Federal Parliament - Matters of Public Importance [1 September 2021]

01 September 2021


Dr ALY[by video link] I'm just astounded that this minister stood up and basically told the member for Eden-Monaro and all her constituents to 'get over it, the fires were 18 months ago'. It is incredibly insensitive of the minister to stand up and say that in response to the member for Eden-Monaro raising, very rightly and very sensitively, the concerns of her constituents.

On the matter before us, the member for Whitlam's matter of public importance on the economy, when I was a researcher and a professor, I used to tell my students three things about research. I used to say to them: always look at the source of the research and the claims that are being made, always look at the methods that were used to collect the information and always look at the interpretation of those results. Now, there's an old saying—that, quite honestly, I'm just about to make up—that goes 'you can take the girl out of the research, but you can't take the research out of the girl'. One wouldn't, for example, take on face value any health advice offered by the member for Dawson. Now, in question time today, the Prime Minister continued to spin the claim that the policies of the Morrison government put one million people back into work. He has also made the claim that the so-called coronavirus recession is 30 times more dire than the GFC. In response to that claim, Professor John Quiggin at the University of Queensland's School of Economics said, '30 times is nonsensical and an illogical calculation.' Professor Jakob Madsen from the University of Western Australia said:

… the Prime Minister's comparison was "amateurish" and "ludicrous" and demonstrated the inherent danger in measuring changes from rates of figures close to zero.

Again, look at the source, look at the methodology and look at the interpretation of results.

It's a fairly lofty claim for the Prime Minister to make, to say that his government has put one million people back into work. It's actually marketing spin, if we're honest. If you can trust Prime Minister Scott Morrison to deliver anything more than just big announcements and smoke and mirrors, then you really need to look at the source of the information and the source of the claims made. The fact is that the employment which has been available since the start of COVID has not been spread evenly. In fact, most of that employment—most new jobs—have been created in two states: Western Australia and Queensland. Well, hello! Those two states, particularly Western Australia—and I feel very blessed to be coming to you from Western Australia—have been kept safe because of the actions of their premiers in shutting down with short, sharp lockdowns that have not only protected the health of Western Australians and Queenslanders but have protected the health of the Queensland and Western Australian economies.

The Prime Minister said, 'Ultimately, everything is a state matter.' But it appears to me that he only wants to make it the responsibility of the states when something goes wrong. But when something goes right—when employment and jobs are created—it's due to the federal government; it's due to his policies! There's no credit to the states when things go right. But the absolute fact is that in COVID-ravaged states, which are COVID-ravaged because of the abject failure of this Prime Minister on quarantine and vaccines, the employment rate has declined, whereas in states where the premiers have taken resolute actions against COVID, often in defiance of the Prime Minister's attempts to open borders—siding with Clive Palmer against Western Australia, for example—those states have done well.

But the health of the economy is not only measured by employment. As members on the Labor side noted, there are many more measurements of our economic growth that disprove the claims that this government makes. Remember the source, remember the methodology and remember to look at the analysis.