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Speech: The Budget, Inequality and Environment

Speeches in Parliament
Mehreen Faruqi 6 Oct 2020

Instead of investing in Australia's future, the Morrison government is choosing inequality and climate collapse in its federal budget. The federal budget to be handed down tonight is many things. I'll start by saying that it's a real contradiction. After last year's big proclamation that we were back in the black, after years of highly misleading and incorrect assertions that surpluses are all the evidence we need of good economic management, we are staring down the barrel of an enormous deficit. The economic response to COVID-19 has involved a level of government spending completely unseen in modern Australian political history. The Liberal rule book was thrown out the window as the conservatives realised that they would actually have to spend money on people and support their incomes in order to get us through this pandemic.

Some of the response has been welcome. The Greens certainly welcome the coronavirus supplement and secured its extension to those on payments, including youth allowance. We fought to retain JobSeeker at the increased rate and also backed the continuation of the JobKeeper wage subsidy at the $1,500 level. But the Liberals could not wait to cut these payments back, and now we have JobSeeker cut by hundreds of dollars a fortnight and JobKeeper slashed and tiered. The projected deficit in this budget will be big, but it's not because the Liberals are spending what they should be on supporting ordinary people in what has been for many people one of the toughest times in their lives.

The centrepiece of this budget, handed down only seven months after our country was turned upside down by the pandemic, is going to be tax cuts. Tax cuts! These people really just can't help themselves. When they introduced their big tax cut package last year, this government said that the economy was doing so well that it was the perfect time to shrink the tax base and deliver these massive tax cuts that would overwhelmingly benefit higher-income earners. Now that we're in the midst of the biggest economic crisis in living memory, apparently it's an even more perfect time and so they want to bring them forward. If the economy is doing fine, we need the tax cuts; if the economy is in the toilet, we need the tax cuts. This budget is all ideology. It is a classic Liberal slash-and-burn number while maintaining an appearance of investment in public and social services.

This will also be a climate-denialist budget. It will be an utter failure when it comes to a green recovery. 'Coal and gas, coal and gas' is the mantra of this government. The government are pushing us down the cliff of climate collapse and inequality and are robbing young people and future generations of a hopeful future. Any budget that does not prioritise urgent cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and prioritise strong investment in renewables is a climate-denialist budget. While we have been locked down, completely changing up how we live and work in order to get through this pandemic safely, the climate crisis has carried on, and the Liberals and Nationals have their heads firmly in the sand, still. I will be reading the budget papers with great interest tonight, but I do not expect much from this cruel, climate-denying government.


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