House debates

Thursday, 17 February 2022

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Aged Care

2:32 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. At the heart of the bushfire crisis, Gladys Berejiklian said the Prime Minister was 'more concerned with politics than people'. More than 700 people have died of COVID in aged care this year, but the Prime Minister has seemed, this past fortnight, focused on a desperate, untrue scare campaign. Wasn't Gladys Berejiklian right? Why won't the Prime Minister just do his job?

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

The premise of the question put forward by the deputy leader of the Labor Party is false. The premise is false. But I'm asked about the job of the Prime Minister. I'm asked about that job on a day when we can say that youth unemployment in this country is at nine per cent. That's my job—keeping Australians in jobs. Under this government and our economic policies, more than a million women are in work today that weren't in work under the Labor Party. Youth unemployment is at one of the lowest levels we've seen for more than a decade. Women's unemployment is at four per cent. You've got to go back to the seventies when they started doing records on those issues to see that number. That's my job—to get Australians into work, to ensure they have the hope of a stronger future because they're living in a strong economy that's getting stronger as we come out of this pandemic.

It's my job to keep Australians safe. It's my job to ensure that we continue to fund our Defence Force and that we put the laws in place that will support our intelligence agencies to keep Australians safe. It's my job to stand up for the liberal democratic values that a country like Australia has always stood up for. If there's any country out there, including in our region, who thinks they can bully and coerce Australia, they won't find a preferred candidate in this Prime Minister. They might find one on the other side, and they certainly seem to have picked one. But they won't find one in this Prime Minister, because our government have stood up for Australian values. We have stood up to the bullies. We have stood up to those who would seek to coerce.

That includes an agreement we formed with the United Kingdom and the United States. I had the great pleasure of speaking to Prime Minister Johnson this morning to ensure we are keeping the pedal down on proceeding with our AUKUS agreement, which is so important. Last Friday I sat with the Quad members. This government has re-energised working with the governments of India, Japan and the United States. We have concluded the defence agreement, the reciprocal access agreement, with Japan. These are the jobs of a Prime Minister. You cannot be a weak reed if you want to do that sort of a job.

Strength in this job is what this job is all about. The leader of the Labor Party likes to think he's a small target. That's his plan. All he is is small, and he's diminishing by the day. He is diminishing by the day. He comes in here and he tables essays from 1981—

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Prime Minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Photo of Mr Tony BurkeMr Tony Burke (Watson, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for the Arts) Share this | | Hansard source

On a point of order: you made a ruling, under standing order 90—I think it was at the beginning of this week—which the comments just then from the Prime Minister directly flouted.

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm not going to ask anyone to repeat it, but—

Do you want to repeat it?

Look, if it's what I thought I heard over the noise, the Practice does talk about the political sensitivities of members in this House. If it was what I thought it was, I think there's a big difference between what I've previously picked the Treasurer up on and what was just said. I'll let it go through, but I'll listen very carefully to the Prime Minister. But it doesn't help, once again, when the noise is so loud. The Prime Minister has the call.

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

Thank you, Mr Speaker. This job is all about strength. This job is all about strength, and this is a very weak leader of the Labor Party.