Senate debates

Monday, 9 August 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Prime Minister

5:01 pm

Photo of Sue LinesSue Lines (WA, Deputy-President) Share this | Hansard source

Well, we have here today a prime minister who won't take responsibility for anything, whether it's bushfires, whether it's sports rorts, whether it's car park rorts or whether it's the COVID quarantine situation or the rollout of the vaccines. He just will not take responsibility for any of those matters which fit fairly and squarely at his feet.

With the car parks rorting, we know the spreadsheets were in his office on the eve of the election. It was Mr Morrison, our Prime Minister, who signed off on those commuter car parks—a fund, as part of the Urban Congestion Fund, that had $4.8 billion in it to be rorted across a handful of Liberal marginal electorates. Now, if that isn't rorting on a grand scale, on an industrial scale, I don't know what is—seriously. Yet they try to shift the blame. We saw the former minister run away from media questions last week and then not answer them following that, saying he'd already answered them, when all we saw was his back as he ran quickly away from the media, who were asking the decent questions.

We've now got to the point where the Australian public has no confidence at all in what Mr Morrison or indeed his government can deliver, or when something's truthful and when it isn't. That's the appalling situation we've now got to, because there are so many rorts going on. And if it isn't rorts, it's complete bungling of the vaccine—it's hardly a rollout; it's so slow. A young friend of mine in New South Wales, where apparently we're trying to maximise doses and we're moving them around New South Wales to year 12 students as I speak, was told he couldn't get AstraZeneca until October. He's in a lockdown area and has been in lockdown for weeks. Yet we're told by the Minister for Health Aged Care and by Senator Colbeck, who represents the health minister in the Senate, that actually millions of doses are being made in Australia each week. Well, why is it that my young friend in New South Wales was told he couldn't get a dose until October? And that was because he sat on the phone for two days, going to doctor's surgery after doctor's surgery after doctor's surgery. Thankfully he's now picked up a clinic that has a few spare doses, but no thanks to Mr Morrison and his vaccine—no thanks to Mr Morrison at all.

What did we see today in this place? Labor asked questions about what is happening in ICUs and, sadly, how many people have lost their lives this year. We had the minister in this place who represents the health minister completely unable to answer those questions. I don't know anyone else who fails to do their job like this. As a long-term union official, in my view, he should have got the sack a very long time ago. Yet Senator Colbeck just keeps surviving. What is going on? The Prime Minister needs to take responsibility for what we saw today from Senator Colbeck—that silence again. How the bloke isn't embarrassed as the clock ticks down and he hasn't got the answers is beyond my comprehension. He's got 'health' in his ministerial title. I would have thought it would be an honour to be a minister in this government and to do your job properly and to have the information at hand. But, no. And Mr Morrison refuses to take responsibility for that.

This car park rort is now on an industrial scale—seriously. We've had a lot of them ready for approval apparently, and yet only two have been delivered. What a disgrace. But of course we know that the Prime Minister's got form on saying one thing when actually something else is happening. He said, 'I don't hold a hose, mate,' during the bushfires, when he wasn't even here. His office completely misrepresented the truth when they refused to say to the Australian public that he was actually in Hawaii on holidays, putting his feet up, while Australia burned. We've seen the sports rorts affair, and now we've got the car park rort. Both of those, according to the Audit Office, land fairly and squarely at Mr Morrison's feet. And, yet, he still denies any responsibility.

Remember when Mr Morrison said all Australians stranded overseas would be home by Christmas? He didn't mean Christmas this year; he meant Christmas last year. And, yet, we've got thousands of Australians stranded overseas. We've got capacity at Howard Springs and yet the Prime Minister refuses to take responsibility for quarantine, which is absolutely his responsibility.

Who could forget when Mr Morrison told Australians, over and over again: 'Don't you worry. Australia's at the front of the queue when it comes to vaccines.' What did we find? We found we were at the absolute end. We were at the bottom of the queue. How long did Mr Morrison know that before he was forced to actually tell Australians the truth? How long did he know it? Weeks? Months? Did he always know that we were never at the front of the queue? Mr Morrison is never straight with the Australian people, and his inability to take responsibility for these mistakes and mistruths is, quite frankly, dangerous. It really is dangerous.

Going back to the car park rorts and the 20 marginal electorates, it's another day, another spreadsheet and another minister denying responsibility. This time it stops right at the feet of the Prime Minister. No matter how those on the other side try to spin this, the ANAO report makes it very clear that, if it wasn't Mr Tudge when he was the minister; it clearly was Mr Morrison. This is not the Labor Party saying this about it; this is actually the independent ANAO making these statements about where those car park rorts came from. He tries to shift the blame on that or just point-blank refuses to answer the questions.

What about all of those backflips we've seen? Just days before New South Wales went into lockdown, Mr Morrison was again out claiming the gold standard in New South Wales and saying, 'The Premier in New South Wales doesn't rush to lock down.' But when New South Wales went into lockdown—and what's happening there's an awful state of affairs; it's really shocking—suddenly the Prime Minister did a complete backflip and was in favour of lockdowns and thought lockdowns were the best thing.

What about when he took the Western Australian government to court, backing Clive Palmer over millions of Western Australians—and I was one of them—who were very happy to have our borders closed? Did we get to the truth of that? Finally—and it didn't come from Mr Morrison—it came from the Attorney-General in Western Australia, John Quigley. He belled the cat when he brought out the documents that actually showed it was Mr Porter, the member for Pearce, who was absolutely backing in Clive Palmer's decision to challenge our border closure, taking us to the High Court and wasting Western Australian taxpayers' money and time. Our borders quite clearly are our business.

Suddenly we saw that other backflip and heard the Prime Minister say, 'First I thought that we should challenge the border closures and then I changed my mind.' He should get the facts and tell the truth to the Australian people right at the start. That has certainly damaged Mr Porter, never mind what else has been going on. Backing Clive Palmer on our border closures has well and truly damaged Mr Porter in the federal seat of Pearce. On and on it goes. If Mr Morrison can't be honest then it's time he left. (Time expired)


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