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Wednesday, 15 February 2017
Page: 998


Senator GALLACHER (South Australia) (15:33): I want to return to the question asked of Senator Brandis and the answer. I listened very carefully to his answer. He was basically asked, 'What has he done with respect to explaining to his new preferred partner, One Nation, that single pensioners will be $365 a year worse off and coupled pensioners $550?' That is a pretty straightforward question. He said: 'I'm explaining it to the whole Senate, not just to One Nation. I am explaining it to the whole Senate.' I said earlier in the week that you have to own the work you do in this Senate and, if you support this cut to single pensioners and coupled pensioners, you have to own that work. People will say, 'Who voted for the measure that took $365 or $550 off me?' The answer from Senator Brandis was, 'One Nation is likely to support that because they look at the economic rationalist picture.'

As Paul Keating said: 'We're not on the side of privilege. We're not on the side of power. We're not on the side of big business. We are on the side of the angels.' We are on the side of the pensioners—single pensioners who are going to be ripped off $365 a year and coupled pensioners $550 a year. You can come in here and you can lecture the chamber about gross debt. Last I looked, America owed more than its total bloody economy. China owes more, and it is almost impossible to decipher the Chinese figures. There are not enough auditors and accountants in the world to work out what is going on over there. You can come in here and say: 'We've got a $500 million debt, and we need to take it off single pensioners and coupled pensioners. We need to take it of single parent families. We need to take it off 655,000 single parent families. We need to take $354 a year off them.' Why? Because this government wants to give tax cuts to big business and all of this responsibility has to be paid by the most vulnerable in the community.

How will One Nation explain to the Australian voter that they have been part of a process which will mean 1.5 million vulnerable single pension, coupled pension and single-parent families will lose amounts between $365, $354 and $550 per year? How will they go out and explain that? How will they go out and say: 'We're looking after you. We're looking after the vulnerable in Australia'?

Senator Hanson can have her views about youth not seeking employment. I do not see it. I live in one of the poorest suburbs in Adelaide, in Kilburn. I am very proud to live in that suburb. I have lived there for 20 years. I see people going out every day looking for work. I do not see them lining up to lie down and get on the dole. I see them out there challenging themselves to go and find jobs. I see a very different Australia to Senator Hanson, who says that people just say: 'Oh well, I've finished school. I might as well get on the dole.' I see then come into my office and ask for jobs, for trainee positions, all the time. That is true of almost all the businesses around the area where I live. People are applying for work. They are not looking to get on the dole and bludge their life away. So I have a very different view of the world.

Look, if One Nation goes hand in hand with this government to attack the conditions of single pensioners, couple pensioners and single parent families for $354, $365 and $550, hopefully that cohort of people will recognise who did it. They will then have to own their handiwork and, hopefully, they will not attract as many votes as they attracted in the last election.

This is a continual theme from this government: 'We've got to fix the deficit! We've got to fix the budget! How do we do it?' They do it by attacking the most vulnerable people, the ones with less capacity to pay and the least ability to tighten their belt: 'We're not looking at transfer-pricing. We're not looking at offshoring by companies that are avoiding tax responsibility. We're going to hunt down single pensioners, couple pensioners and single parent families.' Come on! You have to own your work. If you vote for this sort of stuff you will get it back in the ballot box, hopefully in spades.