I am keen to acknowledge this parliament’s appreciation for the way that our public service, who are often maligned, but in this case have been praised. They’ve been praised for good reason. Their job became harder within 24 hours. Their delivery services were tested to the limit. They had to pivot and change and develop and seek new ways and think outside the box, ‘How can we deliver this service under these circumstances?’ And they did it—each manager of each department all the way down. Everybody had a responsibility. They understood their responsibility in this great south land, and they went out and they delivered on behalf of the Australian people to the point where the shadow minister Bill Shorten brought this motion before the parliament to give us a chance to say thank you—thank you not only to those in very senior positions whose faces we may have seen daily on our televisions but everybody else who gave up their time, efforts and gave valued experience—I want to repeat that, ‘gave valued experience’—doing the jobs that needed to be done on behalf of Australians. So, this was the point where ‘we’re all in this together’ came together, because without the support of that public service, Services Australia among every other portfolio and department, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve the outcome we have in this nation. I applaud the Prime Minister and his team and the premiers and their team for what they have achieved, and they achieved it on our behalf.
I was blessed. Even though I lived in a COVID-lockdown zone, there were practically no cases in our area and we survived. In fact, the whole of my electorate of Monash was practically free of COVID for the whole time. But everybody took their responsibilities seriously. Everybody took steps. I don’t know how embarrassed any of you have been when you’ve jumped out of the car without your mask and ended up standing in a shop where you think, ‘Why is everybody looking at me?’—because we are able to get the message out through Services Australia. There were recalcitrant people; there always are. But basically—in Victoria especially—every family, every household everywhere, right across the state, country or city really stood up. You didn’t mind if you were stuck in a line of cars 700 metres long and couldn’t get through the roadblock and you couldn’t get to your appointment, or if you couldn’t get here and you couldn’t do that, but we did pivot. We did things really innovatively. We did use the phone more often than we normally would. We probably saved the government a lot of money not having meeting after meeting after meeting. I’m grateful for this opportunity to thank Services Australia and all the public servants.