Prime Minister – Transcript – Press Conference – Melbourne, VIC 9 May

Liberal Party of Australia

PRIME MINISTER: Well, good morning, everyone. And first of all, happy Mother’s Day. Many mothers are with us today, and particularly any who are watching on. I had a wonderful morning with Jen and my own Mum who’s with me today here in Melbourne. And so happy Mother’s Day, Mum, from Alan and I. Today is a very special Mother’s Day to be making the announcements we are making here today. It was a pleasure for Jenny and I to come here today to a place which has been the source of so much hope for families right across Melbourne. And there are so many other places like this all around the country. And already we have seen significant investments in supporting Australians to be able to have children where they would never have had that hope. And this has been happening since the late 70s now. I remember when Jen and I were going through this for many, many years. The chances of success were very, were very low. We we’re about 1 in 3 and often, often less. That’s right. And now they are so much higher. And they’re so much higher because of the amazing work that people like Professor Gardner, and amazing Australian medical scientists who have changed the game for families right across this country and are leading the world in reproductive technology and medicine here in Australia. And it means the world to a family to be able to become a family because, you know, couples they see themselves as that family already and they see this whole process, as a way of achieving that. And when that hope is realised, there’s nothing greater, absolutely nothing greater. And we want to continue to help families become those families they want to be. And that’s why today we’re announcing we’re going to build on the $330.6 million to support the maternal, sexual and reproductive health of Australian women and girls by announcing a further $53 million to support women, to become mums and to support the mental health of new mums and dads. The package has three elements today. The first one, starting the 1st November of this year, we will commit $14.4 million to help support Australians who have cancer for genetic diseases and conditions with the cost of storage, eggs, sperm and embryos. Now, can you imagine you’re dealing with cancer and there’s so much that has already been taken from you and one of the other things that you feel will be taken from me is the opportunity to have kids. What this does is change that and it takes away another battle that you thought you were going to have to face and by providing for the cost of ensuring that those embryos can be frozen. That changes their life. And I can think of no better Mother’s Day gift than that. In addition, the support today, $13.7 million to support new parents and parents expecting a child with the whole process, the birth of a child life event service and I’ll ask Greg Hunt to go through that in more detail. But that’s all about telling people things once and allowing the whole process of how children and families could be connected to health services across the country being made simpler and being made easier for families. It’s stressful enough when you’re having kids to deal with all the things that you’re dealing with. When you get the paperwork and all of this, I’m seeing a few nods around the room, and to make that easier for families when all they really need to be focussing on at that point is each other, their child, their health, and in some cases there can be real challenges when children have health difficulties at birth. And so we want to make that whole process easier. And I’m joined by Arabella Gibson here today who runs the Gidget Foundation. And today we’re providing $25.7 million to the Gidget Foundation to establish another 20 new perinatal mental health and wellbeing services over the next four years. Now, that will complement the existing 23 services that are there, and that’s to support the perinatal mental health of parents, mums and dads. It can be an extraordinarily stressful and trying time and the mental health issues that can arise post-birth, it can be inexplicable. And so the work that the Gidget Foundation does is truly extraordinary. Now, Jenny’s had quite a bit to do with them, and I’m just so thrilled that we can be providing that support. You know, I love it when we invest in things and that’s always our goa, investing in things that work. When we’ve seen things that we’ve invested in and they’ve worked, we keep going, we double down. And that’s why, particularly in this program, it’s combining with the Head to Health kids centres where many of these services will be established, so we bring those services together. You know, on a day like today when I’ve been spending, as you know, each day talking about the importance of a strong economy, this is why it matters. This is what a strong economy is for. Australia has one of the most advanced health systems of any country in the world. It’s what helped us get through the pandemic. It’s what’s going to continue to help Australians live healthy and long and full lives. And for the women and men who these services are supporting today, it’s going to be life changing for them, in their circumstances, particularly those who are dealing with genetic conditions and those women are fighting cancer as we speak. This is how you back people up in this situation. This is how you back families in. There is nothing more important in this country or in this world than family. That is the centre of everything and these services help make families stronger in our country. And that’s how you get a strong Australia. I’m going to ask Greg to say a few words, going to ask Anne to say a few words, then I’m going to ask Arabella to say a few words and then hopefully we could have some questions on this topic and very happy to [inaudible] the others.

MINISTER HUNT: Thanks very much to the Prime Minister and Anne and to Arabella, to David and Fleur and Linden who are bringing new lives into being every day, every week, every year, and then to some of those beautiful new lives that we met today, little Henry, Bridget and Emily. Today is about hope and support for potential parents and for new parents, in particular across our women’s health strategy. We’ve focussed on five major things. Firstly of course is maternal, reproductive and sexual health and we’ve already announced support for carrier screening, which is Mackenzie’s mission to allow new potential parents to test whether or not they might carry a genetic mutation. And if that is positive, then to have pre-implantation genetic testing to ensure that the embryo that’s implanted doesn’t carry the condition which might passed through the genes. And then today as the Prime Minister has set out, now we’re adding support for sperm, egg and embryo storage. We, we stood in a room with 20,000 potential lives, one room, a whole town of future people in one room. And that’s real life and science coming together. And today’s measure is about supporting families to go through that process of freezing egg, sperm or embryo for future need as they’re going through cancer or treating their genetic condition or preparing to bring a child into the world. And that’s immensely important. The savings of $600 a year pale by comparison with the opportunity of what’s being created. Then, of course, as part of the Women’s Health Strategy, we have support for ageing, the screening program as part of that, and in addition to that, we have the support for the chronic conditions endometriosis of which the Prime Minister and Anne were such champions during the course of the Budget process. And then we have mental health. And the Gidget Foundation announcement is about perinatal mental health. We know that 100,000 parents in Australia in any one year may face a mental health challenge. And this is about nearly doubling the support that we give to new parents around Australia. And then finally, of course, in the Women’s Health Strategy there is our support for recovery from violence against women. And this is something that Anne has led and has contributed to. So all of these elements, plus the administrative support for the registration of new baby through a one stop shop process to bring Medicare, Centrelink, hospital advice and all of the different elements together into a single process pioneered in the ACT, all credit to the ACT now being taken around Australia. Thank you very much.

MINISTER RUSTON: Thank you very much. And of course happy Mother’s Day for all of Australia’s mothers and I take this opportunity to say happy Mother’s Day to my Mum, because it might be the only chance I get to do it. But look, thank you. It’s fantastic to be here today for another announcement in support of Australian women and their health and wellbeing. No Government has done more to support Australia’s women when it comes to their safety, their economic security and their health and wellbeing than this Government. In the last two Budgets alone, $5.5 billion has been invested in making sure that Australian women have every opportunity to succeed in this country. In my area of social services and women’s safety, we have made an absolutely historic commitment to women’s safety with the $2.5 billion commitment not just to reduce violence against women and children, but to end it once and for all. Because if we are going to live in a country that is free of violence, we must stop gender based violence happening in the first place and we are absolutely committed to that. But in addition, we still need to make strong investments in response when women and children find themselves victims of domestic violence. And a very important component of that $2.5 billion commitment over the next five years is around recovery. $142 million has been put against a number of programs to make sure that we assist women who are recovering from the trauma of violence because we know that the trauma often lives on well after the violence has occurred. So we are investing this money to make sure that health professionals are properly trained to be able to identify those things that are likely to be early indicators of violence. We are also investing in making sure that our services, our health services are targeted and well focussed on making sure that they meet the needs of the complexity of issues that women who are recovering from violence face. And we are also have made a significant investment in the Ilawarra Centre, which is a world’s best practice, fully wrap around service to women who are escaping violence. So it is through a strong economy that we are able to continue to make these record and historic investments in women’s safety, their economic security, their health and their wellbeing to make sure that all Australian women have a place to live that is safe and secure and free of violence.

ARABELLA GIBSON, CEO, GIDGET FOUNDATION: Thank you. Well, today’s announcement is an absolute game changer for Australian families, for their wellbeing, for their mental health and for the perinatal period. When a new baby is born, it brings great challenge. And that challenge can cause mental ill health. And through the Gidget Foundation, the announcement of over $25 million and an additional 20 Gidget Houses is so significant, we will not only change lives, but we will save lives. 21 years ago, the Gidget Foundation began through great tragedy. A beautiful girl whose name was Louise, who’s nickname was Gidget, took her own life. We want to ensure that what happened to Gidget never happens again. It is her legacy that we will ensure we protect and we support, and this investment is critical to that. Over 100,000 Australians every year will experience perinatal depression and anxiety. That’s 1 in 5 Mums. If you look around you right now, how many mums are here? 1 in 5 will have experienced it. Not only that, but 1 in 10 new dads will experience it. And we know that maternal suicide is one of the leading causes of death amongst new mums. We’re here to change that, and we’re here to make sure that we make a difference with up to 20 free psychological sessions for every family who needs that support. So thank you very much to the Prime Minister, Minister Hunt and Minister Ruston for your support, for investing in this, for investing in Australian families and for investing in our wellbeing. Thank you.

DR FLEUR CATTRALL, FERTILITY SPECIALIST, MELBOURNE IVF: Thank you. I ‘d like to thank the Australian Government for helping families with all the support that they have given. Allowing IVF clinics to remain open over the two years of the pandemic meant that there are 30,000 babies born that would never be, otherwise be here. For couples at risk of a serious condition to have the support and the financial support, and for patients diagnosed with cancer, to be able to preserve the possibility of a baby in the future is an immeasurable gift and so important to continue people and families. I’d like to thank the Prime Minister and Minister Hunt and Minister Ruston. Thank you so much.

PRIME MINISTER: Thanks. Thanks, Fleur. Well, let’s start today with a few questions on this topic. Very happy to move to other topics.

JOURNALIST: Anne mentioned earlier, it’s only through a strong economy that we can invest in women’s safety and women’s issues. Is, should we not be doing that anyway?

PRIME MINISTER: Of course we should. That’s why you need to have a strong economy so you can do just that. Because what I do know is that we’ve been able to invest as heavily as we have. You know, when the first National Action Plan was put together and great credit to Julia Gillard who stated that, there was no Commonwealth investment. It was a state-based program and today $2.5 billion dollars is what we’re able to do. I remember when as Treasurer we put the first $100 million into this program. And over the years we’ve just invested more and more and more because we should, because women today are still not safe. Not safe in workplaces, not safe at homes with partners, not safe in the community. This is not good enough and it is an ever retreating finishing line. And our Government, year after year after year has to look for further ways that we can partner, particularly with organisations that work on these issues on the ground. The Illawarra initiative is a great example of that in terms of the recovery process. But this happens all over the country. It doesn’t just happen in those suburbs where there’s disadvantage. It happens in the most affluent suburbs in this country. It happens in my electorate. It happens in Anthony’s electorate. It happens everywhere in regional areas, remote areas, the most densely populated areas of our country. And that’s why we need to ensure that we can provide this support and these services. We deal in developing countries every single day as part of our Overseas Development Assistance program, trying to address these issues, particularly in the Pacific, and the fact that these countries aren’t at the stage of their economy that we are, means it’s so much harder. But here in Australia we can do that and we can provide these services and that’s the difference. That’s why being able to fund these services is so important, and that’s why we worked so hard on having a strong economy.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’ve said that there would be a stand alone Religious Discrimination Bill introduced.

PRIME MINISTER: Is there any other questions on the issues we’ve raised today, before we move to those other issues? I’m happy to go to the other issues.

JOURNALIST: Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Yes. So Katherine Deves has said that surrogacy is a human rights violation and a vanity project. So what is your personal view and do you support surrogacy for childless couples or not?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I support the set of arrangements that we have in place and where Katherine has made insensitive remarks in the past, and I think we’ve more than covered those over the course of this election in the way that she’s regretted those.

JOURNALIST: But do you support it or not?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, consistent with the laws of our country, yes.

JOURNALIST: Okay. Prime Minister, the Religious Discrimination Bill, you say you’re going to introduce it as a stand alone piece of legislation. So why are you breaking your commitment to gay students and why are you abandoning them now?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’m not. I’m just going, there’s no, there’s no new position here. Our position has always been the position that the Government had. The position that was endorsed by the Party Room of the Government was that both would be pursued and they’d be pursued sequentially. There’s no change to that position.

JOURNALIST: So do you promise to have that protection?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s our policy.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, are you being held hostage by Christian lobby groups, given that the two Bills really should be dealt with together?

PRIME MINISTER: No, not not at all.

JOURNALIST: So why are you writing to them to assure them that this will continue to be a big issue for you?

PRIME MINISTER: Because, because that’s our policy. Our policy is to have a set of protections for people of religious faith or no religious faith in this country, I’ve been seeking to achieve that for a long time. And I was disappointed we weren’t able to achieve that during the course of the last Parliamentary term. And I’m keen to see both of those issues pursued sequentially as we’ve always set out.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Prime Minister, those MPs who crossed the floor. Do you believe they’ve suddenly changed their mind on that issue? Or have you already written off their seats?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, no, no. The issues that they were addressing were not related to religious discrimination. They were applied to sexual discrimination and we should be able to pursue those –

JOURNALIST: But they wanted them dealt with together.

PRIME MINISTER: we should be able to pursue them sequentially as we set out.

JOURNALIST: What does that mean?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s the Government’s policy. There’s there’s there’s no change to the Government’s view here.

JOURNALIST: Could you clarify the time [inaudible]?

JOURNALIST: But, but, but moderates weren’t. You, your attempt last year was torpedoed because there was demands that SDA and religious discrimination changes were dealt with together. That was torpedoed. What makes you think this attempt will be any different? Because you’re facing the exact same obstacle here.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I’m determined. I think people have learnt that about me.

JOURNALIST: But I mean, you were determined last year and it didn’t work.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don’t, I don’t give up on these things. And I pursue them in the right way. They’re both important issues. And the position of the Government has always been to deal with them sequentially. They’re both important and that’s, that’s the position of the Government.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, yesterday you said the two issues were separate. When we have things like City Point asking parents and their students to sign a contract saying that homosexual acts are immoral, that they’re offensive to God and that trans students shouldn’t be recognised. How can you say that the issue of ensuring those students and teachers are protected is separate from the laws that would allow that school potentially to discriminate? And could you clarify what sequentially means in terms of a timeline between an RDA Bill being put forward and the changes under the SDA.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, sequentially means exactly what it [inaudible].

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] timeline.

JOURNALIST: And on why you think that they’re unrelated issues?

PRIME MINISTER: One follows the other and that’s the way that the original RDA was set up in the legislation. If you, if you look at the legislation, you’ll see that one actually triggers the other.

JOURNALIST: But on why do you think that they’re separate issues?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they are, they are different issues. And that is my view. They’re both important issues. And the Government’s position is that they’ll be dealt with sequentially.

JOURNALIST: So will you commit –

PRIME MINISTER: But there’s nothing new in this position.

JOURNALIST: So will you commit to following the RDA and then following it up with SDA, on the same day together?

PRIME MINISTER: No. Well, you pass one and then you pass the other because one triggers the other.

JOURNALIST: Will it be 6 months later, 12 months later, 3 years later?

PRIME MINISTER: One, one triggers the other. That’s what’s set out in the legislation.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what message are you sending though to gay students by not doing this in unison as many in your own Party have called for?

PRIME MINISTER: I’m sending the very clear message that both are very important.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on your policy agenda. You were asked, I think it was a week or two ago what your vision was for the country, if you’re re-elected. Apart from a strong economy and low taxes and national security, what is your legislative agenda that you can tell voters less than two weeks out from the election?

PRIME MINISTER: So apart from keeping our economy strong, apart from getting Australians into jobs and getting unemployment to below 4 per cent, apart from having tried apprentices and having them at record levels, so we have the skills that are in this country that actually drive our economy forward, apart from investing in the infrastructure that Australia needs to drive their economy forward and getting taxes down, I mean in the next term we will have taxes on people who are earning between $45,000 and $200,000 pay no more than 30 cents in the dollar. So apart from $22 billion and investing in clean energy technologies and the transformation of our clean energy technologies, which will enable us to meet our net zero by 2050 commitments and ensure we have reliable, affordable energy to drive our economy forward and our more than $2 billion that we’re investing in our data and digital economy and the Modern Manufacturing Initiative, which is going to ensure that Australian advanced manufacturers can grow and take advantage of the disruption to global supply chains, which creates a stronger economy. And then of course, the national security agenda, which delivers REDSPICE an almost $10 billion program through the Australian Signals Directorate, which actually keeps Australians safe in one of the most dangerous areas that are occurring in national security today and ensuring that our Defence Forces grow to 80,000 and to ensure that we continue to deliver the biggest single ramp up in our Naval and our Army and our Air Force we’ve seen since the Second World War. Now that’s what we’re doing. That, to me, is a very comprehensive agenda. Now, I’d add to that this, I’ll add to that this, my burning ambition for Australia though and for Australians is that they achieve their ambitions. And what’s that? To ensure that they can have children, that they can have their families, that they can raise their families in an economy and in a country where they have opportunities. My vision for them is that they can buy a house, that they can get on and get a great job and get training, that they can save for their retirement. That’s the great ambitions of Australians and my ambition burns for their ambition.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, your own Cabinet Minister, Sussan Ley yesterday she was saying that she wasn’t focussed on what happens after the election and she’s not looking to advocate what the Coalition would do in Government should you get re-elected. So what are you hiding from voters until after the election?

PRIME MINISTER: Absolutely nothing.

JOURNALIST: And that was in relation –

PRIME MINISTER: I mean, the Budget contained over 200 specific measures.

JOURNALIST: Her comments were in relation to religious discrimination.

PRIME MINISTER: … that all set out what our agenda is. And over the course of this election, we’ve been setting out policies each and every day. Now, the Labor Party hasn’t been doing that. They’ve had three years. We’ve done three Budgets since the last election and we’ve announced more policy in this election than Mr Albanese has even attempted to do.

JOURNALIST: Sussan Ley’s response was in relation to religious discrimination amendments specifically.

PRIME MINISTER: So we have a Labor Party with Mr Albanese who has announced more reviews than he has policies. As he said yesterday that he wants to hit the ground reviewing, not running the country. And we’ve got the Shadow Treasurer who’s out there today making it very clear that Labor’s deficits will be higher and you won’t find out what’s in a Labor Budget until October. Now we’ve been waiting three years to hear the economic plan of Mr Albanese. Three years. Nothing. Zilch. Zero. Absolutely nothing. And now he’s saying you have to wait ’till October. You know, you don’t get to run for Prime Minister on the basis of just saying, it’s your turn. You have to actually have stumped up and presented the Australian people with an outline of what your economic plan is. Even an outline would do, but he hasn’t even managed that. So this election really is a choice. And tonight, we will debate and I think that will reinforce again that this is a choice. It’s a choice between a Government that you know that has set out very clear policy agendas right across the economy, which enable guaranteeing essential services Australians rely on. It’s taken us through the pandemic, where we’re saying ourselves, keeping IVF clinics open during the course of the pandemic that enabled us to do that and an economic plan that takes us into the future versus an opposition that don’t know what they’re going to do. You don’t know who they are. And that equals one big thing, risk from you and your family, for your job, the business you work in, the retirement you’re saving for, the home you’re saving for. Labor doesn’t know what they’re going to do. And as a result. They don’t deserve your vote because they account to just too much risk at a time like this.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, your Education Minister Alan Tudge failed to update Parliament for six months about a property transfer. Now that’s the same thing, the same mistake that you criticised Labor’s David Feeney for. Can you tell us when he informed your office about that property transfer in 2018? Did he fail to do so? And if so, has he breached a Ministerial Code?

PRIME MINISTER: I’ll have to come back to check on the timings of that.

JOURNALIST: Okay. You can come back to us though?

PRIME MINISTER: I don’t have that information in front of me. And everybody’s record should be up-to-date

JOURNALIST: Will you be available for media to answer those questions?

PRIME MINISTER: If they’re not up-to-date, they should be, they should be rectified.

JOURNALIST: How long have Ministers got before they need to update you on property matters?

PRIME MINISTER: I look forward to getting further updates on that today.

JOURNALIST: And do you know how many days they have?

PRIME MINISTER: I’m happy to respond to the question outside of the press conference.

JOURNALIST: So, you don’t know how many days they have?

PRIME MINISTER: I’m happy to come back to you on that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, on mental health.


JOURNALIST: LGBT students are five times more likely to have attempted suicide by the age of 17. How can you say that you care about every young person’s mental health when we are trying to introduce religious discrimination amendments that won’t protect gay students at the same time, adding to these mental health issues that they already have?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don’t accept the premise of the question.

JOURNALIST: That’s what –

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m sorry. I really don’t accept the premise of your question.

JOURNALIST: That’s what the LGBT community has said. It directly affects their mental health.

PRIME MINISTER: It is possible to protect Australians from religious discrimination without that impacting on the many other issues that we need to address in our community –

JOURNALIST: There should be –

PRIME MINISTER: It is very possible to do that. And that’s why I don’t seek to conflate these issues. That’s why as a Government, there’s been no Government, and Greg may wish to comment on this if he wishes, there’s been no Government that has done more to address the mental health of young people in this country than our Government. I made this a personal mission. We have –

JOURNALIST: But not for gay students.

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, I totally reject that. I totally reject that because as a Government.

JOURNALIST: You may reject it, but gay students don’t reject that.

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m sorry, because we’ve increased mental health funding in this country by 100 per cent to $6 billion. We’re the Government has actually invested in early youth psychosis. We’re the Government that expanded Headspace. We’re the Government that has put in place Head to Health centres for children in this country. We’re the Government that right here today is establishing 20 new additional Gidget Foundation services across the country. This supports young people right across the country.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] the Government has given a platform to really harmful.

PRIME MINISTER: I’ve spent many hours with young people who struggle with mental health issues and and we’re focussed on their treatment, their support, their encouragement. And we do that every single day. We’re the Government, which has put in place the National Suicide Prevention Officer, to actually advise the Government on a Suicide Prevention Strategy for this country. And that is working right across all aspects, including for gay and lesbian and other young people in Australia. And we’ve been doing that day in and day out. So I simply just don’t accept the proposition that these two issues are conflated.

JOURNALIST: Well gay students in religious schools could be expelled only on the basis of their sexuality.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] give them is that it will be sequential.

PRIME MINISTER: That’s right.

JOURNALIST: What protections exist for those gay students between the passing of the Religious Discrimination Act and a unspecified amount of time between the changes under the SDA are introduced? What is there for them in that period? And what is that period?

PRIME MINISTER: We’ve been having this conversation for about the last four years, and at each, on each occasion there have, it is being presented that apparently students are being expelled each and every day, each and every week or each and every year. There is no evidence of that at all. There is none. I’ve spoken –

JOURNALIST: Isn’t the point that there can be, though?

PRIME MINISTER: The point is it doesn’t happen, because –

JOURNALIST: But the rules –

JOURNALIST: So you’re saying there doesn’t need to be protections in place between those two Bills?

PRIME MINISTER: So what I’m saying is –

JOURNALIST: Are you saying they don’t need to be protected?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m not saying that.

JOURNALIST: Why won’t you then?

PRIME MINISTER: What I’m saying is that there is no evidence because the religious schools themselves don’t wish to do that. They don’t wish to do it –

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: Thi is an issue that is actually not occurring in these schools. And that is the clear evidence that those schools themselves. And in the last three years where those arrangements, because, you know, the arrangements in the Sexual Discrimination Act were actually put in place by the Labor Party. They weren’t put in place by the Liberal Party. They were put in place by the Labor Party. If you suggest there are deficiencies in those laws, you should put that to the Labor Party, because they wrote those laws. They wrote those laws.

JOURNALIST: But you’re proposing additional protections to discriminate on the basis of religion. That’s what opens this up though.

PRIME MINISTER: I’m sorry. What we are seeking to do is ensure that people of religious faith of this country, people of religious faith or no religious faith in this country, should not be discriminated against. There are there are discrimination laws that apply to all other many different attributes of people in this country. And that’s fair enough, including sexual discrimination. In New South Wales, in particular, there are no laws at all protecting Australians of faith or no faith against discrimination. So we are seeking to complete the protections that are there for all Australians and that should be able to be done in its own right. And that’s what the Government’s policy is.

JOURNALIST: You already buckled on trans students last time this was in Parliament and you were going to send that to a law reform review. What guarantee that you can give to gay and lesbian students that you won’t buckle for them and send them to a law reform review that could take up to 12 months?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, again, I don’t think you’re across the legislation.

JOURNALIST: I think I am.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the legislation triggers the actual process for the reference to the very process that you’re talking about. So that’s how it works.

JOURNALIST: So will we go into a law reform review?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that’s that’s exactly what the Religious Discrimination Act does.

JOURNALIST: Would you consider –

PRIME MINISTER: That’s what I’m saying.

JOURNALIST: So you’re saying that the SDA is going to come 12 months after the RDA?

PRIME MINISTER: One process leads to the other. One process leads the other in that timeframe. That’s what it does.

JOURNALIST: But you’ve also just said –

JOURNALIST: Can I please clarify your comments, because back in 2018 Phillip Ruddock said there was not a huge need for this. Said there wasn’t a lot of evidence to suggest that religious discrimination was happening in this country. But you’ve also said that there’s not a lot of evidence of gay students being targetted. Why are you acting on one and not the other?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don’t agree with the equivalence of what we’re saying. I don’t. I know that Australians of religious faith in this country are discriminated against. I know they are. And it happens everyday.

JOURNALIST: Are gay and lesbian students as well?

PRIME MINISTER: Happens every week.

JOURNALIST: I guess what I’m asking, is why not protect gay students?

PRIME MINISTER: The simple point I make was that in relation to religious schools, there is no evidence and there is no policy of schools that seek to expel children because they’re gay.

JOURNALIST: Only ask them to sign a contract that condemns.

PRIME MINISTER: And they, and that was condemned by me and many others.

JOURNALIST: But it’s evidence.

PRIME MINISTER: And that’s that’s not something that as a parent.

JOURNALIST: So you, you, at the same time saying I will introduce these protections for LGBTIQA kids at some point sequentially down the track after the RDA –

PRIME MINISTER: It’s triggered by the RDA legislation.

JOURNALIST: If I can finish my question. But in the same breath, you’re saying you’ll introduce these protections, but you don’t actually think the protections are needed because you don’t think they’re discriminated against?


JOURNALIST: So which is it? You can’t be –

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m sorry.

JOURNALIST: … promising to introduce protections for discrimination that for vulnerabilities that you don’t think exist. Either you believe that LGBTIQA kids need more protection and you’ll introduce the legislation to do it or you, you won’t, because you’ve just told us that you don’t think they’re being kicked out of schools. You don’t think that they’re being discriminated against.

PRIME MINISTER: You’ve made the assumption in your question that there is only one aspect that the Law Reform Commission will be looking at in terms of any potential reforms to the Sexual Discrimination Act. You have put one issue to me that relates to the expulsion of children. There are many other issues, many, many other issues. And what I’m saying on that particular issue, there isn’t any evidence that I’m aware of and the discussions I’ve had directly with faith leaders and school leaders, that is not something they seek to do or wish to do and don’t do. But there are many other issues that are very worthy of the, of the reference to the Law Reform Commission. And that’s what our policy has always been. This is what I’m trying to stress to you. The Government’s policy hasn’t changed. The Religious Discrimination Act actually triggers the process for the review by the Law Reform Commission. That’s what it actually does. So we’re doing in –

JOURNALIST: Then how come when you voted on it earlier this year that wasn’t the case?

PRIME MINISTER: … in, in doing the first one, then you go to the second one. That’s how it works. Now you raise a good point because I had hoped to pursue these issues in a bipartisan way. I very much hope to do that. But the issue was hijacked and the outcome was thwarted. And I think people, particularly of religious faith, were very disappointed about that.

JOURNALIST: Was it hijacked by your own backbenchers?

PRIME MINISTER: I was, no, it was hijacked by the Labor Party and the Crossbench.

JOURNALIST: But multiple MPs crossed the floor.

PRIME MINISTER: After it was done by the Labor Party and the Crossbench.

JOURNALIST: So you’re blaming the Labor Party for your own backbenchers crossing the floor?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I’m blaming the Labor Party for not taking a bipartisan approach to the legislation we took there, which I took there in good faith.

JOURNALIST: Which is their democratic right.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: It is. It is. Of course it is their right to do that –


JOURNALIST: Can we just get a timeline?

PRIME MINISTER: … and the Labor Party decided not to go and ahead with that –

JOURNALIST: In the way that your backbenchers did.

PRIME MINISTER: … and they sought to thwart it –

JOURNALIST: So it’s 12 –

JOURNALIST: … and if the Labor Party had supported the legislation, well the legislation would have been –

JOURNALIST: You can count, right? Like your backbenchers were actually the ones that caused this, not Labor.

PRIME MINISTER: If the Labor Party had supported the legislation it would have comfortably passed the House and it would have comfortably passed the Senate and it would have done so in a way, which I was hoping to achieve, that didn’t seek to divide the country but actually brought the country together. I’m disappointed that politics were played with that Bill, and I don’t intend to play it going forward. And that’s why I tell you very plainly and very calmly, the Government’s position has not changed.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, two weeks left of the election, is this your last fortnight as PM?

PRIME MINISTER: That’s a matter for the Australian people to determine and, and they have a choice to make. You’re absolutely right. They have this choice to make. They can choose between a Government that has set out a very clear economic plan that can ensure that the security of their jobs, their incomes, their futures, the essential services that they rely on to be supported by a comprehensive economic plan that has ensured that Australia has been able to come through the worst economic and health crisis we have seen in generations and a plan to set them up for a future. A Government that you know, you may agree with everything the Government has done or I’ve done. A Government that doesn’t pretend to be perfect, but it is a Government that knows how to be strong. It is a Government that knows how to stand up for Australia’s national interests in a very dangerous world. And it is a Government that’s been able to ensure that we’ve kept our AAA credit rating, ensured we got employment down to 4 per cent and we’ve had one of the biggest turns around in the Budget of over $100 billion in the last 12 months. Or a Labor Opposition and Mr Anthony Albanese, who you don’t know, who does not have an economic plan, who does not understand the economy, who even just four weeks ago couldn’t even tell you what the unemployment rate or the cash rate was, but says he knows how to manage both. Whose deficits will be greater, and he has no plan to deal with the cost of living. A choice between certainty and uncertainty. A strong economy and a weak economy. What you know and what you don’t. Thanks very much for your time this morning.

/Public Release. View in full here.