Monday, 10 September 2018
Today I rise to express the deep concern of the electors of Kingston—the confusion and the chaos that has left them, quite frankly, bewildered. Why do we have a new Prime Minister? Why has this government spent the whole of the last few months talking about itself, talking about who is going to win the hunger games of being Prime Minister? That confusion, exasperation and frustration has been particularly palpable around my community. But, of course, what they know deep down is that the Liberal Party may have changed its leader yet again but nothing has changed for the Australian people. We still have one of the most out-of-touch governments in living memory, and the now Prime Minister was the out-of-touch Treasurer that this country has had to endure for the last three years.
Over his years as Treasurer and before that as a minister, the Prime Minister has made his values abundantly clear. He had no greater goal than to make life easier for big business and the big banks. His mission was to give a $17 billion tax cut to big business at the expense of ordinary Australians. As Treasurer and as a member of the government, he voted against the royal commission into banking 26 times. He went further than that and called it a ‘populous whinge’. Australians cannot trust that this Prime Minister will ever put their needs first when he has clearly shown not only his allegiance to the top end of town but that he has more interest in acquiring the top job than in Australians’ jobs. In the area of early childhood, the Prime Minister, as the then Minister for Social Services, designed a system that left one in four families worse off as a result. These are the values of the now Prime Minister—one that cut $17 billion from our schools, one that cut penalty rates for hundreds of thousands of Australians. And let’s not forget his five-year-long pursuit to increase the pension age to 70. I could go on. He is now saying he wants to scrape these barnacles off, but of course we know that deep in his heart he absolutely believes in an Australia that does not put people first. It might put the top end of town first, it might put values around supporting big business first, but it does not put the Australian people first.
I would quickly like to speak about two issues tonight—firstly, his ongoing commitment as Treasurer and now as Prime Minister to slash $84 million from the ABC. The government has launched two inquiries that are trying to damage our public broadcaster, and it has absolutely cut the guts out of the ABC. Many of my constituents are part of the 17 million Australians who consume ABC content each week. Some turn onto the ABC and receive their trusted news and current affairs. Some are families like my own who access quality, free children’s programming from the ABC. Some are young people who look forward to the Triple J Hottest 100 every year. Some love the ABC for quality Australian drama and comedy. Some love the ABC for its coverage of local sport. The ABC also plays a critical role in emergency situations, transmitting warnings about flood and fire. There are countless reasons why the ABC is such an integral part of our nation’s fabric. Particularly in a time of distrust in the media and fake news, Australians need a strong, trusted, healthy public broadcaster.
When the Prime Minister, as the then Treasurer, cut $84 million from the ABC in his budget, he said that everyone had to live within their means as an excuse as to why he would cut funding to our public broadcaster. Well, it’s time that this government took our ABC seriously. It’s time to hear this government defend our ABC rather than constantly talk it down, and it’s time to see this government backing what the Australian public know: the ABC is worth fighting for. It means so much to so many people and it deserves respect in this place, rather than the constant picking apart that the then Treasurer, now the Prime Minister—it’s hard to keep up—did, as well as, of course— (Time expired)