TRANSCRIPT - Matters of Public Importance - Morrison Government always too little too late
26 August 2021
In times of crisis, communities need leadership. True leadership is about stepping up and taking responsibility. It's about taking action when problems arise and it's about planning for the future, but we know this is not this Prime Minister's modus operandi. We've seen zero commitment for national leadership from this Prime Minister over the last three years, let alone in the eight very long years of the Abbott-Turnbull-Morrison governments.
The Prime Minister won't accept responsibility for anything. It is always someone else's fault. I'll give this to him: he is consistent. He's constantly ducking, weaving and denying responsibility every time that something goes wrong. It's a well-worn pattern of behaviour. When the Prime Minister sees a problem, his first instinct is to pretend it doesn't exist. When the problem eventually becomes an emergency, he's always there to blame someone else. And, when all else fails, he just starts making stuff up; he gaslights the Australian people. Whatever the response, the Prime Minister is always too little and too late on the scene.
This year, the Prime Minister had two jobs: vaccines and quarantine. He bungled them both. He's totally botched the vaccine rollout. He might as well have rolled out the red carpet for COVID to enter into regions like mine in Newcastle and the Hunter. If he were any kind of leader, purpose-built quarantine facilities would be built by now. We are, like, twenty months down the track from when we first started talking about these issues. But, no, this Prime Minister just leaves it up to the state premiers to pick up his slack, and thank goodness they have. I must congratulate Labor premier Annastacia Palaszczuk, who today announced that she will press ahead with building a new purpose-built quarantine facility near Wellcamp airport in Queensland. And she'll go it alone, because she can't afford to wait another day for this dithering Prime Minister to get on board. The delta variant is highly infectious and dangerous. We cannot expect tourist hotels to double as biosecurity zones. Any one of the 27 leaks from those hotel quarantine places should have been proof enough of this government's failed approach. Section 51 of the Australian Constitution makes abundantly clear that quarantine is a Commonwealth responsibility. There's no ambiguity about this, but still this Prime Minister does nothing and accepts no responsibility, always ducking, weaving and denying any responsibility.
Let's have a look at just some of those matters that the Prime Minister has failed to act on. We all recall those terrible summers when bushfires raged through our nation, scorching the earth and inflicting so much pain and suffering on so many communities, but this Prime Minister refused to take a meeting with the 23 fire chiefs of this nation, who were the most experienced and knowledgeable people he could turn to. What did he say to us, at the end, when push really came to shove and he'd been caught out having a holiday in Hawaii while the nation was burning to a crisp? He gets home, tries to save his bacon and says to the journo, when pushed, 'Well, I don't hold a hose, mate.' That was it. Well, that is going to be the defining moment of your prime ministership.
Here we are, almost a decade into this government, with zero progress on climate change or anywhere near a nationally agreed energy policy. This is a Prime Minister who expects us to believe that he knew nothing of incidents that were happening in this very workplace—the Australian parliament—that his staff had nothing to say to him of a sexual assault, even after two years. The March4Justice, which you refused to go and attend; the cuts to all of the National Women's Alliances that were undertaken; and the refusal to actually adopt all recommendations of the [email protected] report will remain your defining features.