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Speech on Labor's Budget failure for every day Australians

On Thursday 29 May 2024, I made a speech in Federal Parliament about Labor's Budget betrayal. You can watch the full speech here or read the transcript below.


There is no new money for housing, nothing for mortgage holders, no new money for DV support services and nothing to stop corporate price gouging. HECS debts will keep going up. The cost-of-living crisis will continue to get worse. But there is room for $50 billion for fossil fuel subsidies, $12 billion for nuclear submarines and $174 billion in tax handouts that make the housing crisis worse. This isn't a budget for everyday Australians; it's a budget for fossil fuel corporations and corporate CEOs that actually locks in the cost-of-living and climate crises.

That $9.3 billion surplus that the Treasury is so proud of could have supplied thousands of public homes. It could have put dental cover into Medicare. It could have raised income support. It could be wiping HECS debt. It could fund years of free public transport across the entire country. But, no, it's more important that the Treasurer positions himself as sensible to the political and media class.

So here are three—let's put it politely—untruths that Labor is telling you about their budget. Untruth No. 1: that there is $11.3 billion in new money for housing in the budget—not true. Most of that is an extension of Morrison-era agreement with the states. So it's not new money. The rest is the $1 billion that the Greens secured in negotiations last year on the Housing Australia Future Fund Bill, and the rest is for housing-adjacent infrastructure, not actually building new housing. Untruth No. 2: that they're wiping $3 billion in HECS debt. This was debt that they created last year by refusing to scrap indexation, leading to debts massively climbing by 7.1 per cent. But we're expected to treat retroactively changing that indexation as some kind of incredible generosity. It's like pulling the knife out after they've stabbed you. Finally, untruth No. 3: that this is a responsible budget. I'll tell you who it's being responsible for—the big banks, the CEOs and the fossil fuel corporations, who will keep benefiting from massive subsidies and tax breaks. It's not sensible or responsible for everyday people, who will continue to pay for those tax breaks and who will continue to suffer as the cost-of-living and climate crises get worse under this government. If they want to actually curb inflation, just cap rents and stop corporate price gouging.

The cost of bread is up over 20 per cent in the last two years. Cheese and eggs are up over 20 per cent. Oils are up almost 30 per cent over two years. Supermarket price gouging is out of control, and there is nothing—nothing—in Labor's budget to stop it. They're refusing to make price gouging illegal or to empower the ACCC to break up the duopoly. But when governments fail we know that our communities will still go out of their way to support each other. 

Our community pantry in Ryan has been open for nearly a year now, and, sadly, its use increases day by day. It now empties almost every day. My office and I provide the basics that we need, and we have generous donations from many Ryan locals. We've also just launched a very popular weekly free dinners program at two Ryan locations. People really appreciate meeting each other and taking a night off from cooking, and I really love catching up, too, in a friendly, informal family setting. Thanks again, amazing Ryan volunteers. You make this possible. I love your tireless work, but you really shouldn't have to be doing it. We need real action from our government to urgently alleviate desperate cost-of-living pressures.

There are other dark pressures on too many in our community. Women are being murdered at almost twice the rate of last year—four women a week. The Prime Minister stood up at the No More rally in Canberra and said that his government would do more for prevention, more for cultural change that we so need and more to protect women. These seem like hollow words in the face of the government's budget that does nothing to address men's violence against women. It's offensive. It's a betrayal. Australia has an epidemic of men's violence against women. One in four women will have experienced violence since the age of 15, one in two have experienced sexual harassment, and 39 women have been murdered this year—I keep having to update that number every time I speak—but there is not a single new cent from Labor to fund frontline services that are so necessary. How many more women have to die for the government to actually do something useful and practical? What is the price that women have to keep on paying?

This budget could have funded support services, prevention programs, JobSeeker increases and crisis housing. Instead, there's money for fossil fuel subsidies and wealthy property investors, and nothing for women. If Labor were actually serious about this, if the condolences weren't hollow, they would actually commit to the immediate funding of legal aid—$1 billion for frontline support services every year and actual funding for prevention and education work. Anything less is a betrayal of women. The more Labor ignores this crisis, the more women are hurt and will die. There's no new funding for women or for real cost-of-living relief, and there's barely any spending on public schools. This is a budget for the likes of Brad Banducci, for Woodside and for property investors. 

If you send your kid to a public school in Australia, you're getting pretty much nothing in this budget. Actually, what the Labor government will promise you is a funding shortfall of $3 billion for public education. What a disgrace. Less than two per cent of the public schools across Australia receive the funding they're supposed to get. Meanwhile, 98 per cent of private schools receive excess funding from the Labor government. It doesn't make any sense. This is actually harming our kids' futures. In my own electorate, for example, the Gap State School is shortchanged by $1 million a year, Ashgrove State School is shortchanged by $1.2 million annually, and Ferny Grove State High School has a funding shortfall of $3.5 million. Indooroopilly State High School can't even get any new funding to build toilets, despite overcrowding causing long lines every lunchtime. They've been refused any new permanent classrooms, and they're having to beg for demountables just so kids can have a library. 

With this budget, Labor are saying that they would rather buy nuclear submarines, weapons and fund climate bombs like the Middle Arm gas project than fund libraries, science lessons or toilets for our kids. They'll give huge handouts to private schools, fossil fuel companies and property investors but cry poor when it comes to funding our public schools and our kids' futures. It's an absolute betrayal of everyday people who are struggling to pay the mortgage, to fill up the car or to pay school fees. The Treasurer may pat himself on the back and congratulate himself for a job well done, but if he had actually been listening to real people in the community he would know that this budget has crushed people—people who had hoped that Labor might listen to them; that they might have had the weight of HECS debt lifted off their shoulders or that they might be able to afford a roof over their heads or feed their families without fear of defaulting on another bill. But, once again, Labor have decided to listen to their wealthy corporate mates and have left everyday Australians behind.

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