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Monday, 11 May 2015
Page: 2750


Senator SIEWERT (Western AustraliaAustralian Greens Whip) (15:31): I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for Employment (Senator Abetz) and the Assistant Minister for Social Services (Senator Fifield) to questions without notice asked by the Leader of the Australian Greens (Senator Di Natale) and Senator Hanson-Young today relating to the 2015-16 Budget.

We asked questions about the budget and child care in the context of the budget. The government, once again, is on a selling job for the budget, trying to say that they are being fairer now and that this is about jobs and delivering for the community. The only jobs it is about, really—the job-saving messages—are those of Mr Abbott and Mr Hockey, because it is clearly their jobs that they are trying to save, given the community so totally rejected their budget from last year.

Let's not forget that while the government talk about the budget being dull and boring, and looking after intergenerational debt, the issues that they had on the table last year are still there. So the government still plan a large number of changes to family tax benefits—and I will come back to those issues as they relate to child care in a minute. But they also have their cruel measures still on the table—their earn-or-learn measures—around kicking young people under the age of 30 off income support for six months. They are still carrying on with their cruel Work for the Dole measures, which we know are not going to work. And we hear calls from industry that—surprise, surprise!—they want to have Work for the Dole into businesses. I wonder how the government is going to respond to that?

But we are now seeing the talk of earn or learn in child care and the impact of trying to increase the activity. You need to undertake a certain amount of activity, and nobody with children is fooled that in fact 24 hours a fortnight still relates to two days a week. It is quite clear that the government is cutting funding to and support for some of our most vulnerable families by bringing in the activity test. That is a cut, again, to vulnerable families—just like the budget last year had the most impact on vulnerable Australians. We know that from the work that NATSEM did last year. The government did not carry this out last year and did not show Australians what impact the budget had on families, and particularly on vulnerable families. It was left up to NATSEM. That was a critical part missing from the budget on budget night. I wonder if the government are going to do that this budget—whether they are going to be brave enough to look at the impact of the budget, particularly on the most vulnerable members of our community?

This brings me to the issue of inequality, because that was one of the recommendations that came out of the Senate inequality inquiry. When the government talk about intergenerational issues, what about intergenerational inequality? What about intergenerational poverty? We know from the research that inequality in Australia is increasing, and is particularly high in my home state of Western Australia. That is what we need to look at: what are the intergenerational impacts of poverty and inequality? You entrench people in poverty and in inequality by measures that impact most strongly on vulnerable families.

So what will the government's response be? Will they actually articulate in their budget tomorrow what the impacts on the most vulnerable Australians will be, beyond actually looking at the impact that this budget has on the future of the Prime Minister and of Mr Hockey? That is clearly how the government have been funding and looking at this budget. It is the future of the Treasurer and the future of the Prime Minister. They know that their futures are on the line if they bring down a budget that Australians do not like. But they are actually still going for the most vulnerable Australians. They are still making cuts, as you can see from them saying, 'We're actually putting the acid on the Senate to pass those cruel measures from last year.' Those measures impacted in particular on single parents: single parents would be dropped off family tax benefit part B when their youngest child turns six. They said, 'Oh, we'll give you a bit of compensation.' No-one was fooled by that. So the government are saying, 'You pass that and you'll get the childcare package,' once again blackmailing the Senate into supporting cruel measures.

For anybody who thinks that the government have changed their spots, they have not. They are still unprepared to go for the wealthiest in the community and to go for the tax rorters. (Time expired)

Question agreed to.