Labor Hears You - 25/11/21

25 November 2021


Yesterday marked 14 years since the election of the Rudd government. I joined the Labor Party in the year preceding that election, because I saw that our government had lost touch with the issues that were important to Australians and was attacking the things that made Australia the great place that it was, attacking our social safety net and our system of wages that had made Australia a relatively egalitarian place, and I wanted to do whatever I could to be part of changing that. I wanted to knock on doors, to make phone calls, to hand out how-to-votes and let people know that we could have a government that cared, really cared, about the issues facing Australians, that cared about fairness and was forward looking.

We are at a moment again like this in Australia, and, after being in parliament this week, I know we are at a very much more desperate moment with this government. We desperately need a new government. This week in parliament we have seen the Prime Minister fail to call out dangerous misinformation from members of his own government and then, in question time, make out like it's a big joke and that it was all about Labor. In the last sitting fortnight of the year, and quite possibly of this government's term, you would think they would be trying to get through big reforms or big ideas. But instead we're seeing bills introduced that are solutions in search of a problem.

We're seeing bills that are seeking to divide rather than unite Australians, bills that are all about politics and not about substance. This morning the government shut down debate on an integrity commission—a federal integrity commission that the government says it is committed to but has taken over a thousand days and still not introduced legislation. Instead of debating that, we have a voter suppression bill, a bill that makes it harder for Australians to exercise their right to vote.

This is a government that detests accountability and debate. This is a government that has no respect for our democracy, and that will be the legacy of this government: a tired government beset by division and scandal, with a wafer-thin policy agenda that governs only for their own political interests; a prime minister and government who thinks that a three-word slogan is the answer to the complex policy demands of governing; a government that always seeks to divide rather than unite; and a government that will always dodge responsibility but always claim credit, and who thinks that a photo op is always the solution but never follows through with the policy.

Sadly, every sitting week that I come into this place we see new lows, and this is a tragedy for the Australian people. For eight long years, this government has squandered Australia's advantages, tripled our debt, ruined our reputation on the world stage and thrown away the goodwill of its people. In this time, Australia, once a world leader, has gone backwards in rankings of global performance. We ranked last among 60 countries on climate change policy and 61st in the world for fixed broadband speeds. Australia ranks eighth out of 11 high-income countries for healthcare affordability. Educational outcomes have slipped, while we're ranked as more corrupt and have less trust in government. Household debt, as a share of GDP, is now the second highest of 43 countries, and we have the third most unaffordable housing market. One in six Australian children live in poverty. Australia is going backwards under the Liberals. We are being left behind.

We need a government that has vision, that wants to see Australia leading the world, that wants to build back stronger and fairer as we recover from the pandemic. We need a government in touch with the needs of Australians, that will support innovation and make sure that no-one is left behind. And that's why a federal Labor government is more crucial than ever. An Albanese government will tackle climate change, return integrity and dignity to politics, fix the NBN, properly fund the public broadcasters, provide job security and stand up for Australians. The pandemic has shown us what is important and what is less important. What people in Australia and around the world need right now is hope, and it's there.

This is my message to Australians. For those who are worried about climate change and the world that they'll leave their grandchildren, Labor hears you. To those worried about how they'll never get into the housing market, Labor hears you. To those trying to keep a business afloat at home during lockdown with the world's worse internet speeds, Labor hears you. To those struggling to get into the job market or to find secure work, Labor hears you. To those trying to upskill, train and get a degree, Labor hears you.