Subjects: Domestic violence funding, Tara Brown, Cabinet reshuffle, Joe Hockey’s job security
LISA WILKINSON: Welcome back to the show. Well, it is an horrific toll. Four deaths this week alone from domestic violence in Australia. That makes IT 62 innocent lives cruelly taken away so far this year alone. When will more be done to stop this national emergency ? Well, let’s ask the politicians. Christopher Pyne and Shadow Transport Minister Anthony Albanese join us now. Good morning to you both.
ANTHONY ALBANESE: Good to be with you.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Good morning Lisa, good morning Anthony.
WILKINSON: Anthony, to you first. Gold Coast mum Tara Brown went to police last Thursday desperate for help. She is now dead. The system just isn’t working, is it?
ALBANESE: This is a national crisis, Lisa, and it requires a response not just from governments at all levels but from the community. It is beyond belief that a woman could go into a police station, show those police officers the text messages that clearly indicated that there was a very real threat to her and she was turned away. There is something fundamentally wrong with the system when that can happen to Tara Brown, and she has been let down. She has a child, I understand. It is just horrific.
WILKINSON: It certainly is. Christopher, three women dead in just four days and not a word from our Minister for Women, Tony Abbott. Why is that?
PYNE: Well, Lisa, I agree with Anthony and I agree with you. The evil of domestic violence which leads to murder is something that we absolutely have to do what we can to stamp out. Governments can’t legislate to do away with evil but what we can do, through things like funding of domestic violence shelters, of legal centres, better policing, having a national register for AVOs, which the Premiers and chief ministers and the Prime Minister agreed on at the last Council of Australian Governments, we can put the structures and processes in place to protect our families from evil attackers.
We can do that, but we also have to change our culture and that’s what Anthony was alluding to and I couldn’t agree with him more. The whole community needs to unite in horror at what has happened this week and make sure we do everything we can to stamp it out. Whenever we see it, whenever we suspect it or hear about it, never turn a blind eye to domestic violence. Always dob in a domestic violence perpetrator.
WILKINSON: But Christopher, a woman like Tara Brown was looking for help, she couldn’t get it at the local police station, she was told to look elsewhere. We know we have got women’s refuges closing around the country due to lack of funding. We have a hotline for women that is not getting answered due to lack of funding. The government is spending billions fighting terrorism abroad but just $30 million allotted to fighting this domestic terror.
PYNE: Well, it is $1.3 billion we are spending on things like shelters and homelessness and legal centres. So that figure is not right. But it’s not, whatever amount of money it is, $1.3 billion or $3.5 billion or whatever it is, the money is not the issue. We need to spend whatever is required to stamp out domestic violence. So I don’t think we should skimp on the funding. But the issue is changing the culture that allows these things to happen and addressing it in lots of different ways- like trying to do something about the scourge of ice and drugs and alcoholism.
All these things that play into domestic violence. They are challenges for all of us. So the Queensland Policing issue you refer to is a challenge for Annastacia Palaszczuk, the Premier in Queensland. I noticed this morning in the papers she is saying she is going to take action following what has been a horrendous week in Queensland. She is right, we do need to do something about policing as well. All of these things need to happen and all governments need to work together to make them happen.
WILKINSON: Moving on. We are hearing this morning that Tony Abbott is planning a Cabinet purge, six ministers up for the chop. Are you worried, Christopher?
ALBANESE: He wasn’t on the list.
PYNE: Well, I wasn’t on this list, Anthony. I’m sure I’m on somebody else’s list.
WILKINSON: Let’s look at in the list. According to Simon Benson in NewsCorp papers this morning, he names Eric Abetz, Andrew Robb, Kevin Andrews, Ian Macfarlane amongst others on the chopping block. No mention of Joe Hockey. Is his job safe?
PYNE: Look, these stories are speculative, they come and go, they take a journalist ten minutes to write and they do all sorts of distracting damage during the day. But at the end of the day the Prime Minister chooses who his Cabinet and his ministry is. All the people you have mentioned are good men doing a good job and the government is getting on with the job.
ALBANESE: These stories don’t come and go when they are in the Daily Telegraph. That is an annex of the Prime Minister’s media office. They get the drop on every story, much to the annoyance of the rest of the Press Gallery. So I think those ministers who have been mentioned will be very nervous this morning. But the problem with this government starts at the very top. This is a response to Tony Abbott, who is being stalked by Malcolm Turnbull, Julie Bishop and Scott Morrison and all they are trying to sort out is who the challenger will be.
PYNE: And you are stalking Bill Shorten.
ALBANESE: Absolutely not.
PYNE: You and Tanya Plibersek.
ALBANESE: The fact is that the people who are in trouble in this government start with Tony Abbott and works its way right through the system. This is a government without a sense of purpose, which is why it’s not surprising that they’re looking at a reshuffle.
WILKINSON: I can’t help noticing that Christopher didn’t actually answer my question. Is Joe Hockey’s job safe? The Prime Minister said at the weekend that it was his expectation that Joe Hockey would still be Treasurer leading into next year. That is not exactly resounding support, Christopher?
PYNE: Look, Joe is doing a fantastic job in very difficult financial circumstances in the world at the moment. He is a great Treasurer. I’m sure his job is absolutely secure. But all of us just have to get on with our jobs. So as the Education Minister and Leader of the House, that’s what I’m doing. I’m happy to say our learning potential app has now been downloaded over 80,000 times. It is number one on the Google Store and the Apple Store. So we are getting on with the job.
ALBANESE: Keep distracting, Christopher. See how you go.
PYNE: No, no, we are getting on with the job.
ALBANESE: Your main legislation hasn’t gotten through on higher education.
PYNE: No thanks to you.
ALBANESE: Because it is rotten legislation.
PYNE: You are criticising me for not passing the legislation that you’re not supporting. You should be happy it hasn’t passed.
ALBANESE: I am indeed. So are the students of Australia.
PYNE: You’re just jealous.
WILKINSON: Anyway. I think Christopher is over it now. We will have to leave it there, though. Anthony, thank you very much for that. And you have a great weekend, Christopher Pyne.
PYNE: Thanks Lisa. See you Anthony.
ALBANESE: See you. Go the Rabbitohs!
PYNE: And the Crows.
Leader of the Australian Labor Party, MP for Grayndler, Rabbitohs Life Member. Authorised by Anthony Albanese, ALP, Canberra.