Speeches

THE FAILURE OF THE GOVERNMENT TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP

February 05, 2020

It's clear that the Member is just continuing his very moving condolence motion from yesterday. It was a very weak defence of the Prime Minister. He didn't focus on the MPI at all. The MPI concerns the government's failure to provide leadership. It's a failure which permeates this government and it's a failure which comes from the top, from the man who occupies the office of Prime Minister but who does not understand the responsibilities of that office—a man who has not displayed any of the characteristics of leadership, like honesty, empathy, respect or integrity. It is a failure of leadership that is no more evident than in the Prime Minister's approach to the bushfire crisis and his approach to the wider climate change crisis.

Australians know a failure of leadership when they see it. That's why Australians had such a visceral reaction when this Prime Minister was missing in action when it came to the bushfires. Prime Minister Morrison said aloha to Australia at the height of one of its biggest peacetime emergencies. He said aloha to leadership and aloha to the responsibilities of his office. Australians were fighting to protect their homes, their neighbours and their communities, and that's why they responded so angrily when this Prime Minister finally came home with demeanour of a petulant toddler: resentful, belligerent, complaining and clearly begrudging the responsibilities of his office.

Australians know a lack of leadership when they see it.

 They know it wasn't leadership to refuse to even meet with the coalition of emergency leaders last year to listen to their advice about the risk of catastrophic bushfires. It is not leadership to force a young pregnant woman to shake your hand at Cobargo. It's not leadership to stand by as your National Party crony assaults that young woman. It's not leadership to then claim you had a conversation with the young woman in question. It is not leadership to force an exhausted firefighter to shake your hand. It is not leadership to politicise the ADF in a Liberal Party ad. It's certainly not leadership to fundraise for the Liberal Party off the tragedies of the fire. What a grubby, grubby effort. It's not leadership to go to Kangaroo Island and claim that no-one died when two people tragically died fighting those fires. It's not leadership to background against state governments while the nation is on fire. It's certainly not leadership to let the National Party conduct a public brawl on a day of national commemoration for the bushfires. It is not leadership to allow your party room to again push for inaction on climate change. It is not leadership to allow senators like Jim Molan to deny the science of climate change on national television. It's certainly not leadership to claim that we'll meet our emissions reduction targets when we'll only be 0.3 below 2000 levels this year and only 4.7 per cent below 2000 levels in 2030.

The truth is that he hasn't got the courage to fight the climate deniers in his own party room. He hasn't got the courage to fight for action on climate change and to provide leadership on this critical issue, because he stands for nothing but himself. He is the ultimate chameleon of politics, lacking in values, honesty, integrity and courage, and only standing up for his own narrow interests. You've seen that in the sports rorts affair, an affair we saw on display today, where he refused to admit that he handed out money for purely political gains, where 73 per cent of the projects approved in round 3 were not recommended by Sports Australia. You've seen that in the disgraceful Building Better Regions program, where 94 per cent of the projects went to coalition seats or coalition-targeted seats. As a regional MP, as a member with councils who are desperate for capital finance to support projects, I say: shame! What a disgrace.

We have a leader who will change electorates to get a seat. We've got a leader who will change footy teams for political advantage. We've got a leader who was sacked from Tourism Australia. We've got a leader who will blow up at any opportunity. No wonder this government lacks leadership. What was the lesson he said he learnt today during his press conference? That he needed to show up. That was the one lesson he had from this entire crisis, that a leader needs to show up. Well, we'd get that answer out of four-year-old let alone the Prime Minister. What a farce. What an empty suit. When we needed a national leader during an unprecedented crisis, we instead got Scotty from marketing. What a disgrace.

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