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Thursday, 27 August 2020
Page: 5838


Ms THWAITES (Jagajaga) (16:13): [by video link] It is a difficult time for our community here in Victoria. We're anxious. We're tired. All the while, we're hoping that our efforts mean our COVID case numbers continue to head in the right direction. I am really grateful that this week our parliament has been able to work out the technology and the procedures for me to be able to participate remotely, because it's part of me being accountable to my community, and that's what my community expects of me, and of all their politicians, particularly at this time of crisis.

Leadership at this time means demonstrating accountability and responsibility. It means taking every opportunity to show you are behaving with integrity so that you demonstrate you are respecting the many, many sacrifices people in our community are making.

But that's not what we're getting from this Prime Minister, his ministers or, indeed, the government members who have taken part in this debate. I can assure the member for New England that I'm deadly serious about this debate this afternoon. His reference to members being on the sauce at this time of a Thursday afternoon might be what he normally does, but it's certainly not what I do and it's not what the point of this debate is about. If you've got integrity, you're prepared to be judged and you're prepared to be measured on it. This government has not only refused to establish a national integrity commission but also refused many times to allow the establishment of one to be debated in the House. In some ways, that's not surprising when you consider the long list of scandals this government has no interest in having a proper investigation into. The most recent of those is the Liberal Party branch stacking and the role of the Assistant Treasurer. That's obviously just the most recent example. Of course, from earlier this year, we've got the sports rorts affair. My community certainly has not forgotten that and the unfair and unjust way this government spent taxpayers' money to secure its own re-election. We have the energy minister and his forged document that he apparently knows nothing about the origin of. We have example after example of why we need a powerful, transparent and independent national integrity commission. What we got from the Prime Minister in question time today was a triumphant, 'There's no-one better than us,' roll call of his scandal-plagued list of ministers. Well, Labor is fully committed to a genuine, powerful commission. We take our responsibility seriously.

We know the government has made some noises about a sham commission, but it's failed to even follow through on those. We've heard from members opposite in this debate this afternoon about how they're all in favour and there's some talking going on. Well, you're the government. If you're serious about this, get on with it and act now—give us a genuine, powerful national integrity commission. In fact, it's been almost two years since Prime Minister Scott Morrison and the Attorney-General promised to have draft legislation ready before the end of 2019. We still haven't seen it—not even legislation for a sham commission. This government is too afraid to put up anything that would demonstrate that they are prepared to be held accountable and show integrity at this time of crisis in our country. It is a disgrace.

We've seen the ultimate failure of that lack of accountability and responsibility this week as the Prime Minister and his aged-care minister refused to take responsibility for what's happened in our aged-care homes. This is an insult to all the people in my community who are grieving the death of a relative or friend, to all the people here who've been lying awake at night worried about what is happening to their parents and to all the staff and healthcare professionals who've been doing all they can to take care of people in aged care at this time. We know now that this government had time to prepare, but they dropped the ball, as the royal commission has so clearly set out. They refuse to take any responsibility for it. They haven't told us how they'll make sure that it never happens again. We deserve better. We deserve a Prime Minister and a government who show responsibility and accountability and who have integrity. A national integrity commission with serious powers would be an excellent demonstration of their commitment to this.