Senate debates

Monday, 21 June 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

Morrison Government

3:01 pm

Photo of Murray WattMurray Watt (Queensland, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Northern Australia) Share this | Hansard source

I move:

That the Senate take note of the answers given by the Minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (Senator Reynolds) and the Minister for Finance (Senator Birmingham) to the questions asked by Senator Green and Senator Keneally.

I, more than anyone in this chamber, knows how good a place regional Queensland is. I spend an awful lot of time there. I have many family members there and, even just over the last five years, I have seen the fantastic industries, the fantastic people and the fantastic natural environment of regional Queensland. But, for all of that benefit, regional Queensland also has significant challenges. It needs more jobs, it needs more job security, it needs a government that once and for all will tackle the scourge of casualisation and labour hire that is endemic across regional Queensland, it needs reef infrastructure and it needs health services.

If there was any political party represented in this place that would be more concerned about those issues and what regional Queensland really needs, you would think it would be the National Party. You would think it would be the party that holds itself out as being the voice of farmers, the voice of regional communities and the voice and the advocate for all of those kinds of issues I have just talked about. But what we've seen over the last few days, particularly today, is the worst rerun of a television program you can ever imagine. That's right; we had yet another Nationals leadership squabble. I've lost count of how many leadership squabbles there have been in the National Party, even in the five years I've been here.

We in Labor were reflecting before that we have had Abbott-Truss, Turnbull-Truss, Turnbull-McCormack—or was there someone in between?—and Morrison-McCormack. Now we are back to Morrison-Joyce. There are probably combinations there I can't remember, because there have been so many changes in the Nationals. There have been so many changes in the Nationals, because they are so obsessed with fighting themselves rather than doing anything about any of those issues I just listed, which are of real concern to people in regional Queensland. Where is the National Party when we need more jobs in Central Queensland or anywhere across Queensland? Where are the Nationals when we need something actually done about casualisation and labour hire in the mining industry? You can't count on the Nationals to be there; they're too busy dressing up for their next leadership challenge. That's what the Nationals are spending their time on. The Nationals have just become a bunch of babies, a bunch of children, squabbling over a toy. It's like Barnaby has one hand on that toy, saying, 'I want it. I want it,' then you have Michael McCormack, saying, 'I want it, I want it'. You have Matt Canavan in between trying to pull one leg out. You have Bridget McKenzie pulling another off.


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