JENNY MCALLISTER - TRANSCRIPT - DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA - THURSDAY, 16 MARCH 2021
10.16am | March 24, 2021
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SHADOW CABINET SECRETARY
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER TO THE LABOR LEADER IN THE SENATE
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
PARLIAMENT HOUSE, CANBERRA
THURSDAY, 18 MARCH 2021
SUBJECTS: Access to super for DV victims; Labor women; JobKeeper; JobSeeker.
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR COMMUNITIES AND THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: If there was ever a week when the Prime Minister might have listened to Australian women, it was this week. But instead of providing real solutions to the claims that were put forward Monday morning, just down there on the lawns in front of the Parliament by tens of thousands of Australian women, the Prime Minister chose to roll out a plan to make DV survivors and victims fund their own escape from violence. This is a bad idea. It's an idea with a few friends in the sector. There are no women calling for this. There are no legal centres calling for this, there are no victim-survivors calling for this measure. In fact, what people have told us is that this measure could be used by perpetrators to make circumstances worse for women who are currently experiencing violence in their relationships. During the pandemic, women were able to access superannuation early, to draw down $10,000 not once, but twice. And financial counsellors have told us that during the pandemic, women were coerced into taking money out of their accounts, by perpetrators, in exactly these violent relationships. I asked the Australian Taxation Office about this last year, and they confirmed that this was not an issue on their radar, that there were no protections in place when this scheme was brought forward during the pandemic. It is absolutely astonishing that given this information, given the government knows about this problem, it sought to bring forward this measure, that is so bad for victims and survivors of domestic violence in this week in particular.
JOURNALIST: What are the better alternatives?
MCALLISTER: If the government wanted help women it would listen to victims and survivors, and what they tell us is very clear. They want investment in housing so that women who are escaping violence have somewhere to go. They want investment in frontline services, and they want paid domestic violence leave, because the continuing connection to employment and continuing financial security means everything when you are seeking to set up a new life.
I want to conclude by making a few remarks about the tone of the debate this week. This has been an incredibly important and incredibly difficult week for Australian women. There is a reckoning that needs to happen with the discrimination and the violence that has been experienced by too many women in too many places. I'm concerned by the attempts to lay the blame for some of these problems at the feet of some of the women who have worked hardest to make things better for Australian women. And I'm talking of course, about the strong parliamentary women in this building, women like Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong who’ve worked all their all their careers to assist women. The project for women's equality is not finished. But it is not fair to lay the blame for that at the feet of the women who have worked hardest and spoken up most frequently in the interests of women.
JOURNALIST: Do you expect the government will guillotine the debate on IR today, now that it has Stirling Griff in order to get that over the line?
MCALLISTER: The government's decisions and the decisions of the crossbench in relation to this bill are up to them. But I want to be very clear about Labor's position. We do not believe that it is right to use the cover of a pandemic to introduce measures that will make things worse for workers, that will allow workers pay and conditions to be reduced. The government is not doing the right thing in relation to this bill.
JOURNALIST: What’s your message to Stirling Griff, if he is about the declare his support for this bill?
MCALLISTER: The crossbench needs to make their own decisions. But I'll say this, Australian workers are not calling for reforms of this kind. Australian workers would like a pay increase. Australian workers would like a superannuation increase. Australian workers would like job security. None of these measures are addressed in the bill that is before the Senate today and Senator Griff may do well to reflect on those matters.
JOURNALIST: The Greens are going to put forward amendments to the JobSeeker legislation to put a higher rate forward. Why wouldn't Labor support that if you think that the rate the government has introduced is too low?
MCALLISTER: The rate for JobSeeker will snap back to a level that is too low. And it is important that the offer that the government has put forward to increase the rate proceeds. But Labor understands that living in poverty is not acceptable. And a Labor government will always prioritise making sure that in every budget that the services and support are there for people who face poverty in Australia.
JOURNALIST: Thanks Senator.
MCALLISTER: Thank you.