Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Albanese Government

5:06 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

I know it's the end of the week, and it has been a long one—it really has—and I know we're here for three out of four weeks this month. But clearly those opposite haven't quite adjusted to the fact that they're actually in government now; it's actually their responsibility. They are looking at every opportunity they can. I notice Senator Polley's here suggesting that the coalition government had calm economic waters and that Labor are now experiencing stormy economic waters. Maybe TikTok was down when the COVID pandemic was happening, but there was a global pandemic that affected economies around the world, including Australia—an unprecedented pandemic, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Absolute uncertainty was thrown at the Australian people and those around the world during the COVID pandemic. We saw Victorians locked up for global record times, we saw lockdowns across the country and we saw borders between nations and within Australia closed. Yet Senator Polley seems to think they were calm economic waters. I mean, the fantasy land that these people must be living in is breathtaking.

But when we're talking about pressures on the Australian electorate—the cost-of-living pressures facing Australian families—they're happening now, and they're happening without a plan from this government to address them at all. I just listened to Senator O'Neill's diatribe on what she alleges the coalition did in government—which is, again, hilarious in its absolute misrepresentations, in its biased view. It's extraordinary how you can actually stand up there and say these things. You must just have zero shame to be able to do that. The reality is that no amount of posturing, no amount of 'But it's hard!' and no amount of 'There are global factors at play now' is going to help one Australian to pay their mortgage or pay their power bills. Not one bit of whingeing, whining, looking back or pointing the finger is going to make the bottom line in a family budget look any healthier.

The difference is that the Australian electorate were promised 97 times before the election that they were going to see a reduction of $275 in their power bills—$275, the number that shall not speak its name if you are a member of the ALP. Ninety-seven times Mr Albanese promised that Australians' power bills would be coming down. And what have they got to show for it? Increasing power bills and the fact that we've now seen, after all their bluff and bluster, everything they were carrying on about, bringing back the parliament at a huge expense to the Australian taxpayer. There's been no cost-of-living relief, no energy price relief, but we're told today by the energy companies that we're about to see prices increase by 20 per cent. I hope that for some of these elderly Australians that everyone seems to be so concerned about when they talk about the nurses in aged-care homes—oh, hang on: that's not actually going to happen anymore, sorry. Maybe they don't care that much. I hope it's not a cold winter, because cold winters, when Australians and particularly older Australians can't afford to heat their houses, have dire consequences—absolutely dire consequences.

But what we're getting from the Labor government is complete inaction—no plan. If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny. Listening to those opposite, they have no details about anything. They talk about their broken plans when it comes to superannuation, that it's a 'modest change'—clearly that was the phrase most used in the focus group. But we've now had an admission from Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones today that there will be unintended consequences to these superannuation changes, and that they will now undertake a lengthy consultation processes.

Here's a tip, guys: when you're putting together policy, it is usually good to undertake some of that consultation process before you announce it and before you go out there and absolutely frighten Australians, particularly our farmers, and particularly when you're going to tax an unrealised asset, when you're going to potentially force people to sell the investments that they have worked so hard to build up, because on paper they're over a particular price threshold—and one that you're not planning to index. We will see increases to property prices and increases to land values over the years ahead. That does tend to happen. Think about how much a house cost 20 years ago versus today. We're talking about changes to superannuation. Superannuation is when people retire. There will be people starting their working lives now and they won't be accessing it for 40-plus years. With no indexation, how many people do you think will be impacted then?

This is nothing but a blatant grab by the industry super funds to try and smash self-managed super funds. We know what your agenda is. Your agenda is to do anything you can to support your Labor mates. We know that the Labor mates in the unions pulled the strings.

I welcome, in many regards, the national corruption commission being set up, because I think we may start to get to the bottom of some very interesting deals that have been done, and why every policy this government has managed to put forward is one that boosts union involvement, that gives a bit of a pat on the back to the union mates: 'Don't worry, guys, we've got you. We'll change industrial relations. We'll make sure we get bargaining across industries to make sure life becomes better for you.' It's absolutely disgraceful. It is time to remember that you are the government and that everything you do has an impact on everyday Australians and how they're going to pay their bills for their families. It's about time you man up, grow up, woman up—whatever you want to call it. I don't know what we're all allowed to be nowadays. We're too busy worrying about—


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