Morrison fails Queensland and the nation in the pandemic

By Terri Butler MP, Member for Griffith, Shadow Minister for the Environment and Water

01 September 2021

Adjournment Speech

The Prime Minister had two jobs this year: a speedy, effective rollout of the vaccine, and quarantine.

He has botched both, and now Australians are paying the price.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister has been trying to strongarm the states to inflict his own inadequacies on them, even scornfully comparing Queenslanders and others to cavemen in a kids' cartoon.

If he is looking for cavemen or looking for someone to scold, he should look behind him instead at people like the member for Dawson.

Eighteen months into the pandemic, we are seeing the consequences of the Morrison government's failures.

They have not delivered effective national quarantine.

The vaccine rollout has been shambolic.

Mr Morrison, the Prime Minister, said that Australia was at the front of the queue, but when it became clear that we were at the back of the queue he changed his mind and said, 'This isn't a race.' He's wrong. This is a race.

And because of his failures we ended up with half the country in lockdown. Australians are paying the price for the Prime Minister's failures.

Not content with botching his own two jobs, the Prime Minister has also been seeking to inflict his inadequacies on state and territory leaders.

He pressured the New South Wales Premier to avoid lockdown, and now New South Wales is seeing the consequences. He and his ministers, including the Minister for Defence, have lectured and hectored the Queensland Premier.

Thank goodness she stood up to them and did not give into their attempts to undermine our state borders. He sided with the likes of Senator Pauline Hanson in demanding that Queensland open its borders.

He joined with Clive Palmer in taking Western Australia to the High Court, in an attempt to ram a hole in their state border.

And the Prime Minister has even compared Queenslanders and others to cavemen in the kids cartoon movie The Croods.

He thinks we need to come out from our cave. It's bizarre. The Betoota Advocate reported on these comments, with headlines like '"Funny looking cave", says Perth man enjoying a beer at the pub before a movie with mates', and 'Brisbane man pops out of his cave to hunt for some yum cha in a busy shopping precinct'.

I thought of these headlines at the weekend, when I attended a beautiful church service to commission the new priest in charge, Reverend Cooper, at St John's at Bulimba.

I thought about them, too, when I went to my son's under-9½'s footy game. And I certainly thought 'funny looking cave' when I was at BrewDog at Murarrie having some beers with my family to celebrate my mum's birthday.

The states have been following the health advice and doing their best to pick up the slack where the Morrison government has failed.

I'm thankful to live in a state where the Premier has resisted the Morrison government's attempts to badger and strongarm her to weaken the COVID response.

And I fervently hope that people in every state and territory will soon be able to be in churches and at kids sport and in pubs, while still being confident that their government is following health advice and standing firm against pressure to weaken the response. We're not in a cave. We're not in a cartoon. We're in a pandemic, and serious times call for serious leadership.

As I said, if the Prime Minister is looking for cavemen or for people to scold, he should look behind him. How about the member for Dawson, who has spread disinformation using this parliament?

In this parliament he has described quarantine as imprisonment.

He has claimed antilockdown protesters were taking a stand against tyranny.

He has demanded no more state border closures.

He has opposed QR codes and check-ins.

He has said, 'Masks do not work—fact.'

He has claimed lockdowns do more harm than good.

He has attacked chief health officers, claiming, 'There is no doubt that the power has gone to their heads.'

This isn't some crossbencher or a minor-party person; this is a Morrison government MP.

Yet what have we heard from the Prime Minister, the man so ready and willing to rebuke our premier in Queensland? We have heard crickets in respect of it.

When Labor moved a motion about the member for Dawson's disinformation, the Prime Minister couldn't even bring himself to refer to the member directly.

That's the character of this Prime Minister. He won't lift a finger to stop the member for Dawson and others from undermining the public health response.

My constituents are doing their absolute best.

They are observing restrictions, including lockdowns when necessary.

They are quarantining when necessary.

They deserve a federal government that will act swiftly and effectively to keep them safe and well.

The state government is doing its part, but the Prime Minister has botched the vaccine rollout and has failed to deliver safe national quarantine.

He should focus on getting the federal response right, pulling MPs in line if they spread disinformation and working with the states—not having a go at them and calling them 'cavemen'.