I would like to take this opportunity to close off the year in this last Newsletter for 2020.
It has been a year like no other in memory. Not only have I been back in the Senate for just over a year, but we in Australia have undergone a trial of fire and pandemic. I hope that we are stronger for the experience and the challenge. Our country is moving out of internal border closures and we seem to have COVID-19 under some form of control, but we cannot relax. Our economy is recovering because the Morrison Government kept employers and employees together. We are starting to see a degree of resilience in our nation once again. One indication of this comeback is that consumer confidence is at a 2020 high this week. We also see two million fewer Australians on income support than we saw in September, and our unemployment rate has come down from 14.9% at its worst, to 7.4% now.
We should acknowledge what we went through, and we must all continue our efforts to help people. But we should also remember how far we have come, and what we have achieved. We are the envy of the post-COVID world. Sadly, we had 908 COVID deaths. To put this number into perspective if that is possible with such a tragedy, compare Australia’s deaths to the US (288,000), UK (61,000), France (55,000), Germany (19,000), Canada (12,000), Sweden (7000), Japan (2300), South Korea (545) and NZ (25). A better comparison is that Australia recorded 35 deaths per million of population, compared to UK (900), US (871), France (844), Sweden (698), Germany (228), Japan (18), South Korea (11), and NZ (5).
As I travel around various areas in New South Wales, I also see the success we have experienced. I see open businesses who rejoice that they no longer need Job Keeper and who see this as a triumph. I see bookings in some tourist areas at high levels because we are not travelling interstate or overseas—but I also see businesses who could do more but cannot get workers. I also see the need to continue support for those who need it. We plan to taper-off the general support of Job Keeper and Job Seeker by the end of March next year; but where there is a need, targeted assistance will be provided.
We in the Morrison Government will have passed a range of bills by the end of this last sitting week of this disrupted and busy parliamentary year. From my point of view, the Foreign Affairs bill, recycling waste, further COVID-19 support, bushfire support, the cashless debit card, and the bill to more efficiently deploy the ADF in disaster situations capped the year off well. As a government, we have passed 130 bills, had 384 divisions, and 550 notices of motions.
Although it should not be visible, my office and I have contributed to making a ‘National Security Approach’ an issue within government. We’ve advocated for a more comprehensive strategy across the nation and not just in the traditional areas of defence, foreign affairs, policing and intelligence. Over the last few years the government has done a great job in terms legislation and of making things happen with our intelligence, defence and police. We hope 2021 will bring more attention to this issue.
Certain issues of national security perhaps should not be debated too publicly, but much can and should be. I remind any who are interested in this issue to have a listen to my six-part podcast titled “Noise Before Defeat”, each one is only 20 to 30 minutes. You can get it through my website (www.jimmolan.com) or on Spotify or Apple Podcast. The Christmas break is an excellent time to work through the series while sitting on the beach or driving to visit relatives.
I am the Duty Senator for seven New South Wales electorates, of which three are marginal. These will be my main focus next year. The marginal electorates are Dobell, Gilmore and Eden Monaro. They are all winnable, and we must win them.
But the one thing that I do need to say before the year finishes is a heartfelt thank you to many people.
First, those 137,000 who voted for me in the May 2019 election – I have not forgotten that I owe you my effort on the things that I promised: to work for the re-election of the Coalition Government; to achieve steps towards a comprehensive national security strategy for this nation, and supporting my veteran mates and my constituents. To all of you – thank you.
Secondly, all those who supported our candidate in the Eden Monaro
by-election, by working on the booths or by voting for us – I thank you. We only had to change about 300 votes to win, and we must win next time around.
To my staff and volunteers in the office at Parliament House or in Queanbeyan, I thank you deeply. We are running an efficient office, an effective social media campaign, and we are thought leaders within the government and within the strategic community on national security. That is an extraordinary achievement over the last year. This is where we should be as your representative, and I cannot do it without the office staff.
My last word is about the Brereton Report. I have spoken on it many times in the media, but I think that it now needs a period of quiet. We in the military are a family. We’ve suffered together and we love that family, and our reputation is important. The slight on that reputation by the alleged events in Afghanistan is like a death in a family and we are in various stages of mourning; this leads to some irrational thought and blame towards others. We need to understand everyone’s needs, to not make judgements at this stage, and to be there for everyone while the process takes its course.
To you all, a very happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year, I pray that 2021 will be the start of something great.