Matters of Public Importance – Albanese Government, 7 March 2023

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (17:44): Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was elected to government in no small part because he insisted that his government would be one of integrity. In February 2021 Mr Albanese told the nation it was time to bring integrity back into politics. Well, it has been almost a year now and we’re still waiting. Where is the integrity? Should we expect integrity anytime soon? Will Mr Albanese bring it back this year or perhaps next year? Perhaps in 2024 is when we will see the integrity. Now, don’t tell us that the war in Ukraine means that the government can’t do integrity anymore, because we have used that as an excuse in this place for absolutely everything else. Or is integrity something that he needs crossbench support to deliver? Well, good luck getting the teals to agree to that one.

Do you know what’s funny? The only thing that Mr Albanese talked about more than integrity pre-election was $275 off your power bill. Almost a year in we are still waiting to see a sign of integrity, and the cuts to power bills are nowhere to be seen. Perhaps when the PM promised integrity what he actually meant was dishonesty, like when he promised the $275 cut to power bills. He made that promise, might I remind everyone here, 97 times. Maybe he actually meant rises in power bills, not cuts—kind of like when he promised no changes to super. That’s what he promised, but maybe what he meant was changes to super. Much like when he promised that Labor had a plan—a clear plan—for cheaper mortgages. Maybe he meant that the Labor Party would preside over 10 consecutive interest rate rises to now.

Less than 12 months into the Albanese government we are actually seeing quite a clear pattern: the government promises one thing, and the government goes and does something else. How is that for integrity? They say this, but they go and do that. The Prime Minister says you can absolutely, most definitely rule out changes to capital gains tax on the family home, just like he said you can rule out changes to superannuation, and then he goes and announces changes to superannuation and he doubles the tax rate. Why would you believe a word that this government says? Meanwhile, the Deputy Prime Minister was so confused by the constant changes to super policy—a policy that, of course, we were assured before the election wouldn’t happen—that he couldn’t answer basic questions when he was on Sky News recently with Peter Stefanovic. No wonder the Deputy PM was confused: he has no more faith in his government and their policies than the rest of us do.

It takes a special kind of dishonesty to promise integrity and then break so many promises to the people that believe the claims of integrity. Mr Albanese can sure walk across the harbour bridge in a pride march, but do you know what he can’t do? He can’t walk in a straight line; that’s what he can’t do. The Treasurer, ‘super’ Jim Chalmers, can write 6,000 words on remaking capitalism—that’s what he did—but he’d be hard pressed to write 60 words on what it means to operate with integrity.

It’s time that we bring integrity back to politics, Mr Albanese—it’s time. We’re all waiting for it. We’re waiting for integrity from your government, just as Mr Chris Bowen is patiently waiting for his taxpayer funded Tesla—that’s what he’s waiting for. We’re waiting for integrity from this government in the exact same way that Tanya Plibersek is patiently waiting for her chance to assume the top job. Actually, the way this government is going there is far more chance of seeing that than of seeing any integrity. Mr Albanese started with so much promise. What a pity he has not kept any of his promises. Does Mr Albanese not understand that democratic nations run on trust? The citizenry grant permission to government to exercise authority in exchange for a government’s commitment to act honestly and to act fairly. That’s the deal, and Mr Albanese has trashed that deal in less than 12 months. The litany of broken promises shows all of us that. Next election, vote differently.