Dud Budget that smells of unfairness

MS BIRD (Cunningham) (15:46): I am very pleased to speak today on this MPI on the government's tax priorities, and I thank my colleague for putting it on the agenda. The other side has a problem, and it is a stench around this budget that is lingering from 2014. In 2014 the smell of unfairness in the budget created such a backlash in the community that the government is now trying to pedal away from it. The problem they have is that there is the same smell in this budget, and it is a smell of unfairness. And I can guarantee to those opposite that if there is one thing the Australian population are really good at it is sniffing out unfairness, and they can sniff it very clearly in this budget.

The government is attempting to, if you like, Air Wick over that smell. How are they doing that? First of all, they are trying to make out that somehow they have had a road-to-Damascus conversion on the delivery of services—in particular, things like health and education. You can imagine the discussion in the lead-up to budget night: 'Let's work out the bare minimum we can do to try to say we are doing something about these issues and change the conversation, because we know we're suffering politically because of it.' So, they introduce a proposed Gonski 2.0, which is not only a $22 billion cut on what was promised in the first version but a structurally different funding proposal. At its heart, it is unfair to the vast majority of Australians. And you can see that because of all of those who are out there raising their concerns and campaigning against it, as recently—as my colleague the member for Whitlam would know, as we share an area where the New South Wales parliamentary secretary for education is very active—as when the New South Wales Minister for Education, a Liberal minister, in case it has escaped anybody's notice, shortly before question time was out there jointly with the Labor shadow minister, the Greens spokesperson and the Teachers Federation saying: 'This is a dud deal for New South Wales and the kids I represent. Give us back the money you cut.' That is what your New South Wales Liberal minister said before you came back into this place.

Mr Rick Wilson interjecting

Ms BIRD: The member wants to know whether I will back what they say on education. Yes, I will. And we have said that publicly, because they are right: you are cutting from every one of their schools. And if you are worried about what we are saying, I would suggest that you be more worried about what your New South Wales Liberal colleagues are saying on this Gonski hoax.

Secondly, on health: 'Let's say we are winding back the freeze—except we will just extend it for so long, and then, as we've subsequently discovered, we'll cover as minimal a number of Medicare items as we can', so that, as my colleague indicated, a significant number of people in life-threatening circumstances are not going to see the freeze wound back for years. It stinks and the general public know it. That is why they are having so much trouble with it.

The second Air Wick tactic they are rolling out with this budget is to launch a personal attack to get stuck into the Leader of the Opposition about what his position is on issues such as the NDIS. I have to say that I think it is disgraceful of the Prime Minister to stand at the dispatch box and attack the Leader of the Opposition for having a debate about how we fund the NDIS and to use that to question and to accuse him of not caring about people with a disability. Mr Speaker, you can tell when the Prime Minister is panicked because he goes way down the low road. I would suggest he does not do it naturally, and therefore not very effectively. He is going to grab that stick every time he can because he is in panic about his own leadership.

So we get an attack from the person who is now the Prime Minister, saying to the Leader of the Opposition, 'What do you stand for?' You have got to be kidding me. This Prime Minister is struggling in the polls because nobody knows what he stands for. Gone is the leather jacket. Gone is his commitment to same-sex marriage. Gone is the idea, 'I won't lead a government that doesn't take strong action on climate change.' If anybody has a problem with consistency it is this Prime Minister. I would suggest to him, as much as he wants to go on the low road and attack the Leader of the Opposition, he ought to look in the mirror first because he has no legitimacy on that. This is a dud budget. It smells and the people of Australia know it.