House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Morrison Government

4:01 pm

Photo of David SmithDavid Smith (Bean, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

During question time, one of the favourite responses of government ministers to dorothy dixers is to take the first 30 seconds or so to wax lyrical about the leadership of member X prior to their political career and to then expound on their leadership since they've come to this place. Sometimes it's a stretch. It's a predictable and repeated piece of theatre, even if at times you can feel the pain of ministers reaching to come up with things that underpin the glowing appraisals of their colleagues. God help them if they had to open every response with 30 seconds on the leadership qualities of the Prime Minister!

This is a government that is led by a Prime Minister who always puts political interests ahead of the national interest, a government that lacks integrity and transparency at every turn, where the vast potential of the national cabinet is clouded by palming off responsibility for failures or significant challenges to the states and territories while attempting to take credit for any successes. As many of you know, the great Harry S Truman famously had a sign on his desk that read, 'The buck stops here'. An appropriate sign for the Prime Minister would be, 'I am advised that the buck stops anywhere but here'.

This is a government and a Prime Minister that has let down my constituents and this nation from the cradle to the grave. If you are from a community in crisis following a devastating bushfire, the Prime Minister will tell you he doesn't hold a hose. If you are a young worker who is stuck in long-term casual employment, this government wants to make it harder for you to find a permanent job. When your community was locked down either last year or this year and you were doing it tough, this government went for cheap shots rather than leadership. If you are a mid-career worker striving to save for retirement, this Prime Minister wants you to get less superannuation, making your retirement harder.

If you're a resident in a nursing home anywhere across this nation, know that this Prime Minister, when he was Treasurer, cut almost $2 billion from the aged-care budget. If you're a person who cares about transparency in government, know that this is a government that cuts the audit office's budget, has no interest in a genuine integrity commission and looks to cover up first, second and third. If you're a local sporting organisation in desperate need of facilities, this is a government that puts its desperate political interests ahead of your community. And, if you have a young family struggling to pay childcare fees, this is a government that won't help you balance the books.

This is a government whose action on virtually every front is at odds with the wishes of the Australian people. On which of its policies does the government actually have the nation's backing?

On which of its policies are they on your side? On encouraging more insecure work? On refusing to support the minimum wage for every Australian worker? On removing JobKeeper from industries that clearly need it? On not learning the lessons from last year on the value of having JobSeeker at an adequate level? On gutting vocational education and making tertiary education unaffordable for thousands of school leavers? On rorting any grants program that moves? On the lack of transparency and integrity that has become the hallmark of this government? This government are not on your side and they've conducted themselves with an arrogance and an insensitivity which has appalled the nation.

In case the Prime Minister thinks that these criticisms come exclusively from the Labor side of the fence, the House needs no reminding of the extensive commentary from previous leaders of the Liberal Party who are sickened by the rotten state of this government. This is a government from which nobody resigns unless absolutely forced to do so by overwhelming pressure from the public, the media and their own backbenchers. It's all about the cover-up. Is it any wonder that people see a government out of touch with the nation's needs, refusing to take responsibility for its actions and operating on no key principle other than that of its own survival?

It doesn't have to be this way. There are many examples which we can point back to where it was quite different. We can point to Curtin, our great wartime Prime Minister; Chifley, the builder of our nation; Whitlam, the profound reformer; Hawke, the great man of the people who promoted consensus; Keating, the policy visionary; Rudd, the PM who rightfully said sorry; and Gillard, the champion of education— (Time expired)


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