Thursday, 10 December 2020
Social Services and Other Legislation Amendment (Extension of Coronavirus Support) Bill 2020
I wish as a matter of courtesy to inform the house that we are still awaiting a message from the other place that needs to be dealt with by the Senate. I believe that the matter that is the subject of the message has been dealt with in the other place, and hopefully will arrive in this place very soon. I thank the Senate for its indulgence.
I thank the Senate. What has just been indicated to us, fellow senators, is the pettiness of the Prime Minister, who is demanding this Senate stay for an amendment that was indicated very clearly as acceptable to the government. That is what he is saying. I want every coalition senator and every member of the crossbench to understand that we are waiting because the Prime Minister doesn't want to have a loss. That's what this is about. The amendment that was moved, which the minister indicated was acceptable, is an amendment which simply enables the situation which currently exists to continue, which is to enable the minister to have a discretion to continue paying the coronavirus supplement. But this Prime Minister is so determined to take from those who have so little that he doesn't even want her to have the discretion. The amendment itself doesn't require the supplement to be paid. It simply continues the power that the minister currently has. A sensible government, a competent government, a government who didn't want to blame others but actually wanted to deliver for Australians, would say: 'Okay, we lost that. But you know what? That's okay, because we don't have to do anything. It makes no practical difference.' To be fair to the minister, I accept that she gave me that indication in good faith, because she is right: it is acceptable. But, you know, the bloke over there—
Sorry. The man who's supposed to be the Prime Minister of the country and care about the nation doesn't want a loss. So we all have to stay because he doesn't want a loss on a power which this minister already has. We will debate this when this comes back, but I just want to be clear: at a time when Australians have had the year that we have had, when working Australians and those who have lost their jobs have had the hardest year one can imagine, where this parliament has, at times, come together to support Australians in this pandemic, the pettiness of this Prime Minister is on display as we lead into Christmas.