Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland


Senator MOORE (Queensland) (15:12): We're now looking at another budget. Another year's gone by, and the normal process happens. It's not at all surprising that we had the government come in and talk about how great the budget is and all the great things that are going to happen to the community while people who are not in the government raise issues about why things could be done better and how it could be different. But, as I've said many times in this place: it's not just the people who are in this chamber that the government needs to convince about the probity, the integrity and the positive nature of their budget; it's actually the people in the wider community. We've now seen the arguments start. We've seen the media coverage-the pages talking about 'winners' and 'losers' in the budget. And everyone rumbles through the media to try and find out where their particular circumstances are, where they fit, what will happen to them and their families and their futures.

But it's all not as clear as it could be when it first happens because you have to go to the detail, and that's part of the job of this place-to actually look at the detail of the budget, to ask the questions to find out exactly where the costs will be, what the impacts will be and, in fact, what all those pages of explanation and tables mean. That will lead us in a couple of weeks' time to something that many people enjoy-and some people question-the Senate estimates process, which is an invaluable tool that we have in this place to look in great detail at what is happening in various forms of government expenditure. We were asking questions today about the impact on pensioners, about the impact on people who are unemployed, about what is going to happen. The Senate estimates process allows us to get that detail to then share with the public.

I want to talk briefly about something that gave me real hope today when I met with two groups of young people who are here to look at what's in the budget, to raise their concerns and talk to parliamentarians about what the budget means-in fact, doing their job in the community and talking about what's important to them. One is the National Union of Students, who have built their own paper around building a better budget. What should the budget be for people who work in universities, who are studying and who are building their futures? What should happen out of this budget process? They're having some trouble finding answers about that in this budget. Nonetheless, they see it as part of their role to continue to raise these questions to ensure that their co-students, the people who rely on universities for employment and the people who are building their plans for the future will not only know about what expenditure is going to be put into the higher education sector-and how curriculum will be affected during the whole schooling process-but also what should be a fair way to provide education in our communities.

Only this morning, I had the real pleasure of meeting with another group of young people from Micah, who gathered together outside in the cold this morning right beside where all the big people were talking about what was in the budget. They laid out a banquet table on the lawns outside our parliament to show that there is room for everyone at the table, and the way that we spend our budget dollars in this place can be scrutinised to see exactly how that goodwill-how that expenditure-will be shared at the table by everyone.

Micah were particularly raising issues around international development and the future of international development. This year with the budget we had time and opportunity-because many elements of this budget were leaked to the media in the weeks beforehand, it was quite interesting to see what else was going to be in the budget last night. I know only some people actually survived the whole of the Treasurer's speech. It's at the end of the speech that you get all the papers and can see what is really in there. These young people took that opportunity to look at international development in the budget after the budget speech last night. They could not find the increase; they could not find the things in the budget that were going to benefit our people, our neighbours and people across the world who are so vulnerable.

We will continue to take this opportunity in the parliament, through Senate estimates, to raise issues around the budget and to see whether, in fact, the largesse that has been spoken about by the government will be shared with the wider community. We will be able to see who exactly will be the winners and the losers. The hope is that the community will understand effectively who's won and who's lost.