Australian Prime Minister Doorstop – Parliament House, Canberra

Prime Minister

Thanks everyone for joining us here today at the important event of UN Women’s Breakfast. Kicks off the International Women’s Day festivities, and this year it’s focusing on counting women in and around economic empowerment for women and driving economic opportunity for women. And of course, one of the most important things in the parliament right now is our tax changes, which when you look at them and look at them carefully, 90 per cent of Australian taxpayers will be better off under the Labor tax plan. And importantly, in those highly feminised industries, where we see large concentration of women in the care economy, in teaching, in nursing, in aged care, disability, you’ll see that up to 98 per cent of those workers will get a better deal, keep more money in their pocket every week because of our tax plan. And we know that one of the most important things we can do is drive economic equality, as a way of driving gender equality. And I’m going to hand to Amanda now to say a few words.

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Thank you. Well gender equality is so critical but of course, people can’t thrive if they are not safe, and women cannot thrive if they are not safe. And that’s why I’d like to personally thank the Prime Minister’s commitment to ending violence against women and children. Our government has made this a key priority and that is why we’ve not only delivered a National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children, but we have backed that up with $2.3 billion worth of investment. And that investment goes right across the board. Yes, it is focused on crisis and recovery. But as the Prime Minister pointed out today, it’s also investing in prevention and early intervention. Critical areas if we are going to end the cycle. So this is a commitment our government’s made, I’m now going to throw to the Prime Minister to add to my comments.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Well, thanks very much to Katy and Amanda, and thanks to all of the team who are here, senior ministers in the government, who are making an enormous difference. As we approach in the National Women’s Day, I am so proud to lead a Government that has a majority of Government members are women for the first time in Australian history. Now, this makes a difference. It means that women are senior members making decisions around the Cabinet table. So the views and experiences and lives of women are injected into every single policy, and that means we get better outcomes. It means it’s more reflective of Australian society as a whole. And that’s why part of our process of agreeing to put forward legislation on tax changes is to make sure that people weren’t left behind, is focused on the impact on women. Ninety per cent of women will get a larger tax cut than they were going to get, and 100 per cent of women will get more, when you look, will get a tax cut. When you look at the impact as well of the 930,000 extra hours per week that will go into labour supply, a lot of that is women returning to work, is people working part time while they juggle the duties of caring for children as well as earning an income. In addition to that this will assist on adding to living standards of women, because women are now earning more with the gender pay gap being closed. We want people to earn more and to keep more of what they earn. And particular beneficiaries, if you look at where these income tax cuts will now be focused is in feminised industries – childcare workers, aged care workers, people who work in the teaching profession, our cleaners, people who were the heroes of the pandemic deserve more than just our thanks, they deserve a pay rise. And if you look at aged care workers, what we’ve seen under my government is on top of the normal increases that would have occurred, a 15 per cent increase in pay, and now on top of that a tax cut where many of those workers would have simply got not a single dollar had we not introduced the legislation that was introduced yesterday in Parliament.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the opposition and Jacqui Lambie say the right to disconnect could be sorted out through a conversation between employers and employees. Why does it need to be law?

PRIME MINISTER: These things have been advanced through the discussions that took place last Friday, between Tony Burke and employers. What we’re simply saying is someone who’s not being paid twenty-four hours a day shouldn’t be penalised if they’re not online and available 24 hours a day. And indeed, many companies and businesses have exactly these systems in place now.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what do you think of Peter Dutton promising further tax cuts?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s been some time since I’ve seen such a vague commitment, but I’ve never seen such a vague commitment from a Labor government or a Labor opposition, let me say that. You can’t just say, ‘Oh, we’re going to have more tax cuts, we can’t tell you what they are, we can’t tell you who they are aimed at, we can’t tell you how we’ll pay for them’. But what we know is that last time Peter Dutton had some influence over an incoming government, when he was a senior cabinet minister, having been the Minister for Revenue at a time when taxes as a proportion of GDP hit record highs, never reached before, never reached since under Peter Dutton. We know that he came in as Health Minister and he introduced a GP tax, or tried to, of every visit to the doctor. He tried to introduce a charge for every time someone turned up at a hospital. He tried to increase pharmaceutical benefits. There was a freezing of payments for GPs, as well. And there was massive cuts to the health sector. So if the opposition wants to say that they’re just going to have more tax cuts then, this is, bear in mind their third position that they’ve had in a week, then they need to say, what will the cuts be? And what will the new taxes be in order to make up for it? Either that or they’re going to be fiscally irresponsible. Now we inherited a $78 billion deficit and turned that into a $22 billion surplus. What that has done it put downward pressure on inflation, its monetary policy working with fiscal policy, not working against each other. This is just a thought bubble from Peter Dutton, who if he was fair dinkum, that our change of position is a bad thing then he’d vote against it and he’d promise to roll it back.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the Closing the Gap Report out today is quite scathing. It says that the funding the gap agreement is on the brink of failure. What do you do to reverse this trend?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we need to do more. We need to do more, and the Government acknowledges that. We’re doing work, particularly at the moment across a range of issues. We’re talking about how do you build housing in remote Australia? How do you increase the use of justice reinvestment? How do you create employment through Indigenous Rangers Programs? How do you convert the CDP, what effectively is a Work for the Dole program into real jobs with real skills, creating real opportunity for First Nations people? How do you improve health outcomes for Indigenous Australians? All governments need to do better, the report today is a reminder of that. The government acknowledges that, which is why we’ll continue to put forward practical measures in order to close the gap and we’ll be making our statements when that Closing the Gap report is tabled shortly. Thank you.

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