Payne's Parliamentary Proceedings - December 2021

08 December 2021

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The end of the Parliament for 2021 (and possibly the parliamentary term) did not mean a quiet and orderly end to the year. Instead, the silly season arrived early and this past sitting fortnight could only be described as chaotic as the Government revealed itself to be deeply divided with no agenda.

We saw Coalition members crossing the floor in both houses, legislation introduced and then shelved and the Prime Minister forced to correct the record after being caught spouting untruths in Question Time.

It was a wild ride, and can only be recounted as the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
 

THE GOOD:

Amidst the chaos of the fortnight (see below), a moment of rare bipartisanship and cross-party respect emerged with the passing of Maeve’s Law - a law legalising Mitochondrial Donation to prevent Mitochondrial Disease in the next generation of Australian children.

It was a telling sign that when the Parliament works together we can get important reforms done. All MPs were afforded a conscience vote, with members from either side of the debate speaking with great respect of each others opinion. I voted in support of the law.

In another win, Labor’s strong campaign against the Government’s Trump-inspired voter suppression laws - which would have disenfranchised many Australians by making people show ID in order to vote, was successful as we forced Scott Morrison to abandon the proposal.

 

I gave a number of important speeches in the Parliament over the fortnight.

 

I was also happy to be able to speak on a number of important issues including the NBN, Class Action Disputes, the need for proper funding of Public Broadcasters, the housing affordability crisis, the need for more action to combat gender-based violence, and the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People.

I was proud to use one speech to remind Australians of some the reasons why we need a new Government. I ran out of time and was happy to be able to expand my contribution by submitting a Matter of Public Importance the following day.

You can watch these speeches on my YouTube channel here.

 

My Matter of Public Importance submitted to the Speaker for Debate

 

Labor also made a number of important policy announcements.

On Friday, Labor announced our plan for climate action - the Powering Australia plan, which will cut emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, increase the percentage of renewables to 83% by the same year, create 604,000 jobs (the majority in regional Australia) and lower power bills by $275 per household per year on average by 2025.

The world’s climate crisis is an opportunity for Australia to become a renewable energy superpower, and I’m proud to be part of a party which will do the work to make that happen.

You can read the full policy, including the extensive modelling backing it here.

It’s time to put a decade of inaction behind us and embrace the future.

 

Speaking to media at Master Builders in Fyshwick with Deputy Labor Leader Richard Marles. Australia has a huge skills shortage, Labor will work to fix it.

 

I was happy to join Richard Marles, Deputy Labor Leader last Thursday for a tour of Master Builders in Fyshwick. Under the Coalition, Canberra has lost 3,000 trainees and apprentices - a reduction of 30 per cent. This figure is hardly surprising when they’ve slashed $3 billion from the vocational education and training sector. Last Sunday Labor announced part of our education policy to fix the decade of decline we’ve seen under this Government.

The policy includes 465,000 free TAFE positions to fix the skills shortage and rebuild our vocational education sector, and an extra 20,000 university places to start the repair of the hugely damaged higher education sector.

Earlier in November, Labor announced plans to fix the Coalition’s broken NBN.

Since the Coalition won Government, the NBN has been badly mismanaged with cost blowouts seeing Australia’s average fixed broadband speeds slipping to 59th in the world. Canberrans know all too well what this means as our city has the worst internet of all capital cities.

Labor will invest $2.4 billion to fix the network.

The plan will expand full-fibre NBN access to 1.5 million premises, ensuring 90 per cent of Australians will have access to world-class gigabit speeds by 2025.

The plan will also boost education opportunities for the to 30,000 families who have no internet, who will be supported with access to free broadband for a year.

You can see all Labor’s announced policies here.

 

Labor has made some big policy announcements in areas such as higher education, climate change and the NBN.

 


THE BAD:

Over the fortnight we saw seven Coalition members cross the floor on various issues from Pauline Hanson’s anti-vax bill to new regulations on class action lawsuits and debate on a federal integrity commission, on which they lost the vote on the floor of the house yet blocked debate anyway due to a technicality.

It’s now been three years since the Prime Minister stood up with Mr Porter and promised a corruption watchdog. They’re so afraid of scrutiny that they won’t even bring forward their legislation for debate, instead focusing on attacking the NSW ICAC for doing its job in investigating serious allegations against former Premier Gladys Berejiklian.

Last week also saw the publication of the review into the culture of Commonwealth Parliamentary Workplaces by Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins.

The report made for sober reading and the clear message is the Parliament needs to do much better.

Labor is committed to working across the Parliament to implement the recommendations, in consultation with staff. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that those working in the building are safe at all times.

It is quite clear that we have a long way to go in fixing the toxic culture in Parliament house, but we should be taking the lead on this issue as a workplace.

 

Kate Jenkins' review into Parliamentary workplaces was a sombering read. Labor will ensure that the recommendations are implemented.

 

More broadly, all women in Australia have a right to feel safe, whether at work, in public, or at home. Violence against women is a stain on our nation and we need to do more to address it. I spoke about the 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based violence in the House, which you can watch here.
 


THE UGLY:

It seems as though every week on the floor of the House of Reps, Scott Morrison and his Government achieve new lows. 

The Prime Minister’s attitude can be summed up by the unedifying sight of him twice having to the correct the record after falsely claiming he had told Anthony Albanese that he was travelling to Hawaii during the black summer bushfires, his failure to condemn George Christensen for his disinformation about the vaccine rollout and the premiers in Parliament, and failure to offer any actual, considered answers to any of our, or the crossbench questions.

In contrast to the chaos coming from the Coalition, our united Labor team showed that Australians have a real alternative at the 2022 Federal Election.
 
While Parliament is done for the year, myself, my staff and all my Labor colleagues will continue to work hard for you and in your interests.

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