House debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Statements by Members


1:46 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Early in the pandemic we saw harrowing footage of the CCP ruthlessly enforcing lockdown measures. At the time you could have been forgiven for shrugging and thinking, 'Only in communist China.' How wrong you could have been.

Australia has gone to insane lengths to halt a disease with an infection fatality rate of 0.27 per cent. We've had the military patrolling the streets to enforce lockdown orders; mask mandates and travel limits; a three-year-old toddler denied a border exemption to be with his parents; dogs executed to prevent rescue volunteers travelling outside their designated five-kilometre radius; an elderly man arrested by police who didn't believe he was exempt from wearing a mask due to a heart condition, causing him to collapse of a heart attack; lockdown protesters fired upon with tear gas and pepper-ball bullets; a man in Alice Springs tackled to the ground and fined $5,000 for drinking a coffee without having a mask on; $11,000 fines issued for crossing a road into a different local government area in New South Wales; babies left to die because they can't cross state borders for the treatment they need; families forced to celebrate birthdays across the Queensland-New South Wales border barricade; anti-lockdown campaigner Monica Smit locked up for a political activity. I could go on for hours.

It's time that we took off the COVID blinkers and looked at what has happened to our once great and free country. Australia might not be communist China, but, I've got to tell you, it's a hell of a lot closer than it was just two years ago.

1:47 pm

Photo of Anne StanleyAnne Stanley (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I find this government's handling of the COVID-19 pandemic astonishing. This week the government has put forward legislation to ensure that the minister for health can secure further vaccines without waiting for an allocation by appropriation, which can take up to six months. Eighteen months into the pandemic and 12 months since it was clear that vaccines would be available soon, to me it beggars belief that this government is so slow.

The endless New South Wales lockdown is also due to a slow government. The lockdown has cost billions of dollars a week and thousands of small businesses their livelihoods. Just imagine what a government could do with that money flowing through its economy. Instead, there is personal cost, and lives are damaged or lost. The Prime Minister may crow about 30,000 lives that weren't lost, but what about those that are gone too soon because of the government's inaction? These people have families who mourn. What about the toll on mental and physical health? And now cancer screenings are being put off. How many will lose their lives because they couldn't have the medical treatment they needed as our hospitals are more and more overwhelmed? Government is about responsibility and leadership. It is time we had a government and a prime minister willing to follow through with that.