In response to my recent meeting with a number of representatives from GetUp and as I received many follow-up emails from GetUp members, I have outlined below my position on the issues raised in the GetUp Cunningham Report which was presented to me during the meeting.
I welcome the feedback I received on the issues and the kind comments expressed by members following the discussion.
Labor is committed to tackling climate change and protecting our environment.
The first act of the incoming Rudd Government in 2007 was to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.
At the 2007, 2010 and 2013 elections Labor took a policy of support for an emissions trading scheme (ETS) to the election because we believed, and continue to believe, that the best way to tackle climate change is to put a price on carbon emissions. In Opposition this remains Labor’s position.
The Abbott Government has introduced legislation to remove all forms of pricing carbon pollution and replace it with an expensive direct action scheme. Labor has moved amendments to this legislation, consistent with our election commitment to move to an ETS. If our amendments are unsuccessful Labor will oppose the repeal, consistent with our track record of action on climate change.
Like many Australians, I have been greatly distressed to see people taking the risk of boarding unsafe vessels in an effort to travel to Australia. I have been particularly upset to witness the drowning of men, women and children.
The industry that has been set up to support people smuggling must be stopped as I believe that the most humane thing that we can do for anyone trying to escape persecution is to stop them boarding boats and risking their lives at sea.
Prior to the last election Labor introduced a series of measures aimed at stopping the people smuggling trade.
Labor worked to establish a scheme, in cooperation with our regional neighbours which provided disincentives to people to undertake dangerous sea journeys and increased our refugee intake to 20,000. At every stage the steps Labor took were opposed by the then Opposition for nothing more than political gain.
In Government, Prime Minister Abbott and Minister Morrison have taken to hiding the problem rather than addressing it. They do not answer questions in the Parliament, nor do they provide Australians a sufficient level of information at their weekly media briefings.
An Equitable Tax System
Labor has always supported an equitable tax system aimed at generating sufficient revenues to support the provision of services and support for Australians. Taxes under the Rudd and Gillard Governments were lower than they were under the Howard Government with the average wage earner in Cunningham paying around $1,853 less in income tax than they did in 2007-08.
In government Labor used the tax system to direct assistance to those who needed it most, providing the Schoolkids Bonus to more than 7,150 local families to assist with back-to-school costs; increasing the childcare rebate to 50 per cent; and delivering Australia’s first Paid Parental Leave scheme which benefitted nearly 1,900 local families.
Labor will continue to advocate for a disciplined fiscal policy that supports jobs and growth and makes room for future reforms.
I believe in freedom of the media as a cornerstone of democracy but we also need a diversity of voices within the media. I’m conscious that people do complain about bias in the media when it comes to news reporting. As I mentioned at the meeting, I do believe that social media presents great opportunities for people and organisations to express their views directly to the community.