Senate debates

Monday, 9 August 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Prime Minister

5:16 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

I'm going to depart from what I was going to say just to remind the assistant to the Attorney that you should not come into this place and cast doubt as to the judgement of the High Court. I will read it to you just so you are fully aware. The court found, 'On their proper construction sections 56 and 67 of the Emergency Management Act 2005 WA, in the application to an emergency constituted by the occurrence of a hazard in the nature of a plague or an epidemic, complied with the constitutional limitations of section 92 of the Constitution in each of its limbs.' I think you, as the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, should properly uphold the ruling of the High Court.

Now I will go to the fact that—back on task—the Prime Minister has been, sadly, found wanting as a national leader in response to this particular pandemic. His record of disaster is clear. Notably his unforgivable dereliction of duty during the 2019-20 bushfires. And now his disastrous failures in the COVID-19 pandemic, especially with regard to international quarantine and vaccination rollout.

We did do well in the initial stages of the pandemic because he followed medical advice. But as time went on he couldn't help but play politics. He fuelled the fires of criticism against Victoria's tough lockdown last year, whilst disastrously neglecting the establishment of a purpose-built quarantine facility. The Prime Minister saw vaccine procurement and distribution as a political opportunity for himself and his government. But in doing so he fatally miscalculated the risk management, putting all of his eggs in one AstraZeneca basket. Our nation is now paying a heavy very price for that. At every turn the Prime Minister has gone to extreme lengths to conceal his government's COVID-19 decision-making, wrapped in cabinet secrecy, commercial-in-confidence clauses and even national security claims.

We saw the absurdity of national cabinet secrecy demolished last week by the Federal Court, but the Prime Minister has arrogantly declared he will continue on as before and that is most inappropriate. He's turned out to be one of the worst Australian Prime Ministers that we've had. When things go wrong it is always somebody else's fault. His avoidance of scrutiny is pathological. He never accepts responsibility. He's a dud. He's mean-spirited. He blame-shifts. He lacks empathy. He is responsible for much of the economic and social disaster that has befallen much of our country. I hope the Australian voters recall exactly what's happened throughout his reign.


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