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AGAINST – Matters of Urgency — Albanese Government

Dorinda Cox

I inform the Senate that the President has received the following letter, dated 27 February, from Senator Hanson:

Pursuant to standing order 75, I give notice that today I propose to move "That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

Due to its litany of broken promises, inability to secure our borders against people smugglers, control skyrocketing immigration rates, or effectively tackle the cost-of- living crisis, the Albanese Labor Government has not upheld its responsibilities to the Australian people. Consequently, the Senate must issue a vote of no confidence in the Albanese Labor Government.

Is the proposal supported?

More than the number of senators required by the standing orders having risen in their places—

With the concurrence of the Senate, the clerks will set the clock in line with the informal arrangements made by the whips.

Pauline Hanson

I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

Due to its litany of broken promises, inability to secure our borders against people smugglers, control skyrocketing immigration rates, or effectively tackle the cost-of- living crisis, the Albanese Labor Government has not upheld its responsibilities to the Australian people. Consequently, the Senate must issue a vote of no confidence in the Albanese Labor Government.

This is a matter of urgency about the Albanese Labor government. The Prime Minister's shortcomings and his government's litany of failure and broken promises demand action by this chamber. The people smugglers are back, the boats are back and Labor's immigration remains at high records, driving inflation and our housing crisis. Labor has been completely ineffective in tackling our cost-of-living crisis. Labor's own suicidal renewables obsession is driving this crisis, with record energy bills. Labor is attacking our small businesses and farmers at the command of the corrupt union bosses. And, as we discovered today, Labor supported COVID-19 vaccine mandates in Queensland that have been ruled unlawful.

The polls are clear: Australians have lost confidence in the Albanese Labor government. That's because the government is not meeting its responsibilities to the Australian people. It's incumbent on the Senate to express this too and to support a vote of no confidence in the Albanese Labor government. It's the only decent thing to do. When your constituents come to you and demand why you didn't act sooner against the worst government since Whitlam's, at least you'll be able to tell them you tried. The list of failures is endless. The list of broken promises gets longer every day.

Labor's referendum was soundly defeated but succeeded in dividing Australia while costing $450 million. The blame for this has been placed firmly at the Prime Minister's feet by no less than Mick Gooda and Greg Craven. The Prime Minister and his Indigenous Australians ministers blame everyone but themselves. Despite the overwhelming rejection of their politics of racial division, they continue to pursue it. We were promised $275 off our energy bills. They've only gone up, not down. We were promised a transparent and accountable government. We have anything but accountability. Labor has virtually suspended parliamentary democracy in its obscene rush to put union bosses in charge of our country and our economy. They've guillotined a huge number of legislative debates and shut down Senate enquiries.

We were promised the full stage 3 tax cuts. We didn't get them. I was promised regular meetings with the Prime Minister. I've had only one. Australia was promised a royal commission into the COVID-19 pandemic. We have a toothless inquiry in its place that will do nothing but praise dictator premiers in Queensland, Victoria and Western Australia.

Labor's incompetence on national security has left our borders wide open to people smugglers. They've released dangerous criminal immigration detainees into the community, including murderers and sex offenders. This incompetence has left our military almost completely unprepared to defend the nation. Education outcomes are in alarming decline. Labor lets teachers indoctrinate children and take them on protests rather than teaching them what they must know. Medicare is under huge strain. We face a shortage of GPs, approaching more than 10,000 in just a few years, because Medicare doesn't pay them fairly. It desperately needs a major overhaul to boost our GP numbers, but Labor does nothing to reform it. Labor just pats itself on the back for creating Medicare—how many decades ago was that?—and ignores how flawed it's become. Labor continues to destroy our environment with the enormous geographic footprint of materials-intensive renewable energy. This effort has failed to reduce global carbon dioxide emissions. They're going up, not down. And Labor has failed to reform Australia's unbalanced and unjust family law system instead of making it more fair.

I will go back to the point. You push these renewable energies, and you talk about the environment, but you're seeing hundreds of thousands of hectares in North Queensland being destroyed to put up your wind turbines, which is destroying the flora and fauna. You have no idea of the damage that you are doing. You are actually paying billions of dollars to sustain this renewable energy scam that's going on. If it's good enough, let it stand on its own two feet. People are paying double for it through their higher electricity costs and through the taxes for your subsidies. A lot of these are just multinational companies that don't pay tax in this country.

Deborah O'Neill

While I want to acknowledge Senator Hanson's due election to the parliament here and her right to hold a view and propound a particular point of view in the chamber, I just can't agree with her characterisation of Australia that's embedded in the contribution she's just made. As the daughter of immigrants, the Australia that I live in is something that I'm proud to be a part of. I don't know any country in the world that's going to be perfect at every point of time in history, but the Australia that I know and the Australia that my children are growing up in and my grandson is growing up in is one that I'm really proud of. There's great stuff that we should celebrate. I'm frightened that the whingefest that can garner inches takes away from people's hope and passion for the great future this country has.

I appreciate the time to respond to Senator Hanson's matter, as it gives me the opportunity to clearly put on the record some of the blatant falsehoods that are perpetuated by some, sadly too often, conservative members in this parliament who seem determined to deride the nation rather than lift our sights. Sometimes, it seems they have a few issues with the truth as well. Senator Hanson's motion is less a matter of public importance and more of a grievance list. I'm going to attempt to unravel it and address each one in a respectable and sensible manner, which will echo the sensible and respectable manner of governing that is the hallmark of the Albanese government.

Senator Hanson wishes for clarification on Australian borders, so to this point I'd like to echo what Australia's Border Force Commissioner by the name of Michael Outram has said on the public record. He said that federal funding for border control has reached its highest level since 2015. There's just the fact. This includes considerable investment which was made last year. Mr Outram, who I might add was appointed by the previous government, is continuing a policy of strong border protections and ensuring that immigration only occurs through legal mechanisms.

I would caution Senator Hanson and others who are privileged to serve this nation, our home, Australia: the words we use in this public place matter, and, very sadly, people smugglers—who are profit-driven and don't care who they hurt—listen to what we say in this chamber and in the media. For those opposite to state that the borders of Australia are anything but strong, and that individuals who arrive here illegally will be dealt with in any manner other than the usual course of action, is blatantly incorrect. It's, frankly, dangerous. And it's unworthy of a representative of the nation in this parliament.

Senator Hanson wants to know about the Albanese government's immigration plans. Well, Minister O'Neil clarified, late last year: this government's fixing the immigration system. And goodness! What a state it was in—like on one of those renovation shows: 'We've got a real fixer-upperer!'—when we got here, with huge problems.

Following the findings of the Parkinson review, the plan will have five key objectives: raising living standards by boosting productivity; ensuring a fair go for all Australians and preventing migrant worker exploitation; building stronger communities through sustainable migration; strengthening international relationships by building strong regional economic and social ties; and making the system work by being fast, efficient and fair for migrants and employers. We inherited a broken system, but we're determined to fix it. We are rebuilding the Public Service to do the job that needs to be done.

Now, Senator Hanson wants to talk about Labor's cost-of-living tax cuts. Let's be clear: Labor wants every Australian to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. It's not that hard. It's a great message. It's a message for an Australia that is a better place to live. It's a message that people who've come to this country—like my parents—as immigrants, believe is the story of Australia: that they can have a better life here. Our Labor government is committed to doing what is right when it's required to ensure that every Australian who is working is going to get a tax cut in July and improve the quality of their life.

Gerard Rennick

I rise to support this motion, because the Australian people have lost all confidence in the Australian Prime Minister. And can I say: what a shocking display of insensitivity we saw on the weekend, when the Prime Minister was flying around between the capital cities, going to pop concerts, when Australians are doing it tough—when Australians are struggling under the cost of living. Many Australians right now are homeless because of this reckless immigration rate, which has been over 500,000 people. And how does Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, respond? He responds by flying around on a taxpayer funded jet, going to see Taylor Swift in Sydney and then getting on the jet and going to a concert hosted by a billionaire. These are not the hallmarks of a man who is concerned about the suffering that is being endured by the Australian people. It's about time he actually started to come up with some solutions as to how he is going to deal with the cost of living.

I can give him a couple of ideas. First of all, he can lower the immigration rate to a level that is sustainable. Right now—and I'm not against immigration—we really couldn't afford to have anyone coming in. I accept we'll have some people coming in. But we have got people who are homeless—and these people aren't necessarily out of work; they just literally cannot find a house to live in. We have got tent cities springing up all over Australia. And this sort of rubbish has to stop.

I want to call out Senator O'Neill for having the audacity to call this motion a 'whingefest'. This is not a whingefest. How dare the Labor Party say that of us, senators, who are calling out the hypocrisy of the Labor government! They have no solutions. They've basically rebranded the tax cuts, that were originally brought down by the Liberal Party, and now are trying to claim credit for them themselves. And they haven't gone far enough, I might add. As I pointed out yesterday, they are giving back, on average, about $800 a year, and the cost of living, on average, has gone up by about $8,000 per year. It's hardly a satisfactory solution.

We don't want to hear from Anthony Albanese, the Prime Minister, accusations of a whingefest; that is not fair. The answer we now get every time we raise an issue is: 'Don't be political. Don't play politics with it.' I'm sorry, but this is from the party, the Labor Party, that played politics with a rape allegation; they weaponised a rape allegation to get at the former prime minister. What a disgrace! They weaponised the bushfires in 2019 to get at the former prime minister. They weaponised the pandemic and caused all these unnecessary lockdowns—and, as ruled today, these COVID vaccine mandates were unlawful—all for political purposes. The Labor Party has no right to come in here and call out what the Liberal Party and the coalition are trying to do in trying to hold this government to account.

Another area where the people have lost faith in the Labor Party and the current government is the lack of transparency. This was one of the many lies the current Prime Minister told. He said he would be completely transparent when he got into office, yet he would not release the minutes of the first National Cabinet meeting. He said he would release the minutes of the National Cabinet meeting, and he did not do that. The Labor Party voted against Senator Duniam's very good idea that we have quarterly reporting of energy pricing, so that we can start to benchmark the cost of energy because what gets measured gets improved. I cannot get from the CSIRO an actual way that net zero is calculated. I cannot get from the TGA the primers used in the PCR test to indicate whether or not the PCR test was actually testing for COVID. There are a range of issues on which the Labor Party will not disclose the inner workings of the government. That just goes to show that they're really on the side of big corporations and big unions—and, let's not forget, they wouldn't disclose the fees paid by superannuation funds to unions. This government needs to pick itself up.

Long debate text truncated.

Summary

Date and time: 5:46 PM on 2024-02-27
Senator Pocock's vote: No
Total number of "aye" votes: 28
Total number of "no" votes: 31
Total number of abstentions: 17

Adapted from information made available by theyvoteforyou.org.au