1 year ago




32 SENATE Tuesday, 14 February 2017 agrees with anything Mr Ciobo would say, but on the other hand Senator Brandis is saying that he sees One Nation's fiscal policies as absurd. Perhaps the minister needs reminding about what some of those fiscal policies are. These fiscal policies include a flat two per cent tax on every Australian, exploring the removal of federal taxation, and getting rid of penalty rates across the board—undermining the rights of workers across this nation who are working hard to keep our country going at night and over the weekend. One Nation oppose globalisation, and they do this in general terms. Back in 2001, I was in the state parliament with two One Nation MPs who were elected when One Nation was last resurgent. Those two members of parliament, who were elected to the state upper house, did not last very long in One Nation. In fact, they split and formed parties of their own after a very short period of time. This is the kind of instability that electors in Western Australia are being asked to contemplate. I remember the rhetoric at the time coming from Paddy Embry, which clearly shows that One Nation has not changed in the last 20 years but that what has changed is the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party cannot seem to be consistent on this question—you do not even agree with one another. I highlight the kind of chaos that we are contemplating in Western Australia at the next election, with the kind of preference arrangements that are being made. We have Treasurer Mike Nahan rejecting the National Party, saying he rejects their proposed mining tax and saying he will quit if forming government comes down to a deal with Brendon Grylls. That is what Treasurer Mike Nahan placed on the record last week. What we have heard in the chamber today also points to the chaos and dysfunction within Western Australia and, indeed, within the coalition nationally as they seek to govern with the support of One Nation to get their more erroneous policies through. (Time expired) Question agreed to. Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017 Senator SIEWERT (Western Australia—Australian Greens Whip) (15:33): I move: That the Senate take note of the answer given by the Special Minister of State (Scott Ryan) to a question without notice asked today by Senator Siewert relating to the Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017. The Social Services Legislation Amendment (Omnibus Savings and Child Care Reform) Bill 2017, as I pointed out in my question, seeks to make over $5.6 billion of savings. When I asked why the government combined the childcare measures, the paid parental leave measures and 15 other measures that cut our social safety net, the minister went to issues around savings. He said that the country has a savings challenge. This is the same government that rammed through this place tax cuts to more wealthy Australians. So, they chose to spend another $4 billion on tax cuts to the wealthy and then chose to try and make $5.6 billion from some of the most vulnerable members of our community. This will directly affect inequality in this country—inequality that we know is rising. The wealthier are getting wealthier and the poorer are becoming worse off. It is very clear that the government tried to act as if these savings were needed for child care and paid parental leave, but we know that the $5.6 billion is money over and above any money that they would put into paid parental leave and child care. It just shows how much they really care about child care and paid parental leave— that they would tie them to the zombie measures that affect families, young people, older Australians and, particularly, young people who they want to kick off Newstart and onto the even lower payment of youth allowance. They also want to keep those young people off income support for five weeks before they can access any form of income. I asked the minister when they made the decision to channel those savings—which they are making from some of the most vulnerable members of our community in the first place—into the NDIS. He could not answer that question. But he then went on to have another bash about the NDIS and how the funding was not available for it. Essentially, what the government are proposing is that they take money from one vulnerable group and condemn them to further poverty, and use that money to fund the NDIS for another vulnerable group of Australians. Given the announcement by the Treasurer yesterday that over $5.6 billion of savings from this bill will go into the NDIS, this smacks of another decision made on the run so that they could try to pressure and blackmail the Senate into supporting the savings cuts that the Senate has repeatedly said are not fair. Guess what? The Senate is going to be saying the same thing: these cuts are not fair. One of the questions that I think the government also need to be asking is whether they have done any modelling or assessment of the impact of these cuts on families. Remember that, despite the government trying to use sleight of hand to say, 'We're giving families a little bit more money while we're taking away the supplement payments,' families will still be worse off on FTB A and FTB B. If you are on just family tax benefit A, you will lose around $7.80. If you are on family tax benefit B, you will lose about $13.80. So families will be worse off. CHAMBER

Tuesday, 14 February 2017 SENATE 33 Young people will be worse off; the government is trying to condemn them to trying to survive on income support when, as I have said in this place many times before, living in poverty is yet another barrier to finding work. Age pensioners will be worse off because the government wants to take away portability and reduce portability for the pension from 26 weeks to six weeks and also apply that to the supplement. They want to take away the energy supplement, taking $4 off people on income support. The government knows that Newstart is way below the poverty line, that Newstart needs to be increased and that every dollar counts when you are trying to survive on income support. The government is trying to take away the pensioner education supplement, something that is relied on extensively by single parents. So not only will single parents be hit by some of these other cuts—changes to FTBB, in particular; they also want to take away the education supplement. It is a bad bill and they should withdraw it. Question agreed to. NOTICES Presentation Senators Bushby and McGrath to move: That the Senate— (a) notes that 15 February 2017 marks the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore; (b) acknowledges the significant contribution made by Australian forces in the defence of Singapore and in the Malaya Campaign, particularly: (i) the Australian 8th Division's efforts at the Battle of Muar, which saw a successful ambush of Japanese forces, (ii) the Australian forces who saw the first and fiercest attacks of the Battle of Singapore, and (iii) the 1,800 Australians who died during the Malayan Campaign and the Battle for Singapore; (c) notes that the fall of Singapore saw over 15,000 Australians become prisoners of war and that many of these prisoners would die in captivity; and (d) acknowledges that for many Australians, their experience as prisoners of war during the Second World War impacted thousands of families. Senator McGrath to move: That the Senate— (a) notes that: (i) the 2/10th Field Regiment was an artillery regiment within the 8th Division 2nd Australian Imperial Force, composed almost entirely of Queenslanders from across the state, and (ii) the Regiment: (A) formed and trained at Redbank in Queensland in July 1940, (B) boarded the Queen Mary at Circular Quay in Sydney and embarked for Malaya on 4 February 1941, (C) disembarked at Malacca in Johore on 19 February 1941 and played a vital role in the Malayan campaign and in the defence of Singapore, 1942, (D) was among the 15,000 Australians who were surrendered to the Japanese at the fall of Singapore on 15 February (E) was dispersed to camps across South East Asia and Japan after being transferred to the Changi prisoner of war camp, and (F) suffered, for the remainder of the war, cruel and inhuman conditions as prisoners of war, with 286 of the 846 men dying; (b) further notes that today marks the 75th anniversary of the fall of Singapore; (c) further notes that: (i) the 2/10th Field Regiment Association was formed in 1947, (ii) since then, the Association has held an annual public remembrance service to commemorate all of the Australian servicemen and women who fought and gave their lives during the Malayan Campaign, as Singapore fell, and as Japanese prisoners of war, as well as those who have since passed on, (iii) this annual service brings together friends and family of those who served, as well as representatives from the army, navy and air force, the nurses, the widows, the prisoners of war, the Government of Singapore, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and the Returned and Services League, and (iv) to commemorate the 75th anniversary, the Association will be holding a service on 19 February 2017 at the Shrine of Remembrance in Brisbane; and CHAMBER