estan' at the moment—a beautiful place called Victoria. But it is disappointing that you have so quickly picked up the baton of rhetoric from the Greens and want to attack every single thing that rural and regional Australians stand for.

What we do in terms of supporting our families is that we are the miners, the foresters, the manufacturers and the farmers. We care for our environment, we care for our communities and we care for our families. It is COVID-19 that has wrought absolute havoc on regional and rural communities right across the country, not just in Victoria. We've had the ravages of drought, we've had the horrors of bushfire, we've had the lockdown of COVID-19 and, for those rural and regional communities that have been in border towns, it's been absolutely horrific to see the resultant economic and social impact of the city-centric decision-making by our state premiers.

We need a strong vision of recovery, one that provides confidence to families right across our nation. That resilience that drives regional Australians is indeed felt right throughout our community. I believe that the budget handed down by Josh Frydenberg last night absolutely delivers in spades on that account. Instead of terming it as expanding 'dirty' gas and giving billions in corporate handouts, I think the Treasurer made it very, very clear, that our No. 1 sole outcome we're seeking from this budget and our recovery from the pandemic is about jobs. That's local jobs—local jobs for our young people, getting them in as apprentices; assisting women back into the workforce; and supporting the millions of small business men and women right across this country who are the very heart of our local communities. Whether you're in a regional city, such as Bendigo, or whether you're in a country town, such as Benalla, or, indeed, the suburbs of our great cities, it is the small business community that has really borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, and they are the ones that will drive our economic recovery; they are the ones who will employ. No matter how big you want to make the Public Service or the charitable organisations that drive certain areas of your political campaigns, at the end of the day you have to accept the fact that the vast majority of Australians earn their living working for a small to medium enterprise. We need to support these enterprises and that's what our budget does. When you say we're giving corporate handouts to the big end of town, you haven't actually listened to a word our government has said or read the budget papers.

The reality is that, with regard to the instant asset write-off announced by the Treasurer, I've had call after call after call, email after email after email to my office from farmers and small businesses right throughout Australia saying what a boon this will be to them. Do you know what that will mean? It'll mean they will be able to keep their employees on the books. It'll mean that small business will be able to pay their bills and local economies will be supported. That is how we're going to recover from the horrors that this global pandemic has wrought on our national economy. You say 'dirty gas'. Gosh, dirty gas, hey? What is it? Dirty coal, dirty gas—


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