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Television Interview - Flashpoint WA

Doorstop – Adelaide | Prime Minister of Australia

AMANDA RISHWORTH, MINISTER FOR SOCIAL SERVICES: Well, it’s really, really wonderful to have the Prime Minister, Minister Wells, Maggie Beer here at Eldercare in Seaford. And I’d like to thank Jane, who is also the General Manager across Eldercare, aged care for residential facilities. This is a wonderful facility that’s been serving the community since 2008. Meeting some of the residents here, it’s clear that this is their new home when life in their own homes becomes too difficult. And the care and compassion provided by the staff here is exceptional, and we really appreciate everything that this community does for our older Australians. So it’s now my great pleasure to hand over to our Prime Minister to talk a little bit more about the initiative today.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much, Amanda. And it’s terrific to be here with yourself and Anika Wells, the Minister for Aged Care, and also, of course, with Maggie Beer, who is such an icon for all Australians. And thank you, Jane, for having us here. And a special shout out to the wonderful residents here who welcomed us into their home and who have had a chat with us about how they enjoy being here, they’re enjoying a quality of life. One of the things about the Aged Care Royal Commission was that they said that aged care residents simply weren’t getting the nutrition and the meals that they needed. It was one of the key findings. And during the election campaign, I went to the Central Markets in Adelaide with Maggie Beer and Senator Penny Wong and others to make an announcement that the Maggie Beer Foundation would play a role in lifting up the standards, in providing the quality of food which provides the nutritious content that older residents need and that they deserve, frankly. One of the things about the Aged Care Royal Commission was that ‘Neglect’ was the title of its interim report. We needed to do much better, and we are doing much better. Nurses are coming back into nursing homes. We are getting increased times of care for aged care residents. And this was an important component, because what this shows is respect for our older Australians. Older Australians have built this country. We stand on the shoulders of their achievements, of their hard work. And in their later years they deserve respect and dignity. My government’s determined to give that. This program is very much front and centre as part of that.

ANIKA WELLS, MINISTER FOR AGED CARE: Well, it’s one of those pinch yourself moments where you go from someone who worked in the kitchens of an aged care facility at uni, watching the likes of Maggie Beer lead our country through food, Australian food, and lifting those standards to being the Aged Care Minister who gets to work alongside Maggie Beer to lift the standards of food for our older Australians in residential aged care. And that’s what we’re launching today: 11 online modules that will allow cooks, chefs and kitchen assistants, people who were like me 15 years ago, to get the training that they so desperately want to be able to bring a higher level of food and quality of life to the residents that they love to care for in aged care facilities across the country. I know Maggie and I speak every time we meet each other about how it’s more than just the nutrition elements of the food that you prepare. It’s the experience of eating. It’s the aromas that infiltrate throughout the centre. It’s the fresh quality local produce that I know Eldercare focuses on when they bring thought to their preparation here at Seaford. And this is just one prong in what the Albanese Labor government is doing to lift the quality of food in residential aged care. The 11 online modules that we’re launching today joins the food and nutrition quality standard that we are working on. Our food and nutrition hotline is now live where you can dial in to keep those standards and keep the quality monitored across the country. And we’re also working on a number of other measures that we will be in touch with shortly about. But like I said, we are so pleased to be able to deliver something so important to us, better food and nutrition for aged care residents with an Australian icon like Maggie Beer.

MAGGIE BEER: Thank you. Look, I couldn’t be more proud that I have such a commitment, such a commitment from every part of the government here to show that we really can change the food in aged care, to be full of not only nutrition, but pleasure as the most direct route to wellbeing for everyone in aged care. Everyone is working so hard to change a culture, you need to be able to step back and educate and bring people together. Every part of a home must all be working together to see what is possible. I was working nine years on this and I would have needed another lifetime to continue. But that wasn’t on the menu, another lifetime. So this support, this drive, the regional hubs that we’re undertaking, one of my my first seven training mentor chefs – we can make a difference. We will make a difference because everyone deserves it. There is nothing more beautiful than really wonderful food full of flavours, the scent of food, and the enjoyment of the table and the love and care for everyone.

PRIME MINISTER: Can I thank you, Maggie, for being such an inspiration. Your compassion, your skills, your knowledge you are bringing to assist older Australians.This is something that you’re doing out of your commitment, it certainly isn’t a commercial opportunity. And it just says so much about who you are. And it’s just one of the reasons why Maggie Beer is one of the most respected of Australians. And it is a great honour to be here today.

JOURNALIST: In terms of this program, obviously rolled out around the country. How has South Australia been a leader given Maggie Beer’s role?

PRIME MINISTER: South Australia has been a leader, in part because of Maggie Beer’s presence here. This is where we launched the initiative. This is where we’re launching today, making a commitment a reality. My government’s been working through our commitments and ticking them off. I’m really proud that the workforce here – who are heroes of the pandemic, they looked after older Australians – one of the things that we said was that they deserved our thanks, but they also deserved a pay rise. And we put $11.3 billion in the budget in May to grant a 15 per cent pay rise, which the Fair Work Commission considered was reasonable from July. It’s made an enormous difference. And since then, I’ve been into a number of aged care facilities. And what that will do is: one, help to retain workforce; two, to give proper reward for the work that is being done. But three, help attract people to the workforce. We put out some figures yesterday about TAFE. We promised 180,000 fee-free TAFE places. We’ve delivered well over 200,000. And one of the areas that has grown is people training in aged care. One of the attractions of it, and no one does it for the money, but by paying better you will be more attractive for people to feel like they’re not having to make such a sacrifice of being underpaid to work in the sector.

MAGGIE BEER: What I’d like to say is that this is a very specialised field. People are working so hard. And I do not come across anyone who doesn’t want to change. But to be able to change we need this education. We need these skills that are very particular to those cooking five meals a day three, three meals, and two snacks a day that have to be full of protein, full of goodness. This is the hardest job I can imagine for a chef, and it’s the hardest work I have ever done. But we can change. We can do it. And we will.

JOURNALIST: Obviously, you’re in South Australia ahead of tomorrow’s official announcement of the referendum date. How crucial is South Australia to the success of the Voice?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the whole of Australia is critical. In order to change our Constitution, you need a majority of votes in the majority of states. So we need at least four states to say Yes. But tomorrow, I’ll be giving a speech along with the Premier Peter Malinauskas. And we will be announcing the date of the referendum where Australians will have the opportunity to say Yes to recognition, Yes to listening to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples about matters that affect them in order to say Yes to getting better results. That’s what this referendum is about. South Australia is a critical state. I will be visiting South Australia a number of times in between now and the run up to the referendum. But I’m also very positive. We had a very positive response in Western Australia. I’ve been in Karratha as well as Perth in the last couple of days. What the feedback I get is, is that when people are knocking on doors and talking to people about what this referendum is about, which is a very clear choice that Australians will have to say Yes to recognition, and Yes to having a voice which will be an advisory group on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people because you get better results when you involve people. Guess what? When we’re talking about aged care, you get better results when you talk to the residents, when you talk to the people who are directly involved and get that feedback. That’s how you improve outcomes, not making decisions just in Canberra. And that is why it’s critical. I make no apologies. So in fact, the opposite. When we came to the position that Maggie Beer, the great legend, Maggie Beer, with all of her enthusiasm and talent and capacity was going to help, she knows more about it, then the rest of us Ministers put together because she has lived it. She knows about these issues. Consulting people is good manners. That is what this referendum is about. Because when you have good manners and you consult people, you get buy in, you get that sense of ownership as well. You get that positive response. And the Yes campaign will be a positive campaign.

JOURNALIST: Do you expect to campaign for the same level as, say, a Federal Elections in order to get over the line, and basically, get everywhere as much as you can?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it will be different because the government continues to govern. And so here today, we’re doing aged care. Later this week, I’ll be with another Premier talking about Medicare and opening an Urgent Care Clinic. Over the weekend, I have other activities as well. Next week, I’ll be going to ASEAN and the G20 meeting. So we’ll continue to govern. But we will continue to put the case for the Australian people to take up this opportunity. We are the only former colony on Earth that has not recognised its first peoples. Canada did it last century. New Zealand did it the century before. And we know that if you keep doing the same thing you can expect the same outcomes. There’s an eight year gap in life expectancy. An Indigenous young male is more likely to go to jail than to go to university. An Indigenous woman is more likely to lose her life in childbirth and a non Indigenous woman. We need to do better in health, in education, in housing. And the way to do better is to involve people and ask them what their views are. Because we know that the most successful programs, Indigenous rangers, community health programs, are ones in which Indigenous people have taken ownership of the processes, justice reinvestment programs as well, rather than, with the best of intentions, people in Canberra making decisions. It has not led to a circumstance where the closing the gap targets are being met. Only four are being met at this point in time.

JOURNALIST: Have you or Minister Wells spoken with the Gold Coast Council about the potential to take over as Commonwealth Games host?

PRIME MINISTER: No, I haven’t.

MINISTER WELLS: A lot of conjecture about my letter today. And as the author of my letter, I was a bit surprised by the reinterpretations of the intent of the letter. And without embracing the role of fun sponge on process, what I said in the letter is that it’s up for a host state to nominate. And the bid fails at the first hurdle if a host state will not nominate and Queensland, as has every other state and territory, has ruled out nominating.

JOURNALIST: Federal politicians are getting a 4 per cent pay rise. That’s an extra $22,000 a year roughly for yourself. Is that justified, especially in a cost of living crisis, when many Australians are struggling to pay the mortgage?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, the remuneration tribunal decide all of these things at arm’s length from politicians, and that’s as it should be. I have no role in in any of these processes. And that’s as it should be, you do not want politicians determining their own conditions.

JOURNALIST: As you probably know, only had QANTAS gave evidence to a committee yesterday. Do you think QANTAS should offer refunds on flight credits, or at least extend the deadlines past December?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I think that if people have booked flights and paid money, they should either get access to another flight at another time or they should receive their money back.

JOURNALIST: The Virgin CEO says that by allowing the extra Qatar flights into Australia it would bring down international flights for Australians by 40 per cent. Does that prompt you to consider reviewing this decision? Isn’t that a no-brainer for Australian consumers?

PRIME MINISTER: Qatar can fly in to Adelaide, as many planes as they like, as big as they like. They can fly in other planes, which are bigger planes, that bring in more people. There is nothing unusual about a nation state not having access to unlimited flights wherever they like to go, whenever they like to go. Australia has exactly the same situation where Australian airlines are restricted from where they fly into. The former government made a very similar decision. And the Minister McCormack exactly as Minister King has.

JOURNALIST: Given that, though, can you explain the national interest that has been cited?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it’s not up to me, it’s up to the Transport Minister who has made the decision. But there are decisions like this all the time. I can state that there’s nothing unusual about this, like there’s nothing unusual about Australian airlines not having access. For example, Singapore Airlines have wanted to campaign to fly to the West Coast of the United States for at least the last 25 years there have been applications coming in. There is nothing unusual about this at all. And this is just something that occurs on a regular basis. It certainly occurred on a regular basis when I was the Transport Minister. One of the things that I tried to do was to get an open skies agreement with the European Union, and we weren’t successful in doing it. And because of that there are significant restrictions on Australian airlines flying into Europe, like there are restrictions on Australian airlines flying into Fiji, or Indonesia, or other countries as well. These are agreements between countries, not with airlines

JOURNALIST: How do you expect your strategy with the campaign to change after the date is announced tomorrow?

PRIME MINISTER: I think people will begin to focus more. I expect that many Australians won’t focus until the last few weeks. This isn’t a party political issue where people will see themselves as Labor voters or Liberal voters. You’ve had, just yesterday, former Premier Mike Baird make a very clear announcement of support for Yes and why. Yesterday, you had Penny Wong and Julie Bishop walking down the street in Perth, campaigning for a Yes vote. And you’ll continue to see a range of people out there campaigning, putting their views forward. But at the end of the day, what this is about is every single individual Australian. You and I have the same vote, one vote each. People should read the question. If they read the question they’ll come to, I think, a majority of Australians will come to an answer that there’s nothing to lose here only upside. Because the question is, in recognition of Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander peoples as Australia’s first peoples, that’s what it says. That’s the recognition bit. And then it says the how: there shall be a body called the Voice. The second is, what will it do? It may give advice on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The third bit, really important but really simple, the Parliament shall determine the laws with the functions, composition, and procedures of the Voice. So, the Parliament stays supreme. And it’s interesting that the Liberal Party support legislating a Voice. So, for all of the alarmist rhetoric, they say they support recognition in our Constitution, they say they support legislating a Voice. When you get rid of all of the noise there’s very little difference here. The only difference is that Aboriginal people have asked that it be enshrined in the Constitution so it can’t simply be gotten rid of with a stroke of a pen. And they did that after a process that was established under Tony Abbott, under Malcolm Turnbull and under Scott Morrison. John Howard said he supported constitutional recognition. When are we going to get around to doing it? Well, we’ll be giving people the opportunity and we’ll announce the date tomorrow.

JOURNALIST: Barnaby Joyce has suggest that New Zealand becomes a state of Australia and that it would be mutually beneficial. Do you think that’s a good idea?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, this isn’t the first time that Barnaby Joyce has been confused about Australia and New Zealand being different countries. This is a bloke who watched the wrong Matildas game and thought that Australia had won one nil and missed that amazing penalty shootout, which is one of the great moments in Australian sport. I don’t know whether he saw Cathy Freeman’s 400 meter run. Maybe he was watching Herb Elliott at the time.

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