Senate debates

Wednesday, 23 November 2022


Youth Voice in Parliament Week

7:42 pm

Photo of Don FarrellDon Farrell (SA, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

Youth Voice in Parliament Week champions the voices of young Australians by giving them a voice in parliament and online. I'd like to present a speech written by Andre Doban from South Australia as part of Youth Voice in Parliament Week. It is called 'What do I want our new parliament to accomplish?'

He says: 'I want the Australian parliament to strive to better serve its constituents, rather than forge its political gain. I want an Australian parliament that is productive and makes laws which make sense and actually help ordinary Australians, not just the wealthy or big corporations. I want an Australian parliament that, when all is said and done, in 20 years, will know that they did enough to take action to stop the climate crisis. I want an Australian parliament that embodies equality under the law in full and actively supports all measures to improve fairness and justice in our society. I want an Australian parliament whose members take responsibility for their actions and decisions.

I hope for an Australian parliament that is a place of kindness towards each other and a parliament which does its hardest to find the common ground in disagreements, because there are many more things that unite us than divide us. I want an Australian parliament that truly represents Australia's interests and Australian people's voices. That is what our new parliament should accomplish: fairness, unity, action, responsibility, hard work and kindness.'

7:45 pm

Photo of Susan McDonaldSusan McDonald (Queensland, National Party, Shadow Minister for Resources) Share this | | Hansard source

I too rise to read a submission to Youth Voice in Parliament Week. Youth Voice in Parliament Week is this week, 21 to 24 November, and it is an opportunity for young people to submit the words they wish could be read. So I am absolutely delighted to rise to read a speech from students of Cannonvale State School in the Whitsundays, North Queensland, and I chose this submission not only because these students are from my home region but also because I think they've captured the current mood of the entire nation:

To whom it may concern,

We are four Year 6 girls writing to you from Cannonvale State School, Qld. Our names are Charlie, Abby, Meg and Kiara and we are concerned about the price of living in Australia. More and more people are in poverty and are homeless due to this matter.

Firstly, housing. Houses are much more expensive to rent or buy this year as they still remain 23.3% higher than the pre-pandemic stage in 2020.

Secondly, petrol. Fuel prices have immensely risen over the past year. For what started not that long ago, it has surely made an impact on Australian lives.

And thirdly, food prices. Food prices have risen 11.4% since August 2021 compared to August 2022.

How can we solve this? Nobody really has an answer, however, a House of Representatives that holds 151 people can surely come up with an answer to this massive problem. Every kid this age dreams about moving out when they're older. So, let's make that dream possible so they can afford to.

'Every problem has a solution that's clear, simple and wrong'—HL Mencken

I absolutely commend these girls for making their opinions known to us here who can do something about it. I also commend to them that they consider not just the 151 members of the House of Representatives but the 76 senators who work here in this red chamber.

I'd also like to focus on the quote they used in the last sentence, because I think it applies to the federal government's approach to helping Australians with costs of living. This quote means that the easiest solution usually isn't the best, and unfortunately under Labor we are seeing this in spades, because Labor's simple but wrong solution to everything is to regulate and tax. Elementary-level economics dictates that in a country facing an energy shortage and skyrocketing power prices, bringing more supply onto the market would bring prices down, but instead Labor wants to regulate gas companies bringing gas to market. By encouraging more gas projects, there is enough gas for companies to export to high-demand markets and maintain profits for their shareholders, and enough to supply domestic users at a reasonable price.

And let's not forget the influence of power prices on the cost of living. Before the election, the Prime Minister said 97 times that our power bills would come down by $275. Instead, we're now told to expect power bills to be about 50 per cent higher in the coming two years. Under this cavalier rush to make us pay for two power generation systems, families will be forced to classify electricity as a luxury they can sometimes afford, rather than treat it as a reliable necessity—having to choose between heating and eating. Household food budgets will also be under pressure, because Labor have signed Australia up to an international methane pledge that offers no details on how reductions will be achieved or how they will be measured. It will be especially tough if employers cut people's hours because the businesses can't afford the power bill because industry-wide strike action has slashed profit margins.

So thank you again, Charlie, Abby, Meg and Kiara for your letter. I share your concern, and so do millions of people around Australia as they watch their bank balances dwindle. The cost of living is possibly the greatest challenge facing our nation, but there is hope. Thank you.

Senat e adjourned at 19:50