While the Liberal-National Coalition is in complete dysfunction and fighting amongst itself there are over 900,000 people living in poverty in NSW alone. Today Abigail stood to speak of the need for a strong government that listens and respects the people it is meant to serve and to condemn the Liberals and Nationals for continuing to bicker instead of govern.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD (11:20:54): Even before the pandemic, almost 900,000 people in New South Wales were living in poverty. That means one in eight people was living in poverty—including one in six children, nearly half of all people with disability, one-third of single, retired women on the aged pension and close to two-thirds of unemployed single parents. For a brief six months, around 12 per cent of those people were provided extra support through the COVID-19 pandemic through the doubling of JobSeeker. But in a week's time many of them will again struggle to feed their families and keep a roof over their head when the coronavirus supplement is cut. This time they will be joined by an additional 65,000 people who have lost their jobs or had their hours cut since the onset of the recession.
Solving the quickly escalating poverty rates of people in New South Wales should be among the highest of this Government's priorities. Once upon a time, eradicating poverty was core government business, but today's governments either shake their heads and whip out the old "lifters and leaners" nonsense or shrug their shoulders and talk about necessary unemployment and inequality for the good of the economy, against all reason and evidence. However, this Government has not even had time for that lately. They have been too busy justifying the excellence of their Treasurer, who presided over the most monumental of failures in our State workers compensation scheme, and squabbling amongst themselves about whether to hug a koala or a developer.
Let us turn to the housing crisis in New South Wales. At the time of the 2016 census almost 38,000 people were homeless—more than 50 people in every 10,000. Then consider the facts that 2,439 homes were destroyed in the State during the past summer's bushfires, the Premier is on record stating that homeless people make her "completely uncomfortable" and this Government is more interested in decimating communities by selling off swathes of public housing than it is in maintaining basic standards of liveability—let alone building enough new public housing stock to accommodate our growing population. It is no surprise that the number of people without a home has risen year after year. Instead of addressing the extraordinary housing crisis facing the State, the Minister for Water, Property and Housing is busy backing one side of an internal war—the side that apparently could not care less about homes for people because they are too busy lining the pockets of developers who view housing as a commodity first and foremost and as a source of profit.
Mr David Shoebridge: And destroying homes for koalas.
Ms ABIGAIL BOYD: And destroying homes for koalas. New South Wales is particularly vulnerable to climate change. It is getting hotter and drier. Heatwaves are longer and more intense, and the number of days of record-breaking temperatures, particularly in western Sydney, is increasing dramatically. Last summer, Penrith earned the ignoble distinction of being the hottest place on the planet when it hit 48.9 degrees Celsius. New South Wales has just suffered through the most severe drought on record. Last summer's bushfires were unprecedented. The damage to the bush, wildlife, communities and people was catastrophic. This is climate change—no longer an abstract notion we can wish away or deny the science on. It is real. It is here now and it is absolutely devastating. Yet what do we see from this Liberal-Nationals Coalition Government? Not a move to renewables, or better public transport, or planning to reduce the need to drive, or incentives to increase the uptake of electric vehicles. Instead, we see an addiction to toll roads, coal seam gas, coal-fired power generation, coalmining under our water catchment and a push to mine uranium.
While we could be protecting our incredibly valuable remaining natural areas, this Government is allowing logging in places devastated by fires, broadscale land clearing for corporate agriculture and the destruction of koala habitat for urban sprawl. They allow those things not because the science supports it, but because The Nationals are spooked by the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party in the Central West and The Greens in the Northern Rivers and the Liberal Party is spooked by One Nation in the upper House and its own Coalition partners in the Cabinet room. We have now discovered that this internal Coalition crisis has been set off not by concerned mum-and-dad farmers like The Nationals have claimed but by a single property developer having a whinge to his mate John Barilaro. When they have been called out on it, their immediate response has been to talk about the grammar used in parliamentary motions rather than the issues that matter to the people of New South Wales. It is almost like they are trying to disgrace themselves with internal bickering and power plays to distract people from their successive failures to deal with the big issues that actually matter. It is time they got their house in order.