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Thursday, 20 September 2018
Page: 6980

Senator MARTIN (Tasmania) (16:02): It was interesting that Senator O'Neill mentioned women becoming homeless. Back in 1998 there were 100,000 people in Australia sleeping rough—transient; between different people's places, on their couches; sleeping under bridges—and the age group covered anywhere between six years of age right up to about 95 years of age.

Today the Deputy Prime Minister, Michael McCormack, and the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, assisted the efforts of young people to attack the scourge of homelessness in this country. They did so by donating one of their own personal coats to a group called Enormity, which bases itself in Ulverstone in Tasmania. At the time, these young people were the age of about 15, and one of their friends became homeless. They borrowed a coat and provided it to this young person, who was sleeping in doorways with no possessions, no money and no food. They thought they would provide that person with protection from the winter elements and some warmth. That's what they thought they could do. But in questioning these young people about whether there were any more homeless people that they knew out there, they said they did know of more. So they set about creating a public appeal for the donation of winter coats. Today the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister donated the 99,999th coat and the 100,000th coat to a young adult, Mr Jack Crawford, who was a member of Enormity six years ago. This marks 20 years of hard work by these young people who went out in the winter elements and collected coats from people who were kind enough to donate their own winter coat to help those who were homeless and in need. They came in all sizes and all shapes. We even had members of the public going to local stores and actually buying new coats and donating them to help the homeless. We even had visitors—

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT ( Senator Williams ): Order! Resume your seat, Senator Martin, please. Point of order, Senator Urquhart?

Senator Urquhart: Yes, a point of order. The taking note was on the first question that was asked to Senator Cormann in relation to women's superannuation. I would ask that you draw the senator's attention to that. Thank you.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: You make a point, Senator Urquhart. In the debate by Senator O'Neill, she did refer to homelessness, but I will draw your attention back to the issue of superannuation, once you've wound up on the point you're trying to make, please, Senator Martin.

Senator MARTIN: Thank you. One hundred thousand coats in 20 years is an extremely huge target and a very proud moment for these young people, especially receiving that from the leader of the country. Over the last 20 years, they've collected a coat from every Prime Minister, starting with Prime Minister John Howard. This investment by these young people shows that they are caring and that they know. The learnings that they got from that has enabled them to move into life and into the workforce to earn money and contribute to our community. They've been able to build a better life for themselves and for others. The contribution that they've made is not only through their volunteer work but also through their working life and productivity. They earn money so that they can put it into superannuation themselves.

It's funny: as we go along, we talk about putting money into superannuation and we talk about the government assisting people. The Labor Party, when they were in government not so long ago, had the opportunity to assist young people in their working life to be able to earn money and invest in superannuation, but, instead, there was a knee-jerk reaction to an issue and they said, 'We're going to build new school halls. We're going to invest in that. Instead of investing in young people themselves, we're going to build unneeded and unwanted school halls,' and they did. They built them and they weren't up to specifications. They built them and they weren't able to be used multipurposely. It was a poor investment. That's what's happening at the moment: we're wasting a lot of money through knee-jerk reactions. We're wasting a lot of money— (Time expired)