Only getting half the story

February 17, 2022

I would hate for this parliament to only get half the story, and unfortunately, when former Prime Minister Turnbull and the member for Riverina talk about defence spending, they're both missing a really crucial piece: they're not mentioning that defence spending also rose to 1.93 per cent of GDP under Labor in 2009-10, which was higher than at any time in the Howard government. It was the highest figure since 1994, when Paul Keating was Prime Minister and defence spending as a share of GDP was 1.96 per cent. I'm sure none of the members opposite would want there to be a misleading figure used here to mislead the Australian public about what governments of all colours do, because both sides take the defence of our nation very seriously, and it has been appalling to see it being used as some sort of little political tool in recent days.

What I'd also like to point out is that the Prime Minister spent a lot of time today trying out his latest messaging about the economy. What he's missing is a key point, and that is something that COVID has shown us: if you don't have your health, not a lot else matters. We've seen that. We've seen that with people's lives. It's all very well to talk about how important the economy is, but the economy is actually about people, and that's how we see it. We intend to have, if we are in government, a strong economy, not at the expense of people but in support of people and their health and security.

The obsession with political pointscoring that we're seeing from those opposite means that they have had no interest in solving the problems that have emerged and been highlighted by COVID. They've only been concerned about making sure they don't have to take responsibility for anything. They don't want you to blame them for anything, but they'll take credit for everything. The Prime Minister leads this charge. It comes from the top down. If you were outside this place looking in, you'd be forgiven for thinking that this country is being run not by a Prime Minister but by an adolescent. He reminds me of an adolescent who hasn't yet learnt how to take responsibility, hasn't yet learnt that you have to stand up and unconditionally say 'I'm sorry' sometimes, and hasn't yet learnt that sometimes you can't just push the blame onto other people and pretend it wasn't you. Australians deserve more than that from a Prime Minister, and they deserve much more than they're getting from this government that is just fighting within itself and dividing the nation.

On this side, Labor want to see a nation that is brought together. By the end of a first-term Labor government— there are a whole lot of things that are achievable, but that people might struggle to conceive when they think about those opposite running the place—and working with Australians, there's so much that we can get done. We can see more things being made at home, and I stand here very proudly as the member of parliament who has the only Australian manufacturer of rapid antigen tests that was listed in the initial listing on the TGA for the at-home rapid antigen tests. That's a company called Innovation Scientific. I was working with them for many months to educate small businesses about RATs, long before they were available, and to show them what the quality of an Australian product is. That's the sort of thing we should have more of in the Hawkesbury and in the country. The way we do that is we power it with cheap energy. We know that people should be paid a secure and decent wage, so they can live with security.

While there are certain things that we can't compete with other countries on, we can compete on energy. One of the keys to a future made in Australia is cheap renewable energy—and it also creates jobs. Our Powering Australia Plan will create over 600,000 jobs. We will be able to boost renewables to 82 per cent of the grid by 2030, and people will get a $275 drop in their energy bills by 2050. That's what Labor can do working with people, not fighting amongst ourselves.