Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Albanese Government

4:50 pm

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

Sometimes I find it hard to respond to some of the claims from those opposite. It's as if they can disassociate themselves from the nine terrible, long years in which they were in government and the construction of failure after failure that is really making life hard for Australians. It didn't happen overnight. It was on their watch, under their construction, that we ended up with systems that are so broken. They didn't invest carefully, they didn't invest wisely and they didn't invest for the benefit of Australians. They invested for the benefit of very, very few. While they were making those decisions, they blew the budget right out of the water and stretched it out to $1 trillion of debt for Australian taxpayers.

So I want to thank you, Acting Deputy President Van, for this opportunity to speak to Senator Ruston's general business motion. The contrast between this government and the train wreck we watched for nine years is absolutely daylight and darkness. Australians, for nine long years of the LNP government, watched their wages go backwards and backwards. They saw energy generation go out of the system. The gap between the rich and poor in Australia grew greater on the coalition's nine-year watch. That's what they did; they grew the gap between Australians. We saw institutions of responsible government absolutely totally trashed. We saw grant schemes rorted. They used Australian taxpayer funds as if they were Liberal Party dollars to throw about for their own re-election. And, of course, there's the old chestnut: jobs for the mates. That became endemic.

Since Labor came to government, Australians have been telling me, when I'm out and about, that they are feeling like their government has stabilised the country. They wake up every morning knowing that somebody is actually doing the job of government and is being 'the adult in the room', as has been put to me many times. We are responsibly managing the nation and acting in the interest of the many.

We were promised a national anticorruption commission. We heard about it for five years. There was a lot of gum flapping going on, on the other side. There was a lot of persuasion, a lot of column inches invested in the confidence that the Liberal-National government would deliver it, but they never did. We've done it. This is a comparison between nine years and nine months. We did in nine months what they couldn't even bring themselves to do in nine years. And didn't we need an anticorruption commission to get to the bottom of some of the rorting and the nonsense that was going on over there!

We have delivered cheaper child care, which will kick in on 1 July, and cheaper medicines, saving Australians hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars over the course of a year. We've reinvigorated the industrial relations system to make sure that wages rise and that people can get enough money to live on. We're implementing the Jenkins report recommendations. We're increasing the weeks of paid parental leave and bringing in funding increases for First Nations services. These things are happening. They are real changes making a real difference to the bottom line for ordinary families. On the other side, at every turn, as we try to bring these cost-of-living measures to support Australians, we're faced by the 'no-alition'. In nine months, they've already got a record of opposing anything in this place that might benefit ordinary working families. They've opposed the Housing Australia Future Fund.


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