Treasury Laws Amendment (COVID-19 Economic Response No. 2) Bill 2021

House of Representatives
Tuesday 3 August 2021

Labor is, of course, in support of the measures outlined in the Treasury Laws Amendment (COVID-19 Economic Response No. 2) Bill 2021, which will assist with money and support for communities in lockdown. I want to pay tribute to all of the families and small businesses in the south-west of Brisbane and Ipswich that I represent that are currently dealing with the latest lockdown, courtesy of the Morrison government. We are a constructive opposition and will continue to be. That's why we're supporting this bill tonight. But we would not be doing our job as an opposition if we did not call out the obvious failures that have put us in this position, and I would not be doing my job as the member for Oxley if I did not hold the government accountable for the damage that their failures have wrought upon the local community that I proudly represent.

It must be acknowledged that these measures are made necessary by the government's failures on their two key jobs this year: rolling out the vaccine and implementing a safe and effective quarantine solution. These failures are costing the economy hundreds of millions of dollars each day and billions of dollars each week. In my electorate of Oxley, it's dearly costing the families and small businesses that I represent. There's a real human cost to the government's failures. Just last Friday, before this lockdown was announced, I visited a small business in my electorate—the Middle Park Bakery Cafe. They'd invited me along to celebrate the launch of their new coffee venture. Tony and the team were excited about the future of their business, and they were hopeful that the devastating lockdowns were a thing of the past. They should have been right to hope. They should have been right to put their faith in a federal government to do the two jobs they had this year: roll out the vaccine and fix our quarantine system. The very next day, as we all know, along with all of South-East Queensland, millions of Queenslanders and tens of thousands of businesses were plunged into lockdown.

The evidence shows that quick responsive lockdowns are the best way to control the outbreaks of delta—and I applaud the Queensland government for their quick action—but the reality is that this should not have been necessary. We should not have been seeing this deadly virus leaking out from hotels that were designed for tourists, not quarantine. We should not be faced with outbreak after outbreak while our community is left completely vulnerable by dismal vaccination rates. We're near last in the OECD. We are losing the 'Vaccine Olympics'. We are coming almost stone last in the 'Vaccine Olympics', and that is not good enough. How does this government not hang its head in shame? How do they stomach turning up to the chamber and bragging about their failed pandemic response?

We will be supporting these support mechanisms that allow our community to deal with this. This side of the chamber is a positive opposition. We are a constructive opposition. It's pretty clear that the announcement by the Leader of the Opposition today, which will give confidence, economic security and reward to those Australians doing the right thing, should be supported by the federal government. Federal Labor is proposing a $300 one-off payment for all Australians who get fully vaccinated by 1 December. Our economy needs a shot in the arm, and the small businesses and families that are struggling through lockdowns need a shot in the arm. It's pretty clear that our vaccine rollout needs a shot in the arm. That's exactly what the Leader of the Opposition has laid out with our positive plan. We're a positive opposition with constructive ideas. Just for once could the government put aside its partisan blinkers and start listening to ideas that are on the table. If this isn't a good idea, I ask the government: 'What is your plan? What is your plan to raise vaccination rates in this country? What are the incentives that the so-called Prime Minister of this country has announced? Where are they, what are they and how will we get the vaccination rates up in this country?'

I know, from speaking to businesses and families today who have warmly welcomed the $300 vaccination injection into the community and into our local economy, that they are crying out for a government to start leading. Here is a plan on the table by federal Labor. Here is a positive, constructive policy. It's time the government started listening to ideas and delivering a real plan to help Australia get through this pandemic.