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Thursday, 1 June 2017
Page: 6098


Ms SWANSON (Paterson) (15:56): This unfair budget is hurting ordinary Australians, and nowhere more so than in my electorate of Paterson. It is hurting pensioners in Paterson. It is hurting parents in Paterson. It is hurting schoolchildren in Paterson. It is hurting university students in Paterson. It is hurting women in Paterson. It is hurting every single person who is on any sort of income support whatsoever in Paterson. It is hurting young people in Paterson. It is doing nothing to help young people who want to own a home in Paterson. It does nothing to help ordinary people in Paterson trying to get an education—to skill, to upskill or to reskill. In fact, the only people who are getting a win out of this unfair budget are the millionaires and the multinationals—and I do not think we have all that many of them in Paterson.

I have heard from many, many people in Paterson over the last three weeks, because I get out and talk to a lot of people in my seat, about how unfortunate this budget is, and I would like to share a couple of their emails:

Dear Meryl, at an exclusive $300 a head 'future of welfare' luncheon last week, Minister Alan Tudge delivered a speech likening our social safety net to 'poison'.

He doesn't need the pension, does he?!

The last time the Turnbull Government tried to slash the clean energy supplement to push people further down into poverty, the Nick Xenophon team, Labor, the Greens and Senators Lambie and Hinch shut it down before the Bill even made it to the Senate.

Let's make sure we all hold the line again this time.

Another email was titled 'A fair go for all':

I don't want to live in an American-style society.

Everyone deserves the dignity of a fair day's pay for a fair day's work, as well as a hand-up when disaster hits.

I don't want families living in tents in church car parks and working 2 or more jobs each to put food on the table.

I don't want CEOs and politicians wallowing in excess at the expense of exploited workers and taxpayers.

That's a good one. Another email says:

Snatching money away from age pensioners, people living with a disability and single parents is unacceptable.

Especially when the Turnbull Government is pushing to give corporations a $65 billion tax cut.

This is what people in my electorate of Paterson are telling me about this budget and this government—that they are extremely unacceptable and completely unfair. They wear fairness like a cheap suit—they do not understand the word; they drag it out every day and say, 'I've got to get the fairness suit on and get out there and get amongst the real people'. We actually understand the weft and warp of fairness, because it is our very fabric—we stand up every day for those ordinary people, and deliver. This is not a fair budget, and the people of Paterson know it. They do not ask for the world, but they expect a fair go and a good life—and the detail of this budget is not lost on them. The government are chipping away at public education, they are chipping away at health services, they are chipping away at the safety net and they are chipping away at opportunity.

Paterson is a place that is proud of its working-class roots. We work in manufacturing, in retail, in health care and in social assistance. These are not high-paying jobs, but they are hardworking jobs. We know hard work. This budget fails these hardworking people because it does not recognise or reward this hard work; it chips away at it. It is asking people to pay more in their Medicare levy, to pay more in their taxes, to pay more to go to the doctor, to pay more to get an X-ray and to pay more to get a Pap smear or a mammogram. Paterson is a place of high youth unemployment as well, yet there is nothing in this budget for young people. Our schools will lose $23 million. Our university students will be asked to pay more, our apprenticeships are few and far between and our TAFEs are left wanting.

Paterson is a haven for retirees. It is a beautiful place to put your feet up at the end of your working life, and you know what they say about retirement—you never get a day off! But Paterson retirees are not by and large wealthy, self-funded retirees; they are people with modest incomes who have squirrelled just enough away to put their feet up in modest comfort with a little bit of help—and good on them for that. Yet we want to take the energy supplement away from them so they cannot even afford to put the heater on. They will be pulling on their knee rugs and putting on their jumpers, because this government wants to take away their heating.

This is a budget about values—very few values on that side but plenty on ours, and these values are not embodied by the government. The people of Paterson want a fair go. They want a fair day's pay for a good day's work, a hand up for those in need, not handouts to millionaires and multinationals, not some champagne-sipping, cigar-sucking lot.