Senate debates

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Matters of Public Importance

Morrison Government

4:25 pm

Photo of Louise PrattLouise Pratt (WA, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Assistant Minister for Manufacturing) Share this | Hansard source

Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, is very focused on his advertising but not on execution and delivery, as the answers given in question time from all of those opposite refuse to acknowledge any of their mistakes or bungles—or 'misexecutions'. We saw that just this afternoon from Senator Colbeck, where he was lauding the seniors emergency food delivery as an example of where they were making the best-laid plans in case they were needed. Well, they were needed. I've spoken to many a pensioner who was grateful for home delivery from Coles or Woolies or who lined up outside the many food banks in our nation. One of the reasons they were lining up was they couldn't buy toilet paper because, when they went down to the shopping centre, there was none there. So don't try to tell me that pensioners didn't need that extra support during that time. You just didn't get around to rolling it out.

Let's have a look at some of the other examples. There was a massive underspend on JobKeeper. Billions of dollars that was supposed to keep people connected to their jobs hasn't been spent—and guess what? We have a rising and record level of unemployment. My office has been inundated with calls from people who've had trouble getting through to Centrelink to get the support that they need. This is off the back of an overstretched system that was forced to deliver this government's ridiculous and unfair robodebt. When Centrelink collapsed because the system was overloaded by the number of calls and applications, the government didn't acknowledge it was their fault; they said there had been a cyberattack—again, marketing and spin, 'nothing to see here'. But the devil is always in the execution, and this government is failing at every turn.

Let's look at robodebt. Since 2017, we've seen example after example of how unfair and unjust it was, and heard claims that it was illegal, but the government didn't listen. Instead, to prove to the government that it was illegal, they had to be taken to court. Yet what we do get from those opposite? During a motion to take note of answers this week, I heard Senator Stoker justify the use of robodebt, despite the fact that the Prime Minister had just apologised for its use. I think Senator Stoker said something along these lines—and she'll correct me and pull me into line later if I'm wrong: 'The government's got the right to retrieve debts that are owed. That's our responsibility to the taxpayer.' And of course that is the case. But the government could not prove that these debts were in fact owed at all, hence the illegality of the whole program. You're not supposed to send a debt collector out after someone, which is what this government did—you sent debt collectors out to chase people for their Centrelink debt—unless you can prove that a debt is actually owed, which you couldn't.

Let's look at the home renovation scheme promising to keep tradies in jobs—well, that's if you qualify. I don't know anyone who is planning to spend $150,000 on renovating their house and who can also meet the income limits. But, even if it does get things started, the scheme cuts out later this year. You've got to have your contract signed and start work, I think, by December.

But everything that this government is doing is going to be snapped back. It absolutely terrifies me that any good work that this government is doing with the stimulus that it's injecting into the economy might be completely undone because of its snapback agenda—snapbacks before the economy is ready. Your execution of these issues is absolutely dreadful.

I call on the government to really think about what you're doing. We need a properly executed plan for our nation in these times of need, and yet, day after day after day, all that is revealed is the terrible, terrible mess that you are making. It is time for this government to fess up to its mistakes instead of just relying, time and time again, on your marketing pitches—marketing pitches that have absolutely nothing to do with the truth for ordinary Australians, who are suffering the consequences.


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