Pages tagged "Budget"

  • Local Mobile Offices and the Budget

    Like many in this place, I hold regular mobile offices and street corner meetings. As a new member of parliament, I find these are a great way to understand what the community is thinking and what actions we might undertake to assist. Last Thursday I attended, with other Lalor locals, a very interesting street meeting on the corner of Spring and Bourke Streets in central Melbourne. Estimates were that around 30,000 concerned residents turned up. On Friday I held a mobile office with state shadow transport minister, Jill Hennessy, in Point Cook, and it was the same—lots of people with lots of concerns about the budget. What were the concerns that were raised? The deeply unfair nature of this year's federal budget—cuts to pensions, cuts to health, cuts to education, cuts to universities, cuts to training, cuts to family payments, the introduction of the GP and health co-payments, increases to the fuel tax, unfair conditions for the young unemployed, increased university costs and higher interest repayment rates. Thirty thousand Victorians gave a very clear message last Thursday, that this budget is unfair, with the most vulnerable doing the heavy lifting.

    The Abbott government want to re-create Australian society. They seem to want us to be a country of haves and have-nots. They want to break the social contract that this great nation is built on, the egalitarian dream. The Treasurer went to great lengths recently to explain that working Australians contribute one month's income to welfare recipients. I am keen, as were many people who spoke to me last Thursday and Friday, to see the comparison with how much the taxpayer contributes to negative gearing, superannuation concessions for the wealthy, family trusts and other juicy items in the gamut of things our taxes go to support. Minister Pyne is similarly taking every opportunity to paint a picture of the poor taxpayer contributing to higher education as an unfair burden, when in fact we all know, and Australians know, that these funds will be recouped by the taxpayer through higher tax contributions from graduates if and when they earn the big bucks that Minister Pyne assures us they will. As a former teacher, and with a nurse for a niece, I know that some university educated people certainly will not be earning those big bucks.

    Most Australians I speak to—those I spoke to last Thursday, those I spoke to on Friday, those I spoke to on Saturday at the football in my electorate—are happy to see taxes paid being utilised on education and health services and assisting those who require additional assistance, because they understand that social mobility and equity are essential for a productive economy and a fair society. Certainly that was the message I heard loud and clear last week in my electorate.

  • Impact of Budget on Economy

    My electorate of Lalor is one of the highest growth areas in Australia; it is also going to be one of the electorates most affected by this budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. Lalor is home to lots of young families and pensioners. We have lots of single families and a high proportion of those living with a disability. There are approximately 10,000 aged pensioners and 5000 disability support pensioners in Lalor. We have a 92 per cent bulk-billing rate. We have 3300 students with a disability in our local schools. The youth unemployment rate is high and getting higher.

    These are the people to be most immediately affected by this budget. They will be affected by the GP co-payment, the increases to university and training costs and the cuts to the Schoolkids Bonus, to carers payments, to the Tools for our Trade program and to the pension. All this means less money being injected into our local economy. This is the immediate known local impact. It is a scenario being repeated across the country. As communities take the time to digest this cruel budget, many have raised the potential impact on the local economy. Some are even saying that they can see the possibility of a local recession.

    My locals are sending a very loud and clear message. A coffee shop has already reported a downturn in trade and the neighbouring jeweller is saying the same. A local builder bailed me up at the footy and expressed concern for his business. Could people still afford to make home improvements after the cost of living pressures announced in the budget? Would he be able to keep on the apprentice or would he need to put him off, due to work drying up? Down at the homemaker centre, the worry is that people will no longer upgrade their white goods and furniture, if their incomes are reduced.

    My community is not unique. If this is the talk in the streets of Werribee, Tarneit and Point Cook, I am sure these are the conversations being held in Western Sydney, in the suburbs in the outskirts of Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. The local businesses in Lalor would not regard themselves as economists, but they know enough to know that the confidence of households is paramount to the success of the economy. And they are backed by the economists. As we have heard already, the June Westpac/Melbourne Institute Index of Consumer Sentiment data—and I will repeat it, because I am not sure those opposite are reading the same information—said:

    The Index is still in firmly pessimistic territory … down 6.6% from its pre-Budget level in April and 15.6% below its post-election high in November last year.
    The Dun and Bradstreet Consumer Financial Stress Index has shown Australian financial stress levels have risen by almost a third, from 13 per cent in September last year to a current level of 18.7 per cent. Dun and Bradstreet also found in their Business Expectations Survey that 59 per cent of businesses are concerned about the impact of the federal budget on their operations—59 per cent. That is the budget delivered in this chamber by this government. Today we saw, the Reject Shop and Pacific Brands, amongst a slew of retail business, record profit downgrades. And the Reserve Bank indicated just yesterday that 'the unemployment rate is expected to remain elevated' over the next two years.

    The people in my electorate of Lalor are not so far wrong about this budget. Through its cuts to household budgets, this government is risking the largest source of growth the economy has—consumption, which makes up more than half of all economic activity in Australia. The recent national accounts showed an economy that is being held up almost entirely by our mining exports. The experts know that if households do not spend, business will continue to sit on the sidelines and the economy will be unable to fill the gap left by rapidly falling investment in the mining sector.

    Budgets are about priorities—they shine a light on what a government believes—and this budget is no different At a time when wages growth is at its lowest level in 17 years, this government has delivered a budget full of shocks and surprises, which cut household budgets and which will do nothing to encourage households to feel confident about the future. Our local community is still digesting the news about the Toyota and the GMH closures and the loss of a projected 4,000 jobs in our immediate area. Last week the local shipbuilding industry also took a hit. You can only imagine the impact on consumer confidence this news has had on our local people.

    This is a cruel and unfair budget—some are saying it is the most damaging budget in over a decade. This is a budget that divides Australia; it is a budget that puts our economic future at risk; and it is a budget that this side rejects.

  • Budget Cuts and Taxes

    The Prime Minister yesterday in question time said that he had brought down the budget the Australian people elected him to deliver. Well, I am sure the Australian people are very surprised to hear that. The 30,000 who marched to bust the budget on Thursday certainly disagree. I know in my electorate there is a new saying: 'No cuts to health—yeah, right'. And in schools and universities around the country they are saying, 'No cuts to education—yeah, sure'. The Australian people did not vote for this unfair budget. They could not have, because they were not told what nasty surprises it would contain. They were not told about the cuts to the family tax benefit that will impact on hundreds and thousands of families. They were not told about a GP tax that would discourage attendance at the doctor. They were not told about a petrol tax. They were of told about changes and cuts to pensions and concessions. They were not told about the changes to Newstart eligibility. They were not told that this government would introduce an unfair budget that punishes the most vulnerable in their household incomes while leaving the wealthy and the big corporations to continue to receive support from taxpayers. The Australian public did not vote for this budget. They did not vote for the unfair Australia that this government is determined to create.

  • Budget Appropriation Bills

    As Ross Gittins outlined earlier in the week, this budget is all about shifting—cost shifting and blame shifting. It shifts cost to the states, families, pensioners, students and young adults. It shifts the blame to welfare recipients, to parents, to the vulnerable.

    I have spoken on several occasions in the past weeks about the impact of this year's budget on my electorate of Lalor, about the cruel budget cuts and the impact this will have on education provision, from our youngest pre-schoolers to our rapidly expanding school system and for our young adults to access university, TAFE, apprenticeship and employment support. But today I want to focus on something different—the impact of this budget on women.

    The average gap between men and women's earnings in Australia is approximately 17 per cent. We know that women take time out of the workforce for child rearing and caring responsibilities in much higher numbers than men. Women are often employed in part-time positions so that they can juggle their family responsibilities, and they are under-represented in high-paid executive positions. These factors alone mean this year's federal budget will result in a disproportionate impact on women.

    I agree that responsible governments will always look for ways to ensure we keep spending under control. This is as it should be. But much has been made about all sections of Australia sharing the burden, when the reality of this budget means it is unfairly weighted against women. As we know, this year's budget was the first budget since 2005 not to include a family impact statement. It is also missing a women's impact statement, a tradition that goes back 30 years. This has meant it has taken time to assess the impact in full. However, we are fortunate that the ANU and the National Foundation for Australian Women, amongst others, have taken the time to unpack the potential impact on women. The budget savings have been shown to fall disproportionately on those who rely on benefit payments. Which group is in the majority for relying on benefit payments? Women. This means this budget adversely affects women. Those women in caring roles, those women with low or modest incomes and especially those young women making a start in education training or the workforce.

    Women want to engage in the workforce. They also want to provide for their families. This means many juggle work and caring responsibilities with part-time work and with periods of time out of the workforce. A paid parental leave scheme is a great way to support women during their child-rearing years. That is why Labor introduced a sensible scheme in the last parliament. This government, however, is committed to its deeply unpopular, gold-plated parental leave scheme—paying women on high incomes $50,000 while others receive so much less or indeed nothing if they are out of the workforce. This expensive, token bone thrown to women who do not need it is designed to mask the real nasties in this budget: the cost-shifting to women who can least afford it. And it may well be less token, this commitment to the rolled gold PPL scheme, given there is not one cent allocated in this year's budget—that is right, there is no income source identified in this year's budget for the Prime Minister's gold-plated parental leave scheme.

    A paid parental leave scheme is one part of the women's workforce participation puzzle. Child care is another. The changes to family benefit and the increased cost for health services will necessitate women returning to work. We know women are already under-represented in the workforce, are concentrated in service industries and earn less than men. This government is introducing a range of measures that will punish women into the workforce—in itself not necessarily a bad thing, depending on your perspective; however, at the same time the government is choosing to withdraw existing support for women to work. Single parent families are predominantly headed by women. The learn or earn requirement will be difficult for these women to meet unless there is suitable access to child care, especially out-of-school-hours care. So what does this government do? It changes various childcare support measures. It has frozen the cap on the childcare rebate and the threshold for eligibility. This will have the impact of making child care less affordable, especially for low-income women. The Jobs, Education and Training Child Care Fee Assistance will drop from 50 hours to 35 hours per week. Cuts to Aboriginal Child and Family Centres will hurt Indigenous women. There has been $450 million cut from out-of-school-hours care, and the abolition of the program that provides training places for teenage parents will hit young women before they even get a chance to enter the workforce. They will be left with the prospect of a life of low-paid, low-skilled work.

    And where they have got support, like the much-lauded Trade Support Loans scheme, it is heavily weighted to male-dominated industries. It will do very little to support female apprentices. For those women wishing to start or to return to the workforce by returning to study or by upgrading their skills, this budget just brings more bad news. This budget contains no new measures to encourage participation. And just when women might have been making healthier contributions to their superannuation in their 40s and beyond, they may now be left to support their young adult children up to the age of 30 due to changes to Youth Allowance and Newstart. We know that women retire with less than their male counterparts. In recent years Labor introduced measures to try to address this: the increased rate to the Superannuation Guarantee and the low-income superannuation contribution. The budget measures to defer the increase to the Superannuation Guarantee and the abolition of the low-income superannuation scheme will have a greater impact on women, who are more highly represented in low-income employment.

    The list of fails for women in this budget are extraordinary. There is an impact with the health measures. Medicare was established 30 years ago. It is our much-lauded universal health system, the envy of many other countries. This budget puts that under threat. The burden of the GP co-payments again will fall unfairly on women. The planned GP co-payment is not just a pressure on the cost of living but a back doorway to eroding the Medicare system. It the pathway to a two-tiered health system for the haves and the have-nots. And who are the have-nots? By and large, they will be women. As already outlined, women are generally lower paid, so the impact of the GP co-payment will have a disproportionate effect on them.

    Women often take on the role of health manager in families. We know that visits by women make up around 60 per cent of visits to the GP. Mothers take their children, and often their elderly parents, in addition to attending for their own needs. For many on fixed incomes, this financial pressure will be an extreme burden. These women as health managers will also be disappointed by the withdrawal of preventive health programs. Keeping family members well and out of the health system through these beneficial programs will now be far more difficult. My electorate has an extremely high rate of diabetes, obesity, kidney problems and macular degeneration. Progress was being made through preventive health programs; this is now all at risk. The breakdown of the health agreements with the states will also impact negatively on the health system, adding pressure on health provision. Lalor is already under-resourced for its population size, and it seems no relief is in sight for additional resources coming our way.

    Many of you know that, as a former school principal, I know what it is like to work in an area with low-SES families, with a high number of migrant students and students with a disability. You also know that I am a passionate advocate for the Gonski school funding model. Low-income families—the majority headed by women—were set to be the most supported families through these reforms. Bringing each school to an even standard meant many of the schools where I previously taught would receive an unprecedented level of funding—funding that would have enabled them to provide additional programs, employ specialist teachers, develop and support existing staff, have homework clubs and extra tutoring and provide equipment and textbooks when families could not afford to provide them. Education is a powerful tool to lift children out of a cycle of poverty and struggle. The dream for many women—to see their children succeed—is now dashed by the cruel cuts to the Gonski model. And the assistance to families on benefits twice a year, through the schoolkids bonus, to help pay for uniforms, books and excursions, was an early cruel cut by this government.

    What does this budget offer the young women who do make it through and endeavour to take on further training? The Industry Skills Fund, a loan to VET students to support them through their studies, does very little to support female VET students, as it is weighted heavily to male-dominated trades. For those women who may benefit—if you call starting your career with a significant loan to repay a benefit—the lower incomes generally earned by women mean a longer loan repayment period, resulting in higher interest repayments. In a similar way, the deregulation plans for the university sector will also impact more adversely on women for the same reasons: lower pay and longer repayment times, resulting in more interest accrued and a higher debt.

    Women currently make up 57 per cent of the higher education population. The current system has allowed for this growth in female participation in the tertiary education sector. What will this new system do? Once young women understand the financial implications, women will be caught in an education catch-22. They will need to learn to earn and then earn forever to pay for that learning. Even other small program cuts, like cuts to the workplace English language program, the VET fee waiver for childcare qualifications and the training program for teenage parents, all will have a detrimental impact, mostly on women.

    The more we unpick this budget the worse the outlook is. I already knew that it would have a terrible impact on education, on health, on pensioners and on the young, but the common thread that runs throughout is women. I am not sure why this surprises me. The Office for Women has been swallowed up by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. The minister for women shows no signs in this policy area for it to be a priority, other than tips on ironing. There is only one woman in the cabinet. Women make up 24 of the 125 LNP members and senators, and only one has, on merit, been included in the cabinet of this government. This budget is the first in 30 years not to include a women's impact statement.

    Are these things indicative of an oversight, or of malice? Did no-one think to put a lens over the budget to test its imposts on women? Either way, it is a timely reminder that women can never afford to be complacent. I have rarely entered the women's debate. I have had the advantage of women going before me and changing the world. I believe strongly that women can stand on their merits and get ahead; I have seen so many strong women do just that. But recent history, and this budget, has taught me not to take the place of women in this society for granted. Australia is known for its sense of the fair go. This budget, however, has ripped away many beneficial programs that enable women to access that fair go. I implore the women from the government benches to take the time to read the budget analysis by the National Foundation for Australian Women.

    In conclusion, I would like to make a few further points. This budget is built on a fabrication. First, the government attempted to establish a budget emergency. It has only taken a few weeks for the economists to put that argument to bed—and I believe the Australian public understand that now. Second, this budget sets up a divide between the haves and the have-nots, and the government's rhetoric lauds the taxpayer and demonises some mythical nontaxpayer for being a burden on the bottom line. The reality is that most pensioners have contributed throughout their working lives—and most women have contributed—and through access to education and training we can have a productive economy, with close to full employment, where our young people also can make their contributions.

    So why make these cruel changes? Why do we have a budget where an unemployed lone parent with one eight-year-old child will lose $54 a week; where low-income earners, disproportionately women, lose $500 a year with the repeal of the low income super contribution; and where sole parents working part-time or on benefits stand to lose more than $3,000 a year? The budget fails the fairness and equity test. Australia is a mature society where we value the fair go and those who work hard get ahead. This budget does not reflect the Australia I know and love. I call on the government to rethink its budget measures and ensure Australia remains a strong and equitable society.

  • Budget and low-SES

    One of the things I love about being home in Lalor is running into former students, at the supermarket, at the football, or at netball coaching my team. Last weekend was no different. A former student told me how she and others were going at university. Another spoke about his carpentry apprenticeship—great boss, interesting work—and how he has just saved up and bought his first car. Yet another who dropped out at the end of year 10 and did it hard for a few years is now working in retail after some pre-employment programs. Lalor is home to thousands of young people like these, who, regardless of the home they grew up in, want to work hard and get ahead.

    These former students have benefited from Labor government initiatives like the program that encouraged universities to enrol low-SES students. This resulted in a 32 per cent increase in low-SES students from Lalor attending university. The apprenticeships programs, like the access program, have helped 50 locals secure apprenticeships. The Tools for Your Trade program and Apprenticeships Incentives Program benefited more than 6,000 apprentices in Lalor. The Youth Connections program assisted youth at risk to reconnect to education and training, leading to work opportunities.

    The sad irony now, though, is that this budget changes all that. I am left wondering: will their younger siblings get to university? Will people still afford to make home improvements after the cost-of-living pressures announced in the budget? Will the apprenticeships be completed if the work dries up? Will the cuts in people's incomes see a reduction in local retail? Budgets are about priorities. They shine a light on what a government believes, and this budget is no different. For the young people of Lalor this budget carries no good news. This budget clearly shows that the young adults in Lalor and their futures are not a priority for this government, despite the rhetoric.

    We see this in the actions, in the cruel changes to arrangements for Youth Allowance and Newstart eligibility. We can see it in changes to university funding, in the cutting of Youth Connections, in the cuts to employment support programs. We can see it in the cuts to apprenticeship programs. Those opposite throw around a slogan for people under 30: earn or learn. They pitch it across this chamber like a challenge—a challenge that belies the reality on the ground, the reality that their cuts and their budget will make it harder to learn and harder to earn. I have seen first-hand the impact of well-targeted support and implore those opposite to reconsider these cruel changes. I implore my community, too, to shop local, to use local tradespeople and, if employing, to look locally so that we can see our way through what this budget is going to bring us.

  • Budget

    I rise today to condemn the 2014 Budget delivered yesterday. People say 'Change the government and you change the country'. Last night's budget shines a harsh spotlight on the truth of this. Even battle-hardened politicians and the most cynical in our communities are shocked by the draconian measures introduced in the budget last night. They are shocked by the sheer audacity and by the hypocrisy on display after the promises made before the election. My electorate of Lalor is one of the highest growth areas in Australia. It is also going to be one of the electorates most affected by this budget of broken promises and twisted priorities. Lalor is home to lots of young families and pensioners. We have newly arrived migrants, lots of single families and a high proportion of people living with a disability. We have been hit hard by the closure of the car industry and now we will suffer again.

    When I talk to the local service providers in the electorate, people like Carol Muir from Werribee Support and Housing and Jennie Berrera from the Wyndham Community and Education Centre, they talk about the incredible cost of living pressures so many in the community already experience. This budget will only increase those pressures. We can expect more families requiring food vouchers, increased evictions and more homeless people. There are approximately 10,000 age pensioners and 5,000 disability support pensioners in Lalor. We have a 92 per cent bulk-billing rate. We have 3,300 students with a disability in our local schools. The youth unemployment rate is around 35 per cent. These are the people who will be most affected by this budget.

    Lalor families will be whacked by broken promises—broken promises such as a $7 GP tax, not just for a visit to the doctor but for blood tests, scans and X-rays; the axing of the schoolkids bonus; less money for our local schools; less money for the Werribee Mercy Hospital; a reduction in the family tax benefit; reducing funding for students with disabilities; cutting carers' payments; and an increase in the price of petrol in an area where we rely heavily on our cars.

    On top of that there is no plan for jobs, just cuts to industry innovation funds. Young people in Lalor will suffer also with increases to uni and TAFE fees; with changes making it harder to access youth allowance; with the cutting of apprentice support programs including Tools For Your Trade; by moving under-24-year-olds onto youth allowance, another cut; by changes making those under 30 who lose their job wait six months for assistance; and by cutting programs that support job seekers to find work. The cruellest cuts, though, are for older residents, those on disability support pension and pensioners. There are funding cuts to pensions. We are making people work until they are 70. The GP tax and changes to the PBS will leave many deciding between visiting the doctor and filling the pantry. There will be funding cuts to carers payments and cuts to preventative health programs.

    The priorities of this government are clear: let us get the most vulnerable in our community to do the heavy lifting; let us demonise our most vulnerable as taking more than they deserve. Poor, sick people will now pay through the GP tax for medical research that, once Medicare is dismantled, only the rich will be able to afford and will therefore reap the benefit. Families will face increased cost-of-living pressures because of reduced family payments and health care becoming more expensive. They will face a petrol tax every time they get in their car. While families struggle, the top three per cent of taxpayers will contribute a mere $7.70 a week through the debt levy. They will be paid $50,000 when having a baby, while others receive nothing.

    The budget has taught us much about this government. They are a government of broken promises and twisted priorities. For my community this is a cruel budget—not just of broken promises but, for many, of broken dreams. And for what? There is no budget emergency, just an excuse to enact this pain and to further embed inequity.

    Australia is one of only 10 countries with a AAA credit rating, and the previous Labor government's spending in the last four years was the lowest, as a percentage of GDP, that it had been in this country for 23 years. I will not stand by as this government tells us that we cannot afford to be fair.

  • Appropriation Bill (No. 3) 2013-2014 and Cognate Bills

    I welcome the opportunity to speak in this debate. I welcome it not because I am enthusiastic about the content of this bill but because I think it perfectly epitomises the actions and approach of the Abbott government to date. The bill before us is yet another example of their willingness to break promise after promise, yet another ideological attack on the central tenets of our society and yet another kick in the guts for every vulnerable Australian. It is what this government is all about. In just a few short months they have wreaked havoc. Take, for example, the first parliamentary sitting week of the year: in just seven days they managed to finish off the Australian car industry, blame affected workers for wanting wages and conditions, and then backtrack on their promise to deliver new jobs. I am sure they see it as quite the achievement. Broken promises, ideological attacks and hurting working Australians is this Liberal government's bread and butter.

    So let us see what further pain they can inflict with these new appropriation bills. How about cutting $13.2 million from the Health portfolio, $4.8 million from education, $4.6 million from legal policy reform and advocacy funding, or $11.5 million from the Building Multicultural Communities program. They certainly have stayed true to form, with broken promise after broken promise. After all, this is the very same Prime Minister who said on the eve of the election that there would be 'no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS'. Let us break that down. Mr Abbott said there would be no cuts to education, a unity ticket: that did not last long. No cuts to health: obviously abolishing one of our oldest peak public health organisations does not count. No changes to pensions: I am not sure what Mr Abbott thinks a welfare review is for, then. No GST changes: mobile home owners who fought against the government's tax hike might disagree. And no cuts to the ABC or SBS, just apparently an efficiency and expenses review. It is almost like a checklist of cuts to come, a checklist of broken promises, a checklist to mislead the Australian people. So much for a no surprises, no excuses government. The Abbott government has consistently said one thing before the election and then gone and done the complete opposite.

    This is, after all, the party that said on multiple occasions that if debt is the problem then more debt is not the answer. What then did they do in government? They cut a deal with their avowed enemies, the Greens, to legislate for an unlimited debt ceiling—quite a backflip. And how many times did we see the current Prime Minister and Treasurer get to their feet in the lead-up to the election and claim Australia had a budget emergency? They claimed we were headed for disaster. I heard more of it today in this House. They claimed that only they could fix it. I guess they hoped that if they said it often enough it would become the truth, and when it did not they decided to change the rules. As the Secretary of the Department of Finance told Senate estimates recently, the Mid-Year Fiscal and Economic Outlook has discarded the former Labor government's fiscal rules which limited real spending growth. Mr David Tune confirmed that this change in assumptions had increased the outlook's projections of budget debt over the next 10 years. So the government changes the rules to suit its own purposes and then, lo and behold, uncovers a $667 billion debt figure in 2023-24. It is a disgraceful action by the Treasurer; it is deplorable. This willingness to fiddle with figures might also explain why the Treasurer decided to gift $9 billion to the Reserve Bank. It was an interesting choice, particularly given that there had been no indication that this was money they asked for or needed.

    So why would the government do this? What reason could they possibly have to create and craft a bad result? It is because they are looking for excuses to cut health care, excuses to slash education and excuses to rip up important infrastructure and services around Australia. So obsessed are they with cutting, they are willing to distort the budget numbers in order to justify their ideological agenda. And we know from history that this is something those opposite do. They say, 'We can't afford it and it costs too much.' They attempt to dupe and deceive the Australian public in order to cut, cut, cut. But it flies in the face of logic that if we cannot afford vital health and education services we can somehow afford the coalition's exorbitant Paid Parental Leave scheme, or tax and superannuation breaks for some of our most wealthy. To put it simply, if we are broke, we should not be eating caviar. But the truth is we are not broke, it is just a question of priorities. So it seems that the health of our nation and the future of our kids, creating an equitable and welcoming society, none of this matters to the Abbott government; they simply do not care.

    There is a fundamental disconnect between what Australian people want and what the Abbott government is delivering. After all, this is a government that relentlessly pursues inequity. It is a passion of theirs. It is in their bones. They govern for the big end of town while leaving the rest of us behind. We see it again and again. As my colleague the member for Throsby said last week, if you want a tax cut under this government then you had better own a mining company. At the same time as they reward big business they are cutting the schoolkids bonus. They are arguing that we cannot afford to help low-income earners with their lifetime superannuation savings. They are saying that Australian workers like those at Toyota and Holden earn too much.

    And if you need any more proof that this is a government that embraces inequality, look no further than their Gonski backflip with triple pike. It was those opposite that promised they shared a unity ticket with us on better schools funding. The Minister for Education pledged to us that he understood the importance of better and more equal education, but of course with this government promises and pledges mean little—in fact, zip. Despite their promises to the contrary, fundamentally, and buried deep within, this is a party that does not believe in funding education. Overcoming disadvantage, a fair go, creating equality—that is not what the Liberal Party are about. And now they are in government they no longer have to fool the Australian people, they are showing their true colours. They are pursuing their dreams of inequality and inequity. They are robbing from the poor to give to the rich. Yet this is the very same party that said they would govern for every Australian. I cannot recall how many times I saw a member of the coalition during the campaign with their Real Solutions pamphlet in hand. It contained, they claimed, the cure for every problem. It promised hope, reward and opportunity for everyone. But, as you can see, Mr Deputy Speaker, nothing could be further from the truth. The bill before us is yet another example which proves that the Prime Minister and the Treasurer govern for a minority, a small few with vested interests, and certainly not for everyday Australians.