Minister Rishworth interview on Today Show with Sarah Abo


Topics: Royal photograph, Aged Care taskforce, Parliamentary expenses

SARAH ABO, HOST: Welcome back. Well, after coming under fire for that controversial Mother's Day photo, the Princess of Wales has issued a public apology on social media, confirming speculation that the image was in fact digitally altered. Joining us to discuss today's headlines is Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth and Independent MP Dai Le in the studio. Good to see you both. Amanda, it's such a bizarre story, isn't it? I mean, why edit a photo with your kids for Mother's Day? Why not release an original one?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: I have to say that my suspicions were immediately piqued when I saw all three children looking at the camera, because that doesn't happen very often with my kids. But look, the Princess of Wales is recovering from surgery and obviously that's a difficult time for her and we wish her a speedy recovery, but I’m certainly not sure she's going to go into a photo editing job into the future.

SARAH ABO: I guess it's a reminder not to digitally alter any campaign photos, that's for sure, we've seen that happen before. But what Amanda's saying…

AMANDA RISHWORTH: … People can tell. They can tell.

SARAH ABO: Absolutely, yes. Obviously the Princess, Dai, is recovering from that major surgery and we know, we've been told not to expect her until after Easter. If she was to come out publicly, that would put the rumours to bed, because clearly this photo hasn't.

DAI LE, MEMBER FOR FOWLER: Look, I think at the start of it, they just should have been upfront about it in terms of her health and have a photo. But I think at the end of the day, it doesn't really matter, really. It's a private matter. It's her family issue. She wants to recuperate in privacy. And in terms of photoshopping, everybody's doing it nowadays, you go into Snapchat and you look completely different, so there's all of that technology that's available.

SARAH ABO: Filters are different to altering an image, Dai.

DAI LE: True,true,yes. I noticed because there's now focus on that. I looked at the photo, I'm thinking, why did they do that? I don't know if she actually Photoshopped it. You have to actually know how to use Photoshop to try and alter that image. And look, she did come out and apologise, but, gosh, for Mother's Day, why would you cause all of this attention? And now saying that you've doctored the photo, so it's an unfortunate situation.

SARAH ABO: Amanda, do you reckon the Royal family is in chaos here?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, they've been hit by these two big health scares and it's been a difficult time for them. But I think in all leadership, you've got to be authentic and they will need to continue to be authentic if they are to succeed in public life.

SARAH ABO: Yeah, poor old Kate. All right, well, moving on and a long-awaited report on aged care has suggested older Australians accessing care should pay more based on their personal wealth. Amanda, the Government agrees taxpayers shouldn't be the ones slugged with an extra levy to fund the nation's aged care. But do seniors really need to bear the brunt of these costs? I mean, you're asking them to pay more for the same care.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: What we're looking at is how we develop a sustainable, strong aged care system that will actually be fit for purpose for the decades to come. And what we know is there'll be double the number of people aged 65-years-old and older and triple the number of people aged 85-years-old and older. And so, we need to be able to provide an aged care system that is fit for purpose. We've already been doing a lot of work when it comes to putting nurses back into nursing homes, for example, and increasing the pay of our aged care workers. But this report is very important. It has 23 recommendations. We'll be looking at those recommendations very carefully, but there is a challenge in front of us, one that will happen over the next few decades, that we must address if we're going to have a sustainable health care system.

SARAH ABO: Yeah, but you're also asking the public to have faith in you, deciding who's rich and who's not?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are working through the 23 recommendations. There'll be a lot of work to be done about how we fund a sustainable system going into the future. But I think Australians want to have the confidence, which they haven't had, and that we're working on, that our aged care system, whether that's at home or in an aged care facility, is of high quality and will look after our older Australians. There is a challenge with the sustainability. We have had previous, complete neglect of this system. We need to tackle this to provide the best possible care for older Australians.

SARAH ABO: No, that's for sure. Something needs to be done. Ultimately Dai, rich people are going to pay for better care anyway, and they're probably already doing that?

DAI LE: Look, from my perspective, the system we need to fix, and we constantly talk about fixing it, we've got an increasing ageing population in an area of Fowler. 15 per cent of our population are 65 years of age plus. And also the other challenge is the multicultural aspect of it. The ageing population have got English as a second language. And also the next challenge is the workforce shortages. So, how do you provide nursing staff to cater for that diverse community?

SARAH ABO: Absolutely. All right. And finally, a number of other Government Ministers are now also in hot water over their huge expense bills. Top of the list is Greens leader Adam Bandt, racking up almost a million dollars in 2022. Amanda, he spent $204,000 on printing costs alone. We're talking about the Greens here. He holds the obviously inner-city seat of Melbourne, where people are very good at checking emails, spending $200,000 killing trees. Truly?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look, parliamentary expenses are governed by strict rules and it's up to every member of Parliament to adhere to those rules. Communicating with your electorate, MPs choose to do it in different ways, whether that's through flyers or Facebook or email. To be honest, my beef with Adam Bandt is why he won't pass legislation to help more people into a home. We've got the Greens blocking the Housing Future Australia fund. We've got the Greens now blocking our Home Equity Scheme. I mean, that's my beef with Adam Bandt.

SARAH ABO: But also some of those trees in Hindmarsh Square behind you. Dai?

DAI LE: That shocked me, that chartered flight, because I think that somebody who talks about putting a stop to fossil fuels to use chartered flight was actually quite contradictory to his stance.

SARAH ABO: All right, thank you both so much for joining us.