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Importance of the Greens in Federal Parliament

4 May 2022

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS: I rise to speak about the important choices facing the people of South Australia and our nation later this month. On 21 May, South Australians will head back to the polls for the second time this year to pass their verdict on another Liberal government. I am hoping that we will also see the Liberals consigned to the opposition benches in our national parliament.

From their inaction on the climate crisis and equality to their incompetent management of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Abbott/Turnbull/Morrison governments have been a catastrophe for our country. We know that Prime Minister Scott Morrison does not hold a hose, but we also know he does not hold a torch to the other prime ministers who have led our nation. This is a man who has been described by his own Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce, and I quote, as 'a hypocrite and a liar'.

But it is not just the Hon. Barnaby Joyce who has passed his verdict on this Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's good friend Senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has described him—and I quote from the Hansard in our national parliament—as 'a bully with no moral compass'. These are not my words; these are the words of the people who know this Prime Minister best.

We are in the midst of a housing affordability crisis and we are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. We are seeing soaring inflation right across our country, and the cost of living is completely skyrocketing out of control—record prices for fuel, food, basic groceries, housing, education. Yesterday, the Reserve Bank increased interest rates for the first time in 11 years. Sadly, in the midst of this cost-of-living crisis we are seeing wages stagnating and more and more South Australians are being plunged into poverty.

We have all seen the effects of the climate crisis firsthand during the Morrison government's years in power. We have seen fires, floods, droughts—once again, no action from the Liberals in Canberra. We have seen the rorts. We have seen the appalling inaction in the face of allegations of sexual assault in our national parliament, something that has brought great shame on our democratic institutions.

We have seen the embarrassing diplomatic blunders, the attacks on our allies that have diminished our reputation around the world, and a deal to build radioactive war machines here in SA that involved ripping up an agreement with the French government and wasting billions of dollars—$5 billion of taxpayer money thrown into the wind. What a disgrace! We saw the appallingly slow rollout of the national vaccine and the disastrous effects of that—what it meant for health, what it meant for education, what it meant for our economy.

The Greens have been very clear about our desire to see a change of government in Canberra. But just as the voters will determine who will form the next government of our country, they will also determine who will make up the Senate, and the Greens have a very ambitious agenda. We have a plan for a safe future with an immediate freeze on all new coal, oil and gas projects. We want to finally put dental and mental into Medicare. We want to make university free. We want to build a million homes. We want to make childcare free. To do all this we can get big corporations to finally pay their fair share of tax, but we can only achieve these things if we secure the balance of power in the national parliament.

Here in South Australia the Greens have a formidable person standing as our lead candidate for the Senate, Barbara Pocock. Barbara is somebody who has spent her working life fighting to make sure our economy works for people and our environment. She is an economist and an emeritus professor at the University of South Australia. She was a founding director for that university's Centre for Work + Life. She has worked for the Reserve Bank of Australia and she has provided advice to various governments.

At this time of growing inequality, we need people who understand how to make sure that our economy works for people, not just big corporations, not just the big end of town. Barbara Pocock is such a person. She understands how our economy works, she knows how to make it work for people and our environment and we need to see her represent our state in Canberra.