03 June 2021

The coalition government has rightly been labelled one of announcements and no delivery. It thrives on spin and PR. Unconcerned with the consequences of incompetence, they appear to thrive on cruelty and neglect. After eight years of cutting services and wages, they have no plan for the future. The recent budget, like the last, is a missed opportunity—$100 billion in spending and a record $1 trillion in debt. There is no plan to help struggling families and small business tackle the jobs crisis or build for the future. With no plan, I fear this will leave us well behind our global peers over the coming decades, with Australia on the edge of the global stage and our younger generation worse off.

This government has mishandled JobKeeper, aged care, the NDIS, national quarantine and the vaccine rollout. Fifteen to 20 billion dollars of JobKeeper money intended to go to struggling businesses became corporate welfare. JobKeeper was supposed to support those who were suffering. It was never meant to go to the profits of those who were rising, in stark contrast to the way this government hounded our most vulnerable with incorrect and illegal robodebt.

While the government has done a great job handing out corporate welfare, it failed in the two most important jobs it had during the pandemic: vaccinating the population and ensuring safe quarantine. The Prime Minister claimed the vaccine rollout isn't a race. Well, if it wasn't a race, why did he boast about being at the front of the queue? But we're not even in the top 100 countries in total vaccinations. The Prime Minister failed to secure enough vaccines for us. There was no planning for the complications or delivery issues. The Prime Minister promised that four million people would be vaccinated by the end of March. That didn't happen.

These failures have real consequences for Australians, especially our most vulnerable. We've heard horror stories and we've seen the reports. The aged-care sector has been neglected, leaving private companies to profit from our elderly and vulnerable. The government was given warning after warning—22 reports, in fact. These are the words of researcher Sarah Russell regarding the vaccinations in aged care:

Despite these vacuous announcements, the vaccination rollout has been an unmitigated disaster … about 30% of aged care homes have not received their second dose.

Finally, today in question time we learned how many aged care workers had been vaccinated. But I'm concerned, because, if you didn't know the numbers until today, how can you plan and ensure that both the workers and the people who are in aged care are safe? The one fail-safe, requiring workers to work in only one facility, was removed, only being reinstated last Friday.

It's the same story for those with a disability and those working in the disability sector. People with disabilities seem to have no priority in this vaccine rollout. But it doesn't end there. The NDIS has been undermined and mismanaged under successive coalition governments, with self-confessed cost-cutting leaving some of our most vulnerable Australians without the support they need.

The failure continues on quarantine. Quarantine is a Commonwealth responsibility. Australians should have a national quarantine system, and it should have been implemented last year. If that had happened, Victoria would not be in lockdown now. Instead, the federal government has left the responsibility to the states, with no guidance—only liability and contempt—while tens of thousands of our citizens have been abandoned overseas. The stories from places like India are heartbreaking. Australians are living in constant fear of contracting COVID-19 in nations overwhelmed and with collapsing health systems. We've already had needless deaths of Australians stuck in India.

Australians need good government. It changes lives and it makes all the difference. It opens the doors to education, employment, housing, proper health care and a better life. Unlike this government, Labor has a plan: building affordable housing, protecting workers, investing in skills and apprenticeships and helping young Australians. To say I'm disappointed in our current government is an understatement. I know I'm part of the opposition party and anything I say will give the impression that I'm happy they are failing. But that is far from the truth. I am not. As an Australian I want my government to be better and govern for every single one of us. I want a government that is on our side.