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Thursday, 21 March 2013
Page: 2972


Ms GILLARD (LalorPrime Minister) (14:25): What we have seen across the contributions of the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is the same negative dummy-spit that they have been engaged in since the 2010 election. The Leader of the Opposition just had an opportunity to indicate to the Australian people, if he chose to take it, what his vision is for the country, and what his leadership attributes are. Instead, because he is unable to do that, he filled the space with the only thing he knows, and that is negativity, bitterness and the politics of personal assault.

To the Leader of the Opposition and to the team he leads I say that their lack of vision and their inability in opposition to come up with any costed, credible policies for the nation condemns them to be where they should be, and that is on the opposition benches. Despite all of the invective; despite the Tea Party tactics; despite their call for a people's revolt; despite all of the negativity we have seen from the opposition; despite their, since the first day of this government after the 2010 election, seeking to put this parliament into chaos—despite all of that—this is a government that has got on with the job and has governed well. And we are continuing to govern well.

Let's look at the facts for the Australian people, as opposed to this insider ranting that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The facts are these. Our economy is growing. It has come through the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, showing its resilience and still creating jobs. The only surprising thing the Leader of the Opposition said in his 10-minute contribution was that, at sometime overnight, he had worked out that there is such a thing as the global financial crisis—something he denied in this House yesterday. He denied in this House yesterday that the global financial crisis was continuing in any way.

We have always understood that our nation faced a huge challenge. The challenge continues, with instability in the global economy and the reshaping of our economy through the high Australian dollar. And day after day, piece after piece, we have met that challenge to create jobs for Australians—more than 900,000 of them—and we will continue to create jobs into the future. We have not simply been concerned about creating jobs—jobs with any benefits and conditions. Unlike the Leader of the Opposition and his team we have always determined that the jobs needed to be ones that offered the benefits and dignity of work, where people got treated fairly in their workplace.

I am proud that this week we have extended more fairness to workers in childcare centres. Why shouldn't women, predominantly, who care for children—the most precious asset in our country—enjoy proper pay and proper benefits and dignity at work? Why can't the Leader of the Opposition be a big enough man to support that? We have, as a government, piece after piece made sure that there is fairness and dignity at work. We brought in the Fair Work Act—and we are proud of it. We brought about a better deal for shipping workers—and we are proud of it. We brought a better deal for truck drivers—and we are proud of it. We brought a better deal for textile, clothing and footwear workers—and we are proud it. We brought a better deal for the outworkers who do sewing in their own homes. We brought about a better deal for aged-care workers—and we are proud of it. We brought about a better deal for women who look after women in domestic violence refuges and the like—the great workers of our social and community sector. And we have extended those benefits to child care too. And we have more to do.

At the same time as we have ensured that there are jobs—decent jobs with fairness and dignity at work—we have worked to benefit families with all of the pressures that they face today. We have introduced new benefits that have been decried and campaigned against by this Leader of the Opposition. I am talking about benefits like a paid parental leave scheme for mums and dads; an historic pension increase; the Schoolkids Bonus, to help with the cost of getting the kids to school; an increase in the tax free threshold so that poorer workers—low-income workers, predominantly women, who are predominantly the second income earners in a home, who go back to work after they have had their children—can get to keep more of their pay packet. A million of them paying no tax at all.

As we have done that, we have worked out how else can we support families. We can bring more doctors, more nurses, more local control, more resources into hospitals than ever before, and we have. We can bring a national disability insurance scheme to end for ever the fear in Australian households that, if someone in that family got a disability, they would be thrown into a circumstance where they had no control and insufficient care and support. We, as a government, have extended these benefits because we believe in them. They are the Labor way. They are our way. We have delivered them in the difficult circumstance of this parliament.

This is a government that, against relentless negativity, has governed for the fortunes of all Australians and governed well. And, let me assure the Leader of the Opposition, we are not done yet. We have got more to do to bring fairness and opportunity into our country, more to do to make sure that our country is ready for the opportunities that will come with this century of growth and change in our region.

It is this government that has outlined the roadmap to that future—a future of prosperity where we are a nation. So long have we struggled with being isolated from the biggest markets in the world, now we are on the doorstep of what will be the biggest markets in the world. There are more middle-class consumers in one region than there has ever been before in human history—more consumers in one region than there has ever been before in human history. And here we are as a nation—strong, resilient, emerging from the global financial crisis well—positioned to make sure the benefits of those opportunities flow to all Australians.

It is the future of opportunity and prosperity that is not assured. There is nothing about our position in the world that guarantees for the future that we will be a high-wage, high-skill economy. If you make the wrong decisions, you will not get there. Which is why—methodically, carefully, day after day—we have made the right decisions to get our nation there. The right decision to roll out the infrastructure of the 21st century—the National Broadband Network—despite the opposition and negativity of those sitting on the opposition benches. We have invested more in traditional infrastructure—roads, rail, ports—than ever before. There are more students getting university degrees than ever before. And kids from poorer households are getting a chance, for the first time in our nation's history, to be the first in their family to get to university education in large numbers. This is something I was told as education minister could not be done: We have brought about more apprenticeships and more traineeships than ever before. We have held those numbers, even during this worst of economic downturns, because we understand that a ticket to a good future can often be that trade certificate that emerges from an apprenticeship. We are not done yet in bringing an opportunity. School funding reforms will ensure we do not have multiple classes of children in our country with some kids going very well indeed and some getting left behind. There is one opportunity for all Australian children and it is the opportunity to get a great education so that you can have a decent run-up to a great life.

We are not done yet in making sure, as we bring these benefits to Australians, that they flow throughout the economy. We will not close the doors on sharing the benefits of the mining boom and harnessing them for just a few. We will not treat Australians as if there are a few who are in the inner circle and the rest who are somehow in another class. We have always worked, and we will always work, to ensure that benefits are spread and opportunities are shared. That is our mission. That is our creed. That is what Labor governments do. That is what this Labor government has done. It is what it has done under my prime ministership, and it is what it will do under my prime ministership from this day forth.

We will ensure that our eyes remain focused on the opportunities for Australians and the benefits they need, and we will fight and fight and fight the Leader of the Opposition's campaign to take opportunity away from Australians, to visit cutbacks on their head, to make sure that they are hurt the same way they have been hurt by governments like the Newman government. We will fight and fight and fight that, and when the election is held in September, we will prevail in that election, because the choice will be so clear, and the right path for a stronger, smarter, fairer future will be so clear as well. (Time expired)

The SPEAKER: The question is that the motion be agreed to.

The SPEAKER: The question is not carried by an absolute majority of members as required under standing order 47.

Ms Gillard: I asked the Leader of the Opposition to take his best shot and we got that damp squib, so they obviously do not want question time.