By Joel Fitzgibbon
08 April 2020
The Ruby Princess debacle must surely represent one of the largest failures in public administration, in the history of our nation. Ten percent of all Coronavirus cases in Australia are linked to the cruise ship. Ten people are dead and hundreds more are sick.
On March 19, 2,600 passengers were allowed to disembark in Sydney and travel to all parts of Australia, and overseas, despite the fact the ship’s crew knew some of them were sick. It’s become such a controversy that the NSW Police Commissioner has launched a criminal investigation. Yet, has any elected representative taken responsibility or been held to account? The answer, sadly, is no!
The Westminster system of Government demands Ministerial accountability for everything that occurs on his or her watch. It’s time.
The Federal Parliament will sit again today to pass the latest Coronavirus emergency assistance measures. It’s extraordinary that the Prime Minister has shut-down Parliament until August. The House and the Senate continued to meet during both World Wars and they should be operating now. At the very least, the committee system could be operating to allow for scrutiny of assistance measures, their cost, and their effectiveness. Of course, technology offers the opportunity to continue the work of the Parliament without the risk of spreading the virus.
Covid 19 is deadly serious but it should not be a reason to hit the pause button on our wheels of democracy.
The calls, emails and letters continue to flood into my office. Every day a new issue trends, either because it has been slow to emerge or because announced Government assistance measures have missed a particular group worthy of help. I encourage people to keep-up the contact. My team and I are keen to assist wherever we can.
I welcome legislative protections for residential renters. You can’t self-isolate if you don’t have somewhere to live. There are three types of landlords: the good guys, the bad guys, and the guys who have been heavily adversely affected by the crisis and don’t have the means to waive rents.
The bad guys who seek to exploit the situation should be hunted down by Government. To the good guys, we say thank you. Landlords in trouble themselves should talk with their tenants about possible arrangements.
The frustration of being confined to our homes for much of the time is made worse by the absence of our favourite sports, in my case, the Rugby League. I know it’s a first-world problem, but we are living in surreal times, that’s for sure. Stay safe everyone.