Senate debates

Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Cost of Living

3:20 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise with pleasure to refute some of the nonsense that we have heard in the contributions from those who are speaking for the opposition today. They may rail at the answers that they're receiving, but the reality is they're on the end of a bit of truth-telling after nine years of the deception and thimble-and-pea tricks that have populated this government's action.

Australian people know they're hurting. I talk to people in the retail sector very, very frequently. People are now finding it really hard, when they get to the checkout, to make ends meet. That is because when we came into government those opposite had left this country not only with a trillion dollars in debt but also in a state where we found we have rising inflation, rising interest rates, supply chain disruption—as Senator Gallagher indicated—no investment in skills and an energy market that is in crisis. That's the reality of what nine years of the former government delivered. And yet they come in here and act as if they gave Australians a great experience and they left us all fine. It's a joke.

It's like when you've got kids and they're about seven or eight, and you say, 'Go in and tidy up your room,' and they just stuff everything under the doona cover, pull it over the top and pretend it's not there. That's the equivalent of the 23rd energy policy of the member for Hume. He had 22 goes at trying to deliver some policies—but no market certainty. No wonder smart people weren't putting their money behind this government, because they couldn't tell which way they were going to turn on any day. They had no solution, so he brought out the doona and pulled it over, four days before the election. They can't tell the truth. They throw the doona over it so the Australian people don't know there has been a 19 per cent increase in energy—they'll never figure it out! The contempt for the Australian people that is manifest in the questions that are being asked by the opposition and by their responses, which absolutely fail in a court that looks at fact.

That's what Australian families are faced with: the fact that inflation delivered by the policies of the previous government is making it harder for them; the fact that they had to pay through the nose for training; the fact that the previous government didn't tell them the truth on so many occasions. So contemptuous of the Australian people were the former government that Minister Taylor thought it was okay to cover up a massive increase in the cost of energy that was going to flow through into the economies of this country's families. And that is why they lost the election—in the end, you can pull the doona over things for only so long before the adults have to come in. Maturity has to enter. Proper conversations have to be had.

This afternoon, those in the opposition have characterised the skills and training forum that's going to be held—a national forum to deal with the fact that we haven't got enough workers for our small businesses to operate effectively—as a talkfest. They don't know anything about talking. If they had talked properly to the Australian people, they would have come up with policies that hadn't landed us with the situation we find ourselves in, with rising inflation, a trillion dollars in debt and supply chain disruption. All of that is because of their failure to have authentic conversations—real conversations about what matters to this country. So it's a bit rich when they come in here and start trying to run a line that there's no plan.

There's plenty of plan. There was the plan that we took to the election. There's the plan that enlivened the vision of Australians of a better future for themselves and their children, for small businesses, for people who want to get training and for people who want to employ people who get training. We have a plan, and we've begun to implement it already with the legislation that's been brought into this place. Those opposite don't like it, and they are attempting in this first period of our being in this place to rewrite history—to absolve themselves of the sins of their failures in public policy. And nowhere are those failures more evident than in the hip-pocket pain of every business and every household that is suffering the consequences of years and years of neglect in dealing with the energy reality of Australia. Those opposite should not be attended to. They failed the nation, and they're on the correct side of the chamber.


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