House debates

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Morrison Government

4:11 pm

Photo of Justine ElliotJustine Elliot (Richmond, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

This is a government that consistently fails to act in the nation's best interests. Those opposite only act in their own political interest, and they take no responsibility for anything. They always put their own specific political interests ahead of the country's interests, and they're not on the side of everyday Australians. Always remember: this Prime Minister doesn't have your back. He's too busy protecting his own back and his own self-interest.

We all remember the bushfires and how he had no empathy for those bushfire victims. In his own words, he said, 'I don't hold a hose, mate.' That was his response to this terrible tragedy. The Prime Minister has had no empathy during the pandemic. He palms off his responsibilities to the states all the time. The Prime Minister has had no empathy for all of those coronavirus victims. We lost 685 older Australians in our aged-care homes due to the pandemic. Aged care is the federal government's responsibility, yet the government has refused to take responsibility for it and to act appropriately. Now we're seeing the rollout of the COVID vaccine being totally bungled. That's another thing this government is responsible for and has messed up. There's just no limit to the extent to which this government prioritises politics. No matter what the occasion, with them it's always politics first and Australians second.

Recently the extremely courageous Brittany Higgins told her distressing account of how she was sexually assaulted in a minister's office, just metres from the Prime Minister's office. Make no mistake: in relation to this devastating incident, the Prime Minister is again choosing politics and acting in his political interest, denying all knowledge and saying, 'No-one told me.' Of course he knew, but he walks in here every day and pretends that he didn't. The cover-up continues. Rather than actually reaching out to Ms Higgins, the Prime Minister had his media unit briefing journalists against her. There's no empathy, just politics. There's no humanity, just harm. The Prime Minister has failed to provide empathy, support or respect for Ms Higgins. The Prime Minister and his ministers failed to provide their legally binding duty of care. This isn't a choice you make; it's your legal obligation. We have the highest office in the land refusing to fulfil its duty of care and choosing its political interests over the welfare of a young woman. On so many levels, this is wrong, disgraceful and wilfully negligent.

As a former police officer, I'd like to remind the Prime Minister and his government that rape is not a political problem to be covered up. Rape is a crime. I simply cannot fathom that no-one, not one person in that ministerial wing, fulfilled their legally binding duty of care to Ms Higgins. Instead of giving her compassion and support to get justice, they have just cut her adrift. She's been denied justice. It must stop. Their cover-ups and their denials must stop.

The fact is that Australians have just had enough of this Prime Minister and his government. We see so many of the constant cover-ups, and that is what always characterises this government. It's what always drives them—their own political interests, not the nation's interests. It doesn't matter whether it's sports rorts, community safety rorts, forged documents or really grave matters like our terrible bushfires, the COVID-19 pandemic and reported sexual assaults, the Prime Minister always thinks about his political interests first and he never, ever accepts responsibility. Australians have had enough of this.

Australians have realised that the Prime Minister doesn't have their backs because he's too busy protecting his own. The fact is he doesn't have your back if you want security of work. He doesn't have your back if you want access to health care or aged care. He does haven't your back if you want to be confident of safety in your workplace. The fact is that this Prime Minister, this government, the Liberals and the Nationals, are not on your side. The only side they are on, all of them—the Prime Minister, all Liberals and all the Nationals—is their own side, their own political self-interest. In doing so, they are neglecting all Australians. They are putting their political interests first and not the nation's interests first.


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