Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To be sent to this place to represent our community is an immense privilege. It’s not lost on me, the gravity of the responsibility we have here in this place. We’re trusted to make decisions of significance to our communities and for our nation. We are trusted to make difficult decisions; decisions that not everyone will agree with. And in a democracy, we know of course that it is impossible to get 100% agreement all the time. So it’s a good thing that we not only allow but welcome a diversity of views across our nation and in this place as well. And it’s the job of government, Mr. Speaker, to make the tough decisions and be accountable for them. That’s the job.
But it doesn’t seem to be a responsibility some members of this place take seriously enough. Now I’m talking about members of the Greens party – the political party who scurried out on the recent vote on the Albanese Labor Government’s $10 billion Housing Australia Future Fund. We know the Opposition opposed. They took that position, fine. We don’t agree with you. But the Greens scurried out. This is the largest investment in social and affordable housing in more than a decade. A fund which will deliver the government’s commitment of 30,000 new social and affordable homes in its first five years; 100 million for crisis and transitional housing options for women and children impacted by family and domestic violence and older women at risk of homelessness; $30 million to build housing and fund specialist services for veterans who are experiencing homelessness, or are at risk of homelessness; $200 million for the repair, maintenance, and improvement of housing in remote and indigenous communities. That’s what we were voting on. Now, those opposite opposed all of that. Those over there in the crossbench of the minor party, they ran out; they didn’t even vote for it, they didn’t vote against it, they didn’t have the guts to vote at all. That’s just not good enough, Mr. Speaker. We are sent here by our communities to represent them and their views; but if you can’t even make a decision on critical investment in social and affordable housing, what are you here for?
They’ll come in here, day in day out, shouting, waving their hands, having a crack during the debate. That’s fine. That’s part of the cut and thrust of politics; criticizing government. But we’re actually getting on with the job. It’s a government that is actually making the tough calls in the interest of our nation. Now, we won’t always get everything 100% right; but we will always take a principled position and front up and justify it, and make our case. But what possible justification is there for just failing to do your job entirely? “Oh, we don’t have a position, Mr. Speaker”; I think that’s not good enough. Not good enough, Mr. Speaker. It’s not good enough for the thousands of Australians in need of social and affordable housing. It’s not good enough for the renters and the mortgage holders of Australia dealing with rising costs. They all know how to make the tough decisions; they’re making them every day. So they’ve got an Opposition in the Liberal and National parties who are opposing relief for them. They opposed release on energy bills as well, last December, disgracefully; they’re opposing it on the affordable and social housing fund, and we’ve got a crossbench, a minor party, who is not even showing up to make that tough decision or to support that bill.
These are decisions that Australians are making every day to balance their budget, to meet their rental payments or their mortgage payment. These are the people who we represent, and the people that we’ve got to make decisions for. Now, there’s still hope, Mr. Speaker. The Greens political party still can rectify their position by voting for the Housing Australia Future Fund in the Senate. Let’s hope they see the light. And I encourage all the crossbenchers and members of the Senate to support this very important bill. I’m not going to get much hope from over there, from the Opposition. They’ve made their position very clear; they just oppose. It’s “no, no, no” to everything. I mean, we could have the best possible bill and law put forward in this place; they’ll still say no. It doesn’t matter. That’s just what they do. But the Senate has a once in a generation opportunity to create a secure, ongoing pipeline of funding for social and affordable housing over the long term. Standing in the way of that legislation for the Housing Australia Future Fund means standing in the way of 30,000 new social and affordable rental homes. It means standing in the way of $30 million for housing and services for veterans experiencing homelessness, or at risk of homelessness. It means standing in the way of $200 million for repair and maintenance of housing. It means standing in the way of $100 million for crisis and transitional housing for women and children. So I encourage all of those on the crossbench and opposite: support the Albanese Labor Government in delivering this once in a generation investment that will change the lives of thousands of Australians.
The Member’s time has concluded.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES SPEECH
TUESDAY 21 MARCH 2023
Subjects: Safeguard Mechanism
PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS:
Thank you, Member for Sturt, much appreciated. Bit of bipartisanship in the House, hopefully that that might extend to your support for the safeguard mechanism. Possibly – we’ll see – maybe my oratory might change your mind.
Deputy Speaker, in May last year Australians voted for real action on climate change, and they voted for a government that takes real action on climate change and makes it something that is significant, real, that will make a difference to the next generation; not just empty words. Climate change is an existential issue for Australia and for people across the globe, particularly in the Pacific. And the Albanese Labor Government is taking leadership and making a real commitment on this issue, because this government is acutely aware of the urgency, the need to act.
The IPCC report that we’ve just seen released reaffirms what we’ve all been concerned about all along. It reminds us of our agency, and it also reminds us of the urgency to act; that we should have taken this action decades ago, but this country was dealing with a decade of denial and delay. A decade of dysfunction- and of course, Australians are right to be concerned. People in my electorate of Wills are contacting my office because they are worried.
They’re worried about their kid’s future; they’re worried about the world that their kids and their grandkids will inherit. As am I, Deputy Speaker, as a father of two young children. We’re worried about the prediction that temperatures would likely rise 1.5 degrees in the early part of next decade; that the impacts from climate change are more severe than estimated in previous IPCC assessments; that the climate crisis is quickly altering the Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, land, and frozen poles, which will mean that Australians will experience extreme weather, including heat waves and catastrophic flooding; that our children and our future generations will continue to suffer if we don’t seize the opportunity.
This week, in this place, to make a real start on climate action, this is what the Australian people voted for last May. Now, Deputy Speaker, the safeguard mechanism provides this country with key building blocks as we work towards net 0 by 2050 at the latest. We’ve always said we can get there faster if we’re permitted to make those investments in renewable energy. It’s a floor, not a ceiling, and the safeguard mechanism helps ensure our largest industrial facilities reduce emissions in line with our national targets. It provides us with a system that encourages it and encourages emissions reduction. That’s about reducing emissions from our top emitters, and that is crucial. It’s crucial to reaching Australia’s updated emissions reduction targets of 43% by 2030 and net 0 by 2050. More than 70% of safeguard facilities and 80% of safeguard emissions are already covered by 2050 net 0 targets which these reforms will help them achieve.
As part of the Powering Australian Plan and funded in the last budget, the Albanese Labor Government is investing in the decarbonization of existing industries and creation of new clean energy industries through the 1.9 billion Powering the Regions fund. At least 600 million of this will assist safeguard facilities in reducing their emissions through energy efficiency upgrades, shift to lower carbon processes, or fuel switching to electrification, hydrogen, and biofuels. Why you would oppose that, I’m not sure. I’ve not heard a cogent or rational argument from those opposite, because these reforms help Australian businesses remain competitive as the world decarbonizes; why would you oppose that? Because they enable industries to be supported during this transition; why would you oppose that? The crediting element enables businesses to be provided with tradable safeguard mechanism credits that will incentivize more efficiency and other businesses with limited abatement options are able to purchase credits to help meet their emissions reductions. Why would you oppose that? Crediting and trading will actually help Australia and our industrial businesses meet our climate targets. Why would you oppose that? It’s a cost-effective way of enabling us to continue to work toward our larger goals, and we’ve got to start.
This Parliament debated targets last year, and we agreed to a 43% target; that’s our starting point. It passed through this Parliament, that’s democracy in action. Unless the Safeguard Mechanism and the safeguard reforms are passed, our projections will be lower than 43%. Why would you oppose that? Is that why? Because you want us to underachieve? You want to block business and industry from reducing their emissions, is that what this is about? Is that what your opposition is about? Because this is real action and real reform, maybe you oppose it because of that, because you did nothing for 9 years; because you went backwards for 9 years. Maybe you want to oppose this bill because of that; maybe you just want to oppose reducing emissions that will alleviate pressure on households and energy bills, that will create renewable energy jobs. That’s a really good start, Deputy Speaker. Make sure that we’re headed in a path and a direction that will help us transition into a renewable energy future. Why would you oppose that? Is it because there’s still elements within the opposition party room that don’t believe in any of the signs, that don’t think we should take any action? That were responsible for torpedoing, for blowing up, for destroying – I’ve forgotten now how many-22, thank you, the Member for Cowan has pointed out correctly – 22 different energy plans completely blown up by the Liberal Party room over a period of a number of years. Maybe you want to oppose us getting on with it because you couldn’t get on with it. For the first time in a decade, this Parliament has an opportunity to put measures in place to reduce emissions from our biggest emitters. Some honorable members may call for higher targets. We’ve heard that from many here or feel that this isn’t enough. To those members and those parties, I say this government will work together with you in good faith towards emission reductions.
We would all agree that it would be great to have 100% renewable energy by tomorrow; but our massive continent demands a network that covers thousands of kilometers and all types of terrain and climates. Our electricity system, our grid, is hopelessly and desperately outdated and cannot yet properly integrate the full capacity of the growing renewable sector. So, let’s unlock the potential. That’s why we have a planned $20 billion dollar investment into our electricity system, our grid, to make it up to date for renewable energy. That’s what that’s about – that’s what it is. We know that the opposition and others might want to make this a political issue. Maybe they’re opposing because they want to play politics again, they want to move out of their party room and the destruction of their 22 energy plans over however many years to blowing up any chance of us moving forward as a nation. But let’s be sensible and rational here, Deputy Speaker. We’ll never make a start if we don’t have people on the other side make the commitment, understand the need for the national interest for their kid’s future, as well. That’s why we need real action on climate change, Deputy Speaker and this government is the only party that is delivering that action on climate change. We need people to get behind this; we need the opposition to understand the importance of the future for Australian business, for industry, and that the transition is going to happen whether they like it or not. We need others who feel that this is not enough to get behind this and not make the perfect the enemy of the good.
Always found that if you as a political party or in politics, if you are being attacked from each end of the spectrum, people on one side of you and the other side of you saying it’s either not good enough or we’re never going to support that – if you’re somewhere in the sensible center, Deputy Speaker, you’re doing the right thing most of the time, pretty much all the time. And that’s where we are right now, Deputy Speaker, we are in the sensible center looking towards reducing emissions, transitioning to a renewable energy future, making sure that the transition is feasible for Australian industry and Australian business and yet we have people – members on either side of us who wish to not support this sensible step forward.
We need crossbench support on this; we need everyone’s support, even the opposition support, if they can, few of them might see the light here and put their national interests ahead of their party and political interests. Stranger things have happened, Deputy Speaker. But if the Parliament votes against this policy they will be voting against – those opposite – will be voting against emissions reductions. They’ll be voting against a plan for transition for Australian business and industry. They’ll be voting against a future where we transition to renewable energy and all the benefits that pertain from that for our nation and for our climate. They’ll be against any action on climate change. They’ll be against a safe future for Australians. So, Deputy Speaker, I call on the members in this place to consider the Safeguard Mechanism; to consider this bill on its merits and everything that it does for the future of Australian business and our reduction in emissions going forward and maybe, just maybe, some of them might see the light and understand the importance of this bill for the national interest. I hope they do, Deputy Speaker, and I hope the crossbench do as well. That we get the support necessary to move forward so we can actually start investing in the transmission grid. Getting it ready for the renewable energy future that is inevitable despite those who think it will never come. So, Deputy Speaker, I call on the members opposite to consider this bill in good faith, consider the important elements of this bill for business and for the future of renewable energy in this country, and hopefully some of them might actually vote for it. Thank you.
PETER KHALIL MP MEMBER FOR WILLS
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
FRIDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2023
SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE, MILTON DICKS: Order. I give the call to the Member for Wills.
PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: Thank you, Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy: how will the National Reconstruction Fund help Australia’s status as a renewable energy superpower? And how has it been received? How does this build on existing programs to support investment in renewable and clean energy?
DICKS: I give the call to the Minister for Climate Change and Energy.
CHRIS BOWEN, MINISTER FOR CLIMATE CHANGE AND ENERGY: Thanks, Mr. Speaker. I thank my honourable friend for his question. He knows that there is no bigger, important city to Australia’s manufacturing future than Melbourne and the suburbs of Melbourne, and he also knows that the National Reconstruction Fund will be key to ensuring that the world’s climate emergency is Australia’s jobs opportunity. And that’s perhaps why the creation of the National Reconstruction Fund has been supported by the Energy Efficiency Council, the Smart Energy Council, the Electric Vehicle Council and Origin Energy, who’ve all explicitly supported the policy. The honourable Member also asked me how the National Reconstruction Fund will build on other agencies and policies, and there is no more important example than the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, Mr. Speaker, which has been so important in Australia’s development of renewable energy industries and is now the world’s largest green bank. The world’s most successful, the largest green bank, and that’s very important. It’s also important because as the Minister for Industry has pointed out, he has based the design of the National Reconstruction Fund on the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, which is very important. And it’s also relevant because the same arguments that are being used by the only group to oppose the National Reconstruction Fund, which is the Liberal and National Party, were the arguments they used to oppose The Clean Energy Finance Corporation 10 years ago. Exactly the same records, I repeat, Mr. Speaker, if you look, if you look at what they said at the time, the member for Bradfield said ten years ago, Mr. Speaker, he said in his house-
DICKS: Order the minister to resume his seat. You know what the manager’s going to say and I’ll hear from him right now.
PAUL FLETCHER, MEMBER FOR BRADFIELD: Mr. Speaker, it is on relevance. I will concede it was a tightly drafted question. How is this program helping Australia’s status as a renewable energy superpower? How has it been received? How has it built on existing achievement? Absolutely nothing about: would the Minister please give his usual incoherent spray against the track record of the previous government?
DICKS: Resume your seats. Resume your seat. The question also says how does this build on existing programs so the Minister can be relevant to report refer to the former government, but ask him not to make that the central part of his answer and I give him the call.
BOWEN: Just trying to quote a bloke, Mr. Speaker. The Member for Bradfield said about the CSC. “It is extraordinarily difficult to understand how anyone could imagine that this is going to be anything other than a spectacular financial disaster”. That’s what he said ten years ago; he’s nodding. He’s nodding. And they say the same thing today. So devoid of imagination, are they? They say the same thing today about the National Reconstruction Fund. Now the CFC has invested $11.7 billion in projects worth $42 billion. Every dollar the CFC has invested has leveraged 2.6 dollars of private sector investment. It’s created thousands of jobs, 5.2 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity, and reduced emissions by 240 million tons. But apart from that, it’s been an utter disaster, Mr. Speaker, a complete disaster. The member for Bradfield had a point. This is what you get when you have an opposition so devoid of their own ideas, so devoid of a constructive approach, so devoid of acting in the national interest, that they just opposed, Mr. Speaker. They opposed it 10 years ago, they tried for years to abolish it. They tried for years and years to abolish it and they failed, and now they’re trying to stop the next phase of the National Reconstruction Fund. This is what you get, Mr. Speaker, when you have a leader of the opposition who’s all opposition and no leader.
DICKS: Order, give the call to the leader of the Nationals.
PETER KHALIL MP MEMBER FOR WILLS
E&OE TRANSCRIPT TELEVISION INTERVIEW ABC NEWS AFTERNOON BRIEFING WEDNESDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2022
Subjects: Industrial Relations Bill, National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022
GRED JENNETT, HOST: All of which brings us to today’s political panel and joining us right here in the studio Labor MP Peter Khalil and Independent MP Kate Chaney both joining us, good to have you here. Kate I might just put a first question to Peter on what is effectively breaking news because Peter Khalil, for those who aren’t familiar, is also chair of the powerful Joint Intelligence and Security Committee here. It has been brought to our attention Peter that the anti-Chinese protester Drew Pavlou who’s you know, run foul of the law in a few different places around the globe was asked to leave, affectively kicked out of parliament houses public cafe earlier today, I think he was here for a range of meetings, possibly including yourself, does this cause you any concern from a public access and civil rights point of view?
PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well, Greg, I just heard the news as I was coming into the studio as well. Just saw the report, so I’m not really sure the facts around this, but I would say that I haven’t met with him yet, but I think this is really a matter for the presiding officers to determine what’s going on. I think it’s with them at the moment the Speaker and the President who have control over security or preside over the security of the House and the Parliament and the Senate. So, I’ll leave that to them. I’m not going to comment on that because I don’t know the facts.
JENNETT: Drew Pavlou just briefly and finally. I appreciate you are not across all of the detail and you’re seeking further explanations, but he does describe this building as the seat of our democracy, and I’m not even allowed in the public gallery or to sit down and have lunch without being accosted, he says by federal police, I mean on the broader democracy point, does he have one?
KHALIL: Well, as I alluded to earlier he did, he has met with a number of MPs and senators. I’m very open to meeting with him, as I am to many people that make requests to come and have a chat, but we don’t always have to agree on everything but you hear people out. That’s part of our job. They can express their views and make their representations and he requested a meeting, which hasn’t happened, but you know, we should continue that. I think it’s very important as parliamentarians that we are always open to hearing a wide range of views from people across the community.
JENNETT: Yeah, I appreciate the fact that this is a developing story and we’re not across all the facts, but why don’t we bring it to a substantive issue of the day Kate Chaney and that is around industrial relations. A key matter on the Governments agenda before this year is out. But from a parliamentary point of view, did you think on the comments we’ve just played, and which were widely reported, that Reserve Bank governor is putting a shot across the Government bows when it comes to wage growth expectations?
KATECHANEY, MEMBER FOR CURTIN: I think there is definitely a need to see some wage growth, the growth, especially in those lower paid sectors under the supported bargaining stream and I hope that that is really effective. I have some real concerns about the single interest stream and I think if that wage growth moves to the whole economy then there is a risk we end up in this wage price spiral, so I suppose that’s what the Reserve Bank Governor is pointing to.
JENNETT: Is there a magic number there, I mean, the figure that Phil Lowe
spoke about was 7%, ’cause that’s where inflation is at and he’s saying if you went for 7% this year and then 7% next year, you’ll have real problems with inflation. What is it that would cause you alarm say for the small businesses in your own electorate? It’s currently about 3%, but how much tolerance is there for wage growth above that?
CHANEY: Yeah, I don’t know that there’s a magic number. But I can see that that risk of, you know, wages chasing inflation, inflation chasing wages, and if we can get through this next year the forecast is that inflation will come off a bit and we may be able to prevent this being a longer term and more difficult trend.
JENNETT: So, we’re having a discussion, or we’re not, but I think David Pocock might be with the government about where this single stream process might kick in, is it payrolls of 15 or 20? What sort of feedback are you getting from smaller businesses in your own electorate?
CHANEY: I think that a lot of businesses are covered if you move it to 20, and that will be good for small businesses where they can actually find ways to improve productivity and innovate with their employees and do that privately without being dragged into multi employer bargains. I think that is actually ultimately in the interests of wage growth because if wages aren’t connected to productivity, then it’s not sustainable.
JENNETT: Do you accept that Peter, or perhaps returning more precisely to Reserve Bank Governor Lowe’s point, is your own government at risk of overcooking some of the rhetoric about the needs for wage growth rise?
KHALIL: Well, the Reserve Bank Governor is entitled to express his views how he wishes, he’s talking about, I think his words were something around, you know, having wages grow to compensate inflation or tied to CPI he was commenting about that. The fact is, ultimately, how much wages rise is dependent upon the Fair Work Commission and the Australian Government, The Labor government has made a commitment and we took it to the election and we are going forward with that to get wages moving and as Kate said, there’s a need for wages growth because it’s about a fair day’s pay, but it’s also about the fact that for nine long years the coalition government suppressed wages, a deliberate part of their policy design if you like to suppress wages for such a long period of time, and that’s why we are actually supporting increases in the minimum wage with the Fair Work Commission submissions which were really important. They’ve already come through, increases in wages for the aged care sector, which is a feminist work sector and this is also about closing the gender pay gap. This has happened already. These are important steps. The Government has made a commitment to the Australian people to get wages moving again. And on this point about inflation. I know there’s a lot of commentary about you know, what could happen in the future. The fact is that largely the contributing factors to the inflationary pressures we are seeing are the global energy crisis, the war in Ukraine that’s causing that, you know issues around supply chain certainty and so on. These are big contributing factors to wages. Wages and wages growth is important for millions of Australian workers out there and we made a commitment to them to get wages moving again.
JENNETT: No, it is true that wages aren’t yet fueling that inflation. I guess what he was trying to say was, they might. On the threshold though, still being negotiated with David Pocock. Do you think that, uh, you know a larger small business, one with a payroll of say 20 employees or less should be left out of this multi-employer bargaining?
KHALIL: Whatever number is landed on, it’s part of a negotiation. And that’s the important thing parliamentarians are having that engagement, that discussion, the relevant ministers are engaging with the other place as well, the senators as well to negotiate that. A couple of things are really important to sort of point out though, that the kind of hyperbole or the sky is falling in kind of catastrophizing that we’ve seen from the opposition, and we saw it in that clip earlier. You know, I mean, It’s Angus Taylor’s chicken little, the sky is going to fall in, you know, and they throw out these big numbers and they make assumptions about worst case scenarios. But frankly, there’s already the bill. When we talk about multi-employer bargaining, it already exists, we’re streamlining it and improving it. There’s a negotiation around the threshold numbers for single interest, multi bargaining. But there are also sections of the bill now which are about having individual work forces a vote to not be part of an agreement, to opt out. So, there is are a lot of stuff in there that’s quite good, but you wouldn’t know about if you just listen to the opposition ’cause they’re just catastrophizing the whole thing.
CHANEY: And I think we have seen some amendments being made, which is which is really good. And there are some great things in there. It’s the fact that it’s all in together with these other more controversial single interest strains that’s raising some concerns.
JENNETT: Were you a bit blindsided by that Kate? ’cause I know there’s a bit of argument over exactly what had been foreshadowed by the Labor Government, and then outcomes this omnibus bill. There are certainly elements that weren’t.
CHANEY: That’s right, and we did see quite a different process here to the Anti Corruption Commission Bill and the Climate Change Bill. It was a much shorter time frame and certainly it seemed it was a bit of a surprise to me that the extent of the multi employer bargaining that was included in that and a bit of a mismatch between what I had perceived as being the mandate and what was in there.
KHALIL: Alright well hold on, we made a commitment to the Australian people to get wages moving. This is a real issue for millions of Australians before Christmas. It might be alright for us as politicians who get a good wage or a good salary not to think so much about it. But for millions of people in across the country, for people, constituents in my electorate, a wage rise actually means something, it helps them keep up with the cost of living, helps them pay the bills, it helps them get, you know, food on the table, get you know, the clothes for their kids. This is real for Australians so that’s why we are moving forward on our commitment in good faith in negotiations, as Kate said, there’s been some good amendments made and I think we can actually get there.
JENNETT: Well, it may not be the ends I guess, there’s a bit of argument about the means, but let’s go since you mentioned it Kate to the Anti Corruption Commission. This is about to reach its final stage of debate in your Chamber in the House, what still causes you concern? Or do you accept now that the numbers and further changes are beyond your control?
CHANEY: I think it’s looking pretty good and we should really celebrate where we’ve got to on this. It’s been a long time coming and I think it will really help rebuild trust in our democracy. There are a few things that I would still like to see some changes on, like public hearings is one and lightening that test so that that’s in the discretion of the Commissioner as opposed to having to reach this exceptional circumstances level. But there are amendments still being negotiated. The Governments indicated some willingness to listen to the recommendations of the committee. There’s some protections for journalists in there, they’re still being negotiated and I think we’re gonna end up with a pretty good piece of legislation.
JENNETT: So all’s well that ends well. I mean, it’s a journey that does sort of come very quickly in the end doesn’t it.
KHALIL: I will say this, I mean that there will be public hearings under the National Anti Corruption Commission and there will be public findings of corruption and the Commission will have the power under the Bill, the Act, to hold public hearings and it’s really up to them to determine that public interest assessment, if you like. And I think it’s important because it is an independent commission. That’s the whole point. They have to make, to go through those assessments, to make those decisions. They should not be being told when to hold a public hearing and went to do it private. It’s up to them to do so.
CHANEY: Couldn’t agree more, which is why if was just the public interest test, I think that would be entirely appropriate. The fact that that needs to be met and also the exceptional circumstances test needs to be met, means I think that actually constrains the commission’s ability to make those decisions.
KHALIL: Why don’t you trust the independence of this commission to make its own decisions in order to make that determination based on their
CHANEY: I do, which is why I don’t think we need the exceptional circumstances test.
KHALIL: Almost there though.
JENNETT: I Have to warn you against taking Kate Chaney on in a debate over the Anti-Corruption Commission because the Teals are full bottle on this one I can assure you, right across all the detail.
KHALIL: As are we, this was a commitment made by the leader Anthony Albanese, it was something that we took into the last election. It was a headline piece of our policy, and we’re delivering on it.
JENNETT: Alright couple of lighter ones to finish off on. For you Kate, this is a natural one, Teal is on the brink apparently of being named Word of the Year, at least by the Australian National Dictionary, if not by the Macquarie Dictionary, that means you become more than a movement. You’ve become, you’ve captured something in the public consciousness.
CHANEY: Well, I’m a bit of a dictionary nerd, so it’s a real honour to be part of you know something that is such a positive shift in democracy and has excited this level of interest. As you said, that’s the ANU, Macquarie it’s on the short list, but there are lots of other words on the short list to, including bachelors handbag, which I particularly like, the cooked chook. But the fact that we now have a word for Giga fire, which is, a bush fire that burns 100,000 hectares indicates that we do actually need more politicians with a focus on climate change.
JENNETT: There is something going on. Cooker and eshay are apparently also finalists for Word of the year, and this one I think is more up your ally Peter, I did see you, I’m pretty sure I saw you at the World Cup soccer event on the Senate playing fields this morning.
KHALIL: I was.
JENNETT: It didn’t go so well, not for the Socceroos anyway.
KHALIL: I was devastated Greg, we had such a great start we scored the first goal, we were in the lead for a few minutes and then of course France were too good for the rest of the game. But look, we support the Socceroos they’ve got another big game against Tunisia on Saturday night, I think they’re gonna have a great result and the other great thing about the Socceroos is there’s four African Australians in that squad this is the diversity of Australia really coming through into our, you know, national teams and it’s great to see that Garang Kuol and Awer Mabil got a run in the last 15 minutes. I was really excited about that.
JENNETT: I was going to say are any of them your own constituents?
KHALIL: Well no I don’t know, I know Thomas Deng is and he is on the squad as well, he lives in my area, but I’m backing him all the way as we all are and we did have a bit of a kick down there for the the Street Cup. The Big Issue Street Cup and I scored in that as well.
JENNETT: Thanks for dropping that in. Peter Khalil, Kate Chaney, thanks to both for joining us in a lively discussion today that is it for us on afternoon briefing.
PETER KHALIL MP MEMBER FOR WILLS
E&OE TRANSCRIPT TELEVISION INTERVIEW SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION TUESDAY 22 NOVEMBER 2022
Subjects: Industrial Relations Bill, National Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2022
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Back to Canberra now, and joining us live is Labor MP Peter Khalil and the Liberal Senator James Paterson. Good morning gentlemen. Peter I’ll start with you, new data out this morning forecasting 56,000 businesses to be hit with “industrial mayhem” involving businesses between 15 and 200 staff. Do you accept that figure?
PETER KHALIL, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR WILLS: First of all Pete, Angus Taylor is like Chicken Little, you know; the sky is going to fall in because some Australian wage earners are going to get increase in wages after 9 years of wages been suppressed by their own policies – by the Liberal Party’s policies. Let’s just have a bit of a fact check here; what the opposition don’t tell you about those numbers is that many businesses, many small businesses, already pay their workers above award rates, because they value their workers; that’s what small businesses are about. The fact is that the bill itself has a section in there which allows individual workforces to vote to opt out of any multi-employer bargaining. Multi-employer bargaining already exists, this is about making it work better and frankly the reason we are committed to this is the Australian Government, the Labor Party, went to the election saying we’re going to get wages moving again. We backed in a 5% increase to the minimum wage with the fair work commission, and a 15% increase for aged care workers, a feminized workforce, gender pay gap, getting that closed. We’re continuing that commitment because wage earners, millions of Australians want their wages moving again, cost of living pressures are real, they impact people, it might not be so important for some of the Liberal Party who don’t want to back workers, but we back workers. We back millions of Australians who, you know, need their wages moving again.
STEFANOVIC: Ok James will it really be industrial mayhem or is that a bit dramatic?
SENATOR JAMES PATERSON: Peter, everyone wants to see higher wages for Australians, nothing is more deserved, particularly in the face of the very high inflation that families are facing. What we don’t want to see is more strikes and a return to the 1970s, 1980s style workplace where union activity and intimidation shutdown many Australian workplaces and made doing business in this country very difficult and as a result of that 30 years of industrial relations reform remove what used to be called pattern bargaining which the government is now trying to re-introduce in the form of multi-employer bargaining. Peter talked about what they took to the election, but one thing they didn’t take to the election was multi-employer bargaining. If it was such a great idea, why didn’t they tell the Australian people about it only 6 months ago when they took a policy to the election? It is clear that they didn’t take this to the election because Australians would have understood that this would have increased union power and dominance in the workplace, in a time in which it is just not relevant for most Australian workers and most Australian business, representing less than 10% of workers.
KHALIL: So, let’s just get this straight, wages which have been suppressed for years are not relevant to millions of Australian workers James? You’re usually pretty good on the facts.
PATERSON: Thanks Peter I said the opposite, I said unions are no longer relevant because they represent less than 10% part of Australian Workers.
KHALIL: Ok unions represent workers and workers rights and that’s an important part of our civic society and I will just say this, multi-employer bargaining already existed under your government, it was in the act, it already, it’s already there. What we’re doing is we’re improving it; we’re making sure that we can get wages moving again. This is about wage earners who have had their wages suppressed for 9 years, literally 9 years and policies by the previous government contributed to that suppression. And by the way, Angus Taylor going on about cost-of-living pressures. The gall I mean seriously, that you know the cost-of-living pressures are real for millions of Australian’s, wages increasing and getting wages moving actually addresses that the inflationary pressure is coming from the war in Ukraine and energy prices, constraints on supply chains. There is no evidence whatsoever that wages increasing will have that impact or a very insignificant impact if it does.
STEFANOVIC: We are starting to see green shoots on that point however, so is there a need to actually change anything if we are starting to see some momentum now on wages Pete.
PATERSON: Look the Reserve Bank Governor has said very clearly he is concerned if we get into a wages prices spiral, where we try and chase higher prices with higher wages, which then feeds into permanently higher prices, that would be very dangerous for economy, It’s the last thing we want to see. We need our wages increase based on productivity increases, and nothing in this act is going to make the Australian workplace more productive, in fact it’s going to do the opposite, because it’s going to return higher strikes and more industrial dispute action to the workplace and we know that’s toxic for productivity.
KHALIL There is no evidence of that.
STEFANOVIC: Just on that point James, do you have faith that the Fair Work Commission will be able to arbitrate and stop that from happening?
PATERSON: Well even if the fair work commission does its job perfectly, if it’s dealing with more arbitration and more disputes and more union activity that is going to slow down our industrial relations system. That is going to come up the system and is going to affect workplace productivity, we’ve seen this story many times before. When you have more strikes you have less productivity, it is a one-to-one relationship. If that’s all we see how this which I believe we will, then we will rue the day that we agreed to it.
KHALIL: Can I just, I reject the premise of both the question and the part of the answer, that there’s an assumption that there’s going to be an increase in industrial disputes, the numbers that have been flying around. When there is another story that Australia had. We saw it in the 80s as well where employers and employees can work effectively together, increase productivity, and get wages moving. Alright, so multi-employer bargaining already exists, we are refining it, we are making it better, we’re giving opt out for individual work forces who, you know, they may have already got their increases above the award rate, they don’t want to be involved in that particular bargaining as well, they can vote to stay out of it. There’s a lot of catastrophizing by the government, there’s a lot of hyperbole.
STEFANOVIC: Just on that, there’s a lot of businesses out there concerned, it’s not just government, the businesses out there are legitimately concerned, particularly small businesses.
PATERSON: Every employee group in this country is concerned about it.
KHALIL: So, I saw some of the reporting around, representatives of the food industry and so on. You know what it was really interesting because in there, in the story it also said a lot of these business are already paying above award rates. Small businesses, small businesses, value their workers. They do pay them. That’s part of a family, you know if you talk to your small businesses, I don’t know James does in his local area, but you talk to them, it is like a family, it’s important that they value their workers, sometimes they pay them above award rates. In fact, lots of small business I talk to are doing that as well. So, I think that the catastrophizing that’s coming from the government is a bit chicken little, you know the sky’s going to fall in. Instead of assuming that employers and employees can work constructively and bargain to get good outcomes for their workers, they’re going straight to worst case scenario, which is unlikely.
STEFANOVIC: Ok. Just a final one here, we are running out of time gents, but James I do want to ask you, Kevin Rudd, he’s claimed in a speech overnight that we could be at war with China by the end of the decade unless growing strategic tensions are managed. Now, Kevin Rudd he does know China better than most. Is he accurate?
PATERSON: Look it’s a very sobering warning from Dr Rudd, and I think we should listen to it carefully, particularly because Kevin Rudd only a few years ago was attacking others for saying the same thing memorably in August 2019. He launched a pretty personal attack on Andrew Hastie, and by implication others like me who had been warning about the strategic risks posed to our region by a rising and more assertive China and he said we were being irresponsible and neither of us talked about a 5 or 10 year deadline, which is now talked about. So, if he’s come around to our worldview, and he now shares that worldview and wants to warn the Australian people about that, then I welcome it because I think we need to deal with the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.
STEFANOVIC: Ok a thought from you Peter on that point, I mean despite all the G20 pleasantries, is this proof that we still need to be careful moving forward?
KHALIL: I didn’t know he was a Dr Rudd now, but anyway Dr Rudd’s points were valid in and around the point that we need to maintain some sort of managed strategic competition, everything that we do, whether it’s in diplomacy, defence, development assistance, you know the 3 D’s of statecraft is aimed at deterring state actors, whether it be China or others or non-state actors from diminishing that international rules based order, and moving towards confrontation and conflict. Defence capability is a very important part of that, diplomacy is a part of that, but on James’s point, I think the criticism that Dr. Rudd made, was that there was a lot of chest beating by the opposition, a lot of you know bellicose remarks, which wasn’t effective. We’ve been practicing a much more nuanced diplomacy, it’s part of those three D’s to try and reduce tensions, to try and deter others from using force, and moving towards, from competition to conflict. And that is the objective and it’s in our national interest to do so. It’s not in our national interest to have been talking up in the way that the previous government was, conflict and so on because it actually adds to tension.
STEFANOVIC: We will leave it their gents, I was surprised by that too a couple of days ago when I saw that he’s now Dr. Rudd, but it’s happened somewhere along the way, but there you go. James, Peter,
PATERSON: You should read his PHD, it is on Xi Jinping thought. Thanks.
KHALIL: Bedtime reading.
House of Representatives 6/09/2022
Mr KHALIL (Wills) (13:56): Making things here—manufacturing in Australia—that is what the Albanese Labor government is about, unlike that mob opposite. Recently, I met with a local fabric manufacturer in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, HMA Fabrics, which has been operating since 1985. The managing director, Ismail Ali, took over the operation and the family business from his uncle and his father. They migrated from Lebanon in the early eighties to escape conflict. Like many migrants, they worked hard. They built up a business in Australia and established it. I talked to Ismail about the Albanese government’s $15 billion reconstruction fund, which will support manufacturing businesses and create secure and well-paid jobs.
Ismail faces a lot of these challenges in the apparel industry in Australia, including with the recent closure of the few remaining apparel dye houses in Australia at the end of 2021. This has caused delays and it’s caused shortages. As a result, a lot of clothing manufacturers, like those producing school wear, are going to overseas producers to secure stock. Local businesses like Ismail Ali’s do not want this. They want to support Australian business and jobs and buy Australian made. Rather than business leaving Australia, we’re all about making things here, and everyone in the Albanese Labor government, on this side, is going to bring manufacturing back home.
PETER KHALIL MP MEMBER FOR WILLS
E&OE TRANSCRIPT TELEVISION INTERVIEW SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION TUESDAY 30 AUGUST 2022
Subjects: Stage three tax cuts, Jobs Summit
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: You are back with First Edition. Thank you for your company this Tuesday morning. Well let’s go to Melbourne now. Joining us live is the Labor MP Peter Khalil. Peter, good to see you. So, all systems go for the job summit this week, are you about to reverse the stage 3 tax cuts though?
PETER KHALIL, MEMBER FOR WILLS: Well, Peter, good morning to you. Couple of points about the taxation reform and the tax cuts. Our priority actually, is to make multinationals pay their fair share of tax, because they’ve been getting away with blue murder. Some big multinational companies paying four cents, five cents in the dollar, whereas your local small businesses paying their full tax rate. Because those big companies can offshore their headquarters and do all sorts of accounting tricks to not pay where they’re making their profits and that’s got to stop and there’s a big package in place in that. As well as a package around cutting all the rorts and all the stuff that went on in the previous government to try and peg back some of that $1 trillion debt. Now, with respect to the tax cuts that you raised; the Prime Minister has been pretty clear on this. This was passed through Parliament; I think a couple of years ago now. My understanding is that the stage three of those income tax cuts are not due to commence for another two years and that stage three also includes tax cuts for people making from about $45,000 up to about $200K, which is a significant tax cut for those people in the middle income bracket and again, very important with respect to relieving the cost of living. But they don’t come in for another two years and that’s an important point. The Prime Minister has said very clearly he took that to the election and he’s following through on that commitment.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, I mean, you talk about the multinationals and taking back some money from them. At the moment, I mean that pales in comparison to what you could earn back by reversing the tax cuts or stage 3 tax cuts though.
Khalil: Well, there’s a lot of different measures that the Treasurer and the government can take to peg back that trillion-dollar debt. As I said, there were a lot of rorts and, we’re talking in the hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars with respect to the multinational tax avoidance or not paying their fair share of tax. And there are many other measures to relieve cost of living in the budget. You know you can’t just look at one thing in isolation, Peter. There are many things that the Treasurer is looking at.
STEFANOVIC: Sure, but that one thing in isolation, the Stage three tax cuts. That’s a whole stack of money.
KHALIL: Yeah, but as I said that doesn’t come in for another two years – July 1st 2024 and the point that the Prime Minister has made, I think as recently as yesterday in the National Press Club was that that was something that was taken to the election and he’s standing by that commitment that he made.
STEFANOVIC: Have times not changed since they were legislated though?
KHALIL: Times always change, Peter, as you know. And I think the government is well within its rights to always assess what is the right course of action. And it’s always about getting the balance right between commitments made during elections, because you know, everyone says ‘politicians, they don’t keep their promises’ versus oh look, times have changed, you’ve got to change with the facts on the ground. So, it’s always about getting that balance right. And as I said yesterday the Prime Minister’s pretty clear that those stage three tax cuts were passed by Parliament and that was a commitment that he took to the last election.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, you got the job summit that’s coming up on Thursday. Not very far away. Now there’s going to be a live press conference that we’re going to take very shortly, involving the TWU, the Union and Tony Burke – relates to the gig economy you had deals yesterday – small business and the unions. I mean, are you in danger of placating the unions too much here when it comes to this Job Summit, which is exactly what Peter Dutton had feared?
KHALIL: Did you write that question for yourself or?
STEFANOVIC: No, I mean there’s a trend here, isn’t there?
KHALIL: No, no, well hold on. The TWU represents people in the gig economy who are getting effectively shafted right. We’re talking about drivers, truckies and so on, many of them on casual contracts and so on, were they work long hours and they work dangerous long hours to try and make ends meet. We’re talking about a minimum wage for these workers in the gig economy who are effectively exploited by the structure of the way that these companies in the gig economy operate. So, whether it’s Uber or whether it’s any of these other employers, I think it’s well within the remit of the Union to push for a minimum wage. I support it 100%. I’ve met some of these workers, who work these shifts. It’s unacceptable. Some people have actually died on some of these very long shifts, so there’s a safety issue as well. Look the good thing about the Job Summit, Peter; it’s not about placating and it doesn’t need to be a competitive conflict. This is about bringing unions, employers, civil society, governments together, to work on one of the big challenges facing Australia, with respect to our jobs and our skills, our employment. We’ve got clearly massive skills shortages in this country. It needs to be addressed and a lot of the previous government sitting on its hands for years and years, not dealing with it. For mine, I’m very, very passionate about ensuring that when it comes to getting the balance right with the migration policy to bring in more migrants to this country.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, and what and what should that be?
KHALIL: Well, we’re not doing what the previous government did, which was upping, temporary work visas and pretending that they were reducing migration and pretending that they were congestion busting. When the temporary work visas went above 2,000,000 in Melbourne and Sydney, Scott Morrison was parading around, carrying on like he was congestion busting, when he actually increased temporary work visas. He said he reduced skilled permanent migration. He did so by 10,000. That’s crazy, right. My parents came to this country and actually committed to being new Australians, like millions of others. That’s what built Australia post World War Two – is the permanent skilled migration. So, we don’t want a guest worker model that we were crawling towards, like you see in Germany and other places like that, where there’s only temporary workers. You want people to come here, you want them to become new Australians, you want them to commit to this country and be part of the economy, not a temporary worker.
STEFANOVIC: Yeah, so what should it be? There’s an argument at the moment about what the number, what the new number should be. Well, what have you got your eyes set on?
KHALIL: Well, I think the numbers should be based on evidence. It should be based on where the skill shortages are.
STEFANOVIC: Right so 200 (thousand), 220 (thousand)? Where do you think?
KHALIL: Well, I am not going to pluck numbers out of the air. No, well it depends upon the evidence base. So, if there is a real need in a particular sector, particularly, you know for a type of worker if you like in a particular industry or particular type of technology or whatever, a technician or whatever it might be and you get those numbers based on the evidence base. That’s how you build the numbers up for a skilled migration programme. But the point I’m making is, it’s got to be permanent migration, so these people become Australian, settle here and actually make the long-term contribution to the economy that we need, not temporary work visas. There’s a place for temporary work visas to fill gaps in the short term. What happened was that that was abused over years, and it went beyond just filling short term gaps to becoming sort of the go to for every employer in every industry. Well I’m mixing up my metaphors, but it actually become a real problem for us over time. It’s very early in the morning Peter. I haven’t had my coffee yet.
STEFANOVIC: I do that all the time, don’t worry. Peter Khalil, good to see him. We’ll chat to you again soon.
KHALIL: Thanks, Peter. See you mate.
Mr KHALIL (Wills) (11:03): I also rise to speak on the Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Pension Loans Scheme Enhancements) Bill 2021. It is an important scheme, the Pension Loans Scheme. It allows older people in our community who are asset rich but income poor to have a source of income. But like everything under this government, it has been botched, and now we are dealing with a bill that attempts to fix a couple of problems in the dying embers of this parliament just so the Morrison government can say: ‘Look at us. We have done something for pensioners.’
You may know, Deputy Speaker Andrews, that the Pension Loans Scheme, the PLS, is a legacy of the Hawke government. I’m not sure if you were here that early, Deputy Speaker. I know you’ve been in this place a long time. It’s a legacy of the Hawke government. Its purpose was to enhance the living standards of senior Australians who were unable to access the age pension because they were unable to meet the income test. The scheme, however, has very low take-up rates.
There are many barriers preventing Australians from accessing the program. Equality of access, complexity of financial products, unintended consequences of safeguards against excessive debt, interest rates and cultural issues come into play. The government made some modest changes in the 2018-19 budget, which expanded the eligibility to full-rate pensioners and self-funded retirees, increasing the maximum fortnightly payment rate under the Pension Loans Scheme from 100 per cent to 150 per cent of the full pension and reducing the interest rate from 5.25 per cent to 4.5 per cent. We supported those changes, and we welcome the government’s efforts to further improve the PLS. Senior Australians have waited far too long for the government to address the known barriers to accessing the program. And still, many remain.
It was only last year when I spoke on addressing pension portability, meaning pensioners would be able to retain the full rate overseas for longer than 26 weeks. If they were to travel overseas they wouldn’t have it cut off. Specifically, increasing the number of countries we have social security agreements with will ensure that Australians are able to receive their pensions while they are travelling overseas, when they start travelling again. Flexibility is important in decision-making, and that’s why Labor supports this bill. This bill expands the scheme further, introducing more financial safeguards and greater payment flexibility. It allows two annual advance lump sum payments to help participants with larger expenses.
As always with this government, they’ve focused on the marketing effort, giving the scheme a new name. They’ve called it the Home Equity Access Scheme. This scheme, allowing people to unlock their housing assets to improve their retirement incomes, should be fair and easy to access for all senior Australians. This bill is another missed opportunity to introduce significant and real change. It’s a job half done, taken up too late. Too little, too late. There are still cultural barriers yet to be addressed by this government. Only then will we see real change in the take-up rates.
As always, this government would prefer to have done nothing and been left unbothered by the challenges of the people it’s meant to represent. The government can’t claim to be giving senior Australians real choices in their retirement without addressing these particular barriers. There are still many older Australians unable to access the program despite owning real property. For instance, many tens of thousands of Australians live in land lease communities. These Australians own their own homes, but because they do not own the land they are unable to access the scheme. That’s unfair. The government must look at this issue, make further changes and open the scheme up for those Australians.
As I’ve said, to be fair, although there are some positive changes to the PLS in this bill that do assist older Australians—and that’s why we’re supporting it—I don’t think pensioners will be fooled by this government and what they’re trying to do here. They won’t forget the shameful track record of cuts and attempted cuts to the pension, making it more difficult for pensioners to access Centrelink. In a speech back in 2015, a freshly minted Treasurer, the now Prime Minister, made comments stating that the age pension should not be regarded as an entitlement for all. Just let that sink in. It should not be regarded as an entitlement for all. The then Treasurer also outlined the Turnbull government’s vision for an overhaul of the country’s retirement income system by both reducing expenditure on welfare payments and limiting the amount of revenue forgone through tax concessions.
Deputy Speaker, you know, and most of us who represent our communities know, that the vast majority of pensioners have worked very hard throughout their working lives, and they’ve contributed all of their lives. They’ve paid their taxes. It’s not just because of their age that they deserve respect and dignity in their retirement. It’s because of that commitment, that social contract. They’ve paid their taxes. They’ve paid their dues. They’ve contributed to this country. So we have an obligation to give them respect and dignity in their retirement but also to fulfil our side of that contract. Many of those in the firing line of the coalition’s many attempts to cut the pension are migrants. These are migrants who came to this country 40 or 50 years ago, who worked very hard to build a new life for themselves and their children and who have contributed into building Australia up into the great country that it is today. They’re now pensioners. They’re at retirement age. They worked hard, they paid their taxes and they built their lives and their families here. They’re people who helped make this country what it is today. Those people should be able to receive a pension that allows them to at least live comfortably and in dignity.
Deputy Speaker, you would be aware of many of the recent instances where the government have tried to get their scissors out and start cutting, start undercutting and start diminishing their side of the commitment of this contract. In 2015 the Prime Minister, when he was doing such a fantastic job as Treasurer, tried to cut the pension and increase the age of entitlement. In the 2014 budget, the government tried to cut the pension indexation, a cut that would have meant pensioners would be forced to live on $80 a week less within 10 years. This unfair cut would have ripped $23 billion from the pockets of every single pensioner in Australia over that period. In the 2014 budget, the government cut $1 billion from pensioner concessions, support that was designed to help pensioners with the cost of living—and wouldn’t that be handy now for those pensioners? In the 2014 budget, the government axed the $900 senior supplement for self-funded retirees receiving the Commonwealth seniors health card. That infamous budget also saw the government try to reset deeming rate thresholds, a cut that would have seen 500,000 part pensioners made worse off. In 2015 the Liberals did a deal with the Greens to cut the pension of around 370,000 pensioners by as much as $12,000 a year by changing the pension assets test.
In the 2016 budget, the government tried to cut the pension to around 190,000 pensioners as part of a plan to limit overseas travel for pensioners to six weeks, which I referred to earlier: the portability issue. In the 2016 budget, they also tried to cut the pension for over 1½ million Australians by scrapping the energy supplement for new pensioners. The government’s own figures show that this would have left over 563,000 Australians who are currently receiving a pension or allowance worse off. In 10 years this would be in excess of 1.5 million pensioners. In August 2020, more recently, the government was caught out by Labor on its pensions freeze for 2½ million pensioners.
Pensioners will not be surprised to hear that the coalition has tried to cut their pension this many times, again and again, over the past nine years. The government’s obsessed with it. They’ve tried to do this in every single budget. Cutting the pension, unfortunately, is in the government’s DNA; building and supporting the pension is in Labor’s DNA. When we were last in government, we increased the pension by $30 a week.
We have seen stagnant wages, the slowest growth in a decade, productivity in decline and the cost of living going up, all under the coalition government. The Morrison government likes to do a bit of a smoke and mirrors act to pretend to care about cost-of-living pressures because, guess what, the election is around the corner. It’s going to be called within a week or so. If they really cared about cost-of-living pressures on Australian families, they wouldn’t have spent the last decade attacking wages, job security, pensions and Medicare. The government has no plans to turn the economy around. They’re just paying out with handouts. The billions of dollars that Scott Morrison, the Prime Minister; and Josh Frydenberg, the Treasurer, spray around in this budget won’t change the reality for Australians that everything is going up except their pay.
The age pension is a proud Labor legacy introduced decades ago to ensure older Australians could live with dignity. It was doubled by the Whitlam Labor government in 1972 and increased again by the Hawke and Keating governments. The changes have been enormous, but the principle of giving older Australians security, support and dignity remain the cornerstone of the system. That is the Australian way, and it’s always been the Labor way—to meet our obligation to those Australians who’ve made that contribution throughout their working lives, who’ve worked hard, whether it’s the pension, Medicare, unemployment benefits when they can’t find a job and they’re looking, superannuation, the NDIS. These are the sorts of era-defining policies that Australians can actually trust the Labor Party to deliver. These are the kinds of policies that the Liberal Party, in contrast, for some reason, hate. They are always trying to knock down, diminish, destroy, slash and cut at the earliest opportunity, much like we have seen in the pattern of this current government over the past nine years. Australians expect better from their government, and I am sure they’re pleased that there is an election coming so that they can make their own choice.
House of Representatives 26/08/2021
Mr KHALIL (Wills) (13:36): Our first big night out with friends; that first camping trip; that first overseas trip; that first day of uni, or of TAFE or of starting your first job; those rites of passage such as 16th, 18th and 21st birthdays; the last days of school, year 12 graduations and schoolies; or simply just catching up with friends—all those moments that, dare I say it, older Australians look back on fondly—are, for a generation of young Australians, moments missed and lost. Dreams have been put on hold, sacrificed to keep all of us in the broader community safe.
Too rarely has the impact of COVID-19 on young people been properly recognised. Young people are less likely to become seriously ill from COVID-19 but they have felt the full impacts of this pandemic nonetheless. Young people were the first to lose their jobs. They have endured the biggest disruptions to their education in modern history, not to mention the overwhelming mental health impacts of lockdowns. Young workers are also the least likely group to have received financial support for their lost work.
But I am continually amazed by the perseverance and optimism of young people. They have come in droves to get vaccinated as soon as they have become eligible, doing their bit to increase our vaccination rates and to get us out of lockdowns. So I want to thank all young people in my electorate and around Australia for doing their bit—for getting vaccinated and for all their sacrifices that have kept us all safe.
Federation Chamber 23/06/2021
Mr KHALIL (Wills) (18:33): This motion purports to celebrate the government’s $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy, with the space sector and industry a big part of that. There is a slight bit of hypocrisy in all of this. The motion notes that space is one of the six national priorities in the government’s manufacturing plan. We all know and have heard that the Australian space industry has a proud history. We have been part of every deep space mission NASA has ever flown, going back to 1957, with the establishment of the Woomera facility in South Australia. In 1962, the CSIRO Parkes telescope supported NASA’s Mariner 2 mission. And we all know about Parkes and Honeysuckle Creek, which played a vital role, and a famous role, in humanity’s great adventure to the moon. I think we all agree we want to see Australia be part of the exploration of space in the 21st century, be a leader in this space, be part of the future and be able to participate in a trillion dollar industry which will provide enormous opportunity for Australians, particularly our STEM professionals.
But let’s take a closer look at the basis of the motion, which was the $1.5 billion Modern Manufacturing Strategy the government announced in October last year. They promised that this investment would go to six key target areas: resources technology and critical minerals processing; food and beverage; medical products; recycling and clean energy; defence; and space. They promised that this program would spend $1.5 billion over 10 years and create 380,000 direct and indirect jobs. The Prime Minister promised to spend $48 million to create 2,600 new manufacturing jobs in the 2020-21 financial year—this financial year; the one ending in seven days. The Prime Minister has actually spent $79 million—wow, that sounds good; it’s more than the $48 million he promised. He will have spent it by 1 July, but guess what? With that $79 million he created 78 manufacturing jobs. That’s more than a million dollars per job. Don’t worry, Prime Minister, you’ve still got seven days left to create the other 2,522 manufacturing jobs to reach your government’s target!
But we shouldn’t be surprised by this because this government doesn’t really believe in backing Australian manufacturing. It’s actually not in their DNA. The fact is that, since this government took office with Prime Minister Tony Abbott, we have lost 90,000 jobs in Australian manufacturing. Let that sink in—90,000 pairs of boots have been hung up. The government dared—goaded—car manufacturers to leave Australian shores. And they did. Hundreds of workers in my electorate of Wills lost their jobs when the Broadmeadows Ford factory closed in 2016. The Department of Industry, Science, Energy and Resources’s own estimate showed that 50,000 Australian manufacturing jobs were lost just last year—50,000 jobs gone under their watch in one year. The government’s own budget forecast papers have said that there’s a cut to real wages over the next four years. For a manufacturing worker that is a cut in real wages of $7,800. There are fewer jobs, lower wages and no vision for the future. They can put up as many motions as they want, but this government’s record is one of neglect.
Unlike this government, Labor have a vision for a future made in Australia. We want Australia to be a country that makes things. We have a plan to do it. A Labor government will deliver a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund for projects that will create secure, well-paid jobs, rebuild our local manufacturing industry and capacity, and make Australia more competitive and self-sufficient. A Labor government will deliver an Australian Skills Guarantee to make sure one in 10 jobs on major federal infrastructure projects are given to apprentices, trainees or cadets. A Labor government will make more trains in Australia with our National Rail Manufacturing Plan and will ensure every dollar of federal funding spent on rail projects creates local jobs. A Labor government will deliver a Defence Industry Development Strategy to ensure that the $270 billion invested in the sector uses local workers. Only Labor will deliver the investment and leadership to rebuild Australian manufacturing because we actually believe in it. We believe in creating good and secure jobs and we believe in making Australia more competitive and self-sufficient.