Wednesday, 13 May 2020
Statements by Members
The communities in Lalor and communities like them across Australia have responded in extraordinary fashion to the pandemic and what we've had to do to prevent our hospitals being swamped, our neighbours being struck down with COVID-19, and the loss of life we're seeing other countries endure. I want to thank every person in Lalor for the way that they have responded—for their adherence to the hygiene messaging, the stay-at-home restrictions and the social distancing for those still at work. I want to thank the local small businesses, who bravely took on the challenge of closing their doors or adapting and adjusting, who have taken on debt to pay JobKeeper and now wait to be paid back, and who spoke to me about their concern for their suppliers' businesses and their employees. I also want to thank the essential workers who have kept us going, who haven't had the privilege of working from home, like many of us here have. Thanks to everyone who has ridden the bumps and shown the leadership that we needed. Of course, it is not over yet—not the health risks nor the economic pain—so please keep washing your hands, everyone.
I know there are people doing it very tough at the moment in my community and across the country, with no sense of what the future will bring. They might be workers; they might be business owners. I know that many would be better supported by this government being more inclusive in the JobKeeper program. The Treasurer can do this. He can include our local dnata workers. He can include casuals who have worked in a business for less than 12 months. He can include business owners who have run a business for less than 12 months. He can include local government workers. He can keep them all connected to their employment, and he should.
Walking to this place for the first time in a while, on Monday, and thinking about all of those at home and across the country, I passed the monument to two of our greatest leaders, Curtin and Chifley. And, following so many comparisons of the current climate with Australia in the Second World War, I went to read Prime Minister Curtin's speech for re-election in 1943. At the time of the speech, the Allied forces had just begun pushing the enemy back from their strongholds on Australia's doorstep. The war was far from over, just like now, but signs were emerging that perhaps the tide had turned.
In Curtin's speech, 'Victory in war, victory for the peace', after he listed the achievements our nation had had in the battles and in the advancement of social security for Australians who had felt the pain, he warned that a lost peace 'would be marked by horrors of starvation, unemployment, misery and hardship no less grievous than the devastation of war'. And that was what the warning received on Monday from the Deloitte Access Economics report was telling us. It was telling us that the Prime Minister's snapback theory was flawed and would have dire consequences. As we continue to win the battle against coronavirus by flattening the curve, we must look towards softening the blow of its economic effects. Most importantly, do not raise the victory banners too soon. We need our economy to be stimulated beyond this virus to support every Australian and every Australian business.