Release type: Transcript


Doorstop with the Prime Minister: CFA legislation


Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash
Minister for Employment
Minister for Women
Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Public Service
Senator for Western Australia


PRIME MINISTER: As summer approaches, these firefighters are getting ready to defend us and today we are defending them. We are calling on the Senate to pass this bill to ensure that the volunteers, the CFA are respected – that their selfless services is respected so that their volunteer organisation can be autonomous, stronger and can continue to recruit, continue to keep Victorians and indeed all Australians safe from the very worst that nature can throw at us.

JOURNALIST: This legislation does look at the RFS and other volunteer organisations as well or is it just limited to the CFA?

MINISTER CASH: The legislation is very much limited to emergency management bodies that are covered by the Fair Work Act and have volunteers. So, basically it relates to around 12 emergency service bodies in Victoria, the Northern Territory and the ACT. We have been very surgical in terms of drafting the change to the Fair Work Act.

JOURNALIST: Minister Cash - as Minister for Women, what were your thoughts on Donald Trump’s comments over the weekend?

MINISTER CASH: Well as I articulated last night, the comments were demeaning, they were disappointing and they were wrong. Full stop.

PRIME MINISTER: And I would add to that – they are loathsome and they deserve the absolutely universal condemnation that they have received.

JOURNALIST: Kidman and Co. It seems that Gina Rinehart has made this $365 million bid for the company. Would the Government look favourably upon that?

PRIME MINISTER: Well it is always great to see Australians investing in Australian agriculture, but the matter will go before the Foreign Investment Review Board of course because there is a minority foreign investor. Of course there is a minority foreign investment in Kidman now. I always welcome seeing Australian investment in Australian agriculture, as I believe all Australians do.

JOURNALIST: Same-sex marriage plebiscite – it is going to be start to be debated tomorrow. Where do you think that Labor is going to land on this?

PRIME MINISTER: Look, this is a matter for Mr Shorten. Really, what we have here is a mechanism that will enable Australians, every Australian to make a choice on this important issue on the 11th of February – that is not very far away. Its months away. Now, if Mr Shorten wants Australians to support gay marriage, if he wants same-sex couples to be able to marry there is a mechanism right there. We’ve introduced the Bill. It’s very clear, if it passed by the Senate in time, then there will be a plebiscite on the 11th of February. I have no doubt it will be carried. I will certainly be voting yes, as will Lucy. And when it is carried, it will be legislated so there is a very clear road map there and Mr Shorten should stop playing politics with the lives of gay people, he should stop playing politics with this issue. He should let Australians get on, make their choice, have their vote and it will be done.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, Mr Shorten has indicated that Labor will block this for some time now, months indeed. Have you given any consideration to a ‘plan B’ over the past few months with Labor indicating they will block it?

PRIME MINISTER: Mr Shorten has not come to a landing on whether he will support it or not. I mean, he has certainly given many indications but it just shows how political he is. How little he cares about same-sex couples. How little he cares about the right of same-sex couples to be married. How little he cares about the fundamental substantial, substantive issue. It’s all about the politics with him. That’s all he is about – politics. Now we have done everything we can to win the support of the crossbenchers, of the Labor Party and the Greens.

We’ve invited them to come back and tell us what changes they would like that would enable them to support the plebiscite. After all, Mr Shorten three years ago publicly called for a plebiscite. He is on the record as saying he supports the plebiscite so he can’t clearly have an objection in principle to a plebiscite – he’s obviously, if he opposes it, he must have some issues about it. Well, let him tell us what they are. He has done nothing of the sort.

So we are saying to Mr Shorten, get behind this plebiscite. This should be a thoroughly bipartisan plebiscite. I would like to see this plebiscite having the support of Labor, the Government, crossbenchers. I would like to see it being thoroughly bipartisan and then we all say as one Parliament to the Australian people: “We respect your views, you tell us what you think, it’s a fair question, it’s a fair vote and then we will respect your decision.” Now that’s what we can do on the 11th of February and the only obstacle to this is Bill Shorten and the Labor Party. So he has got a very big call to make. He’s got a very big call to make. Does he want this issue resolved on the 11th of February or not? If he does want it resolved then, it’s not far away – he should support the plebiscite.

Thanks very much.