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Thursday, 30 March 2017
Page: 3912

Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:36): Seven hundred Hazelwood power station workers are losing their jobs today, and this government has wasted a week of the parliament's life on this trumped-up change.

Government members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my right!

Mr SHORTEN: I am pleased to inform Australians that Labor has had a magnificent win—

Mr Tim Wilson interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Goldstein!

Mr SHORTEN: stopping the watering down of race-hate speech laws. But we should never have had the debate at all. We will not make the perfect the enemy of the good; we will support these procedural arrangements. But the case to water down 18C—

Mr Taylor interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hume!

Mr SHORTEN: was never satisfactorily made, and their case remains unsatisfactory. Furthermore, what the Turnbull government now has to do is rule out, once and for all, that they will take this failed policy to the next election. If they do not rule out this policy, I promise you we will campaign to make you rule out this policy before or after the next election.

There are real challenges in this country of ours. There is the challenge of these people losing their jobs. There is a gas crisis in this country. There is a challenge with over a million people underemployed. Look at the government members leave! What are they going to do? They are wasting our time. There are over a million people underemployed in this country.

Ms Henderson interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Corangamite!

Mr SHORTEN: There is a housing affordability crisis in this country. There is a crisis where this government is standing by and supporting cuts to penalty rates. But the one crisis that we do not have in this country is a freedom of speech crisis. There is no freedom of speech crisis in this country. The case has not been proved.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left are interrupting the Leader of the Opposition.

Mr SHORTEN: Instead this incompetent, divided, out-of-touch government are wasting over $1 million of taxpayer money today, keeping us all here on a speculative, ideological crusade designed just to keep the Prime Minister in his job as he appeases the bullies in the right wing of his party.

The changes, which we defeated, would have hurt people. The argument this government singularly failed to make at any stage was: what is it that this government wants people to be able to say that they cannot currently say? Until the government can satisfactorily answer that question, we will take you on every time to defend minorities, to defend people from racial prejudice, to defend people from being offended and insulted because of their race. Labor will not stop on this campaign until the Liberal Party drops its push to water down race-hate laws in this country.