Wednesday, 30 March 2022
Excise Tariff Amendment (Cost of Living Support) Bill 2022, Customs Tariff Amendment (Cost of Living Support) Bill 2022; Second Reading
Senator McKim has actually started the theme that I wanted to talk about tonight. It was in this place only last night that Greens Senator Faruqi made the comment:
The Greens in the balance of power will push the next government to move further and faster to tackle the climate crisis, to end coal and gas, to do more on mitigation and resilience, and to protect people and the planet.
I don't know about everybody else, but that sounds like a done deal to me. Obviously those opposite and those at the end of the chamber have already got into bed together. They're already lining up to destroy industries, to destroy jobs, to turn the lights off and to kill regions like the Hunter. What else would we expect from a party that has the member for Shortland, who is from the very far Left of the Labor Party, busy hugging snowmen at COP26 whilst he's trying to shut down the industry that his entire electorate is based on?
This is absolutely appalling, and it is exactly why a Labor-Greens alliance is the most dangerous thing facing this country. And, if Senator Faruqi hadn't said it last night, we've just heard it said again by Senator McKim: with the balance of power and their Labor mates—already locked and loaded—they're going to shut down every coalmine, shut down every power station and kill off jobs. I'm off to the Hunter on Sunday and I'm now very much looking forward, even more than usual, to catching up with those industries—the defence industry that is absolutely striving to support our nation and the makers of the lithium-ion batteries being produced up in the Hunter. I'm looking forward to going to see the coalminers and the Newcastle ports, industries that sustain the entire Hunter region.
At one point in time the Labor Party purported to be the party of workers. Well, we know that's gone. And we're going to lose the member for Hunter. It's like the last great hope as Mr Fitzgibbon leaves the Labor Party, because at least he got it. We've lost Senator Kitching; she got it. The Otis group seems to be a bit quiet at the moment. Maybe they can't get a booking, or maybe they've stopped stocking The Godfather Too, so Senator Farrell won't go any more. But we very much look forward, hopefully in the coming weeks, to hearing from the Otis group—giving us some solace at some point—that coal is important to Australia, that energy production and fuel is important to Australia and that gas production is important to Australia. If you don't get that already, just go and have a look at what's happening in the Ukraine and Europe at the moment. It is absolutely irresponsible to suggest otherwise. We expect that from the Greens. We know that from the Greens. To their bed buddies who are all lined up with their power-sharing agreement, the Albanese-Bandt government: we know what's coming and we know how many jobs are going to be lost.
People are experiencing incredible hardship after COVID. That is coming out of an incredibly strong economy bounce-back, better than almost anywhere in the world, with a AAA credit rating. But people are still doing it tough. We know there are cost-of-living pressures, because we all do actually live in the real world. We actually do go in and turn our lights on and appreciate where that power comes from. But we know that Australians, real Australians, are experiencing cost-of-living pressures. And, again—here's a little bit of intellectual depth that we know is lacking around most of this chamber on the other side—a lot of those cost-of-living pressures are actually created by international factors. We've had supply chain issues because we can't get the ships and the planes, that used to bring so many goods into and out of our country, to travel. We've got the fuel issue being driven by the war in Ukraine. These are international levers.
But we as a government have taken responsible action in supporting everyday Australians by putting more money into their pockets. We know that when you have a job, it's the best thing that can happen for you. It's good for your confidence, it's good for your self-esteem and it's great for your kids to see it. We don't want to see a consistent welfare state. We don't want to see people on a lifetime cycle of welfare. We know that senators sitting over there want a living wage. We haven't heard what's coming from those on the other side. Are they backing a living wage too—backing a living wage so that we don't have people in work? But when people are in work, we trust them to keep more of their own money, because we know they can spend it the way they want to spend it. They can invest in their family and spend the money they earn much more efficiently than a group, a gaggle, a pair of bed partners that want to shut down entire industries.
I think we've all heard it today. We know it's all happening. The Australian public deserve to know what alliance you have set up, between the Labor Party and the Greens, what sort of backroom, secret, dodgy deals you're doing—I don't know, have you got a movie theme for that one as well? The Australian people deserve to know just how and when and how quickly—if you were to form government—you would kill off their jobs. That hubris is sneaking back in. We all remember the 'we're ready' photo. I'm really looking forward to the next one; I think it will be a cracker. And I'm sure we're going to have to have Mr Bandt in that one, because Mr Bandt is ready as well, to get into that power-sharing agreement. I think you might all find in a couple of months that Australians are going to understand that this government has taken them through COVID, has saved their jobs and has kept the economy strong.
We are seeing debt being repaid at a much faster rate, and one of the reasons for that which you might enjoy, Senator McKim, is the unbelievable commodity prices at the moment: iron ore, coal, thermal coal—love it!—and gas. Those commodity prices are what are going to bring the deficit down. But because some of us actually did pay attention in economics, we understand that. I think the Australian people are going to see it, because they do not want a bunch of economic illiterates who want to cut their jobs off and who bully their colleagues but don't look into that whilst jumping up and down, hypocritically. It's absolutely appalling and the Australian people deserve to know exactly what sneaky deals you guys have done.