Sen Doug Cameron: I want to try to get back to some of the serious issues.

The issue we saw reported today in The Australian was Senator Ian Macdonald going to the coalition party room and complaining about the government’s dire position in the opinion polls. What he said was: if the government are going so well with their economic policies, why are the polls so bad for the government? That is something that I think the government should actually try and think about. I can tell them why they are going so badly—because inequality is increasing. Anyone listening to Senator Hume would wonder what planet she lived on. She was in here saying that there is no inequality, that inequality is not getting worse; it is not a problem. You go to any shopping centre and people will tell you what they’re complaining about. They’re complaining about power prices. They’re complaining about power prices because this mob, this rabble of a government, can’t get their act together even to deal with the recommendations they got from the Finkel report. They put the Chief Scientist up and say, ‘Tell us what to do?’ Then they adopt every recommendation except the key recommendation, and that is to have a clean energy target that would put a price in place to make sure that people would invest in electricity generation in this country. We now hear them talking about rebuilding Liddell power station. I was a fitter at Liddell power station for over seven years. Even when I was there, which is a long time ago, trying to deal with some of the issues that were starting to appear then, after 10 years of operation, kept a lot of maintenance fitters pretty busy, a lot of boilermakers pretty busy. Now they’re talking about extending the life of a power station that’s nearly 50 years old. I don’t know how the government can even contemplate being seen as economically viable by the community; they’re just not.

Senator Hume said she was going to talk about all the wonderful things that the coalition were doing. Senator Macdonald has basically given the game away. Whatever they’re doing isn’t working. Senator Hume, whatever you’re doing is not working. Inequality is increasing. Workers are doing it tough out there. People are having big problems trying to make ends meet. Fairness and inequality are something Labor have been talking about and dealing with ever since we were formed as a party. We hear all the rhetoric about envy and class warfare. It’s not class warfare to say that everybody should get a fair go. It’s not class warfare to say that workers’ penalty rates should be protected. It’s not class warfare to say that workers should be able to send their kids out to school with shoes on their feet and put food on the table when they come home from school. That’s not class warfare.

With the nonsense we’ve heard from this coalition, it’s no wonder Senator Bernardi jumped ship. It’s no wonder he got out, no wonder he said, ‘I can’t put up with these fools anymore.’ True, isn’t it? Yes, Senator Bernardi. Thanks for nodding. That is exactly what Senator Bernardi did. He knew this mob were going down the tube, he knew that they had absolutely no chance at the next election, so he said: ‘I’ll cut and run. I’ll get out and I’ll make sure I can get back in here.’ There are a lot over on that other side who won’t be back. Anyone listening to Senator Hume telling us that inequality is not a problem and everything is going great under the Turnbull government would know that it’s an absolute farce from a rabble of a government that just can’t put one foot in front of the other. Every time they make an announcement, they have to change it next time around. Do you remember Prime Minister Turnbull saying that he was going to bring in all of these great changes? His first economic issue was to put in a 15 per cent GST. Remember that? How long did that last? I think it lasted about six weeks and then he retreated as fast as he could. The next economic thing that was going to be put in place was the states being allowed to tax. Taxation powers would be given to the states. I think that lasted about two days. Then the next big economic approach that the government was going to take was put in a big tax cut—a $65 billion tax cut—including for the banks that Senator Williams had been complaining were ripping off workers, ripping off people, day in and day out. Give them $65 billion: $7 billion to the banks and the rest to multinational corporations. This is just a nonsense. No wonder the community can’t see any hope in Malcolm Turnbull. No wonder the community won’t change, even if he puts on a new leather jacket—not that one from the seventies. He could put on a new leather jacket and that would mean nothing.

This is a government that has lost the plot. This is a government that cannot understand the challenges that ordinary working people in this country are facing. It is only Labor that are going to deal with housing affordability. Their policy was described as one where you would need an electron microscope to see any difference it would make to housing. Senator Bernardi, you did the right thing. You cut and run. You got out. Well done. (Time expired) Senator Bernardi Reply

Chamber Senate on 5/09/2017Item MATTERS OF PUBLIC IMPORTANCE – Economy Speaker: Cameron, Sen Doug / Parliment Transcript used for Truth in News Reporting.