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Thursday, 14 February 2019
Page: 10407


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (20:51): I'm leaving the Senate because I seek to represent the Liberal Democrats for many years to come in the New South Wales parliament. In this, my very final speech in the Senate, I want to remind listeners that whilst our excessive government continues to do great harm, Australians still have much to celebrate. Let me outline some examples.

The government's ban on low-paid work, euphemistically called the minimum wage, is a disgrace and means that unemployment is higher than it should be. Despite this, we should celebrate that most of us can work in jobs that are somewhat rewarding, and that this happens because we have a largely free-market capitalist economy built on trust.

It is a disgrace when fat cats can rip off their workers and evade justice by skipping the country, using elaborate corporate trickery or benefitting from bureaucracies that are too lazy to do their job and prosecute the bad guys. Despite this, we should celebrate that most of Australia's poor don't find themselves poor for long, because work and education are available and rewarding. And we should celebrate that most of Australia's rich are rich because they've done something good. If we pulled down some of the regulatory walls that prevent new businesses competing with the businesses of the fat cats, we'd have even more social mobility between the rich and the poor. A lower company tax rate would help, too, by making it clear to foreign investors and multinationals that Australia is open for business and Australians are ready for more jobs. Multinationals are not charities; they don't need to do business in Australia, and they won't if those with more hate for multinationals than sense have any sway on our government.

It's an absolute disgrace that billions of taxpayers' funds have been wasted on increased salaries for teachers and principals while they have been producing worse and worse results. Despite this, we should recognise that the trickle of taxpayer funding that makes its way to non-government schools provides middle- and low-income parents with some semblance of a choice. Within reach is a future where taxpayer funding depends on the degree of disadvantage of the child rather than whether the school happens to be owned by the government.

It's a disgrace that a disproportionate number of both perpetrators and victims of crime in Australia are Indigenous Australians, and a disproportionate number of disadvantaged Australians are Indigenous Australians. Yet we continue to ignore the history of communism by persisting with forced collective ownership of Aboriginal land with no option for individuals to separate their share as personal freehold title if they wish. It is maddening that some people think that the solution for disadvantaged communities is the continuation of taxpayer funded government programs with more direction from the disadvantaged communities, as if the unemployed are experts at designing employment policy and the sick are experts at designing health care policy. But there is a glimmer of hope when Indigenous Australians vote with their feet and leave dysfunctional government-run communities. There is hope when more and more Indigenous Australians partner with business, rather than government, to lead themselves and their families to a better life.

Australia has a lot of work to do, and our current crop of politicians aren't helping much in this regard. But there is no denying that Australians have a lot to celebrate. The Liberal Democrats recognise this, as we strive to be a growing force in Australian politics to do the work that needs to be done to make Australia even better.