I rise to speak in response to appeals from Qantas workers living in my community. Once again, and it is becoming a sadly familiar occurrence, I am being contacted by anxious members of my community, worried about their futures. As recently as last night, one of my constituents contacted me, concerned about jobs being sent offshore—not Qantas jobs but call centre jobs and public service jobs, because there is a roll-on effect. It seems, in the short time I have been in this place, I have spent most of my time advocating for workers in my electorate who, under the Abbott government, have lost their jobs or are in peril of doing so. And it is not just the workers I worry for; it is their families, their children, their husbands, their wives. We on this side understand the role government plays in job creation and keeping a community stable and flourishing. This is why, under Labor's watch, nearly one million jobs were created.
The sense of deja vu is overwhelming, standing here saying the same thing I said two weeks ago and yet it has had no impact. There is still no plan. There has been no action taken to avoid the Qantas losses, and the figures do not include the cruel state of anxiety that the workers have endured for weeks while Qantas went public with the plan to cut 5,000 jobs but did not share specifics with the workers. I am not inured to the pain of my neighbours in the face of such an announcement or to the cumulative impact of the rolling job losses occurring in my community. These are real people with real feelings and pressures. These are families with mortgages, school costs and children to rear. I empathise. I remember well the shock of suddenly being reduced to one wage, and part time at that, while raising three children. I know personally the anxiety of income stress, mortgage stress, the worry about the next bill.
Paul Keating described this Prime Minister as economically illiterate. I fear the truth is far worse. His lack of action shows no empathy or feeling for his own country men and women. Those opposite seem to enjoy the sport of parliament, winning petty points and cheering each other's smart alec comments. What they do not seem to have an interest in is the wellbeing of the 23 million people we are here to represent. The fact that 63,000 jobs have been lost since September seems to be a point of pride. We all remember the astonishing day when the Treasurer actually goaded General Motors Holden, one of Australia's most loved and respected companies, to leave our shores. And they did, as did Toyota, as did Alcoa, and, tragically for my community and many others in Australia, so did 63,000 jobs—and counting. When the Prime Minister promised he would create a million jobs in five years, perhaps he was telling the truth, but we are all waiting for actions to match the rhetoric. I urge the government to act on Australian jobs for the people of my electorate.