House debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Matters of Public Importance

COVID-19: Morrison Government

3:46 pm

Photo of Libby CokerLibby Coker (Corangamite, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] We all know the Morrison government has a women problem, so it's not surprising that it's the women of Australia who are being penalised by the lack of a cohesive pandemic plan by this Prime Minister. Many of the financial impacts and inequalities of the COVID-19 pandemic are not immediately obvious, yet they can have a profound implication on people's lives, especially on women's lives. Through no fault of their own, people are becoming silent victims because of the Morrison government's mismanagement of the COVID response. It took the Labor Party to drag this government to finally introduce a bill this week to fix a glaring issue that has potentially denied many women parental leave during months of COVID.

Why did it take months and persistent prompting from Labor to get the Morrison government to fix this problem? I can tell you. It's because the Morrison government does not have a pandemic plan. It has lurched from one disaster to another in this pandemic, scrambling to keep up, and besides, parental leave is primarily a women's issue. Women just aren't a priority for the Morrison government. Just take the Respect@Work bill being pushed through today. This government is refusing to adopt all 55 recommendations of the Respect@Work review. Labor in government would implement every single one and give women the safety and respect they deserve as we pull out of COVID-19.

I'll tell you what is a priority for the Morrison government: looking after big business at the expense of hardworking families. For example, in my electorate the Morrison government continues to hound a hardworking single-mother of four, while it fails to chase big business for potentially billions of dollars of JobKeeper payments that many of them didn't even need. The Morrison government was forced to drop a claim against this single-mum when its robodebt system was declared illegal, yet the government switched tack only weeks later to relentlessly pursue this hardworking mum over well-deserved childcare support. She's forced yet again to fight the might of big government to defend her right to payments she's entitled to receive in order to support her job and income and support her kids. This single-mum has a question for the Prime Minister and his Treasurer: 'Why are you relentlessly chasing down hardworking Australians but failing to demand big businesses pay back the millions of dollars in profits they have made from JobKeeper?' It's a good question, but sadly, it's fallen on deaf ears. 'Nothing to see here,' says the Treasurer, 'It's up to big business to decide if they will give back their mega windfalls.' For many, many Australians, including hardworking families across my electorate, this is yet another example of the Morrison government having one rule for the big and the rich and another for hardworking battlers in all our communities.

The Morrison government's double standards are on full display in many sectors. This week in my electorate we learnt that hundreds of Deakin University workers could soon lose their jobs as a result of the Morrison government's neglect. The Prime Minister has failed our higher education sector. Staff at Deakin have not been supported. There has been no JobKeeper for them. The government's failure to establish purpose-built quarantine facilities was effectively a double whammy. Without those facilities, there has been absolutely no chance of revenue from overseas students flowing to universities. Billions of dollars were squandered by the Morrison government on JobKeeper, yet our university sector, one of our nation's biggest export earners, continues to be snubbed by this government.

We are now seeing the harsh impacts of the Morrison government's failures, which are putting people's health, businesses and lives at risk. They have failed to deliver purpose-built quarantine facilities and an effective vaccine rollout of the vaccines. They are trashing universities across the nation. They are treating women as second-class citizens and turning a blind eye to the inequities of JobKeeper. They're turning their backs on many in the tourism and arts sectors. The Morrison government has failed on so many levels. There's a lack of coherency, a lack of vision, a lack of clear leadership, a lack of compassion, a failure to respect women. COVID has starkly exposed the flaws in the Morrison government. It's demonstrating to the nation that the Morrison government is a government without a plan, a government scrambling to stay afloat.


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