Politics

Drop Everything And Watch Larissa Waters’ Powerful Call To Raise Newstart

"I am very embarrassed by the agenda of this government," she said. "Have some dignity."

larissa waters newstart

Greens senator Larissa Waters teared up in the Senate this morning delivering a powerful call to raise Newstart. It was a speech that destroyed the government while simultaneously upholding the humanity of those forced to live below the poverty line, and it absolutely deserves your attention today.

The debate over raising Newstart, Waters argued, “brings to mind the purpose of us being here”, saying that she was disappointed to hear colleagues describing the discussion as a waste of time.

“Well, what’s the point of Parliament if we’re not here to advocate for the right thing to do, to help people, and to argue our case for good policy measures that help genuine human beings? That is, in fact, our job — to be in here and represent,” she said.

“I feel very disappointed at the lack of hope. And sure, we’ve got a hideous government that doesn’t give a damn about anyone except its wealthy donors, but we’re seeing positive steps with people in the business community calling for an increase in Newstart.”

“Of course, we have ACOSS and other fantastic community organisations that have long called for an increase in Newstart. But we now have people in the Nationals calling for an increase in Newstart. We now have people in the Labor ranks, calling for an increase in Newstart. So I just don’t accept that it is a waste of time for us to be continuing to raise this, and to put forward the actual experiences of people who are being forced to live so far below the poverty line it is beyond a lack of dignity — it is a crime, in my view.”

“I think that’s a really important task for us. That’s how we convince people to change their minds and to do the right thing. And to step up and actually act like a government, and act in the interests of people.”

“We have three million Australians that are living in poverty, below the poverty line, on Newstart. You want economic stimulus? Even if you don’t care about the human face of these people — and it’s pretty clear you haven’t so far — you want economic stimulus? Lift Newstart. These people are desperate to spend that money because they don’t actually have enough money to meet their basic needs.”

“I’m sure they want a secondhand pair of shoes, to go to that interview. I’m sure they want the bus or the petrol money, to get to that interview. Or I’m sure they want to buy their child lunch, for school,” she said, tearing up. “This is real people that we’re talking about.”

“I am very embarrassed by the agenda of this government,” she concluded. “I think it brings the entire institution into disrepute when we see massive tax cuts handed out to wealthy people, massive corporate tax cuts, favours done for big donors, and ordinary Australians and the environment on which we all rely utterly neglected, and derided, and degraded. The cheek of you. Have some dignity, have some compassion, and please reflect on what your role is in this place.”

You can watch the full speech below. Thanks to Larissa Waters for telling it like it is.