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Transcript: Joint Press Conference, Canberra ACT
PRIME MINISTER: Well I’m pleased to be joined here today by the Minister for Women, Kelly O’Dwyer, the Minister for Social Services, Paul Fletcher. I’m also very pleased to be joined here by Patty Kinnersley, CEO of Our Watch and Libby Lloyd, who presented to our COAG summit delegates back in December. As you know, this entire program around the National Action Plan has been worked in partnership with the states and territories. And I've got to say, Libby's presentation to all of the first ministers in Adelaide was very powerful, very sobering. And has sat, I think, behind a great deal of the thinking as we've gone into preparing this package that I'm announcing today.
Violence against women and children is just simply unacceptable. For many of us, it's just simply unthinkable. And the reality, though, is it occurs, and it occurs all over the country. No community is exempt. It just doesn't happen in disadvantaged communities, it happens in some of the most affluent communities in the country. It just doesn't happen in inner-city areas, it happens in the most remote and far-flung places of the country. No part of our country is immune from this hideous condition of violence against women and against children.
When I stood up in the Press Club a few weeks ago, I talked about my plan - our plan - to keep Australians safe. And I listed alongside our duties as a Government, whether it comes to our national security or issues of that nature, I listed this amongst our national security objectives. It is as important, if not arguably more. Keeping Australians safe in their homes, in their communities - I can't think of a higher priority. And when it comes to keeping women and children safe, well, I think that speaks of itself for its priority. But if you need any convincing, the statistics are shocking. As we know, on average one woman a week is murdered by her current or former partner. On average, eight women are hospitalised each day due to family and domestic violence. One in four women has experienced physical or sexual violence from a current or former partner, boyfriend, girlfriend or date, since the age of 15. Intimate partner violence contributes to more illness, disability and premature death than any other risk factor for women aged 18-44.
These statistics are just damning. But they're not numbers, they're people. They're girls, they're women, they're daughters, sisters, aunties, mums, grandmums. And when you think about it in those contexts, it's hard to think about anything else, to be honest. That's why I think this issue attracts to it support across all elements of politics, all boundaries of government, into the non-government sector. It is something which I've seen all areas work together on. And Australians should feel reassured about this. This is not an issue that should be a matter of any sort of political or partisan debate, and I don't believe it is. I don't think it should be. And that should be avoided wherever possible. We should focus on the things where we work together.
Our Government's first priority is to keep Australians safe. And we must take action to prevent violence and support the survivors of those who have experienced it. And that's why today I am announcing, through the Fourth National Action Plan, our investment in women's safety. This is a $328 million plan, which is the Fourth National Action Plan, which rounds out the 12 year program that was set back in 2010. The investment is broken up into a series of areas, which I'll ask both Kelly and Paul to speak to. But what I have to stress is it's very focused on prevention. It's very focused on changing attitudes, of all Australians, because disrespect of women and children, while it won't always end necessarily in violence towards women and children, that's certainly where it starts. And our focus on prevention, as Libby will tell you, and as Patty will tell you, is world-leading with a package of this nature. And so that's why I'm proud to announce a program which does focus on prevention, some $68.3 million in prevention. There is a $64 million investment in 1800RESPECT, which has grown both in capability and resource and assistance to those who are affected. And I should stress it doesn't just address the calls of women, it also addresses the calls of men who have been subject to domestic violence as well. Of course, our focus today is on women and children, but I should stress that that service is also available to men. And we acknowledge that that occurs for men as well.
But these services together will ensure that we continue the progress we are making. I wish we were making more progress. I believe we will make more progress. I look forward to the day when a Prime Minister can stand - whether it's here or in the chamber or anywhere else - and say that a young girl being born today won't experience this over the course of the first 20 years of their life. I can't say that today. No Prime Minister could. It's not clear to me what day they will be able to say that, but I know what we're doing today takes us closer to that point. I think we can say fewer will as a result of the efforts that we've put in, and that this plan will deliver. And we'd like that to be reduced to zero. And we have to have that ambition. We have to have that target. But we have to be realistic about the facts as they are on the ground now, and I think this is what this plan does.
I'll finish by saying that this plan has been the outcome of extensive consultation. Cross-community groups, service providers, those who are involved in the day-to-day issues of managing this. Part of this plan, as you know, was announced when I spoke at the National Press Club about the focus on providing support for women's refuges, and providing permanent refuge places. Every single year for women to be able to find those places. I've got to say, as a local member over the last decade, that's been one of the most constant things raised with me in this issue in particular, and so I was pleased to announce that a few weeks ago. But it is the process of a lot of consultation. We have listened, and the plans that you see here are a product of that listening. But I’ll tell you what, we're going to keep listening, we’re going to keep acting and we’re going to keep doing it, until a Prime Minister can stand here and say that a girl growing up today won't face this. So, I'm going throw to Kelly and then to Paul, and then to Libby and Patty.
THE HON KELLY O’DWYER MP, MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Thank you very much, Prime Minister. And as you've heard from the Prime Minister, we have been listening. Listening very carefully to what victims of domestic violence and stakeholders have told us about what it is that we need to do to better address this issue of reducing violence against women and children. And our approach centres around three key themes: prevention, response and also recovery. We have zero tolerance for violence against women and girls, and we want girls and women to know that they can be safe in their homes, in their communities, online and in their workplaces.
But as the Prime Minister has said, a very key focus of this Fourth Action Plan is around prevention. And today we are announcing a world first when it comes to investment in prevention strategies. In fact, we are announcing today the very first National Prevention Strategy. Now, this is going to bring together, with the hub, the Prevention Hub, experts. Experts from across government, national, state and local, experts in reducing violence against women and girls in the media, in our community, and also in business, to make sure that we have got the most comprehensive prevention strategies in place. And we are going to enhance the National Stop It At The Start campaign, which has been so incredibly successful. But we also know that we need to take a multi-layered approach to this as well. We have seen great success with the Quit campaign, where not only has there been strong advertising but also information into schools and into the community at the same time that can see a change of attitude and a change of course of behaviour. And in addition to addressing domestic and family violence, our prevention strategies are also going to have a strong focus on raising awareness around sexual violence and increasing the understanding around issues to do with consent and healthy sexual relationships, particularly for young people.
We are absolutely steadfast in our resolve and our belief that targeted, coordinated and sustained prevention strategies can help to end the vicious cycle of violence. I'm also, of course, very pleased, together with the Prime Minister and the Minister, to announce $35 million to also provide further culturally-based prevention strategies, as well as direct services, for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children. Sadly, of course, we know that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women and their children are disproportionately affected by family, domestic and sexual violence. This, of course, is unacceptable. And all governments have responsibility to listen but also to respond, and to respond very proactively. We have been listening to the voices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and we are working with them on a genuine partnership to develop solutions to end the cycle of violence. And our $35 million package includes ongoing, additional investment to continue and to expand the Indigenous-specific projects previously funded under the Third Action Plan, which will also include an increase in family violence prevention legal services and their capacity to deliver holistic crisis management for Indigenous women and their children, new funding to support Indigenous women and children through intensive case management in areas of high demand, and including in remote areas, so that they're able to access services that work with the whole family and to also address the impacts of violence.
And practical intervention programs to address past trauma and provide the tools and skills that are needed to develop positive and violence-free relationships. And also the $1.7 million that will support the second stage of the Women's Voices national conversation that is being led by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, June Oscar AO. These are important measures. These are measures that will specifically address violence against women and their children. They will reduce the terrible statistics that the Prime Minister has talked about, the statistics that represent the lives of mothers, of grandmothers, of daughters, of sisters, and also of friends and work colleagues. We are absolutely and wholeheartedly focused on this issue and the record investment today will make that difference.
PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you, Kelly, and for the work you've put into this. And also to you, Paul.
THE HON PAUL FLETCHER MP, MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES: Thank you, PM. Thank you, Kelly. Look, as the Prime Minister and Minister O'Dwyer have made clear, this $328 million package includes a balance between, on the one hand, some very significant measures directed at prevention and long-term attitudinal change, so we reduce the forces underpinning violence against women. But it also includes very substantial funding for front-line services as part of the Commonwealth's contribution to the Fourth Action Plan under the National Plan to reduce violence against women and their children.
For example, part of that $82 million in funding for front-line services is $10 million to deliver specialised family violence services to an additional 16 locations around the country, some 20,000 additional counselling services will be funded under that. And there's initiatives across a range of portfolios. For example, in the Attorney-General's portfolio there will be some $10 million of funding to better coordinate what goes on in the family courts with the work of specialised State agencies that deal with violence against women so that we're getting a better coordination between those two systems. So $82 million for front line services and in addition, $64 million for 1800RESPECT as the Prime Minister touched on. 1800RESPECT is our national counselling service for victims of family and domestic violence and sexual violence. It's been operating for a number of years and the number of calls coming in is increasing rapidly. In 2017/18 there were 98,000 completed calls or internet chat sessions. In 2018/19 that's expected to be 160,000. This funding, this $64 million of funding will be sufficient for 575,000 calls and chat sessions over a 2 year period because more Australians are calling 1800RESPECT. 1800 737 732. I would say to any woman who is listening, indeed any man as well as the Prime Minister mentioned, if you have been exposed to domestic or family violence, please call 1800RESPECT because there are specialised counsellors able to assist and work with you on what the next steps are that you should take. This is a vital front line service: $64 million.
So across this package, a mix of front line services, a mix of long term strategies directed towards prevention. All part of taking a further step on the journey towards that outcome that the Prime Minister has identified of getting towards that point. We're not there yet but we're on the journey towards it, when a young girl can be born and we can be confident that she's not going to be exposed to domestic or family violence. With that, I think we are going to... Patty.
PATTY KINNERSLEY, CEO OF OUR WATCH: Thank you very much. We know that all women and their children should be free from violence and we know perpetrators should be held to account. But we must stop this violence from happening in the first place. That is why we are so pleased that prevention is at the heart of this package. Prevention and the Prevention Hub gives every Australian the opportunity to contribute to this work. We will work with sporting organisations, education institutions, workplaces and with the media to create healthy, equal and respectful communities. The Morrison Government should be congratulated for their commitment to the whole package and particularly to prevention. We look forward to working with you all, to with other Governments and with our key stakeholders to bring this package to life.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, very much, Paddy, appreciate that. Libby.
LIBBY LLOYD: I would also like to congratulate the Government for its contribution, this big financial boost this time. It's added significantly to what we've been doing. The remarkable thing is that this has been a long-term plan. We have been getting into our 10th year. We have been building over time and it is getting stronger and stronger as we go. This is a big boost to that. The fact that it's gone largely into prevention is a marvellous outcome. I'd really like to congratulate the Government. Thank you very much.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much for those comments. Happy to take questions to all of us on the plan and then, as usual, we will deal with the other matters after that.
JOURNALIST: This is coming to the end of a 10-year plan. Yet as you say, the figures are still quite horrific and the numbers are going up for the hotline. Realistically, how long will it take to actually see improvements? Is it a generational thing? Particularly when it is a problem that happens at home and it’s a cycle within families?
PRIME MINISTER: I will let others comment on this as well. This is part of a 12 year programme. This is the fourth 3 year action plan. At the end of that 12 years, I don’t see why there wouldn't be another 12 year programme. I don't see why that would be limited at all. This is one of those great challenges where the finishing line seems to be ever receding, as John Howard used to say. What we hope to do over these next three years is bring that finishing line a little closer to us and hopefully a lot more closer to us. But we are talking about significant longer term generational cultural change and these programs are designed to address that. Others may wish to comment.
THE HON KELLY O’DWYER MP, MINISTER FOR WOMEN: I think also what I would say is in actually having this conversation, in putting domestic and family violence at the heart of the Government, in terms of our focus in tackling this issue, we know that people now also feel more comfortable coming forward in actually seeking help because they know that the help is there. They know that they will be able to get the counselling and support that they need and the interventions that are required. I think we are also seeing, in terms of the numbers, people more willing to actually come forward and also a much greater identification at an earlier stage. One of the great aspects of this particular program, when the Prime Minister talked about the fact that the shocking statistics of eight women being hospitalised every day due to domestic or family violence, one of the elements in this package goes towards having front line providers of health services be able to more readily identify domestic and family violence so those interventions can be made much, much earlier. So I am hopeful that with all of these interventions, with prevention strategies, as well as the response and recovery, all integrated together and Governments working together. As the Prime Minister has said, we are working together with state governments, it doesn't matter what their political stripes, we are united in our purpose in actually trying to lower the impact of family and domestic violence and hopefully, one day, eradicate it altogether.
THE HON PAUL FLETCHER MP, MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES: The comment I would add, Libby talked about the fact that this has been a plan underway now since 2010. $840 million from our Liberal National Government since 2013 towards measures to do with women's safety. Attitudinal change takes time. We know from the research we have done into the Stop it at the Start campaign, where we've had two significant phases of that and the research indicates there is high awareness. 70 per cent of people are aware of that campaign and it is changing attitudes. Some 45 million views of those Stop it at the Start commercials online. We have got money in here, nearly $17 million for the next phase of Stop it at the Start. So there is a balance in this program, in this package, between prevention which necessarily takes a longer term focus and the continuation of those vital front line services.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there seems to be a lot of cases emerging just recently, particularly in sport, of domestic violence and sexual assault. Just going on what Patty is saying about the importance of setting a community example. What's your message to sports administrators as they're dealing with these high profile sports people accused of these crimes? How should they be dealt with - what sorts of examples should they be setting?
PRIME MINISTER: I think the zero tolerance approach is what should be expected and that's what should be done. I think honestly, that's what the fans of the codes, being one of them, would want to see as well. Because sport can actually be a powerful tool to help get this message across. The PM’s XIII match played in Port Moresby was all about carrying the message of stopping violence against women. I should stress our Pacific Step-Up campaign, a lot of the work we're doing in that program is actually taking those messages through our sports programs and other soft diplomacy to get the message out into our Pacific nations as well and work with governments there to address what is also a very significant problem in those communities. So sport can be a real positive to help change the culture. But they've got to change their culture to actually carry that message. I do know that whether it's the AFL, the NRL, soccer, all of the sports codes and their leadership are very engaged in trying to address this. That has to go all the way through the grades. It has to go all the way down to the grassroots level of these sports because that's the culture that needs to change.
JOURNALIST: How does zero tolerance work effectively though, Prime Minister? Somebody accused of a crime isn't allowed to play - is that zero tolerance?
PRIME MINISTER: I think you've put it pretty well.
THE HON KELLY O’DWYER MP, MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Can I also just add, Mark, I think sports stars for a lot of young children in our community, are considered great role models and they have a responsibility that are on their shoulders as a result of that, in terms of their behaviour, the behaviour that they exhibit. On the field and off the field. And I know there's been great work done our lot, so I’m going to invite Paddy to say a few quick words on this because I know male role models are very important.
PATTY KINNERSLEY, CEO OF OUR WATCH: Thank you Minister. Six years ago when Our Watch was established out of the second national action plan actually, we had trouble engaging sporting organisations, workplaces and educational institutions and all of the important places we spend our time in this work because they didn't think it belonged to them. We now have a really strong interest from all of those settings to work with us, where they now say, "We get it, we understand violence against women is not acceptable and we understand we have a role to play but what do we actually do?" So one of the projects we have been funded by the Commonwealth to do is called a national sporting organisations initiative. We have been working with four of the large national sporting organisations to undertake this work. Now it is slow work. We are turning around really entrenched attitudes and behaviours but where we find that the boards are involved, the CEOs are involved and then it threads through the organisation, that changes are being made. This takes time but I'm really confident to say that some of the people leading our national sporting organisations are grappling with it, they are working hard but they are on the path. They can either do nothing and say there is no problem here or they can say we know there is things we need to do, we can't ignore that and we will make a start. So for that I congratulate the sporting organisations for being on the journey.
JOURNALIST: Can I just ask you a question to, coming back to this question of why the figures have been worsening, with domestic violence generally, do you agree because it is of more reporting or is there something going on in society?
PATTY KINNERSLEY, CEO OF OUR WATCH: If you look at the MeToo campaign and women widely report this is the first time they have felt safe to speak, that they will be listened to. So over the life of this plan and the support with this Government, we now have an environment where the culture around us is changing. The media is talking about violence against women differently. Sporting organisations are taking a different responsibilities. Commissioner Jenkins' review on sexual assault is bringing up a whole another layer of conversations. Women are coming forward. They feel like there is a system around them that makes them more safe to speak out. So it is really difficult to say absolutely why the figures are still going up, but we do acknowledge that on the path to improvement, part of it is people feeling safe to speak.
JOURNALIST: And Prime Minister, where is the money coming from for this announcement today?
PRIME MINISTER: It's in the Budget. It is actually committed. It is in the forwards.
JOURNALIST: It was in the midyear Budget review?
PRIME MINISTER: This is fully funded in Budget. The money is right there right now.
JOURNALIST: The Prevention Hub, does it need to be a Federal agency that is fully staffed, in the sense that it is overseeing a lot of activity across the sector because in this area there are lots of not-for-profit agencies and groups all doing different work which can be fantastic work, but may not all be coordinated and may depend entirely on their own ability to raise funds. Is the Prevention Hub a new agency with a dedicated ongoing annual budget?
THE HON KELLY O’DWYER MP, MINISTER FOR WOMEN: This is not about creating another bureaucracy. This is about how we can do things better. It is about drawing together all of the knowledge and the expertise in a way that we have never done before. It is about having a practical impact through those strategies on the ground and in taking the very best learnings and applying it across the board, applying it nationally. One of the great take outs for me, when I attended the COAG minister for first ministers who were women's ministers was we don't talk enough about the things that we are doing that are effective in each one of our jurisdictions and the knowledge is not shared as effectively as it needs to be. There are learnings when things go well and there are learnings when things don't go well. We have to share that better and that is what this will focus on. I know Patty has thoughts around this as well.
PATTY KINNERSLEY, CEO OF OUR WATCH: Out of the work that's happened to date in the second and third action plans, Australia developed a national prevention plan for violence against women and children, it is called change the story, a national framework for the prevention of violence against women and their children. It’s not only a national first, it is a world first. And what that does is it outlines the drivers of violence against women, it outlines the actions we all need to take and it gives everybody in this country a role in order to change the current circumstance. So over the course of the last plans, we have been developing the tools and resources that other people need to lead prevention efforts. What we want to make sure with the Hub is that we don't need to start again. We're not starting from scratch. There is a lot of good tools and resources out there and a lot of evidence base. We want people to come to the evidence base, we want people to use what has been proven as successful. It is about mutually reinforcing, across every part of our community, in partnership, helping people talk to each other, helping people learn so that we actually know that we are being efficient with our Government funding and we are using the evidence base.
JOURNALIST: On another matter, Prime Minister…?
PRIME MINISTER: Any other questions on domestic violence?
JOURNALIST: Minister, on the $35 million for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, what about culturally and linguistically diverse communities? Because obviously there are so much more complications...
THE HON PAUL FLETCHER MP, MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES: Can I just add that in addition to the $35 million directly targeted at Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, there's $12 million of funding targeted at culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities as well. We have some specific funding there targeted at particularly vulnerable or at risk groups and it might be at risk because of obviously potentially poor English language skills or other cultural barriers.
PRIME MINISTER: There is $3.8 million to deliver critical support for identified victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-related practices. You will see that in the report. We have taken a very strong position on human trafficking in Australia but also taking a leadership position in our region. This forms part of the plan.
JOURNALIST: You talk about sharing information through the legal system on a Federal and State basis. How far will that information-sharing go, will there be a creation of a national database for authorities to access so that perpetrators don't slip through the cracks or children when they move from state to state?
THE HON PAUL FLETCHER MP, MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES: Well this funding has been allocated so we can work through how there will be better coordination. One of the things that that will see is some funding for state employees to be located within the Family Court system so they're available to people who are going through those processes. But obviously we will be looking at other ways to more tightly coordinate the Family Court, run by the Federal Government and State and Territory agencies.
PRIME MINISTER: Still on the topic of the day?
JOURNALIST: Yes still on the topic. You spoke about violence towards children and disrespect towards children. Have Tony Abbott and John Howard gone too far in supporting George Pell even after his conviction and what message does that support send to victims?
PRIME MINISTER: Bevan, I made my comments on this the other day and my comments were about identifying absolutely with the victims of child sexual abuse within institutions. That is where my thoughts are. Because I know that those events and the reporting of the conviction of George Pell would have stirred all of this up for those tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, who knows, of victims who are out there and they would have re-lived it all again and the pain and torment would have come back. I can't really think much past that, Bevan, to be honest, to be offering commentary on what others should be saying or doing. I just can't get past the pain of those Australians that I met when I delivered the national apology and my only thoughts are for them. If we're moving from domestic violence, we will excuse our... thanks very much, Patty and thanks very much Libby. Thanks for joining us today and appreciate your support for the announcements. Let's move to other matters.
JOURNALIST: Home Affairs has given a Manus Island catering contract to a company without a tender process, worth more than $1,300 per resident per day. Does that sound like good value to you and are you concerned about the profusion of Home Affairs contracts going to companies without competitive tenders?
PRIME MINISTER: Well as you’d know, these contracts and services are a mixture of those which are provided by the Papua New Guinean Government in cases that in some arrangements they have nothing to do with the Australian Government. So I will look at the matter you have raised and come back to you.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister I just wondered, on the SCG board and Michael Daley this morning saying he would sack the board. Do you think that it is an appropriate thing for an Opposition Leader to be saying just because a board perhaps disagrees with his position?
PRIME MINISTER: What is it with the Labor Party at the moment drawing up lists of people they want to sack? I mean, the hubris just doesn't stop. They are drunk with power and they haven't even gone to an election yet, whether it is federally or in New South Wales. I actually haven't seen an Opposition quite carry on like this for some time. I tell you who they really have in their sights, retirees who will have to pay higher taxes, people who just want to get by in life, provide for their future. They will tax them too with the abolition of negative gearing as we know it and increasing capital gains tax. They will wipe out half the tax cuts that we have actually had legislated through the Parliament. For people who just should be allowed to keep more of the money they have earned. They will do the same to small and family businesses. The question is who is next on Labor's hit list? Everybody seems to be on this list. They are drunk with power and they haven't even drunk from the cup as yet. Whether it is with the unions or the rest of it, there is just a hubris and arrogance that has crept into the Labor Party which is extraordinary even for them.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister can you just clarify, are you saying Labor would drive the economy into recession?
PRIME MINISTER: I have made this very clear on I don't know how many occasions. The economy under Labor will be weaker than it is under our Government. The economy under the Coalition will be stronger than it would be under a Labor government. That is my simple point.
JOURNALIST: Will it trigger an election… a recession rather?
PRIME MINISTER: Well I can't predict how bad things would get under Labor. I really can’t. What I do know is if you take $200 billion of higher taxes, punishing aspiration at every level, taking away the incentive of Australians to work hard and do better, that will have a sheet anchor effect on the Australian economy at a time when you can least afford it. This election is about aspiration which is what we want to encourage in Australians, and the negative forces of envy, which is what the Labor Party is relying on. We don't believe that you have to hold some people down to lift other people up. The Labor Party believe they have to tax some people harder to give other people a go. The very package that I have announced today with my colleagues has been announced without increasing taxes. There is no need to increase taxes to do what I have said today. This is a core function of Government and we will do it on that basis. Just as 2,000 extra medicines on the PBS is the core function of Government, just as record funding in hospitals and schools and record bulk billing under Medicare. All achieved without increasing taxes and we don't intend to increase taxes as we've laid out and as you will see in the Budget.
JOURNALIST: On the tax divide between yourself and Labor, the $200 billion you talked about this morning…
PRIME MINISTER: Which Labor's never disputed by the way, because it may be an underestimation, David. I may have got it too low, I may have low-balled them.
JOURNALIST: One area where there is that divide is on personal income tax cuts. You are going to the election at the moment with a tax offset worth $530, Labor is going to the election with a tax offset for millions of workers worth $928, so isn't that on the Labor side better for the economy and better for those workers and why don't you match it?
PRIME MINISTER: Labor is going to the election with a $70 billion program, I am going to the election with a legislated $144 billion program.
JOURNALIST: Theirs is bigger, sooner.
PRIME MINISTER: Ours is structural, it deals with all areas of the tax system and it provides opportunity and rewards incentive right across the board. See, Labor wants to give and take and what I have always learnt with Labor governments is they take much more than they give because Labor can't manage money. I will tell you the reason why they have to always increase taxes to make promises, it is because they can't manage money. When you can't manage money and you can't control your expenditure, you know who gets hit in the neck? Well it’s going to be retirees at $5 billion a year and not just retirees. It’s small businesses who actually benefit from the franked dividend rebates. It is farmers who benefit from the franked dividend rebates, farmers going through drought. Let’s not forget it was the Labor Party who voted against establishing the Drought Fund in the Federal Parliament just a few weeks ago. They can't manage money. That is why they are going to tax you more.
JOURNALIST: It has been reported this week that you're going to travel to Christmas Island. What are you doing to ensure first of all that taxpayers are getting value for money in contracts to look after the asylum seekers that are stay there according to what you are saying? And also, what do you say to what will be inevitable criticism that you're just going to somewhere for a photo-op on taxpayers' expense?
PRIME MINISTER: It is incredibly regrettable that we have to reopen Christmas Island. I had no plans or intentions to reopen Christmas Island. I'm the Prime Minister who shut it. Not only that detention centre but under our Government we closed 19. Labor opened 17. So I regret greatly that the advice of the Department of Home Affairs is that we would have to reopen Christmas Island in response to Labor's Medivac Bill which basically undermines and ends offshore processing as we know it today. That was the recommended response by the Department of Home Affairs and we are implementing their recommendations. We will be making sure that the arrangements are in place, as indeed they are as I understand of this, to stand up that facility up to deal with any transfers that may arise. That is the appropriate response. That is the recommended response of our security agencies and our Department of Home Affairs and we are acting on that. If the Labor Party didn't support that bill, then we wouldn't have to reopen it. It is that simple. The Labor Party have undermined border protection in this country, wilfully ignored the advice of security agencies. And you know what? I still don't know who their minister will be. They have a long list of people they want to sack, but they haven't told us who they will actually appoint to control our borders? Who is it? I don’t know, maybe you guys can share it with me. I don't know who their Minister for Home Affairs is if they're elected to Government. No idea.
JOURNALIST: Julian Burnside...
PRIME MINISTER: No it won't be Julian Burnside.
I can assure you of that. Not even they would be that crazy.
JOURNALIST: Does Julian Burnside pose any issues for the Treasurer?
PRIME MINISTER: No. He makes a lot of noise. But I’ll tell you what, Julian Burnside won't be able to prevent retirees getting taxed $5 billion a year. A vote for Julian Burnside won't be able to do that. He won't be able to stop Labor's tax attack on the electors of Kooyong. He won’t be able to stop that. There is only one person who can stop that and that is the Treasurer. He is not only going to stop it for the electors of Kooyong, he will stop it for the entire country.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just back on respect for women. Karen Andrews said today that she was talking about female representation inside the Liberal Party. I know you have the 50 per cent unenforceable target for 2025. She was suggesting that perhaps you should settle on a 30 per cent target as a first step. What is your view on that and perhaps I could also ask Kelly O'Dwyer?
PRIME MINISTER: I am just getting on with it.
JOURNALIST: No, getting on with it is just rhetoric…
PRIME MINISTER: No it’s not actually, this is what getting on with it looks like. 19 female members of the Party selected in either Senate or House seats since I became Prime Minister. A record number of women now sitting in my cabinet, the highest of all time. They are actually firm results.
JOURNALIST: One of whom is leaving at the next election.
PRIME MINISTER: And will be replaced at least by one woman if I'm elected at the next election and returned to Government. I was also very pleased, I'm sure everyone at the ABC, including yourself, was pleased to hear that I was able to appoint, with a captain's pick, only the second woman ever to chair the ABC…
JOURNALIST: Your fellow cabinet minister, Karen Andrews is saying 30 per cent.
PRIME MINISTER: If you would like a one on one, you could always issue an invitation. But my point is this. We're just getting on with it. I think people have a clear steer for me about where I place these issues. I have been moving very quickly on these issues since becoming Prime Minister and the results speak for themselves. The results actually do. Others can look at that record but so far, in just six months in the job, 19 female candidates, we have Wendy Askew coming into the Parliament as we come back and even yesterday, one of my proudest days as Prime Minister, the Nancy-Bird Walton airport in Western Sydney and to recognise one of our great aviation pioneers.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I ask about Yang Hengjun, no one has talked about him now for weeks. He has been in a black prison in China without charge. What can you tell us about him? Has he yet been able to see any of his lawyers or his family? Has he been given access to more consular visits?
PRIME MINISTER: He has had consular access and there is nothing more I can add to that publicly.
JOURNALIST: Has he had access to lawyers?
PRIME MINISTER: I can't anything further to that in this conversation.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, if you are saying Labor is going to be bringing in the same industrial relations policies we had during the last recession and bringing in these record tax levels. Is that not threatening they are going to trigger a recession in Australia?
PRIME MINISTER: That is the point you are making.
JOURNALIST: No, isn’t that the point you were making?
PRIME MINISTER: The point I was making the point that the economy will be weaker under Labor. Whether that could extend to those types of outcomes, that will be more likely under Labor than it would be under a Coalition Government. Because Labor is putting $200 billion and more of higher taxes on the Australian economy and they are bringing back an industrial relations scheme that would make Paul Keating blush. Because it goes back to pre-Paul Keating times. This goes back to the dark ages of industrial relations. When you combine that... at least at that time, the unions weren't able to use their financial muscle to go up with their industrial muscle to start trying to run the Australian economy through industry funds and through their control of a weak Prime Minister in Bill Shorten who owes everything to the union movement. He owes absolutely everything. His job, his role, his standing in life is all a function of the gift of the union movement. He owes them big time. If you want to combine old school industrial relations schemes from the Labor years with that new financial muscle of the unions coming through the industry funds, well yes, that is a very bad recipe for the Australian economy and the economy Australians live in for the next decade will be determined by the choice that is made at this next election. It only takes Labor less than three years to stuff the whole thing. That is all it took them last time. They will change it all in a heartbeat. They will set us on a very different path. We saw it on borders, we saw it on national security, we saw it on defence spending, we saw it on the deficit, we saw it on debt, we saw it on jobs, we saw it with programs that set fire to people’s roofs for goodness sakes. I mean, if I said that when I was door knocking in 2007 people would have thought I was... they needed to call the police. But all of that happened last time the Australian people picked Labor and it has taken us 12 years to get it back. 12 years. Vote Labor once, you will pay for it for a decade. Thank you very much.