Senate debates

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

COVID-19: Western Australia, COVID-19: Vaccination

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

That's right—cave people.

Honourable senators interjecting—

'It's an analogy,' they said. Yes, it is an analogy. It is an analogy for a lack of evolution and living in a cave. It's time this Prime Minister remembered that he governs for the entire country and not just for New South Wales. The people of WA don't believe we have a Prime Minister who governs for Western Australia. This Prime Minister wants to differentiate himself as a champion for freedom in these difficult political times that he has no doubt very clearly created for himself. Well, there is no freedom when you live in fear of COVID—in fear of shortages of hospital beds, in fear of getting sick and in fear of bringing disease home to your family. This bloke has no idea. What we've had from him for the last three years is nothing but blame shifting over and over again. He blames Western Australia because we won't open up. He blames the states for leaks in quarantine—quarantine that this government is constitutionally responsible for.

He said that the Doherty institute says that 80 per cent means we can open up. Well, I'm sorry, but that is not what the Doherty institute modelling says. He has blamed the states for the vaccine rollout, when the states had no supply—the Premier said so yesterday. Besides, our Prime Minister said it's not a race anyway. Now our Prime Minister has the gall to whack Western Australians and tell us to get out of our cave.

We know that Scott Morrison hasn't supported lockdowns in Western Australia. We know he tried to gang up with Clive Palmer to tear down our border restrictions. This Prime Minister may not like it and this government may not like it. You may choose to sneer at Western Australia, but Western Australia's COVID strategy has worked. We don't want to be like New South Wales. We in Western Australia have a truckload of freedom right now, a lot more freedom than other parts of the country. Short, sharp lockdowns have worked for us. Locking COVID out of the state has worked for us. Keeping the state working hard with exports has worked for us, and it has certainly worked for the country. We are the freest in the country, perhaps the freest in the world.

Australia is a lot bigger than New South Wales, and it's time that Scott Morrison, our Prime Minister, realised that. Western Australia is a very different place. We don't have the spread of the coronavirus. We are the most successful economy and community in Australia. We are providing the export revenue and tax revenue that is supporting the rest of the country.

Western Australia is right to continue to be cautious. The national plan does allow WA to keep COVID out, including by managing the border. Mark McGowan insisted on this when the plan was agreed. The real issue isn't what's happening in Western Australia right now or what will be happening in Western Australia in a few months time; the real issue is what's happening in New South Wales. This Prime Minister is trying to deflect attention from the messes of his own making.

We know that we will need to remain vigilant in relation to COVID. Areas right around the world reliant on mining have been taken down by COVID and lost production, whereas Western Australia has not. It might surprise our Prime Minister to know that WA industries staying open is the only reason the government can afford to offer financial assistance to other states that need it. Right now WA is one of the safest places, if not the safest place, in the world. If that's a cave, I'm going to stick in it.


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