Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Matters of Public Importance


5:55 pm

Photo of Fatima PaymanFatima Payman (WA, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

YMAN () (): Thank you, Senator Dean Smith, for raising this matter. It's a great opportunity for me to explain what the Albanese Labor government is doing to ease cost-of-living pressure on families, who we know are doing it tough at the moment. Since we were elected nearly a year ago, we've been delivering cost-of-living relief. It has been our top priority, and we've been working each and every day.

I'm incredibly proud to be part of a government that is delivering cheaper child care for families, expanding paid parental leave, strengthening Medicare, reducing the cost of medicines and getting wages moving. This is a government that understands the pressures that everyday Australians are facing and is taking action, unlike those opposite, who wasted almost a decade in office and still managed to rack up a trillion dollars in debt. The Liberals and Nationals have failed to learn the lessons of the election and have opposed our cost-of-living measures at every step.

The centrepiece of the Albanese Labor government's second budget will be $14.6 billion of cost-of-living relief over four years, which will ease pressures on Australians. Our cost-of-living plan will directly lower price pressures and the CPI in 2023 and 2024. This is in addition to $11.3 billion to support a 15 per cent increase to award wages for aged-care workers and improved paid parental leave and cheaper child care beginning on 1 July 2023.

The Albanese Labor government is delivering responsible and targeted relief that will not add to broader inflationary pressure in the economy. Inflation has been driven largely by Russia's illegal invasion of Ukraine and by the former government's economic mismanagement, and we know how important it is to get it under control. Our plan for inflation can be broken down into three parts: relief, restraint and repair. We're delivering targeted relief for Australian households, we're cleaning up the mess left by the Liberals and Nationals through efficient and responsible spending and we're repairing supply constraints through cleaner and cheaper energy, the National Reconstruction Fund and more affordable housing.

Speaking of housing, the Albanese government is dedicated to delivering on our promise of more affordable housing and more social housing, and we hope to achieve real change in this space through the Housing Australia Future Fund. The $10 billion fund has passed the House of Representatives, and we now need the Senate to get behind this important bill. The fund will deliver 30,000 new social and affordable homes in its first five years. Anyone—and I mean anyone—who is serious about more affordable housing should support this bill, yet here in the Senate we have an alliance between the Liberals, the Nationals and the Greens, who are saying no.

The Greens' opposition to our Housing Australia Future Fund is not just working against affordable housing; it's a cynical political tactic as well. They use the housing crisis for their own political gain, peddling reckless and unrealistic policies to those who are struggling, and, when an opportunity comes to deliver change, they say no.

Housing experts across academia, industry and community support the fund. PowerHousing Australia described it as a transformative reform. The Community Housing Industry Association declared it was absolutely urgent that the Senate support the package. The Urban Development Institute of Australia said, 'Every day that passes is costing them, the Australian people, more and more.' The Property Council said, 'The quicker all of these mechanisms are up and running the better.' And National Shelter described it as 'the most critical housing legislation to be brought forward for the past 10 years'.

Given the state of housing in this country and this broad support, it's beyond disappointing that the Greens are standing with the coalition to stop this bill. The Greens can't be taken seriously on this. They have used the crisis to garner support and even shamelessly fundraise for their own political party. If the Greens were serious about their concerns in the rental market they would be taking action right here in the Senate. Instead, they say whatever will help them win more votes and refuse to take action, making the housing crisis was. We know too well that what happens when the Greens side with the Liberals and Nationals against progressive reform— (Time expired)


No comments