Doorstop interview – Parliament House 15 June

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Assistant Minister for the Public Service

PATRICK GORMAN, ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER: This has been, no doubt, a challenging week. But what the Albanese Government has continued to do is focus on governing. I still believe that this building can achieve big things, and deliver policy that really does improve and change the lives of Australians. That’s what we are sent here to do. Every single week. When our communities vote for us, they send us to come here to debate the important issues, and to deliver legislation that lifts up the lives of people and makes those dramatic improvements.

We’ve got an example of that today where the letters of Walter Mikac, whose children were tragically killed in the Port Arthur Massacre, those letters will be handed to the National Museum of Australia and we’ll see Prime Minister Albanese and former Prime Minister John Howard, there for that handover. That was a moment where we saw this Parliament – and I note under a conservative Government – rise to the occasion, and deliver something that the Australian people expected of us, despite the political difficulties within it. And I think that’s just a really important moment to remind everyone in this building, and everyone who looks to this building, that Parliament House and the people who work here can achieve great things and that is what we are here to do. And if I think about what we do in this place, it is about bringing together the ideas, talents and enthusiasm of the Australian people to make sure that we are listening and acting.

And tonight we will do that again; 537 local councils will be converging here in Canberra, for the Australian Council of Local Government dinner tonight, here in the building. Mayors, deputy mayors, councillors, CEOs; all coming together, because we want to listen to the communities across Australia. The Prime Minister is a very strong supporter of the important and unique role that local government plays. And we’re really looking forward to welcoming those mayors, deputy mayors and councillors into our workplace this evening, to celebrate the work that the Australian Government does in partnership with local government.

And if I think about the work that we’ve done this week in Parliament, I’m really proud of a few things that we’ve seen progress through the House of Representatives and the Senate. I had the pleasure of introducing the Public Service Amendments, which will ensure that we protect the independence of the public sector and continue to invest in the capability of this incredibly important institution that is the Australian Public Service.

We had the counter-terrorism amendment introduced by the Attorney-General, banning hate symbols, something that again, the community has been asking us to do. And we’ve done that careful consultation work, so that we can ban these symbols that have no place in protests, that have no place being disseminated online. And we want to make sure that those who know these are symbols of hate and division, that we stand against that, that we stand with them saying we don’t want these symbols of hate spreading further across Australia.

And we saw in the Senate, that the debate on the Voice has continued. Again, high quality contributions, people putting forward their views about this important debate, which soon the Australian people will get their say upon. Eighteen million Australians getting their say on how we form our Constitution for the century ahead, how we make sure that we build that new, enduring partnership with the First Nations of this country. How do we make sure that we do what we have needed to do for so long, which is to recognise our First Australians in the Constitution and consult with them on matters that affect them? We’ve got one more sitting week to go. Then after that, I’ll be spending quite a bit of the time in the break out there campaigning for the Yes case, making sure that we get a good, resounding, unifying Yes. So this country can move forward with proper constitutional recognition.

There are two other matters that I think are worth noting.

The first is that today is the one month anniversary of the Peter Dutton budget reply. One month anniversary of Peter Dutton’s budget reply, yet a month on, we still haven’t seen a single costing for any of the ideas he put forward. And I think that what’s also interesting as well myself, and my Labor colleagues are still out there selling the budget, selling our plans for cheaper medicines, selling our plans for real cost of living relief, the Coalition; the Liberal Party, the National Party, have gone completely silent on the ideas that Peter Dutton put forward in his budget reply. His uncosted and un-thought-through ideas. They’ve gone completely silent.

Someone who’s probably a little less silent is the Greens housing spokesperson, Max Chandler-Mather. Now he has a lot to say, he has a lot of ideas. He’s always out there with something new. But what I find really peculiar about what the Greens Party choose to do is that the Greens Party are blocking something that the Australian people voted for at an election, in favour of ideas that they’ve come up with after the election. Now, I think it’s really important the Australian people know that the ideas that the Greens Party are putting out there when it comes to housing affordability were never take into the Australian people. They are not the plans that the Green Party put forward at the 2022 Election. The plan that we have put to the Parliament is the plan that we put to the Australian people. And it’s time that the Greens Party show respect for democratic outcomes. They need to understand that they can’t – or they can choose, but they should not choose – to be the people who block progress when it comes to 30 000 new social and affordable homes.

We’ve seen again, in Question Time this week, Minister after Minister outline why this will benefit communities. I want to give particularly credit to Matt Keogh, who noted just what a big difference this will make to veteran communities across Australia. So I just say to the Greens; respect the decision the Australian people made at the election. Stop holding up the policies that were endorsed in the election for policies that you’ve come up with in the last few weeks to get a few cheap headlines. If this Parliament wants to rise to the occasion of responding to the housing challenges we have, then let’s start by putting through the Housing Australia Future Fund. It’s been on the table for too long. It is time to get it done. Thank you.

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