Senate debates

Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Matters of Public Importance


6:00 pm

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

What a pathetic motion this is from the LNP. They were in government for nine years, and what happened? Inequality increased, house prices spiralled out of control, the national energy network basically collapsed, and wage stagnation and insecure work became entrenched. And here they are with a motion that boils down to barracking for more cuts to government services and higher interest rates.

The unfortunate thing about this motion is that it seems to be precisely the approach that the Labor Party has taken to tonight's budget. Instead of helping renters or people in poverty, the Labor Party is choosing to give more than $254 billion in stage 3 tax cuts to billionaires and the already wealthy. The budget's big winners are very wealthy men. That quarter of a trillion dollars could be used to lift people out of poverty. Labor could solve the housing crisis, not just gamble on the stock market. They could wipe student debt. They have the power to help people, and they are choosing not to. In this cost-of-living crisis they have prioritised a wafer-thin surplus, they've prioritised the already wealthy, they've prioritised fossil fuel subsidies, they've prioritised nuclear submarines, and they're prioritising handouts to property investors. Yet every day in the real world people are skipping meals, they're being forced to choose between paying electricity bills and keeping a roof over their heads, they're choosing between heating and eating, between medicine and rent. That's what's actually happening out there—and I thought a fundamental job of government was to make sure that people had their basic needs met and that they could live life with dignity.

This is a budget that delivers for property investors and the already superwealthy. Under Labor the problems that ordinary people are facing will get worse. It's more than disappointing; it's a betrayal. I thought we had an election and changed the government. It seems we didn't get to change the policies. Labor is spruiking its supposed $14.8 billion cost-of-living package, but this budget spends far more than that on tax breaks for wealthy property investors who own multiple properties than it does on any of the cost-of-living promises.

We've heard a lot about 'nobody left behind' by this government, but there must be an awful lot of nobodies out there, because this budget leaves plenty of Australians behind. It leaves low-income people behind. It will leave students behind. It will leave renters behind. It will leave disabled people behind. It will look after the top end of town, though—those quarter of a trillion dollars in stage 3 tax cuts baked into the budget. Budgets are about choices, and this government tonight is choosing to back the winners, and it's leaving the rest of Australia behind. For shame.


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