Federal Parliament - Matters of Public Importance [24 June 2021]

24 June 2021

Dr ALYCertainly everybody in this House will be familiar with the kind of stuff we do when we're campaigning, if you're continuously campaigning, where you go out and knock on doors or call the people that you represent and ask them what's important to them. You ask them whether it's jobs, whether it's education or whether it's health. I'm sure every member in this House—I don't know so much about the other place, but certainly here in this place—will know that when you sit down and you really talk to people, that's when you get those really rich answers about what's going on in people's lives. You have that wonderful opportunity to get to know the people you represent at more than just a superficial level, and see them as more than just a vote, as another human being, and you form a connection.

In my experience, when you do that, when you talk to people and really drill down into what it is that Australians want and need from their political leadership, it's security and certainty. It's security in the knowledge that they can send their children to school and that their kids can have a good education and have a good opportunity for a future. It's secure jobs where they earn a wage for a day's work. It's social welfare, to know that if bad times befall them they can rely on their government, if they so need it. It's security in their homes, security in their communities, and the certainty that all of that brings. They want to feel safe. They want to feel safe in their homes. They want to feel safe in their communities. And they want to feel safe from a global pandemic.

If I were to take the topic of today's MPI, which is 'the failure of the government to focus on the needs of Australians during a global pandemic', and frame it as an answer to a question—a very simple question, a question that asks whether this government has provided Australians with the security and certainty they need at a time when they need it most, in a global pandemic—the answer 'The government has failed on that' is the only conclusion you can come to. It cannot be said enough that this government had two primary jobs to see us through this pandemic. On quarantine, we know that every outbreak from hotel quarantine is a direct result of the Morrison-Joyce government's failure to deliver on their constitutional responsibility to ensure that Australia has Commonwealth quarantine facilities for the people who are coming in from overseas and for the people who are here who need to be quarantined. It is a failure on the part of this government to ensure that there are Commonwealth quarantine facilities. I hear this term 'medihotels' being thrown around. They are not medihotels; they are hotels. Hotels were not built to be hospitals. They were not built for patients, and they were certainly not built for quarantine. They were built for tourism. They are woefully inadequate to provide effective quarantine facilities, particularly for the new variants of COVID.

On the vaccine rollout, it's been nothing but chaos: no plan to combat misinformation and disinformation; no plan to have a vaccine supply that deals with the urgency of this issue; and no public information campaign. Why don't they have a public information campaign? As we heard today, it's because they couldn't guarantee supply. Why couldn't they guarantee supply? Because they were too busy crowing about being at the front of the line when we are way at the back of the line—we can't even see the front of the line.

There were two jobs. Has this government failed Australia in its time of need? Absolutely they have failed Australia in its time of need. If you don't believe me, go and talk to the people you represent.