House debates

Tuesday, 16 February 2021

Constituency Statements

COVID-19: Prime Minister

4:20 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

[via video link] Australia has a Prime Minister who is all smirk, all shirk and no work. The pandemic has taught us many lessons. It has redefined what we think of as essential work. It has highlighted the need for secure jobs with leave entitlements to ensure the safety of all in a pandemic. It has demonstrated clearly that a JobSeeker payment of $40 a day is too low. And it has taught us how important it is that Australia has the capacity to make things and to refine things, to ensure our safety.

It has shown us too that at every turn the Prime Minister will shirk his responsibility. We've seen him handball his constitutional responsibilities for quarantine—this continues 12 months into a pandemic. He gave a hospital handball to the states and territories to support childcare workers, local government employees and university sector workers at the height of the pandemic. And he has neglected the arts and the hospitality industry. He ran straight past sole traders and left them holding the ball. We even read over the weekend that he handballed responsibility to be accountable and answer questions in the parliament. That's 200 handballs right here since his election to the prime ministership.

Not since the Western Bulldogs champion Scott West has someone used the skill of handballing so incessantly. And we've seen it more and more the longer the pandemic goes on. Remember how we were apparently at the front of the queue to get the vaccine? If only media conferences, sound bites, media releases and photo ops were actual injections! Everyone in the nation would have had a jab, but not one person has got it. And what happened when he was under pressure last week on this matter? In his typical marketing fashion, he went for a photo op at a vaccine manufacturer. He is all photo op and no follow-up.

It's funny, because last year I read that the Prime Minister said he enjoys jigsaw puzzles. I can imagine that. I'm betting that he's the sort of bloke who turns up at the end and puts in the last piece. 'There,' he would say, 'I did it!' There would be no mention of the 999 other bits of work that went before him. He's nowhere to be seen when people are doing the hard and unrewarding work of sorting through hundreds of different bits of sky. The real puzzle for me is: does the Prime Minister think we didn't notice? My community has noticed. The thousands of locals in my community who went onto JobSeeker due to the pandemic know that he's not on their side. Local sole traders know that this Prime Minister is not on their side. And local government employees know that he's not on their side.

It's clear that the Prime Minister and this Liberal government aren't on the side of the people who I represent in 'this place. But people in my community know that too. They know that only a Labor government will be on their side.