03 June 2021

The past two speakers from the government, in a debate in the nation's parliament about the government's plan for our future, have offered up a new intersection and cracking down on kiddie porn! You would not read it in Betoota. It's not credible. They would not believe it. And yet here we are, apparently on muck-up day—the last day of these parliamentary sittings—and that's what we have by way of a plan. A new intersection and cracking down on child porn: that's the plan for the future. No wonder, if you are a young person in Australia and you are hearing our Prime Minister say, 'If you have a go, you will get a go,' you don't believe him. Young people in Australia know that life is not that simple—nor, in this Morrison Australia, is it that reliably benevolent for young people, because we know 40 per cent of people under 35 in Australia have never had a permanent full-time job. Forty per cent of young people have never had a permanent full-time job because of the structural, the systemic, the complacent attitude that this government has towards young people and their future.

This Morrison government has cut millions from TAFE. We have 150,000 fewer apprentices than we did when Labor was last in power. University fees for young people will double under this Morrison government. And, if you are lucky enough to get a job out of university, you'll be saddled with decades of crippling debt as your reward. This is the Morrison government that hands out tax incentives to wealthy investors like they're Smarties. These are the same wealthy investors that then poach the market from first home buyers who cannot get their foot in the door because those wealthy investors hike up the cost of property so much that first home buying is now an out-of-reach dream for most young Australians. This is the Morrison government that patronises us when we talk about a need for real action on climate change because we are the people who will be around in 50 years time, mopping up your messes. We are the people who will be dealing with the consequences of the choices that you make or do not make. There is no planet B, and the whole plan you are offering up to us this afternoon is a new intersection and cracking down on child porn. You would not read it in Betoota. Why on earth should young people trust this Morrison government with their future?

Given it's muck-up afternoon, let's play a little game: is this a Betoota headline or is this a real Morrison government announcement? Treasurer tells young first home buyers being crushed by an investor driven housing market of his own making to get a better job?

An opposition member: Betoota.

Ms WELLS: Treasurer. 'Government asks youth to use their retirement savings to prop up hyper-inflated property market'?

An opposition member: Betoota.

Ms WELLS: Treasurer. Deputy Prime Minister, who earns nine grand a week, tells casual baristas who earn $20 an hour that going a week without pay 'is not a long time'?

An opposition member: Oh, that's Betoota!

Ms WELLS: That's the DPM. 'Millennial can't afford home after spending all their money bailing out Gerry Harvey'? Betoota. That's Betoota.

The young people of Queensland's mighty Channel Country deserve a whole lot better than that. The sons and daughters of the proud, sovereign Shire of Diamantina deserve a whole lot better than that. That is why a Labor government, if we were given the trust of young people to govern, would provide an actual youth engagement model—so that real people could actually have some trust in this government. We would have a dedicated office for youth. We would promise and commit to a new minister for youth.

This Morrison government says that young people are disengaged, but they're only disengaged because this Morrison government has cut them loose. At this point, I honestly don't know what it will take to make this Morrison government wake up, listen to what is wrong, listen to what young people want from them, and actually take some action. Maybe, if we let the Prime Minister wear high-vis and a hardhat, he might actually talk to the young people who are aged-care workers, who are early educators, who are baristas, who are glassies, who are people working in hospitality, who are the frontline workers that we have to thank for our response to COVID. Maybe, if we let the Prime Minister bring some red carpet and a military escort and Top Gun soundtrack, he might actually build fit-for-purpose quarantine so that we could bring 45,000 Australians home.