Doorstop interview, Perth

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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17 November 2022

ZANETA MASCARENHAS, MEMBER FOR SWAN: Hi and welcome to Goodstart Carlisle. We’re here in the heart of Swan and I’m really excited to share with you that I'm here with our Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Minister Anne Aly. Today we've been doing a tour and finding out about the great work in early childhood education in this childcare centre. Thanks to Todd, the state manager and also Carmen, the daycare centre manager here, who have been showing us phenomenal work here. I'm really excited about Labor's policy in relation to early childhood education. We know that this will affect families and help more parents getting back into the workplace, and Labor’s childcare policy means that 6,900 families in Swan will be better off, and on that note I'll hand over to Minister Anne Aly.

DR ANNE ALY, MINISTER FOR EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION: Thanks Zaneta and good morning everyone. Thanks for joining us here today at Goodstart Carlisle. As Zaneta said, we've just had the opportunity to have a look at what early childhood educators do and the vital work that they do in assisting children's brain development in those very important early years. The Labor Government, the Albanese Labor Government, is committed to recognising the work that early childhood educators do, and to ensuring that every child has the opportunity to get access to good quality early childhood education and care. It's one of the reasons that we introduced our Cheaper Childcare bill, which will make early childhood education more affordable, as Zaneta said, for close to 7,000 families right here in Swan;1.2 million families right across Australia. I'm really excited to have the Deputy Prime Minister and Acting Prime Minister Richard Marles here today to also have a look at just how wonderful the workers here - the educators here are, and the kind of things they do in structuring play so that children can take the full benefit of early childhood education. And I'll hand over to Richard now.

RICHARD MARLES, ACTING PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you. It's great to be here at Goodstart Carlisle. Fantastic to be here with Zaneta Mascarenhas, our wonderful member for Swan, who does such a great job representing this area in the Federal Parliament. Also fantastic to be here with Anne Aly, our minister responsible for early childhood education, a proud West Australian. And it's really great to see what's happening here at Goodstart Carlisle, a centre where the parents here are going to benefit from Labor's more affordable childcare plans, plans that we've now had in place for a number of years. And this will see 96% of Australian families be better off as a result of the measures that we are putting in place to make childcare more affordable. And early childhood education is so important. My father was a school principal, I remember he said to me on his retirement after a lifetime as an educator, that he felt the most significant indicator of how a kid would finish their education is the way in which they started. These years are the most important years in terms of the development of a child's brain, in terms of the way in which children embark on their educational path, which is why we are so committed to making sure that this is as accessible as possible to the Australian community - it has an economic benefit, it increases the participation rate as we get more primary caregivers, principally women, back into the workforce earlier. And of course, this is all part of a seven-and-a-half billion dollar package that we put to the Australian people in last month's budget to deal with the cost of living pressures. As I say, making childcare more affordable, making housing more affordable, getting wages going, having cheaper medicines and expanding paid parental leave. All of this is really important and dealing with the challenges that Australian families are facing right now to balance their household budgets. But it's been a joy to be here, to see the kids, to see what they're doing and to know that under Labor, the services, the facilities that are provided here at Goodstart Carlisle will be more accessible.

JOURNALIST: You've arrived in Western Australia at a time when the mining and resources companies are taking out newspaper advertisements warning against increased taxes, can you guarantee that there will be no increased taxes on those sectors?

MARLES: We are very focused on making sure that the prices associated with energy for households in Australia, for businesses in Australia, are brought down. We are really focused on that as an issue. Increased energy prices are a huge pressure on Australian families and Australian businesses and we are looking at ways in which we can do that. Now in doing that, we're very much speaking with the sector, with gas companies, with retailers, to look at the ways in which we can take measures which reduce the burden on household and business budgets when it comes to energy prices.

JOURNALIST: What do you think the likelihood of a tax on the resources sector will be, then?

MARLES: Well, as I say, we’re talking with the sector, we’ve spoken with the sector today, and our Treasurer and responsible ministers are speaking with the sector to look at ways in which we can walk down this path. I think there is a sense across the country that we need to be doing what we can to put downward pressure on energy prices, given the impact that's having on Australian households, on Australian businesses - that's the problem that we are trying to solve. But in doing this, we will be working with the sector, with gas companies, with coal companies to make sure that we get this done in the right way.

JOURNALIST: Given our unique power system in Western Australia, any steps that you take to put downward pressure on energy prices – are they going to make any difference to West Australian businesses?

MARLES: There is a unique situation here, and we look at the ways in which energy is managed here and I guess I would observe that that’s done with a high degree of public consent. But we need to be looking at ways in which we can see a downward pressure placed on energy prices and to be frank, particularly on the east coast, where this is being experienced the most. But we're going to do it in a way where we get people around the table and where we can walk down the path of looking at all the options to put downward pressure on energy prices, but do so working with the sector.

JOURNALIST: The Home Affairs Minister has said hundreds of letters that were accidentally sent to asylum seekers and refugees were done so without their knowledge, but the Department says that it wasn't an accident. What happened there?

MARLES: The Home Affairs Minister has spoken about this issue, she's made it clear that these letters were inappropriately sent, and that it won't happen again.

JOURNALIST: What's your message to all the workers that are striking at ports across Australia today?

MARLES: We are very mindful of the industrial disputation at our ports. It's why our minister for workplace relations is intervening in the Fair Work Commission right now, to see industrial action terminated so that we can get people around the table again and get to a place where we can have this resolved. And that is fundamentally the issue that we want to address. It is important that there are fair wages and conditions which are applied in this sector, it's obviously really important in these weeks, in the lead up to the end of the year, that our ports are running effectively as well and that's why we’ve taken the step that we have with the Fair Work Commission.

JOURNALIST: Do you think if your IR bill goes through, that there will be more strike action coming on?

MARLES: No, I don’t. I think what we seek, in terms of our workplace relations bill, is to have legislation which provides fairness in the workplace, which actually encourages people to get around the table and to have those conversations to get productivity going but also get wages going, and that's really important as well here. The standout statistic in the economy over the last decade has been wage stagnation. And the fact that we've seen flatlining wages over the last 10 years of the former Coalition government, is really what underpins the cost of living crunch that Australians are experiencing now. Which is why we are looking at ways we can get wages going again and the starting point is to have a fair industrial relations system and that’s what our bill will seek to provide.

JOURNALIST: Rio Tinto is the latest major miner to say that they don't believe your IR reform will improve productivity. Is there a risk you're going to go to war with the mining sector? And secondly, why not carve out that sector?

MARLES: Well again, I don't accept that will be the outcome. What we're trying to do is to provide a fair industrial relations system across the board. But the point I really want to make is that we - the way in which we seek to govern is to get people around the table. And actually, that's what we seek in an industrial relations system. A system which encourages employers and workers, unions and employer organisations to get around the table together, to sort out what is fair in any given workplace. That's got to be the objective of an industrial relations system and that's what we are seeking to put in place. But we will keep talking with the mining sector and indeed employers across the economy, to make sure that we are hearing their voice and that what we ultimately put in place is something which if fair.

JOURNALIST: What’s your response to the evidence that it was a Ukrainian missile defence system responsible for the deadly attack in Poland?

MARLES: There is an investigation underway in relation to this and we need that to play out before we can really answer the question that you've asked. But let me just say that in - more broadly, our position in relation to Ukraine and the war in Ukraine has not changed. What we are seeing is unprovoked aggression on the part of Russia, a complete flouting of the global rules based order, of the UN Charter of international law. It cannot be allowed to stand. And that's why we will be supporting Ukraine for as long as it takes in order for Ukraine to ultimately end this war on its own terms and that requires us to stand with Ukraine, and we will do that.

JOURNALIST: Just on the UN. The UN has criticised Australia for the treatment of immigration detainees and prisoners. What's your reaction to that?

MARLES: Well look, I'd probably take that on notice. I haven't seen the specific criticism the UN has put forward, but obviously the way in which we manage immigration detention is obviously in accordance with Australian law and accordance with international standards.

JOURNALIST: Given the face-to-face meeting in Bali with President Xi. How quickly do you think the remaining trade sanctions will start to fall away?

MARLES: Look, I think there's a lot of water still to go under the bridge in our relationship with China. It's a very important relationship. It's obviously a complex relationship. The meeting that we've seen between Prime Minister Albanese and President Xi is a really important step. We have said from the outset of this government that we want to stabilise our relationship with China. We want to put the relationship in a better place. And might I say, what's come from the Chinese side is a sentiment which accords with that. We value a productive relationship with China but we also understand that there are a lot of challenges within the relationship, and a meeting doesn't change all of those, although it is a very important step forward. We'll continue to work to stabilise the relationship with China. As I say, we will continue to try and have the relationship put in a better place. In the same breath we will obviously always speak up for Australia's national interest and when that does differ from the actions of any country, including China. But it’s important that we stabilise this relationship, and the meeting is a really important step in that regard. Thank you.


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