Thursday, 25 February 2021
Matters of Public Importance
When asked, 'What qualities do you deem most important in a politician or a political leader?' Australians answered three things: honesty, truthfulness and trust. They are the results of a survey by the McKinnon Prize in Political Leadership. Australians care about ethical behaviour. They want their political leaders to demonstrate those values of honesty and truthfulness.
If those are the qualities that Australians care about then they have been left behind and let down by a Prime Minister who doesn't hold a hose; a Prime Minister who claims that he knew nothing—nothing—of an alleged sexual assault just metres away from his office, where the story changes on an hourly basis; a Prime Minister who had to ask his wife how to respond to the sexual assault. I'm the mother of boys. I have two sons. Should that change the way in which I respond to something as serious as a sexual assault? This is a Prime Minister who's presided over sports rorts, grassgate, watergate and forged documents and who shrugs off his responsibility, whether it's in response to bushfires, to quarantine or, indeed, to an alleged sexual assault.
Just this week, we saw that a general practitioner with no training was administering doses of this much-awaited vaccine. We can't put this down to human error, because it's not human error; it is actually a systemic vulnerability, just as with those people in Bendigo who waited for their doses of the vaccine that didn't arrive. It is a systemic vulnerability, and it happened because the government were so busy crowing on about themselves that they actually forgot to do anything about it. They actually forgot to put in those systems and ensure that the system for distributing the vaccines was not open to such vulnerabilities. That is the story that we've seen while this government has been in power.
This Prime Minister sets the bar for other members of this government. We have the Minister for Home Affairs walking around this place as if he wears his underpants on the outside, as if he's the saviour of the universe, as if he's going to save each and every one of us. But it's very clear that what he's interested in is saving Liberal seats. We saw him overrule his own department on grants on safer communities. He walks around talking about how he's going to keep everybody safe and then overrules his own department in order to fund seats that the government were interested in keeping. Even I know pork when I see it. Even I know that's pork. Even the member for Chifley recognised that as pork.
One of the things that I love about our citizenship ceremonies is that when Australians take the pledge of citizenship, they do something that is, in my mind, unique. They pledge their loyalty not just to Australia; they pledge their loyalty to Australia and its people. I love that part of the citizenship ceremony. Every time I attend a citizenship ceremony, it brings a tear to my eye to know those who become new Australians are pledging their loyalty not to this thing called a nation but to the Australian people. Where is this Prime Minister's loyalty to the Australian people when he fails to act in the national interest, instead acting in his own political interest? Australians are not a target audience to be segmented and to be targeted in some slick marketing campaign. They are real people with real lives and real issues and real concerns, and they want better from their leadership. They want better from this Prime Minister who 'doesn't hold a hose, mate'.