Doorstop Interview - Brisbane

14 Jun 2022
Prime Minister, Minister for Aged Care, Minister for Sports

MELISSA ARGENT, CEO OF ROCKPOOL RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE: Good morning. My name is Melissa Argent and I'm the Chief Executive Officer of Rockpool Residential Aged Care. I would like to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on where we meet, past, present and emerging. Prime Minister, Minister, welcome to Rockpool Residential Aged Care. It is with great pleasure that we have invited you, and you've accepted, to come today for us to showcase this incredible Australia's first five-star, green-star aged care facility here in Brisbane's north in Carseldine Village. Today is about resetting a standard for the industry. Rockpool has redefined and reimagined aged care. And thank you for your support in allowing us to bring this to life and to assist this industry to really, really showcase what's possible. Welcome.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much, Melissa. And it's fantastic to be here. And congratulations to Rockpool Residential Aged Care on what you're achieving right here. And it's great to be here today on my first visit back to Queensland since the election, with our Aged Care, but also our Sports Minister, Anika Wells. And it's good to be here in the electorate of Petrie this morning. Congratulations, firstly, to Anika on her appointment as Aged Care Minister and also Sports Minister, both of which we see behind us and in this building, taking place here today. Look, the Royal Commission into aged care had an interim report titled 'Neglect'. During the campaign, Labor committed, in my last Budget Reply, to a five-point solution for aged care. Nurses being on site 24/7. 215 minutes of care. Better food and nutrition for aged care residents. Better pay for aged care workers. And better accountability. What we said was we can do better, we must do better, that older Australians deserve dignity and respect in their later years. And at this facility. gee, will they get it. This is a world-class facility. Five-star, five green-star facility here in Brisbane, with an extraordinary range of facilities, everything from a cinema, to cafes, to making sure that groups, essentially people will live in communities of 30 people, meaning they get to know each other, meaning they get to make those friendships, to engage with staff, to engage in a way that lifts up their quality of life. And here, you can see the care that has gone into the design of the building, so that here, or if you're sitting here having lunch, they'll be able to watch the kids outside playing sport, be able to see that activity and be able to interact. It will be co-located, as well, with an early learning centre just next door, and anyone who has seen the program Old People's Home for Four Year Olds, will know that interaction between older Australians and some of our younger Australians benefit both. It lifts up and takes years off the life of older Australians. And it allows our youngest ones to be able to benefit from the wisdom and the experience of the older people. And that show on the ABC is, of course, magnificent. But it's not just a TV show. Here, it will be the experience that people have. In addition to that, as part of the facility, there'll be a 30-bed memory support unit. And as well, care and staff training for culturally and linguistically diverse residents. We know that for many people who've come to Australia from a non-English speaking country, in their later years, they revert to the language of their birth. So, it's particularly important that we have that experience and that training for staff in order to deal with it in a culturally sensitive way, including issues like food, as well as language. And this facility here is an example of what the future should look like, but it's here today. It'll be open on the first of August, I believe. And they're very proud of this facility, as they should be. But the residents here will have a great experience. There's no reason why, in people's later years, they should go through an experience which is not worthy of this country. We need to respect our older Australians. It's something that the Government is determined to do, and it is something which Anika has been given the brief, as well as being the given the brief, of course, of being Sports Minister.

I do want to congratulate the Socceroos on their fantastic victory in Doha in the early hours of this morning. A five-four victory in the penalty shootout after a nil-all draw after extra time. It's an amazing achievement to get to the World Cup yet again. And for all those Australians who were a bit tired today at work, I say to their bosses, be nice to them. If someone's having a little kip in the corner, it's understandable because they've been up from four o'clock watching through the 90 minutes plus the injury time, plus the extra time, and then watching that penalty shootout, and then celebrating afterwards, it's understandable that coffee can only go so far. So, be nice to your staff. I look forward, as do all Australians, of watching the Socceroos in the World Cup later this year. And we wish them and Graham Arnold and the team all the greatest success. Anika.

ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE & MINISTER FOR SPORTS: Thanks PM. Good morning, everybody. It's so good to be here with you all in our first press conference as your new Aged Care Minister and Sports Minister. And there could be no better day to celebrate three magnificent things here. Firstly, an iconic Brisbane winter's day here on the north side. Secondly, a world-class aged care facility, which gives Australians hope that there is a better future for us in aged care in this country, something that I know standing in the rain for 10 days at pre poll was one of the core reasons that Australians entrusted us, the Albanese Labor Government, with their vote. They wanted us to turn aged care around. And here, so quickly, we can point to what the future looks like in aged care. A five-star, green-star facility that is sustainable. Also, the first of its kind in this country to be co-located with a kindergarten to allow us to harness the best of all of our generations to work together for a better future and better outcomes. I know a number of our Queensland universities are really interested to study the benefits here so that we can replicate this model across the country. And finally, a third reason to celebrate today, as your new Sports Minister, the Socceroos qualifying for the World Cup. And let me tell you, as a parent who has drawn upon The Wiggles during moments of difficulty, for both strength and success, a country of parents were willing on the Grey Wiggle this morning, Andrew Redmayne, when he made that magnificent save in the penalty shootout. He bloody did it. We're so proud of him. And I would say also, let's acknowledge the leadership demonstrated by both the captain and the coach to make that decision to substitute him on. What a team effort. We're so proud of them. And I was very pleased, on behalf of the Australian Government, to pass along our congratulations to the team, to both the chairman and the CEO of Football Australia this morning. I'll leave it there for any questions.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: You're speaking about respect and culture. If I can just get straight on to China. They're calling for concrete actions. What does that mean and how hard would you work to repair relationships?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is China that have imposed sanctions on Australia. They need to remove those sanctions in order to improve relations between Australia and China. It is a good thing that Richard Marles met with his counterpart on the sides of the conference in Singapore. We do need to engage with each other. And that's a positive step. But it is China that have imposed sanctions. It is China that has changed. And it's China that needs to remove those sanctions.

JOURNALIST: Do you see Richard Marles meeting with his counterpart as a chance for you to reset with Xi Jinping?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, it is always a good thing that people have dialogue and have discussion. And it's been something that's been missing in the last few years. But there needs to be concrete steps taking forward. It is China that has changed the nature of the relationship. They are our major trading partner. So, it is important for Australia's economy and for jobs here that we have a relationship going forward. But China needs to remove the sanctions that they have put in place. There's no reason for them to be there. We are a trading nation. We've fulfilled all of our obligations as part of contracts and arrangements that have been put in place. And we produce good products as well. And those sanctions hurt Australia. But they also hurt China, because of the quality of our produce.

JOURNALIST: Are you arguing that the ball is therefore in China's court and up for them to remove the sanctions, for them to make the next move?


JOURNALIST: And also, with Richard Marles meeting his counterpart in Singapore, do you expect Minister Don Farrell to be able to meet, or hope for him to be able to meet, his counterpart while he's in Geneva? And if he doesn't, does that also say something?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, I think that people having discussion and dialogue is always a good thing. Always a good thing. But these sanctions should be removed. Australia will continue to stand up for Australian values. They are values of human rights, but they're also values of interaction through the economy in what is a globalised world. And Australia wants to trade with China. We want to trade in a way that benefits both countries, as it has for a long period of time.

JOURNALIST: We understand you received a letter of congratulations from the Chinese Premier on your election victory. Have you had a chance to respond?


JOURNALIST: What did you write in your response?

PRIME MINISTER: Correspondence in general, there have been prime ministers who reveal text messages and correspondence, I am not one of them. I responded appropriately.

JOURNALIST: What is the timeline for getting the promised nurses into aged care?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, Anika has been Minister for how many days? A few. What we've said is we want to work towards 24/7 nurses. We want that to happen as a priority. We know that will require training and skill development. I made very clear that it will require, as well, looking at some element of migration as well, to fill skills shortages as will be required, not just in terms of nursing, but in a range of industries. It's something that's been raised with me by the business community. So, we have our commitment going forward. But we also say this. That a better future for aged care isn't something which is impossible. That's not something that's hypothetical. It's something that's here, right now, in this building. And when people come here, they'll experience that better future. So, what we're aiming for isn't, you know, some fictional hope. It's something that can be done, is being done here, and needs to be replicated.

JOURNALIST: Chris Bowen on radio this morning spoke of the Government wanting to implement a 90-day temporary exporting price control to deal with the energy crisis.

PRIME MINISTER: He didn't speak about that at all. I've read the transcript. He didn't speak about that. He was asked about that.

JOURNALIST: He was asked about that. Okay.

PRIME MINISTER: That is different.

JOURNALIST: Is that on the cards then? A 90-day export price control?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, what Mr Bowen said in the interview, the transcript which I read in response to that question, is that all things are on the table. We've said we will have a review of the so-called trigger which is in place. The so-called trigger isn't really a trigger at all, because you pulled the trigger, and nothing happens until January 1. So, what we will do, and are doing as a matter of urgency, is a review. And all things are on the table, as the Minister for Energy, Chris Bowen, said this morning,

JOURNALIST: Is it acceptable that a developed country like Australia is facing blackouts?

PRIME MINISTER: It's not acceptable that we have had a Government, previously, which was in office for three terms, announced 22 different energy policies and didn't land one. That is not acceptable. It's one of the reasons why there's a new Government.

JOURNALIST: Should Australians be bracing for the state for all of this energy volatility to last through the winter, or if this is going to be the situation for the next few months?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, you've had a decade of neglect. You've had a decade of neglect where we have an energy grid that isn't fit-for-purpose for the 21st century. You've had too many arguments taking place rather than the investment certainty which comes from having an energy policy. You have a policy framework, the market then steps in and invests on the basis of that certainty, you have a grid that is upgraded for the 21st century, and what we find is that the consequences of the former Government's failure to put in place an energy policy is being felt right now with problems in the marketplace, because that certainty wasn't available.

JOURNALIST: So, are you saying that the blackouts are going to have to be something that is accepted in the short-term while you deal with what you say is the problems put in place by previous Government?

PRIME MINISTER: No, what we've had is the Australian Energy Market Operator intervened yesterday. They'll continue to intervene to ensure, as much as is possible, that the system can continue to operate. That's the system that is in place. But the problem we're dealing with here is you have often coal-fired power stations that are reaching the end of their life. You've had particular circumstances, as well, with flooding, which has impacted some supply issues. But you've also had an issue where the grid isn't fit-for-purpose for the 21st century. So, you have, just as people in their households have put solar panels on the roof for the reason of it makes good economic sense to then supply energy to their house, the problem is that as the investment has gone to new energy, because it is the cheapest form of new energy, which happens to also be the cleanest form of new energy, then that hasn't been able to feed into the grid. So, you have areas that have been spoken about for years, like the Marinus Link from Tasmania was promised the election before last, and nothing happened. Nothing happened to fix the grid for the 21st century. And that's the problem here. And that is what we are dealing with. Can I say this. The Energy Minister, Chris Bowen, in the meeting that he had with his state counterparts across the spectrum, across the political spectrum, came up with constructive solutions going forward. He'll continue to work with AEMO, the Australian Energy Market Operator. What is shocking about this is that the policy that I announced in my first Budget Reply, more than two years ago now, which was for the Rewiring the Nation plan, wasn't something, as I announced at the time, that we'd come up with in Parliament House, Canberra. It was something that the Australian Energy Market Operator had come up with their Integrated Systems Plan of how you fix the grid. It was all there. And the Government did nothing about it. That's one policy they should have pinched off us and announced it. And I thought that they would. But again, we saw more than two years of inaction. And again, we saw then at the end of last year, when the Government finally released its so-called policy for net zero by 2050. Though I noticed Barnaby Joyce out there bagging it again this morning, even though he signed up to it last year. They were all out there. But all they produced was a pamphlet No actual plan to deliver it. Now, we've produced a plan. It's a plan that's consistent with what the energy sector want. And it's consistent, as well, with what the Business Council of Australia, Australian Industry Group, the National Farmers' Federation, and others have all said they want as well. We have an immediate issue that the Government and AEMO and state and territory governments are dealing with. But it's a direct result of a decade of neglect. Two more questions.

JOURNALIST: Is there any update on your conversations with the New Zealand Prime Minister on deporting criminals to Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: We reported on that, about our discussion. I've said that Section 501 will stay in place. But we'll have discussions over how that framework operates in a sensible way, in the context, as well, of New Zealand has agreed, of course, to take some people who are currently on Nauru. And we'll have those discussions. And in the context as well of how we smooth out the path to citizenship for people from New Zealand, which is a substantial number, right here in southeast Queensland.

JOURNALIST: Are you concerned that the messaging of people smugglers in some parts of Sri Lanka has changed since your election? And what is your Government doing to signal that there has been no change in the policy?

PRIME MINISTER: We're doing it. We're having takebacks, where appropriate. And we have said that Operation Sovereign Borders remains in place. This messaging occurred before the election. And certainly, the Federal Government, the former Federal governments, the Liberal Party, because they weren't the Federal Government, because we were in caretaker mode, including on polling day, the messaging that they sent out on polling day with a text message to millions of Australians, in breach of the Government's own policy, clearly helped undermine Operation Sovereign Borders.

JOURNALIST: Just on cost of living, a lot of Australians are doing it really hard. Will you consider bringing forward the implementation of your child care policy to this year to ease some of those pressures for families?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we're in this year in just a few weeks’ time. So, Parliament won't sit until July 26. We'll be bringing down our Budget in October, that will be looking forward. There are a range of measures that are already in place to deal with some cost of living pressures, which are there in terms of the LMITO changes, the one-off payments that were made, the petrol taxing issue which is in place for some period of time. We understand that there is enormous pressure on cost of living. And that's why we're looking towards areas that make consistent change going forward. Our child care policy isn't about the short-term. It's about making a substantial difference to women's workforce participation, to boosting productivity, and making a difference to cost of living going forward. We have a range of other measures that we will put in place in an orderly way at our Budget. And I look forward to doing just that. Thanks.