Fuel Prices - Speech to Parliament

Today, Labor members have been talking about the cost of living and about the pressures that ordinary families face in our electorates and in communities that are represented by people like the member for Paterson. What an extraordinary—indeed surreal—contribution we just heard from that member. I do not think I can say anything more about it, other than to encourage people to check the Hansard. Perhaps Barnaby might help him out on the way through. In that regard he needs some help.Labor members have been talking about the cost of living pressures. We have been talking about another broken promise in the form of this tax on a tax. We have been talking about this government's contempt not only for the Australian people but also for this parliament.

What do we see on the other side? Surrealism, but also a government that is in denial or perhaps simply oblivious to the consequences of its decisions. The Prime Minister said a couple of interesting things in question time today. He said, 'This is a government that understands'—an extraordinary comment in the context of this debate. Then there was a cry for help. He said, 'I think of Labor members. They do not understand the pain it is causing'—relating to tax burdens. I will tell you one thing we understand: we understand this because we are listening to the people we represent. We understand the pain that people are feeling right across Australia in order to maintain decent living standards. We believe that a fundamental responsibility of government is to secure decent living standards today and into the future—and also to maintain a decent environment. I said I was not going to talk about the previous speaker's contribution, but let me just say this. How extraordinary. I think he must have said the words 'carbon tax' 50 times. He did not talk about compensation—funny that.

I also want to talk about something our Prime Minister said before the election. The shadow Treasurer highlighted the gross hypocrisy of government members in saying one thing before the election and doing quite another in government. This is what the Prime Minister said in the Northern Territory as he continued what was his pre-election cost-of-living roadshow:

I am just going to keep doing what I have been doing every day since becoming Leader of the Opposition and certainly every day since this campaign started, focusing on how to reduce the Australian people's cost of living pressures, focusing on how to improve people's job security. I am going to focus on the things that matter to the Australian people …

He has been focussing on the things that matter to Australian people. He has been focussing on making their lives harder and their working lives less secure. This 'age of entitlement' that he speaks of is an entitlement for people like him at the expense of ordinary Australian families. The NATSEM modelling demonstrates the impact of this cruel budget, particularly on communities like the one I represent. He talked about job security. Well, there is very little job security out there in Melbourne's north. In my colleague and friend the member for Calwell's electorate, unemployment in some suburbs is reaching 26 per cent and youth unemployment is higher. And what support do these people get? The cutting of important programs. The proposal that young people would be denied access to any social security benefits for six months is this government's attitude to cost-of-living. I am very pleased to stand-up for my constituent's cost-of-living concerns and to support the member for McMahon's motion. This petrol tax ambush is adding further pressure to cost-of-living pressures on Australians.

Tony Abbott, the Prime Minister, promised no new or increased taxes before the election. He has no mandate for this. He has thumbed his nose to this parliament as well as showing his contempt for the Australian people. I say to members opposite, and I hope they will rise to this challenge: if you are believers in this policy, why didn't you put it to the people? And why didn't you respect the parliament? The Scullin electorate includes some new outer suburban communities, suburbs like Wollert, which are poorly serviced—if at all—by public transport. These constituents of mine have no alternative but to drive, whether it be to work or to run errands. I will give the Treasurer a newsflash: these people, some whom are not wealthy, drive cars. They drive them for long distances. They have no choice but to pay, from their hip pockets, for this government's petrol tax ambush. This is a government that talks out of one side of its mouth and says that it is not much to pay. On the other side, it advises that it will be raising $19 billion in additional revenue. The Australian Automobile Association estimates that the average motorist will be paying an extra $142 extra for fuel by 2016-17—my constituents will be paying more than this.

This cynical government is an echo of the Howard government when the former Liberal Party president spoke of a government being mean, tricky, out of touch and dysfunctional. There could not be a more apt description for these people, and the only question that I think voters are asking is, 'Do they care, or do they just not understand?'


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