Mar 28, 2021

Scott Morrison Speech on New Cabinet & Ministry Amid Sexual Harassment Scandals: Transcript

Scott Morrison unveils new Cabinet and ministry sexual harassment scandals
RevBlogTranscriptsScott Morrison TranscriptsScott Morrison Speech on New Cabinet & Ministry Amid Sexual Harassment Scandals: Transcript

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison held a press conference on March 28, 2021 announcing that Christian Porter and Linda Reynolds have been removed from their ministerial positions and moved to other Cabinet roles amid sexual harassment scandals. Read the full transcript here.

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Scott Morrison: (00:02)
Good afternoon, everyone. It is my intention today to advise the Governor General of a number of proposed changes to my ministry. To do that, I’m joined by the Minister for Women and the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Senator Payne. These changes will shake up what needs to be shaken up, while maintaining the momentum and the continuity and the stability that Australia needs as we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and recession.

Scott Morrison: (00:34)
Those priorities, again, to roll out of that vaccine and suppress the virus, the economic recovery that is well underway with more Australians employed now than there were before the pandemic began, to guarantee those essential services that Australians rely on each and every day, the health services, the disability services, the aged care services, the income support. To stand up for Australia, whether it’s against big multinationals or within our own region, to stand up for our interest and ensure we’ve got what is necessary to back that up, and to continue the important work of caring for our country as Indigenous Australians have done for centuries and centuries and thousands of years. There’ll be no changes in areas such as treasury, finance, health, social services that go to many of those priorities. But what we must do is address the government’s agenda with the changes that we’re making, and do so, I think, with a fresh lens. A fresh lens, in particular, to achieving the outcomes, the results, that we all want for Australian women right across the country. Getting these results for Australian women will be achieved through collaboration. They’ll be achieved through listening, they’ll be achieved by acting together. They won’t be achieved by dividing Australians, and setting them apart, and having further conflict, it will be achieved by Australians coming together to deal with these very serious and significant issues.

Scott Morrison: (02:20)
The changes I’m announcing today will once again provide the strongest ever female representation in an Australian government cabinet. But it’s not just about the size of the female contingent in my cabinet, but it’s the skills and the experience, it’s the perspective, and it’s the collaboration they bring to our nation’s most difficult tasks. That, indeed, extends beyond the cabinet. Women taking up, as they must, as they should, as I very much want them to do, and as they are so keen to do so, the senior roles, and in particularly important portfolios right across the government. This is about getting the right input, this is about getting the right perspective, it’s about getting that lens on the policy challenges that we’re facing and the policy development delivery work that needs to be undertaken, and doing it so in those key agencies of government that are so important for achieving this change.

Scott Morrison: (03:33)
These appointments will be further enhanced by the establishment of a new cabinet task force to drive my government’s agenda and response to these key issues involving women’s equality, women’s safety, women’s economic security, women’s health and wellbeing. This task force will be co-chaired by Minister Payne and I. It will comprise all female members of my ministry, and there is quite a number. It will also be joined by the portfolio ministers from what is known as the central agencies, the Treasurer, the Deputy Prime Minister, and the Minister for Finance. I’ll ask Minister Payne to speak a bit more about that in a moment once I’ve run through the changes to the ministry.

Scott Morrison: (04:16)
To those changes, Michaelia Cash will be Australia’s next Attorney General and Minister for Industrial Relations. She has done an outstanding job for our government. She’s a fine attorney and she is a fine parliamentarian. I’m looking forward to her leadership in this role, as she also holds the position of Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate in recognition of her significant talents.

Scott Morrison: (04:44)
Anne Ruston will join the leadership team of my government. Those 10 ministers who joined together on a very regular basis, of which Minister Payne is also a member. Anne Ruston will join that team and she will also have added to her title things that she is predominantly responsible for right now, that is Minister for Women’s Safety in Cabinet.

Scott Morrison: (05:07)
Karen Andrews will take on the job of Minister for Home Affairs. Karen has done an outstanding job in her role, particularly bringing together and championing Australia’s advanced manufacturing strategy. She is a woman of great talent, of great experience, and great practicality. I first put Karen into the cabinet because I believe so heavily in her abilities. I’m so pleased with the job that she’s done, and now she’s ready for a new job. I think she’s going to do an outstanding job as someone who once held those portfolio responsibilities in some respects, now you can forgive me by being pretty particular about who I appoint into home affairs, and she is going to do an outstanding job.

Scott Morrison: (05:51)
Linda Reynolds will remain in cabinet and will take on the portfolio of Government Services and the National Disability Insurance Scheme. I’ve been in regular contact with both Linda and her doctor with her permission. She has recovered extremely well. We have discussed her return to work and agreed that a domestic portfolio would be best for her, but she is in good health and I know she will do an outstanding job in this area. She has previously served on the committee for the NDIS and knows those issues extremely well. She’s a very good operational minister, and so taking responsibility for government services and the continued rollout of programs I think will feed her skills and talents well.

Scott Morrison: (06:38)
Melissa Price will be returning to cabinet. I’ll be expanding the cabinet by one to where it was when minister Cormann was in the cabinet. She will retain the portfolio of Defense Industry. Defense Industry Portfolio has previously been in cabinet, and when Minister Pine held that portfolio amongst others, and he did an excellent job setting up this procurement program that we’re involved in now. I need a clean set of eyes continuing on those projects, significant as they are for the Australian government and our defense, and she has been doing an outstanding job in the outer ministry in this area. I’m pleased that I’m able to bring her back into cabinet in that role.

Scott Morrison: (07:19)
Those five ministers will join, of course, Minister Payne and Minister Lee, who will continue on in their roles as Foreign Affairs Minister for Women and Susan Lee as a Minister for the Environment. As you know, Minister Lee also has the house duty responsibilities for Minister for Women. Jane Hume will take on the additional portfolio in the outer ministry of Women’s Economic Security. Amanda Stoker will take on the additional role of, she’s currently Assistant Minister to the Attorney General, she will add to that Assistant Minister to the Minister for Industrial Relations, as well as Assistant Minister to the Minister for Women. Minister Payne will effectively become the leader of that group of women. She is effectively, amongst her female colleagues, the prime minister for women, holding the prime ministerial responsibilities in this area as the minister for women. It is her job to bring together this great talent and experience across, not just the female members of my cabinet team and the outer ministry and executive, but to draw also in the important contributions, especially in areas such as health, and services, and aged care, and other key important roles that go so much to women’s well-being in this country.

Scott Morrison: (08:44)
The other changes, Peter Dutton, who has done an extraordinary job as Minister for Home Affairs. He was the first minister for home affairs in a very, very long. He succeeded me in the portfolio of immigration and border protection many years ago. He’s carried on that great work. The boats are stopped, he kept them stopped, and he has moved in so many other areas of that portfolio.

Scott Morrison: (09:09)
But I know the one that Peter has been most passionate about. As a former law enforcement officer himself, he has done extraordinary work to protect children from sexual violence in this country. He hasn’t just done it here, he’s set aside attorney generals of other countries, particularly in the United States and in the United Kingdom and other places, to work together, to crack down on the sexual pedophile rings that exists all around the world. His leadership in that area has been extraordinary. His passion has also been immensely impressive. So, he leaves that portfolio after some very long years of service. I want to thank Peter very much for the hard road he has had in that portfolio, I have some knowledge and understanding of it. He will take on the job of Minister for Defense, and he will also take on the job of Leader of the Government in the House.

Scott Morrison: (10:03)
Stuart Robert, Minister Robert will take on the job of a critical area for the government’s economic strategy. I’ve mentioned three particular areas that our economic recovery depends on. One is workforce. We have a massive challenge in this country to get the workforce this country needs to do the things we want to do, whether it’s build Naval ships, whether it’s to ensure we have the aged care and disability care workforce we need, that we have the number of mental health professionals, whether they be as a psychiatrist, or counselors, or nurses, the rural workforce we need, the systems engineers we need for our defense procurements. We have an enormous workforce challenge, whether it’s in our rural and regional areas, or the particular areas we need in advanced sciences and other areas to support our manufacturing industries. Workforce is a big piece of our economic puzzle that we must get firmly in place.

Scott Morrison: (11:06)
That, combined with employment, skills, small and family business, Minister Robert will take those portfolios on with a great deal of experience, having run his own business as well, including as an employment business, he knows full well how to pull a team together and create a workforce to do the job. So, as Minister for Employment, Workforce, Skills, Small and Family Business, he will be a key participant in the government’s economic recovery strategy.

Scott Morrison: (11:33)
Christian Porter will take on a new portfolio for Industry, Science, and Technology. Now, I’ve spoken to this about Mr. Porter over the course of these last few weeks when he’s been on mental health leave, this fully addresses all the issues that relate to the advice received from the solicitor general, as well as the advice received from the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet regarding the ministerial guidelines. He’s a very capable minister, and I’m sure he’ll apply his considerable talents to that portfolio to the best of his abilities. With that, I will ask Minister Payne to speak further.

Minister Payne: (12:11)
Thank you very much, Prime Minister. I want to acknowledge the importance of the focus that the Prime Minister brings in these ministry arrangements. The lens that the Prime Minister has been very clear that he wants applied across government. I think your words, Prime Minister, were to have the right lens on the challenges in key agencies. Bringing together a task force, which comprises the former senior members of the government, the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer and the Minister for Finance, adds and includes all of the women represented across the ministry is a very powerful way to do that. It puts addressing these issues at the center of government, and that is absolutely the focus that this brings. I also welcome the increase of the number of women in cabinet, again, to see it back to its highest level. The only government that can say that is this government, and it is with great pleasure that I welcome Melissa Price to the cabinet table.

Minister Payne: (13:20)
What the engagement of the ministers that the Prime Minister has outlined in the arrangements today gives us is a minister in the treasury portfolio who has the capacity to direct and focus on women’s economic security, the Minister for Social Services, who has so many of the programs in relation to women’s safety and in relation to the prevention of violence against women and their children in her portfolio with that express and implicit responsibility stated clearly in her role. I have not seen a cabinet put together in this way to address these key issues. Through our women’s economic security statement, the work that we have been doing in recent years, since the first of those in 2018, we have had a strong focus on-

Minister Payne: (14:03)
… since the first of those in 2018, we have had a strong focus on economic security, on women’s safety and on leadership. This puts that focus at the heart of government and around every single cabinet table discussion whenever the cabinet meets and across the broader ministry. We know that the last few weeks have been extraordinarily challenging, confronting and difficult for so many people in this country, but none more than those women who have had to deal with or address assault or harassment or inappropriate behavior in their workplaces, in their communities, in their social life, in their families across Australia. And bringing a gender equality lens, if you like, to the whole of ministry approach enables us to really focus in on those issues right across government in a way that I have never seen before. I think it’s very powerful. I think it’s a very important and strong message to the Australian community and one which I am very pleased to work on with the Prime Minister and with my other senior colleagues. Thanks, Prime Minister.

Speaker 1: (15:16)
Prime Minister, in relation to Defense Minister Linda Reynolds, she’s obviously been criticized for those comments where she referred to Britney Higgins as a lying cow. Today, we’ve seen an Adelaide radio broadcaster who was sacked for suggesting that women who get drunk in some way are to blame for what happens to them. The criticism has been there were no consequences for Linda Reynolds. Do you see this move as in any way a demotion or a consequence, or do you see it in different terms?

Scott Morrison: (15:43)
Well, the comment that Linda made was extraordinarily out of character. I mean, people in this place who know Linda Reynolds would have been as shocked by her comment as much as that it was she who was making it. It was an intemperate remark made at the wrong time for all the wrong reasons and she has completely apologized for that, sincerely. That apology has been accepted and the issue has been resolved, and so that’s where that matter rests. And so it is now a matter for the government getting on with that job and for Linda to be able to take up new responsibilities. She was previously serving as the Minister for Defense. It’s a very senior role within the government. She has stepped aside from that role and is taking on a new role within the government and I think that reflects where she is best able to serve the government.

Catherine: (16:40)
Prime Minister, Sarah Henderson this morning has said she doesn’t feel comfortable being in the same party room as Andrew Laming, given his inappropriate behavior towards women. How can you justify having him or keeping him in your party room, given you’ve said that it’s up to you to get your house in order first?

Scott Morrison: (17:01)
Getting the house in order means me explaining very clearly to Andrew that his behavior was unacceptable and that his behavior needs to change and that he needs to seek support and help to change his behavior, and that is exactly what he is doing at his own expense in terms of the support that he’s seeking through the services that he will now access. See, what we need to do here is change behavior. So when he returns, that he will be, I think, in a better position, I think, to give that assurance to other colleagues and anyone else. He was elected at the last election. He has done something quite significant. He has said he is not seeking re-election. That is not a small thing to do, to walk away from a career in politics that he has served his community now for many, many years.

Scott Morrison: (17:51)
So he’s taken that on the chin and he’s reflected on his own actions and he is not putting himself forward for re-election and re-nomination by the Liberal Party. And he’s reflected on the conversation he and I had over the course of the weekend and I’m pleased that he is taking that instruction to get that support, to change his behavior, and I believe we will see him return better for that experience and better able, I think, to provide his colleagues with the assurances that they are seeking and that they legitimately seek. But let’s not forget what our goal is here. Our goal across all of these issues is to change behavior. Andrew has said he wants to change his behavior, so we intend to support him to do just that.

Speaker 2: (18:36)
Prime Minister, you’ve called Senator Payne the Prime Minister for Women, but aren’t you the women’s Prime Minister? Are you not fit to do the job of Prime Minister?

Scott Morrison: (18:45)
I think you may have misunderstood the point I was trying to make. Of course I’m the Prime Minister. What I’m saying is that in this case, the Minister for Women is the minister that is primarily responsible for drawing together the many different women who have been given ministerial responsibilities for women. I mean, if I had not made that comment, I may have been accused of having too many ministers for women and what was Marise Payne doing? Well, that would also have not been the case. What I’m simply saying is I’ve given Marise a leadership responsibility amongst the women in our cabinet and across our ministry to pull it all together in the same way that I do across all areas of the government. So, I think to be fair, that characterization I don’t think reflects what I was saying.

Speaker 2: (19:34)
PM, you said in your opening remarks about getting the right lens on things with these changes. Your October Budget was criticized in some quarters for being blind towards women. Can we expect sort of a different emphasis in the forthcoming budget to be more mindful of the concerns of women?

Scott Morrison: (19:51)
I’d say a couple of things, and I’m sure Marise would like to add, I’m sure, having been responsible for the many things that she brought forward into that budget. First and foremost, what we have seen as a result of that economic recovery plan and that budget is see women get back into jobs. I mean, women were the most exposed and at risk during the COVID period for a whole range of reasons. First of all, there was the economic security and the loss of jobs which we saw, and more women have made up those jobs returning to our economy than men. In addition to that, women were also more at risk, whether it was from domestic violence, harassment or many other things.

Scott Morrison: (20:33)
We put an additional $150 million just in our COVID response to support and protect women against violence during that period. And that has been somewhat successful, working together with states and territories as well. Our budget was very much focused, I think, on delivering the outcomes for women and there were specific initiatives in the Women’s Economic Security package that the Minister brought forward into that budget. And as we go into this budget, I think we will be working hard to explain right across the country just how much all of the initiatives of our budget deliver positive outcomes for women, whether that be their equality, their economic security, their safety and also their well-being, whether in health or other areas. But Marise?

Minister Payne: (21:17)
Thank you. What we’ve seen in February of this year is women’s workforce participation increased to 61.4%. In February of 2020, it was at 61. 2%. The economic response, the budget response of last October was about making sure those jobs were protected, those connections were kept with employers and that people were able to come back into the workforce. The gender pay gap, similarly, although this will be a varying figure because of the changes in employment rates, but the gender pay gap itself, as at November 2020, now again at 13.4%. That represents the largest narrowing of the gender pay gap since we have been making that statistical analysis. And we know from the work that the Workplace Gender Equality Agency is doing that there’s more to do in that regard. But it is absolutely the right path, the right trajectory.

Minister Payne: (22:16)
The Women’s Economic Security statement of 2018 set the groundwork, if you like, for this government’s approach to these issues. But in 2020, we brought an absolute COVID-19 response focus to that about addressing those key issues of workforce participation, of gender pay gap and of women’s safety through the initiatives in that Women’s Economic Security statement across the diverse cohort that represents Australian women in the workforce in particular. So I know that with the Minister for Women’s Economic Security in the Treasury portfolio, with the opportunity to bring together this taskforce, which has sitting around the table the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer, and the Minister for Finance, no matter who those people are in this conversation, those portfolios drive so much of our response. That will enable us to ensure that we continue to do that and that we grow it and that we bring that gender equality lens to those discussions at the highest levels of government in the center of government.

Speaker 3: (23:21)
Prime Minister, you’ve assigned a number of these women’s issues to various women in your ministry. What role then do you see for the other men in your ministry? It seems from the outset that you’re making the issue of dealing with women’s issues very much the responsibility of women. And if I can as well as, Ms. Payne, what would you see as a barometer of success for the taskforce that you’ll be leading? What would you hope would be markers that you could achieve in its first five, six months or year?

Scott Morrison: (23:48)
Well, first of all, I wouldn’t share that perspective. It’s every single member of the cabinet’s job to work hard for every single Australian, be they men or women, be they indigenous or non-indigenous, be they able bodied or living with a disability, whether they be a senior or they be a youth. It is the job of every minister in my government and every member of the executive, indeed every member of parliament, to ensure that they are working for all Australians and indeed the taskforce that has been established, four of the members, myself, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Minister for Transport and of course the Treasurer, and the Minister for Finance.

Scott Morrison: (24:28)
Now, all of us, obviously, from the central agencies, happen to be male ministers, but we work right across government. That means a whole of government approach to ensuring that we’re drawing this in. And the taskforce will work like many of our cabinet sub-committees work. Where there are issues dealing with health and aged care, the Health and Aged Care Minister will be brought into the room to discuss those issues in particular. When we’re talking about jobs, employment, workforce issues, small business, women are the proud owners and pioneers of small business in this country, always have been. The minister will be brought in to specifically deal with those issues, the Minister for Defense and other ministers specifically drawn in to deal with those issues. What I’m seeking to do is ensuring that I have such a strong voice of women in my cabinet that I want to bring that together in this way to really help drive this agenda and make sure that they are the dominant voice when it comes to driving that agenda.

Minister Payne: (25:29)
I agree with the Prime Minister in relation to the taskforce. If you made the mistake of thinking that it was only about the women around the cabinet table and the ministry table participating, then you would be missing that very large chunk that the Prime Minister has just referred to about the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister, the Treasurer of Australia, the Finance Minister, being present at every single one of those discussions. That is about the most whole of government response you could ever hope to achieve. It’s about putting these issues at the center of government in terms of the many policy areas that we would be addressing.

Minister Payne: (26:11)
And the Prime Minister is also absolutely right when he says, and he has been very clear to his ministers that whether you are the Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention or whether you are the Minister for Agriculture, there is a role in each single one of those portfolios, in every single one of those portfolios to make sure that that focus around the priority, the issues that concern women in that policy area are dealt with and addressed. And I think this taskforce will make that much more impactful in a way that we have not previously seen in a government in this country ever, ever. And so that is a pretty strong message, I think.

Minister Payne: (26:53)
In terms of outcomes, obviously, your colleagues have referred to the budget, but we also have our own agenda, the development of the next National Plan to Prevent Violence against Women and their Children. The Women’s Safety Ministers Council meets next week on that and the development of the summit, which is part of that plan and was a part of the remit, if you like, for the Women’s Safety Ministers Taskforce under the National Federation Reform Council, we announced that summit when we announced the taskforce itself. Obviously we will be providing a response to the Respected Work inquiry, we’ll be dealing with these issues of economic security and safety, making sure that those who want to make contributions to the review that Kate Jenkins is undertaking in this place are able to do that. And we are able to do that in a way that delivers on these priority issues for women and people here, but also across Australia.

Andrew: (27:55)
Senator Payne, as the new Prime Minister for Women, do you concede that you have not done enough as Minister for Women? And do you pledge to be more…

Andrew: (28:03)
… done enough as minister for women, and do you pledge to be more visible from here on? And Prime Minister, I just want to ask you about one of the blokes in your cabinet. Stuart Robert, he resigns from the Turnbull ministry for breaching ministerial code in 2018, accepts $100,000 in Rolex watches from a Chinese billionaire, gives a parliamentary speech written by a property developer, repays $38,000 for home internet, and says, “my bad” when he incorrectly blames cyber attack for Centrelink going down last year. How does this bloke get more responsibility in your reshuffle?

Scott Morrison: (28:34)
I don’t know whether you knew this, Andrew, but the reason that millions were able to get access and support through both, particularly betrayed for the JobSeeker payment over the course of the pandemic was a direct result of that minister’s ability to scale up and put in place one of the most significant responses we’ve ever seen from a social security agency in this country in our history. He’s been appointed to this job because he’s done an outstanding job and the one that he’s been doing, and when someone does a good job like that, then they show that they can take on responsibility. They can get things done for Australians.

Scott Morrison: (29:19)
So for all of those who could get through to those lines, for those who are calling right now on the floods, over $50 million was paid out the flood victims last week. That happened because of what Stuart Robert was able to put in place at Services Australia. It was a phenomenal achievement. People can now, when they ring you, be paid within half an hour. That was first established during the bush fires when he did exactly the same thing. So when people have had to rely on him for services, rely on him for payments, rely on him to ensure that they could get up the next morning, know that that money would be in their bank account because that’s what he was responsible for, then he has delivered for them. And that’s why. That’s why he’s in my cabinet, because he can be relied upon to deliver the services that Australians indeed rely on.

Minister Payne: (30:15)
Thank you, Prime Minister. I think, Andrew, the focus that we have had in particularly the last year during during COVID on economic security, on women’s safety, on leadership has been manifested in a number of ways. But the one that I have found particularly valuable is the opportunity to engage with Australian women from hundreds and hundreds of different walks of life right across the country in a number of ways. First of all, the opportunity to initiate a series of national and regional round tables, which are small groups, 20, 30, 40, 50 people, where over more than 30 hours of engagement, we have been able to focus on the issues that have been brought to those tables around safety, around economic security and right around the country. I absolutely acknowledge I didn’t physically make it to Western Australia or to the Northern Territory during that process, but that is a task for coming months.

Minister Payne: (31:24)
And as well as that, in particular the work that we are able to do with key community-based organizations. So before International Women’s Day, for example, the opportunity to participate in the UN Women Australia keynote addresses prime minister here in Canberra with us. Perhaps some of you were at that. I’m not sure. But more importantly, for me at least, the over thousand-person event in Sydney live-streamed I think on Channel Seven at the time where I made very, very clear that my personal view, my own experience in this role over many years meant that after what we had seen occur in this building and what we had heard described and alleged, the only way to address and to respond as a parliament to these issues and to this challenge was to own the problems, was to own the failings, and ultimately to own the solution.

Minister Payne: (32:28)
And that is what we have been working as a government to do, whether it is through initiating the independent review of this workplace and so many facets of it by the sex discrimination commissioner, Kate Jenkins. Whether it is the review that Stephanie Foster is doing that will provide the sort of structure and support that this workplace obviously needs for its staff and for those who spend their working lives here, and then countless others on top of that. So those focuses on leadership, on economic security, on women’s safety are what have driven our government and driven me in my role, and I look forward to growing that with the support of Senator Stoker, of Senator Hume, of Senator Rustin in those specific roles.

Minister Payne: (33:16)
But really importantly a task force of government that focuses on these issues and includes the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, the treasurer, and the minister of finance, the core of the central agencies that comes to the table and helps to plan the budget, plans the budget, helps to drive the policy development across government is fundamental to that taskforce. It wouldn’t work without them, and that’s why the prime minister has resolved to include them today. I look forward to co-chairing that with the prime minister and to making sure that it enables us to address so many of the issues which have been raised in recent weeks.

Scott Morrison: (33:53)

Catherine: (33:56)
You’ve said today that you’ve made the structural change because you feel as though that there was a perspective that was lacking. So could you be clear about what that perspective was that you feel was lacking, and also why was it lacking because you’ve got good women standing beside you like Marise Payne? Was it a matter of women not talking, or was it a matter of the leadership group not listening? And also, if I may, just on your task list of what you want to achieve, Senator Payne, does that include leading a national discussion about criminal justice reform, given how women fare in instances where they report sexual assault?

Scott Morrison: (34:37)
In response to the question, I wouldn’t see it in the lens that you have. I would put it more this way, that I think what we’re doing here in hearts is what we’re doing before. I think what we’re doing here is … When I first became prime minister, we did have at that stage the highest number of women ever appointed to a cabinet, and that has now been restored, and I’m very pleased about that. I’ve always wanted to ensure there is a strong voice of women in my government, and there has been. I think what we’re announcing today goes further than that. I think it sets a new benchmark. It sets a new ambition for our government to ensure that we infiltrate all aspects of government.

Scott Morrison: (35:24)
I mean, the big change here is this: previous governments, previous cabinets have had a minister for women who is expected to cover every single issue that relates to challenges confronting women in the government. I don’t think that, from experience, is a very constructive way to get outcomes and results for women. The whole government needs that, and so what I’ve done here is not just have one. I’ve got many. In fact, every single member of the cabinet as others have pointed out, but in particular, I have very capable women serving in some very important portfolios: Home Affairs; Home Affairs, a big law enforcement portfolio of government; the attorney general, another big important portfolio; [inaudible 00:36:15]; the minister for foreign affairs; minister for environment; within treasury, another of the big institutions of government, ensuring that my female ministers aren’t just in cabinet, but they’ve got their hands on the levers of government in some critical portfolios directly, and a part of a government that is completely focused on ensuring that we understand how we need to deliver for women across the country.

Scott Morrison: (36:39)
So that’s probably how I’d put it, Catherine. I don’t know if I’d describe it as a previous deficiency. I’d say previously when there was six women in my cabinet, that was also a pretty high Mark compared to previous governments. And to go back to seven, I’m really pleased about that, and I know that there are more that can come in the future, and those women are coming through our ranks now. Jane Hume is very new to the ministry, but she’s got off to a tremendous start. She’s an excellent treasury minister. Amanda Stoker has only just joined the assistant ministry together with Nola Marino amongst the liberals, and with Michelle, who has served as the national minister for some time, and she is already hard at work working with myself and Michaelia Cash in our response to Respect at Work. As I told the parliament last week, I’ve taken personal responsibility for ensuring we bring that together. We had an excellent discussion in cabinet about this just last week, and there’ll be more, and I’m looking forward to outlining that response before the budget. Marise?

Minister Payne: (37:44)
And on criminal justice, we obviously know that reporting and going through the difficult process of pursuing criminal justice in these matters is very difficult, and the numbers are very low for those who have been impacted who choose to do so. I’m very conscious of that. And although there have been some reforms, I think it is an area in which we can do more work. I look forward to engaging with Michaelia Cash as the attorney general on that. I know, having spoken to organizations like Women’s Legal Services Queensland or Domestic Violence New South Wales, that they are issues they put firmly on the table, and they are also issues which are on the table for the women’s safety ministers, and I think it’s part of the development of the next action plan and part of that summit process, which is embedded in that they will have to be canvassed very seriously.

Minister Payne: (38:41)
And although most of the leavers in criminal law are state and territory, not all of them, but many of them, we will be endeavoring to bring those jurisdictions with us in that conversation to make sure that we can address those concerns and remove the barriers that exist. I think the phrase that we hear is often “I didn’t think I would be taken seriously.” Well, that’s not what our criminal justice system is here to do. Our criminal justice system is here to take victims of crime, whatever it is, seriously, and I think that there is more work to be done in that area. I look forward to being part of it.

Scott Morrison: (39:22)
We have time for three more. We’ll go one, two, three.

Speaker 4: (39:24)
Prime Minister, on the back of Andrea’s question regarding the performance of you, Marise Payne, is that criticism, that juggling foreign affairs and the minister for women, it’s a pretty big ask. Why not just assign one portfolio? And secondly, on Christian Porter, it’s a pretty big demotion from the chief lawmaker of the country. Do you expect him to stay on in that capacity beyond the next election?

Scott Morrison: (39:43)
I certainly expect him to continue to serve in my cabinet both now and after the next election, but we both, all of us have something we to do before that occurs, and that is we have to present ourselves for elections, so that is ultimately in other’s hands. But absolutely. He’s been an outstanding minister, and he’s a person of great capability, demonstrated both at the state parliament before coming here from Western Australia and what he’s been able to achieve since he has been here. He’s focusing on this new portfolio challenge that he has as well as on his local election over in Pierce, which I know he’s keen to do. One of the great challenges of being the attorney general and minister for industrial relations and leader of the government in the house is that brings you across the Nullarbor a bit more often than you otherwise would, and so this will give him that opportunity to focus both on his portfolio, where he’ll bring considerable expertise, as well as on his like election Pierce.

Scott Morrison: (40:41)
In relation to what I should probably call the primary minister for women, it’s just to ensure that no one gets too carried away with the puns for later. That’s what this is about. What I’m trying to bring together is a team of ministers, and that Marise Payne as minister for women can bring all that together as a leader of that portfolio team. I mean, the treasurer brings together a portfolio of ministers right across the cabinet when we pull together a budget. I chair the ERC. He’s the deputy chair. This is a force approach. What is not regular is for us to be co-chairing. That goes to, I think, the important lens that I want placed across these issues.

Scott Morrison: (41:28)
And so that is usual for government, and so I recognize that as minister for foreign affairs, that is a very demanding job. A very demanding job, and Marise Payne does it exceptionally well. But what I want from her in this portfolio is her leadership and her insight and her ability to bring people together, to get these outcomes. The work in economic secure economic security, that will be done by Jane Hume. The work in women’s safety, as now, will be done by Anne. A lot of work will be done in the attorney general’s department and the ministry …

Scott Morrison: (42:03)
A lot of work will be done in the Attorney General’s department and the Minister for Industrial Relations Department, aide of the … Assisted by Amanda Stoker. So there’s a lot of people working on this, and I have no doubt that Karen Andrews will bring much in terms of the law enforcement issues. There are attorneys general around the country, which I think need to address the very issue that Marise Payne was just mentioning, and indeed, the New South Wales attorney general, I think, has put forward some very good suggestions.

Scott Morrison: (42:26)
What I like about this is people are focused on it, and they’re moving on to the things you need to do. And so what I’ve done today is I’ve put in place a structure in my government that I know can deliver the next set of responses and the broader term policy that will get the outcomes that I know women are hankering for. Demanding, in fact, and rightfully so. But you’ve got to get your structures in place in a way that you think can best deliver for that, and that’s what we’re doing today. It’s another step. There are many more to come, and I look forward to making further announcements on that. I’m going to Chris and then Roz, and then I’m going to have to go, because both of us have a meeting we have to get to.

Speaker 5: (43:05)
Prime Minister, Nine News have suffered a massive cyber attack. What advice do you have on that?

Scott Morrison: (43:08)
I’m sorry, I missed that.

Speaker 5: (43:09)
Nine News has suffered a massive cyber attack. What advice do you have on that and what message did that send to other Australian businesses? And staying in the online world, some of the worst abuse we see nowadays is against women online. Can the federal government do anything by passing laws about that that might curb that. So Nine News first, if you don’t …

Scott Morrison: (43:27)
Well, look on Nine, they need to work with ASD and their cybersecurity team, as all corporates that are impacted by these cyber techs. You will recall some time ago I stood in the blue room and I announced what had been a very serious set of attacks against both Australian companies and other agencies, and our cyber security team through as ASD do a tremendous job in working with state governments and territory governments, but as well as major corporates, including, as I know, they’ll be working with Nine right now to ensure that they can put in place the protections that they need to to have their systems restored and to have them restored safely.

Scott Morrison: (44:06)
We regrettably live in a world where this happens. We can’t be naive about it, and we have built a tremendous capability here at a federal level to provide support to companies all around the country, be they very large ones like Nine or small and medium-sized businesses. It’s important that all of economy are very mindful of the need for cybersecurity defenses. I mean, that is also an area where Jane Hume is working to ensure that as we digitize our economy, that cybersecurity is a key platform upon which that is all built.

Scott Morrison: (44:40)
In relation to the second matter regarding social media, I said this on the weekend. We’re living in a society in which respect is degrading, and if we want to see more respect in our community, we’ve all got to practice it more. When I stood here and announced the Royal Commission on Aged Care, I talked about the need to establish a culture of respect for older Australians. Same is true for women. The same is true for people with disabilities. The same is true for people, Indigenous Australians, but it’s got to draw out of a well of respect in our society, which I fear is sadly depleting. People are saying that they disrespect each other, or I don’t respect that person or whatever it happens to be. We’ve got to build the respect again, and one of the key degraders of respect in our country is social media.

Scott Morrison: (45:36)
Sure, it has some positive purposes. I don’t discount that. Of course, it does, but it can be a very dangerous tool in disrespectful hands, and we’ve seen that with the trolling and abuse and harassment, particularly of women. I pay tribute to Erin Molan again for the great campaign she’s led and that we’ve backed in with changes we’ve already made in this area. But our government is probably … No, our government has stood up to the big tech companies on this like no other government in the world, and we have taken on the fights with them that now others would, and others have followed us, whether it’s on a terrorist or inciting content, or indeed now ensuring that news media organizations actually can get a fair deal to ensure that you can all do the job that you do and fine job that you do in a democracy like Australia. We’ve been protecting our democracy by standing up those big tech companies.

Scott Morrison: (46:27)
But I can tell you big part of my response to this will be ongoing work in the area of e-safety and on social media. And people write things down without any consideration of the hurt and torment that it means to other people. This is happening with young people. They’re not even in their teens and some of them are writing this, and it gets worse, and it gets worse, and they become desensitized to it, and they stop writing it then, and they’ll just say it, and this becomes how Australians potentially talk to each other in the future. Australia, we’ve got to fix this, and we’ve got to take some responsibility about how we are behaving toward each other online and directly. Love one another. That was a good piece of advice given many years ago around about Easter time.

Minister Payne: (47:18)
[crosstalk 00:47:18].

Scott Morrison: (47:18)
Yes, please.

Minister Payne: (47:19)
So firstly on the cyber issue, one of my hats at the moment is acting defense minister. Obviously, ASD and Australia’s Cyber Security Centre are very focused on working with corporate Australia to make sure that corporate Australia is protecting itself, those eight steps that the ACSC sets down. This is a salutary reminder that nobody is immune and that they are very important and get very important steps for corporates to take to protect themselves. They are a threshold basic engagement, I think, and so raising that question today is a very important one.

Minister Payne: (47:58)
On social media, can I just say a couple of things? The prime minster’s referred to the role of the e-safety commissioner that we have here in Australia, and I think Julie Inman Grant, who holds that position, is an exceptional operator. She is a constructive and accessible and clear about steps that people can take to protect themselves online. I think she does a very good job at that. We’ve worked closely with our colleagues internationally on disinformation, for example, which is all perpetrated overwhelmingly through social media, particularly in relation to the pandemic. We’re dealing with vaccine skepticism, particularly in the Pacific at the moment, PNG as well, and again, all perpetrated through social media.

Minister Payne: (48:44)
But I have said to the prime minister, more than once that I think the words of Sacha Baron Cohen last year in his very, very powerful speech on this issue, are timely reminders for all of us. I think the problem with social media is it is much less social good these days and much more social harm, and where we’ve tried-

Speaker 6: (49:06)
[inaudible 00:49:06].

Minister Payne: (49:06)
Sorry. Where we’ve tried, where we have seen in the past things in our societies which are dangerous, which are harmful to society, we have overwhelmingly taken steps to put provisions in place, to protect people from that harm, whether it is drugs, whether it is drink driving, whether it is a dangerous driving, whether it is swimming without knowing how to swim. That basic, but we haven’t yet been able to grapple with this in relation to social media, and I think it is a very much a task for this decade.

Speaker 7: (49:43)
Senator Payne, so prime minister for women, what do you think about Andrew Laming sticking around until the next election, especially given his inappropriate behavior? Do you think that’s good enough?

Minister Payne: (49:48)
I think the prime minister’s phrase is primary rather than prime, but Mr. Laming has taken a very serious step to leave this job, leave this role at the next election. I wouldn’t think for a moment that that is a step anyone in these roles takes lightly. He has been here for some years now. His behavior is clearly inappropriate. He has taken steps to address that, the steps that the prime minister outlined. That is the minimum that he should do, and he is doing that, and then he has indicated he will not be returning to this place. That’s a clear indication that he knows his ongoing role here is not appropriate. And I just say to my colleagues across parliaments, across the world, that we have responsibility in the way we engage with the public, the way we engage with constituents, the way, frankly, we engage with each other, and if nothing else, the last few months has taught us the importance of that and the importance of doing that respectfully.

Scott Morrison: (50:47)
Last one.

Mark: (50:49)
I think people would agree with the minister for women that what he’s done is the minimum, and there’s much more that could done. He’s one of those people you just spoke about who writes horrible things online, abusing his own constituents, taking photographs of women’s underwear in public. Can you see that people see a double standard here, that in other workplaces in Australia, someone who was found had done these things would have been sacked on the spot, not had the luxury of choosing your own time in a year, pick out another $210,000 from the taxpayer along the way?

Mark: (51:26)
And why shouldn’t people just see this as a cynical move on your part, because if you stand up today and use that pay and that microphone and say, “As prime minister, I don’t want this bloke in the Liberal Party. I don’t want him in the parliament,” he’d be out. I know that it’s a question for the party, but if you were to say that today there now, he’d be gone, but he’s not going to be. In any other workplace in Australia, he would be. So isn’t the reality that you can’t afford to lose Andrew Laming because he’s a number, and if you lose his number, you lose control of the House of Reps.

Scott Morrison: (51:57)
Well, he’s not running in, Mark. He’s not putting himself forward for reelection within the Liberal Party. He is committed to undertake the behavioral change he needs to undertake, and that’s what he needs to do, and he needs to come back with a completely different attitude and a completely different behavior. He was elected to this place by the people in his electorate. That’s who he was elected by, and he was elected to serve here for three years, Mark. He was elected to serve here for three years in his parliamentary term, and that’s what he intends to do and continue to serve the people in his electorate, and I’m following the very same approach that other governments have followed in the past. Thank you very much.

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