TRANSCRIPT: Calvary Mater GP Access After Hours; World Gender Equality Index; Housing Australia Future Fund


MONDAY, 31 JULY 2023

SUBJECTS: Calvary Mater After Hours Clinic Sunday hours restored in full; Australia jumps 17 places in World Gender Equality Index; Greens blocking Housing Australia Future Fund

SHARON CLAYDON, DEPUTY SPEAKER: Good morning. Sharon Claydon Federal Member for Newcastle. Well, great news for Newcastle this morning with the restoration of full operational hours for the GP Access After Hours Clinic at the Calvary Mater Hospital in Newcastle. This is welcomed by tens of thousands of Novocastrian families who use this service and increasingly rely on this service to deliver free quality health care for themselves and their families. It was a big election commitment from the Albanese Labor government. And I am absolutely thrilled to see its implementation. Full restoration hours on Sunday covers off on all those sporting injuries that kids are having over the weekends. And of course, keeping people out of emergency departments where we know it is super expensive to treat people for those that don't necessarily need to be in an emergency department.

I also want to celebrate the fact that Australia has jumped in its world gender equity rankings from 46 to 23. That's 17 jumps in just the last 12 months. It is an incredible, an incredible result. And I really want to pay tribute to the Albanese Labor government who in their first year of office have made gender equality such a strong focus of the work of this government. This increase of 17 places in those world Gender Equality Index rankings is the largest increase since these records first began in 2006. So, it is no small feat. And this is what happens when you have a government that has a majority of women, where your federal cabinet has the largest number of women ever in Australian history. And you have a government that is focused on delivering paid parental leave, gendered pay gap transparency issues, we're focused on delivering housing for women and children leaving domestic violence, eradicating the scourge of violence in Australia. We know just already this year how horrific those figures have been. So having a government focused on that is critically important. We are a government that's not afraid to measure our outcomes. That's why you have a dedicated women's budget statement now that is tracking everything we are doing. And that is why the World Economic rankings have been able to increase Australia's standing in the world in terms of gender equality, from position 46, the lowest we've ever had, now back up where we should be. We said we would be a leader in gender equality in the world. That's where we want to position Australia, and that's the trajectory we're now on.

And of course, in order to deliver on that promise, to make sure that women and kids fleeing violence are afforded safe housing, we need we need the Greens, the crossbench and the opposition members to get on board now and pass the housing bill that stands before this Australian Parliament. It's a critical time, the time where the greens can listen properly to their constituency. I've been out doorknocking in my electorate and I know that those Greens voters have told me they want this Bill passed because they understand, they want more than their party to be just a party of protest now. They need to get on board and be part of progress too. This is a Bill that will deliver housing not just for women and kids fleeing domestic violence, as important as that is, but also to veterans who are increasingly on the brink of, are either homeless or at risk of homelessness. The idea that you could argue that you are for affordable housing, and yet vote against it is a nonsense. It's an absolute nonsense. Seriously, the Greens should take the wins that they have had in terms of negotiating some great outcomes along the way. I don't think this is the time now to just keep changing the goalposts. This is an opportunity now for the Australian Parliament to rise to the occasion of playing an important role in solving what is a crisis in terms of housing for this nation. You don't do that by voting against the largest injection the federal government has had in terms of housing in Australia. Traditionally, the Commonwealth government steps aside and doesn't play a role in housing. We saw that in the last 10 years. You know, to be kind to the former government, they kept to their word saying ‘this was not the Commonwealth responsibility. This is a matter for states and territories’. Well we've said, as a Federal Labor Government, as previous federal labor governments have done, that we recognise housing has been a critical need in our communities, and the situation is so severe in so many parts of Australia that it does require an injection and investment from the Commonwealth.

The Greens know full well, the limitations of Commonwealth powers. We'll do everything we can to be working with states and territories to deliver maximum results for the Australian people. But we need this Bill to be passed in Parliament. You cannot stop housing for women and kids fleeing violence. You cannot stop housing for veterans. We know housing projects in New South Wales are currently on pause because of the uncertainty created by the voting against this bill last time. So my one message to anyone who cares about housing in Australia is this is the time to really stand up and be counted. You cannot be for affordable housing, and then go and vote against it. Thank you.

REPORTER: What do you make of the Greens’ demands, and particularly their request for rental caps?

CLAYDON: The Greens know full well the extent of Commonwealth powers. So it's just Greens doing what Greens do, and that is you know, they just keep pushing, keep pushing, pushing, pushing. They're not a party of government so they are satisfied, it seems at present with being a party of protest. You know fine, they think that that's their role. There is a role always to be played in good constructive, proposals to be brought to the table. And the Greens know that this is an issue for state and territory governance, that we are working hard with all the state and territory governments in Australia to deliver good outcomes for Australian people. But they're just doing what the Greens always do. And the message from greens voters to me has been: ‘tell them to get out the way now. This is time, you know’. It is an untenable situation to try and block, to argue that you are for, you recognise there's a housing crisis, you want to see improvements in this area, but there's $10 billion on the table, plus a whole lot of other measures that Australian governments are taking, and they're going to turn their back on that. That is an untenable situation for all Australians actually. Australians want to see governments get on with the job. We had an election where this was a centerpiece policy for the Albanese government, there is a strong mandate by the Australian people for the implementation of this policy. By all means, the Greens can continue to agitate for more and more. That's what they see their role as, but they cannot get in the way of a policy the Australian people have already endorsed.

REPORTER: The Prime Minister hasn't ruled out a double distribution over this issue. Is it something likely be considered?

CLAYDON: It's not ruled out. I mean, I would hope that the Greens would, along with other members of crossbench would vote in support of this bill, that would avoid any speculation about any double dissolution. And it is, you know, an opportunity to stand up and be counted now. Do not you know, turn your back on 30,000 homes that are ready to be built now. Plus the 10s of 1000s of other projects the states and territories now have in a pipeline of uncertainty. They've hit the pause button not knowing where things are. We've got to unlock that. We need housing in Australia. We know supply is an issue. We're offering to do something about that supply. There's an opportunity now to do that. Thank you.