Pat O'Shane: I’m fired up about injustice

January 13, 2022
Yuendumu has one of the lowest vaccination rates in the Northern Territory.

What has fired me up is the poor performance of the Scott Morrison coalition government over the past three years. I have a strong belief in equity and justice and it feels like there has been a collapse of this across society.

The pandemic has been appallingly handled. Morrison is incompetent; he mishandled the situation as it developed in Victoria. The fact that he wasn’t releasing the vaccine and he hadn’t done a deal with Pfizer to get more vaccines showed how incapable he is.

He is so smug: it became obvious very quickly that his main concern is for the economy, not the people. When he talks about the economy, he doesn’t mean workers or small business people. He’s talking about the big end of town — which has come out of the pandemic even richer.

I learnt a long time ago that small business is the heartbeat of the economy. Because the pandemic has caused so much illness and people are self-isolating or in hospital, many of those businesses can’t get staff and have had to shut down.

Morrison has ignored their problems and has not provided any JobKeeper payments, as he did early in the pandemic. Compare his non-action towards small business owners to his massive hand-out to Gerry Harvey.

Morrison failed the hundreds of elderly people who died at St Basil’s Homes for the Aged in Victoria. He also failed the Indigenous communities that were left behind in the vaccine rollout.

I was incensed because Morrison is supposed to be the head of the Closing the Gap program for Aboriginal people and he didn’t give them a thought. Nor did any state premier or minister think to roll out vaccinations to Indigenous communities.

Right now the community of Yarrabah, north of Cairns, is still not fully vaccinated and some have not received any vaccinations at all. Those kinds of issues stirred me to think I should be doing something.

Morrison gives big money to his wealthy mates. He has been doing it for a long time but one of his most egregious actions was to allow Harvey Norman to retain hundreds of millions of dollars in JobKeeper. Harvey is reported as being worth $2.1 billion. He was not someone who needed JobKeeper.

I am aware that churches were being paid JobKeeper too. For what? I’m not aware of any work churches do. We know the Pentecostal Church or Hillsong, that Morrison belongs to, has been receiving money as charities. They are not charities. We know that they have filched millions of dollars over the years. The Catholic Church has been doing it for hundreds of years, as has the Church of England and many other churches.

Those kinds of issues stirred me to think I should be doing something about them.

[Kuku Yalanji woman Pat O’Shane is a retired barrister and former magistrate who is running for Socialist Alliance in the federal seat of Leichhardt.] 

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