I would like to talk today about opportunity and adversity—opportunity and adversity in a nation where, for the last 25 years, we’ve had a pretty good run, but it has left us lazy and at the beck and call of other nations in regard to the things that are essential to us on a daily basis, such as our drugs and our food. There are a lot of other areas, perhaps our timber into the future. We import a lot of timber. The daily drugs we thought were manufactured here turned out to be manufactured in China and other places. We were found wanting by COVID. We haven’t come to a roundabout; we’ve got a stack of opportunities. We’ve actually come to a T-intersection. The nation has to decide whether we go this way and positively look after ourselves in manufacturing all the things we need to sustain our activity, or we go that way—and down that road it’s ‘woe is me’.
I believe not only my constituency but every other constituency in Australia can actually see the needs in front of us, especially the environment—things such as Landcare. This is a great opportunity for us as a nation to ask: What can we practically do for the environment as part of the COVID response? What can we do in manufacturing that will make us resilient to any attacks that may come upon this nation, whether they be intentional or not, in our dealings with other countries? What are the sorts of things do we have to do as individuals, as small businesses, as families to make us far more resilient than COVID has found us to be?
I believe our forefathers, when their backs were to the wall, were able to produce in this country inventions and innovative opportunities that were desperately needed for the time. They did it. Here’s our opportunity in this time of adversity. Our great opportunity in this time of adversity is to think through the issues and make sure that we provide for the next generation to come a far more resilient, independent Australia. That will take many forms. But let’s take the opportunity now that this adverse situation for our nation has presented us with, and there are many areas. I’m relying on people right across this nation to say, ‘Yes, we’ll take up that challenge to find a replacement for our needs that are coming in by imports now,’ and we will be the resilient nation that the world looks upon from the response that we give now to this opportunity in adversity.