TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Answers to Questions

TAKE NOTE OF ANSWERS - Answers to Questions Main Image

By Louise Pratt

07 December 2023

Well, I delight in taking note of the answers to questions asked by senators opposite today, because every question has given our government an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to staying focused on what matters to Australians. We know that cost of living is at the top of people's agenda. But what have we got from those opposite? We had from the Leader of the Opposition a leadership that saw votes against cost-of-living relief, opposition to reform of wages and conditions and opposition to wage rises, in effect, after keeping wages low for a decade purposefully. You can do as much shouting from your position opposite as you like, but that obstruction and aggression does nothing to assist our nation.

We have delivered targeted relief while not adding to inflation. And it's quite remarkable, really, when you hear the incoherence of those opposite when it comes to any alternative economic agenda. They opposed electricity bill relief, which we have seen roll out right around the country, including in my own home state of WA. Gallingly, they opposed making medicines cheaper. We have also made it easier and cheaper to see a doctor. We've introduced cheaper child care, expansions of paid parental leave, more social and affordable housing, increases in rent assistance, and fee-free TAFE. We now have wages rising at the fastest rate for a decade, including for minimum-wage and aged-care workers. When we get questions from those opposite trying to spin their position for the day, nothing can take away from our commitment and strength in focusing, every day and every week, on what matters to Australians. This means delivering on our commitments which are delivering benefits to Australians who are clearly under the pump at this time.

But those opposite have nothing positive to offer our nation. They vote against cost-of-living relief when we know Australians are doing it tough. Again, we've seen today, through the opposition's opposition to our industrial law reform package, the embedded and entrenched position and commitment that they have to keeping wages down in our nation. Under their leadership, we saw wages low for a decade, and now we see a purposeful attempt from those opposite to continue to try and divide our nation, when what we really need is to be able to come together. Shouting is no solution for these times. Aggression and obstruction don't help our nation; they hurt it.

As I note the answers today, Senator Wong was also asked about our agenda for rural and regional Australia. As a government we have invested $3 billion in the agricultural portfolio and a billion dollars more for biosecurity. For the first time, sustainable biosecurity funding is now in place. That is something that those opposite could never deliver. We in this government have opened Medicare urgent care clinics right around the country, particularly in rural and regional Australia, and there are many such clinics up and running in my own home state of WA. I had the great pleasure of opening one such clinic in Western Australia just a few weeks ago.