Senate debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023


Albanese Government

4:41 pm

Photo of Anne RustonAnne Ruston (SA, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate notes the Albanese Government's broken promises to deliver cheaper power prices, cheaper mortgages, to not make any changes to super, as well as broken promises on medicines, country doctors, Medicare and mental health.

For all their moral posturing and their promises, Labor show time and time again that their rhetoric in opposition is not matched by their actions in government, and it's costing Australian lives. Anthony Albanese promised cost-of-living relief during the election, but the reality is life is only getting harder for Australians under this government. Mortgages are rising, energy bills are skyrocketing, and the price at supermarkets and the doctor's is only going up. To borrow a phrase from those opposite, everything is going up except your wages.

Labor promised on 97 separate occasions that Australian electricity prices would drop by $275, but instead they have delivered the most expensive average wholesale electricity prices on record. Labor said they wouldn't make any changes to superannuation, but one in 10 Australians will be affected by the changes they have now announced, and it's clear this is just the groundwork for more taxes and changes to come. Labor promised cheaper medicines, but already they have removed life-changing drugs from the PBS, one of which is being relied on by 15,000 Australians who suffer from type 1 diabetes. Labor promised to strengthen Medicare, but so far they've only weakened it: they slashed Medicare mental health support in half, they've cut 70 telehealth items from Medicare, and bulk-billing rates have plummeted after being at their highest levels when the coalition was in government. Labor said they'd make it easier to see a GP, but they've ripped GPs out of rural, regional and remote Australia. It's clear that their expedited requirement for 24/7 nurses in aged care homes is both undeliverable and damaging, and there have been more deaths in aged care under this government than in the entire first 2½ years of the pandemic.

Despite all Labor's rhetoric on increasing access to health care for all Australians and protecting Medicare, they just don't understand the importance of affordable and adequate mental health supports for the most vulnerable of Australians. As part of our response to support Australians in tougher times, the former coalition government doubled the number of Medicare subsidised psychological sessions available through the Better Access initiative from 10 to 20. With significant pressures on Australians currently facing cost-of-living pressures, we recognise that mental health support could not be more important. But, despite these pressures impacting Australians and our communities, the Labor government decided that now apparently was the right time to slash access to Medicare subsidised psychological sessions in half. They can say all they like that they are the party of Medicare, but, make no mistake, this is a blatant cut to Medicare and it's hurting the most vulnerable Australians right now.

Labor promised they would strengthen Medicare, but so far they have only weakened it. The Strengthening Medicare Taskforce report they released is merely aspirational. It has no urgency. It has no details. It has no time lines. It has no budget. Aspirations are commendable, but with no urgent action to follow them up they're not going to assist Australians with the significant increases and pressures of cost-of-living rises, that continue to go up. It's $55 for a script—$60 out of pocket for a GP—and all at the same time energy bills, mortgages and general cost-of-living pressures are skyrocketing. Bulk-billing rates were at record highs under the previous government. Now they are plummeting because Labor's actions have caused the sector to lose confidence in the system.

For all the rhetoric on Medicare, they have come into government and slashed Medicare health supports in half and cut 70 telehealth items. Labor also went into government with an election promise to prioritise access to health care and reduce the cost of medicines. But now they've decided to remove an innovative life-changing form of insulin called Fiasp from the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme, sending prices soaring to absolutely unaffordable levels.

The coalition government listed this very important diabetic medicine on the PBS in 2019. We understood that Fiasp is an innovative meal-time insulin that improves sugar blood levels at a faster rate than other diabetes medications, resulting in improved quality of life for the people who take it. But Labor—in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis—has made the decision to remove affordable access to a life-changing drug that's being relied upon by more than 15,000 Australians with diabetes. They must be transparent with diabetes patients in Australia and admit whether they took this action to support the commercial viability of Fiasp remaining on the PBS or took this intervention because they were protecting their own budget bottom line. We know that Minister Butler as the Minister for Health has the ability to intervene, but so far he has chosen not to.

We in the coalition are absolutely proud of our record of affordable medicines. We listed almost 3,000 new and amended medicines while we were in government. We know that the previous Labor government had to stop listing medicines because they ran out of money. Let's hope this isn't a sign that it's about to repeat itself.

Labor also promised they'd make it easy to see a doctor, but they're just making it harder. Serious workforce shortages are putting pressure on our healthcare system, right across the country. Unfortunately, rural, regional and remote Australia are being the hardest hit, because they are the ones that were already facing challenges. In the middle of this workforce crisis the Albanese government decided to rip GPs out of country towns, by changing the distribution priority areas for overseas trained doctors. We know that the DPA classification system was designed as a crucial part of trying to ensure that we had access to GPs in rural communities. But the government's decision to extend this priority access to outer metropolitan areas means that they have rendered this advantage, to rural and regional Australia, to the dustbin.

To quote the Rural Doctors Association of Australia: 'This policy change will cost the lives of rural and remote patients who already suffer poorer outcomes.' On top of this, we have found that they've relegated international doctors and nurses working in regional areas to the bottom of the visa pile—failing to prioritise 887 regional skilled migration visas. This is all at a time when the country needs, more than ever, to ensure that we have access to timely health care and GPs.

Finally, Labor said they'd put the care back into aged care. Instead, they've just put more pressure onto a sector already struggling under workforce pressures. As the sector deals with the challenges of these significant pressures, the government has brought forward the deadline for 24/7 registered nurses in every aged-care home by an entire year—against the recommendations of the royal commission into aged care. Of course everybody wants to see older Australians getting the care they need and deserve, but there is no point legislating for something that's impossible to deliver.

Disappointingly, they are now ignoring calls for help from aged-care homes around the country. They have consistently refused to provide them with any information about what is going to happen them. Despite their best intentions and efforts, if they are unable to meet these mandated requirements, what will happen to these homes? These are homes of older Australians. And there are very serious concerns that aged-care facilities will be forced to close because they can't access the required staff, which will mean that people who live in these aged-care homes will be kicked out of their home and be forced to move hundreds of miles away from their own communities, from their families and from their loved ones.

The UTS Ageing Research Collaborative report released last year showed that less than five per cent of the surveyed homes currently had the required direct care workforce needed to fill the requirements that are being forced upon them. We've raised these concerns time and time again with the government, but they are refusing to consider the unique challenges faced by small, rural and regional providers. The aged-care sector needs urgent and tangible support, but sadly they are getting absolutely none of this from this government. All they get is more rhetoric. That's all we're getting from the Anthony Albanese Labor government. They're happy to make the big talk, big headline promises to get themselves elected to government, but, when it comes to delivering on its promises, they're nowhere to be seen.

4:50 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Sometimes I find it hard to respond to some of the claims from those opposite. It's as if they can disassociate themselves from the nine terrible, long years in which they were in government and the construction of failure after failure that is really making life hard for Australians. It didn't happen overnight. It was on their watch, under their construction, that we ended up with systems that are so broken. They didn't invest carefully, they didn't invest wisely and they didn't invest for the benefit of Australians. They invested for the benefit of very, very few. While they were making those decisions, they blew the budget right out of the water and stretched it out to $1 trillion of debt for Australian taxpayers.

So I want to thank you, Acting Deputy President Van, for this opportunity to speak to Senator Ruston's general business motion. The contrast between this government and the train wreck we watched for nine years is absolutely daylight and darkness. Australians, for nine long years of the LNP government, watched their wages go backwards and backwards. They saw energy generation go out of the system. The gap between the rich and poor in Australia grew greater on the coalition's nine-year watch. That's what they did; they grew the gap between Australians. We saw institutions of responsible government absolutely totally trashed. We saw grant schemes rorted. They used Australian taxpayer funds as if they were Liberal Party dollars to throw about for their own re-election. And, of course, there's the old chestnut: jobs for the mates. That became endemic.

Since Labor came to government, Australians have been telling me, when I'm out and about, that they are feeling like their government has stabilised the country. They wake up every morning knowing that somebody is actually doing the job of government and is being 'the adult in the room', as has been put to me many times. We are responsibly managing the nation and acting in the interest of the many.

We were promised a national anticorruption commission. We heard about it for five years. There was a lot of gum flapping going on, on the other side. There was a lot of persuasion, a lot of column inches invested in the confidence that the Liberal-National government would deliver it, but they never did. We've done it. This is a comparison between nine years and nine months. We did in nine months what they couldn't even bring themselves to do in nine years. And didn't we need an anticorruption commission to get to the bottom of some of the rorting and the nonsense that was going on over there!

We have delivered cheaper child care, which will kick in on 1 July, and cheaper medicines, saving Australians hundreds and, in some cases, thousands of dollars over the course of a year. We've reinvigorated the industrial relations system to make sure that wages rise and that people can get enough money to live on. We're implementing the Jenkins report recommendations. We're increasing the weeks of paid parental leave and bringing in funding increases for First Nations services. These things are happening. They are real changes making a real difference to the bottom line for ordinary families. On the other side, at every turn, as we try to bring these cost-of-living measures to support Australians, we're faced by the 'no-alition'. In nine months, they've already got a record of opposing anything in this place that might benefit ordinary working families. They've opposed the Housing Australia Future Fund.

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

They've what?

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

They've opposed the Housing Australia Future Fund. Senator Polley, I can't believe it either! Given the rate of homelessness in Australia and the struggle that people face finding rental properties, they are opposing the Housing Australia Future Fund. They opposed a legislated emissions reduction target because they think we don't need one. They opposed our industrial relations legislation which was meant to get wages going, and they are opposing our National Reconstruction Fund. Why would they support something that would create manufacturing jobs for Australians? The 'no-alition' —that's what we see here, day in and day out. This is when we saw them get excited. They finally decided that they'd go into bat for the top 0.5 per cent holders of superannuation. Forget 99.5 per cent of Australians. We talk about the average super balance being about 140K. They're out there fighting to the death for the ones who've got over $3 million. I think it's great if you have a successful life, if you invest well and you run businesses and you have great jobs and you grow your wealth. That's fantastic. But don't expect somebody on a low-wage to be paying more tax than a wealthy retiree with $3 million already in their superannuation fund.

Those opposite dare to lecture us on power prices. On their watch, they delayed a key electricity pricing update until after the election. They had the facts. They had the documents. But, like so many other things, they decided to do nothing about it. That's probably a bit of a misrepresentation. They did decide to do something about it. They decided to hide the report under the bedcovers. That is an obscene response to the reality facing Australia in terms of electricity pricing. That report that they didn't want Australians to see showed that prices had more than doubled under their watch from January to March 2022, and the prices continued to climb right up until the election. So ashamed, they were, that they actually hid their work. They hid the facts. But Australians had seen enough by that stage and turfed them out, as they absolutely deserved.

The rank incompetence of those opposite on energy policy was astounding. Despite having floated over a dozen policies—I think it might have been 22 or 23; it's hard to keep track—they never landed a single energy policy. The fact is that, with regard to how much power there was in Australia's system, they left Australia with less power in the system than they got into it. Maybe that's because they had an energy minister who was more committed to forging documents and patting himself on the back on Facebook than actually adding power to the grid. I almost forgot. They did have an extra energy minister—a secret one—in the form of PM Mr Morrison. But, sadly, he couldn't figure out what he wanted to do in this portfolio or any of the others, so they just did nothing of any use. The coalition, in fact, had two energy ministers but no energy policy.

Global inflation, we know, is hurting nations around the world, and Russia's illegal and brutal attempt at conquest has impacted supply chains, along with the aftershocks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Inflation is coming down, and we are doing far better than many other nations around the world because this is a global phenomenon. But let the facts speak for themselves. The worst quarter for inflation in this period of time was under the LNP Morrison government in 2022 prior to the election. Those opposite, frankly, have no integrity. They do not have a leg to stand on when it comes to broken promises.

Just off the top of my head, here is the soundtrack of some of my memories of nine years of watching the previous government day in and day out: cuts to the ABC and SBS; cuts to health care; cuts to education funding; no national integrity commission; more expensive power; less energy generation to the system; destruction of Australian manufacturing; and a decade of stagnation. The only sorts of reforms were the ones that they were dragged kicking and screaming into.

Labor will continue our plan to fight inflation and keep bringing down the cost of living. Those opposite had nine long years to deliver cheaper power prices, to make super more sustainable and to fix Medicare. Instead, all we got was a doubling of power bills, increasingly unaffordable super tax concessions and GP wait times longer than ever. Instead of moving stunt motions like this one, those opposite should reflect on their record of failure and the reason they were turfed out at the last election. In opposition, they have a chance to participate in great public debate to lift the nation. But what do we see? No new policies from them, no new initiatives, no soul-searching and no introspection following their crushing defeat. Instead, they choose to be the no-alition.

Many of the same characters from the Morrison government are still on the frontbench, including Angus Taylor, whose litany of failures as a minister and endless stream of scandals—one after the other after the other—have not prevented him from becoming shadow Treasurer. Then we have Mr Stuart Robert and the robodebt scandal. He is now the shadow Assistant Treasurer, despite telling the royal commission that he saw it as his ministerial duty to openly promote falsehoods about the illegal robodebt scheme and stick with his mates over telling the truth to the Australian people. Whatever happened to ministerial accountability? It died under Mr Morrison. Sussan Ley, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, returned to the frontbench after being sacked as health minister after using taxpayer funds to visit the Gold Coast to shop for a new holiday unit. Australians don't trust those who are on the opposition benches. They don't trust them on integrity, and for very good reason. That is why Australians voted to kick them out.

The Albanese government is absolutely committed to improving rural health. But to fix what has been broken due to the compounding impact of so many bad decisions made by the previous government simply cannot be done overnight. This is a consequence of a government that governed by press release rather than doing policy work and making the necessary careful investment in building a great workforce in the healthcare sector and providing the services Australia needs. It is a long walk back to improving rural and regional health for Australians. We saw the scrapping of the National Health Partnership Agreement—torn up in the first days of Mr Abbott's government—and, with that, the destruction of the GP co-payment model, which saw hundreds of doctors leave primary care, leading to some of the longest wait times in history.

I have had GPs tell me that they couldn't sell their practice or even give it away for free, so ruined was the business of GPs by the LNP government. They actually broke the business model for GPs, and now they come in here bleating about how hard it is to see a doctor. They ruined the ecosystem. It is no small thing what they did; it is huge. They actually broke Australians' access to GPs—and it is being felt most keenly in regional and rural parts of Australia.

It is pretty bad when it is only an hour and a half out of Sydney to get to the Central Coast, where I live, but you have to plan to be sick six weeks in advance. That is how denuded of a proper workforce the Australian healthcare system is. When I travel to regional and rural New South Wales I hear stories about the inability to have a child anywhere near where you live and having to leave home a month before your pregnancy completes and stay in a hotel somewhere like Dubbo because there is nowhere you can get the health care you need in north-western New South Wales.

That doesn't happen overnight. It took a lot of effort from those opposite to so totally break the connection that Australians rightly have with primary health care—and they expect it, because Labor delivered Medicare, and they actually got the benefit of Labor's forward-thinking policy and investment in access to health care. We're going to fix it. We're absolutely going to fix it. But it's going to be hard. Mayors have described the GP coverage in the Eyre Peninsula as being as bad as in Afghanistan. But Labor is going to build 50 Medicare urgent-care clinics to take the pressure off, including in Albury and on the Central Coast.

Emergency departments simply can't cope. We need to ensure that Australians can get the care they need in a timely way—the slashing of prices for hundreds of medical scripts and capping the maximum co-payment down by $12.50 to $30. We've done more in the first nine months of our government than those opposite did in their entire nine years, and we're going to keep working to make sure everyday Australians are getting their fair share. In retrospect, I'd love for the opposition to keep moving motions like this so we can point out the differences and what can be achieved in nine months by a government with vision and integrity. (Time expired)

5:06 pm

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

I know it's the end of the week, and it has been a long one—it really has—and I know we're here for three out of four weeks this month. But clearly those opposite haven't quite adjusted to the fact that they're actually in government now; it's actually their responsibility. They are looking at every opportunity they can. I notice Senator Polley's here suggesting that the coalition government had calm economic waters and that Labor are now experiencing stormy economic waters. Maybe TikTok was down when the COVID pandemic was happening, but there was a global pandemic that affected economies around the world, including Australia—an unprecedented pandemic, a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic. Absolute uncertainty was thrown at the Australian people and those around the world during the COVID pandemic. We saw Victorians locked up for global record times, we saw lockdowns across the country and we saw borders between nations and within Australia closed. Yet Senator Polley seems to think they were calm economic waters. I mean, the fantasy land that these people must be living in is breathtaking.

But when we're talking about pressures on the Australian electorate—the cost-of-living pressures facing Australian families—they're happening now, and they're happening without a plan from this government to address them at all. I just listened to Senator O'Neill's diatribe on what she alleges the coalition did in government—which is, again, hilarious in its absolute misrepresentations, in its biased view. It's extraordinary how you can actually stand up there and say these things. You must just have zero shame to be able to do that. The reality is that no amount of posturing, no amount of 'But it's hard!' and no amount of 'There are global factors at play now' is going to help one Australian to pay their mortgage or pay their power bills. Not one bit of whingeing, whining, looking back or pointing the finger is going to make the bottom line in a family budget look any healthier.

The difference is that the Australian electorate were promised 97 times before the election that they were going to see a reduction of $275 in their power bills—$275, the number that shall not speak its name if you are a member of the ALP. Ninety-seven times Mr Albanese promised that Australians' power bills would be coming down. And what have they got to show for it? Increasing power bills and the fact that we've now seen, after all their bluff and bluster, everything they were carrying on about, bringing back the parliament at a huge expense to the Australian taxpayer. There's been no cost-of-living relief, no energy price relief, but we're told today by the energy companies that we're about to see prices increase by 20 per cent. I hope that for some of these elderly Australians that everyone seems to be so concerned about when they talk about the nurses in aged-care homes—oh, hang on: that's not actually going to happen anymore, sorry. Maybe they don't care that much. I hope it's not a cold winter, because cold winters, when Australians and particularly older Australians can't afford to heat their houses, have dire consequences—absolutely dire consequences.

But what we're getting from the Labor government is complete inaction—no plan. If it wasn't so serious, it would be funny. Listening to those opposite, they have no details about anything. They talk about their broken plans when it comes to superannuation, that it's a 'modest change'—clearly that was the phrase most used in the focus group. But we've now had an admission from Assistant Treasurer Stephen Jones today that there will be unintended consequences to these superannuation changes, and that they will now undertake a lengthy consultation processes.

Here's a tip, guys: when you're putting together policy, it is usually good to undertake some of that consultation process before you announce it and before you go out there and absolutely frighten Australians, particularly our farmers, and particularly when you're going to tax an unrealised asset, when you're going to potentially force people to sell the investments that they have worked so hard to build up, because on paper they're over a particular price threshold—and one that you're not planning to index. We will see increases to property prices and increases to land values over the years ahead. That does tend to happen. Think about how much a house cost 20 years ago versus today. We're talking about changes to superannuation. Superannuation is when people retire. There will be people starting their working lives now and they won't be accessing it for 40-plus years. With no indexation, how many people do you think will be impacted then?

This is nothing but a blatant grab by the industry super funds to try and smash self-managed super funds. We know what your agenda is. Your agenda is to do anything you can to support your Labor mates. We know that the Labor mates in the unions pulled the strings.

I welcome, in many regards, the national corruption commission being set up, because I think we may start to get to the bottom of some very interesting deals that have been done, and why every policy this government has managed to put forward is one that boosts union involvement, that gives a bit of a pat on the back to the union mates: 'Don't worry, guys, we've got you. We'll change industrial relations. We'll make sure we get bargaining across industries to make sure life becomes better for you.' It's absolutely disgraceful. It is time to remember that you are the government and that everything you do has an impact on everyday Australians and how they're going to pay their bills for their families. It's about time you man up, grow up, woman up—whatever you want to call it. I don't know what we're all allowed to be nowadays. We're too busy worrying about—

Honourable Member:

An honourable member interjecting

Photo of Hollie HughesHollie Hughes (NSW, Liberal Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | | Hansard source

Yes, the Prime Minister is certainly too busy worrying about the Voice and crossing the Harbour Bridge at a pride event. He's not doing any work on how he's going to make Australians' lives easier. Before the election, Mr Albanese told us we would have cheaper mortgages. I can absolutely tell you that since May last year my mortgage is definitely not cheaper. In fact, I've had nothing but mortgage rate increases since then. It is definitely not cheaper.

We did say it wouldn't be easy under Albanese, and it's certainly getting harder for retirees. I don't know why you don't like retirees. I know you don't like self-managed ones, because they actually manage to work for themselves, to contribute to the Australian economy, and to provide most of the jobs that everyday Australians have, which are in small business. They are the backbone of our economy. But, because they're not in a super fund with you're union buddies, you're going to do anything you can to undermine them and destroy their retirements.

Do you remember that we were going to have no franking credits? We weren't talking about that. We weren't changing that. That was something that the member for McMahon floated in the last election. The member for Maribyrnong, who holds dear ambitions to be the Prime Minister, may still do so. He may have to compete with my local member, the member for Sydney, for that one. But remember that we're not touching franking credits. Minister Bowen told the electorate, 'If you don't like the policy, don't vote for us.' So they didn't. So what did you do this time? You just didn't tell them. You just lied. You said: 'We're not going to touch franking credits. There will be no changes to super.' It wasn't that you said there will be 'modest changes' to super; you said there will be 'no changes' to super.

Remember that there would be no industry-wide bargaining? 'It's not part of our policy.' That was another lie. You said, 'We're going to do our bit to assist with real wage increases.' What have we seen since you've come to government? Wages have in fact fallen at faster rates. Remember the promise, 'We're going to cut the cost of consultants and contractors'? That one didn't happen, because they realised there are a few former chiefs of staff who now work with big advisory and consulting firms, so they all had to be looked after.

These are all broken promises. You've been in for nine months, and you've managed to break almost every promise you made. Not only are your broken promises eroding the trust of the Australian electorate in democracy and political processes, but they reflect badly on everybody when you blatantly lie in this manner. The impacts of your decisions, the impacts of what you were doing, make a bad situation worse for every single family. If I hear once more that the Labor government is talking about boosting manufacturing, I can tell you that you talk out of both sides of your mouth. You want to boost manufacturing, but you also want a safeguard mechanism that will impact industries that will find it the hardest to abate. It would require some intellectual depth and some policy know-how to look at a broad range of industries and go: 'You know what? I saw a pharmaceutical company this week, and they have made great strides in getting to net zero. They're actually going to be ahead of it.' But the pharmaceutical industry is one of the easier industries for abatement, unlike the cement industry.

They going to kill off Australian jobs, they going to kill off Australian manufacturing because, if you look around this place, you'll see that it's pretty full of cement. Cement is in everything we do, but the one company that might actually survive is the one that now sends its limestone over to China, so that company has all the extra emissions from transporting the limestone to China. They make the clinker in China, the most intensive emissions part of the cement process, because it's less regulated and less controlled and there is less oversight in China. They then put the clinker on a ship and bring it back to Australia, again adding to the emissions. But because those opposite have no understanding of transference of emissions, they seem to think this is an Australia-only problem, that somehow Australia can fix the global emissions problem, global warming, climate change. They can fix all of these things by regulating our own activities and are willingness to cut off our nose to spite our face, tie one arm behind our back, kill our economy. But they do not understand emissions transference in what's happening. The fact is that these emissions are being created in China—and probably additional emissions from the transport—and companies are not going to meet the threshold in the safeguard mechanism because their emissions are happening overseas.

If the Greens are serious about this, they should start having a look at transparency because this is what companies are going to do. They're going to start sending jobs overseas, and they're going to go to countries that don't have the same regulations that we do. That means that not only are you going to have the increase in transport costs, but you're also going to have emissions being created in much less technologically advanced ways. Again, this would require some understanding of policy development and intellectual depth. No-one in the department could answer a question about a sea ban—no-one. The safeguard mechanism is designed with an arbitrary number—if you're at 99, you're exempt; if you're at 101, you're in. It is an arbitrary number for those companies that will find it the hardest to abate their emissions. That will destroy industries, destroy jobs, destroy families, destroy the regions. Maybe that's what you're going for, Chris. The way you're going with your renewable energy targets and everything around them, we're not going to have the energy and the power resources to keep anything going. Rolling blackouts will become the new norm in Australia. It's an absolute disgrace that somehow you are focused on taking this country so far backwards by destroying industries.

We are a resource-rich nation, and there is no excuse for this. We should be leading the way, but, no, those opposite cannot get out of their own way. Maybe they're a bit psychologically bruised from the 2019 campaign, so that they're rocking in the corner—I don't know. Pick yourselves up, guys, and realise that the decisions you make impact Australian families, and you shouldn't be breaking the promises you made to them before the election. If they're all so great, all so excellent and they're not coming into place until after the next election, take them to the next election. Put them in the budget papers, show us what the costs are going to be, explain in detail whether or not an unrealised asset will have to be sold because the tax bill's so high. Take them to an election, take them to the Australian electorate and say: 'Hey, we said no changes to franking credits, we said no changes to superannuation, but we're talking about modest ones now. On those franking credits, you can't pay a dividend if you're raising capital.' Explain them to the Australian people, take them to the next election. But you know what's going to happen because they're bad policies making bad situations for families, and you're attacking some of the people that have contributed the most to building up this country. You're destroying families and their dreams for a better future.

5:19 pm

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Wow! What was that? I've never heard anything so extraordinary, not even from this lot previously. We've had fake crocodile tears all week in this place around superannuation. They're going to go to war for anyone who has $3-plus million in their superannuation. They're going to fight for those people.

Yes, they have been successful, but they need the opposition to keep fighting day in, day out for them because they've got it so tough. What about the majority of Australians, who don't have $3-plus million in their superannuation? I'm all for people paying their fair share, but I do want to take the—I was going to say 'good senator' but I'm probably exaggerating there!—contribution of the senator before, Senator Hughes. Again, she was in here talking about her poor performance when it comes to the Premier of Victoria, Dan Andrews. I can remember her crying, from the rafters almost, about how Mr Andrews was going to get voted out of parliament. His government was gone because he locked everyone up during COVID.

Photo of Raff CicconeRaff Ciccone (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

What happened?

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

That's a very good question. He was re-elected with a bigger majority. Why did he get re-elected? Because he did his job and he kept Victorians safe. On the other hand, the Prime Minister—what was his name? Mr Scott Morrison; he was Prime Minister. He wasn't actually doing his job very well, but he thought: 'I can do more than being a hopeless, corrupt Prime Minister. I can also be a minister for everything!' So he took over—

Photo of Paul ScarrPaul Scarr (Queensland, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

A point of order: there was a term which Senator Polley used then in referring to a member of the lower house. I'm sure, now that it has been brought to her attention, she will withdraw.

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Would you like to withdraw your comment?

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm happy to withdraw the comment. But I will keep talking about the former Prime Minister, who was in fact not satisfied with being able to demonstrate a complete lack of good management as the Prime Minister. He governed over a dysfunctional government. He was so concerned about his own ministers that, in fact, he decided that he should take on more responsibilities. Can I seek clarification through the chair: I thought I had 15 minutes on the clock.

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We have a hard marker at 5.30.

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Okay. Well I better be quick then because I want to get on the record the stark contrast between the former Prime Minister, who was the leader of a dysfunctional, rorting—people may not like to accept that it was a corrupt government, but the reality is that that's how it's going to be remembered. That's how it will be recorded in history.

I think we also have to put a few other things on the record. The former senator was saying that we have no agenda and we've broken every election promise that we took to the election, which is untrue. It is the government of today that wants to invest $10 billion into the Housing Australia Future Fund. That fund will ensure that there is access to affordable housing in this country, which is so desperately needed. It's needed for women and mothers with their children trying to leave and escape from domestic violence. We don't just talk about it; we've come into government and we're doing that. We've also already legislated for 10 days paid leave for people that have found themselves in those circumstances and need to flee, because you can't leave a domestic violence situation without having somewhere to go. People can come into this chamber and champion this, but the reality is you have to actually deliver, and that's what this government is doing.

We've highlighted, over and over again, the waste and mismanagement of the former government. They had nine years in government, and what did they do with it when it comes to energy policy? They were very creative—they were—because they had 22 policies. They had 22 different policies in relation to energy. How many were actually implemented?

Photo of Raff CicconeRaff Ciccone (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

How many?

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Not one. Not two. Not 10. Not 22. Not even one. There were zero. They did nothing. So we have senators coming in here wanting to rewrite history and not tell the truth when it comes to what this government has already achieved.

I'd like to run through a few things to remind people of the reality of how bad the opposition were when they were in government. They were so bad at dealing with aged care and the aged-care crisis in this country that they had to call a royal commission into their own failings. That's what they had to do. We had the senator who misled this chamber and repeatedly misled the Australian people. We have a plan. We've already announced that we want to see nurses back in every residential aged-care home in this country. We know that's not going to happen overnight.

Photo of David VanDavid Van (Victoria, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Senator Polley, I ask you not to reflect on members of this place, please. You said that the senator lied to this place. I ask you to withdraw that.

Photo of Helen PolleyHelen Polley (Tasmania, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I withdraw that. The reality is that senators come in here and, as in the previous contribution that was made today, accuse us of not delivering on our election commitments when it comes to aged care and nurses in residential homes. As I was saying, they were so bad through all the years that they were in government that a crisis was confronting us in aged care. It was not only the quality of care, not only the abuse that was happening in the residential aged-care homes, but the lack of recruitment and the inability to retain staff because they were being paid some of the lowest wages in this country.

Coincidentally, it happens to be predominantly women who work in aged care. We know that those opposite will not do anything to help anyone who works in the caring economy. Just as they abandoned people who work in aged care and they abandoned the senior citizens of this country, they have done exactly the same when it comes to child care and early education. They have failed over and over again.

In this government we've actually changed the way that we view aged care. During the election campaign the now Prime Minister made a commitment, which he has already delivered on. We are in the process of implementing all the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety. We are leading the way in restoring the confidence of the Australian people in their government. After nine years—almost 10—the respect of the Australian people was no longer there, because they were sick and tired of having a government that was only interested in using the government benches to look after its mates. The government was rorting and mismanaging the economy. It was not looking after the people it was elected to represent.

We've implemented so many of the things that we want to do. I heard the good senator talking about manufacturing and making the allegation that we're not really interested in manufacturing. We were not in government when we saw company after company, industry after industry, leaving this country, taking their goods and going offshore. And what did the former government do? Nothing. What did they do they about skills? What did they do to keep people in TAFE so that we have skills for the future? Nothing; we don't. They haven't done anything. All they did was rubbish TAFE.

We're the ones who have invested in 180,000 fee-free TAFE places to make sure that we have the skills of the future. This is what an adult government does. We show by leadership, and I will come into this place every single day and put Mr Albanese's reputation up against Peter Dutton's or Scott Morrison's any day. (Time expired)