Senate debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Matters of Public Importance

Dunkley By-Election

4:25 pm

Photo of Nick McKimNick McKim (Tasmania, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

We hear a lot about the cost-of-living crisis, but I think it's about time we put a few facts on the record about the real cause of the cost-of-living crisis. For nearly two generations now we've been sold a great big lie, and that lie has the name of neoliberalism. Deregulation, privatisation, free markets: they promised freedom, but what they've actually delivered is a whole generation, a large number of Australians, living in chains. Workers are facing stagnant wages, vanishing protections and crumbling union power. Meanwhile, basic human needs and human rights, like access to decent housing and access to food and groceries are slipping out of reach for more and more Australians.

Colleagues, the social contract is in tatters. The deal was supposed to be simple: work hard, study hard, play by the rules and you could have a decent life. But today that promise is nothing more than a cruel joke for millions of Australians, particularly if they are young. They're told to dream big, but the game is rigged. Young people's futures are far more tied to their parents' worth than they are tied to their own toil. And a new class divide is emerging in Australia between property owners and people who don't own property, who are still struggling on the sidelines.

And who is steering this neoliberal shipwreck? That's right, the Coles and Woolworths of Australian politics, the Labor and Liberal parties—the architects and enablers of this unfair society. They've turned the housing market into a casino where the house investor always wins and the Australian dream is a distant mirage for most young people. Property prices are skyrocketing and rents are soaring, and what do the Coles and Woolworths of Australian politics do? They double down on public subsidies for property speculators. They've crafted an unequal society, eroded social mobility and widened the gap between the haves and the have-nots. It's a very serious betrayal of the people that we are supposed to be representing in this place, and it is time for a reckoning.

We demand policies for the many, not the few. We demand that the government mend the social contract and fix the fractures in that social contract, and we can start by getting serious about tackling the causes of the cost-of-living crisis for giant profiteering corporations.


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