SATURDAY, 29 JANUARY 2022
MARK BUTLER, SHADOW MINISTER HEALTH AND AGEING: This has been another terrible tragic day in the fight against COVID. Yesterday was the worst day of the entire pandemic in terms of lives lost, with 98 Australians losing their struggle against COVID. And today with only the three big states reporting so far, again 92 lives have been lost in the past 24 hours. Each one of these lives is a cherished family member, a loved member of a circle of friends and a local community, and these deaths will be felt very deeply by Australians irrespective of age or irrespective of any underlying health condition that might be reported in one newspaper or another. Over the past week more than 500 Australians have lost their struggle with Covid - more than three plane loads of Australians have lost their lives to Covid.
Late last year as we were preparing to open up and move to the next stage of the pandemic, to lift the lockdowns and open the boarders, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was advised repeatedly and explicitly about what he needed to do to ensure that the Australian people were kept safe in this next stage. What he needed to do on rapid tests, on boosters, on aged care, on vaccinations for our children. But he refused to listen and he refused to take responsibility and Australians are paying a high price for Scott Morrison’s failure to do his job.
Scott Morrison’s summer of failure has inflicted a devastating toll on the Australian people and on Australian business. With thousands of people still in hospital and hundreds of people losing their lives every week, Scott Morrison’s response over the past couple of days has been to suspend National Cabinet for two weeks as if there’s nothing for them to do, to tell the Australian people that it’s fine that the Aged Care Minister spent three days at the cricket instead of being focussed on solving the aged care crisis, and today and yesterday trying to pretend to the Australian people that he’s always cared deeply about the health of the Great Barrier Reef and Koalas. Well the Australian people need their Prime Minister focussed right now, every waking hour, on solving this crisis and getting us through. Not busy with slick marketing campaigns cuddling Koalas. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: As you just mentioned, the Prime Minister has made two environmentally focussed announcements in the past two days. Do you think this is recognition on behalf of the government of the importance of climate action?
BUTLER: Well no one is more focussed on the importance of climate action in Australia than I am. I’ll welcome any announcement that supports and bolsters the nations response to climate change and environmental protection. But John Howard said you can’t fatten a pig on market day, and I’d be surprised if Scott Morrison seriously thinks that the Australian people, after nine years of this government doing nothing on climate change, will take this as anything other than a couple of photo-ops - that they’ll be taken in by this slick marketing campaign.
I think we all know what’s happening here. We are in a depth of a national crisis, with hundreds of people losing their lives every week. Scott Morrison’s failures on the pandemic response over the course of this summer; on rapid tests, on boosters, on children’s vaccination programs, and on aged care are inflicting a devastating toll on the Australian community and I think people see through this transparent and rather pathetic attempt to distract attention from this deep national crisis.
JOURNALIST: The government has been under pressure to lock in a tougher emission reduction target to 2030. The PM says we will have a 35 percent reduction in emissions by 2030, that’s the government’s forecast. Is that good enough?
BUTLER: We have said for years that the government’s response to climate change is simply inadequate. It’s a betrayal of our environmental future and importantly of our economic future.
Labor has got a comprehensive plan to deal with climate change and grasp the enormous economic opportunities that come from strong action on climate change, as well as a saving in power bills of around $285 on average for households. We’ve got a detailed plan, the Prime Minister has got nothing but photo-ops and slick marketing campaigns.