Senate debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021



10:19 am

Photo of Jess WalshJess Walsh (Victoria, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Seriously, what a complete disgrace the Morrison government is, sowing distrust in our country today and sowing division in our country today. In challenging times, when so much has been asked of Australians to get through this crisis, at a time when so many Australians have pulled together and done the right thing to keep this community safe, what we actually need is real leadership. At times like this, what we actually need is real leadership from our national government. We need clear leadership. We need unequivocal leadership. Instead, what we have is Prime Minister Morrison and his doublespeak. We have today a Prime Minister who is actively sowing distrust. We have a Prime Minister who is actively fomenting division in our country today. We have a Prime Minister who is flirting with the violent protesters in Melbourne. Our own Prime Minister today is giving comfort to protesters who are threatening violence to our political leaders in Victoria, in Melbourne, and he is doing that with his doublespeak. He speaks out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. Out of one side of his mouth he condemns the violent protesters. From the other side of his mouth he uses their very words and projects them onto the national stage, giving those violent protesters comfort. He is telling everyone what they are saying—that it's time for government to get out of people's lives. He is using the words of the protesters themselves. He is sympathising with their frustration, sympathising with them that over the last couple of years governments have gone too far in telling Australians what to do. He's using their words, projecting them onto the national stage, as the Prime Minister of this country. What a complete disgrace!

Let's talk about exactly what is going on in Victoria today, because it is real. What is going on in Victoria today is affecting real people. It is affecting our political leaders. It is also affecting our essential workers, because these protesters are the people who, during the pandemic, went to health clinics, went to the nurses who were vaccinating people, vaccinating homeless people in Melbourne, and spat on them. They spat on them for doing their job of vaccinating people to keep them safe. These were nurses in Melbourne's CBD. What a complete disgrace! These protesters have now gone the next step. They have stood out the front of our parliament in Victoria with gallows. They've stood out the front of our parliament in Victoria with fake nooses, chanting: 'Hang Dan Andrews! Hang Dan Andrews!' Premier Dan Andrews and Premier McGowan have both received death threats. The families of parliamentarians have been targeted.

This is not our way. The Australian Prime Minister, our elected leader—the holder of the highest office in our land—must be clear and must be unequivocal. He must give no comfort to this form of political violence. But he has not been clear. He has flirted with these protesters. He has given comfort to these protesters.

This cannot be how you win a political debate in Australia today. There are no grey lines here. There is no room for speaking out of both sides of your mouth. The Prime Minister needs to lead from the front and from the top of this country. He needs to condemn these violent protesters unequivocally and without reservation. This is wrong. It must be condemned, and it must be condemned clearly and unequivocally, by the Prime Minister. All of this—all of the distrust, division and chaos—is happening at a time when Australians are overwhelmingly doing the right thing, when Australians have stood together and protected each other, when they deserve a brighter future and a better Prime Minister.


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