Wednesday, 10 May 2023
Statements by Senators
I rise to give the Australian Greens' budget reply speech in the Senate. Last night's budget was a budget without ambition. It utterly failed to respond to the gravity of our times., to the twin crises of growing economic inequality and the breakdown of the earth's climate and its ecosystems. But this absence of ambition from Treasurer Jim Chalmers should not be confused with a lack of effort. In fact, it's quite the opposite. The lack of ambition from the Treasurer took an awful lot of effort. He meticulously calibrated this budget to maintain the status quo—and any budget that maintains the status quo in this country in the face of the great challenges of our time is not a responsible budget. On the radio this morning, the Prime Minister said that this government needed a responsible budget. It might be that he misspoke, but what he did say was the quiet thing out loud. In doing so, he portrayed the real intent of this budget. This budget was never about what the country needed, and it was never about what the planet needed. This budget was all about what the Labor Party needed.
We have the LNP in a death spiral, so Labor is making a play for a decade in government. That's what's going on. In making that play, they don't want to upset the status quo, no matter how unjust or how ecocidal the status quo actually is. So when Labor hands down a budget carefully calibrated to keep big business happy, to keep the wealthy relaxed and comfortable, it makes the task of doing something meaningful to respond to the crises we are in all the more difficult in the future—because every time you don't fight for ground, you lose ground. With the cost-of-living crisis forcing people to live out of their cars, with parts of regional Australia becoming uninsurable thanks to climate change and with a leader of the opposition who doesn't know his Yeppen from his Yeppoon, if the Labor Party won't make progress now, when will they ever make progress? Well, here's the news: they won't.
Last night's budget is what the Labor Party of today is. This is as good as it's ever going to get from the Labor Party. Those hoping that a second-term Albanese government will suddenly start to act on the great injustices of our time are clinging to a fool's hope. Labor has a clear strategy. They're cementing themselves as a centre-right party—a party that defends the market power of the monopolists and the rent seekers and a party that defends the wealth of the property class in this country. That means handing down a budget that makes a deliberate choice to fail to lift people out of poverty and continue to provide public subsidies to the corporate psychopaths who are destroying the capacity of this planet to sustain life as we know it in order to line their pockets with obscene profits. Those people and their psychopathic facilitators in this place are chewing up the planet and excreting misery and poison. That is what's going on, and that is what Labor is facilitating.