Now, it might sound strange, but this is where the government's at. The fact that they hate each other—that they fight amongst themselves, that every day is like a montage from Mean Girls—is not the real problem. That the Prime Minister's character is a pattern of mendacity is not the real problem. And 'terminological inexactitude', as Winston Churchill called it, is not the real problem. The real problem now is the impact on Australians and on our nation, because the Prime Minister's not doing his job. The government is focused on itself, not on governing. It's as simple and as sad as that.
But the Prime Minister's pattern is well established: for every problem, it's someone else's fault. Every crisis is someone else's responsibility. And eventually every response is too little too late, driven by politics, not people. It's the same formula; we now see it. It's gone on for long enough; you can see it. He denies and disregards. He disappears. He distracts, he deflects, he divides, and then when he acts it's deficient, and he's derelict in his duty. That's it. His denial and his disregarding is dangerous now. We saw it in the bushfires, the vaccine rollout and the rapid antigen testing crisis over summer. He didn't meet with the fire chiefs—didn't order the aerial bombers that they said they needed.
He didn't order the vaccines. He told Australians we were at the front of the queue; we will never forget that. That wasn't true, though, was it? Now, I'm not going to say which queue it was. It wasn't the close one; it was the far one. He wouldn't meet with the CEO of Pfizer. And he didn't order the rapid antigen tests. Every developed nation in the world had their government secure the supplies in a competitive market. He was warned.
That's the common theme with all this: the Prime Minister was warned on the bushfires, he was warned on the vaccines and he was warned on the tests, and he did not learn from his mistakes. And with distribution, when he finally acted, too little too late, he chose to put private profit over public health. Rapid antigen tests should be freely available on Medicare. That's how we do health in this country. He ignores the problem until it becomes a crisis. Then, after that doesn't work, he tries disappearing, hiding under the doona—derelict. He goes missing for days and sometimes weeks, as we've seen. We saw it in the bushfires: he went to Hawaii, and then his office lied about it. And the quarantine, the vaccines, the rolling lockdowns across most of the country, every state and territory last year, because of the Prime Minister—he was always nowhere to be seen, at the peak of the crisis, when we needed him most. And the testing: just hoping things would go away.
Then we get the distractions and the diversions, the photo-ops, the marketing, the stunts. I've learnt, Deputy Speaker—and you might have educated me on this—that you can't read those hashtags into Hansard. But Australians know what they are. It was the Prime Minister's job to equip the fire chiefs, but it wasn't his job to force people to shake his hand in the fire zones. As Sean Kelly said, it was like a 'malfunctioning electronic device'—wandering around. It was a photo-op; it wasn't a comfort visit. And it's not his job during the aged-care crisis to go and wash women's hair in a hair salon—it's downright creepy, as well. It's not his job, when kids can't get vaccinated, to pretend he's a pilot or a racing car driver to distract people. It's not his job, when businesses are closing from lack of tests and staff, to play cricket commentator over summer and see whether that distraction works for a day.
Then there was Novak Djokovic. The Prime Minister manufactured that crisis. The government gave this guy a visa and then spent a week—deliberately, incompetently—trying to cancel it and kick him out of the country, when they'd brought him here in the first place, to break the media cycle around the testing crisis. But, oh Lord, can you imagine what we're going to see this weekend, after the week he's had? Well, you actually don't have to imagine it. They've already pressed the panic button. We saw that in question time. And 60 Minutes is up on Sunday. The Prime Minister's going to be serving margaritas to Karl Stefanovic in the Lodge—it's the best thing since Christopher Pyne had to make his own G&T in his little log cabin!
But the secret weapon, Jenny, is going to save him. Now, that's nice of her. I think it's lovely of her to do this for him—absolutely terrific—and that she could find the time, because it was only a few weeks ago that we learnt she was busy scouring every chemist in Canberra for RATs, or trying to find out the price of milk or bread for him.
But when that doesn't work we go to deflection—that's DEFCON 4: deflection. He blames everyone else—anyone else—for his own mistakes. It's the states, it's the premiers, it's Labor, it's the man on the moon. He's the master blame shifter. But the final one: eventually, when he's forced to act, it's deficient—too little too late. We saw it on JobKeeper: bad design, and too slow; 100,000 people ended up on the unemployment queue instead of attached to their job, because he didn't act when Labor told him to, and then he designed the scheme badly, adding tens of billions of dollars to the national debt for the next generation to repay, giving payment to businesses to increase their profits when they did not need it.
And then there's aged care. We heard about that, powerfully, from the member for Hotham yesterday. There have been 622 deaths this year alone. Eleven hundred homes have outbreaks. The Prime Minister saw this coming. He was warned. He did nothing. The minister went to the cricket for three days, yet the Prime Minister has done nothing. He won't sack the minister. He says it's not a crisis, but then, to break the media cycle before parliament resumes, he sends in the Army. But it's not a crisis!
Make no mistake—beware—if this bloke is re-elected, if he scrapes back into power, he'll do it all over again, because that's who he is. That's what he is. The worst weapon in his dark arsenal is not the dissembling or the deceiving; it's the division. If MPs, including me, look a little worse for wear today, it's not because of Boris Johnson-style parties. We were here until 5 am sorting out his latest mess on religious discrimination. Instead of uniting the country, he uses faith communities and gay and trans children for base political purposes—as wedges, as human shields, to divide the country. He's had four years to fix this, and yet we had 24 hours to consider his half-baked divisive idea. Shame on him!
Yet, this morning, after the House fixed part of his mess, he was out there briefing out from his office that the effort to stop discrimination and bullying against all kids must be stopped, even though that's 100 per cent what he promised. He forgets that, when he writes a letter, you can read it months later—he promised he would do that. When he says stuff on TV, you can go back and watch it—he promised he'd do that. He's so committed now, we find, to religious protections that he's just dropped them.
But they always focus on themselves. We were here till 5 am. There's one big thing that he said he would do that he has not done, and that is a national anticorruption commission. The government says, 'Well, there's no time.' There are eight sitting days left. I say to the government: if you're serious about a national anticorruption commission, bring on the debate. I know that if you bring on that debate my colleagues and I will be here until 5 am tomorrow. We'll be here all weekend; we'll be here next week. There are five weeks till the budget. We will get it done. If only the government had the guts to bring on the debate!