Transcript of joint doorstop interview, Melbourne
SAT 26 MAY 2012
Subject(s): Review into workplace bullying; Brodie’s law; Enterprise Migration Agreements; Australian Labor Party
PM: I am here today with Minister Bill Shorten and with Damian and Rae Panlock and we’re here today to talk about bullying in our workplaces.
I feel very concerned that in workplaces around the country there are people, particularly young people, who are being bullied at work. When the Productivity Commission is telling you that this might be costing our nation between $6 billion and $36 billion, then that makes you really worry that there’s a silent epidemic out there. That there are people who are being bullied who aren't feeling that they can raise their voices and report their experiences.
Talking to Damian and Rae today they know-
JOURNALIST: My apologies.
PM: I was worried about you for a second; I thought that was going to hit you. And someone's recorder is on the floor. OK, that’s alright, no damage done, no sound guys were injured.
That's the main thing.
PM: That’s right; we can put a disclaimer up at the end - no sound recorders were injured during the course of this press conference.
I’ve have had the opportunity to have a conversation with Damian and with Rae about their family experience and they will talk about that family experience themselves, but it led to the loss of their daughter Brodie. And they fought hard here in Victoria for Brodie’s law, to have a law that deals with serious bullying at work.
We, today, are here to announce a parliamentary inquiry into bullying around the nation. We are already taking some action, particularly through our new workplace health and safety laws and the development of a code of conduct by Safe Work Australia.
But I am concerned more needs to be done and if we have a national parliamentary inquiry, it will enable people to come forward, tell their stories, help us work out the prevalence of bullying in work places and also help us add to what we are doing now.
And one way we could add to what we are doing now is to take Brodie’s law nationally and to have common national laws to deal with bullying at work.
So I’ll turn now to Minister Shorten, who might want to say a few words, and then hand over to Damian and Rae.
MINISTER SHORTEN: Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be here with the Prime Minister and also very importantly, Damian and Ray Panlock.
Parents worry about their children growing up and being safe, but no family should go through what the Panlocks have been through. Their daughter was going to work, she was doing well and yet what was happening to her at work meant that one day she didn't come home.
This is a dreadful experience for any family. Bullying is a secret scourge; it is far too common in all Australian work places. There is no excuse for bullying. Having a parliamentary inquiry, where the voices of people who have been bullied can be heard, where families can explain what they’ve been through, I think puts a very human touch on what is a national problem.
The experts say it costs between $6 billion in the work place, to up to $36 billion, according to some experts. The Commonwealth Government is moving to have national safety laws, but we believe that workplace bullying, even if it can't always be seen, is as big a scourge as anything else which is hurting our people at work, in particular our young people.
So we want to do this because we don't want any other family to have to go through what the Panlocks and their family have been through.
DAMIAN PANLOCK: Thanks Bill
RAE PANLOCK: I'd just like to thank Ms Gillard and Bill, Bill’s been with us for quite a long time and it has been a long, hard road and it’s just wonderful so many people are united in this particular cause.
It is a really toxic environment, that bullying creates, and it does have a serious effect on people's state of mental health and it would be nice to know we can all go to work, young or old, and feel safe and that it will be taken seriously.
I just don't want to see young people, or of any age, go through what we have had to go through with the loss of Brodie. I'd just like to thank everyone.
JOURNALIST: How important is this (inaudible)
RAE PANLOCK: Very important. We have got the one in Victoria and it’s just wonderful that it will be a national thing because it happens in every state, everywhere and it’s just wonderful.
Thank you Ms Gillard, thank you Bill.
DAMIAN PANLOCK: I think uniformity, I think throughout all the States, and that's where Julia Gillard comes into it and Bill Shorten, that they will change the attitude and what the laws are going to be and looking at bullying, particularly in the workplace with young adults that are trying to get on with what they are trying to do, trainees, apprentices, whatever.
It’s our children. It’s really is, it’s our village; we’ve got to look after them. And it takes the community to look after them, not just their parents, or their teachers, in the workplace, bosses or whatever.
And this is what’s got to change, attitude, training, and with the good help of Julia and Bill and their team, I reckon we'll do it.
Across Australia, it’s got to be done. All the same. Each State. Not just one or two States.
JOURNALIST: Mr Panlock, do you hope that a new national law would be named in your daughter’s honour?
DAMIAN PANLOCK: It’d be nice, but I think any law is a good law that changes these things.
RAE PANLOCK: Definitely.
MINISTER SHORTEN: The question you asked about a parliamentary inquiry, how does that assist - the Commonwealth is working on a code of practice, but it is no secret that, unfortunately, sometimes there is friction between Commonwealth and States about who should do what laws.
Let's just park that issue for this issue of workplace bullying. I believe that there is enough bipartisan good will to take the initiative of using a parliamentary inquiry to look at having a common national law, wherever you are in Australia, you cannot bully people at work.
PM: Are there other questions on today's announcement?
If there is not, we’ll just take some other questions of the day. Thanks.
JOURNALIST: Ms Gillard, would you tell us about the special visas policy, are you supportive of the policy?
PM: Look, my concern here, and the concern of the Labor Government, is always to put Australian jobs first.
As a Labor Government during the global financial crisis, we put Australian jobs first and now we are putting Aussie jobs first too.
We’ve got an economy where we’ve got an economy where we have got half a billion dollars - sorry $500 billion, I should be saying half a trillion - $500 billion of investment projects in the pipeline and that means that there will be tens of thousands of job opportunities for Australians.
I want to make sure, as those jobs come on stream, that Australians get the benefit of having those jobs. Now the sheer size and scale of what's happening means that we will need some foreign labour. We’re working to make sure Aussies get jobs first.
Yesterday Minister Bowen announced a particular arrangement for one project in the Pilbara, at least 80 per cent of the jobs on that project will go to Australians.
But yesterday I decided that we would add to what we are doing to make sure that Aussies are getting the jobs first. We will have a Jobs Board, which will be a way for Aussies to know what's happening in the resources sector and what the jobs are, and companies won't be able to bring in foreign workers if there is an Australian ready, able and willing to do the work on the Jobs Board.
And second, I'm strengthening oversight of Enterprise Migration Agreements.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, it’s been reported that you didn’t know about the deal until it was done. Is that true, or were you involved in the negotiations?
PM: Look, I don't, on any day, comment on internal government processes, but the important thing for Australians is that people get access to job opportunities, that we are looking to Australians first, skilling Australians, getting them to fill these jobs.
These are jobs in our resources sector. It’s our mineral wealth and we want to share the opportunities that comes from getting that mineral wealth out of the ground. That's why we’re focused on Australian jobs first and foremost.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you just said you were putting some checks and balances, but unions today though are fearful that this may open the floodgates for foreign workers in other industries.
PM: I can assure everyone that we will be putting the interests of Australians at the front of the queue and we will be putting Australians looking for work at the front of the queue.
There will be tens of thousands of job opportunities in the resources sector and I want to make sure that Australians get the benefits of those opportunities, that we are skilling Australians first and getting them the jobs first.
Now there will be some need for foreign labour, the amazing size of what's happening in our resources sector means that there won't be enough Australians available to fill all of the jobs that are necessary, but Australians will always come first in getting these job opportunities.
JOURNALIST: Are you concerned about the divisions it’s causing within the party? I understand Doug Cameron this morning said he’d been gobsmacked (inaudible)
PM: Look, I am sure Doug Cameron, along with all Labor members understands the importance of jobs. We worked very hard, as a Government to support Australian jobs during the global financial crisis and we’ll be doing exactly the same now.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on the issue of bullying, many people would say that we should be leading by example; there’s been some pretty unsavoury scenes in Canberra in recent times. Should we start there?
PM: Look, I’m not here today to talk about what's happening in Canberra, or matters associated with the Leader of the Opposition.
We are here today with Damian and Rae, a couple who know what this is like from losing their young daughter Brodie, and we want to respond to that very serious issue of bullying right around the nation at work
It does really disturb me. We don't even know the size of this; we don't know how many people are feeling under pressure in their workplaces. We have taken some steps to respond, but now this parliamentary inquiry is the next step, so that we can get national arrangements that make a difference for people who might be feeling fearful at work.
JOURNALIST: Back to that visa issue, given that you have said that you’re going to be introducing new measures, does that mean that this (inaudible)
PM: It means that each and every day, we keep monitoring and improving policy. As a Government that's what we do.
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are you going be leading the Government to the next election?
PM: Yes, I will.
OK, thanks very much.