The Hon Patrick Gorman MP Doorstop interview – Parliament House

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

PATRICK GORMAN, ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE PRIME MINISTER AND ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR THE PUBLIC SERVICE: Just a few comments to wrap the week in Parliament. Up first, of course, we welcomed here to Parliament for the first time the new Member for Dunkley, Jodie Belyea. And it’s fantastic to have her already part of the team, Making a difference, and being part of our caucus. Welcome, Jodie. And I know that she’s gonna make such a fantastic contribution, not just for the people Dunkley, but for the Australian community at large.

In terms of the government this week, in this place, and the other place, we got our legislation to expand Paid Parental Leave through the Parliament. The biggest investment in Paid Parental Leave, since Labor established Paid Parental Leave in 2011. Making sure that families now have 26 weeks to spend with their newborn. Making sure they can form those important bonds. And to put 26 weeks into perspective – 26 weeks, that’s about 1,460 nappy changes. That’s a lot of time with a newborn. But it’s really important for those early bonds.

We also saw this week new data out showing just what a fantastic success Labor’s investment in Fee-Free TAFE has been. We expected in that first year, 2023, we’d have some 180,000 people take it up. We have smashed that expectation, with 355,000 people signing up for Fee-Free TAFE, making sure they get the skills, job opportunities, and income as a result of building those skills. These are great things.

We’ve seen this week in parliament the debate continue on donation reforms. Making sure that we take action to make sure that democracy rests in the hands of the Australian people, because democracy shouldn’t just rest in the hands of people with large bank balances like Clive Palmer. And I would encourage all of those in these discussions – those in the Coalition, those in the ‘Teals Party’ – to make sure, that as we negotiate through donation reform, that they don’t accidentally help people like Clive Palmer, get another election where he can just splash hundreds of millions of dollars for his own personal political interests.

We’ve seen the new frontbench from the Coalition. And I was very interested see the comments yesterday from, who I would say is the ‘Shadow Minister for Slash and Burn the Public Service,’ who is now saying they want to axe 10,000 public servants. That’s the only actual policy idea we’ve seen put forward by the Coalition this week, is a plan to axe 10,000 public servants. Making the pension queues longer, going back to the bad old days of huge delays in the Department of Veterans Affairs, which was what we inherited when we came to office. Going back to the bad old days of Robodebt, where you’ve got machines – not people – deciding on important things for the Australian public when they’re applying for payments from Centrelink. And I think it is very concerning that we saw this week, Peter Dutton’s new frontbench, putting out plans to slash 10,000 public servants. People who are our family, friends and neighbours, people who serve the Australian people. But at least we’ve actually seen some detail from them.

When it comes to Peter Dutton’s nuclear plan. I think we all came here this week thinking we finally see some detail, we’d finally see something. But instead, not a single map, not a single costing, not a single written word about their nuclear policy. The Australian people – and indeed, Western Australians – deserve better from Peter Dutton, when it comes to their plans when it comes to nuclear. If they’re going to say that they support nuclear, if they’re going to say they want to put a nuclear power plant in Collie, in Western Australia, then they should cost that plan. They should put out the maps, they should put out the policy. If they think it’s an important debate for Australia. They should be very clear about where they stand and what they are going to do. Just to conclude; we saw yesterday, the Sky News People’s Forum, very strong performance from Rebecca White on behalf of the Tasmanian Labor team. This Saturday, the Tasmanian people go to the polls to decide who will be their government for the next four years. I just want to wish Rebecca White and her Tasmanian Labor team all the very best for Saturday.

ZAC DE SILVA, JOURNALIST: Apologies for interrupting.

GORMAN: No, thank you for your patience.

DE SILVA: Paul Keating is meeting with Wang Yi today. Do you think that meeting is in the national interest?

GORMAN: We’ve had a number of meetings in the national interest. The Prime Minister had a meeting. Foreign Minister had a meeting. That’s what we’re responsible for – the national interest. As for other meetings that significant foreign figures take when they come to Australia, that’s very common. I’m not concerned by it. I’m sure that they’ll have an interesting discussion. Every conversation with Paul Keating is interesting discussion.

DE SILVA: And just quickly on migration as well if I can. The government has brought forward the changes in terms of English language standards to Saturday. Why have you done this? What is it going to achieve, particularly in the context of the migration numbers coming out today?

GORMAN: We’ve been very clear that we’ve got a comprehensive plan of reform when it comes to migration. We saw just a few weeks ago, the huge mess in that broader department was left behind when we came to office. The ministers have been really clear that they’ve got a plan to make sure that we have a migration figure that’s in our national interest. And that migration is in our national interest. That means we get the skills in that we need. But that we aren’t unnecessarily adding to other challenges in our economy. They’ve been really clear about that, obviously, as part of that broader plan of tidying up the mess that we inherited, and ensuring that we’ve got a migration program that meets our national interest. Thank you.

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