MATT KEOGH MP
SHADOW MINSITER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY
SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING FOR SMALL BUSINESS
MEMBER FOR BURT
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2021
SUBJECTS: Pearce Labor candidate; Christian Porter, WA border; WA COVID restrictions; Parliamentary behaviour.
MATT KEOGH, MEMBER FOR BURT: So the Liberals are deserting their sinking ship in Western Australia. We had Mathias Cormann, and then Steve Irons and now Christian Porter all seeing the writing on the wall, because instead of standing up for Western Australia, Scott Morrison's Liberals have shown that they can't be trusted. They've attacked Mark McGowan. They've tried to bring down the WA border. We've had Scott Morrison calling Western Australians cave dwellers. Well, Labor will stand up for a better life for working families, for secure work, and for a future made in Australia. And that's why Tracey Roberts, Labor's Candidate for Peace will stand up for her community, just as she has for the last 10 years as the Mayor of Wanneroo. It's why Zaneta Mascarenhas and Tania Lawrence in Swan and Hasluck will stand up strongly for their communities in Western Australia, because it is only a Federal Labor government that will stand up for WA, and that will be the partner that WA needs here in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: What are your reflections on the way that Christian Porter goes out of politics? It was a late night or late afternoon statement on Facebook, depending on when the election’s called he may not even come back into this parliament before his term is up. What are your reflections on perhaps the past few months and the way that he departs this place?
KEOGH: Well, I think what's really important now is what's going to happen in Pearce and what's going to happen in representing Western Australia here in this Parliament. Tracey Roberts is a strong advocate who has been standing up for her community in Western Australia, in Pearce for the last 10 years as Mayor of Wanneroo, the people of Pearce are going to be focused on who is going to be the new representative here. They've been angry at Christian Porter. He's gone out the back door now and what's really important is who is going to stand up for Western Australian moving forward.
JOURNALIST: In terms of what's going to happen with Pearce, are you concerned that because it's a marginal seat, an independent might win that seat and the Coalition and Labor's chances of forming majority government will dwindle further?
KEOGH: Tracey Roberts is a fantastic candidate for Pearce. The seat of Pearce, for those who don't know, very closely resembles the boundaries of the City of Wanneroo. Tracey is the Mayor of Wanneroo and has been the Mayor for 10 years. She's been living and working in that community, working with the organisations in that community standing up for them, not only as the Mayor of Wanneroo, but through the WA Local Government Association and through the Australian Local Government Association. She is a hugely strong advocate for her community and I have no doubt that she is best placed to win the seat of Pearce and be a strong advocate for the people of Peace. And that's what the people of Pearce are going to be looking forward to; making sure that they've got someone who's going to stand up for them here in Canberra instead of having somebody who attacks the WA border, who attacked Mark McGowan, someone who was part of a government that called Western Australians cave dwellers, part of a government that clearly doesn't understand Western Australians. Tracey Roberts will be a great partner for Western Australians in Canberra as part of a Federal Labor Government.
JOURNALIST: If Tracey Roberts is going to stand up for a better life for working families and WA as you said, don't you think she should advocate for Mark McGowan to lift his borders, to reunite families who've been separated by his hard border closures?
KEOGH: So Mark McGowan has been very clear about outlining a roadmap for Western Australia's border to come down and for there to be free travel with the rest of the country. And that's on track to be happening in late January. And what's really important about that is it's keeping Western Australians safe and strong, it means Western Australians are able to share Christmas with their families, and not have restrictions on who can come in their home. It means Western Australians are able to, are free to go about their business. And critically, not just for Western Australia, but for the nation, it has meant that our resources industry has been able to continue to operate through this whole pandemic. It has been the financial and economic underpinning of our resources industry in Western Australia that has kept the Australian economy from tanking even worse than it already has. And that has been supporting the entire country. And if it wasn't for the strong policies of the McGowan Labor government and delivering on that, we will be in a much worse position not just in WA, but across the country. And so it's really important that Western Australians have members of Parliament that understand what's happening in Western Australia. That understand what's important for Western Australians and how we can support Western Australians. And that's what they'll get out of an Australian Labor Government here in Canberra, a strong partner here in Canberra. It's what they'll get out of Tracey Roberts as the Member for Pearce.
JOURNALIST: Isn’t spending time with family members from interstate something that's important to WA residents?
KEOGH: It's really important, I think, for people to understand that there is such strong support in Western Australia for Western Australians to be able to continue to go about their business. Scott Morrison called Western Australians cave dwellers, well, I can tell you it's the best cave in the world. There are no restrictions in Western Australia, there'll be no restrictions on Western Australians spending time with their loved ones around the table in their homes and in their swimming pools this Christmas. And that's what Western Australians want to have. Of course, they miss being able to spend time with their families, family members who may be overseas, or maybe interstate, but they know the importance of being able to have secure jobs because they're not at risk of businesses closing down because of a lockdown through this pandemic. They know that they're not at risk of having whole industries collapse because of the strong protections that have been put in place in Western Australia. I think it's really important that people understand that is important to Western Australians.
JOURNALIST: But Western Australians are missing out, there's now a strong chance that the fifth Ashes test isn't going to be played there. There's going to be an economic consequence of that. And who knows, surely the point of a roadmap is it's one thing to know where you're going, but the speed at which you get there really matters?
KEOGH: Yeah, the speed of which we get to the opening up of Western Australia really does matter. And that's why it's such a shame that Scott Morrison has completely bungled this vaccination rollout across the country. We had a situation where it's only been in the last couple of months that we even had enough vaccine in Western Australia to get Western Australians vaccinated. We've been behind the eight ball the entire time because of the bungled vaccine rollout by the Morrison Government. Indeed, we still don't have any purpose-built quarantine facilities, when we're looking at new variants of the COVID-19 virus that may be travelling around the world and starting to enter Australia, it is still important to have purpose built quarantine facilities. The WA Government, Federal Labor have been saying this for years now. And we've seen no actual action in terms of actually having quarantine facilities built by this federal government yet. Those are the things that are holding us back. But also, whilst it may well be that we have the sad incidence of not being able to host a test next year in January in Perth. It's been these strong policies that enabled us to host the AFL Grand Final this year. And what a tremendous success it was and Western Australians got right behind that. Western Australians look forward to opening up in accordance to the roadmap, which will be safe. And that's why there is strong support for in Western Australia.
JOURNALIST: Do you acknowledge that WA’s weak health system is also contributing to the delays in reopening?
KEOGH: The health systems across the country have been under pressure, in fact, every Health Minister in this country wrote to Scott Morrison and said we would like additional support from the Federal Government so we can handle this transition out of COVID restrictions. And the Scott Morrison government has provided none of that support to the health systems across the country. This is on Scott Morrison’s head, he's not providing support to the health systems that every State Health Minister - Labor Ministers, Liberal Ministers all asked for that support and it hasn't been delivered by Scott Morrison.
JOURNALIST: But WA’s health system is struggling and you have zero COVID. Surely that's a reflection of the McGowan Government's mismanagement of the sector?
KEOGH: What is important, is that the McGowan Government has kept WA safe and strong, and that's what's been important to Western Australians. They've been able to perform their jobs, go about their lives, keep industry sectors open. Western Australians understand that and they're looking forward to the roadmap coming to completion. The delays on vaccine rollout because of the mismanagement of this Morrison Government have been hugely problematic, and they want to see support from the Morrison Government, not attacks on our border, not attacks - calling Western Australians cave dwellers. It's quite clear only a Federal Labor Government will be the partner that WA needs here in Canberra, and only a Federal Labor Government is going to stand up for WA.
JOURNALIST: WA was in a similar position to South Australia before South Australia opened up they've now done that, they're allowing interstate travellers to come in, are you suggesting that South Australia's approach hasn't been safely handled?
KEOGH: I think what's quite clear is that the roadmap that's been outlined by the Western Australian Government about making sure that we've got a very high rate of vaccination before Western Australia opens up has been vindicated by the approach to things that we've seen happen around the country and around the world.
JOURNALIST: The conduct of Parliamentarians and the workplace culture in Parliament House has been in the spotlight this week, a few minutes ago, one of your colleagues, Julian Hill, described the Prime Minister as a grub. First of all, do you agree? And secondly, is that kind of language helpful and changing the culture of Parliament House?
KEOGH: Well, I'm not going to give a running commentary on what every Parliamentarian in this place has said in a day, but it is quite clear that the tone in this place is set from the top. And it is absolutely incumbent on Scott Morrison as the Prime Minister to look at how he behaves in his public discourse in Question Time, how he directs attacks onto other Members of Parliament, and how he is behaving. And I think that is the critical element. But there's obviously an obligation on all of us as Members of Parliament, as elected members, as representatives of our community, to make sure that we are displaying appropriate behaviour and to make sure that we are providing that safe workplace to each other and to our staff, and that's why it's important that we work through these 28 recommendations from the Jenkins report, a report that we call for, that has occurred, and that we make sure that we are making not just the Parliament, a safe workplace for everybody, but its setting the tone for the nation so that we have safer workplaces across the country.
JOURNALIST: And just on that, do you think it's appropriate for one Senator to say to another Senator, “at least I keep my legs shut”.
KEOGH: I'm not aware of those particular comments. That language doesn't strike me as appropriate.
Thanks very much.