Senate debates

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Matters of Public Importance

Prime Minister

3:48 pm

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

This is not the first time the Prime Minister's staff have been accused of backgrounding against Premier Berejiklian and many other people. They were seen to be backgrounding against the Premier during the horrific New South Wales bushfires some two years ago. I think this is utterly shameless. We even have a quote from one of Premier Berejiklian's loyalists saying:

Usually he briefs against her for doing her job with some measure of competence.

But then went on to say:

He doesn't like the contrast – he makes himself look big by trying to make others look small.

These are the actions of every awful male manager you have ever had: shirking responsibility, pushing the blame onto others and trying to steal the success of others who are just trying to competently do their own job.

I have to say that that awful relationship management is perhaps why Queensland Premier Palaszczuk decided to dump Morrison's failed hotel quarantine system and instead build dedicated cabin facilities. Queensland needed to go ahead and do it because the Prime Minister wouldn't take responsibility for it. They didn't go through Prime Minister Morrison, and I guess it may be the same for Premier Berejiklian.

If it all works then the Prime Minister will walk away with the glory—it's the PM's doing. If it fails, without a doubt our Prime Minister will always seek to blame someone else: the premiers of the states. This is completely unacceptable behaviour for a national leader. I have to say I can only assume that those senators opposite must feel a sense of shame in having to put up with this circus.

As for Western Australia, I can tell you right now that the Prime Minister is winning no friends in my home state. Alongside the outrageous 'cave people' comment from last week, we now have the Prime Minister undermining Premier McGowan. The Premier who has been doing his best to keep Australians safe and healthy is being undermined by a two-bit Prime Minister who is trying to deflect the blame. We are witnessing before our eyes the breakdown of the national cabinet system, and it is the Prime Minister's fault. He can't run from this one and he can't shift the blame. New South Wales thinks the Prime Minister is—I can't quote it, but we heard it in the news. Queensland is just getting on with the job without him, and WA is doing its utter best to keep Western Australians safe in the face of a Prime Minister who desperately wants to drag Western Australia into the COVID disaster gripping Australia.

It is a matter of grave public interest that this Prime Minister starts cooperating with the states and working in the interests of all Australians. This should mean no more backgrounding when the going gets tough, no more blaming and blame-shifting from the Prime Minister—from those in the top job and around him—no seeking glory when it is undeserved and no more undermining of premiers like Mark McGowan, who I'm proud to say has done a very good job keeping Western Australia one of the safest places in the world during this pandemic. I know that we all face risks and that it could happen to any state at any time, but I have to say that Western Australia has done more than most and certainly more than New South Wales to keep itself safe.


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