Peter Khalil: I refer to comments made by Senator Siewert yesterday which imputed that Labor have denied Newstart and youth allowance recipients an increase in their payments because we opposed, in the other place, a Greens private member’s bill that was introduced there. This is nothing but a cheap stunt by the Greens political party. Labor senators opposed that bill in the other place because it was just plain wrong. Section 53 of the Australian Constitution clearly states:
Proposed laws appropriating revenue or moneys, or imposing taxation, shall not originate in the Senate.
Senator Siewert’s public comments are extremely misleading, and what we are seeing here is the Greens political party using Australia’s—this is the shame of it—most vulnerable people as a prop to pull off a cheap political stunt. Make no mistake, those of us on this side, Labor, are fighting for the most vulnerable people in society. We are addressing inequality in a real way. We are fighting this coalition government’s austerity measures, and that is what they are. They are attaching Centrelink auto-robo-debts, false debts, to the most vulnerable in Australia—the disabled, pensioners, students. We are fighting to restore penalty rates that make a difference to the working class, to working women, to migrant families. These people are not asking for a handout; these are people who are making choices between paying the power bill or paying the food bill. That is who we are fighting for on the side of the House. We are fighting for fairness for all Australians.