MONDAY, 7 MARCH 2022
SUBJECTS: $250,000 for Mum’s Cottage in Holmesville; Labor’s childcare plan; Government’s plan for submarine base; Violence against women.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Hello. It's great to be here with Dan Repacholi making a very important announcement today about Mum's Cottage. This is a beautiful service run by Sister Helen Anne and a very dedicated group of locals. They show love and care to everyone who walks in the front door, and they're supporting local families who are doing it tough. Dan Repacholi made a very good case that because of the great work that Mum's Cottage is doing, they shouldn't have to be focusing on fundraising to fix up the building as well. So today I'm announcing that if Labor's elected, Labor will provide $250,000 to fix up the woodwork, fix up some of the piers for the building - make sure that this great service can continue to do what it does best, which is show a lot of love to a lot of locals, particularly at times of need. So I think Dan's going to say a few words now about this terrific service.
DAN REPACHOLI, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR HUNTER: Thank you Tanya and thank you Sharon, Mayor Kay Fraser as well for being here, and especially Sister Helen Anne. Thank you very much for letting us be here today to announce this fantastic donation to fixing this beautiful building here for Sister Helen Anne and her team. So they do such good work out of this area and it's a testimony to what they achieve out of here. They have that behind us already here, which is a beautiful building which they've made home for so many people in this beautiful community. And now they're going to get to expand that over time. And once we have this building up to scratch, what they can do here is endless now, there can be so much more that can be done for the community. I just thank the Labor party for being able to commit to this and it's such a great commitment and we just really need to push forward and get a Labor victory so this can really get going. Thank you. Sister Helen Anne would like to say a word as well.
SR HELEN ANNE, MUM'S COTTAGE: Well this has been an amazing morning to say the least. Quite spontaneous. And one of the things I'd like to let everyone know is that the good Mum's Cottage has been able to do, is because it's been built on the love and faith of 140 years of believers who used this church, and that's why it's very important that we continue that gift. We're building on 140 years of faith, devotion, and love. So that's very, very special to us. So, the Labor party and all the people who have taken aboard that and shocked me this morning with everybody's presence here, we can do that with your help. So, thank you and enjoy the rest of your time here.
CR KAY FRASER, MAYOR OF LAKE MACQUARIE: Good morning everyone. It's lovely to be here with Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Minister and Sharon Claydon, the member for Newcastle and Dan Repacholi, the candidate for the Hunter, and obviously sister Helen Anne, who is with me here as well. Can I say that it's called Mum's Cottage because that's what it is. It's a place where you go when you need a Mum. It's a place where you go when your family's doing it tough, and that's what they have done here for many decades and it is such a wonderful service and Sister Helen Anne runs this place and tirelessly she does that with all the many, many volunteers that are here. So, it's absolutely fantastic to have this funding announced today because we know how important it is, especially coming off the back of end of COVID. We know that families are doing it tougher now than what they have in the past and this area is very much in need and I know when I've be talking to Sister Helen Anne, she told me one time that someone from Sydney hopped on the train because I had heard about Mum's Cottage and come up here and asked for help. That's the sort of word that's out there. Not only in the Hunter region, not only in Lake Macquarie, but around New South Wales. So people know the wonderful work that Mum's Cottage does and that's down to Sister Helen Anne and all the many volunteers. So it's fantastic that they're getting this announcement today and this funding. So I'll be looking forward to a Labor victory in May. Thank you.
PLIBERSEK: Any questions?
JOURNALIST: We've seen, Tanya Plibersek, people here that are literally in tears. This place is the heartbeat of this little village. For you, I saw a bit of a tear in your eye as well - it's emotional for everyone involved in these types of places.
PLIBERSEK: I think places like Mum's Cottage really bring out the emotion in people because you see the work that Sister Helen Anne's doing with her dedicated team here. And it just, so comes from the heart. It's absolutely about helping people, sometimes at the toughest times in their lives. And you can see how hard people are working, how modest the facility is – $250,000, it's not a huge amount of money, but it'll mean that the people who work here can concentrate on their work, what they do best, which is helping people at times of need. And this is the sort of thing that governments should be able to do. To step in with a little bit of a helping hand, to help the people who are in our communities on the frontline helping others every day.
JOURNALIST: For every Mum's Cottage, there's probably a hundred more that could do with some money as well. I guess it's not the time to make pledges for other areas, but that's the thing, I mean these little places, they're in most communities and need help.
PLIBERSEK: And I think the really important thing about this announcement is that Dan Repacholi has been on our backs in Canberra, as we've been making these decisions, reminding us that Mum's Cottage is here, that it needs help, it needs help so it can continue to do, so the team here can continue to do what they do best, which is show love and care for everyone who walks in through that front door.
JOURNALIST: I think I'm the only journo here, so I'll ask lots of questions on behalf of our Parliament House bureau. Sticking with the family theme - childcare, we know announcements today for childcare and payments etc. Is it fair for high income earners to have a bigger childcare saving than lower and middle-income earners?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I can tell you that Labor's policy would see 97 per cent of families who are using the childcare system better off. At the moment we have too many families where one parent, usually the mum, is saying no to a third day or fourth day or a fifth day at work in a week because it will actually end up costing that family for mum and dad both to be working full time. They'll go backwards if they're both working full time. Now it's up to families - if they want to work full time, part time, and they make that choice, that's great, but it shouldn't be the government saying you can't afford to work extra days or we're going to take money away from you. That is making the decision for them. The reason that a lot of women want to keep working full time, even when their kids are young, is because they know that if they go into part time work, or they leave the workforce they're likely not to come back in at the same level, it will affect their earnings while they're in the workplace. It will also mean that they retire with less superannuation and poorer retirement. So we want to help families make the choices that are best for them, and cheaper childcare gives families the option to do more days a week at work if they want to. I'd also say that early childhood education and care is great for kids. We know that kids benefit from particularly that year of preschool before they start formal schooling. It makes a great difference to whether they’re school-ready. So making sure that it's affordable for families to use early childhood education and care is a really important contribution, not just to the family budget, not just to our national prosperity, but also to the lives of little children.
JOURNALIST: So I take it you'll be taking your existing childcare policy to the election?
PLIBERSEK: I'm proud of the childcare policy we've got and the fact that it makes it easier and cheaper for 97 per cent of working families to get childcare.
JOURNALIST: The submarines - does the Government need Labor's support before deciding where our new submarine base should be located. We've heard of the three shortlist areas - Port Kembla, Newcastle and Brisbane - does the Government need Labor's support?
PLIBERSEK: I'm going to ask my colleague Sharon Claydon to say a few words on this in a moment, but I'd say this - once again from the Government, what we hear is an announcement that sometime down the track they'll make an announcement. There's nothing specific or concrete in what's in the media today. We've got a government that's been talking about submarines during the whole course of the government. They have spent billions of dollars on contracts that they enter into and then cancel. We still don't have a clear idea about when and where, we're talking about the first submarine perhaps being delivered in 2040. This is leaving Australia with a capability gap in our national defence and it's leaving in great deal of uncertainty in Australian communities. I'm not going to take too much notice of a Government announcement that sometime in the future they may make an announcement. I would say, at a time like this it is very important for the Government to be talking to Labor, particularly in the lead up to an election, about what they're planning, because these projects will be with us for decades to come, decades to come, they will cost many, many billions of dollars and the decisions should be bipartisan decisions. I'm going to ask Sharon to add a bit about the submarine announcement, well not really an announcement.
SHARON CLAYDON, MEMBER FOR NEWCASTLE: Thank you Tanya and certainly when I heard the news I thought I do remember this being announced three years ago, maybe a different submarine contract, but I made every effort at the time to get answers from the Government around their thinking. Clearly, Newcastle has a high skill level base, certainly a tradition of actual building, and we currently had contracts before some of our local manufacturers had contracts with what was then the French submarine design which they also found out via a press conferences that that no longer was going to go forward. So really it is difficult to know what to make of an announcement of an announcement and it is really, really disappointing I think that the Government has not briefed Labor, given the need for bipartisan support on these very, very long term contracts, important national security issues. Really I'm disappointed but not shocked, and if it's going to be as difficult to extract information as it was three years ago when they first announced the possibility of an east coast submarine base, then we’re all going to be waiting for a long time I suspect for detail.
JOURNALIST: Sharon, Newcastle has got a proud history of shipbuilding. TAFE was a driver in our workforce here but then of course that dried up and contracts went elsewhere. What then I guess for our workforce that's since reskilled etc, what does this say them that they might be coming back in ten years, whatever. What do you think that says?
CLAYDON: Well such poor planning from day one. I recall actually when Forgacs was winding down, in fact having lots of my Labor colleagues visiting the site at the time, making very clear to the Government that unless they brought on rolling ship contracts where we actually did local build that that was going to be a problem. That's why I'm so proud of Labor's commitment now to building, making things back in Australia again. That is great news for communities like Newcastle and the Hunter. We've got terrific capability in shipbuilding, in high-end manufacturing. You know, those men and women that worked at Forgacs, building LHDs building - the AWDs sorry, and we've, of course, built the Collins class submarine here as well - we have a depth of experience. There is no doubt in my mind that Newcastle's very well positioned here but lack of detail from the Government. They’ve just botched up every defence contract imaginable, threatening our reputation in many of these areas. It's really hard to take them seriously. And I really hope that there will be a briefing for my Labor colleagues very, very soon. You know, you've got great champions in this region who are keen to see what this could mean but without details, hard to make factual comment without the details.
JOURNALIST: One more, and apologies Helen Anne and Lorraine for taking up some of your time. Tanya Plibersek, obviously International Day of Women tomorrow, it's my birthday so I know that it's that day. Now on a more serious note though, the number of sexual harassment or assault allegations at many universities is increasing, at the ANU it's doubled. Do you think that abuse is more common or is this about awareness increasing?
PLIBERSEK: Thanks for the question. When it comes to domestic violence and sexual assault, there's two things happening with reporting numbers. We are seeing increased reporting. We are seeing more people coming forward with complaints about sexual assault, domestic violence and sexual harassment. We're also seeing in the crime statistics that personal violence against women is one of the very few areas of crime where the incidence is also actually increasing. And this concerns me really profoundly. In Australia today, a woman is more likely to be a victim of sexual assault than she is to be a smoker. You think about that statistic for a minute - one in five Australian women will experience sexual assault, one in three will experience domestic violence. In the last five years alone, 40 per cent of Australian women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. That's two in every five women in the last five years alone has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Now, on the one hand, I am pleased to see, you've asked about University reporting rates, I'm pleased to see reporting going up because I think it does mean that people feel more comfortable to make a complaint, but I am troubled by what we know - that underlying increased reporting rates is increased incidence of violence across our community directed at women. So what do we need to do about this? Well, we need to make sure that we have better legal systems, better policing. We need to make sure that when it comes to domestic violence, we too often ask ‘why doesn't she leave?’ when we should be asking, ‘where would she go?’ We need to have a system to make sure that women and children fleeing violence have a place to go, and Labor has a proposal to invest $10 million in new social housing and to see at least 4,000 of those 20,000 new homes going to helping women escaping domestic violence. $100 million for emergency accommodation. We've also committed to 500 extra community sector workers to help people who are escaping domestic violence. We've committed to 10 days paid domestic violence leave so that someone who's leaving a violent relationship can take time off to go to court, to go to the police. And we need to start much earlier with our young people, talking to them about what respectful relationships look like, reducing the rates of violence to start with to start with, not just dealing with the outcome of violence but reducing rates to start with. This is a huge project for our whole Australian community. It will take government leadership. But it also takes the leadership of community organisations like this, and the change they make on the ground. So there is a big task ahead of us. What gives me hope, and I'll say this because it is International Women's Day tomorrow, what gives me hope is we have an incredible generation of young women leaders like Brittany Higgins, and Grace Tame, and Saxon Mullins, and Chanel Contos, who are standing up and speaking out and demanding change. And I think with that kind of demand for change, I have great hopes for Australia in the future.