ANDREW HASTIE MP: Good morning everyone and welcome to Canning. It’s a pleasure to have the Prime Minister, the Health Minister Sussan Ley and the Assistant Minister for Health Ken Wyatt with us here today.
We just had a very productive meeting with the leadership team of the Peel Youth Medical Service and it is a significant milestone for us down here. As you might recall, back in April we had a series of tragic suicides and I rang the Prime Minister and I let him know about it and we convened an emergency meeting in Perth and he met with a series of local leaders and we talked about the Peel Youth Medical Service health hub project. And during the election campaign, the Prime Minister pledged $2 million of federal money towards that project, and I'm very glad to have you along today to deliver on that commitment.
We've talked about the acquisition of land, the facility itself and what it will look like, and it’s been a very positive meeting today. It’s a great public good, it will service five local government areas. It will be right near a train station, the only train station in Canning and it will target youths aged 12-24. So without further ado, PM, thank you again and I look forward to working on this project with you into the future.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much Andrew. Look, it is great to be back in Western Australia with Sussan and Ken and Andrew on the first occasion since the election. And this is the term of delivery and we are here today confirming the delivery of our election commitment, to support the Peel Youth Medical Service – PYMS - to support the suicide prevention trial in South Perth, the South Perth area within the whole primary care network in the southern part of Western Australia - in fact it covers the whole part of the State. We are determined to ensure that we support the mental health of all Australians.
Yesterday you saw Sussan and I making important announcements with the Veterans Affairs Minister Dan Tehan, supporting mental health of veterans and today we are driving that support again to the young people in this area. The challenge that we face, as all Australians, is to ensure and preserve and promote the mental health of our whole nation, the mental wealth of Australia is an asset in which we all have a vested interest. We all have a vested interest in everybody else's mental health. That's why engagement, awareness, recognition, acknowledgement of the mental health challenge is so important, and that is why the non-judgmental treatment that is provided here at PYMS, the GPs that we spoke to earlier, the young people, the members of the Youth Reference Group who are such shining examples of young men and women who have faced mental health challenges themselves, taken advantage of the services here at PYMS, and are then able to be ambassadors and role models who can empathise with their own generation and make sure that they get the support they need.
You know, if we succeed in improving, as we will, the mental health of young Australians here and around the country, we are making an investment that will repay Australia for generations to come. This is a vital national objective. The days of stigmatising mental illness, the days of treating it as a taboo and not talking about it, should be gone. We have to recognise this is a reality, we have to recognise the problem and by recognising it now we act, and that is what we are doing today and I'm delighted to be here with Andrew and of course with the Health Minister Sussan Ley who will speak to you in a moment, and our assistant Minister for Health, Ken Wyatt.
HEALTH MINISTER: Thank you very much Prime Minister and can I thank you for your ongoing real passion for mental health, not just of young people who we are talking about today but of all Australians. And to the people of Canning, can I say how fortunate you are to have Andrew Hastie as your local MP. As soon as he came to the job, he was on the phone to me as Health Minister, and I'm sure to all of my Cabinet colleagues, fighting for this region. Because of his efforts and the Prime Minister's interest and our determination to improve Mental Health services across Australia, we are delivering something very special at the Peel Youth Medical Service today.
When it comes to our national mental health reforms, this is an example of why they were necessary and why they are going to be best practice because we are not doing something from Canberra that describes what a regional approach should look like. We are relying on the local people, with local information, to say what works best and why. And the Peel Youth Medical Service has given us lots of ideas. In implementing the trial in suicide prevention and mental health, it will add to the learnings that will then form new policy in other primary health networks across Australia. Now our primary health networks are not well known but in a way, that's a good thing. They are the commissioning and the contracting body. What they have informing what they do is clinicians, teams of local people, teams of young people, to say what we need and how it should look on the ground. And that's what's going to play out here.
So thank you very much Andrew and I know you will keep an eye on this as it moves forward and we are delighted to continue to support you. We are very lucky to have as the Assistant Health Minister a West Australian, Ken Wyatt. So Ken, I’d love you to…
ASSISTANT HEALTH MINISTER: Thank you very much Andrew, because mental health has always been something that’s been a passion of mine from my involvement in health in WA and NSW. And listening to the two young people today tell their story and tell us what this service means to them, was an important learning for all of us to think about. Because sometimes we take for granted that our youth don't have significant challenges, and when they said and took you through a symptom that then leads to an underlying issue of their mental health, or their state of anxiety, then that becomes the way in which we engage. I want to acknowledge the staff who provide that support. Listening to you this morning as well, shows the dedication and the commitment that you have to young people in this region and I know, because of your work, people in this region will be well served, so congratulations. And Andrew, you have our support in the work that you do down here as well. So well done.
PRIME MINISTER: Thank you. Are there any questions?
JOURNALIST: Why is the sale of Ausgrid -
PRIME MINISTER: Just before we move to Ausgrid, and we’ll get to it, are there any questions on the announcement today and PYMS and mental health issues?
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there’s a $192 million commitment during the campaign on mental health. You were in Mandurah earlier in April meeting with the kids. Can you describe in your terms how PYMS is going to get to that $6 million that they need to build the group? Will you perhaps pick up the phone to the Premier and get him involved?
PRIME MINISTER: I will be seeing the Premier later today and I will certainly encourage the State Government to provide support. I suspect they will be supportive as indeed local government is, as indeed, the local community is but we are making a substantial commitment which has been secured by Andrew Hastie, but this is a very strong community and the way it has pulled together in the face of some very tragic events is something that we all admire. I just want to pay tribute to the mayor, the local community leaders, Andrew as the Federal Member, for the way in which the community has pulled together, to respond to some tragic events, tragic deaths and redoubling efforts to support and improve the mental health of our young people here in this part of WA.
JOURNALIST: Bob Carr says the decision to block the two Chinese companies from bidding for Ausgrid is xenophobic. Given these two companies have other major electricity holdings, doesn't he have a point?
PRIME MINISTER: Let me assure you of this - the decision to block, as you describe, the sale of Ausgrid to those companies was taken solely on national security grounds. It was based on the absolutely unequivocal advice from our national security agencies. That was the basis of the decision.
JOURNALIST: What’s changed since November when Scott Morrison gave the Chinese encouragement to bid? Today he was asked what had changed since November and he refused to say. Are you able to say what changed?
PRIME MINISTER: I can't disclose the advice that was given to us by our national security agencies, for obvious reasons. But what I can assure you is that the advice we received was absolutely unequivocal. This was not a political decision. This is a decision taken by a politician, by the Treasurer, of course consulting with his colleagues. This is a decision that was taken with the utmost seriousness by the Government. A decision of considerable gravity, I can assure you, but it was taken based on the unequivocal advice of our national security agencies and I might say that the Opposition have been offered and I expect will receive very shortly, a classified briefing from our security agencies on this issue.
JOURNALIST: You are making it sound as if our relationship with China is at some great risk. If that's the case, why isn't it reasonable to share that with the public?
PRIME MINISTER: I can assure you that the decision was taken on national security grounds and the proposition that was put to me is not consistent with the decision taken. We have a very strong relationship with China, one that gets stronger all the time. The decision that was taken with respect to the sale of Ausgrid was one based on national security grounds and I regret to say that there are occasions - and this is one of them - where national security precludes us describing in full detail and it is in the national interest that we are circumspect - we are not in a position to describe in full detail the reasons for the decision.
JOURNALIST: Why is the sale of Ausgrid more of a national security threat than the 99-year lease of Darwin Port?
PRIME MINISTER: Each transaction, each asset, is distinct one from the other. The national security considerations, as I said, were based on the unequivocal advice from the agencies on this occasion led to the decision that has been announced yesterday by the Treasurer.
JOURNALIST: Are you able to say whether the advice was based on the vulnerability of the asset or the threat posed by the bidding company?
PRIME MINISTER: I can't go into any more detail than I have. I understand your legitimate interest in it but there are decisions that governments have to take on national security grounds and we do so with great care and with an immense sense of the responsibility that we have, the responsibility that is imposed on us as the Government to make these decisions, but we do so based on the advice of the best security agencies in the world and the advice in this case was quite unequivocal. That is the assurance I'm giving, that's the assurance the Government gives.
JOURNALIST: Why is the 99-year lease of Darwin Port not a national security threat?
PRIME MINISTER: Again, I've answered the question. All of these transactions are separate and distinct. I know there was some controversy about the Darwin Port but in that case, as you know, the national security issues were carefully investigated by the Department of Defence and indeed by ASIO and I think you'll find Dennis Richardson gave considerable detailed evidence about that in Senate Estimates.
JOURNALIST: It was advised this morning that the cyber-attack on the Census website originated in Australia. The last couple of days we have been told it probably originated overseas. Which one is it now?
PRIME MINISTER: Let me be very clear about this. Firstly, the information that I have from the Australian Signals Directorate and from the ABS is that the cyber-attacks on the Census website came from offshore and appeared to originate from the United States. That's the first point. The second point is that does not mean that they were American actors because, of course, as I'm sure all of you know, it is not very difficult to route traffic through another country using virtual private networks and other techniques, so that’s the first point.
The second point is the denial of service attacks were entirely predictable and predicted - they were expected. All of your websites, every bank website in particular, government websites, are constantly under these denial of service attacks. Again to be very clear, a denial of service attack, or a distributed denial of service attack, often called a D-DOS attack, is not an attempt to infiltrate a computer or server - it is designed to prevent access to it. It is like parking a semi-trailer in front of your driveway – stop people getting in and out. That was very predictable. The fact is that the service provider for the Australian Bureau of Statistics, IBM, did not put in place sufficient measures to deal with an entirely predictable circumstance - denial of service attacks. That's a fact. So there was a failure in provision. There was also a hardware failure and what the Bureau has described as the confluence of events, that and some other circumstances led them to make the decision to take the site offline, but it was not crashed by denial of service attack, it was not hacked, Australians' information was never compromised, it was never accessed by third parties so this was a failure. There is no question about that, it caused inconvenience to millions of Australians but what the Government has done and what I have done as Prime Minister, is as soon as this occurred, I made sure the Australian Signals Directorate were on the case straight away.
They are the best technical minds in this country in this field – without doubt. They got on the case. The matter has been dealt with. Provisions - measures have been put in place and as you know the site has been back up online and when I was last speaking to the Minister responsible for the ABS in the Government, Michael McCormack, about 2. 7 million people had now completed their online forms and I want to say to all Australians, go online, complete your Census form, it is in the national interest for you to do so. That information that you and millions of other Australians provide will enable us to better to plan the provision of health services like here in Mandurah and all government infrastructure. It's critically important. Please complete the form online or if you choose not to do that, complete the paper form which you can obtain from the ABS if you've not got one already.
JOURNALIST: Counter-terrorism police are investigating whether 27 million in childcare subsidies and rebates has been rorted. How could such a situation happen?
PRIME MINISTER: If you are asking me how can childcare subsidies be rorted? There is a constant issue with compliance with all government programs and –
JOURNALIST: More in relation to the connection with terrorism, Prime Minister?
PRIME MINISTER: Please, okay - let me answer your question. Firstly, in preventing and stamping out fraud where people access government payments and government funds improperly is a constant task, a task of endless vigilance. Christian Porter, the Minister, as you know, made important announcements about compliance during the course of the election. We are constantly on the case to protect your money, to protect Australian taxpayers' money. Any instances like this are rigorously investigated and those responsible will be dealt with, they'll be brought to account and where the money can be recovered, it will be recovered. Now as to the alleged connection with terrorism, again, I can't comment on a particular case but I want to assure Australians that while the threat of terrorism is very real, while the threat level is classed as probable - we are relentless in our battle against terrorism. I said earlier we have the best security agencies in the world. We do. We have the best servicemen and women in the world.
I'm standing next to an outstanding ex-serviceman in your local member here in Canning. We have the best defence forces, the best security agencies, the best intelligence services and police forces and they work 24 hours a day seven days a week, day and night, to keep us safe. And wherever we find evidence of terrorist activities, it will be disrupted - the people concerned will be brought to account. We are relentless in defending the security of Australia and defending the safety, ensuring the safety of Australians at home and so far as we can, abroad. That is our task. There is no more important task for government than that and we are relentlessly committed to it.
Thank you very much.