National security and defence are very important, as all speakers in this MPI have alluded to. It's important to note, though, that there's more to national security and defence than defence spending. There's also fuel security, which the government has manifestly failed to address over its nine years in government. We don't have the fuel reserves in this country that we need. Under this government, we've seen Australia's maritime fleet absolutely decimated. We have a tiny handful of merchant vessels left and merchant crews in Australia, Australian crews. They're also part of our national security apparatus, as we saw in World War II at Dunkirk. It was the merchant fleet that saved those soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk. That's how important the maritime merchant fleet can be. Under this government we've seen our maritime fleet absolutely decimated. What Australian voters are looking for in the months ahead is certainty and security, and only Labor can provide it. This government has failed over the last nine years to provide that security and certainty.
The Liberal government is a risk agent, it's an agent of risk. Everything it does is about chaos and change. This may come as a surprise to people listening to this debate. The Liberal Party used to be a party of conservatism and looking after the establishment and tradition. That's changed in recent years. It's now a party of risk and change. It smashes the ABC. It cuts Medicare whenever it can. Try to find a bulk-billing agent in regional Australia. You can't. You can't find a bulk-billing GP. The government chips away at Medicare every chance it gets. Arts and culture have been decimated under this Liberal government. University education—decimated. University lecturers and staff—absolutely forgotten by this government. During the pandemic 40,000 teachers at university level were left behind because this government didn't care about that incredibly important institution. National security and defence have become political playthings under this government. And just today was the incredible sight of this government gagging debate on its own legislation because it has no respect for the traditions and the culture of this parliament and this democracy. It's all about power at any cost: do whatever it takes; do whatever it takes to win. That's all it cares about—no integrity, no decency.
After a promise before the last election about a federal integrity commission, it's gone nowhere. They're not even introducing the bill that they say that they've drawn up—which we know is deficient, but they don't even have the guts to bring it into the chamber.
This Liberal government cannot be trusted. It is dismantling Australia's culture and our traditions, and they are turning this country into a cut-price version of the worst aspects of America. This Liberal Party that governs this country now is not the Liberal Party of Robert Menzies. It's not the Liberal Party of Malcolm Fraser. It's not the Liberal Party of John Howard. It's not even the Liberal Party of Malcolm Turnbull. This is the Liberal Party of Donald Trump. That's that what this Liberal Party is. Look at what they're doing: insecure work is rampant in Australia under this Liberal government; penalty rates have been cut under this Liberal government; wages have actually gone backwards for people because of this government; there's no respect for family time for people under this government because of their attacks on penalty rates and weekend rates; financial insecurity is getting worse; they've deliberately suppressed wages under this government; and young people are finding it increasingly difficult to afford to buy a house. It used to be the case that young people could get a good, secure job and go out and get a mortgage and buy a house. Young people today think: 'How on earth can I afford to buy a house in this environment? My labour is casualised, I've got insecure work and my wages are suppressed. How on earth can I get into the housing market?' That is the legacy of this failed Liberal government, a government that can't be trusted with the future of this country.
Only a Labor government will provide certainty and security, secure work, cheaper power prices, a future made in Australia and more manufacturing. The choice is easy at the next election. The choice is easy: Albanese.