The Hon Patrick Gorman MP Doorstop interview – Deagon, Queensland

Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, Assistant Minister for the Public Service

ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE AND MINISTER FOR SPORT: I’ll begin by acknowledging the traditional custodians of the lands on which we gather this morning the Turrbal and Jagera people. Together, we stand on the shoulders of 1600 generations of First Nations people and that is our shared history. I am welcoming Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister Patrick Gorman, to the magical kingdom of Lilley this morning for a very special announcement about the National Emergency Medal. Unfortunately, that is highly relevant to us here on the north side of Brisbane, because in February and then into March 2022 we had some flooding that has really impacted thousands of people’s lives here on the Northside.

We stand here today at the home of the Glennans, who were themselves flood victims, but also kind-hearted community people who helped out their neighbours where they could. And that is the essence of what we are announcing today, awards for our volunteers, Northsiders who went above and beyond in a terrible emergency that lasted seven to 10 days depending on where you were. We all remember where we were when the floods hit. I was just saying, I remember I was at the Zillmere sandbag depot when the rain kept coming. When more and more people kept piling in, when they started to report the rains weren’t just flooding the places that we are used to flooding in Brisbane. The rain was starting to flood places that had never been flooded before and the panic kept rising as the waters kept rising. And in the end, the rain bomb hit on a Sunday afternoon and people two years on are still dealing with the consequences of that. But this is about celebrating the people who stepped in to help out. You’ve heard the stories of people who have got their tinnies out here in Deagon, ferrying pregnant women, toddlers, helping the elderly out of their homes that were flooding and to safety, up to higher ground. We have heard of people who took in – usually two people live in their houses – and that night 15 people stayed overnight, 15 people and three dogs as they took in strangers from the floodwaters. Church groups had donated dozens and dozens of meals. Local businesses like She Wear donated gumboots. It was a real community effort. I’m now going to hand over to Assistant Minister Patrick Gorman to talk about what’s next.

PATRICK GORMAN, ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER AND ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE: Thank you very much Anika and wonderful to be here in your electorate and lovely to be here at the home of Amy and August and their family. One of so many families in this part of Queensland that were so terribly affected by those 2022 floods. What we announced today is that the National Emergency Medal will be awarded to thousands of Queenslanders and people in New South Wales who stepped up when their communities needed. The National Emergency Medal is all about making sure that we recognise those people who go above and beyond in times of natural disaster. These 2022 floods were one of Australia’s worst natural disasters. I’ve had so many local members and local councils writing to me saying we need to do more to recognise them. Anika has been saying we need to do more to recognise those who stepped up, whether it be with the SES, whether it be with the police, whether it be as community contributors, making sure they helped their community in times of need.

The National Emergency Medal is awarded to people who protect lives, protect the community, protect homes, in times of crisis. And so, by announcing this today, people will be able to go and apply for this medal if they believe that their contribution warrants recognition. But community members can also nominate people from their local council, from their local community who they felt really went above and beyond. You can go to gg.gov.au to nominate someone. We are expecting thousands and thousands of nominations from people who contributed in New South Wales, in Queensland across the period of this extraordinarily damaging flooding event. We heard that there are some 2000 rescues, 21,000 calls for assistance, huge demand on our emergency services. So it’s great to have representatives from the State Emergency Service here with us today because this is about also recognising them and their contribution. Recognising those people who really do go above and beyond, day on day on day, in the middle of these natural disasters. What we try and do through the National Emergency Medal, which was in fact founded in 2011, in part to recognise those here in Queensland during the 2011 floods. What we try and say is, this is one way that we give national recognition for these incredible local contributions of people who, as Anika said, they don’t out in the tinnie because they want to get a medal. They do it because they want to help their community. It’s important for us as the Commonwealth Government to truly recognise what a great contribution these individuals have made. And as I said, we are expecting thousands of people to be nominated for this award. It is a wonderful way that we can recognise those who have really gone out of their way to support their community in times of crisis. I just want to handover to Amy, if you want to say something just about your experience here.

AMY GLENNAN, DEAGON RESIDENT AND FLOOD VICTIM: We flooded on the Sunday afternoon, we woke up in the morning and the water was at our window sill. That kind of when we knew we were in a bit of trouble. So a lot of people in the area volunteered to come over, both of our neighbours, a few people around the corner came over to help us get out what we could. Which was mainly just clothes and things that we would need for the following weeks. And then, I think by five o’clock in the afternoon, there was 1.2 metres of water through our house, which just destroyed everything. Over the next few days, we had so many people come over to help us empty out our home, my husband was away at the time so it was just me doing it. Neighbours, local councils Jared Cassidy and Stirling Hinchliffe were both over here helping, it was really amazing. We ended up being out of our home for about 18 months. We only moved back in at the end of last year, and renovations are still ongoing. So it’s a really long process and everyone that helped along the way, we are really, really grateful for.

JOURNALIST : I assume the house has been raised since the event. Is that correct?

BRENNAN: Yes, it has. So we got our house raised through the Resilient Homes Fund through the government. And that has been an absolute godsend. Because without it, I don’t think we’d still be able to live here. We would have had to sell our block. I don’t know where we’d be right now if it wasn’t for that. So I am very, very grateful for it.

JOURNALIST: Gives you a sense of, I suppose ease, doesn’t it?

GLENNAN: Yeah, every time it rains now, we are not stressing and we are not worrying – going ‘oh how far of is it going to come?’ We can sit up there and watch the water from a distance. It’s really nice.

JOURNALIST: Just make sure you’ve got nothing underneath.

GLENNAN: Yeah.

JOURNALIST: Not SES related, from the Canberra office, online sports gamblers banned from using credit cards from today is that a good thing and how much of a scourge is online gambling to society?

WELLS: It’s a really important development kicking off today. We are determined to reduce the harm of online gambling and this is addition to the work we’ve already done on BetStop and the work we are going to continue to do [inaudible] that report. I would say from my perspective, as Federal Sports Minister, I’m really alarmed by how our athletes are continuing to be approached by dark actors. There’s been an increase in cases of athletes being approached to participate in gambling related activities with respect to Australian sport. So from an integrity perspective, as Federal Sports Minister, I’m really pleased.

JOURNALIST: The swimming last night, Ariarne Titmus had a great swim. How proud are you of her?

WELLS: Ariarne Titmus is a green and gold glittered force of nature and how exciting for all of us that she’s still in cruise mode with six weeks to go before she hits her peak for the Paris Olympic Games.

JOURNALIST: Shall we expect big things in Paris?

WELLS: I think Australians always expect great things from our Dolphins and the National trials continue here in Brisbane at the Sleeman Sports Complex, which will be an important venue for us in the run up to Brisbane 2032, where our swimmers will compete at Brisbane Live, which the Australian Government is funding as part of our contribution towards the 2032 Games. Australians always have high expectations of our swimmers, but they continue to deliver as we’ve seen in the first 24 hours of national trials. I’m looking forward to being there with them tomorrow.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the coalition’s move on climate targets?

WELLS: Well as a local member, for us here in Lilley climate change is already here. When we talk about the impact of climate change, it is not some far away academic debate for people to fight over in Canberra, the king tides, the way that the floods are rising, increasing flood events, they all impact us here already on the northside. You can see that with respect to the number of events we to have to deal with, the rise in insurance premiums. And I’m sure that Northsiders want the federal government to continue to do everything we can to reduce our emissions.

JOURNALIST: The Chinese Premier is coming obviously to Australia this week. Australia, as we know has many differences with Beijing, but does trade opportunities with China trump those differences?

GORMAN: We have been really clear as the Australian Government that when it comes to our relationship with China, we will disagree where we must, will cooperate where we can. We are really proud of the work that we have done to stabilise the relationship with China. That’s in our national interest. It’s in our national interest when it comes to our ability to have mature conversations about the full breadth of that relationship. As for announcements of the final details of the visit of the Chinese Premier, I’ll leave that to others.

JOURNALIST: And how vital is the trade relationship between Australia and China?

GORMAN: Well, we are a trading nation. Australia is a trading nation, we sell so many of our products to the world, including to China. I’m standing here in a great resources state of Queensland, but I’m from the other great resources state of Western Australia, we have a really proud history of helping in terms of selling resources to China, as needed, to lift millions of people out of poverty. It’s been fantastic for the Australian economy as well. We continue to look at those trade opportunities. But we also continue the work that Minister Don Farrell and others are doing, and looking at diversifying all of our trading relationships because we recognise that it’s not just things like iron ore, there’s also great opportunities for Australian fresh produce, Australian wine, all sorts of other things that are high demand in the Chinese economy. We will continue to look for those opportunities.

JOURNALIST: The number of Australians waiting for a Home Care package has increased, it’s basically double the same time as last year – what’s happened?

WELLS: There’s a huge rise of people trying to access the Home Care system. There is a record number of people in Australia with Home Care Packages as we speak. Around 300,000 people have Home Care Packages. We’ve never seen those kind of numbers before. We are forward facing and leaning into this. Australians have been very clear that they don’t want to go to nursing homes until they absolutely have to – they want to stay at home. We are bringing into place a whole new Home Care system called Support at Home from 1 July 2025. So that’s why in the budget, we added an extra 24,100 Home Care Packages to tide us over until we get to 1 July 2025, next year. We also just closed a $100 million grants program to help people [inaudible]. Programs that people rely upon to get out and about the community and to stay at home for as long as possible.

JOURNALIST: So with wait times, you’re aware they’ve blown out for level three and level four, when can we expect those wait times to be reduced?

WELLS: So those wait times are patchy, like you say, there are some increases, but people with an urgent need are still getting access to Home Care Packages within a month. I expect that that will remain patchy as is the nature of demand on the Home Care system. It has always been that way but I think what people want to know is what we’re doing about it. And what we’re doing about it is generational reform in the form of the new Support at Home Scheme, which will come into place 1 July 2025. That’s an Albanese Government reform. That has been a long time waiting for people and we’re working on every single day.

JOURNALIST: Senates estimates heard that the aim is to get it to a six month wait. When can we expect that to be in place by?

WELLS: Like I said, it’s a patchy system. It’s demand driven. So, like was a topic in Estimates, demand has been up in the past couple of months. We don’t know what that looks like in the coming couple of months. It ebbs and flows but absolutely, I don’t step away from the fact that in sheer volume, more people than ever before are coming of an age where they need to access the aged care system. I was told on my first day as the Aged Care Minister, that the baby boomers will be entering the system in three years’ time, it’s now been two years, which means they are coming next year and that’s why we have been working night and day to make sure that the Support at Home Home Care system will be there for them 1 July 2025

GORMAN: Thank you. Thanks, everyone.

/Public Release. View in full here.