Senate debates

Wednesday, 2 December 2020


Western Australian Liberal Party

7:32 pm

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

Tonight I rise to make some remarks about the Liberal Party in Western Australia—the state opposition—and the ongoing and significant risk they pose to the health and wellbeing of Western Australians. Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic in Western Australia so far, the Liberal opposition has, every step of the way, sought to undermine the efforts of the McGowan Labor government—no team spirit here, no putting the science or the epidemiology first. They've called again and again for the borders to be opened, siding not only with federal colleagues here but also with Clive Palmer in trying to use the courts to bring Western Australia's border down. This is the same Clive Palmer who made attempts to bankrupt Western Australia with a $30 billion damages claim. It's not really surprising that the Liberals are associated with this, given their history of reckless spending when they were in control of the Western Australian government's finances.

Liza Harvey, perhaps under pressure from her WA Liberal colleagues, repeatedly called for Western Australia's hard border to be scrapped. That hard border was there for no reason other than to keep Western Australian citizens safe through this global pandemic. We know that the border closure has had an effect on families, that it has been tough and that it has had an impact on jobs and livelihoods. But it was a lot less tough than losing loved ones to COVID-19 and a lot less tough than a pandemic with untold economic consequences, as we are seeing elsewhere around the world.

Finally, in Western Australia, it seems at last that the faceless men in the Liberal Party of WA have understood the mood in the room, they have understood the mood of the public and they have overthrown Liza Harvey. They have thrown out Liza Harvey, who, despite all her faults on policy and understanding the Western Australian sentiment and mood, was an experienced operator with real-life experience who had been in government before. So who did Nick Goiran and Peter Collier leave themselves as picks for the Western Australian Liberal Party leadership? On the one hand, we had an untested leader on training wheels or, on the other, an incompetent former minister who had displayed bad judgement again and again. WA Liberals wanted the borders down in the height of the pandemic, and the shadow health minister, who now is the leader of the Liberal Party in WA, was responsible for that policy. They have selected in the WA Liberal Party the very man who was the shadow health minister who endorsed the call for the borders to come down. So it doesn't really matter, I say to the chamber tonight, who the leader of the WA Liberal Party is: you can see from those backroom dynamics that the risk is the same.

Unfortunately, I have no trust that they won't continue to undermine the efforts of the McGowan Labor government, a McGowan Labor government that has kept the state safe and strong. Thanks to the considered and strong leadership of the McGowan government, WA has recorded this year the strongest growth of any state—that is, 1.4 per cent—and that is even despite the pandemic in the final quarter of that financial year. That's because of Labor's strong leadership in WA. We know that from Tuesday 8 December families will be able to be reunited with loved ones from all over the place, including Victoria and New South Wales. We are wishing those in South Australia all the best in getting the pandemic under control there so that we can welcome them to the state. We cannot risk another WA Liberal government. We want a strong and experienced premier that we can trust—Mark McGowan.