Thursday, 3 June 2021
Matters of Public Importance
Imagine if Neil Armstrong had gone all the way to the moon but had never got out of the ship—had never taken that small step, let alone the great leap for mankind—and said: 'It's okay; we're comfortable here. We've arrived at our destination. The eagle has landed.' That is what this government is like. They've achieved government, and they think that is the end in itself. They've no vision for the nation and no capacity to use the power of government to make a difference to people's lives. It's just: 'End of story. Job done! We're in government. Let's just applaud us.'
After three terms in office, they have no legacy there to be proud of. And that's why, in question time, day after day, they just bag the Labor Party. That's why they're unprepared to debate their own record on any issue and why they shut down debate. A minister who's on the front page of the paper today speaking about freedom of speech comes into parliament and shuts down debate all day.
The fact is that this coalition government will be remembered just as the Fraser government is: what was the point? They changed some things back—the Fraser government got rid of Medibank—but what was the point of them after eight years? Well, the government have been in office for eight years, just occupying the space.
Labor is different. We seek the power of government to improve people's lives; to make a difference; to build a stronger economy; to imagine and then create a better and a fairer society; to spread opportunity; to invest in new industries, such as through our national reconstruction fund. We're not satisfied to say, 'We want to go back to the way things were before the pandemic.' We want to build back stronger. As I indicated to those at Minerals Week this week: we don't want to just export our resources; we want to value-add and manufacture things here, creating jobs and value here.
Those opposite have a view that you just export resources, things get made somewhere else and then we import them back at greater cost. We don't benefit from the innovation and ingenuity that Australian scientists have brought to so many of the world's innovations.
We, on this side, want to champion equality for women. We want to add universal, affordable child care to Labor's great legacies of universal health care and universal superannuation. We want to fix aged care. We want to emerge as a renewable energy superpower. We'd use government to improve people's lives.
Those opposite just want to be in government for its own sake—to stop us. They're defined by what they're against—and defined, as we saw today, by never accepting responsibility. This government had two big jobs this year: to roll out the vaccine and to fix national quarantine, and they have failed on both. And there are major consequences for it.
The Prime Minister, rather extraordinarily, today began his press conference by saying: 'We don't fear the virus.' Well, tell that to people with loved ones in aged care. Tell that to people with loved ones in disability care. He says that people shouldn't fear COVID. Well, I'll tell you what people fear. People fear this government's complacency; they fear this government's hubris, because there are real consequences behind this government's arrogance and its complacency. On repeated occasions, this Prime Minister has said has said the rollout is not a race. He was good at rolling out the red carpet for himself, but the vaccine rollout has been an absolute debacle. This is a government that's been all about the spin and the imagery, never about the substance and the delivery.