Trasncript: Doorstop Interview with Fiona Phillips
12.06pm | March 29, 2019
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER
SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES
SENATOR FOR NEW SOUTH WALES
SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMPETITION AND PRODUCTIVITY
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS
SHADOW MINISTER FOR TRADE IN SERVICES
MEMBER FOR FENNER
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR GILMORE
THURSDAY, 28 MARCH 2019
FIONA PHILLIPS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR GILMORE: Ok, I'd like to welcome everyone here today. I’m Fiona Phillips, Labor's Candidate for Gilmore. I'm here today with Senator Jenny McAllister, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Families and Communities and Dr Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Treasurer, but also the Shadow Minister for Charities.
Look, we are here today, we know that the Gilmore electorate - there's many people in the Gilmore electorate are doing it really, really tough and as Labor's candidate for Gilmore, for years and years, I have been listening to local stories. How people can't access financial counselling when in hardship. I have heard story after story, where people can't pay their bills. They can't afford to buy food and that is really increasing. So look, really, really pleased to have worked with the Labor team and today we’ve got a great announcement to basically increase funding for emergency relief and also to double the number of financial counsellors across Australia.
These are announcements that will go such a long way. We've got Southern Youth and Family Services here today as well, that provide a great service in the community, but really need additional funding to help people in our community. So, I'll just hand over to Jenny.
SENATOR JENNY MCALLISTER, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND COMMUNITIES: It's a great pleasure to be here with Fiona and to be in a position to announce that if elected, Labor will provide additional resources to the organisations that do such important work here in this community, providing emergency relief. As Fiona said, this is a community where a lot of people actually do do it tough. We know across the country that charities are reporting very significant increases in demand for food relief. We know that here in the local area, some of our local crisis organisations are saying that these days, it's actually just the basics that are making it hard for people. Being able to meet basic school expenses, pay a medical bill or deal with a circumstance, an unexpected expense, like a car repair. In these circumstances, emergency relief can be the difference between a family staying in tact or falling into crisis. That's why nationally we've committed to provide an extra $10 million a year to support emergency relief, and it's why locally we are supporting organisations like Southern Youth and Family Services by providing them with $42,000 over four years to keep doing their vital work. It's part of a much broader plan by Labor to support people in financial hardship. We want to double the number of financial counsellors available across the community and we want to significantly increase the availability of low-interest loans. Sensible alternatives to the loan sharks, to the pay-day lenders, that let people get finance on fair terms if they're in crisis. So, it's a real pleasure to be here today. We'll shortly be meeting with financial counsellors to hear a little more about the impact of the announcement on their services and also a little bit more about what's going on the region locally. But I might ask my colleague Andrew to make some remarks about the economic circumstances that underpin all of this.
HON DR ANDREW LEIGH MP, SHADOW ASSISTANT TREASURER AND SHADOW MINISTER FOR CHARITIES AND NOT-FOR-PROFITS: Thanks Jenny and thanks very much Fiona for hosting us here. Labor understands that many families in Gilmore are doing it tough, as are many families across Australia. Inequality in Australia has been rising. It's now as high as it's been in three quarters of a century. Just since the 1970s, wages have grown three times as fast for the top tenth as from the bottom tenth. Our announcement today is just part of Labor's broader plan to see a more equal Australia. An Australia where the economy works for battlers and well as for billionaires. Labor is committed to a living wage, to making sure that we see decent pay rises for workers like cleaners and checkout operators. We've pledged income tax cuts for 10 million Australians earning less than $125,000. Not income tax cuts in one or two election cycles. Income tax cuts that would flow from 1 July this year. We've pledged that under a Shorten Government we'd invest in schools and education. We'd have the Productivity Commission produce an Equality of Opportunity Report - work that Jenny's been intimately involved with. And we would place tackling inequality at the heart of the Federal Government's agenda. Labor believes that Australia can be a more equal society, a society in which the economy works for everyone. Today's announcement is just part of making that a reality. We are happy to take any questions.
JOURNALIST: Isn't this only a drop in the bucket? Like it's not surely going to be capable to fixing all the problems we've got in the Shoalhaven?
MCALLISTER: We recognise that there's a lot of work to do to make Australia fairer and that there are many things going wrong for families in the Shoalhaven that need to be attended to. Too many people don't have enough work. Too many people aren't receiving enough pay and costs are going up and up. There are lots of things that a Labor Government would seek to do to address cost of living pressures for families in the Shoalhaven. But this is one thing that we can do. Provide emergency relief for families who are right on the brink. People who are experiencing an unexpected cost or have just plunged into hardship and need that extra bit of support. Maybe they need to pay a chemist bill, maybe they need to put some petrol in the car, maybe they need some additional food just to feed their kids this week. And emergency relief funding provides just that.
JOURNALIST: Is there more chance of funds for a sexual assault forensic examiner in the Shoalhaven region? We've got patients currently travelling from as far as Milton up to Wollongong in a taxi unaccompanied. Is that something that Labor would be prepared to support?
PHILLIPS: Yeah, look what I would say about that is that what we've seen is cuts to the growth in hospitals funding across our Illawarra/Shoalhaven region. So what Labor is doing, we are actually increasing the growth in hospitals funding, so that will mean more funding for our Illawarra/Shoalhaven health district. So you know, I'd love to see that service return, but the first thing is actually ensuring that our hospitals are funded properly.
JOURNALIST: And, how are you feeling looking at an election after Labor was defeated at the State level so recently?
PHILLIPS: Yeah, look I think it's a different picture obviously federally because federally the Liberal Government, the Coalition Government are in complete chaos. We've got a situation locally where there is three or four conservative candidates and you know, I've been out there. I've been endorsed for more than two years now and that's the reason why I'm standing here today because I've been out talking with financial counsellors. I've been talking with people in the community and seeing the hardship that's there and that's the reason we can be here today to make these announcements that are such an important part in helping people in our area.
JOURNALIST: Do you have enough runs on the board to beat their celebrity status Fiona?
PHILLIPS: Well, look I think the real stars our in the community that are doing it tough every day. Every door that I knock on, you know I hear a different story about how, for example, you know, a mum you know battling with a child that had a heart operation. Another child that's autistic and can't get the support they need because they need additional teachers aid at their local school. They're the real stars, not the candidates, and that's who I'm fighting for - people in Gilmore.
JOURNALIST: We are living in an era of I guess, you know personality popular politics. How are you going to counteract that?
PHILLIPS: Well look, I'm out there every day talking with people and people tell me they don't want politicians, they actually want genuine people. Look, I'm a mum. I've got four teenagers. I was born here, raised here and raising my family here, and working here. And I think people want someone that will actually represent their needs.
JOURNALIST: So what makes you different from the other ones then, Fiona? Like, really different?
PHILLIPS: Well I'm a local.
JOURNALIST: Are you a politician or will this define your character, the next few weeks? As a politician or a mum?
PHILLIPS: I'm a local. I was born here. I was raised here. I'm raising my family here. I'm a TAFE teacher. I think you know - I think people say that we want to see that. We don't want politicians. We want a real person. We want a real person that understands what people are going through.
LEIGH: And if people want to know the kind of candidate that they are getting in Fiona, they need only look at her activism on the Nowra pool. This is somebody whose work on saving the Nowra pool was fundamental to the local community. That was born out of a love for this community in which she's raised her family.
JOURNALIST: Anything else you want to add Fiona?
MCALLISTER: Thanks everyone.
MEDIA CONTACT: NATHAN ROBERTSON (MCALLISTER) 0436 632 388
STEPHANIE ANDERSON (LEIGH) 0431 344 056