It is great to be back in the federal parliament representing my community, the electorate of Lalor. It is terrific to be in this chamber, which is very special to me, with its refurbishments. I commend you on your work, Deputy Speaker.According to our Prime Minister, good government began three days ago. So I come with a message from the people of Lalor: that is a relief, because the previous 17 months of the Abbott government has been a debacle. As one local put it, there has been a tsunami of uncertainty. Over the break, locals talked to me about their concerns. In fact, that is all they have wanted to talk about since the budget. They want to talk about uncertainty. Young people and families want to talk about higher education and the uncertainty about the cost of higher education in the future. Local housing support services want to talk to me about being unable to effectively plan to support those in our community who are really struggling to have a roof over their heads or food in their stomachs.
Also, people want to talk to me about Medicare. There are lots of questions after the reboot, then the captain's call and then wondering exactly what will happen to Medicare under this government. They want to talk about the age pension. Pensioners want to know about certainty for their future and how they are going to plan. They want to talk about child care and kindergarten funding. They want to talk about certainty in those areas, and they even want to talk about the uncertainty about the Prime Minister and how long Mr Abbott will remain leader of his party.
We were promised a united and grown up government. What we have instead is a shambolic attempt at government, a government that whilst in opposition blamed the government, and now that they are in government blames the opposition. It is a government that cannot have a conversation. It cannot listen, negotiate and, it seems, cannot learn. It wants to change, but needs to understand that change is more than a new speechwriter. Whilst the government puts on a facade of being grown up and successful, my community is continuing to reel from the cruel budget cuts and the uncertainty about the worst of its measures and what will be next.
My community knows that Labor managed a minority government by focusing on what was fair, and negotiating positive outcomes. They know that Labor will protect Medicare, education and the most vulnerable. They know that the Abbott government has broken promise after promise. As one local said to me on the weekend, 'Go back to see how the grown-ups are going, Joanne.' Well, I will be sad to report back that nothing has changed. The shambolic government continues. On behalf of my community, I ask those opposite: when will the good government we have been promised begin?