Parliamentary speeches

We need the Morrison Government to take responsibility

June 01, 2021

Things are pretty tough in the northern suburbs of Melbourne right now, and I want to acknowledge the extraordinary efforts that my constituents are undertaking to support themselves, keep themselves safe and keep those around them safe. The Scullin electorate has been bearing the brunt of this latest outbreak, having also suffered terribly—particularly people in aged care—through previous outbreaks. Their efforts, as I say, have been extraordinary. But the people who send me here to represent them have been asked to do too much because they don't have a national government that's on their side. They know—and they're angry and I'm angry—that this is down to a fundamental failure to take responsibility when it comes to quarantine. It is a failure which has been on the books and on the heads of this government since October, when the Halton report was handed down, yet there's been no responsibility taken, no action, and people in Melbourne are dealing with this.

Of course, this has been compounded by the second great failure of the Morrison government, which is that, in terms of vaccination, each day there's a new evasion, a new deflection. Each day, people in Melbourne are dealing with the consequences of the failure of the Prime Minister to do his job and to keep his promises, a series of promises: 'first in the queue', 'four million by the end of March', 'everyone in aged-care facilities'. A series of promises have been broken, each with damaging, real-world consequences.

These are two failures which we have been talking about because they fundamentally go to our capacity to get through this, but there are additional failures that I want to touch upon on behalf of my constituents. One is an issue that people have been raising with me constantly in the past few days—that is, the failure to provide income support and support for small businesses through this incredibly challenging period. Perhaps the Treasurer, from Victoria but not for Victorians, could use the present tense when he talks about the support he's offering, because people—in particular, thousands of casual workers, so anxious, who just want to support their families and do the right thing to stay safe and keep those around them safe—deserve income support right now.

Lastly, we need a government that is prepared to take responsibility. Instead, we have a Prime Minister who's always looking for someone to hide behind, as we saw in question time today. Fundamentally, he's got to acknowledge that this is a race and we're only going to win it if he admits that and he takes responsibility in the national interest.