Transcript - Parliament House Doorstop

MICHAEL McCORMACK

We are really pleased that there's been so much traffic on the Virgin and Qantas websites over the weekend and certainly having spoken to both Alan Joyce and Jayne Hrdlicka, they are delighted with the program, the tourism initiative that we put in place late last week. Hundreds of thousands of people are already looking to get on that half-price airline ticket and we know that every dollar spent on an airline ticket means $10 at the destination. We've added four additional sites. We've added Hobart over the weekend, of course Townsville and Adelaide through Kangaroo Island, of course getting tourists there and Darwin have also been added to those 13 initial sites. And we'll be looking at it the whole way through. That's what we've done with all of our COVID programs, all of our economy building programs through the whole pandemic. We've looked at what we've done. They've all been scalable, temporary and targeted and where we've needed to tweak and adjust, we have done so. That's why we've kept the economy going. Of course, now it's very much time for many of those Australians, I'd really like to see them take up some of those 54,000 vacancies. 54,000 jobs that are available in regional Australia right now. There are good paying jobs in accountancy firms, in law practices, indeed in agriculture. There are so many jobs and when you can see with regional Australia, with the properties that are available out there, big backyards, swimming pools, four-bedroom house with two lock up car garage situations, why wouldn't you want to go to regional Australia?

JOURNALIST

Is this a scheme that naturally picks winners and losers? Barnaby Joyce has said it's not how he would have done it. He would have done it completely differently and there's plenty of anger in the places that have missed out. Do you need to scrap it and start again?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

There's also plenty of happiness and what we've done is we looked at the figures provided to us by AusTrade. We looked at other figures as well of those areas which were hardest hit by a lack of international tourists. So areas which would normally be awash with international travellers, with overseas visitors that are now no longer having those international travellers. The streets are empty, the bars are empty, the motels and hotels do not have people staying in them. We looked at those areas and they're the areas that we're targeting. But that's not to say that as the program rolls out that we won't look at other potential sites.

JOURNALIST

What was the criteria? Merimbula seems a very odd choice. Was that an international –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I don't think the people of Merimbula would say that. I certainly don't think Kristy McBain the Labor Member for Eden-Monaro would say that being a former Merimbula Mayor. I think she'd say, “Well I'm glad it's actually been chosen.” There are many overseas travellers who often stay at Merimbula, often stay at that wonderful South Coast location. It's a fantastic place. Why wouldn't you want to go and have a holiday at Merimbula between the months of April and July?

JOURNALIST

How much change are we going to see in here? Are we going to see a total turnover in destinations? Are Orange and Dubbo and Bendigo going to get a go?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well again, I say those areas are not normally areas which are awash with international travellers. Orange and Dubbo you mentioned they’re not areas that have been as hard hit as the Whitsundays, as Mackay, as some of the other areas that we've put – or all of the other areas, Broome in Western Australia – that we've put on that list. So, as I say, we'll continue to look at it. The Tourism Minister Dan Tehan will continue to look at it with me and we'll make sure that if we need to change then we will.

JOURNALIST

Deputy Prime Minister, will you be attending today's march?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, I've got a very full book of appointments and as I said yesterday, I repeat it again this morning, when I make an appointment, I keep it. A lot of people often use sitting times and Parliamentary sitting weeks as times to have an appointment. My days are usually in 15-minute increments. My diary, sometimes I look at it and it's generally full up. I've looked at my diary yesterday morning. It's very much full up and it has been for some weeks past. But look, I'll look at it. If I get the chance, I'll certainly go down. I know other Coalition colleagues are going. This is an important rally, I understand that. I understand the issues, I understand why people are concerned and that's why the Prime Minister has engaged the services of Sex Discrimination Commissioner Kate Jenkins to review the whole process. That's why she has –

JOURNALIST

There's the organiser there, you could meet the organiser now if –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I'm happy to. I'm looking straight down the camera, so I didn't actually notice who was walking past but I'm more than happy to meet with anybody at any time and to have those discussions. But what I also want to say is that we need to have, obviously, more respect. We need to show more respect in the workplace. Not just this workplace but workplaces right throughout the country. It starts at home, continues in the workplace. We need people and not just women either, to feel safe and comfortable in their workplaces, in their homes. Domestic violence is a scourge on society and so is harassment for that matter. We should be able to keep our distance from others and to do the respectful thing always.

JOURNALIST

Is this the kind of occasion when you and the Prime Minister should find some time to go outside and meet these people?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well again, I'm not sure of the Prime Minister's schedule, I'm not sure of his diary. Yes, we talk about these things often but, you know, like I say, I've got a full book of appointments. If I can find the time to go down there and I appreciate it's not just 10 minutes, to go to anything it does take – and I see you scoff – but, you know, you can't just have a 10-minute appointment and walk in. It takes at least seven or eight minutes to get out there, we all know that. Then you have to meet. Then people want to have these discussions with you and that's important. They've got important things to discuss and to relay and I get that. That's why I've made sure that my staff are aware of all the processes and protocols in this situation and I want them to feel safe and secure and I think every parliamentarian should be able to do that as well.

JOURNALIST

Deputy Prime Minister, you've just said that they have important things to say. Janine, do you have anything that you'd like to say to the Deputy Prime Minister?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Hello, Michael McCormack.

JANINE HENDRY

Hello, Mr McCormack.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

How are you going?

JANINE HENDRY

Thank you for acknowledging that the issues of sexual assault against women are very important.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

They are.

JANINE HENDRY

I note that some of your colleagues are indeed coming out to meet with us and as you know I emailed you personally to ask you to come out and I would really have liked you to have come out to listen to the voices of the women of Australia because we have a lot to say.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I'll see what I can do, I won’t make any promises but I’ll see what I can do.

JANINE HENDRY

I would very much appreciate it and I certainly know that the 100,000 women around Australia would like to feel as if their voices are actually being heard and as if their very own government has their backs. Because right here, right now we're not actually feeling that.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I think it's probably more than the 100,000 women who may well be rallying at protests. I think it's every woman. Every woman wants to be able to feel safe and secure.

JANINE HENDRY

Yes.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

In their home, in their workplace and certainly with a daughter and with a wife, of course many women who work for me, they also, they need to know that they're protected as well and they are.

JANINE HENDRY

Thank you. So, would you like to give me a commitment today after we've heard the women of Australia that you will take responsibility for starting to enact some of the structural and systemic changes that we need not only in Parliament but throughout our major institutions?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I've always made those commitments. I've always made sure that any workplace that I've been in and certainly my home, is a very safe and secure place for any woman who happens to be in that particular environment.

JANINE HENDRY

I understand. I understand that you may have in your home but there are many women who work in many organisations who do not feel safe and we are asking today for certainly some structural reform that is actually within your power to implement the appropriate laws and regulations for Australia.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

The Prime Minister has given that assurance that he will meet with you and discuss any submissions, of course and anything that you would like to put forward and of course we'll look at that.

JANINE HENDRY

Thank you. I do understand that the Prime Minister has said he will look at it but to be clear the Australian Human Rights Commission report landed on the Attorney-General's desk over 12 months ago and we have not seen any implementation of the recommendations that were in that report and it was pretty scathing. It was pretty scathing. So when you tell me that you're willing to look at it, I'm going to tell you I want some action and the women of Australia want some action. We're drawing a line in the sand right here, right now. You'll give me that assurance?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I'm certain that we'll absolutely look at it. I can't give you the assurance that we'll –

JANINE HENDRY

I'm not interested in you looking at it. You've been looking at this for years. I'm sorry, it's time and it's time now. We don't want any more reports. We want change and we want change now. You've had that report for 14 months.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

I understand.

JANINE HENDRY

Thank you and women of Australia will thank you when we get these changes.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

It's all about respect.

JANINE HENDRY

Thank you, thank you very much.

JOURNALIST

So Deputy Prime Minister, will you go to the rally now?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Look, as I say I will look at my diary. I actually have people in my diary who I also don't want to upset and don't want to sort of put off because they have made long standing commitments to see me, including people from – I understand there's a Northern Territory compact in there. If they are indeed coming from the Northern Territory to discuss infrastructure needs and expectations of the Territory, then that's important for me to go to. But we'll see, we'll see.

JOURNALIST

On the infrastructure needs, last week you announced 800,000 discounted air price tickets for locations across the country. Darwin, Adelaide, Hobart, Townsville have been added. Why now? Why weren't they on the original list?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well because the original list had the areas that were hardest hit by not having international travellers.

JOURNALIST

So what makes these areas now favourable?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Again, we looked at it. I said all along this was an initial list. I said all along, right at the announcement late last week, I said this was an initial list and that's what we've done all the way through the COVID situation. Any economic program that we put in place we’ve always said it would be targeted, scalable and indeed we've tweaked all our sorts of measures right the way through. I've actually extended the regional airline network support and the domestic aviation network support. I've extended those twice now to ensure that those areas which were receiving those aeroplanes and of course with all the vital equipment, medical equipment and medical personnel on them, they were able to have that program extended. So we've looked at it all the way through. We've made sure, we've updated and changed if necessary, our programs and our projects to make it fit for purpose.

JOURNALIST

You've added those locations. Is it still 800,000 tickets though or are you increasing –

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well it's 800,000 tickets between April and July. And again, as I say, we'll look at –

JOURNALIST

There's an increase in locations, no increase in tickets?

MICHAEL McCORMACK

The tickets haven't all yet sold yet so we'll actually look at that. There's been a lot of activity, there's been a lot of traffic through the Qantas and Virgin websites. They're delighted and so are those Australians who've already –

JOURNALIST

Victorians are not delighted; New South Wales is not delighted.

MICHAEL McCORMACK

Well, New South Wales also has a voucher system, as do many of the other states. It's not just up to the Commonwealth to support the economy on our own. We also need of course, the states to do their share of the heavy lifting and thankfully New South Wales has. They've done the heavy share of the lifting as far as quarantining is concerned. But it's up to other States as well to dig deep into their pockets. I appreciate that Mark McGowan, well done to him, re-elected on the weekend, they announced a $3 billion surplus. Well, it's time to maybe use some of that surplus as the borders reopen and to make sure that those West Australian and other businesses are able to benefit from that money. Thank you very much everyone.

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