Doorstop - Kirribilli House, Sydney

Transcript
09 Mar 2018
Kirribilli House, Sydney
Prime Minister
National Redress Scheme; TPP; Steel
E&OE
Health and Social Services

PRIME MINISTER:

Well Gladys, Dan, thank you so much for signing on to this National Redress Scheme. This is such a historic day. The tragedy that was revealed in the Royal Commission, of shocking crimes against children, and the indifference and the denial and the resistance of those institutions to accept their responsibility, and deal with it, change their ways, and provide redress themselves, that was all exposed in the Royal Commission and in large measure, because of the bravery of the men and women who are here with us today and thousands more like them.

They told their stories, thousands of them, heartfelt, shocking sorties of pain. Even while they are suffering from their own wounds, so many are seeking to bind up the wounds of others. The leaders we have here with us today who have been supporting their fellow survivors of child sexual abuse, have been so powerful and determined in their advocacy. Now we have a National Redress Scheme and it is vital – as the three of us have just said – that all States and Territories and all institutions, churches, charities, sign up to it. We want every survivor of child sexual abuse in these institutions, regardless of which institution it is, to be given the redress that they are entitled to. Justice demands it. Love demands it. This is our national response.

So I want to thank you Gladys and thank you Dan for your commitment today. It’s strong leadership, we’ll be continuing to seek to persuade the leaders of other jurisdictions, other states and territories and of course the time has come now for the big institutions, the churches first and foremost, it’s now time for them to sign up to this National Redress Scheme. Justice demands it and they should now step forward and do the right thing.

HON. GLADYS BEREJIKLIAN MP, PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES:

Thank you Prime Minister. Today is all about the survivors. It’s saying to survivors: “We believe you. We thank you for your advocacy and you deserve redress.” I’m very proud to stand here alongside the Prime Minister and the Premier for Victoria Dan Andrews, to have the two largest states sign up to this scheme. It hopefully opens the path for all states to sign up. Also, for all non-government organisations to opt in, that is our aim. Because children couldn’t have helped where they were living and unfortunately, where they were betrayed. We want to make sure that every child or every victim, every survivor has the opportunity to participate in this redress scheme.

Our job today has been relatively easy compared to the survivors and those around them who have been advocating for years. Today is all about them. It’s about their courage in speaking out, their courage in telling their stories, their courage in making sure decision makers have been made aware of their suffering and what we need to do to move forward.

I’m incredibly pleased that New South Wales has signed up, I want to thank our New South Wales Attorney General Mark Speakman. His advocacy on behalf of the people of New South Wales has ensured that our Government is being kept in touch every step of the way. I want to commend the Victorian Premier, he and I have put aside anything else to do what’s right by the victims of child sexual abuse and were pleased to stand here with the Prime Minister acknowledging our support for the National Redress Scheme.

HON. DANIEL ANDREWS MP, PREMIER OF VICTORIA:

It is humbling to here today with the Prime Minister and with Gladys and some other ministerial colleagues, but most of all, it’s very touching to be here with people whose courage and grace and dignity is quite amazing. When you consider what they have been through, when you consider how many they advocate on behalf of and that they have been through, it is quite unbelievable that they can find, every day, the strength and the courage to stand up and to make sure that their story is understood, to make sure that there is sufficient pressure to bring about, firstly the Royal Commission and now of course the important response to it.

I want to thank the Prime Minister and thank Premier Berejiklian for all the work that has been done to get us to this important step and it is a very big and important step. We’ll go to questions in a minute, I just want to make a couple of quick points about what this represents. This represents, there’s no more excuses. There are no more excuses for any church, any charity or frankly any other government in this nation to not sign on to this proper, fair and balanced National Redress Scheme.

The second point I would make is that of course once a national scheme has been set up, once we’ve got signatures in place and we’ve got agreements, not just words and promises from churches and others, but an actual agreement, a concrete agreement to be part of this scheme, there may be an opportunity in the future for us to add to this, for us to do more. The importance of today is that we have taken a very big step and now we expect all of those who have said that they are prepared to be part of making things right, prepared to acknowledge, apologise and provide redress, do just that.

We removed those impediments and now there’s no more excuses, but for those people to join with us in getting on and doing that is fair and just and right.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister do you think the churches are shirking their responsibilities?

PRIME MINISTER:

They can demonstrate that they’re not by signing up, that’s the call to action. We now have the two largest jurisdictions, New South Wales and Victoria, signing up and as both Premiers have said and I’ve said, now is the time for the churches to sign up and get on with it. Justice demands it.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, the expectation is that other states and institutions do sign up, but what if they don’t?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well if they don’t, they will fail the test of justice. They will fail the people they seek to represent and I think they would be judged very harshly. We are providing the leadership, I want to acknowledge the great work of the two Attorneys General here and of course my own Attorney General Christian Porter who was the lead architect of this scheme, supported by a terrific advisory group who met up at the House here.

Its been a very collaborative effort between the Commonwealth and the States and indeed a lot of cooperation with the non-government institutions. But, as Dan Andrews said, now is the time that the rubber hits the road.

Now is the time for them to sign.

JOURNALIST:

But what you’ve announced today doesn’t exactly match the recommendations form the Royal Commission, especially on the cap on the payments, why is that?

PRIME MINISTER:

The cap, the maximum payment recommended by the Royal Commission was $200,000, the maximum under the National Redress Scheme that has been put together, that we’re signing up to, or the states are signing up to today, is $150,000. Our estimate is that the average payment will be $76,350, which is actually more than $11,000 in excess of the average payment the Royal Commission estimated, so that’s an important point to bear in mind.

But it’s also important to get everybody on board. That’s the goal, so there are many different institutions, types of institutions, we want everyone to sign up to it. This essentially has been a structuring of the scheme so as to maximise participation. The first step is to get everybody on board, as Daniel just said. Let’s get everybody on board, everybody signed up and then we can proceed and deliver the justice that these survivors are entitled to and which justice and morality demands.

JOURNALIST:

Are you able to explain how the redress scheme will apply to people with criminal convictions and is it fair to exempt or exclude them, given that obviously we know how many people who have been abused, end up in prison?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again that has been a decision that has been worked through with the jurisdictions. There will be a degree of discretion in the scheme for people in those situations, to make their case. But that’s again, the structure the scheme as its been put together in order to maximise participation.

JOURNALIST:

So by a degree of discretion, do you mean, there may be some convicted criminals who have committed serious crimes, who can still receive it?

PRIME MINISTER:

There will be a degree of discretion, I’m not saying it’s very likely. That has been a clear decision that those people who have been guilty of or convicted of serious crimes, would not be eligible for the scheme. But there will no doubt be special cases. This is an exercise that has been undertaken with heartfelt compassion, but also on the basis of ensuring that we get all the institutions and jurisdictions on board.

JOURNALIST:

Because it is an opt in scheme for non-government institutions, are you hoping community pressure and moral obligation will force them to the table rather than legal obligation?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes, yes. Yes and you know what we’re really hoping – and I hope I can speak for my colleagues here – if a church or a charity or an institution doesn’t sign up, I hope that they will be shamed. I’d be looking forward, I can tell you, we’ll be suing the megaphones we have, to encourage them to sign up and I hope you are all too. I’m sure that if it’s a church, their parishioners and members of their congregations will be doing so.

JOURNALIST:

Will you be shaming the states even if they’re Liberal States and don’t sign up, in the same way.

PRIME MINISTER:

We have been making this case very loudly at COAG, haven’t we?

PREMIER OF VICTORIA:

Indeed. 

PREMIER OF NEW SOUTH WALES:

Absolutely.

PRIME MINISTER:

Very loudly.

PREMIER OF VICTORIA:

On the issue of churches and others - it depends what church is signing up - I would take that as, Catholics in Victoria and others of other faiths attend mass on Sunday. They just pause for a moment to think that the right thing to do is for their church to sign on and to make good and try and make right the crimes that were committed, the hurt, the pain, the terrible, terrible, breach of trust, the betrayal of trust, that the church as involved in for so long. I hope that’s in people’s minds and in their hearts as they attend mass on Sunday morning. I tell you what, it’ll be in my mind and my heart when I do that on Sunday.

JOURNALIST:

Prime Minister, have you spoken with President Trump this week?

PRIME MINISTER:

Hang on, I've got a few things to say about trade but I don't want to –

JOURNALIST:

We've got one more question for you on redress?

PRIME MINISTER:

Yep, please.

JOURNALIST:

Obviously, the Royal Commission recommended this in 2015, it's now more than 2 years later. Is it a case of “better late than never,” are you wishing you maybe moved faster on this?

PREMIER OF VICTORIA:

It wouldn't have included the churches.

PRIME MINISTER:

Yes I think we've moved as quickly as we can. But you know, the important thing is to ensure that now the scheme is in place. Now that the two largest states signed up, we get everybody else to sign up as quickly as possible and get on with it so that from July 1 the process of delivering this redress can commence formally.

JOURNALIST:

If they don't sign up by July 1 what's going to happen to the survivors from other states who haven't signed up?

PRIME MINISTER:

Again, it is a voluntary scheme so it will require institutions and other states to sign up to it. We’re providing this leadership and we believe that the community - whether it is the faithful at Mass on Sunday in respect of the Catholic Church, or voters, citizens in respect of other states and territories - they'll be supporting us in our leadership and our moral advocacy for their governments and institutions, to join. Okay thank you. I have got a few things to say about trade. Thank you very much Premiers. Thank you very much.

Well firstly, this has been a very important day in Chile for trade, for Australian jobs and Australian exports. The signature of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or the TPP-11 in Santiago, was something that many said would never happen.

In fact, if you remember when Donald Trump pulled out of the TPP after being elected President, many people including Bill Shorten, notoriously, said I was wasting my time trying to keep the trade deal going. It was “a vanity project,” he was filled with scorn.

What that told you was that he gives up on Australian jobs.

I don't. I kept at it, meeting here in Sydney with Shinzo Abe, not long after that. We resolved - Japan and Australia - to press ahead. We've had that success and now it has been signed.

This will provide substantial additional access for Australian exports in all the other countries of the TPP-11 nations, including our own.

The fact is, because the deal is now signed, it is something to which the US could return at some point in the future and to which other countries can join. The UK has already expressed interest post-Brexit and there are a number of other countries in our region that have shown great interest.

Turning now to steel and the President's announcement on steel, I was very pleased to see the President acknowledge explicitly today, the strong points that I've been making to him and my colleagues have been making to his ministers, the Defense Secretary, the Treasury Secretary and many people in the White House.

He acknowledged these important points; firstly, Australia is a strong ally of the United States. It has no better ally than Australia - 100 years of mateship he's recognised.

Secondly, whatever complaints the United States may have about other trading relationships, it has no complaints with respect to Australia. America has a trade surplus with Australia, a large one in fact. So we make our case very simply, that whether you look at it from a strategic point of view, from an overall economic relationship point of view, whether you look at it from a trade point of view, there is no case for imposing tariffs on Australian steel exports to the United States, principally to the west coast of the United States.

So I've been in very close contact with the President about this, whether it was at Hamburg last year, at meetings subsequent to that and of course most recently, just two weeks ago.

JOURNALIST:

You've made that case to the President. How confident are you he'll follow through?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well based on what he said today, he expressly acknowledged the points that we've made about the important relationship with Australia, the very strong friendship and of course the fact that America has a surplus in its trade with Australia

JOURNALIST:

Would you like to see something more concrete though Prime Minister?

PRIME MINISTER:

Well there is a process that is going to go forward now, following the announcement. We have seen what the President said about that and we will be engaging in that. We are relentless.

I'm not like Bill Shorten, who would give up on Australian jobs.

Bill Shorten - let's not kid ourselves - gave up on Australian jobs.

Just like he gives up on jobs in North Queensland.

He gave up on Australian jobs when he stood up and said, not much more than a year ago, he said that I should abandon the TPP and mocked it and scorned it. He said: “It's a vanity project, why is the Prime Minister wasting his time?”

Well, I'll tell you what we did. By being relentless and determined in our advocacy for Australia and Australian jobs, we secured that trade deal.

I can tell you, when I was in Washington just the other day, there were a number of State Governors there who noted that our beef exporters for example, will have very preferential access to the Japan market, because of the TPP. They know what that means; it means that there will be more jobs in Australia.

So what we're doing is backing Australians and Australian jobs.

And we're delivering, that's why we've had 403,000 jobs last year, over 1,100 a day.

16 months of continuous jobs growth doesn't come about by accident. It comes about because enterprising Australians put their heart and soul and invest in their businesses and hire, and they have a government that in every day and in every way, is backing them to succeed. That's exactly what we're doing with our discussions and advocacy with the Trump Administration.

But you've heard from the President himself, what he said about Australia and he echoed the very points that we've been making for a long time about the nature of our relationship and of course the nature of the trade relationship with the US.

So thank you all very much for being here on this beautiful day.

[ENDS]