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Thursday, 7 December 2017
Page: 10088

Senator REYNOLDS (Western Australia) (15:22): I too rise to take note of the answer provided to Senator Wong's question. Listening to those opposite, all I can think of is How the Grinch Stole Christmas! On the eve of Christmas, all you can find is things of doom and gloom to steal Australians' Christmas. Well, let me provide a little bit of Christmas cheer. I would rather go to the 12 days of Christmas—the 12 wonderful things in the lead-up to Christmas—and give Australian people a little bit more hope and cheer than that provided by those opposite.

You talk about lists and you talk about facts. This is the first day of Christmas, and the thing to celebrate is that it is unequivocally true that more than 355,700 Australians are now in work compared to last Christmas. Almost all of those people are in full-time employment. All of them will be celebrating the fact that they have a job that they didn't have last year and that they can afford to celebrate with their families and buy Christmas presents and do all of the things that the rest of us take for granted. Far from being an example of a rabble of a government, I think it is demonstrating that this is a government of success and achievement. That is only the first thing.

The second thing is that we have delivered a National Energy Guarantee, which, when implemented, means that people, especially in South Australia and Victoria, won't lose their power over Christmas. They will be able to celebrate with the power on and with their fridges and their businesses intact. So that's the second one: great Christmas cheer. The other thing that all parents should be celebrating this Christmas is the fact this government has delivered the biggest reform to needs-based school funding across the country—a uniformly great Christmas present for all Australian families with children at school. But it doesn't end there! Fourthly, we're investing just under $40 billion in childcare and early learning facilities over the next four years—again, a great Christmas present and great news for all working families.

Those opposite were talking about big business and businesses. Clearly, they have absolutely not a shred of knowledge about what it takes to generate wealth in this country and to employ people. I know they like to think that governments generate jobs and generate our national wealth; they simply do not. It is the millions of small business men and women in this country who get up every day and put their families and their lives on hold to generate income to employ other Australians. In fact, in my own home state of Western Australia over 278,000 small businesses are preparing for their own Christmases. There are thousands more new businesses in Western Australia this year. It is a mixed blessing for some of them, because it means they will probably have to work through the Christmas season, but for others it means they can have the confidence and optimism to employ other people to look after their businesses and share Christmas with their families.

There are so many other things that this government has done this year for our nation. Those Grinches opposite want to end this year denying absolutely everything this government has done. But jobs, economic growth, paying back debt, better health, better education, better child care—they are things for all Australians to celebrate.

Unlike those opposite, I would also like to thank senators on all sides of this chamber. One of the great sadnesses I have in this place is that so rarely do we acknowledge the work we do together in a great spirit of cooperation, bipartisanship and multipartisanship. So what I would like to do with my final words is say thank you very much to the senators—and some of them are here in the chamber—I have had the absolute pleasure and honour of working with. Despite what you read in the media, this parliament and this Senate have achieved a great deal. Shortly we'll be tabling the Senate committee's report on modern slavery, which is a landmark report globally. I thank my Senate colleagues on all sides of the chamber for your support, your friendship and for the wonderful work we have done on behalf of all Australians. Merry Christmas! (Time expired)