Standing up for Canberra

Tony Abbott's failure to protect Australian standards of living

Last Sunday the Prime Minister went on live television and said that a household income of $185,000 a year is not especially high. This comment goes a long way to showing Australians just how out of touch this Prime Minister is. A study by the National Centre for Social and Economic Modelling studies finds that those with an income of $185,000 a year were in the top six per cent of all family incomes, including singles, this financial year. If the Prime Minister thinks that that income, which only applies to six per cent of the Australian population, is not especially high, it just goes to show how out of touch this Prime Minister is and how completely out of touch this government is. 

That comment is underscored by the Treasurer's comment last year that poor people do not drive cars. Here we have a Prime Minister saying that $185,000 a year is not an especially high income and Treasurer who believes that poor people do not drive cars. It just goes to show that this government does not understand how tough Australians are doing it—how tough low-to-middle income earners, pensioners and those on fixed incomes are doing it. Go to a mobile office or hold a community forum, but go out and speak to the people.

Some backbenchers got a very good sense of what was happening when they went to their electorates last Christmas. They got a very, very good sense of how out of touch this government is, particularly with the struggles that low- and middle-income earners are facing, the struggles that pensioners are facing, the struggles that vets are facing—and not just the struggles in terms of cuts to every part of their lifestyle but also all the confused messaging. There are pensioners who are terrified. I remember my mother going to the supermarket last year and she had a friend of hers come up to her and say, 'Faye, with these changes that they're making, does this mean I can't get the pension until I'm 70?' There have been how many positions on the pension? There are been how many positions on the GP tax? There have been how many positions on veterans pensions?

Not only are you making cuts in so many essential areas, which indicates that you are completely out of touch with what people in Australia are going through at the moment, but you are also confusing the bejesus out of everyone and terrifying everyone in the process.

Mr Chester: It's your scare campaign.

Ms BRODTMANN: You are the ones who have scared these people. They are completely confused. They are also doing it tough and they are struggling, and you are not listening.

In terms of this government being out of touch, I think its real blind spot is my electorate. The beloved electorate of Canberra has been hit so, so hard by this government. Since this government was elected, 17,300 Public Service jobs have been cut. Seventeen thousand three hundred Public Service jobs have been cut.

 I would like to see how the members opposite me at the table, from regional centres, would feel if 8½ thousand jobs were cut from their electorates just in the last 12 months. We had the Treasurer just one month ago, at the COAG meeting, saying to the ACT Chief Minister: 'Don't worry, Chief Minister; everything's going to be okay. The worst is over.' We open the papers yesterday, and what do we see? We see the finance minister talking about not only more cuts to education and health in terms of jobs but reviews of eight government agencies, and the collapse or consolidation of other government agencies. You have already promised between 1,000 and 1,650 jobs out of Defence. This is the future that this government offers to the people of Canberra.

This government is out of touch with Australia. It is out of touch with the people of Canberra. It does not understand the tough times that the Australian people are going through, particularly those from low- and middle-income backgrounds, pensioners, veterans and those on the disability support pension. Shame on you. We will continue to fight any unfair cuts in the future and any unfair budget.

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