Minister Rishworth interview on Sunday Agenda


ANDREW CLENNELL, HOST: From Adelaide, the Minister for Social Services, Amanda Rishworth. Thank you for your time. What is your reaction to the Victorian election result and does it have any federal implications?

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Firstly I would say a big congratulations to Dan Andrews and the Labor team. It was a very powerful result and one that Dan Andrews suggests is a stamp of approval on his positive plans going forward. I think one of the reactions I guess if you look at the way that the Federal Government has been working with the states, there has been a real change in the way that the new Labor Government federally has been working positively with the states and territories. And I think one of Dan Andrew’s messages is that positive plans, when you put them forward, explain them to the people, then you will get a sense of endorsement from them. I think the implication is that there is a good partnership between the Federal Government and the Dan Andrews Labor Government and I think we will all look forward to continuing to work to deliver for Victorians but also right across the country.

ANDREW CLENNELL: And we've seen from this result the continuing threat to the major parties from the Greens and the Teals. Haven't we?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: There's no doubt that there has been. When other options are put on the table, there are people, there are voters looking at other options and we've seen an increase. But we do have a majority government in Victoria, a clear majority government in Victoria, and that bodes well for decision making going forward

ANDREW CLENNELL: Now to federal issues now. You must have been happy to have seen the childcare subsidy changes pass the Parliament. But how is the government going to ensure that childcare centres don't take advantage of this to jack up their fees?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I'm very pleased that the childcare changes have passed the parliament. This will give significant cost of living relief to families, but importantly potentially free up many, many workers that can go and fill the labour shortage gaps that are existing out there at the moment. So this is a good economic reform piece of policy as well as a very important cost of living policy. In terms of how we make sure that centres don't take advantage. Firstly I would say that there is also an ACCC inquiry going on at the moment to look at how we ensure that prices in the early education sector are sustainable. That's a really important piece of work and some work that needs to be done. There is a benchmark price and obviously we need to keep monitoring that, but most importantly, I think is making sure that the ACCC is able to do its work. But an important message for early education providers is that families deserve this relief coming through. It's significant relief and we look forward to seeing them benefit from that.

ANDREW CLENNELL: Now this week promises to be a busy and fiery last week in the parliament. Do you believe the government should move a censure motion against Scott Morrison over his so-called secret ministries?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, the report has come out about Scott Morrison appointing himself to a range of different ministries and I think that report has been pretty scathing of the behaviour. I think for me the most concerning comment in that report is the corrosive nature that this behaviour has on our democracy. I mean that is a pretty scathing assessment of what happened.

ANDREW CLENNELL: So you support a censure motion?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, how, we move forward is we're actually doing things differently in this government. We're actually using the Cabinet process in the way it was intended. And as the Prime Minister has flagged, we will be discussing the report. He's obviously indicated he will be recommending all recommendations of The Bell Review be adopted. Any further action will be discussed in Cabinet and I think that is the right process to take. This is our prime minister actually respects his colleagues and wants to discuss it with us. I think that's a good process and we will have that discussion there.

ANDREW CLENNELL: What is likely to occur with the IR legislation this week? Could the government cave and take the more contentious aspects out just to get some of the legislation through?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: The Government's been very clear and the Minister's been very clear that we think this legislation is really critically important to getting wages moving again. Many of the elements of this IR legislation were a clear election commitment, getting moving wages moving again was another clear election commitment. So will be working obviously across the Parliament to make sure that this legislation gets through. We've already discussed, and I think the Minister has indicated, a range of amendments that will be accepted as a result of discussion with the crossbench, with the business community. But the essence of this legislation, getting gender equity as an object of the Fair Work Act, of ensuring that cases can be brought in front of the Fair Work Commission where we don't need a male comparator to try and look at feminised industries to show that they're underpaid and need a pay increase. All these elements are really important and we will be pursuing those through the Parliament this week.

ANDREW CLENNELL: And just finally and briefly, Amanda Rishworth could the return of the ISIS brides to Australia have been handled better? Can we expect more to return? And what would you say to Australians concerned about their return?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: I would say that Minister O'Neill has done a great job. She's been out in western Sydney on Friday. She's been talking with community. Indeed, I think there was reports of a very productive meeting. I think the important part of this discussion has got to be around what are the practical implications? And the practical implications here are that our security agencies are saying that there isn't a risk to the Australian population. They are taking that element very seriously and the return of these people are not a risk to the Australian people. And indeed if we left these children overseas languishing in camps, if they were to return to Australia down the track, they could indeed pose more of a risk. So I think it's very important we listen to that advice. And I'd also say that this decision to bring back women and children is no different to the decision that the former government made in 2019, where the security agencies engaged gave advice and importantly, they came from here and need to be returned here. So I think we need to do it in a sombre way that does look after our national interest. And I think that's exactly what Minister O'Neill has done.

ANDREW CLENNELL: Amanda Rishworth, thank you for your time.