Matters of Public Importance: Morrison Government

5 February 2020

Senator Patrick: I rise just to talk about some disappointment with the response by Prime Minister Morrison in relation to coronavirus. I will lead with some facts. Our travel warning was upgraded to a much more cautious warning only after the UK government, the German government and the US government changed their travel warnings. It was the Chinese president that stopped direct flights from Wuhan to Australia, not the Australian Prime Minister. The government did not order rigorous tracing of people who had arrived in Australia from Wuhan in the period immediately prior to the flights ban and, of course, unfortunately, we've now seen two people in Adelaide and in Queensland infected by the virus—people who'd come from Wuhan. It was school principals in NSW that led in relation to barring students from attending school if they had visited China on an overseas holiday. In fact, Mr Morrison sent his education minister out to say, 'That's the wrong move. It's business as usual.' No, I'm sorry—not for the welfare of our children in schools. It was Monash University that led in relation to dealing with the prospect of arriving Chinese students. We then followed with some relatively good measures—but in all of this we have followed. The government took a glass half-full view to the coronavirus in circumstances where they needed to be taking a glass half-empty view because of the serious nature of the coronavirus and its potential impact on Australians and their health. Thankfully, we're in a better place now, but, if you examine what's happened, you wouldn't be impressed. 

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Documents: Report on Ministerial Standards and Sports Grants - Order for the Production of Documents
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Senator Patrick: The government's public interest immunity is not made out.
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