Wednesday, 12 September 2018
SUBJECTS: Women in the Liberal Party, Peter Dutton and the au pair affair, The Liberal Government’s bungled child care changes
ASHLEIGH GILLON: I am joined now by the Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education, Amanda Rishworth. Amanda Rishworth, good to see you, thanks for your time. We have seen Labor and I see you have been out this morning on the doors of parliament accusing Scott Morrison of bullying over this GST story. We are seeing denials from Scott Morrison and now from the Tasmanian Treasurer that the words reportedly used from Mr. Morrison they say were incorrect. Are you worried that there is this wide spread culture of bullying in Canberra or is this just apart of politics?
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION AND DEVELOPMENT, AMANDA RISHWORTH MP: There have clearly been a number of women that have stood up in the Liberal Party and said they believe what happened during the leadership spill went across the line and was much more than the rough and tough tumble of politics- some actually had their preselection’s threatened and I think what has been most concerning is that Scott Morrison seems to be- as the new Prime Minister- in denial about this. He seems to regularly be saying that this didn’t happen, that there was no bullying. I think any organisation that is in denial about bullying within their organisation won’t go at all to solve the problem. I think it is a pretty big concern that Scott Morrison isn’t dealing with this and the Liberal Party isn’t dealing with this- I think people would expect some leadership from him.
GILLON: Is the Labor Party though, taking too many leaps when it comes to some of the attacks you have been using? As I mentioned, you and your colleagues have been quick to make this bullying link to Scott Morrison over this GST story that has been denied by the Prime Minister’s office. Then there is the Peter Dutton case- Labor has been hard on the attack over that situation despite the fact that we have seen the former Home Affairs boss, Roman Quaedvlieg being discredited, in terms of some of the information he has put forward on the public record has been found to be incorrect, to be false. Mr. Morrison has launched a very strong defence of his Home Affairs Minister this morning, Labor is continuing to pressure him to resign over some of these issues.
RISHWORTH: I think I will start with Scott Morrison and the descriptions that were in the paper this morning about him calling Tasmanians beggars. Now, whether that is true or not, of course we have got some reports out there but of course what he hasn’t denied is that Malcolm Turnbull had to put him aside and actually step in on the GST negotiations because he wasn’t listening to his colleague in Tasmania, he was not able to do the deal and so it was actually Malcolm Turnbull who had to set him aside. That is a pretty damming description of the negotiations and very concerning for Tasmanians who rely on a fair share of the GST to ensure they can get the services they need. In terms of Peter Dutton; does any of what Peter Dutton has said actually answer the questions that Australians are asking? Peter Dutton and his description of events just don’t pass the pub test. When we talk about the information out there, this is all on the public record, Labor has been asking questions about documents that are in the public record and I think Australians what to know they have a transparent, accountable government and that is clearly not the case when it comes to this Morrison Government.
GILLON: You are not worried that Roman Quaedvlieg will turn out to be the Labor Party’s Godwin Grech? That you are relying on his word too heavily on this issue?
RISHWORTH: What the Labor Party has asked questions on- and rightly so- I am sure the Australian people would expect, is on public documents and a Senate Inquiry as well as the Minister’s own published email. Let’s be really clear; the Minister has said he did not know this person and the email suggests otherwise. There are serious questions for the Minister to answer. He needs to be accountable to the Australian people. Australians are sick and tired of Ministers skirting and not answering questions and not being accountable to them. The Minister is really trying to deflect answering the questions, trying to distract everyone from the fact that he has some serious questions to answer and the events just don’t pass the pub test and I think Australians do expect more and I think they expect more from the Prime Minister himself. Why isn’t he taking some leadership and demand that Peter Dutton clearly explain the events that happened instead of just defending him which is what he is doing.
GILLON: Well, I think we will hear more about this in a couple of hours in question time this afternoon. I do just want to look at your portfolio. I have seen this report today in the Courier Mail suggesting that a technical issue with the government’s IT child care subsidy system means that at least one child care centre is saying, look we aren’t going to be able to pay our workers on time because the subsidies have not come through on time. Is it really fair for you to be out pressuring the government on this issue? The government doesn’t own or operate child care centres, it isn’t responsible for paying the wages of workers in individual centres. This case does appear to be one anomaly. The government says overall the new system is working very well.
RISHWORTH: It is the government’s IT system which they introduced. A new payment system which they indeed failed to test before they went live. There was very little work done with providers to prepare this, despite having a large lead in time. So it is the government’s responsibility to make sure they are paying the providers and paying the families. What we do know is this is not just an isolated case, I have got numerous examples of whether it be families that have been struggling to get on to the system and have not been backdated payments or whether it is providers that are struggling to get payments from the government, whether it is families or providers struggling to meet the new requirements- whether it be the activity test or indeed the children at risk test; there are problems with this IT system which was the government’s own design interfacing with the software that providers use. It has been a complete shambles and a complete debacle and it has been disappointing the government has been so focused on itself and not the workers that aren’t being paid as a result or the families that can’t get on to the system. Quite frankly it is time the government stops focusing on itself, focusing on who is Prime Minister for the day, who is knifing who in Canberra and actually get on with the job with actually providing these payments to child care centres, to educators, to workers and indeed families because at the moment this isn’t an isolated incident- we continue to hear stories where people are unable to get on to the system and centres are not being paid.
GILLON: Amanda Rishworth I have done a few interviews with you in recent months since this new child care subsidy kicked in and you have raised a number of concerns in various areas about how this system is working. You have flagged there may be some changes from Labor, when will we see Labor’s child care policy? Why is it taking so long for you to announce it to Australians? You are talking about the need for transparent and honest and upfront about what their plans for the country are, surely this is a pretty key policy from Labor we haven’t seen yet?
RISHWORTH: Ashleigh, I would say Labor has been on the front foot in announcing many many different policy areas- just last week I was with Bill Shorten to announce Labor’s commitment to a Military Covenant in my other portfolio. I am working very hard. Last week I had a meeting with a number of educators who continue to point out holes and problems with this new system and so I want to present a comprehensive early education policy and I will do that along with my Labor team but we are working to make sure we address the problems that continue to arise under the government’s scheme. I am not going to announce it here on your show today but I can assure you Labor will have a thought out and detailed child care policy- early education policy that will make sure that child care is available to Australian families.
GILLON: Well, we all look forward to seeing it- hopefully sooner rather than later. Amanda Rishworth thanks for joining us live there in Canberra. Thank you.
RISHWORTH: Thank you.