House debates

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Morrison Government

3:34 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

It is such a disappointment. Indeed, it is fast becoming a national disappointment. The Prime Minister of Australia is said to have taken on an impossible task. In his own words, he 'performed a miracle' in winning an unwinnable election. This is the man who, after years of short-term prime ministers, was meant to be the great figure who would bring harmony back to the political universe. This is the man who is reputed to be above all the political spin and politics of this place and who, it is said, has a unique ability to speak to the heart of 'the quiet Australians'. This is man who, it is alleged, is the new John Howard of this country.

Nine months on, it is now abundantly clear that all of that is just a marketing campaign of the cheapest order. This is not a man who rails against 'the Canberra bubble'; this is a man who revels in the fact that he lives in 'the Canberra bubble'. This is not a man who empathises with ordinary Australian; this is a man who, since day one, has seen himself as born to sit in this chair inside this building. This is a man who has an enormous self-belief. But his complete conviction in the correctness of literally every step he takes leaves no corner in his heart for the wisdom of anyone else, and certainly not for the voice of the Australian people.

All we have seen since he was elected is a man who is loose with the truth, a man who is constantly engaging in double-down, and a man who is leading a government that is incompetent. Look at the economy. Last May, he said his government was getting the economy back on track and back into the black. But what is the reality of that? Since he became Prime Minister, economic growth has slowed. Underemployment has increased to a point where two million Australians are now looking for work. We've got the worst wages growth on record. Household debt is surging. We now have a situation where people are making the most appalling decisions about what they cannot buy at the supermarket with the money they do not have. And, never forget, it is the Liberals who, since coming to government, have more than doubled the debt.

And then we see the most astonishing performance, with the Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction. Amid all the challenges that this minister faces, he decides to engage in taking pot shots at a local mayor about travel expenses; and, in the process, he circulates a dodgy, doctored document to local newspapers. It's low rent. It's student politics. It's profoundly stupid. But, as it turns out, there is a question about whether it might be—

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