Minister Rishworth Adelaide Doorstop

E&OE TRANSCRIPT 

MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES, AMANDA RISHWORTH: I’m really pleased to be here today to announce the Federal Government has now released our national framework on consent. We know from research that consent is an area that is sometimes a bit grey, especially when it comes to young people. Knowing when there is consent and when there's not consent for sexual relations can be a difficult area to navigate. And that is why today, the Commonwealth has released a clear consent framework, which outlines a shared and consistent definition about what consent is. And that it's free, that it's voluntary, that it's informed and that it's mutual and it's active. These are really key elements in the definition about consent. It also has five core elements that make up consent that will guide policy and programs and it also has 10 principles. This framework will be used to guide government policy and programs and ensure that across the Commonwealth, we are dealing with a shared understanding of what it means to have true consent in sexual relations. Of course, this is really important because from time to time we've seen attempts by governments that haven't worked out that well. Need I mention the milkshake ads which did not directly deal with the way young people needed to be spoken with and informed about consent. So this is an important framework. It is publicly available so that not just the Commonwealth, but any organisation can use this framework to help guide their policies and programs. Forty community organisations and experts were consulted in the development of this. And so it has been developed not just by evidence, but through 40 experts in the area, including Chanel Contos who has done a huge amount of work to bring the issue of consent to light. This framework will help guide us as we further develop our education resources for consent in school, but also our further work to improve awareness around consent. The research does show that not having a clear understanding of consent can really lead to misinterpretation and indeed exacerbate sexual violence. What we need to do if we're going to turn the trend where one in five young people report an experience of sexual violence, we need to ensure that we are turning that trend around and to do that we have to start by making sure that there is clear awareness and understanding with our young people. Now before I go to questions, I've got to also make a few comments on cost of living. Of course the Government does know that people are doing it tough when it comes to cost of living pressures. And of course, we will always be looking at what more we can do to support people. But I do have some updated figures in my portfolio of Social Services of where Government action is already having a big for those receiving that support. Of course the most recent figures have shown one million Australians are benefiting from the biggest boost in 30 years of Commonwealth Rent Assistance. So that's a huge number of people that are getting extra support because of the Government's boost in rent assistance. And we have 75,000 single mums that are now benefiting from the Government extension to the single parenting payment from eight years to 14 years. And we have over 50,000 older Australians that are struggling to get work, getting the boost to the income support as a result of the higher rates of Job Seeker for those over 55 years of age. And that's in addition to the boost to income support payments right across the board. This is money making a real difference to people's lives and supporting with some of the difficult cost of living pressures they are facing. Of course the Government does want to do its bit, but understands that everyone has a role to play. And that is why we have launched our inquiry into grocery pricing, because consumers should be getting a fair price at the checkout and suppliers should be getting a fair price for the goods that they're supplying. So this grocery inquiry is important to ensure, along with some of the work that the ACCC will be doing. So the Government takes it very seriously, of course, the work that we've already been doing is making a difference but we recognise there is more to do. I'll go to questions. 

JOURNALIST: So when Labor MPs are called to the meeting on Wednesday will you be looking at implementing an energy package to cut bills? And if not energy cuts to bills, what other things will you do to relieve this issue? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I would say that the Government takes the cost of energy very seriously. And that is why we actually capped the prices of gas and coal in December - a year and a bit ago. That is why we took action immediately. Now, I might remind people that those opposite - The Opposition - actually oppose this measure. They actually argued against us intervening and capping the cost of energy. We've also implemented our energy rebates which are flowing through to consumers now. So that is the short term action we've taken. Of course, we've got an eye to the long-term as well. And that is why our policy settings have all been about driving cheaper, reliable energy for Australian consumers and that is firmly our focus. So the Government does take energy costs seriously. That's why we've already acted, and we will continue to work in the long term to ensure that we are driving the best energy prices for Australian consumers. 

JOURNALIST: Are you happy that Federal Labor MPs will be called back to Canberra to discuss these cost of living measures? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I'm looking forward to catching up with my colleagues. The Labor caucus is one that has a serious depth of experience and is great company, quite frankly. We regularly catch up as a caucus and I think it's very fitting, that in the lead up to the beginning of what will be a big year of delivery for this Government that our Labor caucus gets together and catches up before we get into the hustle and bustle of the parliamentary year. 

JOURNALIST: Can we expect a new policy to come out of this meeting? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The Labor caucus meets on a regular basis and not just during parliamentary sittings, but on a regular basis to discuss a range of policy issues. And so this will be, I expect, a routine caucus meeting where issues continue to be discussed. And being I think, setting up for what is as I said, a parliamentary year of delivery. 

JOURNALIST: Looking at the Stage Three tax cuts. Is that something that's going to be locked in or will they be amended to maybe reduce inflation? Can you touch on that? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The Prime Minister and the Treasurer have been very clear that our position on the Stage Three tax cuts has not changed. Our position has not changed. And I don't think there's any more to say on that.

JOURNALIST: What impact this will have on the May budget meeting next week?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I think as the Prime Minister has said, we are always looking at how we better support Australians particularly with cost of living relief but at the same time not adding to our inflation challenge. Inflation has a big impact on everyone, particularly those that are working and so we have been very clear that our key focus is to tackle inflation. Of course, we need to see inflation coming down and so finding cost of living relief that doesn't add to the challenge - the inflation challenge - is something our Government's been very focused on. And I don't think it'll be over one meeting or a couple of meetings. This has been a constant role that our Governments played and we're seeing impacts. I mentioned the one million people that have benefited from Commonwealth Rent Assistance. That measure itself has actually put downward pressure on inflation. So that is a good example of a policy that has possibly been a support for those that need, for the relying on Commonwealth rental systems, but also is putting downward pressure on inflation and not adding to the inflation challenge. So this is the type of work that we have already been doing and we will continue to do into the future. 

JOURNALIST: Is this a crisis meeting? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: It is not a crisis meeting. This is a meeting - a meeting of the parliamentary Labor Party caucus members to get together and to prepare for the parliamentary year. We, as I said, have a depth of experience. We actually like each other. And I think that can't always be said in other rooms in Parliament House, in other parties, but we will get together, we'll have serious discussions and prepare for the year ahead, which will be a year of delivering.

JOURNALIST: What are the energy subsidies government is making? 

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We have capped the price of gas and coal which has led to what would have been otherwise higher prices being lower than they otherwise would have been. In addition people – of course the qualification eligibility is different in different states and territories – do receive rebates on their bill and that is leading to real relief right now. 

JOURNALIST: How do other MPs feel about being called back?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, I can't speak for every MP in the parliament. But I know that getting elected and being a member of parliament you want to contribute and want to be a part of discussions and part of determining Labor's agenda. I can't speak for other parties, but when you're a Labor MP, you don't get elected to sit around and twiddle your thumbs. You get down to work to represent your electorate to make a meaningful contribution. And, as I said, we like each other. And so I'm looking forward, I can only speak for myself, I'm looking forward to catching up with my colleagues next week. Thank you.