17 December 2019

I will take this opportunity, given that it will be my last chance to speak to the Senate before the Christmas break, to thank the people of the Northern Territory for their support and to certainly thank the organisations who work in the areas of family and domestic violence. For those communities who find it harsh, we know that as this Christmas comes closer and closer one of the key issuesthat we've been standing so strongly about here in the Senateis entrenched poverty.

We know that this government fails to seriously address concern around poverty. We've touched on this, we've campaigned on thisnot only the concern around the Community Development Program, CDP, but also Newstart and the issue of raising Newstart. The CDP is still of major concern for 33,000 Australians, most of whom are First Nations people and most of whom live in remote and regional Australia. What is going to happen to them this Christmas? We have heard this government talk about jobs, jobs, jobs. They have said that they would create 6,000 jobs for the 33,000 people on CDP. But, wait! They went from 33,000 jobs to 6,000-perhaps jobs and then to 1,000 jobsbut, no! It's not even that. There are now only 100 subsidised jobs, instead of the 6,000 that were promised across these areas, and it is not good enough.

In the Top End of the Northern Territory we are in the wet season. We know that that creates enormous pressures for these regional and remote communities with the flooding that occurs. We seriously hope there is a good deal of rain right across the country over this Christmas and January, not flooding to the extent that it damages our livelihoods but enough rain to give hope for what 2020 could offer for all Australians. If we look at these communities that are remote and regional in Australia, especially here in the north, we know that programs like CDP are not enough, and I am putting the government on notice. We will not give up. This side of the House will not give up on pursuing a better way of life for Australians in our remote and regional northern Australia. We will not give up on it, but we're going to hear those stories more and more, especially as we embark on the Christmas and New Year season.

I certainly also want to take this opportunity, with it being the final adjournment for 2019, to thank my staff for their work with me this year and the last couple of years. I think as we come to Christmas it is important to be able to reflect on why Christmas is important. As I've said in this House on numerous occasions, Christmas is a time to spend with family, to spend with loved ones. I thank my staff, both here in Canberra and in the Northern Territory for their work, and I also wish my colleagues on all sides of the House that time with their family and friends, because no doubt we are going to come back very strongly in 2020 to pursue these issues of equality for all Australians, for working Australians and for those Australians who feel let down by this government. We will not give up. I can promise the government that our New Year's resolution will be that we're going to come back bigger, bolder and stronger than ever before. Merry Christmas.