I am very pleased today to represent the people of Lalor in this very important matter of public importance because it is of critical importance for 21,000 families in my electorate. What we are talking about today is what this government is bringing home to roost for 21,000 families in my electorate. Lalor is home to 60,000 families. People come to live in our area of the world because it is affordable and because it is welcoming. Lots of families—clearly 21,000 of them—earn less than $51,000 a year. This government has said in this chamber today that they are going to rip out support from those families. On top of taking away the schoolkids bonus, from which of course families are still hurting, when getting ready for school next year they are finding that in the year after they are going to lose the supplements. They are finding out that when a child is 16, at the most expensive time to send a child to school, with a book list potentially costing $800, depending on which subjects will they are doing and depending on whether they are doing a VCE where it is just books or whether they are doing a VET or a VCAL when you have costs of the course on top, at that critical point we are going to be saying to these low-income families, 'You can't afford to send our kids to school for years 11 and 12. They should leave school.' That is what this government is saying to families in Lalor. That is what this translates to.
I have a message for the flourishing Prime Minister who, with every flourish of the glasses, carries a cut to families. This government talks a new game but is playing a very old game—the old game of punish the underprivileged, the old game of take from those who can least afford it. The flourishing Prime Minister is hiding this behind the new rhetoric of fairness. Fair to whom? Prime Minister, who are you fair to? Fair to the families who you are going to rip $2,600 a year from their income? Fair to the 1.3 million families across the country who are going to lose the FTB supplement? Fair to the 500,000 families on less than $50,000 a year who stand to lose $726 per child from the supplements?
I am sure these seem like small numbers to multinationals. They seem like small numbers to millionaires. They are not small numbers in Lalor. These are the numbers that make or break a family. These are the numbers that mean a child can continue at school or cannot. We heard from the new Minister for Social Services, a minister who is trying to demonstrate to the rest of the frontbench that he is a good toe cutter, who is going to use Social Services as an audition for Treasury, to prove to those over there but he can cut toes better than anyone else.
That is right. Families in Lalor are going down those snakes and there are no ladders being offered by this government—none at all.
I listened carefully to the member for Wentworth today, because I wanted to see if any of those complex phrases actually led to complex outcomes for families in Lalor. But, no, what I got were very complex sentences. I am still trying to find the subject in those complex sentences. But he did do a bit of listing. So now I have some lists.
This is what I heard from the Minister for Social Services at the dispatch box this afternoon. I heard him being heartless. I heard arrogance. I saw a good rendition of Scrooge. I heard bullying. I saw a rigid person with a rigid attitude to fiscal responsibility, with no heart when it comes to families. I heard a man who does not understand that you take that money out of the pockets of families in my electorate and you impact on our local economy. That is what I heard. I heard someone who does not understand economics at all. If these changes go through, if they get passed...
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