Minister Rishworth interview on ABC News Breakfast with Lisa Millar and Emma Rebellato


EMMA REBELLATO, HOST: Well, we want to get more on that top story this morning, those comments from the daughter of a Perth gunman who slammed police for their inaction on gun crime and gendered violence. Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth is part of an urgent review into the prevention of domestic violence and joins us now from Canberra. Minister, thanks for joining us this morning.


EMMA REBELLATO: What did you make of those comments? We've been playing it again this morning. Those comments from Ariel Bombara, incredibly powerful, but incredibly critical of the lack of help from police and also governments. What do you make of her statement?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: What Ms Bombara expressed was incredibly powerful. As you said, I think it requires an enormous bravery, particularly at a time when she would be grieving, to speak up and make these comments. And, you know, her urge for action is also very powerful. I think she has highlighted a number of areas where she didn't get the response she needed from police. And so it is very right that the Western Australian Police Commissioner is investigating this to look at where it went wrong.

EMMA REBELLATO: Has the system failed her and the Petelczyc, mother and daughter who were killed by this man?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: In terms of the Western Australian investigation, I'm going to leave that to the Western Australian government to investigate. But it is right to say that it certainly seems that she did not get the response that she needed from police. And so it's right that the Western Australian government looks into this and it's right that the police commissioner looks at what could have been done in this circumstance to prevent this tragedy.

EMMA REBELLATO: Minister, another thing she said in her powerful statement, she said, ‘here I am, another woman apologising for men's behaviour. It shouldn't fall on the women who are survivors of domestic abuse to solve this problem. It's on our governments. That's what you're employed to do’. What do you say to that?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look she's absolutely right that victim-survivors should not shoulder the blame and this was a very clear message that victim-survivors sent. The responsibility actually sits with the perpetrators, with the men that perpetrate violence and governments across both state and Commonwealth have an important role to play in making sure that, firstly, that we make it clear that violence against women is not okay but also make sure that the programs and the support is available. But our systems are responding, whether it's our police systems, whether it's our justice systems, we all have a role to play across society, across the community. So, it shouldn't shoulder on victim survivors to have to raise this and respond. The focus does have to be on those perpetrating violence and making sure that the programs and the systems and the investment that government make are there to support women, but importantly first prevent perpetration and then hold perpetrators to account.

EMMA REBELLATO: Well, on this prevention, your rapid response panel, your expert panel, met yesterday for the first time. Talk us through what their immediate aims are, because this is a fairly quick turnaround of recommendations that you want from them. So, what's their first thing that they'll be looking at?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Look I've got to be clear. This is an independent panel of government headed up by our Domestic, Family and Sexual Violence Commissioner. So, the Government has been really clear that we want to get their expertise to build on the work of our National Plan and our Action Plans on what are the extra actions, the extra responses, using best evidence to respond. So, they will be doing their work independent of government and will provide a quick report to government, bringing together their expertise.

EMMA REBELLATO: Minister, I want to ask you about one of your colleagues, Andrew Giles. Is his position as Home Affairs Minister untenable now?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, look, Andrew Giles, as the Immigration Minister, has been fixing up the mess that was left by Peter Dutton. I mean, you don't have to rely on my evidence to suggest that the Coalition, and particularly as Minister Peter Dutton, left a mess in our migration system. And indeed, Andrew Giles and Clare O'Neil are fixing that mess up. So, there are a lot of problems, but you don't have to take my word for it. There's been four reports highlighting too many systemic failures that we are now fixing up as a result of a decade of neglect.

EMMA REBELLATO: But what about Direction 99? Minister Giles is the one who brought that in last year. Now, this is where people can go to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, which can decide if someone should be deported and their consideration will be how long they have lived in Australia, for instance. Was Andrew Giles wrong in bringing that in?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, direction 99 is only one of numerous factors that the AAT, an independent court, looks at. And I have to say that it has also been clear that Ministerial direction makes it clear that things like serious offences like family and domestic violence need to be considered. Now, Minister Giles has said that he doesn't believe that some of the direction given by his department is in line with community expectations and has asked for a review.

EMMA REBELLATO: Well, given, though, that you are a senior member, a woman, a senior member of Government, and we are talking about domestic violence, we are hearing that some of these, these men, these criminals who are allowed to stay, have been accused and convicted of sexual assault. They're accused of murder of women. How do you feel hearing that? Surely, when you hear that, you have to consider that perhaps this direction 99 is just the wrong thing?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Let's be clear. The Ministerial direction says that family, domestic and sexual violence needs to be absolutely front of mind when the AAT is making these independent decisions. I am always shocked by incidents of domestic, family and sexual violence and people that perpetrate that need to face the full force of the law, which indeed, I understand a number of these people have. But in terms of the elevation of family and domestic violence, it's my understanding that that has been elevated, as well as other serious offences that must be taken into account when these decisions are being made. And Minister Giles has asked for a review to ensure that that is the case.

EMMA REBELLATO: But how did we get to this point? Surely, I mean, you're saying that the tribunal is independent, but the tribunal is working on, based on this advice, on this direction 99, which was brought in by the Minister.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, let's be clear. How did we get here? Well, we've got a mess of a migration system that was created under Peter Dutton. And, as I said, you don't have to take my word for it. There is four independent reports that have said just that. We are getting about with fixing up a migration system that was broken. We are looking, particularly, for example, around international and some of the rorts that have been going on there. This is what we are doing, fixing up a system, and that's exactly what we'll continue to do.

EMMA REBELLATO: Minister, I just want to ask you on another question, another news story that we've been following this morning. The most senior Catholic, the Pope, has apologised overnight. There have been reports he used a homophobic slur. We know a lot of Australians are Catholic. How do you react to this?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, firstly, I would say that, you know, we should call out homophobic behaviour, homophobic slurs. I am pleased to see that there's been an apology. That's an important part of it. But my message to the LGBTIQ+ community is that you are supported here in Australia. You do not deserve to be discriminated or vilified and we back you and back your right to live and love whoever you want.

EMMA REBELLATO: Amanda Rishworth, thank you very much for joining us on news breakfast this morning.