Thursday, 25 March 2021
Matters of Public Importance
It seems that the place of discussion has just shifted from the government and where the Leader of the Opposition was to a different subject altogether. I will just identify with the parts of the member for Sydney's address that we would all identify with. It's why I have put forward a couple of positive proposals to the Prime Minister for the executive to consider.
There were a number of other things said today which were rather important. One was: you couldn't be in a better place today than in this nation. You couldn't be in a better place for your health and wellbeing, for your family's health and wellbeing and for your business's health and wellbeing, even though in the next few weeks we are going to face some diabolical times for small business—anybody who thinks that's not going to happen is just fooling themselves.
If you want to know what's important, it's that this government, on the COVID response, was on your side. This government, in response to health issues that have arisen, was on your side—was on the peoples' side. This government, as noted by the health minister today in his response to one family and that particular illness, was on your side. If you want to talk about how we responded to small businesses in trouble right across the nation—every one of them—this government was on your side. If you want to talk about flood response: we have learned the lessons and this government is on your side. If you want to remember the drought response for rural Australia: this government was on your side. Every time, this government was thinking about the people of Australia first, because that's our role. That's our role: putting the people first.
I was disappointed with the Leader of the Opposition. He came in and talked about all the issues that affect us here in the parliamentary bubble. This is not a Canberra bubble. This is a parliamentary bubble. I am pretty sure that the people of Canberra are not really impressed every time a politician gets up in this place and talks about the Canberra bubble. That might mean something in rural and regional Australia and perhaps in other capital cities but this is a parliamentary bubble. It's the disgust of what has happened in this place, which was revealed in the last week—and there will probably be more. Is there more hanging around out there for us, every one of us, all to be belted with? Is every one of us standing in slime in this place, in this green room—no pun intended? There was a tiny bit of hilarity today because Minister Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, talked about some money going into arts and entertainment, and what happened? The whole room grabbed for that moment when we could think about something great for a minute, instead of where we have been sloshing around. There's more money to go to there. I tell the arts industry: we're on your side. I tell the entertainment industry: this government is on your side. But, more importantly, people like travel agents: we're on your side. People like travel agents have just had some more money, and we will concentrate and we will try for them and, if we can do more, we will. But we're on their side.
Mrs Phillips interjecting—
What you should be listening to is this: you have never put forward one concrete contribution or idea about how you might do the job on their behalf. Not one! Ask your shadow Treasurer. Not one, because it's a difficult issue. When you're in government and you're on their side, there are difficult issues to decide.
As I finish, it's great to have so many of my colleagues here to support me as I address the House on this last day of this sitting. I would like to thank each and every one of you very much. It's great to have you here, and I look forward to your engagement again when we come back after the break for budget week. (Time expired)