30 May 2022

My thoughts are also with those people impacted by floods at the moment, particularly those who are facing it for the second time in a short period.

Through my work as a senator for Queensland, I visited Gympie a couple of weeks ago which had suffered its second flood this year. The flood that they suffered just recently was actually their worst flood since 1890 in a town that unfortunately does flood regularly. I got a sense of how traumatic that experience is for those people who have gone through it a second time in such a short period from my visit to Gympie. So, I hope those communities are getting the support that they need.

I want to respond to this claim of politicisation, because I think it is important. When you've got nothing else to say and when your response is incompetent, all you have to rely on is claims of politicisation. That's actually what they've come into this chamber and tried to defend today. But it's because of their lack of response, and the tragedy for the Australian people with this government is they actually are incapable of learning a lesson. And it wasn't us saying it; it was actually the National Party member for Tweed. It was actually a Liberal member of the upper house. So they're the politicians, not us, and all Senator McAllister, Senator Watt and the excellent member for Richmond are doing is their job of voicing the concerns of local residents. That's actually what they were doing, and if it wasn't for the work that they were doing, adding a voice to those people who were impacted, the government response would have been more lacking than what it was. That's how disgraceful their efforts have been.

The Liberal upper house member Ms Cusack called it unethical. The member for Tweed Geoff Provest said:

… the federal government has really messed this up …

…    …    …

This is like a remake of the bushfires some two years ago.

So exactly the point that I am making was made by the National Party member for Tweed who said that this government haven't learnt their lesson from more than two years ago when it comes to bushfires. And, unfortunately, Australians are having to put up with more of these natural disasters. We've seen it in Queensland. We've seen it in other parts of the country as well. The problem with this government is that they're not actually learning any lessons. They are not actually getting better in their response, and then when they do respond it's actually more political. As we've seen today, people in Gympie are getting $1,000 compared to people in Lismore who are getting $3,000 as part of the response. There are people living in tents in Gympie, as they are in other parts, months after this has happened, and the government are doing nothing for those people as well.

So, it is unfortunate that we've got to speak out on these people's behalf because the government don't listen. They're incompetent. They don't actually respond and fix these problems, and all too often their response is political. They get out the spreadsheet. They decide where they give additional support, because that's how this government operates. That's how they've always operated and, unfortunately, the only way things are going to improve is if this government are voted out. That's the only way we're actually going to see some change, and an example of why they don't deserve to be re-elected is their incompetent response to the floods. It also flows on from two years after their incompetent response to bushfires. It is evident for the Australian people now that when it comes to disasters the Prime Minister doesn't hold a hose, he doesn't respond and the government have learnt no lessons on how to respond to that in government.

We also know that when it comes to the crisis of ordering vaccines the government, again, were too slow to act, despite saying we would be at the front of the queue. Over summer and in recent months when the country so desperately needed rapid antigen testing, again, the government was missing in action. It is actually an incompetent government. There are so many ways that that is highlighted, and all they can do is try and claim politicisation of issues. That's because they can't actually defend themselves. They are incompetent. The only way this will be improved—because they have shown, over almost 10 years now, that they don't learn any lessons—is if we vote them out. That is the only option left to the Australian people.