Senate debates

Thursday, 18 June 2020



12:52 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

by leave—I move:


(a) if by 2 pm on Thursday, 18 June 2020, the following bills have not been finally considered:

  National Skills Commissioner Bill 2020

  Health Insurance Amendment (Continuing the Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner) Bill 2020

  Treasury Laws Amendment (2020 Measures No. 3) Bill 2020

  Australian Prudential Regulation Authority Amendment (APRA Industry Funding) Bill 2020 and six related bills

  Education Legislation Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Bill 2020

  Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Amendment (Coronavirus Economic Response Package) Bill 2020

  Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2020 Measures No. 1) Bill 2020

(b) the routine of business from not later than 3.30 pm shall be consideration of the bills listed above only, and the questions on all remaining stages shall be put without debate;

(c) paragraph (b) of this order shall operate as a limitation of debate under standing order 142;

(d) divisions may take place after 4.30 pm for the purposes of the bills only; and

(e) following the conclusion of consideration of the bills, the Senate shall return to the routine of business.

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That, at the end of the list of bills in paragraph (a), add:

  Coronavirus Economic Support and Recovery (No-one Left Behind) Bill 2020.

I will speak to the substance of our amendment to the motion, which is to add the Coronavirus Economic Support and Recovery (No-one Left Behind) Bill 2020 to the hours motion. The reason it's important that we deal with this bill before we leave here today is that, in fact, many people have been left behind by this government. They're the inconvenient ones and the ones that this government loves to stick the boot into.

Far from us being 'all in this together', there are in fact huge cohorts of people who have missed out on JobKeeper, on the coronavirus supplement to jobseeker and on other worthwhile funding they deserve. So the Greens have moved this bill, the no-one left behind bill, and we've moved it in both chambers. It would expand JobKeeper to everyone who is a casual worker. We know that a good 50 per cent of the people who are missing out on that support are young people and that many casual workers, a disproportionate number, are women. We think that casuals who have been working for less than 12 months should get that support. They should be allowed to access JobKeeper—and not only casual workers but temporary visa holders. We know that this government has a problem with people who have a different skin colour, but temporary visa holders deserve our support. They have come here, they are working to help support our economy and this government has left them out in the cold and excluded them from JobKeeper.

This would expand JobKeeper to universities. We've seen this government take billion after billion from universities. They have been hit incredibly hard by the economic fallout from coronavirus. University employees deserve to have JobKeeper available to them.

This bill would also extend the coronavirus supplement of $550 a week to people on the disability pension and to people on carer payment. These people are deserving anyway of additional support, but coronavirus has hit them particularly hard. It's really unfair and unjust that they haven't been able to access the $550 coronavirus supplement. They deserve it. This generosity needs to be extended to that cohort of folk. This bill would do that, which is precisely why we would like to bring it on for debate and for a vote today.

Lastly, this bill talks about funding particular industries, because we do have a chance to rebuild stronger than we were. We have a chance to rebuild in a more sustainable and a more economically fair way. The government has set up an overpaid commission to advise it to invest in gas infrastructure, because most of the people on that advisory board are in the gas industry and stand to benefit personally from some of those projects because this government doesn't have any conflict-of-interest rules for that body. We think that, unlike that proposal simply to pollute the climate and wreck our land and water with more dirty gas, we should rebuild in a sustainable way. We think we should be creating jobs for the transition to a low-carbon economy. So part of the reason for this bill is to say that the minister should have a manufacturing fund of $12 billion, the minister should have a $2 billion contribution to ARENA, the Renewable Energy Agency, and the minister should also invest $6 billion in the transmission network.

Honourable Senator:

An honourable senator interjecting

Photo of Larissa WatersLarissa Waters (Queensland, Australian Greens) Share this | | Hansard source

I'll come to arts and entertainment in a minute. The reason we need that transmission network and that funding for ARENA is to make sure that we can transition smoothly to 100 per cent renewable energy as quickly as possible and that we don't have outdated infrastructure stopping that transition. This is a great job-creating move. It's a great way to address the climate crisis and the economic crisis and the jobs crisis. It actually solves all three issues that the nation is currently facing, and it does so in a way that will create jobs and help people whilst also protecting the climate and modernising our grid and shoring it up into the future. There are no downsides to doing that—except that the renewable energy companies don't often donate to this government. Perhaps that's why the government hasn't thought to do it, so far.

The last bucket of money we've sought support for is, of course, for the arts and entertainment sector. My colleague Senator Hanson-Young has been incredibly tenacious on this issue. We think that at the very least a $2.3 billion fund should be dedicated specifically to the arts and entertainment sector. These folk, who kept our spirits alive in the face of the bushfires, who performed concerts and made artworks that helped people cling to hope in the darkest of times were, of course, the hardest hit when coronavirus came knocking. Again, it's no surprise that many of those workers are not eligible for the JobKeeper supplement because of the seasonal nature, or the casual nature, of their work. They've been doubly hit, and it's about time that this government actually started investing in and being proud of our Australian arts and entertainment industry, rather than perhaps showing the cultural cringe that we're seeing. This is exactly why we're moving that the Greens Coronavirus Economic Support and Recovery (No-one Left Behind) Bill 2020 be added to the list of bills for debate today.

I want to note with some happiness that it seems that the advocacy of my colleague Senator Siewert has, we hope, influenced the government to continue some of the jobseeker support past that cliff that it's due to fall off. We will be asking for details of that, of course, but I want to pay tribute to Senator Siewert for her many, many years of advocacy—firstly, for raising the rate and, in more recent times, for retaining the rate so that we don't have a widening gap between rich and poor in this nation, particularly when we are in a global pandemic. This is our chance to rebuild in a way that's fair, in a way that stimulates the economy and in a way that actually protects our environment and looks after our community. Surely that's the first job of government.

We look forward to the debate on that bill. It will be very interesting to see whether the government want to let the bill come on for debate. There are no prizes for guessing that they're probably going to shut us down, because, gee, they love doing that. We saw earlier today that they teamed up to gag the crossbench from raising inconvenient and politically sensitive issues in motions. So perhaps they're going to gag this bill and exclude it from coming on for debate as well. We're kind of used to that, but it still doesn't make it okay. This is meant to be a house of democracy, where we raise issues that our constituents ask us to raise, where we represent our states, where we represent the nation's interest and where we look to the future, not just to who took us out for lunch and donated to our re-election campaigns. It feels an awful lot like that is what happens at that end of the chamber. We are not expecting support for this bill to be debated, but it actually deserves to be debated, because it will help a lot of people and it will set this country up for a more sustainable recovery from a global pandemic.

1:01 pm

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the question be now put.

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question is that the question be now put.

1:07 pm

Photo of Scott RyanScott Ryan (President) Share this | | Hansard source

The question now is that the amendment moved by Senator Waters be agreed to.

Question negatived.

Photo of Mathias CormannMathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the question be now put.

Question agreed to.

Original question agreed to.

I move:

That government business orders of the day, as shown on today's Order of Business, be considered from 12.45 pm today and government business be called on after consideration of the bills listed in paragraph (a) and considered till not later than 2 pm today.

Question agreed to.