Mr PERRETT (Moreton—Opposition Whip) (16:20): I go on the record in this, my address-in-reply and congratulate you, Mr Deputy Speaker Coulton, on your elevation. I have had nothing but good dealings with you over the years. I somehow wish the elevation had been a little higher but I do congratulate you.
I sincerely thank the people of Moreton for re-electing me as the member for Moreton. Moreton is obviously the best place in Australia to live! The eight-week election campaign was long and arduous, and I am privileged and humbled to have been re-elected as your representative. I thank the people of Moreton for their support and trust shown in the recent election, which they have shown for the fourth time. The people of Moreton are a straight-talking lot who can see through spin, and thankfully they also saw through a very dirty, grubby smear campaign.
The issues my constituents care about are many and varied, but the one thing that unites us all is fairness. Fairness means families being able to access education and health; fairness in the workplace, be it equality of opportunity or safe conditions of employment; and fairness for the disadvantaged, the vulnerable and the voiceless.
Moreton has been a marginal seat for over 30 years and it remains a marginal seat, although I am pleased to say the margin is a little larger after the recent election. I would like first to thank some of my hardworking Moreton campaign team: firstly and most importantly my magnificent campaign director, Julieanne Campbell, and then the meticulous Lewis Lee, Trent McTiernan, Anna Carey, Scarlett Squire, Annie Sun, John Prescott, Graeme La Macchia, Damir Ahmetovic, Ken Boyne, Edwina Crowther, Frank Carroll, Robert Horn, Helen Bray, Richard Huang and Annamarie Newton to name just a few of the many, many campaign workers who turned out to help either on election day or for weeks and months—in fact, years—before. I especially appreciate them giving up their valuable family and private time to speak to the people of Moreton on the telephone, when doorknocking and at community events. They made a positive contribution to the campaign, and I have received wonderful feedback from so many people they spoke to about the conversations that they had. I would also like to thank my union, the Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union, for the support they showed throughout the campaign.
Post campaign, I am excited that my work as the member for Moreton is well and truly underway. I have been out in the community listening to the concerns of people, recently in Annerley and Tarragindi, and supporting my constituents in any way they need.
The Liberal-National Party candidate for Moreton made some election promises during the campaign. The candidate promised that on the re-election of a coalition government, which has occurred, the LNP would provide $10 million for a new 'home of netball' for Netball Queensland in the electorate of Moreton and $30,000 to the Sunnybank RSL Subbranch for the installation of an Indian heritage memorial. The memorial is an initiative of mine, and I am looking forward to working with Indian community leaders on this project. I am sure that the Prime Minister will come up with that money sooner rather than later. I wrote to Prime Minister Turnbull on 3 August asking for a time frame in which these election commitments would be honoured. I have not received a response as yet, but I am sure that the cheque will be in the mail. On behalf of the people of Moreton, I will continue to press Mr Turnbull to honour these election promises made by the Liberal-National Party.
In that letter to Prime Minister Turnbull I also sought a response to my previous request, sent to Prime Minister Abbott after the 2013 election. In the 2013 election campaign, the Liberal National Party candidate promised that a coalition government would stage a Moreton jobs summit within 100 days of being elected. No such jobs summit has ever eventuated. I have again asked the Prime Minister to honour the Liberal-National Party's 2013 election promise to hold a Moreton jobs summit as promised by the candidate in public.
Sadly, after three years of a coalition government, a Moreton jobs summit is much more important. The current unemployment rate in Queensland is 6.1 per cent, higher than the national figure of 5.7 per cent, on the figures that came out today. The average national unemployment rate under the former Labor government was 5.1 per cent despite the global financial crisis, which started with the collapse of Lehman Brothers eight years ago today. The Labor Party was able to steer the country through those horrible headwinds. The average national unemployment rate since the Abbott-Turnbull government took office is six per cent. There are around 40,000 more unemployed Australians since the Abbott-Turnbull government was elected. There are currently more than 700,000 unemployed Australians. Those figures are only part of the story. Since December 2015 there have been around 64,500 full-time job losses. The Abbott-Turnbull government announced the very modest target of creating one million jobs over five years. In order to honour that promise to the people of Australia, the Abbott-Turnbull government should have created nearly 600,000 jobs to date. They are well behind their own very modest goal. Instead of the rhetoric and the slogans, instead of the empty promises, Mr Turnbull first needs to honour the coalition's promises that are outstanding to the people of Moreton.
I understand that Prime Minister Turnbull has his work cut out at the moment just trying to keep his government together. I think I would rather muster cats than try to get the member for Warringah, Senator Abetz, Senator Bernardi—
Mr Christensen interjecting—
Mr PERRETT: The member for Dawson comes in on cue! I would rather try and muster cats than try to get them all together. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister is out front as the leader. He needs to show leadership both to his government, his party room, and to the Australian people by delivering on what he has promised. We saw last time we were here on a Thursday afternoon that he could not even keep them in the building—something that has not occurred since the early 1960s. It was unbelievable.
I would also hope that Prime Minister Turnbull can show some mettle and control much the same motley crew that I just mentioned, many of whom are calling for changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. This is an issue that is important to Moreton's multicultural community. Section 18C prevents hate speech and racist abuse. It is really just enshrining good manners. That is all it is doing, enshrining good manners. It has been in place for 20 years. Why do these members of the Liberal and National parties want to change it?
Mr Christensen interjecting—
Mr PERRETT: What does the member for Dawson want to say that he cannot say now? What does the member for Dawson want to say that he cannot say under parliamentary privilege? How much do you want to offend somebody and who do you want to offend? That is what I ask the member for Dawson, through you, Mr Speaker. Unfortunately, there are many voices at the moment shouting out intolerance and getting an abundance of media attention. Sadly, some of those voices in the Senate recently have been from Queensland. These voices are drowning out the voices we need, voices of tolerance and cohesion recognising the modern Australia, not some skewed view of Australia that is set in 1952. We need to have a modern Australia that reaches out to Asia and recognises the fact that we are not a country where people come only from the United Kingdom.
Community members in my electorate are so concerned that they are meeting to discuss how to respond to the rise of intolerance in Australia. The rise of these voices in parliament, the people's parliament, is shocking and terrifying and will have implications in the schoolyards and the homes of Moreton.
I noted that there are 20 Liberal and National government backbenchers calling for changes to section 18C and who are prepared to sign off on that. It is yet another test of the Prime Minister's authority within his own party room, where again he failed. The Prime Minister needs to step up and lead, not only in his government but also the country. He needs to be a leader and show how we can have a tolerant and cohesive society. He does that not by saying simply that amendments to section 18C are 'not a priority of our government'. He needs to do more than that. He needs to draw the line on intolerance in his own, misnamed, party.