Australian Prime Minister Press Conference – Melbourne 19 April

Prime Minister

Thanks for joining us, at the end of what has been, in many senses, a dark week for Australia, this has been an element of light. Shining positive vision, here in Victoria, but also providing hope and inspiration for the battle against melanoma and against other cancers. This facility is world class. And I pay tribute to all who’ve been engaged in the work. Particularly the leadership of Paula Fox, whose vision has been realised today. But other philanthropists joining with Federal and State Government to produce what is a world class facility. One space that will be able to conduct research, be able to conduct important care for people, including their wellness as well. And we heard from Chris, today, how important that is. So to Tori and her team, and others who’ve been involved with this, to the Victorian Government for their leadership, that is essential. Today, as well, we have announced increased funding for a new PET/CT scanner that will enable a doubling of the number of Australians who receive scans. That will really make an enormous difference by having early detection, which is the key to dealing with cancer. This joint funding by the Australian Government, the Victorian Government, and The Alfred will ensure that this can be operating in the middle of next year. And just add to the output of this extraordinary centre. So congratulations to everyone involved.

JACINTA ALLAN, PREMIER OF VICTORIA: It’s wonderful to join the Prime Minister and so many partners who have made this very special Paula Fox Melanoma and Cancer Centre a reality. And I want to at the outset thank everyone who has been involved for coming on the journey with Paula to achieve this vision. And this is so incredibly important. We know that Australia has the highest rates of melanoma diagnosis in the world. We know many people get very ill, and many lose their lives. And here in Victoria, around 3,000 Victorians a year are diagnosed with melanoma. What we also have here in Victoria is a strong health system, a strong public health system, that is built on great foundations, infrastructure foundations, but also what makes it particularly special is the quality of the care, the expertise that we get from our healthcare workers who work here, and right across our healthcare network here in Victoria. What is special about this place is that it’s patient focused. It brings together world-leading research here in one place that is accessible to all Victorians through our public health system. And also too, I’m proud to join with the Prime Minister, with The Alfred Foundation, to continue to invest in great quality care for Victorians with the investment in – I’m going to call it, Prime Minister, the Quadra scanner. Because this is continuing to invest in making sure we have the latest technology, means that even the smallest of lesions can be detected earlier, which will save lives. It will provide a better, safer environment for patients to be treated in. It links in directly to the great medical research that is found here. And it’s the only one of its type here in Australia that is focused on providing ongoing care for the Victorian community. This is a really special day for all of us here in Victoria. Many families have been touched by a cancer diagnosis. And seeing this partnership come together – across government, philanthropic sector, with the university sector and research partners. We continue to remain determinedly focused on working with those families through their own healthcare journey and striving towards improvements in the delivery of care for everyone.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on another issue, health issue – vaping which you’ve obviously taken a strong stance on. You still need the Coalition or the Greens to back the reforms. Do you think you’ll need to make any changes to ensure those laws are passed by mid-year?

PRIME MINISTER: Well what we say to the Coalition and the Greens, it’s time to get on board. This is important reform. We can’t have a situation where parents are reporting, as well as teachers, very young Australians who are being targeted with vaping to take it up, something that will have a detrimental impact on young lungs and their health. We know that there’s a targeting of young people, in particular through the colours that are used, using cartoon characters, making it more attractive for young people. This is important reform and we would seek the support of every parliamentarian for this. We know that cancer is something here we’re talking about, dealing with. What we don’t need is at the same time that you have this extraordinary research into dealing with cancer coming, in this case melanomas, often coming from the existence of the sun and our way of life. The idea that you would not do everything you can to prevent damage to people’s health, particularly young people’s health, by taking government action, is something that I don’t understand. And I call upon all Members and Senators to back the leadership that Mark Butler is showing as Health Minister.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, there are two parts to this question. AMA are calling for $4 billion more next year. First of all, will you be contributing that? And secondly, do the states need to be putting more weight behind the funding they’re putting into health?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, doctors will, and interest groups, in the lead up to a Budget, there’s nothing unusual about people putting forward bids. Dare I say it, I’ll be surprised if state and territory governments also weren’t putting forward bids for funding. But what I would say is this, and I pay tribute to the Premier in particular for the leadership that she showed at her first National Cabinet meeting last year, is we came up with agreements that we’re working through, trying to finalise the detail of those agreements. But essentially we established principles which will see the Commonwealth providing increased support for the health and hospital systems of states and territories. In addition to that, we have a range of programs aimed at sort supporting of primary health care as well. And that’s one way that you take pressure off the public hospital systems. Through the issue of Urgent Care Clinics, we promised fifty, we’ve delivered fifty-eight were opened by the end of last year. What they are doing is providing services in places like Prahran, there’s one very close to here that I visited and opened and it’s making an enormous difference.

JOURNALIST: Just in light of the Bondi attack, should targeting women be considered a terrorism offence?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, I know that in the wake of the terrible attack last Saturday, has had a devastating impact on people. And we know as well that violence against women is far too prevalent. We’ve seen last week a demonstration by people in Ballarat saying enough is enough. What we know is that violence against women is far too prevalent. It too often occurs from a partner or a family member. And we know that the statistic of a woman on average dying every week due to violence from a partner or someone they know, it doesn’t tell the story. Numbers don’t tell the story, these are human tragedies as well. Violence has an impact on, an inter-generational impact on children who witness it in the home. And we need to do more to combat violence against women. My Government’s committed to doing that and I know that state and territory governments are committed to that as well.

JOURNALIST: Are you considering tougher laws for social media companies in the wake of that graphic vision that we obviously saw over the weekend?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we’ve taken strong action already. We quadrupled funding for the eSafety Commissioner. I say this, media companies, including social media companies, have a responsibility to act. It shouldn’t need the eSafety Commissioner to intervene, to direct companies, in this case X and Meta, to take down violent videos that show people who have lost their lives as a result of what occurred with the perpetrator committing that atrocity on Saturday. The fact that that was circulated is something that had a real detrimental impact. The Minister for Communications has directed those companies to take down that footage. I also make this point that the police made last Saturday, which is that for people who had video footage of last Saturday, their first thought should not have been to post it online. Their first thought should have been to forward it to police to assist their investigations. We all have, because social media makes all of us publishers of content, we all have a responsibility. But the social media companies that make a lot of money out of their business have a social responsibility. And I want to see social media companies start to understand their social responsibility that they have to others as well, because that’s where they get their social licence.

JOURNALIST: Will you take further steps against X, given they don’t appear to have cooperated with the Commissioner’s request yet?

PRIME MINISTER: We are prepared to take whatever action is necessary to haul these companies into line. We’ve made that very clear because of the damage that a failure to act can have.

JOURNALIST: Any update on the Bollard Man’s visa?

PRIME MINISTER: Damien Guerot was issued with his permanent residency visa yesterday, approved by the Immigration Minister. And people are working through the application of Muhammad Taha. I’m very confident that the work that’s been done would indicate, what you would know is that this person is clearly of good character. This is someone who put his own safety at risk, working as a security officer in order to provide safety for people who were there at Westfield last Saturday. I think this Sunday there will be a vigil at Bondi Beach and that will be an important moment for people in Sydney to come together to show their support and solidarity for the victims and people who were injured and also those who have been impacted by this. It has been very broad indeed. Thanks very much.

/Public Release. View in full here.