SUBJECTS: Young people in aged care facilities; Government’s inaction of the recommendations of the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report; Wang Liqiang; China; Westpac; child exploitation.
LIBBY COKER, MEMBER FOR CORANGAMITE: I would just like to thank everybody for being here today. In particular, I would like to acknowledge Kirby and Kirby’s parents, Carol and Kevin, for providing an insight into young people who are living in aged care or at risk at being so, And the journey for living independently, which is what we want for most people who are young with disability. So, I’d like to welcome you today, Anthony Albanese, the Leader of our great Party, and Richard my colleague, Member Corio and Deputy Leader of the Party. This is an important issue. And I have asked Anthony to be here today to actually listen to the local perspective. And we want to work towards getting an outcome that the Royal Commission into Aged Care have advocated for and recommended; that young people have the right to live independently, if they wish. So, I’d like to now thank Albo for being here today and invite him to speak.
ANTHONY ALBANESE, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Thanks very much, Libby. It’s great to be here in Geelong with yourself and with Richard, back in this great regional city. And it’s been a great privilege today to meet Kirby and her parents and carers. Kirby is a young person who was in a nursing home and is now able to be living independently. We want every young person to be able to have that situation which has greatly benefited Kirby. It’s about respect for individuals. It’s about people living with dignity. And in Kirby, we have a courageous young woman who has parents who are able to advocate for her strongly. But we want to make sure that people shouldn’t need an advocate. It should be along with the lines of the Aged Care Royal Commission Interim Report’s three immediate priorities. One of those was getting the more than 5,000 young people who are currently in aged care facilities out of those facilities. And the Government needs to respond, not wait for the full Royal Commission but needs to respond immediately to those interim recommendations. Happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: What do you think that the reports that the Chinese spy called Mr Wang is currently in Sydney and seeking political asylum?
ALBANESE: Well, these reports are of real concern, that have been outlined in today’s media. We need to make sure that Australia’s national sovereignty is protected. We will await processes with the Government and one of the things that will be seeking next week is a briefing from the appropriate authorities on these issues.
JOURNALIST: Given he could face detention or death in returning to China, should Australia accept his request?
ALBANESE: Well, certainly that will be a decision for the Government. But, I’m sympathetic with the circumstances and we know that he has outlined a range of activities which clearly put him in a circumstance whereby it’s a legitimate claim for asylum. But, we will have appropriate briefings next week in Canberra.
JOURNALIST: What would this do to our already restrained relationship with China?
ALBANESE: Well, we support human rights. We are a democracy. We support freedom of expression. And these things need to be dealt with on their merits. And Australia has obligations under the principles of the way that we operate as a democracy.
JOURNALIST: Should the Westpac CEO stand down?
ALBANESE: Well, of course, these matters are still before the court. But, these are shocking revelations. And the truth is that the buck stops with the CEO and the board. And they need to really explain how these circumstances have arisen with this extraordinary number of very serious breaches where you have a major Australian banking institution essentially allowing this sort of activity to take place on a mass scale. So, these are shocking revelations. The buck does stop with the CEO, and with the board, and up to now frankly, the response has been completely inadequate.
JOURNALIST: Is the Government doing enough to address child exploitation?
ALBANESE: Well, this is a matter which is of real concern. I, frankly, can’t comprehend the whole concept of people wanting to access material that I just find abominable. And most Australians would find it just disgusting. The Government needs to get on top of this issue because it has no place in any civilised society, in my view.
JOURNALIST: Senior police have made disturbing comments about how Australian paedophiles are fuelling the market for online footage of children being tortured and murdered. How concerning is this?
ALBANESE: This is just an outrage. And these people should be dealt with, should be charged, should be brought before the courts, and should receive very serious sentences. I think Australians would just find it abhorrent that anyone would seek, somehow, some weird gratification from the exploitation of children. And I find these revelations just totally disgusting. And all power to the authorities for making sure that this is stamped out. Thank you.