Wednesday, 17 June 2020
Matters of Public Importance
I thought this MPI was going to focus on the failure to deliver for Australians during coronavirus. That's what Senator Ayres was focused on for most of his contribution, but you could tell he ran out of steam because he didn't have much more to say by the end and started talking about energy policy and all these other things that we have disagreements on.
It is a shame that the Australian Labor Party can't bring themselves to share a bit of the pride that I think most Australians feel in how the country has responded over the past few months. It's been a challenging time for our nation. It's been more challenging for some than others. One thing I think we as a nation can take heart from is that, overall, we have responded in a united, committed, determined way to tackle this virus and to support each other through it. That cooperation, that determination, has been led by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison. He's led that commitment and he's been supported by other governments around the country. I'm happy to say he's been supported by governments of the other side of politics, of the Labor Party, and by Liberal-National governments across the country, who have come together to cooperate in support to do the right thing by our country.
What I'm most proud of, though, is how the Australian people have come together to fight this virus and have overall complied with the onerous restrictions placed on their livelihoods. In good humour, and with steely determination, they have sought to respond and adjust to the changing economic circumstances facing them. I'm astounded by the resilience of so many small-business people in this country who have had their livelihoods turned upside down but have dusted themselves off, gone on with what they could do and made the best of what has been a pretty hard road for some. That's what I'm proud of. It's a shame that the opposition can't bring themselves to express even one iota of that pride in that shared achievement of this country.
By any measure, this nation has responded as well as, if not better than, almost any country in the world to this threat. We have stayed largely united. We have complied with the restrictions and we have done what we needed to do to protect the safety of others, and we are supporting each other in the fallout from what we've had to do and also in the rebuilding effort that is to come. That is something I think we should take pride in.
That's not to say that every decision governments around the country have made has been precisely perfect. But, overall, we have made sure that we have responded in a way that has protected Australians' health, that we have supported those who have needed assistance and that we are now also focused on rebuilding and creating jobs as we recover from what's happened in the last few months. I think our Liberal-National government has been particularly responsive and has made sure that it's parked any ideological commitments, or ones we may have previously made, and done what is right.
The problem here is that the Australian Labor Party haven't quite caught up with the program. They still think that somehow the caricature they present of the Liberal National government is true, that somehow we're evil mean-spirited people who only want to deliver budget surpluses because we like to be evil and mean spirited. No. We deliver those surpluses because they're important, to protect the future generations of Australia. But when other priorities come along—as they have, here, in the last few months—we adjust, because the end objective is to deliver for Australians. And that is what we have done.
We must, though, at some stage, return to the important point that we cannot keep spending forever. We have to be mindful of the debt that has been racked up, because all of the spending, all of the assistance we've provided in the last few months, has been borrowed money. We've had to borrow a lot of it from overseas, to support Australians. It's the right thing to do right now, but it has to be repaid. It is not our money, down here. It is the Australian people's debt that will be repaid, from themselves and their children and grandchildren, and we will commit ourselves to the prudent application of funds to support Australians, to get us through this crisis and rebuild our nation.