Tuesday, 13 June 2017
I rise tonight to speak about the Turnbull Liberal government's blatant disregard for my home state of Tasmania when they brought down their budget last month. Tasmanians were right to be disappointed with the 2017-18 budget. It completely left Tasmania off the map. The only winners are high-income earners and big business. There is no new funding, no plan for jobs and no relief for working Tasmanians struggling to make ends meet. Tasmania missed out on any new funding because, quite frankly, the Tasmanian Liberal Senate team has no influence at all here in Canberra.
Tasmania has the oldest population and the highest rate of chronic illnesses in the country. Yet what have we seen from this government? Nothing but cuts when it comes to health. The Liberal government has failed to meet its responsibility to ensure that all Tasmanians have access to high-quality health care. The budget does nothing to fix the crisis in our hospitals and the government's delay in reversing their cuts to Medicare only serves to put Tasmanians' health at further risk. The Turnbull government have zero credibility when it comes to health care in this country. First they created a taskforce to privatise Medicare and now they have created one to slash and cut hospital funding. They are hell-bent on making people pay more for their health care. They have succeeded in doing that, with Tasmanians paying almost $6 more every time they see their GP. That is a total out-of-pocket cost of almost $37 every time they see their GP. Tasmanians cannot afford this.
Health care was not the only thing that the Prime Minister lied about to win the election. The Liberals have a long history of backflipping on education promises. I think we can all agree that the federal budget—
I think we can all agree that the federal budget was a terrible budget for education and for the future opportunities of our children. I think this view is unanimous across the country. A further $600 million was cut from TAFE, $3.8 billion from universities and $22 billion from schools. Thanks to Mr Turnbull's Gonski 2.0, Tasmanian schools will lose $85 million in the next two years, which is the second-lowest rate of funding for any state in the country. Then, to add insult to injury, today we had the Minister for Education and Training, Senator Birmingham, get up in question time and say that Tasmania will be getting the second-highest rate of funding of all jurisdictions. What a joke! No-one believes him. No-one in Tasmania believes him. Even the state Liberal minister acknowledges that Tasmania will lose $85 million. And what did the state minister say? He said, 'It was either take that or miss out completely.' Tasmanian children need every opportunity; the same as every child in this country. The ramifications of this budget are going to be very serious for future generations.
But it is not just education and health. There has been no investment in infrastructure, roads or tourism, and we know that this government has completely abandoned the Tamar River in terms of any money to clean up the sewage, which was an enormous issue at the last federal election—but, again, the Turnbull government has turned its back on Tasmanians.
Today this government reaffirmed that it does not care about Australian workers. It voted against Labor's bill to protect penalty rates for all workers, particularly those workers who are some of the most hardworking and who are not on very high salaries. This government reaffirmed that Malcolm Turnbull is so out of touch that he does not relate at all to working Australians.
Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I ask you to request that Senator Polley refer to the Prime Minister by his proper title and not as 'Malcolm Turnbull'. She should know these things. She has been here for years, but the disrespect she shows to those in this chamber and those in the other chamber is unacceptable. I ask you to call her to order.
What we know is that Mr Turnbull and his government have turned their backs on hardworking Tasmanians. There are going to be more than 40,000 Tasmanians who will have their take-home pay cut by $77 a week by this government. What we have on the other side here is a senator who is worried about whether I call Malcolm Turnbull 'Mr Turnbull' or not, but we do not hear him voicing his concerns to stop the cut to penalty rates for ordinary workers. I am all for giving respect, but my respect comes first and foremost for those who work in this country to provide the services that we all take benefit from. They deserve their penalty rates, and we on this side will never stop fighting for those. We will never stop fighting to ensure there is a fair go and equity in this country.