House debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Questions without Notice

Prime Minister

3:00 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister's failure on aged care is costing lives. His failure on the economy is costing jobs. When will the Prime Minister take responsibility for the consequences of his actions?

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

Once again, I take every responsibility for my tasks and for what I swore an oath to uphold every single day that I walk into this building, into my office or in any part of this great country. That's what I do every single day. I know the responsibilities that we have, which is why we have acted—whether it's on JobKeeper, on JobSeeker, on the work we've done on skills, on the support we've put into our health system to protect Australians from this virus and to work together with other parts of this country, particularly state and territory governments. And I'll continue to do that.

But I won't say to the Australian people that our country is immune from the global pandemic, and I won't say that we are immune from the global pandemic recession. This is having a terrible impact on this country. Each and every day we will work to ensure that we mitigate that impact as much as we possibly can. And, whether it's on the health side or it's on the economic side, it would be unfair of the Leader of the Opposition not to acknowledge that Australia is faring better than almost every other developed country in the world on these measures and the impact of this virus in Australia.

It may not be convenient for the Leader of the Opposition that I point to that fact. He might be unaware of the global pandemic that has hit this country and has hit every other country—and there's a reason for that. I go back to February of this year. On 27 February this year, I stood up in the Prime Minister's courtyard and I made this announcement:

… based on the expert medical advice we've received, there is every indication that the world will soon enter a pandemic phase of the coronavirus and as a result, we have agreed today and initiated the implementation of the Coronavirus Emergency Response Plan.

I said:

… while the WHO is yet to declare the nature of the coronavirus and it's moved towards a pandemic phase, we believe that the risk of a global pandemic is very much upon us …

In this chamber, at almost that exact time, the Leader of the Opposition accused me of standing up to make such a statement as trying to distract from the issues of the day. He didn't understand the pandemic then; he doesn't understand it now. He got up at the Press Club the other day and gave us a plan for February—in August! This Leader of the Opposition got up at the Press Club the other day, he talked about what his plan was for the government to do in February and he announced it in August. I'm not going to go into a time tunnel to find out what we should be doing today. He'll probably tell me next March! This Leader of the Opposition does not grasp this crisis. That's why he can't be trusted. (Time expired)