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Budget reply speech

On the 10th of May I gave my reply to the 2023-24 Budget.

What sort of government is it that can't guarantee a cent, a single cent, for public and affordable housing, but can guarantee $254 billion for everyone in this place to get $9,000 extra a year from tax? They can guarantee $41 billion for fossil fuel subsidies. They can guarantee $16 billion in tax concessions for property investors. But they can't guarantee a cent for public and affordable housing in the middle of the worst housing crisis we have seen in generations.

*Labor member interjected here*

A Labor member over there, just before, told me to grow up. Do you think that your strategy is to tell everyone in this country it's immature to think that, in one of the wealthiest countries in the world, we can put a roof over everyone's head? Do you think it's a strategy to call people immature because we think it's wrong that you're raising more money from charging interest on student debt than you are from raising taxes on gas corporations? If you think it's a good strategy to tell everyone in this country that it's immature to expect that, while politicians in this place are about to get $9,000 extra per year taken off their tax, no-one in this country should be forced to live on poverty payments, how dare you? The strategy that you resort to is to lie to the Australian public.

Now, if you're watching at home, here's the strategy that they're deploying: they are trying to crush your hope. They are trying to crush your hope. What they are trying to say to you right now is this: 'This is all you can hope for. And, if you hope for anything else, and if anyone comes out and says, "Do you know what? Since you can find $4.2 billion for a surplus, maybe we should be spending $5 billion a year on public and affordable housing," you will get attacked for it.' They're trying to bash you down until there is nothing left for you to hope for. But, do you know what? The reality is that the reason they're doing this is not for technical or policy reasons. There's not actually any reason we couldn't tax big corporations and make sure that we build enough public and affordable housing in this country. The private construction industry is in decline. We could be using those skills and construction materials to build public and affordable housing. We could be freezing rent increases, the same as countries around the world have done and as Australia has done before. We could do that, but the reason they don't want to do it is because, really, they are on the side of the banks and property developers who make enormous profits in this country.

Here's the deal: in this budget they're guaranteeing money for property developers and tax concessions to build apartments, that when Mirvac built those apartments—by the way, the outgoing CEO of Mirvac, if you're wondering, is also the person they're appointing to head their National Supply and Affordability Council: what a sick joke—they charged 20 per cent above market rent. Above market rent! Well, guess what? No one in this country is going to take that for much longer. If you think your strategy is to yell and abuse and attack anyone who asks for more—if your strategy is that—you've got another think coming, because there are enough people in this country now who have been screwed over by a political system that snarls at and attacks anyone who asks for more while we have just seen the banks record tens of billions of dollars in profit.

If anyone thinks that's normal and is going to call the Greens radicals for suggesting that in a wealthy country like this the fact is the banks are making billions of dollars in profit and the government can't guarantee a cent for public and affordable housing isn't moderate, then they've absolutely got another think coming. The only radicals in this place are the ones who think doing that is sustainable. The only radicals this place are the ones who think it's okay to give yourselves $9,000 extra a year off on your tax while telling people they have to live on $52 a day. What a sick joke!

It's remarkable, and good to hear, that people are bringing up doorknocking. Maybe I will finish with this. We had someone come into our office, a woman who had just had her rent jacked up by $120 a week. And we were contacted by a man on Centrelink payments, unemployed long term because of a debilitating heart condition but unable to get on DSP. After rent, bills and food he literally did not have the money to pay the $70 train trip to get home to be with his mother. When my team told him we'd transfer $100 immediately so he could book the tickets straightaway and buy some food for the trip, he broke down weeping: he had spent two full days desperately pleading with Centrelink to give him an urgent payment. And you stand here and you think that it's good enough to give yourselves tax cuts while this is happening to people in this country. How dare you?

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