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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 3995


Ms CHESTERS (Bendigo) (19:26): The member for Fisher should stand on his feet and resign. That was the most appalling speech. This debate is about his government's budget, and these bills are about appropriations for the budget. Yet he engaged in a 14-minute tirade against the Leader of the Opposition. How pathetic he is. How pathetic is everyone on that side? Every question time, every chance they get, they slag off the Leader of the Opposition. What a bunch of cowards. This is your budget, and yet all you want to do is come in here and slag off the Leader of the Opposition. There's a metaphor they use in sport: play the ball, not the man. Perhaps everyone on the government benches needs to remember that. Play the ball and not the man. Be engaging on policy, that is what you should be doing as a government. This is about your budget. You would think they'd have some pride about what the government has put forward and be in here talking about their great vision. But, no, like a bunch of cowards they're going on the hack and are not standing up here. They can't even defend their Treasurer's budget. Just how useless are they? It is pathetic. If you're not in here to stand up and advocate for policy, if you're not in here to stand up and advocate for measures or your vision for this country, then resign. You have no business being an elected representative, and you have no business representing your communities.

The electorates of the member for Fisher and of the members on the Sunshine Coast are some of the poorest electorates that we have. It's so typical of the Liberal and National parties to forget the bush. It's so typical of them to come up here and completely forget the regions and not advocate for the regions. Some National Party held electorates and some Liberal Party held electorates are among the poorest electorates that we have. Yet what we are seeing from this government in these appropriations bills is cuts to the pension. They're actually cutting the pension. The age pension is well below the poverty line, but this government, this miserable mob of MPs who claim to represent the regions, is cutting the pension by $7 a week. I know it's not a lot to a millionaire, to someone who lives it up and who lives in a harbourside mansion. I know it's not a lot to those who may have 10 or 12 investment properties. I know it's not a lot to the silver spoons across the chamber from us. But it is a hell of a lot to a pensioner, to someone who is trying to survive on that fixed income. They say, 'We're just correcting the scrapping of the clean energy supplement, because there's no longer the carbon tax.' Something the government doesn't recognise is that—news flash!—energy bills have gone up under their watch. Under their great—I use exclamation marks—stewardship energy bills have gone through the roof. And now they want to cut the pension. They also want to lift the retirement age to 70. What an absolute disgrace. They are going to say to nurses, to cleaners, to builders: 'Keep working until you're 70.' They say it's because Australians are living longer. It's not about how long you can live. It's about your working age and how long you can work for. That's the problem with this government, and that is the problem with its proposals in this budget.

Another area that this government hasn't been honest about is the cuts to early childhood education. And what the government is doing—

Debate interrupted.