Doorstop, Canberra ACT

10 Sep 2019
Prime Minister

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are social media companies doing enough to protect children? For example, Facebook is allowed to have encryption across all its apps. Is this a way of protecting paedophiles?

PRIME MINISTER: This is one of the issues that we raised when I was at the G7 not that long ago and obviously there is an important role to play for social media platforms, for digital platforms, whether that's on how they deal with things like eating disorders or how they deal with bullying or how they deal with sexual predators. I mean, these social media platforms, they bring all sorts of new opportunities in our modern life but they come with opportunities for those who have malevolent intent. And so it's been a key focus of our Government and myself actually as Prime Minister to heighten the level of awareness of this to ensure that countries are working together. Because these social media platforms extend beyond any country's boundaries and so it's important that we get all the large economies of the world working together. So we've done that at the G20, we've done that at the G7 and I'm now finding that these companies are actually reaching out to governments as well to work with us to see what more can be done by them. They're the ones who built this technology, they know how that works better than anyone else, and so engaging them in actually making social media platforms and digital platforms safer for all Australians I think is a very important goal and we'll keep applying ourselves to it.

JOURNALIST: How concerned are you by the way out this morning by Suicide Prevention Australia that if worsening rates of suicides continue they’ll actually increase by 40 per cent over the next 10 years?

PRIME MINISTER: We could not be more committed to taking on the challenge of our towards zero goal on suicide prevention. All the resources of our Government are directed towards this and I think my remarks earlier today reflect the Government's commitment.

JOURNALIST: ...suicide can be in some cases substance abuse.  Can you guarantee that if you do introduce drug testing that there will be a rehab space for every single person that needs it?

PRIME MINISTER: We've put $10 million into the trial program - remember this is a trial program. We want to see if this can actually be effective in achieving the goals we will set and that is to assist people who are struggling with addiction to break their addiction and to be able to go forward and get themselves into employment and have a completely different life. And that's why we've put that $10 million in and that's what currently is there. And the reports today, that could mean more than $60,000 per person who would potentially be referred under this program and we see that as a positive investment because that investment can change that person's life. So this is why you do trials. You try things because these are difficult problems and you have to ensure that you're having a go at trying to fix these problems. Now, if you're not prepared to do that, well, you're clearly not committed to trying to address this issue. We're committed to addressing it and that's why we're seeking to put these trials in place.

JOURNALIST: Pushing people onto cashless welfare cars could further stigmatise and how do you square that with…. 

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don't accept that.

JOURNALIST: Senator Lambie seems to be... seems to want more infrastructure, more rehabilitation centres to be built. Would the Government be open to that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we're going to sit down with Senator Lambie. I mean, the Bill will be considered over the next few weeks, if not when Parliament returns again. The Senate is in charge of its own process and we’ll work closely with all the Senators. I would hope Labor would support it and the question is why won’t Labor support a fair dinkum trial to actually try and deal with one of the biggest challenges that we have and that is to help people break addictions and find themselves in employment and actually change their lives for the better. 

JOURNALIST: Will it be awkward when the Fijian Prime Minister visits next week given he's been a bit critical of Australia’s climate policies? 

PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. I have a wonderful relationship with Frank Bainimarama. We were texting each other on the very same day. I'm looking forward to seeing him again. We have a wonderful relationship.

JOURNALIST: And on the bushfires, can you tell me what government systems can people now access and what's your response to the worsening situation?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the emergency assistance payments that are actioned through the national program which the states are participants of, they are already starting to be made available, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland. There'll be further updates today provided on the Queensland fires. I understand that about 10 o'clock today or thereabouts we'll be in contact again with New South Wales and Queensland authorities. When these requests are being made we are actioning them immediately. The fires, as we know, extended into the Sunshine Coast yesterday. That has had a real impact there. So my simple message to Australians is to listen carefully to the warnings that are there, to follow those instructions, to not put yourself if at all possible in a position of risk and to provide support to one another as Australians always do in these circumstances. Once again, we've seen on display the great character and care of Australians when they're facing these sorts of disasters. And I want to thank everybody, all the volunteers who've been out there, all of those who've been out there providing assistance to people working in the evacuation centres or out there supporting the firefighters and indeed the firefighters themselves. They’re true national heroes. Thank you very much.