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2022 Budget in Reply to the Senate

Speeches in Parliament
Dorinda Cox 30 Mar 2022

If there's one clear message out of last night's budget, it's this: this government has been sold to the highest bidder on our watch and in our name. When Morrison's Treasurer announced the bill last night, it was not a plan. Instead, what we heard was a last-ditch plea for votes in the dying days of this shambles of a government. It doesn't take much to see through the lies and the bluster with this mob.

While last night's speech began with Morrison's Treasurer paying lip-service to the climate floods, extreme climate events like these are being fuelled by coal and gas—dirty, polluting fossil fuels that Liberal and Labor only want to increase. This budget gives $37.6 billion of taxpayer money in fossil fuel subsidies, which will go directly into the profits of the massive corporations that bankroll the Liberal Party's coffers. Instead of investing in the restoration of Australia's biodiversity, public money will instead be spent on bypassing environmental protection to fast-track environmental approval for their fossil fuel mates. Further billions will be spent on dams that will destroy critical habitats and pollute our Great Barrier Reef.

When you read the budget, it's clear that they can't keep people safe and they can't manage the economy. They are selling us out. There are over three million people living in poverty. There are millions of people trapped in insecure work on low wages and in unaffordable housing.

For the people who are worried about bushfires, about how they're going to cope with the next heatwave or how to rebuild their homes after worsening disasters, once again, you have been abandoned because the government is spending more money on fossil fuels that are accelerating these climate catastrophes. What a joke! Are they trying to buy their way back into office?

Their claims on wages are farcical. Wages growth has been below three per cent for the entire time this government has been in power. But now we're expected to believe that the wages are going to suddenly grow by five per cent over the next three months. Well, here's the real story. This budget funds and fuels the climate crisis. Morrison and his cronies are hell-bent on destroying country, the land, skies and waters that First Nations people have cared for and sustained for generations. Our environment is in crisis, and this budget is making our land sicker. It makes housing more expensive—$13 billion of public money is going into housing investors, but nothing to build more affordable homes. It won't lift wages; it will make the cost of living increase and it will lock us into tax cuts only for the wealthy. This is another budget for the billionaires and the big corporations. They are looking after their mates, after their donors, while squandering our precious resources.

The climate crisis is caused by mining and the burning of coal and gas. They don't just want us to burn more of it; they also want us to pay for it. Coal and gas corporations are not only getting huge handouts, they're offshoring their profits tax free and it's costing every single Australian. Twenty-three gas companies who sell gas overseas together made $49 billion in revenue. Between them they didn't pay a single cent of tax. If that were you and me, this would in fact be criminal.

In 2020-21, Woodside donated $232,000 to the Liberal-National and Labor parties. In return, they've given them handouts to build one of the worst gas projects in the world. They're robbing teachers, nurses, childcare educators and aged-care workers to pay Woodside, Santos and Whitehaven. That's not how you manage the economy. You can't keep people safe if you keep backing more coal and gas. Right now there are 114 new coal and gas projects in the pipeline across this continent, on country. These projects will increase the amount of pollution in the atmosphere by 1.3 billion tonnes a year.

Yet, in a mere 240 years since colonisation, our people have watched in horror and dismay as the governments of this country, one after another, have acted in their own short-term interests. This government fails to see the full picture. It's failing our children and our future generations to come. For First Nations people, this budget is just more of the same. If the government is serious about justice and equality for First Nations people, there needs to be real investment for First Nations communities. Our people are dying in custody. There is no treaty with First Nations people, only bandaid solutions from a government with no real vision for the future.

Nowhere is this felt more than in my own state of Western Australia. Western Australia is already one of the hottest places in the world. It's been identified as a climate hotspot. This year alone the Pilbara hit 50 degrees, and the number of days per year over 40 degrees in Perth has doubled. But this government isn't just fast-tracking projects like the Scarborough gas project; they're also giving them in this budget an additional $300 million to fund gas projects in the Northern Territory. Scarborough alone won't just wreck the planet, but it will do irreversible damage to the Murujuga rock art and the Seven Sisters songline.

So, your taxes are paying to destroy our cultural heritage. Shame. That's why we have to kick the Liberals out and put the Greens into the balance of power. We have a plan to build one million affordable homes. We will cap rents. We will give renters more rights and we will abolish the outrageous tax breaks for people who are investing in their fourth, fifth, 20th and 30th homes, driving up prices so other people are forced to live in their cars. We will ban all new coal and gas projects and invest in the transition to a cleaner, greener economy, and we will pay for it by making billionaires and big corporations pay their fair share of tax. And that's not all. With the balance of power, the Greens will get dental health and mental health into Medicare. Where this government has let us down, the Greens will keep fighting for our communities, for our climate and for a safer future for all of us.

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