Senate debates

Wednesday, 10 May 2023

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Answers to Questions

3:22 pm

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

I am aware of the literary form of stream of consciousness, and it has its place in literature, but what we just heard from Senator Rennick, despite the fact that he's an elected senator, was just a riff on nothing that makes sense to anybody who has any vision for this country. It was just a rant of dissent and idiocy, in my view. It didn't speak to anything truthful, and that's really the story of today.

Yesterday we had a budget, a very important budget. It was delivered after nine long, dark years of the Liberal-National government, which purported to be good with finance. Let's just get the facts on the record: in nine years, they never delivered a surplus. Despite all their crowing, despite all their assertions, the facts tell the truth—they just didn't do it. It's that knowledge that we need to apply to the comments that have been put forward today. My colleague Senator Gallagher, in response to questions from Senator Cash, completely reduced to nothingness this absurd claim, done on a dodgy, broken calculator, that somehow the budget that's going to deliver incredible relief to families is going to cost people $25,000. Those figures are as dodgy as the Liberal government's claims that they would ever deliver a surplus.

There is no coherence. There is the myth they created, and there is the reality of what they delivered—an Australia that was in pretty bad shape, an Australia that was anxious, an Australia where businesses couldn't figure out what was going to come at them any day. People are now telling me that they've had a post-traumatic response to what they experienced after nine years of chaos under a Liberal-National government: three leaders, never a surplus in sight, a billion dollars in debt, permanent panic every day, wondering what disaster they would talk about next, and that fearful nature they created for Australia. That is what we saw in the questions today. The first question was hysterical. The second one was 'be afraid—be very afraid—of the Australian Labor Party's budget; it is going to be bad for you,' which is at odds with the fact that this is a budget that is responsibly looking to the future, is investing in Australians, is building our capacity, is making sure that those alongside us who are doing it a bit tough get a little bit of a handout because that is what they need today, and is dealing with the debt that we have because of those bad economic managers on the other side.

The third question from Senator McDonald really revealed what they try to do. 'I am standing up for the miners' and 'You need to say thank you for the miners for the money they put in in tax,' she says. Of course we say thank you to the miners for the money they put in tax—20 per cent. I also say thank you to the part-time worker at Woolworths or Coles who paid pay their tax, all the workers of Australia who lifted the revenue of this country since we have come to government by 40 per cent because their wages are going up. There are more jobs, more Australians are working and there is more tax that we can then use to invest in our own country. That is what is really going on. I say to every Australian business owner, every Australian worker in every sector: thank you for doing your bit, and we will very responsibly manage the money that you entrust to this government in your name to benefit the country.

This is a budget that is economically responsible. It will absolutely deliver a change in the way our economy is working, moving towards a better and sounder future with a direct reduction of inflation by three-quarters of a per cent in 2023-24. I want to say that again because the myth that this opposition is trying to stitch together in response to an excellent Labor budget is that we are in all sorts of financial crisis. Well, we will have a surplus. There are headwinds. We need to manage our economy responsibly and that is what we do. We made sure that we banked the revenue gains that were somewhat unexpected. We have banked them so we can deliver cost-of-living relief for Australians and invest in a way that will make it possible for Australians to access the services they desperately need, like their local doctor.


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