Bill's Transcripts

Doorstop: Canberra - Labor’s plan for domestic violence leave; Russian plane shot down over Turkey

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP

CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 25 NOVEMBER 2015

SUBJECT/S: Labor’s plan for domestic violence leave; Russian plane shot down over Turkey

TERRI BUTLER, SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY FOR THE PREVENTION OF FAMILY VIOLENCE: Well thanks everyone. Of course it’s White Ribbon Day today, and as you know Labor has announced a new policy in respect to family and domestic violence leave. I'm really proud to be standing here with the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, who has been just an inspirational leader when it comes to the national priority of resisting and ending violence against women, and I'm really, really proud that Bill has made the announcement that he's made today. So I’ll hand over to him to speak about it, thanks.

BILL SHORTEN, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks Terri, and good morning everyone. Today we're talking about White Ribbon Day, which is men speaking up against violence against women and children. What matters on a day like today though, is that thousands of women and their children who are currently living lives of anxiety and fear and even worse in terms of violence against them by people who say they love them, or once loved them, what matters today on White Ribbon Day is action not just words. So today I have announced that a Shorten Labor Government, if elected, would legislate in the National Employment Standards for 5 days paid domestic violence leave. One of the most dislocating experiences about violence or fear of violence is that the system requires that you fill in forms if you're protecting your kids, it you're trying to survive and it means that frequently there's a choice between being able to leave an abusive relationship, being able to sort out your kid’s needs, or go to work. So there have been a range of employers who have already implemented paid domestic violence leave and I salute NAB and Telstra and Virgin and Ikea and Blundstone. I acknowledge the thousands of small businesses who whilst they don't pump up their own tyres, when called upon by their employees, their good employees who just need a little bit of breathing space in a horrible situation, that they are able to give them that leave and I acknowledge the work of Australia's trade union movement, who are helping negotiate domestic violence leave. The challenge of fighting domestic violence is all of ours to do. Labor will step up, we say to the thousands of women currently experiencing violence in a relationship or from a former partner, that we will legislate to ensure that you can get a little bit of paid leave. It doesn’t stop the violence and it doesn’t change the horrible unfairness of what you and your children are experiencing. But it just takes some weight of your shoulder; it gives you room to breathe as you try and cope with what you don't deserve. Happy to take questions.

JOURNALIST: Mr Shorten, on another matter Turkish forces have shot down a Russian fight jet overnight. Do you hold concerns about what that means for the conflict in Syria?

SHORTEN: I absolutely want to answer that question, I promise I will, but this is about family violence and if there are any questions on that? This is one of those few chances where victims get a chance through the media to have their voices heard. Are there any questions on the five days paid leave?

JOURNALIST: What's the response been from unions and employee groups to this plan and have you discussed it with them?

SHORTEN: We've had discussions, I think the truth of the matter is some companies are already doing this. I think many Australian companies are individually generous already. I don't think this is going to lead to massive amounts of paid leave being taken. I think most Australians are family people first and they will get the common sense of being able to say to their trusted employers: it improves productivity, it improves the retention rate of good employees and also it will decrease absentees and I think this will be relatively well received across the Australian community.

JOURNALIST: How many woman really want to go to their employer and say I'm being abused at home, I mean isn’t this a measure that may not be used at all?

SHORTEN: No, when there's been research into people being able to ask for family violence leave people have accessed it, that's what the research shows. You're quite right though, there is a stigma about family violence. Many people appreciate that woman will stay longer in relationships for the sake of protecting their children or for the optimistic hope that things get better. It is a stigma and it shouldn't be. I think the sheer existence of having domestic violence leave, on top of a range of other measures, is not one solution, just sends a message in our community that if you're doing it hard if you're the victim of violence, you don't have to suffer in silence. If you like, the existence of the leave in and of itself is part of cultural change. We can talk about cultural change, teaching respectful relationships, but we need tangible examples where the cultural change has meaning. Cultural change and just talking about it in and of itself doesn't necessarily help rescue people in violent relationships.

JOURNALIST: How about bipartisan support for this, have you discussed this with the Government?

SHORTEN: Well I hope the government agrees to what we're suggesting.

JOURNALIST: Do you acknowledge we've just had Mark Dreyfus on doors this morning, he is saying that basically the Government's cut funding but my understanding is that it has been reinstated and the plan from 2017 just hasn't been announced. So is there a little bit of politics at play here or do you acknowledge that the funding has been reinstated?

SHORTEN: No, the funding hasn't been reinstated. I listened to what Senator Di Natale said, the truth of the matter is that community legal services have not had all their funding restored. So, the unfortunate truth is that the Government, the Liberal Government cut funding to vital services. I've travelled through the top end in the last week and I've talked to Aboriginal legal services. They are starving of funds. They are being asked to do more with less. We see unacceptably high rates of incarceration and imprisonment of Aboriginal Australians and they’re not getting properly represented in the same way that they should. Aboriginal woman are 34 times more likely to experience violence, 11 times more likely to be murdered than even than non-Aboriginal woman. So there is a real challenge in the funding of our legal services and legal system.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask what is your advice to Russia?

SHORTEN: First of all we need to get all the facts but it's clear that this part of airspace over Syria or Southern Turkey is crowded, it's dangerous, there's no doubt in my mind we need to have better communication between the people who are sending their warplanes into northern Syria, the Russians and the Turks. But also what this highlights to me is two things, one: our Australian Air Force are dealing in a very dangerous area, now they're highly trained, they've got very clear rules of engagement, our equipment is amongst the best in the world. But our Australian Air Force personnel are heading into hazardous space there can be no doubt about that and of course the advent of Russian intervention in Syria, against not just ISIL but against critics and opponents of the Assad regime, has been a very complicating factor.

I think the second point that it makes here is that the only way that there is going to be resolution of the turmoil in Syria is through international coalition action in terms of working for a long term peace strategy. Individual actions, individual military interventions in of themselves are going to potentially cause more problems that we can't foresee at the moment.

JOURNALIST: As it gets more complicated, as you've just pointed out, do you advocate for Australia's mission not changing, would you like to see the airstrikes not expanded?

SHORTEN: No, I support what the Australian Defence Forces are doing at the moment. Labor supported the extension into part of Iraq. But of course this is a warzone. We understand our Air Force are making all the provisions possible to ensure that our Air Force people can carry out their mission safely, but this going in harm’s way. I don't in this case see the case for a further extension of our mission. To me, these scenes overnight of the shooting down of a Russian plane show the hazardous warzones and the battle environment which our airplanes are operating in. But having said that, I've also been privileged to see the skills or out Air Force and the technology which we deploy, I'm confident they are watching this very carefully.

JOURNALIST: Are you saying you think our Air Force is in a greater danger at a result of last night?

SHORTEN: I think they've always been in a level of danger. I think though that clearly the Turks and the Russians are going to have to explain what's happened and there's some facts that none of us have at this stage: was the Russian plane over Turkish airspace, was it in Syrian airspace? What I do understand, it is a very crowded bit of airspace, we've got violent and dangerous organisations on the ground – and I include the Assad regime on that description. All I know is that this highlights the complexity of the mission which Australia’s taken and it highlights the need for us to hasten slowly and also to ensure that we have proper international talks about resolving it. Airplanes alone are not going to solve these problems.

JOURNALIST: Are you on board with Malcolm Turnbull's response so far to this?

SHORTEN: Well I gave a response perhaps two minutes less length yesterday, I made it clear that Labor's support bipartisanship, we strive to achieve it, we've made over a hundred amendments, good amendments to the tranches of legislation which the Liberals have put up. But I certainly believe we need to hasten slowly. I've made clear for the best part of a year and a half that we're not going to drain the swamp of terrorism in this region by military action alone and I'm most supportive of us adopting an inclusive approach in Australia. The only way we'll defeat the terrorist is by uniting and going together. Australians should be comforted not only from what the Prime Minister said yesterday but from what the Opposition said yesterday. One thing Australians expect from their political party's is that we work together, we go forward together to keep Australia strong, that's what we're doing. See you later in Parliament.

ENDS

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