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Wednesday, 30 May 2012
Page: 6318

Ms O'NEILL (Robertson) (16:25): I just want to put on the record that, while the member for Aston has spoken against the assistance that is going to families, for my part, in the seat of Robertson, I actually believe that my families really do want this money. I know that those who have already received it are extremely appreciative of the support from the federal government.

The member for Aston, opposite, has actually just made a speech against 9,000 families in his own electorate. That is 9,000 families that the member for Aston says do not need assistance with the cost of living. Now, I did hear some facts—a few facts—in the speech we have just heard about the real pressure that there is on families. We do acknowledge that there are cost-of-living pressures. That is why we are actually doing something about it and practically helping those people—even the 9,000 families in the member for Aston's seat, whom he seems not to want to help in any way.

Yesterday we started delivering extra money to more than 16,000 pensioners from that same electorate. I am sure that those pensioners will be very, very happy to receive that assistance to help them with cost-of-living pressures. I would like to make a comment about the small businesses in the seat of Aston, which could find that the pressure being taken off local families and off local pensioners actually does something—dare I hope for this—to inspire a little confidence and put a little positivity back into the public place instead of the carping, mindless negativity and the permanent nay-saying—the no, no, no, no—that we get day-in and day-out in this place from the Leader of the Opposition.

So let us get the facts straight—because this is a debate about facts, not hysteria. The member for Aston is telling 9,000 families and 16,000 pensioners in his electorate that they do not deserve extra support to make ends meet. He is telling them that if the coalition parties actually get into government that he and the Leader of the Opposition will rip off them every single cent that they have seen in their accounts this week. That is the fact. There is a very, very big difference between those on the other side—the take-it-away Tories—and the Labor Party, who are actually supporting people who live real lives in real seats like yours and mine, Mr Deputy Speaker.

I am delighted to speak today on the urgent need to provide households with financial relief based on facts surrounding the introduction of a carbon price on 1 July, and I very much thank the member for Chifley for putting this matter of public importance on the record. The Gillard government is building a strong economy for all Australians. We are making tough decisions that have to be made when you are in government. Sometimes in my role as a parent I do not always want to make tough decisions but, in the long term, there are moments where you have to make a choice. And we have made decisions that will ensure that we remain the strongest-performing economy in the world.

The facts are that unemployment is very low, inflation is very low and official interest rates are very low. In fact, for the first time in 40 years all of those indicators are under five per cent. That is a definite sign of a very strong economy, an economy in which Australians should have confidence and hope. But, while they are having a bit of trouble with managing the cost of living, we are going to help them—and we are going to do this despite the whimpering, the whining and the wrecking of those opposite. The thing that marks us out as so different from those opposite is that we actually do understand that families and pensioners are feeling the pinch. We understand that the relentless negativity campaign has only served to benefit the few—those on the opposite side who want to whinge day in, day out—while it has hurt business and consumer confidence. There is nothing good about that for businesses in my electorate and there is nothing good about that for ordinary families, pensioners and self-funded retirees in my electorate.

I am very proud to be a member of the Labor Party and the Labor government committed to helping Australians with the reality of cost of living pressures. We stand in stark contrast to those opposite, who assail the public with the same platitudes and negative comments, trash-talking the economy day in and day out. We understand that, by putting a price on carbon, 500 polluters are basically going to pay to put out the trash. That is the sort of trash that we should be paying attention to, not the trash-talking of the opposition. They are polluting, so they are going to pay—500 of them.

We know that businesses do pass on costs. That affects prices. The Treasury has made it very clear that there will be a 0.7 per cent price impact. Let's get this fact straight: we are making polluters pay. Let's get this fact straight: we are helping families in electorates right across this country, even if the members who represent them do not want them to have that money. We know for a fact that families in Robertson, my electorate, and all across the country deserve support. They do not appreciate all these hollow media stunts. We are giving the support—that is a fact. Another fact: how many households are we going to help? Under our clean energy future package, we are actually going to help six million households, who will get their expected average cost increases fully covered by tax cuts or increased payments, or both. The fact is that there will be changes to tax. So, if anybody is listening to this, remember that you will be benefiting from the tripling of the tax-free threshold. That means that one million people will not have to lodge a tax return after 1 July. Eighteen thousand two hundred dollars is what you will be able to earn before you have to pay one cent of tax. Imagine that. Imagine one million Australians not having to fill in a tax return. This is going to improve their lives, not just because, I am sure, they will be happy to not have to undertake that paperwork but because they will have more money in their pay packets every single week.

Let's get another fact on the record. Because of the Labor government's commitment to put a price on carbon, you get to keep every cent you earn up to $18,200. Another fact: in Robertson I have about 56,000 people who pay tax and about 47,000 of those taxpayers in my electorate are going to receive a tax cut. Of that 47,000, at least 38,000 will receive a tax cut of at least $300. I know that right now probably some mums and dads are on the Central Coast driving around, taking kids to sport—to soccer or AFL, with the Tigers at West Gosford—or maybe they are going to dancing lessons at Erina. One of the things that they will be thinking about is how they are going to make ends meet. They can be assured. The fact is that money is going into their accounts to assist them with the cost of living. Mums and dads who are returning to part-time work after the birth of a child and people who might be semi-retired and still want to work are going to have the factual advantage of money in their pocket because of the changes that we are bringing in.

More than 10,600 families in Robertson are going to receive extra cash through their family assistance payments. This will absolutely make sure that families on the Central Coast will be able to manage their family budgets. We want to take a bit of pressure off the family. We want to give families the best chance to get a good start in life. So we are helping them. That is a fact. Right across the country we are helping them. One point six million families are going to get assistance because of the price on carbon. If families get family tax benefit A, they will get $110 per child. If they get family tax benefit B, they will get $69 per child. In fact, most of the families in my electorate have already received that.

What have we heard from the Leader of the Opposition? He is going to get rid of the carbon price. He says that loudly, but do you know what? We do not hear that, when he does that, he is going to put his hand into the pockets of these millions of families and take away all of the assistance that we are giving them. We are going to see a massive impact if that comes to be, not only through a lack of vision for our country but through a real, practical, negative impact on people in the electorate of Robertson and right around this country.

We know that a price on carbon is the right thing to do. It is a tough thing to do, but it builds a future for this nation that gives us a strong economic base. We absolutely understand, as the member for Chifley stated in his matter of public importance today, that we need to deal in fact, and the fact is: families need assistance with the cost of living and we are delivering that. The fact is in their bank balances right now.