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Tuesday, 23 October 2018
Page: 10826

Mr WATTS (Gellibrand) (16:57): We saw on the weekend an extraordinary advertisement for just how out of touch the Morrison government is with the Australian public. The biggest by-election swing against a government on record, in the seat of a former Liberal Prime Minister no less, shows how disconnected the coalition MPs in this building are from voters out in the community. Indeed, we see how out of touch they are in the motion of the member for Forde before the House today. Only an out-of-touch government can pat itself on the back for effective economic management when we all know that Australians feel the economy simply isn't working for them. We see it, how out of touch the government is, when the government congratulates itself while everything is going up, except for wages, and it sits back and does nothing. We see it when the Prime Minister tells Australians in a media puff piece that he has an average size mortgage that he's dealing with like any other family, while earning over $500,000 per year—10 times the average Australian salary.

We see how out of touch the government are when they cut penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of hospitality workers. We see it when young working and middle-class families cannot afford to purchase their own homes, and the former Treasurer tells them to 'get a better job' and the former PM tells them to get richer parents to shell out for them. We see how out of touch they are when they spend years fighting for billions of dollars of tax cuts for the big banks, while cutting funding for schools and hospitals. We see it when the former minister for jobs and innovation says that she can empathise with the less fortunate Australians because 'when I backpacked for three years, I had practically nothing'. We see how out of touch the coalition government are when they refused to initiate a royal commission into the banks for over 600 days while everyday Australians continued to be ripped off and exploited. We really see how out of touch they are when Prime Minister Morrison described Labor's call for a banking royal commission as 'nothing more than a populist whinge' and then voted against it 26 times. We see how out of touch they are when the member for Chisholm told Australians that she could live on the Newstart rate of 40 bucks a day when even the Business Council of Australia agrees that the rate is too low. The Liberal Party leads an out-of-touch government working for the top end of town. The Liberal Party has failed to solve the problems middle and working class Australians face every day: housing affordability, stagnant wages and rising inequality.

In contrast, for the last five years Labor has been listening to the Australian community and working hard to develop the kinds of policies needed to respond to Australians' real concerns about how the Australian economy operates. Only Labor has a plan for a fair go for all Australians, for a fairer economy and for a more prosperous nation. Labor will improve housing affordability by reforming negative gearing and capital gains tax policies. Labor will reduce intergenerational inequality by investing in universal early childhood education for three- and four-year-olds. Labor will restore funding to schools, reversing the damaging cuts made by the successive Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison Liberal governments. Labor will reverse cuts to penalty rates and fight for Australian workers' pay and conditions.

It is no wonder that the Liberal Party's former Treasurer, Peter Costello, describes that out-of-touch rabble opposite as 'operating in a parallel universe'. This isn't the time for an out-of-touch government to be engaging in self-congratulatory backslapping on the economy; this is a time for this out-of-touch government to listen to the Australian people, to listen to the message from the public in Wentworth—real Australians, unlike what the Menzies Research Centre and some of those opposite would like to tell you—and the Australian community and finally call an election. Put an end to the nonsense, the division and the Itchy & Scratchy fighting that we have been seeing from this government for the past five years. It is time for this out-of-touch government to let Australians decide to elect a party that can deliver a fair go for all Australia.

Bill Shorten's Labor opposition is ready. We've been doing the hard yards in opposition. We've been listening to the Australian public. We've been doing the policy work, getting ready to offer the Australian public a choice, a proposition for a fairer Australia, for a fair go for all Australians, for a fairer economy, for a more prosperous country, for an economy that's not just managed for the interests of the top end of town and the big banks but for the interests of working- and middle-class Australians, an economy that works for all of us, not just the mates of the Liberal Party members. It's time to call an election and let the Australian public choose.