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Transcript of Senate Joint Doorstop: Parliament House: 11 October 2012

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Transcript - Senate Joint Doorstop - 11 October 2012 Thursday, 11 October 2012 11:14

Senator Abetz: Ms Gillard, the Prime Minister, is trying to rush through the Parliament legislation in

relation to the Social and Community Service Workers - the low paid women of Australia. Ms Gillard

promised to champion the cause. Then she promised $2.1 billion for it. Then $3.1. Now it’s back to

$2.8 billion. We as a Coalition have not as yet been briefed by the Government in relation to their

Legislation. Hopefully that will take place later this morning, as a result of which I cannot indicate what

the Coalition’s position will be on it. What I can say is this however, that in last year’s mid year

economic financial outlook the Government made provision for these low paid workers, most of whom

are women. Here we are nearly 12 months later, the Legislation not having been put before the

Parliament and now Ms Gillard is demanding that it be rushed through the Parliament in a matter of a


What this shows is that Ms Gillard is a lot more intent on playing politics and the politics of

personality against Mr Abbott rather than looking after the low paid women workers of Australia. She

could have had this Legislation ready six months ago. She could have had this in the Parliament,

discussed through the normal processes, if she were genuine. But this figure for these low paid female

workers is a figure that has moved depending on the whim of the Prime Minister. This is apparently

another one of her big promises, like Gonski, like the Dental Scheme, but without a proper funding

base. We will be pursuing that with the Government this morning in the briefing to ascertain where the

money’s coming from, number one, and number two, whether or not the Commonwealth will in fact be

paying its fair share to these low paid working women….Senator Cash.

Senator Cash: Thank you Senator Abetz. My role as the Coalition spokesperson for the Status of

Women is to promote the role of women within Government decision making. What we have seen this

week with the Labor Party resorting to playing the gender card is nothing more and nothing less than a

desperate Government who can no longer defend their failed policies. What women like myself and

Australian women are looking for in a Leader is a Leader who has a proven track record when it comes

to delivering real policy outcomes for women. Tony Abbott has that proven track record. When Tony

was the Minister for Health in the former Howard Government he had an opportunity to help women

who were suffering from breast cancer. He did just that and had drugs listed on the PBS to ensure

they had access to them. When Tony Abbott was the Minister for Health, again in the Howard

Government he had an opportunity to help women suffering from cervical cancer.

Again he personally intervened to ensure that drugs were listed on the PBS to help those women. It

was under Tony Abbott that breast feeding was listed as a ground of discrimination under the Equal

Opportunity Act. And if you want to talk about a man who gets off his backside and actually does

something for women, that’s Tony Abbott. Earlier this year he rode a thousand kilometres himself to

raise money for charity and one of those charities was in his own electorate and it was the Manly

Women’s Shelter. So when the Labor Party want to play the gender card, be very, very careful. I will

stand by my Leader’s record when it comes to delivering real policy outcomes for women any day of

the week. And I look forward to building on those policy outcomes and delivering further real outcomes

for Australian women if and when we are elected to govern.

Journalist: So on the low paid women; you’ve championed the role of low paid women against Craig

Thomson. Surely you are not going to quibble against paying them more money?

Senator Abetz: The issue there is how much money has the Commonwealth committed itself to?

Loose statements such as the Commonwealth paying its “fair share” have been made. Now the “fair

share” fluctuated from $2.1 billion to $3.1 billion, down to $2.8 billion. And when we have asked at

estimates, as I have in the past, how was this “fair share”calculated? Is it to pay 20%, is it to pay

30%, or is it to pay 100% of this wage increase? I cannot be given an accurate figure because the

Commonwealth shares with the States and with charitable organisations. So the Commonwealth

rushed in, helped to champion a cause - a right and proper cause - but is now apparently not willing

to fund all of it. And that is why the Victorian Government has come out to say that that which the

Commonwealth is willing to commit to its fair share is in fact not its fair share. So once again we have

Labor making a huge promise, like Gonski, like Dental Health, but not prepared to fund it.

Journalist: Senator if I could just ask you about the letter that Senator Cormann sent to Mr Thomson

trying to woo his vote. Will he be reprimanded?

Senator Abetz: Look, if you’ve got a choice between a conspiracy and a stuff-up, it’s usually a stuff-up. Senator Cormann has acknowledged that. And as for the journalist who tried to say that there was

a secret attempt to woo Craig Thomson’s vote, I would say get a life. You know this was just an

accident, it was something that shouldn’t have occurred, Senator Cormann has acknowledged that. We

all make those sorts of mistakes in life and this is something that was unfortunate. And one guess as

to who leaked the letter, one guess who leaked the letter? If it wasn’t Senator Cormann, have one

guess who leaked the letter? This of course indicates that the Member for Dobell is still in cahoots with

the Labor Party. Propping them up and trying to give them every bit of ammunition that he possibly

can because they’re saving his political skin, so he feels obliged save their political skin.

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