Transcripts → 2022


Radio Interview - ABC RN Breakfast

Minister for Finance
Minister for the Public Service
Minister for Women


Date: Monday, 17 October 2022

National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children; Labor’s commitment to boost Paid Parental Leave; October Budget.

PATRICIA KARVELAS, HOST: It's a devastating and shocking fact that one woman dies in Australia every 10 days at the hands of a current or former partner. Today the Federal Government is releasing its 10 year plan with the aim of ending violence against women and children. Katy Gallagher is the Minister for Women and Finance. Minister, welcome to RN Breakfast.


KARVELAS: You've set an ambitious plan to end violence within one generation. Julia Gillard released the first plan in 2012. There has been very little progress since then, how realistic is your goal?

GALLAGHER: Oh, well, it's an important goal, I would say. The statistics are horrific. So I think we had to, as ministers around the country, take a pretty hard view on this, you know, and say we must end this. It's not a question of if we can, we must. And I think everyone is committed to giving it such a red hot go at achieving it.

KARVELAS: How much money is on the table for this and what sort of metrics will be in place to make sure all the programs are working to achieve its goal rather than it being a lofty aim that ends up not being achieved?

GALLAGHER: Yeah. So there's over a billion dollars that's going into funding programs that support the National Plan from the Commonwealth and then obviously, there are other programs that are supported at a state and territory level. And then obviously, you know, there's other services like Police, Emergency Services, hospitals that deal with the aftermath of violence.

KARVELAS: But that's the existing money, isn't it? There's nothing new, there's no new money in this plan?

GALLAGHER: Well, that money is flowing over the next four years. So there will be additional, you know, money that goes into new services and workforce and things like that. So there is —

KARVELAS: Existing pool you're redirecting, but it's the existing pool, right?

GALLAGHER: That's attached to the National Plan, yes. And then I would say, PK, there are going to be action plans that sit below this National Plan that go into your second part of your question, which is how do you really make sure you're making measurable progress towards achieving this goal, and that will be measured through the action plans that underpin this, including a specific action plan for First Nations women. 

KARVELAS: Advocates are saying if you want results, you have to spend more money, not just the additional pool that was already committed to. Will there be more in the Budget, which is just a week away?  

GALLAGHER: Well, people will have to wait for the Budget, but I have no doubt that there will have to be additional resourcing to support this National Plan. So it was important to lock this down. I mean, this has been a long time coming the National Plan. There's been a huge amount of work from the sector, from governments, led by Amanda Rishworth for the Federal Government to actually get it to the point where we've got it today, which is that everyone's signing up to it, that it strengthened from the previous draft plan that existed, and now we get on with getting those action plans in place and making sure the service system can respond and shift into as I said, some of that more focus on early intervention and prevention.

KARVELAS: There's a separate plan, as you mentioned, for First Nations women and children, how will this plan be delivered and does it have the same target of ending violence within a generation?

GALLAGHER: Yes, so it sits under the National Plan, but that will be a further piece of work. We've been, Amanda Rishworth has been working in consultation with Linda Burney about the importance of that and we'll have to go through a separate consultation process. There'll be a huge amount of work done but I think it's very important that we do have a separate plan that recognises the needs of First Nations communities and also how to target programs that are best going to support them. 

KARVELAS: Can we turn to Labor's policy on paid parental leave now. Labor will extend paid leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks by 2026. It can be split between two parents, where there are two parents. The leave will increase gradually starting in 2024, why is it that far away?

GALLAGHER: So we're going to phase it in. That's right. And it's about being, I think, managing some of those budget pressures. So as much as we'd like to do everything up front straightaway in a whole range of areas, we have to also undertake some responsible budgeting. So this is what is affordable and responsible and gives a graduated increase over time. So we'll go from 18 to 20 weeks in July 23 And then it will increase by two weeks every week, every year after that till it reaches 26 weeks in 2026. So it's a huge boost PK but we are going to implement it over time.

KARVELAS: If this is meant to be a productivity measure, why wait years to introduce it?

GALLAGHER: Oh, well, it came out of the well, as I said, I mean, the answer is how are we managing the Budget and what is affordable and responsible —

KARVELAS: I know but that's at odds isn't it with respect to the productivity argument, which is that you know, the productivity argument being that it actually provides a dividend to economic growth.

GALLAGHER: Yeah. And we will be seeing increases year by year. We won't get to 26 for a couple of years, but we are going to increase it and it's about supporting women who are able, you know to stay at home, primarily women, but we would also like the focus of these increase weeks to be about shared parenting but for women to go in and out of the workforce when they're having children and it works alongside of course, our big investment into childcare. But as I said we would like to do everything all the time upfront but that is just not possible at the moment.

KARVELAS: Yeah, you're right that you need to make decisions, but at the same time you need to pay for those decisions. Where's the plan for how you're going to repair the Budget structurally for being able to invest in things like this?

GALLAGHER: Yeah, so that I mean, that goes partly to my answer to the previous question about how we do things in a measured and affordable way. But you'll see the first results of the waste audit that we've been undertaking since we came into government about how you know looking at where we're spending money, whether it's going to the right places, whether it's still delivering an economic dividend, and whether we can reshape it or find responsible saves. So you will see some of that in, you know, next week. But there's a bigger, you know, be more work underway. It'll be something that we have to attend to in every Budget.

KARVELAS: Lots of language is being used by the Treasurer Jim Chalmers about being the adults in the room and having a big conversation about the Budget and budget repair, should tax reform beyond the table? Broader tax reform, not just stage three tax cuts, but broader tax reform so that revenue can meet these ongoing and growing costs.

GALLAGHER: I think it is a discussion that's underway. I mean, I was listening to your piece just before seven, I think that it's unsurprising that there are those conversations, certainly people have them with me, you know, stakeholders all the time. So I think there is a conversation and the conversation Jim and I've been trying to lead is getting an understanding across the community about the pressures that the Budget faces. I think, under the previous government, it was, you know, there really wasn't that discussion and it was everything will be alright well, everything is not alright. Services weren't funded, aged care was in crisis. You know, things weren't dealt with and now we've come in and we're having a look at the books the first opportunity we've had and we are being upfront that there are these structural pressures. We'll do our bit on the fiscal side looking at where we can reshape and you know, reprioritise but we need people to understand that you know, in those key areas that we've talked about a lot, PK, health, aged care, NDIS, defence and servicing the debt now, are those big problems facing the Budget and an honest conversation about all of that —

KARVELAS: And needing new revenue streams, right?

GALLAGHER: Well you know, our focus has been is on multinational tax reform, you'll see that progressed in the Budget and then you know, I think we're also looking at areas where, you know, we can make sure we're getting the revenue in that we need under existing arrangements. But, you know, again, I mean, we have to have this honest conversation about the Budget and your journalist that was on before the news is absolutely right. These deficits are substantial, the debt burden is substantial. And the demands for services are also there, rightly, from Australian people expecting things to be funded properly.

KARVELAS: Just quickly on the Budget measures. During the election, Labor said the department would look at all projects, particularly among those promised to the Nationals to get on board with the net zero promise by 2050. How many of the of these projects have been assessed and exactly how much money will you be cutting from those projects?

GALLAGHER: Okay, so I just want to be clear, we have looked at every department and every line in this first wave of the audit. So I do not accept the line that's been run by the Nationals that this is somehow targeting them. We have looked across departments, we've looked at every budget measure that was funded in the March 2023 Budget, just before the election. And we've looked right across the board and you will see when the Budget is handed down where we think we can reallocate or make sensible savings, and we will find savings. So I think the issue around the regions, you will see a huge spend in the regions, quite rightly and quite appropriately, but where there are programs and it's not region specific, where there are programs where, you know, we've had a look at them and either the work hasn't been done or the case wasn't made for that spending then we have looked to make sensible savings. I mean, this is the job and it will be the job of every Budget, not just this one.

KARVELAS: Thank you so much for joining us this morning minister.

GALLAGHER: Thanks very much PK.


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