Senate debates

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Ministerial Statements

Intergenerational Report: 2015

3:40 pm

Photo of Richard ColbeckRichard Colbeck (Tasmania, Liberal Party, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Treasurer, Mr Hockey, I table a ministerial statement and the document on the 2015 Intergenerational report.

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move:

That the Senate take note of the document.

I basically seek to continue comments that Senator Milne has made on this report. She made them very eloquently, but there are a couple of key areas in my portfolio that I would like to cover in particular. There is one paragraph on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples—one paragraph for our first peoples. Surely the findings of the latest Close the gap report and the fact that we are not on track to meet our targets by 2031 should have sent a hint to the government that, given our commitments and supposedly our multiparty support for closing the gap, we would have had significant coverage in this report of how we actually address the intergenerational disadvantage that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer, particularly in light of the fact that, unless we actually inject more resources and get some more programs in place, we are not going to be able to close the gaps by the target dates we have established.

This is an intergenerational report that does not mention intergenerational inequality, but that is what we are in danger of generating in this country. Last year the Community Affairs References Committee held its inquiry into inequality, and we produced a report that clearly demonstrates that we have inequality in this country, that it is—

Photo of Barry O'SullivanBarry O'Sullivan (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Have you read it?

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I chaired the committee inquiry into inequality!

Photo of Barry O'SullivanBarry O'Sullivan (Queensland, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

That's not what I asked.

Photo of Stephen ParryStephen Parry (President) Share this | | Hansard source

Order on my right! Ignore the interjections, Senator Siewert.

Photo of Rachel SiewertRachel Siewert (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

The Intergenerational report does not look at any new measures when we start addressing issues like inequality. It still has in it that great big barnacle of kicking young people under 30 off income support for six months. That is going to increase inequality. It is going to make it harder for people to find jobs. In the report, where it talks about having to increase productivity and needing to find more jobs for people, that measure—one of the very measures that will undermine a young person's capacity to find work—is still there. There is none of the innovation that community organisations have been talking to the government about or that academics and experts in the field have been providing to government. There is no talk about intergenerational inequality and no talk about inequality. There is nothing different about how we are going to change how older people work and nothing about the retirement income review that we know has to be carried out and that the Council on the Ageing has been calling for for a significant period of time. No, we'll stick with the failed budget measures and can expect more of the same failed budget measures that want to increase the retirement age without putting in place any measures supporting older workers, without acknowledging that, unless we do something, we are going to have a group of older Australians who are out of work for a very long time because of age discrimination and because they are not getting adequate access to training and further educational opportunities.

This—as Senator Milne said—should be binned. It should be put in the bin and they should start again. It is only a justification for the government's cruel budget measures, and it is more of what we can expect in May. They want to waste money scaremongering to the Australian community about how bad the situation is, justifying their cruel budget measures without showing any innovation or policy measures for addressing issues such as older people. Yes, they want to maintain work, but they may not want to work full time. They may want to mix a little bit more leisure in there. How are we going to change our workplace unless we get some innovative approach from this government? This report fails to do that.

If one of my interns had done this I would have sent it back. It is truly what you would expect from somebody at university finishing their graduate degree. It is not a sophisticated analysis of intergenerational issues. Not mentioning climate change and the impact it will have on our economy shows what a dud this report is. I seek leave to continue my remarks later.

Leave granted; debate adjourned.