By Tanya Plibersek

23 February 2022



SUBJECTS: Women’s safety; Far North Queensland. 

ELIDA FAITH, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR LEICHHARDT: Good Morning my name's Elida Faith, I'm the Labor candidate for Leichhardt and it is an absolute pleasure to be joined here today by Labor's Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek. It's always a pleasure to have Tanya here in Far North Queensland. And I know that she has been trying to get up here to visit us, however we know COVID has been a little bit difficult for travel of late. Now, very shortly Tanya and I are going to have the opportunity to sit down and engage with some of the community’s critical support workers. These organisations are out there every single day helping some of the most vulnerable women and children in our community, and it's really important for us to hear what they have to say and find out what is happening on the ground. I know from being out talking to people in the community that COVID has been really tough for Far North Queensland families. We know that there is a housing crisis. We know they are struggling to find somewhere to sleep at night, they don't know where to go. We know a lot of our domestic violence women's shelters are at full capacity. Which is why it is so important to make sure that we continue funding for these services. Let's not forget that Leichhardt doesn't just encompass Cairns. It goes right up to the Cape and the Torres Strait. And we know that in our remote indigenous communities, women and children are also seeing an increase in domestic violence because COVID has made them more vulnerable. And I would now like to handover to our Shadow Minister for Women, Tanya Plibersek. Thank you Tanya.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION, SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN: Thank you so much Elida. It's wonderful to be here in Cairns in the seat of Leichhardt, with Labor's candidate for Leichhardt, Elida Faith and be talking with her to the local community about how life's going. What people have told us yesterday and today is that, after almost a decade of an LNP government in Canberra, life is harder, not easier. People are finding it harder to make ends meet. Wages are going backwards while the price of living is going through the roof. It's particularly true for Australian women. What we've heard so far are women talking to us about insecure work, penalty rate cuts, wages going backwards, family benefit cuts, cuts to schools, to healthcare, more out-of-pocket expenses for healthcare. And when we're talking to the most vulnerable women, women escaping domestic violence, they really struggle to find help, struggle to find a safe place to live, struggle to find the economic security they need. So what we're doing today is talking to women from a whole range of different organisations in Cairns and surrounding areas about what we could do to make a difference for their lives. Labor's already committed to thousands of extra public housing homes so that women and children escaping domestic violence have a place to go. We've committed to 500 extra workers in refuges and emergency shelters, so that women have someone to help. So with a place to go and someone to help, it's easier to leave a violent relationship. Now, after years of life getting tougher under Scott Morrison and his government, you really have to ask the question who's side is Warren Entsch on? He talks a big game when he is here in Cairns, but he goes to Canberra and he votes with Scott Morrison every time on the policies that are making it harder for ordinary families to make ends meet. Warren Entsch, when he's in Canberra, is owned and operated by Scott Morrison. Far North Queensland needs someone like the Elida Faith who will stand up for the local community, stand up for the things that will make it easier to make ends meet, make life a little easier for families. 
JOURNALIST: Warren Entsch and Anne Ruston were here yesterday. They announced a $6 million trial for escaping violence payments, specifically for Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander women and children. Is that what you see too as being part of solution?
PLIBERSEK: Does anybody really believe that, after almost a decade in power, suddenly Scott Morrison's going to do something serious about domestic violence? Of course, any extra funding is welcome. But this is a drop in the bucket of what's needed. Without a safe place to go, and someone to help, it's very difficult to escape a violent relationship. I think people will make their own judgements about how serious this government is on women's issues when Australia, during the LNP time in government, has dropped to 50th place in the world for women's equality - this is the worst rating we've ever had as a nation. 
JOURNALIST: Talking to services and people as you've been up here, what are some things are saying they need to happen?
PLIBERSEK: Well, they need places for women to go if they're escaping violence. We need to be investing in new public housing so that someone fleeing violence has a safe place to live. We need more people to help - the sort of services that we've been talking to are overrun with people desperate for help coming to them, putting so much pressure on these incredibly dedicated workers. We want to make sure there's 500 extra community sector workers to help women and children who are fleeing violence. And don't forget, this is the government that actually tried to make women fleeing violence drain their own superannuation, spend that money before they got any government assistance. This is not a government that has been there to help women and children escaping violence. And we know that this has gotten worse during COVID. All of the data shows us that rates of violence against women and children have actually increased during the pandemic. More help is needed, people just aren’t getting it at the moment.
FAITH: I'd just like to add, as Tanya said, Labor takes women's safety seriously. And that is also why we have said that we will introduce 10 days of domestic violence paid leave. So women don't have to choose between their job, that pays the bills and puts food on the table for their family, and their and their children's safety. And again, we have got a Prime Minister that has an appalling track record when it comes to women. We have a Prime Minister that had to go and ask his wife for advice when it came to women. And I think the important thing to remember also is that women aren't wanting any special treatment here, they just want equality and they just want to feel safe in the community.
JOURNALIST: Thanks very much.