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Australians representation lacking to defend crucial legislation as farmers suffer more from neglectful Albanese Labor government policies

Australian people lack representation for defending crucial legislation tonight. Trust in politicians dwindles as promises are broken. Farmers, unfairly impacted, deserve better. Government policies neglect common sense and farming communities.

By news@gippsland - 16th May 2024 - Back to News

The first thing I want the Australian people to know is this: we have the actual minister responsible for this bill at the table, we have one Labor member and perhaps another one coming in that is on duty - maybe swapping over - but there's not one member here from the ruling party of Australia prepared to defend this legislation in the House tonight. That's why you're getting a running commentary from coalition members in the opposition.

The minister for the bill is present, alongside one Labor member; however, no ruling party member is ready to defend the legislation, prompting coalition opposition commentary

The minister for the bill is present, alongside one Labor member; however, no ruling party member is ready to defend the legislation, prompting coalition opposition commentary

Pre-election promises broken

There were three things that happened before the election campaign. Firstly, the then Albanese opposition said: 'You have nothing to fear from electing a Labor government to this country's leadership, because we are not going to change the stage 3 tax situation at all. We're not going to change the tax.' Secondly, they said: 'We won't touch your superannuation.

We won't go near your superannuation.' Thirdly, they said, 'In regard to COVID, we will have a royal commission into our COVID response.' What happened when the Prime Minister became Prime Minister? He failed on all three. There is no royal commission; he changed the superannuation arrangements, which he said he wouldn't change; and he changed the tax arrangements. I'm not here to argue with the Deputy Treasurer about whether this is fair, right or wrong.

I'm only saying that they broke the trust of the Australian people, which they asked for before the election campaign. People voted for the Labor Party in good faith, in the full belief that there wouldn't be a change to superannuation. You may say, 'But this is only a change for wealthy people.' No, this is a change for people that have worked hard. I'll come in a minute to farmers and how this affects them.

Political trust concerns

The important thing is this: when politicians present themselves to the Australian people and say, 'Here is our plan; if you elect us, this is what we will do,' we, the Australian people, expect they will do what they said they would do, not change the basic fundamental arguments that they raised within the election campaign.

I'm not saying they're broken promises; they're broken trust agreements with the Australian people. Trust in politicians, in this nation and around the world, is at an all-time low. Go and talk to people in the street about what they think about politicians.

Political memory lane

I've been in and out of this place since 1990. I've faced 13 election campaigns. Sadly, four of them were unsuccessful. But I'm here, and I have a memory of Labor governments that took away from single mums their parental payment to care for their children. They cut the maximum age for it from 12 years of age to seven years of age. Then the Albanese government comes in, raises it from seven to 12 and says: 'Pat us on the back.

Look what we've done for single mothers.' I was here when you took it away. I raised, time after time, that it's right that, when a child turns 12 and can get themselves off to school, mum can get out, get a job and get on with life, but, when children are seven years old, I think mums are very protective of them, especially single mums, and they have to make special arrangements if they're working.

Supporting farmers' focus

I said I'd talk about farmers, and I don't want to run out of time. Every time you're in the chair, Deputy Speaker Vasta, I tend to run out of time on very important issues, and I don't intend to do that tonight. From a farming perspective - and I'm from a farming electorate - many farmers use their self-managed super funds to secure and protect their assets, or whatever it is in their business, and pass them on to future generations.

These are assets that have been built up over many years of hard work. Often these farmers have started out as share farmers on dairy farms. They've finally paid for their herd, and, after that, they started looking for an opportunity to put a deposit on a dairy farm. It's very difficult. It's very hard work, seven days a week, non-stop, with the whole family involved. I pay tribute to every farmer tonight, but, more importantly, I pay tribute to dairy farmers.

Dairy heritage reminder

If you drive up my driveway, Deputy Speaker - and I hope you do one day - and you just get near the house, you will notice two milk cans. Those milk cans aren't there because they're pretty; they're rusted, old and rotted in the bottom. But, every time I drive up my driveway, I remember that I come from a dairying community and our businesses, which were the original grocery store and then the drapery store, were born out of the money made on dairy farms.

In those days, you could have a 40-acre dairy farm and buy a Holden every two years, and hopefully you shopped at Broadbent's. Having said that, I am reminded that, every time I drive up my driveway, my wife says, 'Get rid of the milk cans.' I can't get rid of the milk cans, because they're part of who I am. I come from a dairy community.

Support for farmers

Yes, those assets have been built up over many years. I commend the member for Nicholls, who spoke today on this bill, for his words of support for farmers in his electorate. I would have to echo the same sentiment so that we don't take for granted the sacrifice and risk that farmers and their families take to feed the nation.

As the member for Forde said, they put food on the table. Milk doesn't come out of cartons and bottles; it comes out of cows. It comes out of sweat and hard work. Beef comes from grass-fed cattle, if you can afford grass-fed beef anymore. The cost of living is really putting some pressure on that. We haven't quite got to the stage of having a $100 leg of lamb, but, by gee, we're not far away. I remember the statement from the member for New England.

Threatening to future farmers

This bill, like other policy themes under the Labor government, discourages farmers from doing their honourable work on our behalf. Worse, it disproportionately poses a serious threat to the next generation of farmers, which I'm sure the member for Forrest will bring up too. There's now enough of the next generation of farmers who don't want to continue on the farm because they know what their mums and dads have been through to get them to that point.

They have always helped out on the farms, as all kids on farms do. They're helpers on the farm. It's been a family commitment. But, because they have seen how hard it is to make money on a farm today, they want to be doctors and lawyers and all those sorts of things, as the song goes.

They don't necessarily want to be farmers. So you haven't got the family coming through saying, 'I want to be a farmer.' Under this proposal, if you make it even harder for farmers and the next generation, they're going to walk away.

Farmers feel abandoned

The next generation of farmers that do want to farm already feel abandoned by the government through policies such as committing to closing the live sheep export businesses. It sends a message: 'It's live sheep now. It's live cattle next. We're coming after you, and we're coming after farmers with all sorts of environmental restrictions that the previous generations never had to deal with.'

The biosecurity levy is another one where the government is passing the buck on to farmers. Biosecurity is a responsibility for all of us, not just for farmers - every one of us. I've been through a stage where we had disease on farms and you couldn't walk onto a farm without washing your boots and you couldn't take your car onto the farm, just in case.

Crucial biosecurity measures

You couldn't transfer tractors from one property to another, just in case you picked up something and took it onto the farm. Biosecurity is absolutely important. That's why I was against the importation of apples from New Zealand when there was a disease over there. We railed against it and pushed against it.

What happened? The disease just snuck into Australia by chance. Now it's here, we have no objection to importing the apples from New Zealand. We should never have imported apples from New Zealand, and we should put up barriers for our own protection, our bioprotection, because what protects our food and our farmers protects us.

Importance of diet

What we eat is very important for our children. When I and other people my age were growing up, all the food that we ate came from within, probably, 10 kms of where we lived. You might have had some canned food now and again, but not a lot. There wasn't a lot around. Our food was seasonal, healthy and good for us.

Milk didn't come in bottles; it came in a billy at the front gate, straight from the farm. Our bread was delivered by the bread man. It was a wonderful time to be alive, eating the freshest food created and grown on the Koo Wee Rup Swamp. You couldn't ask for a better food source than the Koo Wee Rup Swamp.

I know that today all of you are still eating the asparagus that is grown in the Koo Wee Rup Swamp and the potatoes that are grown in the rest of my electorate. That next generation of farmers are going to be offended by this.

Compensation for changes

To put forward another position to the Deputy Treasurer: if you change the rules, you have to compensate the individual who is affected by that change of rules. That's called trust. You can say, 'Righto, if you've invested in your superannuation fund and it's over $3 million, we're going to change your taxation arrangements.'

But at that point you should allow anybody to withdraw their funds from their superannuation and invest them in any way they would like, no matter what age they are, because you have changed the rules. If they want to invest it in property, in shares or in other forms of investment, do the right thing and let them. They said, 'Oh no, you can't do that,' because who's dominating? The big union superannuation funds are directing what they can and can't do.

This government does not want self-managed superannuation funds. The big superannuation funds do not want self-managed superannuation funds. Those of us who do have a self-managed superannuation fund are being forced to have a digital identity. If we don't do it by 22 December last year, we will be fined $1.1 million. Really, why do my wife and I have to have a digital identity to run our own self-managed superannuation fund? It's crazy stuff.

Addressing rental crisis

I can't imagine the regulation that is being put on this generation that previous generations never had to deal with. I mean, since the early eighties we have been paying capital gains tax. We're now paying land tax that we didn't pay before and that is increasing exponentially every year. I know that isn't a federal tax but it is affecting everything the federal government does because we have a rental crisis in Australia.

Why do we have a rental crisis? Because landlords are selling their properties to people who are going to live in that property, so there are no rentals left. I have estate agents in country areas who are losing as many as 150 landlords every three months, then we have a rental crisis. Why do we have a rental crisis?

Criticising government policies

Because state government policies are good for the renter and they establish the rights of the person renting the house. I grew up with a caveat emptor - let the buyer beware. Let the Australian people make their own decisions on their own behalf. If you don't want to rent at that price, don't rent at that price. Rentals are being taken off the market, caused by government policy and only government policy.

Look, it is sad where this nation is headed by people making regulations around our farmers, around our community and around superannuation that are not backed by common sense. It isn't until you have dirt under your fingernails that you would understand many of the issues that I'm talking about tonight. Thank you for the opportunity to address this parliament and the people of Australia.

Pictures from Russell Broadbent MP website.


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