Monday, 22 February 2021
Private Members' Business
COVID-19: International Travel
Do my ears deceive me? I just heard a long rant from the member for Fraser, and all he talked about was the incompetence of the Victorian state government on their management of hotel quarantine. As a former member of that state government, I don't want to disabuse him of that notion but it's very rare we come into this chamber and we have such honesty from the member for Fraser, who used to sit in the Victorian parliament egged on and applauded on by Dan Andrews' chief adviser, the Premier of Victoria's chief adviser, the member now for McNamara. So I welcome their contribution to this debate in saying the state government of Victoria has failed.
I can tell you, Deputy Speaker, the people know the state government of Victoria has failed, not just failed but failed the people and their abilities through the lockdowns that have followed through from their incompetence and mismanagement of the hotel quarantine scheme. So this admission of honesty is welcome; it's a well spring of ideas and generosity. But, frankly, it comes with a tinge of sadness, because we all accept that there are Australians overseas and we desperately want to get them home. This has been one of the key focuses of the Morrison government: we've provided surge capacity and had repatriation flights—that is, surge capacity around facilitating quarantine where we can in places like Howard Springs—entirely consistent with the recommendations of independent reviews but we've also turned and worked with the states in a cooperative way to say, 'You have to be part of this solution, because we don't have all these facilities, we don't have the workforce and we need to utilise it.'
There is one state that has consistently stood out in letting Team Australia down. As the member for Fraser correctly points out, with the support of the member for Macnamara, it has been the great state of Victoria. New South Wales has accepted four times the number of people who have gone through the hotel quarantine scheme. We take our hat off to the people of New South Wales and the state government of New South Wales because they showed it was possible, working with the Commonwealth to get the right outcomes for Australians.
Is it really a surprise that there are still, sadly, Australians overseas? We work with them every day in the Goldstein office, and I know the member for Chisholm would do the same, as would the members for Moncrieff, Bowman and everywhere else—and maybe even some on the other side of the chamber too. Australians are still stuck over there because Melbourne Airport, the second-busiest airport in the country, was shut down for so long last year. But, even more egregious than that, even more outrageous than that—let's go right to it: even more despicable than that, the recent intervention by the Premier of Victoria was to say to Australians living overseas, 'Go and get stuffed,' giving them the one-finger salute and saying that they are not allowed—