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Wednesday, 8 February 2017
Page: 291


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:53): I seek leave to move the following motion:

That the House:

(1) notes the Prime Minister:

(a) has today introduced cuts to family payments which will mean over a million families will be worse off;

(b) is hurting Australian families with his cuts to family payments and paid parental leave to give a $50 billion handout to big businesses, including the big banks;

(c) is punishing some of the most vulnerable people in Australia, including pensioners and carers, with his robo-debt mess; and

(2) therefore, condemns the Prime Minister for being:

(a) so out of touch that his hopelessly divided Government punishes families, pensioners, carers and new mums while giving a $50 billion handout to big businesses;

(b) unable to explain how cutting $2.7 billion in family payments leaves families better off; and

(c) so distracted by the chaos within his Government that he's only focused on looking after himself and not Australian families.

Leave not granted.

Mr SHORTEN: I move:

   That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent the Member for Maribyrnong from moving the following motion forthwith:

That the House:

(1) notes the Prime Minister:

(a) has today introduced cuts to family payments which will mean over a million families will be worse off;

(b) is hurting Australian families with his cuts to family payments and paid parental leave to give a $50 billion handout to big businesses, including the big banks;

(c) is punishing some of the most vulnerable people in Australia, including pensioners and carers, with his robo-debt mess; and

(2) therefore, condemns the Prime Minister for being:

(a) so out of touch that his hopelessly divided Government punishes families, pensioners, carers and new mums while giving a $50 billion handout to big businesses;

(b) unable to explain how cutting $2.7 billion in family payments leaves families better off; and

(c) so distracted by the chaos within his Government that he's only focused on looking after himself and not Australian families.

Mr 'Harbourside Mansion' is attacking the standard of living of over a million Australian families. The story of these cuts today is that the Prime Minister is taking $2.7 billion from Australian families and yet he proposes giving $7.4 billion to big banks in tax giveaways. This Prime Minister is seriously the most out-of-touch personality to ever hold this great office of Prime Minister: tough on pensioners, soft on banks; tax cuts for millionaires and payment cuts for Australian families. This is another version of the Liberal-National version of robbing Peter to pay Paul—

Mr Joyce interjecting

Mr Pyne interjecting

The SPEAKER: The Deputy Prime Minister will cease interjecting. The Leader of the House will cease interjecting. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.

Mr SHORTEN: We asked the Prime Minister not once but several times today: would he spell out exactly how many Australian families will see a reduction in their family payment? How many Australian families? And this slippery fellow, currently in the position of Prime Minister spoke, about the childcare changes. He deliberately understands and chose to ignore and mistreat question time and not tell the Australian people the truth. He knows our question is that, on one hand, in order to pay for some childcare changes, he is reducing the payments to over one million Australian families.

Mr Porter interjecting

Mr SHORTEN: We hear the Minister for Social Services interjecting. If you were doing your day job properly, Sunshine, we would not be seeing these cuts to family payments.

The key to the dishonesty of this government—and including all of the members of it—of today's legislation is they want to stand there and pat themselves on the back. They want a bunch of flowers, probably give themselves the afternoon off, because they say, 'Look at us. We're proposing some legislative change in child care.' But the proof is in the numbers. They are reducing what they pay to Australian families by $2.7 billion over the next four years. It is in black and white in their explanatory memorandum.

Here we have the Prime Minister saying, 'Look over here at what we're doing at child care.' But what they seem to forget is that after kids go to child care, they go to school. When they go to school, there are costs and family payments. Then we had the Minister for Social Services get up and say, 'Because Labor has previously supported some means testing, therefore they have got a blank cheque to rob a million Australian families.' No, you don't. And I thought: where have I heard this proposal from the government before? The 2014 budget. You rolled the poor old member for Warringah but now you are actually in a new camouflage and a new suit selling the same rotten changes for the Australian people.

At least the member for Warringah said it for what it was. This fellow here will say and do anything to keep his job—a $50 billion tax giveaway for multinationals and large companies. You can tell a government not just by the personality but by the priorities of their policies. And the Australian people are onto you: $50 billion principally going, a tax ram raid on the budget to large companies. That is their great economic plan. They do not talk about the old Trans-Pacific Partnership anymore—that lasted less time than your proposal to increase the GST. Their economic plan is a $50 billion corporate tax cut and your other plan is to make that be paid for by going after Australian families. We draw a line in the sand on this $2.7 billion cut to family payments. We are not buying it, and the Australian people are not buying it.

This is a government who did not have a great summer—they lost their health minister, they did the robocalls on the Centrelink recipients. We heard about Mr Heynatz up in the seat of Rankin. We heard about the question from our shadow minister for social security. These are real people. This Prime Minister says the opposition is not asking questions about important issues. We are focusing on the people. We are focusing on the pensioners. We are focusing on standing up for those on Centrelink. In Labor, we do not think that every Centrelink recipient is automatically, default a cheat. We do not treat our fellow Australians as someone deserving of having a clumsy system mail-out.

Then today we see the legislation on family payments. This government have proposed, in their legislation today, cuts not just to families of school-age children but to pensioners. Of course over the summer some bright spark in the government thought up the idea that they should spy on our veterans to see if they really have PTSD by monitoring their social media. I thought those opposite had had a bad summer—and we will not even go near the donations debacle of the biggest donation in history—but do you know what? It has been looking like a summer of joy in the last 48 hours. Not only have we given up on the government; their South Australian senator has given up on the government.

We will keep fighting to defend family payments. We will keep fighting to expose the charade of this government's position. At the heart of this government's position is the following proposition: they say on one hand, 'Look at us; aren't we good? We are doing some things in child care,' but on the other hand, all through this question time, they have not answered the question: 'How many Australian families are having a reduction in their payments?' I tell you what, my respect for you might go up an inch or two, Mr Prime Minister, if you would come to the dispatch box and spell out how many Australian families of school-age children are losing or seeing reductions in their family payments? You have ducked and you have weaved over that question all through question time, but no matter how often you duck and weave, no matter how often you hide from it, we will get that number out of you. We will speak up for Australian families.

This is a very divided government. Their only plan for the Australian economy is to kill the confidence of Australian families. They treat people on the pension as somehow second class. They treat people on Centrelink as somehow second class. I actually thought, in the first three question times of this week, the beleaguered Minister for Human Services would have enough self-respect when asked a question about Centrelink to get up and say, 'I'm sorry; we got it wrong.' Just a bit of humility would go a very long way, but that is not the trademark of this government.

Mr Sukkar interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Deakin is warned!

Mr SHORTEN: We will fight for family payments. This Prime Minister is not just out of touch. With today's legislation he shows he is out of ideas and he is rapidly running out of time, and his own party knows it.

The difference is: every time this Prime Minister sees an issue, he turns it into politics about Labor. We say to the Prime Minister today: if you want to take a step forward in terms of Australian politics, if you want to take a step forward in terms of your own approval and what Australians think of your government, focus on what matters. The Labor Party is focused on what matters to Australians. We will stand up for Australian jobs. We will do something about reforming the visa system. We will stand up for Australian apprenticeships. We will make sure that we have proper, needs based funding in our schools. If you want to find some money in the budget, what we think you should do, rather than reaching down into the pockets of over one million Australian families of school-age children, is reform negative gearing, reform the capital gains tax deduction system. Do not pass on $50 billion in corporate tax cuts. If you want to find some money, go after some of the top end of town rather than going after everyone else.

The Prime Minister does not have a plan for Medicare. His only plan for Medicare is to change the salesman. That does not fill people with confidence. He also does not have a plan for housing affordability, does he? This fellow is so out of touch that his only advice to Australians is: 'Get rich parents.' That is not a housing affordability policy. We stand for Australian families. We do not support the cuts. We will back Medicare. We will make sure that housing affordability is a reality in this country.

The SPEAKER: Is the motion seconded?

Ms Macklin: I second the motion and reserve my right to speak.