Australian Prime Minister Doorstop Interview – Ballina

Prime Minister

: Welcome, everyone. I’m Justine Elliot, I’m the Member for Richmond and I’m very excited today to have the Prime Minister back again on the North Coast. And this morning, of course, we’ve been at Beacon Laundry at Bangalow. And the Prime Minister officially opened that wonderful Social Enterprise Laundry, and I’m really proud as the local MP to have committed $750,000 towards that project if a Labor government was elected, and indeed we were and we are delivering on the ground like this wonderful Social Enterprise Laundry in Bangalow. And of course, now we’re in beautiful Ballina and we’re talking to local families about the really positive impact of Labor’s paid parental leave. And it’s making such a difference to local families, and it’s so good for the economy as well. So, it’s lovely to have the Prime Minister here firsthand to hear about the big difference of Labor’s policies and making the difference for families on the North Coast.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks so much, Justine. And it’s been a great day here on the North Coast of New South Wales. Firstly, Beacon Laundry an amazing social enterprise, giving people an opportunity in life, making sure that people aren’t left behind that they can enter the labour market, providing as well as service for local businesses, hotels, resorts here on the North Coast for the tourism sector that is so important. So, it was a terrific morning earlier on there in Bangalow. And it’s been great here in Ballina as well to speak with local families. And Georgie Dent from the Parenthood will make some comments, assisted by young Chance here who is making his media debut today. But he’s pretty keen and up for it. Because paid parental leave is something that we committed to during the election campaign. And what we have done now is make sure that we’ve legislated for that six months of paid parental leave for either parent to engage with. Something that will make an enormous difference for children, make a difference for parents, also assist the economy. But the other thing that we’ve done, which we said we would do when the opportunity arose, is to provide for superannuation on paid parental leave. Now, we know that all mums are super, and I certainly had a super mum in my life who made such an enormous difference. But people shouldn’t miss out on their super while they’re being super mums. And that’s what this reform will do. Making sure that over a lifetime of work, women aren’t falling behind, aren’t retiring with less income. We know that one of the groups who are most rising in terms of dealing with poverty are women over the age of 50. One of the reasons is if they don’t have access to super during their working life or if their super is far less, particularly if there might be a family breakdown, they find themselves in a real economic predicament. So, paying super to super mums will make an enormous difference and adds to our paid parental leave commitments that are the biggest increase in paid parental leave since the former Labor Government did introduce it way back in 2011. I was proud to be a part of that Government and I’m proud now to be a part of a Government and lead a Government that has introduced the biggest increase in paid parental leave since it was first introduced 13 years ago. Super will make just that little bit of difference as well. And it’s been terrific to talk with not just the mums here, but talk as well with their children and hear the stories of how this will make a practical difference to people’s lives.

GEORGIE DENT, CEO OF THE PARENTHOOD: Thank you, Prime Minister. My name is Georgie Dent, I’m the CEO of The Parenthood and today we have been able to bring six families from the North Coast here today to talk to the Prime Minister and the local Member about the difference in the impact that paid parental leave has on their lives. Now, all of the families that are here today have got different situations, but they all share a really key understanding of just how fundamental paid parental leave is for their own families, for their own financial situation. We’ve got one mum here today, Jackie, who is a single parent who’s raised three children. She was talking to the Prime Minister about the difference that having superannuation paid on paid parental leave would make to her now, because since she’s had children, it’s been really difficult to reestablish herself in the paid workforce. We had another mum, Charlotte, who is a preschool teacher herself, and when she had her twins, because they were born prematurely, when she got home they could only, she had to go back to work when the twins were just, they’d had ten weeks at home. All of these parents that are here today know that every additional week of paid leave makes a profound difference in the lives of parents and families and their children. We also spoke today about how paid parental leave goes to the heart of valuing the incredible work that parents do when they are caring. When, you know, 90 per cent of brain development happens between zero and five. So, parents have in their hands the future of our country. Every child’s future matters. And having policy settings like decent paid parental leave that includes superannuation, goes to the heart of valuing that work and that undertaking. At The Parenthood we are always incredibly grateful for the opportunity to sit down with decision makers and for parents to be able to speak openly and honestly about their reality trying to raise a family and provide for a family. And we thank the Prime Minister for coming here today and having time with each of these families. I’m really sad that my little sidekick Chance just left, but I think he’s a budding politician in the making. Thank you very much.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much, Georgie. Happy to take some questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Does Australia plan to support Palestine –

PRIME MINISTER: Well, can we have questions on this first? And then I’m happy to take broader questions.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Government’s been talking about the need for super to be paid on parental leave for a really long time. What difference is this going to make economically to the women that we’ve seen?

PRIME MINISTER: This will make an enormous difference, not just in the immediate sense, but in giving women the confidence to know that they will have higher retirement incomes. So, paying superannuation is an equity measure, but it’s also good economic policy. Because what it will do is encourage the birth rate to increase, it will encourage the women to have the confidence that they are valued. Having a child is one of the most significant decisions that people will make in their lives. And it’s good for local communities, but it’s good for our national economy as well. What we are doing by having paid parental leave, and by having superannuation paid on it, is showing that we value the contribution that parents make. That we will provide that support when it is needed and it will make such a positive difference. And today we have heard firsthand from mums the difference it will make to them.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they can be receive that superannuation payment while they are receiving paid parental leave. So, by extending paid parental leave up to six months, and we’re extending it in stages so that by 2026, in two years’ time, it will reach that six month period. It’s something that we’re absolutely committed to. And it will make such a positive difference. And it also, by making sure that it can go to either parent as well, we’re encouraging dads as well, or whoever the parents are, to be able to participate for in their young child’s life. That’s good for that bonding experience that occurs as well. It’s so good for nurturing that is being made possible. And having superannuation on top of that is another way of encouraging that shared parenting that can be such a positive experience.

JOURNALIST: You visited Social Laundry today. Is there an opportunity for more businesses like that to be rolled out?

PRIME MINISTER: There’s an enormous opportunity to grow social enterprise in this country. Because what we see with Beacon Laundry is it’s providing a service to local businesses, resorts, hotels, motels, in a way that they need, but in a way that is providing local employment in an efficient, economically sustainable way. It’s using sustainable enterprise as well. They’re using recycled water, they’re using solar panels as well to generate energy on that site. But importantly as well, it’s an investment in people. And the joy of the participants in that social enterprise, the pride that they were experiencing in going from having issues, be it issues of addiction or long-term unemployment, mental health issues, homelessness. Being given that opportunity to get work in a way that then enables them to go on to other work with other employers as well. Having had the confidence of being able to work in that enterprise for a period of time, is just so positive. The other thing that it does is that it builds on social interaction, so that that engagement that they were all having, people spending time then after work or on the weekends with each other, is so important for those people participating in that exercise. It is building a society is what is going on there that is so positive. And the other thing that it occurs and why the grant from the Federal Government of $750,000 should be regarded as an investment. If you look at the opportunity cost if that wasn’t happening, the cost to governments would be far greater than that of providing support, providing jobseeker allowance, providing support with housing, providing support with mental health. This is something that is economically rational to do and will save money for governments, help build that social enterprise, help build local communities, and something that the local community there, from the council and other philanthropists who are contributing, wear all that sense of pride. And I just, you know, shout out to Justine Elliot for being a champion of that. This is as good a local event that I have been to as Prime Minister, just to see those beaming faces at what is an appropriately titled enterprise – Beacon Laundry. Because it is a beacon, it’s a light shining there from that enterprise, shining out, showing positive jobs, positive lift up of people and people not being left behind.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we continue, we’ve got record investment in social housing. We have 17 different measures worth $25 billion providing support for housing. We have in our Housing Australia Future Fund, a $10 billion investment that was held up by the Coalition and the Greens Party in the Senate for a long period of time. Now, the first round of that has closed and it’s massively oversubscribed, showing the demand which is there from local community housing providers willing and able to make investment to help ease the homelessness issues for people who are in need. Our $2 billion Social Housing Accelerator is rolling out already, including here in New South Wales, over half a billion dollars that’s immediately available. Our increase in rental assistance in the last Budget was the largest increase in 30 years. These are all measures that we are putting in place together with state and local government, but also with the not for profit sector to make a difference on these issues.

JOURNALIST: Regarding super, who is eligible for that? Is it just the mums or the dads as well?

PRIME MINISTER: Both are eligible when it comes to the paid parental leave. So, it’s a way as well, of encouraging that sharing, shared parenting, which can be such a positive experience. Okay, thanks. Other issues?

JOURNALIST: Will Australia vote for a Palestinian state (inaudible)?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the issue on a two-state solution is one that Australia has had for a long period of time. And indeed, in statements that we have made, we’ve consistently said that we need a long-term political solution in the Middle East, which is the right of Israel to continue to exist within secure borders. And for a way of that being, that security being enhanced is obviously being recognised by other states in the region. In order for that to happen, there needs to be, as well, a two-state solution, justice for Palestinians in a way that is secure for Palestinians and secure for Israelis.

JOURNALIST: (Inaudible) recognising Palestine as a state?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have said for a long period of time that we support a two-state solution. Now, we don’t think that Hamas should have any role in a future Palestinian state – we’ve made that very clear. They’re a terrorist organisation and not a legitimate party to the future of Palestine. And they are an organisation that have not assisted either Palestinians, as well as of course, are being committed to the destruction of the state of Israel. What we want is Israelis and Palestinians to be able to live in peace and security with stability, and to be able to prosper in the future in a region which is peaceful.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, for clarity, are you willing to recognise a Palestinian state while Hamas is still in control?

PRIME MINISTER: We have said very clearly that we want a two-state solution and we’ve said very clearly as well, we’re working with like-minded partners as well to say that Hamas has no role in a future Palestinian state.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition say recognising a Palestinian state means you support terrorism. What do you say to that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we have had a long-term position of support for a two-state solution in the Middle East. Nothing has changed in our position there. And that has been a stated position of past Australian governments as well. We have said that every innocent life matters, whether they be Israeli or Palestinian. We have unequivocally opposed the actions of Hamas on October 7 as the actions of a terrorist organisation. That organisation is outlawed for good reason and we have called for the immediate release of all hostages which have been held by Hamas. We’ve done that consistently.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Foreign Secretary of the Five Eyes partners (inaudible).

PRIME MINISTER: David Cameron, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, has made very similar positions which he has made clear there is nothing has changed in Australian Government position of support for a two-state solution and support for peace, security, stability and prosperity in the Middle East. Thanks very much.

/Public Release. View in full here.