Thursday, 5 December 2019
Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers
That the Senate take note of answers given by the Minister representing the Prime Minister, Senator Cormann, to a question asked by Senator Ayres today relating to the Morrison government's failures.
Senator Ayres asked: 'How good is the Morrison government?' Well, the answer is not good at all. Under this government, Australian families are struggling with a burden of record household debt, skyrocketing bills, stagnant wages, household spending growing at its slowest pace since the global financial crisis and declines in real living standards. This summer, Australian families will have to deal with rising power prices and failing reliability because of the ongoing climate wars and the consequent policy paralysis under this coalition government. For the many Australians struggling to pay the bills and struggling to put food on the table and celebrate the holidays on just $40 a day, this Christmas will be very hard. To those Australians, the phrase 'How good is this?' rings very hollow and tinny in their ears.
Under this government, 120,000 older Australians are on the waiting list for home care. The interim report of the royal commission into aged care described the number of older Australians waiting for home care as unsafe practice. They described it as neglect.
As Senator Watt says, this is shameful. Last year, 16,000 of our older Australians died waiting for home care. Let's pause to recognise what that means: 16,000 people died whilst waiting for the care they deserve. Working Australians are suffering under the worst wages growth since records began, and Australian workers are experiencing unprecedented wage theft, grappling with insecure work and facing increasing casualisation and fragmentation of work. One in five workers in retail, construction, health care, accommodation, and food service industries has been a victim of wage theft. Under this government, almost two million Australians are either looking for work or looking for more work.
But this government doesn't have a plan. So much for the Prime Minister's other mantra—'If you have a go, you get a go'—because it's not true. It's just not true. Instead of supporting working Australians, this government spent the past week trying to ram through a political attack, with their so-called ensuring integrity bill, on workers' ability to get together, run their union and determine who leads them. Their priority was an attack on nurses, teachers, firefighters and police officers and their ability to organise for better pay and conditions. And we know that this was just the start.
There's Mr Porter's IR review. Do you know what it's about? Reducing protections. Senator Payne made that clear this week. A government that was not about reducing protections for working people would have done what she refused to do. She refused to rule out watering down unfair dismissal and refused to rule out watering down other bits in the act. You know she can't—
Government senators interjecting—
I'll take the interjections from those opposite. It's because it's in your DNA, isn't it? You want to go after working conditions, and step one is always: get rid of those who defend working conditions so you can go after those protections more easily. But, at the same time, the government were throwing themselves at the cynically named ensuring integrity bill. You know what? This government ends its year with its integrity in tatters, defending the indefensible Angus Taylor. How good is Angus Taylor? Well, he's not. He's a minister who's mislead the parliament six times over a botched, juvenile political hit job on the Lord Mayor of Sydney. He's a minister who, in his very first speech, claimed to have gone to Oxford with Naomi Wolf, when she was living in New York at the time. He will forever be remembered as the boy who cried Naomi Wolf. You start as you finish, don't you? He started by misleading and he is going to end with misleading. He's a bloke who fails to declare his interests in a company investigated for poisoning critically endangered grassland and a bloke, a minister, who routinely fails to disclose his financial interests, but those opposite and the Prime Minister will not hold him accountable.
This government is great for Angus Taylor, it's great for Scott Morrison and it's great for its mates, but it's terrible for working people. They are a government that only care about themselves. They care about their jobs and their privileges, but they don't care about working Australians. It's one standard for you lot and your mates, and another for everyone else. (Time expired)
The people of Queensland knew who was standing up for working Australians, and that was the Liberal-National Party government, which is why we were re-elected. The working people of Queensland understood who was going to best serve their interests, and that was the coalition government.