Our very own Steampacket Hotel in Nelligen has gained Australia wide fame, along with one of its patrons, Paul Parker in what is referred to this week in Parliament as "The ultimate pub test". Jason Clare MP, Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories and Local Government Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness and Federal Labor Member for Blaxland delivered the following:
Adjournment Debate - House of Representatives - 11 February 2020 THE PUB TEST
In politics we talk a lot about the pub test.
What does the average bloke or woman in the pub think about what we do here?
If you’re fair dinkum you usually pass.
If you’re full of it you’ll fail.
Now here’s a pub test for you. There’s a pub in Nelligen, about 130 km from here, called the Steampacket Hotel.
It’s where Paul Parker drinks. Paul is the bloke we all saw on TV in January in the rural fire truck giving it to the Prime Minister with both barrels.
I can’t repeat what he said - but I think you’ll remember the footage.
Last week a friend of mine dropped into the Steampacket Hotel and heard an interesting story.
He was told that people have been coming in over the last few weeks and putting cash on the bar for Paul.
People have been ringing the pub from as far away as Queensland and putting money on his tab.
Paul Parker’s not going to have to pay for a beer for a long, long time.
Now, if that’s not the ultimate pub test I don’t know what is.
This government has got a serious problem – of its own making.
People are angry.
They’re angry the Prime Minister went missing in the teeth of the bushfire crisis.
They are angry with the excuses that he gave afterwards - that he doesn’t “hold a hose” - Churchill didn’t fly a Spitfire during the Battle of Britain but he didn’t go skiing in Switzerland either.
And they are angry that it took the government so long to do anything to help.
You didn’t have to be Nostradamus to work out this was going to be a potentially bad fire season.
Until the rain came a few days ago, most of the country has been bone dry. Some places haven’t had rain in years. Add extreme heat and wind and you can get what we got this summer.
But on top of that we had experts that were telling us what to do.
Four years ago the National Aerial Firefighting Centre wrote calling on the government to create a national water bombing fleet. It was rejected.
In April last year 23 former fire chiefs asked to meet with the Prime Minister and asked for an inquiry to be set up to make sure our emergency services had the resources they needed to fight bushfires.
Both requests were rejected.
In November last year we asked the Prime Minister to call an urgent meeting of State Premiers to do the same thing – to make sure we had the resources we needed to fight the fires.
That was rejected to. We got a letter back saying it wasn’t necessary.
Just imagine how different things might have been if the Prime Minister hadn’t rejected any of those requests.
No wonder people are angry. They feel abandoned.
And then... while the fires are still burning.. out pops about the Sports Rorts Scandal.
Just imagine for a second if you needed a heart transplant. And you were on the top of the list.
Then a heart becomes available and you find out you didn’t get – and someone else lower down on this list got it - because of political interference.
That would be a scandal. Well that’s what has happened here.
Mums and dads who run sporting clubs put in their applications.
They were independently assessed and ranked.
And then the Government ripped that up
And a lot of the best projects didn’t get funded – and projects in marginal seats got the money instead.
73% of the projects they funded weren’t on recommended by the independent assesser.
Bronwyn Bishop lost her job for a $5,000 helicopter ride to a Liberal Party event.
This is a $100M of tax payers’ money.
You can imagine what people in pubs are thinking about that.
And the worst part of this is not one person in the Government has had the honesty and the decency to admit they did anything wrong.
That’s treating people with contempt. Its treating people like they are idiots. And that’s very dangerous.
The Prime Minister is right.
There are a lot of quiet Australians.
They don’t tweet or protest.
But I tell you what they do run soccer clubs and netball clubs and footy clubs.
And after everything they have seen in the last few weeks I reckon they are saying very quietly under their breath the same thing that Paul Parker yelled at that TV camera a couple of weeks ago.