Monday, 23 March 2020
Statement by the President
by leave—We applaud Senator Cormann's opening comments, and also Senator Keneally's opening comments. This is, as Senator Cormann said, a huge threat to our nation, to people's health, to our security, and to our economics. COVID-19, as Senator Cormann said, is moving so quickly and on so many fronts. Yet, Senator Cormann, when we went shopping yesterday to get some food in Canberra, I saw business as usual. People are not aware of what is happening—not aware of the threats of this. We need to work on that. One Nation will work with the government to serve the people. What we want to do is not just slow down the virus but shut it down, in order to save lives and minimise the economic impact. Saving jobs will require restoring the productive capacity of our country. As many people around the world have said, this is now a war, and we're on a war footing. That's why it's so important to have our productive capacity restored.
Italy has an excuse for the mess in which it finds itself—open borders and ignorance in dealing with a very new threat. South Korea made the same mistake initially but has rebounded remarkably, through rigorous testing, isolating key people and then getting back to normal. It's reported that it has had minimal disruptions. As Senator Cormann said, we need to heed the advice of the top medical people. I ask everyone in this chamber to look at the data and the facts around the world. We now have the data and facts that Italy and Korea initially didn't have. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and even mainland China are showing how to deal with this.
The third point I'd like to make is that history shows that some entities during such crises and challenging times take advantage of others. We in One Nation will make sure we protect our taxpayers and protect people's health. We will join with the government in doing that. We need though to remember to look to the future and to restore the productive capacity of our country after 20 years of neglect. We need to restore freedoms as soon as possible because economics depends on interaction of people. Once we cut that interaction there's minimal economic trading.
I ask everyone in Australia to cooperate with the government. We elected the government. Whether you voted for it or not, it is the government. We need to go beyond that to ensure the virus is stopped. Everyone in Australia has a role in stopping this virus.