Wednesday, 28 July 2021
PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Joining me live now is Labor MP, Amanda Rishworth. Amanda, thanks for your time this morning as always. We just had the Finance Minister on the show this morning. He didn’t really say anything, though. He’s mentioned that the Prime Minister may well be cooking up something later on, and may well announce something, which seems to suggest that something is on the way. So, without having exact numbers, what do you make of that position that more help would be on the way?
AMANDA RISHWORTH, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT: Everyone’s calling for more help. So the Prime Minister, if he’s listened at all to the voices of the Business Council, of Labor, the trade unions, and of people in Western Sydney and Greater Sydney, then he would know that more support is needed. We’re looking at a situation where this lockdown is costing $300 million to our economy each day, it is evidence that more support has to be done. But I would like him actually to – and it doesn’t have to be called JobKeeper – bring in some principles that were really important in JobKeeper. One of them was the connection with the workplace. We know that as this lockdown goes on longer, people are going to lose that connection. And they might be getting a payment from the government, but when the city comes out of lockdown, there might not be a job for them to go back to. And I think that’s a really big piece missing, and hopefully will be in the announcement today. As well as of course an increase in the amount of money that people can access.
STEFANOVIC: Are you talking $750 there?
RISHWORTH: We’ll see what the justification comes up to. But I think importantly, it needs to be more support. Importantly, it needs to be made available to people on social security payments. At the moment, they’re excluded from this disaster relief payment. If you think about students, a lot rely also on a casual job, that casual job is not available anymore, they need help as well. So there’s a range of – you can call them tweaks, I don’t care what he calls them – but a range of things. Increase the amount, make it available to people on social security, but importantly, make it connected to the workplace like JobKeeper was. I’m not sure I have a lot of hope he’s going to do that, because the Minister before flatly ruled that out.
STEFANOVIC: So if there is another tweak today or another change, that would be the fourth change in two months. Is that an example, in your opinion, of the government underestimating this particular outbreak and this particular problem? Or is it more to do with the New South Wales Government not going hard enough early?
RISHWORTH: No, I do think it is the Federal Government underestimating this issue. We saw that when Melbourne had a lot of trouble, they were slow to act then. And it was only in retrospect they provided that support, despite the Premier begging for that support. We have seen them regularly slow to act. That’s why we’ve been very critical about them getting rid of JobKeeper. I mean, there were some problems with JobKeeper, no doubt about it. There was rorts that happened. But why not tweak a program that’s already in place, rather than try and reinvent a new one and then have to constantly tweak it? We know that it worked, we know that it kept connection with the workplace. Yes, there was some rough edges. Yes, it could have been better targeted. Why not make those tweaks, rather than invent a whole new thing and find the deficiencies as we go along?
STEFANOVIC: Well, Daniel Andrews though seems to be happy with what is currently available. So why would your position be different to his?
RISHWORTH: Look, I think Daniel Andrews was probably – and I don’t want to verbal him – but relieved he just got something. Victoria had been rejected and fobbed off by the Federal Government for extra support. So when that support came in, I’m sure he was somewhat relieved. But we’re looking at a pretty extended lockdown in New South Wales now. There is no particular end date in sight and some real concerns. So I think it’s critically important that we get this right, because there’s people’s livelihoods are at stake here.
STEFANOVIC: Okay. Just Finally, the mandatory face to face training sessions that’s now going to apply for Government Ministers. Does that go far enough in your opinion?
RISHWORTH: Well, look, it’s certainly an important step. I think we need to have all MPs do this training. And I know that a proposal will be coming to the Labor caucus to require all Labor MPs to do this training. I can’t see why any MP wouldn’t want to do this training and make sure they’re in the best possible position to manage harassment and bullying in the workplace. So I certainly think that it’s a really important step that all MPs undertake this training, and I would be urging across the political spectrum for us to all undertake such training, because it is critically important.
STEFANOVIC: Gerard Rennick is not doing it, though.
RISHWORTH: Well, that is disappointing, I think that’s very disappointing. And I think he should probably reflect, you know we’re not just MPs, we are employers, and we manage a small team, four or five staff. We need to be responsible employers, and therefore doing training that’s made available to us on these really critical issues, to ensure our employees are safe, is really an obligation we should all take very seriously.
STEFANOVIC: Amanda Rishworth, appreciate it. Talk to you soon.