SENATOR PENNY WONG
LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE
SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PEARCE
SUBJECTS: Election commitment; Federal election; Solomon Islands
TRACEY ROBERTS, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR PEARCE: It’s great to be at the Kingsway regional sporting complex, which is the home to so many of our local sporting clubs. Great to see so many people here. And the key reason that we are here is an announcement. And it's a really important announcement. We know how much sport is important to communities, brings people together, and gets the kids to enjoy themselves. And also not only the kids, but also seniors, something for everybody. So to be here and to make an announcement is very special. We know the regional sporting complex supports many codes of sport. And we also know, as the Mayor of the City of Wanneroo, the investment has been made, tens of millions of dollars into the Kingsway regional sporting complex, but there's always more that needs to be done. Looking at sports, with females in sport, looking at upgrading facilities, always something that needs to be done. And it's now my absolute pleasure to hand over to Senator Penny Wong, who's going to make the announcement today. Thank you.
PENNY WONG, SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Thank you very much, Tracey, and thank you for what you do for the community as the Mayor and thank you for standing for the Labor Party here in Pearce, you'll be a fantastic Member of Parliament if we manage to get you over the line, we're really pleased to have you here. As I was walking through this fantastic morning market, I was thinking about something Anthony said when the election was announced, he said, you know, we need a Government as decent as the Australian people, as decent as the Australian people, and you see that on display today.
You've got people, parents, grandparents with their kids and grandkids, kids who are playing soccer, kids who are playing netball, baseballers even, there’s obviously a really rich, diverse community here who have come together, showing that community and decency that’s so central to what it is to be Australian. What we want is a Government who matches that. And I think what West Australians want is a Government that wants to be their partner, and not have a go about borders, not side with Clive Palmer. Not make some weird joke about cave people, but a Prime Minister in Anthony Albanese who'd work with you. So today I'm very pleased to announce that if elected an Albanese Labor Government would invest more than $2 million in these facilities to improve facilities and community sports here at Kingsway Regional Sporting Complex. Tracy has spoken about the number of sports and I think there's 11 or more different types of sporting activities and codes here. There's obviously a growing community. So we're really pleased to be able to lend our support to the work this community does and all these fantastic volunteers, mums, dads, coaches, who volunteer their time to make sure our young people in this community can get a go. Can I also say something, before we go to questions, about Mark McGowan.
Obviously, over the last couple of days we've seen Anthony Albanese and Premier McGowan both make public that they've tested Covid positive, and I see overnight the really concerning news that one of Premier McGowan's children has had to seek medical advice and had to go to hospital. Can I wish him on everyone's behalf, wish he and all of his family all the very best. We all hope that there is a full and quick recovery for every member of their family. There are many Australians and Western Australians who've been dealing with this, a lot of people have gotten ill, and a lot of people have made very quick recovery. And what we hope is that Premier McGowan and his family make a quick recovery. I'm happy to take questions of Tracey or I on the announcement and then I'm happy to take questions of the day. But perhaps on the announcement first.
JOURNALIST: What will be built, or what will be done, as part of the $2 million?
WONG: So I think maybe Tracey could speak about the sort of need that's required but what I would say is the council's worked, we want to work with council on this. We want to work to make sure that sporting clubs maximise the use of this funding to improve what they can give to the community. As you can see, it's such a great community spirit here and we want a government that can match that.
ROBERTS: Thank you Penny and thank you for that question. Working closely with the clubs, there is urgent need for upgrades of facilities. And we understand that, so funding will go towards upgrade of facilities. We also know longer term that there's a need for additional facilities here at Kingsway, and working with the City of Wanneroo is important, but the clubs, having a great relationship and working relationship with all the clubs, and making sure that all their needs are met, some of the shorter term projects and some of the longer term projects. So this is certainly a journey that we're all on together. And I would like to reinforce Penny's comments about how valued the volunteers are who make sure that this facility works well, and all the codes work really well together. So, on behalf of us all, a big thank you to all the volunteers who donate so much of their time and their lives into the sport, which children enjoy.
WONG: Anything else and the other questions and issues of the day?
WONG: Not at all, I think people understand the opening of the borders, the lifting of restrictions, after you’ve got such levels of vaccination, which full credit to Premier McGowan keeping West Australians safe through all of that, notwithstanding Mr Palmer and Mr Morrison's attempts to undo that. But I think people understand that we've got a long campaign. You'll see lots more of all of us including Anthony, and we look forward to being here. I think it's tomorrow week and as long as Anthony's fully well we’ll make sure we have our launch here.
JOURNALIST: Did you have other engagements with the Premier planned before the Covid situation with his family?
WONG: Obviously we had both the news of Anthony and the Premier’s illnesses I think at about the same time. So that required a change in the program and you’ll see a few of us here, and you'll see many more of us here, in the days to come and weeks to come.
JOURNALIST: Senator this one's from Chris Uhlmann, so don't shoot the messenger. How would Labor have stopped the Solomon Islands signing a deal with China when it was literally handing to politicians bag fulls of cash?
WONG: First I would make the point that this has occurred on Scott Morrison's watch. It is a watershed in a very bad way for Australian security. And as a consequence of this, on Mr Morrison's watch, our region is less secure, and the risks Australia face are greater. I want to be very clear that this has been something we have been talking about for some time. If you look back at interviews I gave a few years ago, I talked about the need to remain a partner of choice in the Pacific. And I want to tell you what we would not have done. We would not have cut development assistance to the Solomon Islands by about 28 per cent a year on average. That’s the difference between what the Coalition is funding and what Labor is promising in Government. We wouldn't have mocked Pacific Island nations about the risk of climate change in the way that Peter Dutton did with Scott Morrison standing next to him – he made a joke about water lapping at the door. We wouldn’t have thumbed our nose at Pacific leaders, all of whom have said that climate change is the number one national security issue. And we wouldn't have mismanaged the Pacific labour scheme. Now I've made clear we will have more to say in this campaign about how we would approach the Pacific. We understand the reality of China's assertiveness and aggression. We understand that our region has been reshaped. We understand that the key to ensuring Australia's security is securing our region. And that means a foreign policy that is more active and more vigorous in our region.
JOURNALIST: Some anti-vaxxers have jumped on the Covid outbreak of Mr McGowan and his family, saying, you know, it's because he got vaccinated? Is there any message you want to send to people who would exploit this situation to spread that kind of propaganda?
WONG: I would say we should take the advice of public health experts and the public health advice is what has kept Western Australians safe. It is public health advice that led the Premier to take the position that he did on your borders for so long until sufficient numbers were vaccinated. And that has been a really good thing for Western Australians. And I would say to those politicians, including in the coalition who want to amp up the anti-vax message, because they think it helps them with votes, I will say this, there are times we actually have just got to do the right thing. And the right thing is to follow the public health advice that's been at the centre, at the core, of why we've got through this pandemic, and full credit to Western Australia, full credit to the Australian people.
JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister says his Solomon Islands counterparts assured him that there will be no Chinese military base in the Solomon Islands, is that enough to allay the concerns?
WONG: Look for the first time since WWII, we have such a development in the Pacific. And no matter how much Mr Morrison tries to downplay this, this has occurred under him. What I would say is, Mr Morrison, you have got to take responsibility for this. We know Mr Morrison races to take credit, but he has to be dragged to take responsibility, and he needs to take responsibility for what has happened on his watch.
JOURNALIST: In yesterday's West it was reported that Liberal internal polling is showing they're coming back in Pearce and Swan. Does that concern you? And are Albanese’s blunders, particularly at the start of the campaign, to blame?
WONG: People put out polling to try and help their campaign. I can tell you as I was walking around here yesterday in Swan and going to a couple of other seats today, the mood was very positive. I think Western Australians understand what it would mean to vote for Mr Morrison, rewarding bad behavior. Giving someone a second decade in office. Our question to Western Australians is, do you really want to do that? We know we've got to we've got to make our case. We’ve got to explain what it is we want. Why we want to form Government – because we believe this country can do better. We want a better future for Australia. We want cheaper childcare. We want more secure jobs. We want a stronger Medicare. We want to put dignity back into aged care. These are the reasons Labor is asking for your support. Mr Morrison is asking for your support because he just wants to hold onto power.
JOURNALIST: We're just a stone's throw away from the seat of Cowan and I note Anne Aly is not here today. Does that show your confidence about Cowan?
WONG: No, no I'm meeting Anne later today. So I'm doing something with her later. Last question.
JOURNALIST: There are reports Australian intelligence agencies leaked the draft security agreement between the Solomons and China on social media. If that's true, does that concern you?
WONG: I'm not going to comment on intelligence. What I would say is if you add up all of the media reporting on this for the last few months, including the fact that I think media reported in December that there was going to be a Chinese police presence in Solomon Islands, if you add up all of that, Mr Morrison's excuses don't add up. Mr Morrison's excuses don't make sense. We've had him saying one day “we were all over this”. And another minister saying “this took us by surprise”. So ultimately, the buck stops with Mr Morrison. This has happened on his watch. Thanks very much.
Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.