Australian Prime Minister Television interview – Sunrise

Prime Minister

Returning to our top story now. Domestic and family violence has been declared a national crisis after tens of thousands rallied over the weekend. The Prime Minister has called an emergency National Cabinet meeting for this Wednesday, which will solely focus on the horrific rise in violence against women.

MATT SHIRVINGTON, HOST: However, Anthony Albanese has been labelled a liar by one of the organisers of yesterday’s rally after he claimed he was denied to speak at the event.

SARAH WILLIAMS: I’d actually asked him, their office, if he would speak, if he could commit, and they said, ‘Look, it’s a bit too busy, but Katy Gallagher would happily speak and say what they’re doing is amazing with the National Cabinet meeting’. So, him coming out and saying that he asked to speak and was denied was really, really upsetting.

SHIRVINGTON: And the Prime Minister, Anthony Albanese, joins us now. Good morning to you. Look, let’s clear this up, because there’s a wider issue we want to get to. We don’t want this to distract us. Sarah Williams has claimed you lied to the nation. What’s your response?

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Look, good on Sarah for organising the rally yesterday. This is an issue that is a national scourge and a national crisis. I was happy to just attend as a participant or happy to speak, either way.

BARR: So, she said, you’re on the stage with her and there was confusion about, you know, who was going to speak. And then you said behind her on the stage, words to the effect of, ‘I’m the Prime Minister and I run the country’. Did you just say that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Nat, I’m not going to get into, you know, that sort of debate.

BARR: Well, she’s come on national TV and she’s saying that all, like radio and TV around the country today. That, unfortunately, is the message that’s being sprouted. And we know it’s unfortunate, but you could put it to bed now.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Nat, people, including Channel Seven, were there for the recording of everything that went on. So, you were all there. So, the media were all around, they heard everything that was said there. The issue here is that every four days on average, a woman dies at the hand of their partner, and that is a national crisis. It’s something where we need to do better across the board, we need to do better. Governments need to do better over issues like the implementation of the law, over issues including education. This is something which tragically can’t be solved overnight. It is a cultural issue, as well. But there are other things that we can do to provide support in terms of income, support in terms of housing and homes, for people to be able to escape domestic violence as well. This is something that requires a response, not just of every level of government, but of the media, of society as a whole as well, in order to change this culture, because it’s simply something that’s debilitating, it’s something that’s a scourge, and it’s something that lack of respect in relationships is not only damaging to women and children, it’s damaging to the whole of our society.

SHIRVINGTON: PM, we’ll get to the National Cabinet meeting and what you’re hoping to achieve. Just going back, those words from Sarah Williams, ‘I’m the Prime Minister. I run this country’. If they were said, do you regret it?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, you’ve got the footage. You’ve got the footage which was there, so I wish Sarah well. But you’ve got the footage. There were TV cameras and mics all around yesterday. And this should not be a distraction from what is a very serious issue indeed.

SHIRVINGTON: I mean, you can put it to bed now and whether it was said.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I just said, you were there. Channel Seven were there. They were there on the spot, as was every other media organisation.

BARR: Okay, let’s look at the meeting, because we’ve just heard Sarah say, men listen to men more. What do we need to do as a multi-pronged attack on this horrific crisis that is engulfing this country right now, where women are dying every week?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, men do need to take responsibility. And men need to talk to each other as well. Men need to be prepared to call this out. We need education from the youngest level through about respectful relationships. We need a whole-of-society response to what is a whole-of-society problem. Women should feel safe. And the fact that if you’re a parent and your teenage daughter is going out, the response is different from if your teenage son is going out. Women have to think about how they’ll get home safely from the train station or from the bus stop. They need to think about those circumstances all of the time. And that’s something that, you know, it shouldn’t occur. The fact that this is gender-based violence is far too prevalent. And we do have a ten-year plan working with states and territories. We have put in an additional $2.3 billion over our first two budgets. Measures like the single parenting payment that we changed in the last Budget was a really important measure. Doctor Anne Summers did a very important report that said that mums were staying in violent relationships because of the fact that cut out at far too young an age. So, lifting that up to when the youngest child turns 14 was a really practical measure that we put in place to provide that support, which is there. But clearly, we need to do more. We’ll work constructively on these issues. And we will continue to ensure that governments at all levels, but we all need to do better. That’s the truth of the matter. As a society, as a country, we need to do better.

SHIRVINGTON: Without a doubt. I mean, no one’s denying that. PM, thanks for your time. Can you guarantee us something? Can you join us after that meeting on Wednesday and let us know how it went and what sort of change will be implemented?

PRIME MINISTER: Sure. No, always happy to come on the program. I’ve been on there twice today.

SHIRVINGTON: I know. Slightly different circumstances.

PRIME MINISTER: Once in a very unique way, I’ve got to say. Always happy to have a chat.

BARR: Anthony Albanese, thanks very much for your time.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks a lot.

/Public Release. View in full here.