Minister Rishworth interviewed on Sky News with Sharri Markson


Topics: Interest rate rises, franking credits, paid parental leave and domestic violence.

SHARRI MARKSON, HOST: Joining me now is Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth from Canberra. Amanda, thank you very much for your time tonight after a busy day in Parliament.


SHARRI MARKSON: Now Minister, I want to start with the big news today, the tenth rate rise from the RBA. This is going to be hurting many Australians. Do you think RBA governor Philip Lowe is being too aggressive with rate rises and are you concerned this could push us into a recession?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Firstly I would say I'm not going to comment on the independent decision of the Reserve Bank. The Reserve Bank has been set up as an independent decision making authority and I think I'm not going to be able to comment on the specific rate rises and their decision making. But I would say there's no doubt that, of course, rising interest rates, people do feel it. Whether you be a business owner or a homeowner, this is a very difficult time for many, and so as a government, we've got to make sure that we take responsible action when it comes to supporting people with cost of living. But as the Treasurer has said, we have to do that in a way that doesn't add to inflation. And that's exactly what we did with our decision around supporting, people with the cost of energy through our decision that we made.

SHARRI MARKSON: Okay. Your government today has made changes to franking credits. Isn't this a broken promise?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Not at all. Let's be really clear that the arrangements of franking credits that individual investors can then get a refund for, have not been changed whatsoever under the legislation. What the legislation did, importantly, was close, or simplify and close, a loophole which was about integrity – particularly around shares of large companies. And so this was an important integrity measure. But it certainly doesn't revisit at all in any way the debate that happened in 2019.

SHARRI MARKSON: The fund manager who led the campaign against Bill Shorten's policy, this is according to a report in The Australian newspaper, he is Wilson Asset Management Chair, Geoff Wilson, he warns that this change, this crackdown on franking credits, is going to encourage large companies to minimise their tax payments and cripple small business growth. Isn't this real concern that businesses and fund managers are expressing today? And isn’t that valid?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: What this measure was doing was stopping companies selling their shares and then buying them back. And this was a loophole that existed and so needed to be closed. But I need to be very clear that this was a very different issue to the one that was prosecuted in 2019. Obviously, this gentleman has a range of different interests in franking credits, but if we are reflecting back to the decision in 2019 – which we have not revisited as a government – the arrangements and legislation does not prevent individual investors from applying for a franking credit refund.

SHARRI MARKSON: I want to move on to your portfolio. You introduced some ground-breaking legislation yesterday, 26 weeks paid parental leave. Do you think this is going to have a tangible difference in equality? With parents and getting women into the workforce?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Our first tranche of paid parental leave was very, very important because what it did was it firstly supported more families to avail themselves of paid parental leave. So previously the means testing was a just on the birth mother. It didn't take into consideration the family income. What our changes have done, have enabled a choice. Whichever means test better suits your family you can access. So we're opening the door and that improves gender equality because previously women that were the high income earners and if their partners were lower income earners, they got punished without their family being able to access paid parental leave. So we've changed that and we've also encouraged shared care. So I do think this is going to improve women's workforce participation. The results are in from 2011. It has improved it. So I do think we will see an ongoing improvement because keeping that connection with the workforce is really important.

SHARRI MARKSON: One of the other really big things in your portfolio is tackling violence against women. It's obviously International Women's Day tomorrow. What more are you planning to do to try and address this shocking issue? Particularly of women who are dying in domestic violence cases.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The statistics are still absolutely shocking. We have one woman dying every ten days at the hands of their former or current partner. So in terms of what we're doing, we launched our National Plan to End Violence Against Women and Children in a generation. And there's a lot to do to get that done. So we are currently investing and we're out looking for partners to build more safe places for women to actually seek refuge. But we are also trying to change the attitudes out there as well. Of course, we have in many ways, attitudes still prevailing that it's okay to disrespect a woman or use violence. So we have a campaign running called Stop It at the Start, which we're investing our next boost in. That is really critical to change perceptions as well. So, look, we've got to invest right across from prevention to response to healing and recovery. But we've got a number of initiatives underway that are doing just that.

SHARRI MARKSON: All right. Amanda Rishworth, Federal Social Services Minister, thank you very much for your time this evening.