Parliamentary speeches

The Morrison Government and Car Park Rorts

August 24, 2021

The minister spoke of desperation, and that was 10 minutes of pure undiluted desperation. He set a test at the end, but it's a test that he and the government of which he is a part failed. We on this side of the House are resolute in our commitment to putting in place a national anticorruption commission. If he had any bona fides, if his Prime Minister had any, he would join us and subject himself to that standard instead of walking away in a very generous and appropriate homage to the Prime Minister, who likes to walk away from any questioning.

Of course you'd be aware that three years ago today the member for Cook, the Prime Minister, having said just before that he had no leadership ambitions, became this country's leader. To be fair to him—and Malcolm Turnbull may rankle a little bit at this—he has been true to his word. He has demonstrated no leadership ambitions, none whatsoever, and this MPI really draws that out. We see a government that can't tell the difference between its political interest and Australia's national interest, nor, fundamentally, despite what Mr Perfectly Sensible seems to suggest, between LNP slush funds and public money that should be accountable to the public through this parliament.

This has been a hallmark of the government, because, actually, they aren't terribly interested in governing. We see that day in, day out, and this really reflects the leader of the government, because he hasn't got interest in government. He shows us that day in, day out at this dispatch box and in all his public utterances, where his first inclination is to avoid, his second is to blame and his third is to pass the buck, time and time again. When it comes to the work of government, there's no interest in public administration. In fact, as the minister demonstrated earlier, there's not even a pretence of interest. I will say this to the minister: he obviously fancies himself as a university debater, and he should go back to that if he enjoys it so much, because he is bringing very little to this chamber and less to his role. But what the Prime Minister is bringing to his role is politicising everything in the cheapest possible way. He will govern by spreadsheet, not by deliberative process. He's up to his neck in the car park rorts scandal. He was up to his neck in the sports rorts scandal, because this is how he sees government: it's all about naked political interest, not about the national interest. And Australians are on to him.

The member for Ballarat went through a litany of scandal which only scratched the surface of the dismal record of this government, a dismal record betraying the trust and confidence of the Australian people. How telling it was that the minister before, the university debater, could simply, head down, read out the Auditor-General reports from the past and mischaracterise positions in the future. What a nonsense that was to suggest that being in favour of commuter car parks or, indeed, infrastructure more broadly is the same as being up for the sorts of rorts that have been so brutally exposed by the Auditor-General, that have been so brutally condemned by the Auditor-General's report and for which this government must be made accountable. We are talking about $660 million of public money invested not on the basis of evidence and need. Interestingly, the minister walked away from his previous suggestions that that was the basis. If you look at any of the reports he referred to, his arguments fall away, because the evidence is simply not there.

I have some sympathy for the minister, because none of this was his doing. We know this was the business of the now minister for education, the member for Aston, and, indeed, the Prime Minister, who was also involved with the member of Aston with these secret spreadsheets, the spreadsheets that are apparently cabinet documents even though the cabinet minister then responsible claims he never saw them. What a joke that is. It's another example of how contemptuous this government is for the very concept of public administration, the very concept of good governance. Once again we see they're unable to come to the dispatch box and account for their actions because they are true to the Prime Minister—the first reaction, to blame; the second, to deflect; the third, to simply deny that there's a problem here at all. But there is a problem here. It's a problem that will only be solved by changing the government and putting in place a national anticorruption commission.