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Thursday, 10 May 2018
Page: 2976


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (21:10): I am very pleased to be able to seek leave to have the Leader of the Opposition's 2018-19 budget reply speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

As the Opposition listened to the Government's fifth budget, we knew immediately that we can do better than this.

The people of Australia deserve better than this.

And a Labor Government will deliver better than this.

Better than ten years of cuts to schools and hospitals - in exchange for ten dollars a week.

That's all the Government thinks it will take for the Australian people to forgive and forget.

The Government thinks for ten dollars, the Australian people will forget it tried to put up their taxes last year.

For ten dollars, the Australian people forgive waiting two years for a hip replacement.

For ten dollars, the Australian people will not care about cuts to their child's school.

That for ten dollars, the Australian people will not mind their internet's no good and their local TAFE is closing and their daughter cannot find a place at uni.

The Government thinks if the Australian people get ten dollars a week, they will not notice they are losing $70 in penalty rates from their Sunday pay.

And the Prime Minister is so out of touch, he thinks if the Australian people get ten dollars a week - they will be fine with the banks getting a $17 billion giveaway.

The Government desperately wants the Australian people to believe this budget is fair.

But here is what the Prime Minister is not telling the Australian people.

His $715 million cut to hospitals is still in the budget.

His $17 billion cut to schools is still in the budget.

And his $80 billion hand-out to big business, banks and multinationals is still in the budget.

This budget still cuts money from universities - and it contains a sneaky new $270 million cut to public TAFE.

The Prime Minister is still cutting $14 from pensioners every fortnight.

He is cutting dental care for veterans, he is cutting the ABC - yet again.

He is keeping Medicare frozen for specialists, he is even keeping the GST on tampons.

And he is still increasing the retirement age to 70.

So tonight, the Australian people should ask themselves if they rely on any of these services, what kind of future is this Prime Minister offering them?

Labor has a plan to bring the Fair Go back to the heart of our nation.

A plan to properly fund health and education.

A plan to boost wages for the Australian people.

And a plan for real tax cuts to help with the family budget.

It is a plan we can afford - because Labor is not going to spend $80 billion of public money on big business and the big banks.

And it is a plan that will work, because Australia thrives when middle class and working class people can get ahead.

Tonight is about a Fair Go for everyone who wants the best for their kids and their future.

A Fair Go for every part of our nation - from the bush and the regions to our cities and growing suburbs.

And a Fair Go for the real forgotten people: working families, pensioners and Australians doing it tough.

Labor's plan begins with a better and fairer tax system.

After years of flat wages, rising power bills and increasing health costs, it is time for a fair-dinkum tax cut for middle class and working class Australians.

The Leader of the Opposition, Mr Shorten, has already said Labor will support the Government's modest tax cuts starting 1 July this year.

And tonight, the Leader of the Opposition announced a Labor Government will go further and do better on tax cuts for working and middle income Australians.

Labor will support the Government's tax cut this year - and in our first budget, we will deliver a bigger and better tax cut for 10 million working Australians.

Almost double.

This is Labor's pledge to 10 million working Australians:

Under Labor, working Australians will pay less income tax - because we think working Australians are more important than multinationals, banks and big business.

In Labor's first term of government, a teacher on $65,000 will be $2780 better off - an extra $928 a year.

A married couple - one partner in the ADF earning $90,000 and the other working in aged care on $50,000 - will be $5565 better off under Labor, $1855 a year.

Labor can afford to do more to help Australians and their families because we are not giving $80 billion to big business and the big four banks.

And because we have already made the hard choices for budget repair.

Creating a level playing field for first home buyers, by reforming negative gearing and capital gains.

Cracking-down on tax avoidance by eliminating income-splitting in trusts -without affecting farmers.

And ending unsustainable tax credits for people who pay no income tax - while protecting pensioners and charities.

At the next election there will be a very clear choice on tax.

Ten million Australians will pay less tax under Labor.

We can afford to cut taxes, without cutting services, because unlike the Liberals, we are not wasting $80 billion on a discredited giveaway to the top end of town.

Labor's plans mean we can deliver the winning trifecta in government.

A genuine tax cut for middle and working class Australians.

Proper funding for schools, hospitals and the safety net.

And paying-back more of Australia's national debt, faster.

There was a time when the Liberals ran around saying a debt of $227 billion was a 'budget emergency' and a national crisis.

The Opposition remembers, when the Government was elected, it said every man, woman and child, owed $9,000.

But on Tuesday night, the Opposition did not hear the Treasurer admit that debt has doubled under the Liberals.

The Opposition does not remember him admitting that it is now $21,778 for every man, woman and child.

Nor does the Opposition remember him admitting that next year, total interest payments on Australian debt will pass $18 billion.

$18 billion, every year.

That is more than the Commonwealth spends on the NDIS or aged care or child care - it is twice as much as Australia spends on public schools.

And the Liberals' only strategy is to cross their fingers and hope.

That is not good enough in a time of trade conflict between America and China, in an age of soaring global debt and rising United States bond markets.

No Australian government can prevent global bad news - but good governments do prepare for it.

This is not the time to blow everything because of a short-term economic upswing.

That would be an act of generational folly.

It might not be fashionable, but it is time to be responsible.

Labor's economic reforms have put Australia in a much stronger position to cope with international uncertainty, over the decade.

As a nation, we can pay down national debt, faster - because we are not giving $80 billion to multinationals - and because we have made the tough decisions.

On Tuesday night, the Australian people discovered the Liberals are planning to radically re-write the tax rules in this country.

And the more Australians learn about this scheme, the less they like it.

Australians have got every right to ask, how can it be fair?

How can it be fair for a carer on $40,000 to pay the same tax rate as a doctor on $200,000?

For a cleaner to pay the same tax rate as a CEO?

How can it be fair that, under this tax experiment, the doctor earns five times as much as the nurse - but his tax cut is 16 times bigger?

And today, new research revealed that under this plan, 6 in every 10 dollars will go to the wealthiest 20 per cent of Australians.

Very quickly, this is starting to look like a Mate's Rates tax plan from the Liberal Party.

And at a time of flat wages, rising inequality and a growing sense of unfairness in the community.

When too many jobseekers are stuck in poverty, when children go to school hungry, when women fleeing family violence cannot find safe accommodation, people are worried this plan is not fair or affordable.

And, frankly, Australians are also entitled to be pretty suspicious of this whole thing.

To wonder if this 'come and talk to me after two elections' plan, this promise on the never-never, will ever happen.

The opposition is ready to vote for tax cuts for working families.

And we will not allow the Prime Minister to threaten to block tax cuts for 10 million Aussies unless the Parliament writes a cheque for high income earners.

Every Australian knows wages have grown by just 2 per cent in the past year - slower than the price of the things they need to buy, way less than their bills.

Yet the Government is pretending that wages will increase by over 13 per cent in the next four years.

The Opposition knows the Liberals do not have the slightest idea how it will be achieved.

Labor has shown we are the party of lower taxes for families - and for more than 120 years, we have been the party of higher wages for workers.

We have got a real wages policy.

We will restore Sunday penalty rates.

We will crack down on wage theft and the abuse of labour hire where companies shift their workforce onto casual jobs just to cut their pay.

We will get bargaining off life support, and employees and employers back to the negotiating table for more productive workplaces and higher wages.

And we will lead a new push to deliver pay equity for Australian women.

Labor's wages policy is better for workers, our income tax policies are better for households - and both are better for the economy.

We also have real plans for job creation.

We are committed to a tax cut for every Australian small business, for 93 per cent of all businesses.

We will provide tax incentives for companies who invest here: in their own productivity, in new plant and equipment, new utes for tradies, new software and technology.

Our Advanced Manufacturing Future Fund will ensure auto-firms in South Australia and Victoria can adapt and modernise.

And our commitments to Defence Manufacturing and local procurement, to agriculture, science and research, to tourism and renewable energy and to a better NBN are all about creating the jobs and industries of the future.

We can afford to invest in small business, in productivity and growth because we choose Australian businesses and Australian jobs over tax giveaways for multinationals.

Since the Budget, we have heard the government boast about 'record' funding for hospitals.

Let us take a closer look at this record.

The cost of seeing a doctor is the highest on record.

The average wait time for elective surgery is the longest on record.

The number of hospital beds available for elderly Australians is the lowest on record.

The number of people presenting at Emergency Departments is the highest on record - and yet 1 in 3 patients considered 'urgent' do not get seen on time.

Yet in this budget, the Liberals locked-in a further cut of $2.1 billion to hospitals in every part of our country.

The health of Australians should never take a backseat to a hand-out for big business.

In response, Labor announces that we will reverse the Prime Minister's cuts to hospitals and create a $2.8 billion Better Hospitals Fund.

This will put more beds in emergency departments and on wards so we can reduce the wait for people sitting in emergency rooms, worrying about a child or a loved one who is hurt or unwell.

To launch a blitz on waiting lists for elective surgery - so people can get a knee replacement to walk without pain, or have their cataracts removed to watch their grandchildren grow.

And we will start in Tasmania, which has the worst waiting times in the country: a year for cataracts and up to 435 days for a knee replacement.

And our fund will upgrade emergency department facilities in the suburbs and regions: including better security measures for staff and patients to handle the scourge of Ice.

If a loved one has cancer, it consumes their loved ones' whole world.

It is a terrible disease.

Many senators and members will have been through it with dear friends and family.

The Leader of the Opposition's own mum battled breast cancer for years - and as everyone who has been part of the fight knows, there are endless scans and tests involved.

For too many people outside the big cities, either their hospital does not have an MRI machine, or it is not covered by Medicare.

So for someone who lives in Emerald, it is necessary to drive 3 hours to Rockhampton - or they pay hundreds of dollars out of their own pocket each time.

Cancer does not care where an individual lives, or who it strikes - and Australians should never have to worry about where to go to get treatment they can afford.

Health care should just be there for Australians, when they need it - that is what Medicare is all about.

Labor will provide an extra 20 hospitals and imaging centres in the regions and outer suburbs with new MRIs.

And we will make sure every one of these machines is covered by Medicare.

Labor can properly fund hospitals and invest new money in Medicare - because we have made the hard choices on tax reform and because we are not wasting billions on big business and the big banks.

Labor believes every government has a responsibility to leave the country better than it found it.

That is why Labor will create a National Integrity Commission - a Federal ICAC - to improve accountability in politics and public life.

We will do the right thing by people who have been let down by social institutions.

Through National Redress for the courageous survivors of child sex abuse.

Through new healing initiatives for the Stolen Generations and to reduce the shocking numbers of Aboriginal kids growing up away from country and culture.

And justice for people who have been ripped-off by the banks.

The banking Royal Commission has finally lifted the lid on a culture of exploitation.

And after years trying to stop the Royal Commission - in this Budget the Prime Minister is giving the big four banks $17 billion of taxpayer money and cutting money from ASIC, the cop on the beat.

This is a disgrace, it is immoral - and Labor will have no part of it.

The Government try talking tough on this - but wagging its finger in the banks' faces does not mean much when it is giving them a tax cut with the other hand.

And upping penalties will not do a thing if corporate criminals with deep pockets and big legal teams know they can outspend the government.

Labor will create a special taskforce inside the Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions, to see justice done.

We will deliver $25 million in funding to make sure public prosecutors have the resources to follow through the work of the Royal Commission.

In this fight, as always, we stand on the side of ordinary Australians.

Every budget should strive to deliver Australians a better deal today.

But Labor understands so many of the sacrifices people make are about tomorrow, about passing-on a better set of opportunities for their children.

And this budget betrays the next generation.

Young Australians always get a dud deal from this government.

Young people volunteer, they give back to our community, they work to support their studies, they pay GST, they are funding Medicare and contributing to superannuation from their very first day on the job.

And yet in return, the Liberals are cutting schools, closing-off university, taking the nation backwards on climate change, locking first home buyers out of the market, and making it harder to get an apprenticeship or go to TAFE.

Young Australians deserve better.

Labor will create a level playing field for first home buyers, because we do not want Australia to be a country where someone's only chance of owning a home is to inherit one.

We are serious about tackling climate change and helping the environment, with 50 per cent renewables by 2030, a 45 per cent cut in emissions by 2030 and zero net pollution by 2050.

Because we do not want to leave Australians with a ruined reef and rivers and oceans choked with waste and plastic debris.

And Labor will always invest in education: in schools, TAFE and university - because we know when our young people succeed, Australia succeeds.

The Leader of the Opposition's mum sacrificed everything for the education of him and his brother - and it changed their lives.

If Mr Shorten is elected Prime Minister - he will make it his mission to ensure every Australian child gets the life-changing opportunity of a quality education.

Reading and writing.

Maths and coding.

Science and languages.

Individual attention in the classroom.

And protection from bullying - in the schoolyard and online.

Labor wants children to fall in love with what they are good at - and we want every public school to be able to offer music and drama and sport and camps.

This government can announce as many education reviews as they like -everyone knows cutting schools will not produce better results.

That is why Labor will put back every dollar the Liberals have cut from schools.

The government's cuts have hit public schools and their 2.5 million students the hardest.

And it is public schools that will benefit most when Labor invests an extra $17 billion over the next ten years.

Labor's funding boost will help the schools and teachers educating 82 per cent of Australia's poorest kids, 84 per cent of Indigenous kids and 74 per cent of kids with disabilities.

We want smart and driven young Australians to compete fiercely to get into teaching courses, just like they do to get into medicine.

The same level of competition for the same reasons: because it is a profession that changes lives, because it is respected in our community and because it is well-paid work.

So when it comes to schools, at the next election the choice is this simple.

Labor will put $17 billion back into Australian schools, the Prime Minister wants to give $17 billion to the big banks.

Nine out of 10 new jobs created in the next 4 years will need either a university degree or a TAFE qualification.

That is why Labor believes in quality universities and strong public TAFEs, working side-by-side, equal partners in our nation's future.

Yet in this Budget - the Liberals are cutting more money from both university and TAFE.

In government, Labor uncapped degree places and opened the doors of university to a new generation.

Tens of thousands of students became the first person in their family to go to university - the fair go in action.

But the Liberal freeze on university funding means 10,000 fewer places are available next year.

By 2032, over 200,000 people will miss out.

Millions of families in our region want their child to go to an Australian university - they keenly understand what it means to hold a degree from our country.

And the government's freeze will simply lock out working-class kids and students from regional Australia.

Labor will restore funding certainty to our universities.

And we will uncap places - providing our nation with over 200,000 more university graduates.

Under Labor, a university education is not a privilege someone inherits, it is an opportunity they earn.

And Labor will always choose better universities over richer banks.

Labor's plan for training is crystal clear: we will stop the slide to dodgy private providers and back public TAFE all the way.

We will renovate campuses and rebuild workshops.

We will ensure 2 out of every 3 training dollars goes to public TAFE

We will invest in programs to help older workers re-train later in life.

We already know the expertise our nation will need in the next decade:

More workers for the NDIS and in aged care.

More construction workers for national infrastructure and housing

And more programmers and technicians for the digital age

Labor does not want Australia to meet these needs with skills visas, we want to train our people for these jobs.

There is no excuse for a skills vacancy to last one day longer than the time it takes to train an Australian.

A Labor government will cover all up-front fees for 100,000 TAFE places, in high priority sectors.

From Agriculture and Engineering to Plumbing and Disability Support.

And we would expect at least half of these places will go to the women of Australia.

We will get jobs like carpenters, cooks and bricklayers off the national skills shortages list, and keep them off.

And instead of looking overseas or relying on temporary visas, employers will have a skilled local workforce ready to go.

And we can make this happen because we put 100,000 TAFE courses, ahead of $80 billion in corporate giveaways.

This budget falls hardest on the young - and the old.

The Prime Minister is still cutting $14 a fortnight from pensioners and still telling Australians to work until they're 70 - with no idea what this means for people who have spent their lives doing jobs that are hard on their bodies and tough on their backs.

But the dirtiest trick in this year's budget is the fraud it has perpetrated on Australians in need of aged care.

Around 105,000 older Australians are waiting for home care packages.

And despite all the hype, the government is offering only 14,000 places, over the next four years.

14,000 places in 4 years - when 20,000 people joined the waiting list in the last six months alone.

And worse still, we discovered there is no new funding here - the Government is simply taking the money away from nursing homes.

The people who raised us and cared for us and love us - deserve so much better than cuts to their pension, the world's oldest retirement age and tricky double-dealing on aged care.

If Mr Shorten is prime minister, tackling dementia and delivering better aged care will be a national priority, backed by real resources.

Because we know giving older Australians the security and dignity they deserve matters more than an $80 billion corporate tax cut.

The same Liberal accounting trickery is at work in infrastructure.

Across the four years of this budget, Commonwealth investment in infrastructure projects actually falls - from $8 billion to $4.5 billion.

For the Western Sydney Rail link -there is only money for a study, a report.

And the same goes for the train to Tullamarine - not a single dollar for construction - apparently it can be done for nothing!

Only Labor believes in nation-building, in good public transport projects like Cross River Rail in Brisbane or the Western Sydney rail line.

And when we invest in tourism infrastructure in Northern Australia and Tasmania.

When we improve the Bass Highway in Tassie.

When we expand the Mitchell Freeway to cut congestion in Western Australia.

When we deliver a long overdue upgrades to the Bruce Highway in Queensland.

When we fund and build these projects, we will prioritise Australian-standard steel, we will hire local workers and we will require that 1 of every 10 people employed is an Australian apprentice.

Labor can put real dollars into Australian infrastructure, because we are not going to give $80 billion to multinationals and the big banks.

Under a Labor Government, the Fair Go means rescuing hospitals and re-investing in Medicare; proper funding for schools, TAFE and universities; and bigger, better income tax for 10 million Australians.

This is Labor's plan and this is Mr Shorten's challenge to the Prime Minister.

If the Prime Minister thinks this budget is fair, if he thinks his sneaky cuts can survive scrutiny - put it to the test.

Put it to the test in Caboolture.

Put it to the test in Burnie.

Put it to the test in Perth and Fremantle.

We will put our better fairer income tax cuts against his.

We will put our plans to rescue hospitals and fund Medicare against his cuts.

We will put our plans to properly fund schools against his cuts.

We will put our plan to boost wages against his plans to cut penalty rates.

We will put our plans for 100,000 TAFE places against his cuts to apprenticeships and training.

And we will fight for the ABC against his cuts.

And house by house, street by street, suburb by suburb, Labor put the Prime Minister's $80 billion tax giveaway to big business and the banks to the test with the Australian people.

This nation needs a leader that gets it, a party that believes in it and a government that will deliver it:

A Fair Go for all Australians.

Debate adjourned.