Opening of the First Session of the Forty-seventh Commonwealth Parliament, Parliament House Canberra
Dhawura nguna Dhawaru Ngunnawal.
Yanggu ngalawiri dhunimanyin Ngunnawalwari dhawurawari.
Nginggada Dindi wanggiralidjinyin.
This is Ngunnawal Country. Today we are all meeting together on this Ngunnawal Country. We acknowledge and pay our respects to the Elders.
Honourable senators and members of the Parliament of Australia.
Since I last spoke in this chamber, ferocious fires, devastating floods, and a once-in-a-hundred-years pandemic have unleashed an extraordinary period of uncertainty, trauma and loss upon our country.
The past three years have asked so much of so many.
Again and again, Australians have risen to the moment.
Thinking of their communities.
Looking after each other.
In hard times, Australians have been at their caring and courageous best.
Major challenges — new and old — are before us.
In confronting these challenges, this Parliament must seek to match the resolve and resilience of the people in whose name you serve.
As the Prime Minister has said — prove ‘worthy of the people of Australia’.
In a turbulent world, we can find hope in the strength of our democracy.
In May, at more than 7,000 polling centres, many thousands of post boxes, via the phone and in diplomatic missions the world over, millions of Australians cast their ballots and exercised their fundamental right and responsibility as citizens of our great democracy.
Australians have elected one of the most diverse parliaments in the history of our Federation.
And for the first time in almost a decade, Australians voted to change the government.
All of us can give thanks that changes of government take place peacefully and swiftly in Australia, and with respect and courtesy for those with whom we may not agree.
The new Government has pledged to govern for all Australians, whoever they are, wherever they live and whoever they voted for — and to honour the trust Australians have conferred.
The Government knows this country faces serious and pressing challenges:
- rising cost of living
- low wages growth
- climate change — and its devastating impact
- tensions in the region, uncertainty in the world
- pressure in health and aged care
- and an economy in need of cheaper energy and new skills.
The Government is determined to tackle these challenges in a spirit of unity and togetherness — as well as urgency.
It does not want to waste a single day.
To this end, the Prime Minister and a select few ministers were at Government House to be sworn-in less than 48 hours after the election result was known.
Sooner than any other new government in Australia’s history.
The Government’s commitment to ‘hit the ground running’ was honoured, with the Quad Leaders’ meeting in Tokyo and a prime ministerial visit to Indonesia.
The Government made a submission to the Fair Work Commission, to prevent Australia’s lowest-paid workers from going backward — resulting in a 5.2 per cent wage increase.
The Government also submitted a new, more ambitious 2030 Nationally Determined Contribution to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Committing to reduce emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030, putting Australia on track to achieve net zero by 2050.
Beyond that, the Government has already taken measures to shore up Australia’s energy market, protect aged care residents and provide assistance to Australians affected by the recent floods.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart
The Government takes office with a renewed ambition for Australia to reconcile with our past, to tell and know the truth about history, and to place a First Nations Voice at the heart of our democratic process.
The Uluru Statement from the Heart was an act of generosity by First Nations people, mapping out a path forward for us as a nation.
It is the Government’s intention to take up this generous offer and seek to enshrine a Voice to Parliament in the constitution via a national referendum in this term.
The Government views the implementation of the Uluru Statement as an opportunity for healing and for learning from the truth of our history.
And — just as importantly — the Voice is a chance to build a better future for First Nations people.
A future where a Voice to Parliament helps drive and deliver better health outcomes and longer lives, new education and employment opportunities, safer communities with decent housing and an end to the cycle of injustice, incarceration and deaths in custody.
All of this — Voice, Truth, Treaty and Closing the Gap — depend on genuine partnerships.
The Government commits to engage closely and respectfully with First Nations people, and the Australian community more broadly, ahead of the referendum.
Honourable senators and members, a First Nations Voice promises to be — like the ’67 Referendum, like Mabo, like the National Apology — a defining moment for our nation.
A historic opportunity to move on from the safety of words to the bravery of action.
At the centre of the Government’s determination to Close the Gap is the belief that First Nations people — like every other Australian — should be made to feel empowered.
To this end, the Community Development Program, compulsory income management and the Cashless Debit Card will all cease.
In their place will be policies that provide First Nations people with greater support to secure good jobs and earn proper wages in safe conditions.
In the same spirit, the Government will invest in First Nations management of lands and waters, humbly recognising the skills and knowledge gained over tens of thousands of years.
The Government will expand the community-led model of justice reinvestment, to turn the tide on incarceration and act on the national shame of First Nations deaths in custody.
It will partner with communities, peak bodies and elders to improve health and life expectancy.
And the Government will commit to new Indigenous employment targets for the public service and for Australia’s 200 largest companies.
I congratulate the Honourable Linda Burney MP — Member for Barton and a proud member of the Wiradjuri Nation — on her appointment as the Minister for Indigenous Australians.
I also congratulate Senator Malarndirri McCarthy — a proud Yanyuwa woman — on her appointment as Assistant Minister for Indigenous Australians and Indigenous Health.
And Senator Pat Dodson — proud Yawuru man — on his appointment as Special Envoy for Reconciliation and the Implementation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
I wish them all the best as they lead this urgent and historic work. Work which will promote unity and healing.
A stronger economy
Helping Australians — all Australians — achieve their aspirations in life is central to the Government’s values of opportunity, fairness and reward for effort.
The Government’s policies will promote economic growth that creates opportunities for more Australians and the Government’s policies will create opportunities for more Australians, to drive economic growth.
At the macro level, the Australian economy faces a number of significant challenges.
Disrupted supply chains mean it’s harder and more expensive for Australian businesses and households to buy the goods they want and need.
Rising interest rates are increasing pressure on mortgages.
And a decade of low wages has put a handbrake on confidence.
We are, in the words of the Treasurer, in ‘choppy waters’.
But the Government is determined to steer Australia safely through.
The Government will make targeted investments that expand the capacity of the economy, reduce debt as a share of GDP over time, and improve quality of life for Australians.
Prioritising spending that achieves the greatest economic benefit in the most efficient way.
Spending that creates jobs, boosts participation, lifts productivity, increases wages and grows incomes.
The Government will invest in cleaner and cheaper energy, better training of our workforce, cheaper child care, and an upgraded NBN.
Importantly, the Government will focus on the quality of spending, not just the quantity.
This includes ensuring multinational companies pay their fair share of tax.
The Government recognises that the rising costs of child care are a pressure-point for family budgets — and a continuing drag on economic participation and productivity.
To honour a key election commitment, the Government will reduce childcare costs for more than a million families.
The Government will also instruct the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to design a price regulation mechanism to drive down out-of-pocket costs.
The Productivity Commission will undertake a comprehensive review of the childcare sector with the aim of implementing a universal subsidy for all families.
This will be accompanied by a whole-of-government Early Years Strategy, focused on the wellbeing, education and development of Australia’s children.
The ultimate goal is to add affordable child care to the list of universal services — alongside Medicare, the NDIS and superannuation — that Australians cherish.
Investing in cheaper child care reflects the Government’s belief that one of the most powerful initiatives it can pursue for stronger economic growth and greater productivity is more equal opportunity for women.
This is why the Government has set itself a goal to re-establish Australia as a global leader in gender equality.
A new National Strategy to Achieve Gender Equality will be developed, geared at closing the gender pay gap and improving women’s economic equality, health and wellbeing.
An independent Women’s Economic Security Taskforce will also come into force, to deliver gender responsive budgeting, and embed gender analysis in the policy development process.
The Government will seek to strengthen the ability of the Fair Work Commission to support wage growth in female-dominated industries, such as Aged Care.
The recommendations of the Human Rights Commission’s landmark Respect@Work report will be implemented, including, crucially, a positive duty on employers to create safe workplaces for women, free from harassment.
The Government has plans to help end violence against women and children, including finalising the next National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children 2022-32.
The Government will establish ten days paid Family and Domestic Violence Leave, increase the supply of emergency housing for women and children fleeing family violence and invest in more case workers to assist women leaving violent situations.
A fair go at work
One of this Government’s central aims is building an economy that ‘works for people, not the other way around’.
An economy where working hard means Australians can pay their bills, support their families and save for the future.
Today, more than 1.3 million Australians are either unemployed or looking for more hours, and many more struggle on low wages and with poor working conditions.
The Government knows Australia can do better than this.
The nature of work has changed enormously, with an increase in new work arrangements and the ‘gig’ economy.
The Government will seek to ensure that Australia’s laws catch up to this reality, and protect people from exploitation and unsafe working conditions.
The Government will make ‘secure work’ an objective in the Fair Work Act.
And it will legislate to make wage theft a crime.
For the Government — and for the business community of Australia — skills are high on the national agenda.
In the coming period, the Government will legislate to establish Jobs and Skills Australia, to drive vocational education and training, and strengthen workforce planning.
The new body will bring employers, trade unions and the training and education sector around the same table to achieve common objectives.
The Commonwealth will help train thousands of new workers by ensuring that one in 10 workers on major government projects is an apprentice, trainee or cadet.
Public TAFE will be returned to the centre of Australia’s training system.
And the Government will support fee-free TAFE places for Australian students, focused on those studying in industries with a skills shortage.
There will also be up to 20,000 more university places, with priority going to universities offering places in priority areas like clean energy, advanced manufacturing, health, and education.
Action will also be taken to reduce the number of on-hand visa applications to address skills shortages in the short term.
In the same way, the Government will work with Australia’s agriculture sector to ensure farmers and producers can access workers at the right time, while ensuring those workers see their rights upheld.
The Government believes that with the right settings we can build a bigger, better-trained and more productive workforce, boost incomes and living standards, and create more opportunities for more Australians to get ahead.
And, to support these goals, the Government will hold an Australian Jobs and Skills Summit on the 1st and 2nd of September, here at Parliament House.
The Summit will bring businesses, trade unions, the non-government sector and all levels of government together to find common ground on the economic challenges we face.
It will inform the development of an Employment White Paper, which will highlight the structural challenges and opportunities in the Australian labour market and chart a path forward.
A future made in Australia
At the election, the Government signalled its strong belief that Australia must be a country that makes things.
Australia has a proud history of manufacturing, but over recent decades the scope of our manufacturing has narrowed, as international competitors have displaced Australian makers and Australian skills.
The supply-chain issues experienced through the pandemic have put a spotlight on this challenge.
The Government will seek to rebuild Australia’s proud manufacturing industry through a commitment to a future made in Australia.
This begins with the establishment of a $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund to grow and diversify Australia’s industrial base.
The Fund will take as its mission supporting new and emerging industries, helping our economy transition to reach net zero emissions by 2050, creating secure well-paid jobs for Australian workers, driving regional economic development, and building our sovereign capability.
Priority areas for investment will include renewables and low-emission technologies; medical science; transport; value-add in agriculture, forestry and fisheries; value-add in resources; and, finally, defence and enabling capabilities.
The Buy Australian Plan will complement this investment by maximising the use of Australian-made goods, products and materials in Commonwealth contracts — harnessing the significant purchasing power of government.
The Government will also work with industry to reach a goal of 1.2 million Australian tech-related jobs by 2030.
New investments will be made in the Australian rail industry too, ensuring that more trains are built in Australia by local Australian workers.
Whether a train or a ferry, a solar panel or a piece of technical defence equipment, Australians will once again be making the products our economy needs for the future.
Investing in infrastructure
The Government believes revitalising Australian manufacturing is an investment in national resilience and national security — and the same is true for renewing and improving our national infrastructure.
Infrastructure investment enables people and goods to move around faster, reducing the cost of doing business, growing the economy and better connecting our communities, improving Australians’ quality of life.
The Government is resolved to restore confidence in Australia’s infrastructure and regional development pipelines.
At the centre of this effort will be reforming Infrastructure Australia as our nation’s foremost infrastructure advisory body.
The Commonwealth — in cooperation with State and Territory governments — will focus on quality investments, including to improve safety, reduce congestion and boost productivity.
The Government will also begin work on nation-building projects like High Speed Rail and an Australian-flagged strategic fleet.
It will also ensure the Inland Rail project gets back on track.
And — as part of a new national push to improve road safety and lower the road toll — the Government will work with truck drivers and the wider industry to upgrade rest areas on national roads.
Medicare and the NDIS
The Government believes every Australian has the right to access universal, affordable medical care. It is one of the things that underpins our unity as a nation.
But, for too many Australians, geography, income and background still pose barriers to care.
The Government is committed to making it easier for Australians to see a doctor, and afford treatment.
To serve this priority, at least 50 Medicare Urgent Care Clinics will be established. Their services will be bulk billed.
The Government will deliver a $750 million Strengthening Medicare Fund, with investment priorities guided by the Strengthening Medicare Taskforce.
The Government will also cut the cost of medicines on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme from $42.50 to $30 — saving Australians $12.50 for every medication.
The 50 per cent loading for telehealth psychiatric consultations under the Medicare Benefit Schedule will be reinstated, allowing easier access to bulk-billed services for Australians who live in regional and rural areas.
There will also be wider access to the Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, opening up access to cheaper medicines and bulk-billed doctor visits for an extra 50,000 older Australians.
GPs will be able to access grants to modernise their practices.
And the Government will invest in initiatives to bring more doctors to regional and rural Australia.
The Government is committed to strengthening Medicare — and it is determined to fulfil the promise of the National Disability Insurance Scheme, to empower Australians with disability, their families and carers.
The wisdom, diverse experience and perspective of people with disability will be at the centre of the Government’s efforts to improve the design, delivery, accountability and sustainability of the NDIS.
The Government will also develop a National Autism Strategy and oversee the National Disability Data Asset, so we can better understand the life experiences of people with disability in Australia.
The Government believes the NDIS can — and must — work better for people with disability.
As this winter brings a new Omicron wave, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to challenge virtually every facet of our healthcare system.
The Government will continue to adapt its response in line with the public health advice, including significant renewed efforts to increase the uptake of booster vaccines, influenza vaccines and COVID-19 treatments.
The Government will also extend the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response for a further three months to 31 December 2022, at a cost of approximately $760 million.
This will provide funding to states and territories to continue to care for those with COVID-19 and protect the community through the public health response.
The Government will also use this opportunity to better prepare for the future.
It will establish a Centre for Disease Control to strengthen Australia’s pandemic preparedness and ensure a nationally-coordinated response to future outbreaks of infectious disease.
COVID-19 took a devastating toll on Australians in Aged Care.
But the Government recognises Aged Care was in crisis well before the pandemic struck.
The Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety has challenged Australia to do better. Far better.
The Government will legislate changes to deliver quality, security and dignity in care for every older Australian across our Aged Care system.
This will mean a registered nurse on site in every Aged Care facility, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
It will mandate for every Australian in Aged Care to receive 215 minutes of care per day, ensuring more care for every resident.
It will deliver better food, an increase in transparency and accountability, and a cap on the fees people can be charged for administration and management of their home care package.
The Government will back calls for a real pay rise for Aged Care workers at the Fair Work Commission, recognising that higher standards of care must be supported by higher wages.
The Government sees a moral duty in caring for our elders, and treating our older Australians with the respect, humanity and dignity they deserve.
Climate change and energy
Acting on Climate Change is a priority for the Government — and an opportunity for Australia. Embracing the transition to clean energy will create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
Under their Powering Australia Plan, the Government expects to create more than 600,000 job opportunities, with five out of every six in regional Australia.
The plan will also spur $76 billion worth of investment, and will help save families and businesses hundreds of dollars a year on their electricity bills.
Powering Australia will create clean energy jobs and cut power costs.
But it is also a plan to bring people together and move the country forward around a collective desire to take far stronger action on climate change, and accelerate our efforts towards net zero emissions by 2050.
Already, the Government has formally updated Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement — a 43 per cent reduction on 2005 levels by 2030.
The Government intends to go a step further — enshrining this new commitment in legislation, and sending industry and investors a clear message: certainty.
The Government believes that with the right policies and investments, Australia can become a clean energy superpower.
That’s why the Government will invest in accelerating the decarbonisation of Australia’s electricity grid.
The Government will also support manufacturing of renewables and low-emission technologies and invest in community batteries and solar banks.
Australia’s first National Electric Vehicle Strategy will be established, too.
Investment in vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure will double.
The Government will establish a New Energy Skills Program, and train 10,000 New Energy Apprentices.
The role of the Climate Change Authority will be restored.
And, to show the seriousness with which Australia approaches the climate challenge, Australia will seek our Pacific partners’ views on co-hosting a future UN Climate Conference of the Parties.
Environment and water
The Government believes that acting on climate change is a chance to grow the economy and protect the environment.
The Great Barrier Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the seven wonders of the natural world.
Protecting its future is an important responsibility.
The Government will invest in reef preservation and restoration, ensuring that the reef can be enjoyed for generations to come.
The Government will partner with local communities to clean up urban rivers and catchments, to improve water quality and amenity, and help protect threatened species.
The Government will double the number of rangers in the Indigenous Rangers Program, bringing the total number of rangers to 3,800 by 2030.
And they will boost funding for the management of Indigenous Protected Areas — critical for maintaining cultural sites, biodiversity conservation and restoration.
Furthermore, the Government has committed to a full response to the Samuel Review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act and to ongoing consultation to make environmental laws work better for everyone.
Water management is a priority too.
The Government will establish a National Water Commission to drive ongoing water reform and future-proof Australia’s water supply.
The Government will also deliver on water commitments under the Murray Darling Basin Plan, including 450 gigalitres for South Australia.
The Government recognises the economic opportunity and the environmental necessity that acting on climate change presents for Australia.
It also understands that the consequences of climate change are already being visited upon our communities with greater frequency and ferocity.
The Government will oversee an ongoing process of review to ensure Australia’s national disaster recovery support arrangements are streamlined, fair and equitable.
It will work with states, territories and local governments to continue to implement the recommendations of the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements.
And it will build our national resilience, ensuring we have the capacity to predict, prevent, absorb, adapt to and evolve from national emergencies and disasters in the future, including through the Disaster Ready Fund.
Australia’s place in the world
This 47th Parliament of Australia meets in an international environment far less certain than any other time in recent memory.
The Prime Minister earlier this month witnessed first-hand the devastation wrought by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
As that unprovoked, illegal and immoral war continues to rage, the rules-based global order comes under increasing strain.
The Government will continue to show solidarity with the people of Ukraine.
And seek to manage the ripple effect of uncertainty in our own region.
At this time, Australia needs to deploy all aspects of our power — military, diplomatic, economic and social.
The Government believes the Australian people must be at the heart of our engagement, because what we project to the world starts with who we are.
Our multicultural society makes us a more diverse, more prosperous and more vibrant nation.
But multiculturalism is also a diplomatic asset — as the home of more than 300 ancestries, Australia can reach into every corner of the world and say, “we share common ground.”
We can work together, with our partners, to secure a region that is stable, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty.
We will deepen cooperation through ASEAN, strengthen our bilateral relationships, and further our shared goals through the Quad.
Australia will bring new energy and resources to the Pacific, respecting Pacific institutions and listening to Pacific priorities, the most pressing of which is the climate crisis.
Ultimately, the Government’s foreign policy is an expression of our national values, national interests and national identity.
An important part of that equation is trade.
The Government’s objective will be to advance Australia’s interests, bolster the rules-based multilateral trading system, and deliver business opportunities for Australian producers and suppliers.
The Government sees great gains for us in a future powered by cleaner and cheaper energy.
So, as the world demands change, we need to not just diversify the markets we export to, but what we export as well.
Turning to Defence policy and national security, the Government will spend 2 per cent of Australia’s GDP on defence, including enhancing the Australian Defence Force with capabilities outlined in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update.
AUKUS will remain central, not only in delivering nuclear-powered submarines but also in guiding accelerated development of advanced Defence capabilities where they have the most impact.
A Defence Force Posture Review will similarly ensure the capability is there to meet Australia’s growing strategic challenges.
In 2022, national security also takes in everything from cyber security to bio-security.
The Government will seek to bolster Australian cyber security expertise — and has already acted to boost Australia’s bio-security system against the threat foot-and-mouth disease poses to our farmers.
Operation Sovereign Borders will be maintained, to ensure people smugglers in the region cannot restart a business model built on human suffering.
And the Government will support a strong humanitarian migration program that can respond to humanitarian crises as they arise.
Keeping the nation safe is the solemn duty of every government.
And the Government believes that the Australians who fulfil that responsibility and risk their lives in the service of our nation are owed not just respect and remembrance but ongoing support.
This is the moral obligation we owe ADF personnel, veterans and their families, including those affected by our longest and most recent war in Afghanistan.
Priorities include speeding up DVA claims and payments processing times and expanding the network of veterans and families hubs across Australia.
The Government has also listened to the families of Defence personnel and veterans and supported their calls for the Royal Commission into Defence and Veteran Suicide, and will look forward to the Royal Commission’s interim report next month.
Safer and more affordable housing
Alongside the Government’s commitment to nation-building sits a determination to ensure more Australians can count on the safety and stability of secure housing.
We all know the difference a secure roof over your head can make to a person’s life chances.
The Government will establish a Housing Australia Future Fund to build an additional 30,000 new social and affordable houses within five years.
It will create a National Housing Supply and Affordability Council, and launch a National Housing and Homelessness Plan.
The Government also sees the importance of home ownership and the sense of belonging, pride and stability it can confer.
And, so, it will support more Australians into their own home through the Help to Buy Scheme and the Regional First Home Buyer Support Scheme.
The Government believes education is the most powerful weapon against disadvantage — and the best investment in Australia’s economic future.
Cheaper child care means more children will get access to early years education.
And the Government will cooperate with the states and territories to make sure all schools are put on a path to full and fair funding.
The Government knows great teachers change lives — and will initiate policies to attract the best and brightest to the teaching profession and work with schools across jurisdictions to address teacher workforce challenges.
In addition, the Government will prioritise helping kids bounce back after COVID-19, with a $200 million investment in mental health and wellbeing support.
The Government will boost investment in public TAFE and apprenticeships, to ensure a new generation of Australians can gain the skills and confidence for the jobs of the future.
And resetting the relationship with universities is a priority, too.
The Government has pledged to develop an Australian Universities Accord, covering the accessibility, affordability, quality and sustainability of our treasured higher education institutions.
With that, comes a renewed focus on university and research excellence, including the translation and commercialisation of great Australian ingenuity.
Valuing the arts
The Government has great faith in our national cultural endeavour and recognises the importance of getting Australia’s arts industry back on track, too.
The conviction is simple: that a nation that invests in art and creativity is a nation that knows itself, and invites the world to know us better.
It’s in this spirit that this parliamentary term will see the release of a national cultural policy — the first in almost a decade.
There will also be greater certainty for two other vital cultural institutions — the ABC and SBS — with new funding terms spanning five years.
The Government has an ambitious agenda for Australia.
And it recognises that so much of what it hopes to achieve depends upon the trust of the Australian people.
Trust that government and public institutions will act with integrity in the interests of the nation.
To strengthen this trust, the Government will legislate to create a powerful, independent and transparent National Anti-Corruption Commission.
This will bring the Commonwealth in line with the states and territories, and will enable investigations of serious and systemic corruption.
It will be an important addition to the integrity framework of this country.
And out of the same commitment to accountability and public confidence, the Government will establish a Royal Commission into the scheme commonly known as Robodebt.
A strong Australian Public Service
Leading with integrity also means working in partnership with a strong, committed and empowered public service.
The removal of the Average Staffing Level cap, rebalancing the use of labour hire, limiting fixed-term contracts and undertaking a strategic reinvestment of funds will form the first phase of the Government’s plan to rebuild the public service’s capacity to deliver the best outcomes for the Australian people.
The Government will ensure the APS becomes a model employer and an employer of choice, including — and especially — for First Nations people, and those living with disability.
The Government will seek to lead by example.
A change of government represents a chance to bring the nation together anew.
To senators and members from the Government, opposition and crossbench, I congratulate you on being called to serve our country and our democracy.
I urge you to advocate thoughtfully, debate respectfully and — in everything you do — prove worthy of the Australian people.
I wish you every success in meeting this moment.
It is now my duty and my honour to declare the 47th Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia open.