Doorstop Interview - Australian Parliament House

13 Feb 2020
Parliament House, Canberra
Prime Minister

PRIME MINISTER: Good morning everyone. I’m joined by the Minister for Women and of course Minister for Foreign Affairs, and it’s been a pleasure to be involved once again in the, UN Women Australia, UN Women’s, International Women’s Day breakfast here in parliament. And you heard the remarks I made from the podium and the generational focus of this year I think is incredibly important and learning the wonderful lessons and hard lessons of women from previous generations. We can all reflect on those experiences ourselves and ensuring that the sacrifices and the great commitments that were made by women in generations past are being followed through so we're providing those even better opportunities and improved opportunities for women in the future, it’s hard for me to attend to a women's breakfast and talking about generations without talking about my future generations of women and my daughters. But someone who’s done just an amazing job in this role has been Marise Payne and I’ll just ask her to say a few words on this topic. And then happy to take a few quick questions, but we do have commitments this morning.

SENATOR THE HON. MARISE PAYNE, MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS, AND MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Thank you, Prime Minister and fabulous to be here at the U.N. women hosted parliamentary breakfast for International Women's Day. You can see from the broad support that it receives from parliamentarians across all parties in both chambers that we are very strongly committed to the generational equality message that U.N. women is, is working with this year. And we've heard some great stories today, I think, listening to both the Prime Minister and the Opposition Leader reflect on the lessons they both learnt from their mothers and the experience of their mothers is very special for me. But also listening to UN Women talk about the power of the work that they do, actually supported strongly by my Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in our region and more broadly, both of the speakers from U.N. women today have mentioned their work in Bangladesh. And I have visited women’s safe places in Cox's Bazar myself, and then also the power of sport in the Pacific. The strength that that brings to girls and to women in Fiji, as the Prime Minister reminded me that he had met women playing rugby in the Solomon Islands as well, all supported by UN Women. And frankly, all with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and our very, very, very committed and keen DFAT officers who are key to the delivery of these programs. So fabulous to be here, fabulous to reinforce the importance of generational- generational equality, and also wonderful to see so many members and senators from across the parliament here supporting UN Women and International Women's Day on March the 8th.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister just on females, the $150 million female facilities and water safety program the government announced, that is one that would aim, encourage women to participate in sport, but 14, most of that money went to 14 swimming pools, 11 Coalition held seats, mostly marginal. Was that dishonest? 

PRIME MINISTER: What we have done is we made a series of election commitments, at the last election, I think the Labour Party had a $250 million dollars worth of commitments for a similar type of program, we put these projects, we put these commitments to the Australian people and they were supported by the Australian people. And it’s going to achieve the objectives that we set out and we look forward to making sure we get those programs and projects on the ground.

JOURNALIST: What would you say to those considering forming a breakaway LNP party room? And why should Michael McCormack remain Nationals leader?

PRIME MINISTER: He has the full support of his colleagues. He has my full support as the Prime Minister. We've got a lot of work to do, we’ve got dams to build, we’ve got roads to build, we've got the economy to continue to build, and rural and regional Australia, which is going to bounce back. Rural and regional Australia is going to bounce back strongly under the policies that we're putting in place as a Government have been rolling out for many, many years. And rural and regional Australia, particularly through the drought, has been doing it tough and people in rural and regional Australia can see those opportunities ahead now, they can see the hope and we're going to continue to get behind them and realise that the hopes they have for their future.

JOURNALIST: Do take seriously the speculation of a breakaway in Queensland or is that just some low level grumbling?

PRIME MINISTER: The only breakaway I'm aware of is the Otis breakaway, I don’t know if that's Milo and Otis or it’s just Otis, or how many others there are involved in this. But I know that more than 20 Labor MPs, getting together, I don’t think there's a lazy susan at the Otis, but that tends to be the way things are done in the Labor Party. They go off to lunches. They make deals. And it seems that the Leader of the Opposition has a few things to explain when it comes to his last trip around a lazy susan.

JOURNALIST: PM will you consider extending the travel ban against Chinese nationals due to the Coronavirus?

PRIME MINISTER: Well the national security committee is continuing to meet on these issues, as you know, the current ban extends to this weekend and we'll consider those issues based on the best medical advice. 

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you have absolute faith in Michael McCormack’s ability to lead a united Nationals party?


JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can I just ask you about children with disabilities? The NDIS Minister insists that you don't need a diagnosis to access NDIS funding. But paediatricians, families, even the Australian Medical Association say that that's not always the case. Is it possible that there's a disconnect between what the Government is saying and what's actually happening on the ground?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’ll refer you to the, to the Minister as you’ve made reference to him. It's certainly our commitment to ensure that we continue to roll the NDIS out at record levels. We're putting hundreds of thousands of additional people into the NDIS. We're reducing the waiting times. We're reducing the administrative issues that can sometimes be so frustrating for people on the NDIS who are accessing the NDIS. But most importantly, we're fully funding it, fully funding it for the future. And that's a major commitment. And we want to ensure that we address all the practical issues that can get in the way of people getting access to the support they need. And I'm very committed to doing that. 

JOURNALIST: Just on my last question. I know about the Otis group, but within your own ranks, are you seriously worried there might be a breakaway or is it just some low level grumbling?

PRIME MINISTER: I don’t have those concerns.

JOURNALIST: On coronavirus again sorry, are you concerned about the spread of misinformation at the moment and what's the government trying to do to counter that?

PRIME MINISTER: The Minister may also want to comment, but what I want to really commend Australians for, I think, is particularly as time has gone on, I think is the very measured way, and very calm way, they've been addressing what, you know, what is a very, very serious issue. And I want to thank them for the way they've embraced and worked constructively with the 14 day isolation, period. I mean, we are containing this virus in Australia. That's, I mean, you’ve got to assess things on results. And the results are, that the tremendous advice that we've been given by Dr. Brendan Murphy, how he has worked together with the National Security Committee, the amazing work that's being done by Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Australian Border Force. I mean, this has been a whole of Government effort and all Ministers have been very focused on this for many weeks now. And we've had the great support and cooperation from the Australian people as well. Now, one of the things you always have to address is, is misinformation. I mean, this is true in any area of natural disaster. I mean, one of the, one of the things that used to frustrate me so much when I visit so many incident control centres is we would have dedicated resources for people just correcting misinformation on social media. And I’ve got to say mainstream media as well, reports that were just simply wrong. I think the media in these issues also do a tremendous job. But correcting misinformation is something I’d hope the media would be a great partner in doing.

JOURNALIST: Does billing taxpayers for a National Party event pass the pub test? You intervened to make sure that party room meeting has been [inaudible]? 

PRIME MINISTER: The rules should always be followed. 

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister were you frustrated when you learnt of the Nationals planning for their celebration in regards to allowing taxpayers to [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: These are matters for the National Party, these are matters for the Nationals. The rules should be followed and I have no doubt they will be, so I don't involve myself in the internal affairs of the National Party. I lead the Liberal Party. I lead the Government as Prime Minister and we work together as a Cabinet and we're getting things done for Australians, record levels of getting people into work, particularly women. I mean, today, the gender pay gap, still got a long way to go, it's at the lowest level, the number of females sitting on boards of this Government it's at the highest level that we've seen, we’ve got 50 per cent representation of women in the Senate. These are things that are real, they’re practical, they’re outcomes. And I'm focused on getting things done. Thanks very much everyone.