PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
SUBJECTS: Hunter Bus crash; Housing Bill; Safe and Respectful Workplaces
SHARON CLAYDON, DEPUTY SPEAKER: I do want to support my friend and colleague, Dan Repacholi, Member for the Hunter.
He has been standing alongside his community all weekend in the face of this tragedy and we all offer our sincere condolences. Everybody in the region has been absolutely rocked by this horrific accident and tragic loss of lives. So our hearts and minds are very much with the people of the Hunter and our whole region today.
On another matter, this week with the return of parliament, the Senate and the House both sitting, the opposition and cross benchers are going to have another chance to secure affordable housing for vulnerable Australians. The Albanese Labor Government has committed to more than $8 billion now ensuring that vulnerable Australians get access to social and affordable housing. These are Australians who are fleeing domestic and family violence, women and children in the most unsafe of circumstances trying to find a roof over their head. These are Australians who have sacrificed everything in fighting for our nation, the veterans and their families who now find themselves homeless or at risk of homelessness. And these are our frontline workers who can no longer afford to live near their workplace and are commuting more than an hour to get to their fire station, their hospitals.
These are the Australians we seek to provide social and affordable housing for now. This is an urgent matter and it really is time for the Greens to get on board now. They've got another chance this week to show that they can overcome the temptation to just be a party of protest. We need them to stand up this week and be part of progress. We can't afford to have a Greens spokesman, whose turned this into some kind of game like pin the tail on the donkey, walking around blindfold pulling figures out of the air.
The Greens spokesman was found wanting when challenged about the evidence underpinning their positions, which are consistently moving. The Government has done everything we can now to talk and have respectful negotiations, not just with the Greens but the whole of the Parliamentary party system.
Those that have given this serious thought and consideration, who have gone back to their communities and spoken to their constituents about the need for housing now, not in two or three years’ time, but now, they'll be voting yes for this legislation in the Senate this week. I implore the Greens to stop this political game now. Get off that roundabout that's taking you nowhere. And support those vulnerable Australians that need our help now.
This is a Government that's got a serious plan on the table. It’s a plan we took to the Australian people at the last election. It's a plan that has funding, is fully costed and the idea that the Greens are just going to keep changing the goalposts, each and every day that they want to sit at the table is abhorrent.
It is time to stop the game, stop the faux protest, get on board and do something truly progressive for this nation. And that is ensure that there is a supply chain of at least 30,000 new social and affordable homes for vulnerable Australians now.
And just finally on another matter, there's been a lot of commentary in the last few days about historical events that took place in this building. There's been a lot said, a lot of allegations made, but I really do want to bring people's focus and attention back to the really core job for people in this Parliament now. And that is the provision of safe and respectful workplaces.
The Australian Parliament should be a model employer. We know, regardless of reporting that’s being undertaken now, that there were very serious allegations made that a Liberal staffer felt she was not afforded that safe respectful workplace.
I don't wish to comment on matters that are still unfolding in some regards, but I do remind all of us, bringing us back to the very basic question every time we want to speak to these matters and remind you to be very careful about the contributions you make to this debate. To be very careful about the way you choose to report these matters. Because we know, not just in this workplace but in everybody's workplace, indeed, in people's communities, and perhaps even your families, there are women who are profoundly impacted by these conversations.
We know what the evidence tells us in Australia about the prevalence of sexual harassment, bullying and sexual assault. They are horrific. At the very least, you are asked to keep those women's pain and trauma at the front of your mind when you enter this debate.