Doorstop interview – ALP National Conference

Wednesday, 31 March 2021

AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Well we’ve just finished the Australian Labor Party’s National Platform Conference. And this was an invigorating conference where we laid down our platform which will take us to the next election. And while it was a bit different than normal because it was all held online, what we had was over 400 delegates, observers, debating about what we want to see for Australia’s future. I was so proud of the discussion, because what it did was outline a platform that has ambition for Australia. Not just going back to the way things were before the pandemic, but how do we make Australia better? How do we deliver cheaper child care for 97 per cent of Australian families? How we deliver secure, well paid jobs. How we deliver a National Reconstruction Fund that partners with business, to make sure that we build things here in Australia and have sovereign capability. And of course, an ambitious plan for the future that supports families to get electric cars and of course, helps businesses change the story so that we have electric cars in this country, so that they’re more affordable for families, and more affordable for business.

This was a very exciting conference, where we laid out a very clear platform that sends a message. Compare our messages – Labor is on your side to deliver to the Australian people – to that of a tired, eight year government. A government that is always thinking about the spin, always thinking about how to protect themselves, and not about the ambition for Australia’s future. Under the leadership of Anthony Albanese, Labor has set this platform down – a platform that does have ambition for Australia’s future, that does want to see families get ahead, see older Australians safe in their homes, and of course, making sure that everyone does get a fair go. That is what Labor’s plan is. And the Liberals’ plan, of course, is just talking about themselves.

JOURNALIST: Australian of the Year, Grace Tame, has described the PM’s Cabinet reshuffle as a “distraction posing as a solution”. What do you make of that criticism?

RISHWORTH: Well look, what the Prime Minister has done has just shuffled the deck. He’s just shuffled the deck and hasn’t actually taken any meaningful steps to address the issues confronting our Parliament and confronting our country. If he was serious about taking real action, he would respond to Kate Jenkins, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner’s report, Respect at Work, respond to the 55 recommendations. Instead, we’ve had a Prime Minister that has tried to spin his way out of the current crisis that his government is in by just reshuffling the deck. This doesn’t go to solving the fundamental problem of respect for women, true equality for women in this country. If he did so, he would have proposed some concrete actions, not just this smoke and mirrors.

JOURNALIST: Grace Tame has also specifically taken aim at the appointment of Amanda Stoker to the role of Assistant Minister of Women over her support for Bettina Arndt. Do you think Ms Stoker is the right person to hold such a position?

RISHWORTH: I think if we talk about who should be leading this country, who should be setting the agenda for women, we need people that are committed to this, we need people that are committed to true equality for women in this workplace. And Bettina Arndt’s comments and views have no place in an Australia that wants to see true equality for women. So I would say that those comments and the views that she’s put forward are not congruent with an Australia that has equality for women and respect for women at the heart of it. So while we have freedom of speech in this country, if we do want to see true equality for women, if we want to see women’s voices being heard, and women being respected, then we need a government that actually backs up those words with action. As of yet, whether it’s Scott Morrison, whether it’s Amanda Stoker, whether it’s a range of other people in the government, we haven’t seen that be backed up with action from this government. If they was serious about it, we would see action.

JOURNALIST: And just on the vaccine, do the States and Territories need to take some level of responsibility for the slow vaccine rollout given that figures show some are stockpiling about 50 per cent of the doses they have received?

RISHWORTH: What we know is that Scott Morrison and the Federal Liberals have stuffed up this vaccine rollout. It is chaotic, it is a mess. They are responsible for it. Now for too long we’ve had this Federal Government shirk its responsibility when it comes to the COVID-19 response. They’ve shirked their responsibility when it comes to quarantine. They’ve shirked their responsibility when it comes to a range of different measures, lockdowns for example. They’ve argued against the States and picked fights with the States. It is now time for the Federal Government to take responsibility. They are the ones that are responsible for the supply of the vaccine. If the States don’t have confidence that the supply will be enough, then that sits directly with the Federal Government. The Federal Government is responsible for this. No shirking their responsibility can get them out of this.

The State Premiers and State Health Ministers know that Scott Morrison and the Federal Government is trying to blame them. Well, I’m pleased that they won’t have a bar of it, because this is the Federal Government’s responsibility. And if they can’t deliver this, then it shoots back to them. We had a promise from Scott Morrison that he would have delivered 4 million vaccine doses by today. We’re at half a million. That is a failure in everyone’s books. Of course, if we don’t get this rollout happening, if we keep seeing these delays, then lockdowns like we have in Queensland will continue to have it happen, and we won’t be able to get back to business as normal. I think the Australian people want Scott Morrison and his Liberal Government just to live up to the promise that he himself made, and actually vaccinate the population.


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