This Newsletter is marked by a number of issues worth commenting on, perhaps too many.
The world, in the view of many Australians “has gone mad”, but to greater or lesser degree, life in COVID-19 Australia goes on. There are enormous issues at stake in current events, particularly in the US and in the UK, and governments must be strong and stand for Law and Order. I was relieved to see the NSW police deal so effectively with the protests last Saturday night in Sydney.
We are moving slowly to a relaxation of all COVID-19 restrictions, but of course the irresponsible protesting may slow down the process of coming out of COVID-19. The Job Maker program announced by the Prime Minister is key to getting us out of the economic problems we face. There is still a long way to go in recovering from this once in a hundred year global pandemic, but we are heading in the right direction and we will continue to do all that is necessary to ensure Australia bounces back stronger on the other side of this crisis.
The US concept of Black Lives Matter has been imported into Australia and is being used by good people who want to improve the lot of our indigenous people, by political opportunists, by Marxist agitators who want to tear down western civilization and by many people who are perhaps not aware of what really lies behind many of these protests. A US concept of Black Lives Matter does not carry over and apply without context to Australia. Of course Black Lives Matter, just as All Lives Matter. To deny one or the other exposes the denier as an ideologue and extremist.
So Black Lives Matter or All Lives Matter are not the simple propositions they may appear. Because of this, Labor and the Coalition, and sometimes the Greens voted against allowing either side of the issue to be voted on as a motion in the Senate on one day last week. On the next day, Labor, the Coalition and the Greens decided against even voting as to whether to consider such complex issues without a debate.
You cannot debate motions in the Senate. If they are so complex that they require debate, as the All Lives Matter and Black Lives Matter concepts are, then they should not be motions, they should be in other parts of the Senate considerations where a debate can be held.
Motions in the Senate are a decision taken by the Senate without debate. That is what motions are all about. Therefore motions should be about relatively less complex issues. If Pauline Hanson and the Greens want to debate complex issues, there are other parts of Senate where they can do so. Pauline Hanson ‘s motion that “… the Senate notes that all lives matter” is short but not simple, indeed it was simplistic.
I did not vote against her motion that all lives matter, because I believe that all lives do matter. All my colleagues voted against allowing the Senate to vote, so no vote was actually taken on the motion itself. This is called denying formality. I was uncomfortable that I could be portrayed as voting against something as self evident as ‘all lives matter’, because of course all lives do matter. As the PM said during COVID, “All Australians matter”.
But of course, if all lives matter, then Black Lives Matter as well. It was a purely political tactic that Pauline Hansen used to bring this motion to the Senate. I understand political tactics so I decided that I would not vote for either side, I would abstain and that is what I did.
I had the option of crossing the floor and voting for Pauline’s motion, but because I saw it as a cheap political tactic, I did not want to do that. I will save crossing the floor for other more substantial issues.
I believe that the issue should be debated, not as a simplistic motion that divides. If Pauline wants a debate on this, she should arrange that and not try for a simplistic wedge motion.
It was interesting that Labor Senator Penny Wong said that it was “not appropriate to spend this Senate’s time inciting division” but she conceded that “Asserting black lives matter isn’t saying that other lives do not matter.” I very much agree with our leader Senator Matthias Cormann who said that we must “… keep our eyes firmly focused on the outcomes we want to achieve”, which is justice for Indigenous people based as Jacinta Price can explain, on the real facts of the Indigenous challenge, and not for political games.
The Greens of course went for the opposite motion. They expressed solidarity with people marching across the US and in Australia in support of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter and which called on the government “to commit to ending state and police violence against First Nations peoples in Australia”. This was equally simplistic and was denied formality as well. The Greens Senator Larissa Waters said her party was also “extremely concerned” about the motion “moved by that regular bringer of dissent into this place” – a reference to Hanson. My view is that the hypocrisy of the Greens, the most divisive party in the Parliament, knows no bounds.
On Thursday I co-sponsored two very important notices of motions in the Senate. The first acknowledged that the social distancing restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic had compounded the grief a family feels by having a stillborn baby. We extended our condolences and sympathies to all families experiencing this grief.
The second notice of motion recognised the important work and dedication of our Police Officers in Australia and condemned those calling for the defunding of our essential police forces.
Visit in Eden-Monaro – Snowy 2.0
On Friday I visited the Snowy 2.0 Concrete Segment Factory Site in Cooma, with the Prime Minister Hon Scott Morrison, Minister for Energy and Emissions Reduction Hon Angus Taylor and Liberal candidate for Eden-Monaro Dr Fiona Kotvojs.
This visit comes after the Prime Minister unveiled plans early last week to fast-track key infrastructure projects. Snowy 2.0 is set to create 4,000 local jobs for the Eden-Monaro electorate, 150 of them at the concrete segment factory site. Currently, there are 500 people working on Snowy 2.0, and this is set to grow to 850 people by the end of the year.
More information on Snowy 2.0, including the visit to the concrete site can be found at https://nsw.liberal.org.au/Snowy-2-0-Delivering-Regional-Jobs-in-Eden-Monaro?fbclid=IwAR1kjFtcDbV9aBZgIYlkfm_UQSXkWKyOgG8-DvcTHZxCj1OyUTmtj2MOtA8
In the last two weeks New South Wales has recorded just three new cases of COVID-19, with over 149,000 tests coming back negative. These are incredibly encouraging numbers that show the measures that have been put in place are working to stop the spread.
Testing is very important to identify people who have been infected with coronavirus and stop the spread of infection in the community.
NSW Health has urged everyone that has any respiratory symptoms like a fever, cough, sore/scratchy throat or shortness of breath (even if very mild) to get a COVID-19 test and isolate themselves straight away.
To find your nearest coronavirus testing centre in New South Wales, please click here. https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/how-to-protect-yourself-and-others/clinics#covid-19-clinics
Local Hero – Bermagui Country Club
This week my local hero shoutout goes to the team at the Bermagui Country Club. The team have provided incredible support and assistance to their extended community during the bushfires and COVID-19 crisis.
The club provided an essential community hub during the bushfire emergency. On the morning of the Cobargo fires they opened at 5.30 am to provide shelter, food and support for hundreds of people and their pets. Five days after the Cobargo fires, when Bermagui was on high alert, the club became an RFS Command Centre.
The support and goodwill the team provided extended well beyond the confines of their club. The General Manager and Board of Directors travelled to Cobargo to offer support to that community, and to provide vouchers for meals at the club. They played a key role in providing an opportunity for some normality at a time when the community was reeling from this tragedy.
Staff from the club also volunteered at the Cobargo Hotel so that all the town’s residents could enjoy a community night together.
During the COVID-19 crisis the club is again demonstrating their commitment to serve and support the local community. They are encouraging and supporting mental health initiatives, and are providing an invaluable source of information to the many people who approach them for advice and support.
I look forward to catching up with the Bermagui Country Club team next time I am travelling in that region, and thank them for the generosity and support they so willingly extend to their community.
Business Shoutout – Inspirations Paint Bega
My business shoutout this week goes to Inspirations Paint at Bega.
Paint runs through the veins of John and Sharon Watkin, the owners of Inspiration Paint. John has been in the painting industry all his life, and is also a born and bred Bega local. Sharon has been in the Bega area for 34 years.
Their business has two components, one is supplying tradesman and the other is a retail business supplying DIY painters. They supply from Narooma to South of Eden and have two fulltime staff working with them.
Like so many local businesses during the bushfires, they were managing the anxiety about their own home and property with the uncertainty of the impact it would have on their business. When the COVID-19 crisis hit, they were again preparing for the worst and talking with their staff about possible implications. They looked at ways they could improvise their business model, and how they could advertise that they were open and still trading.
They started offering free delivery and were able to increase retail sales during the lockdown period. They were able to keep their staff fully employed as a result of this. This was an unexpected outcome for John and Sharon, who acknowledge that many other businesses have not been as fortunate during this time.
John and Sharon have managed to innovate their business arrangements, and show remarkable resilience during these difficult times. My thanks and congratulations go to them.
My sincere thanks again for all your support.
Senator Jim Molan AO DSC