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Channel 9 Today Show with Leila Mckinnon

Transcript

E&OE

Subjects: Respect@Work

LEILA MCKINNON: It is a response a long-time coming. The Prime Minister pledging to adopt all 55 recommendations from the Respect at Work report handed down last year. The former Minister for Women, now newly appointed Attorney-General, Michaelia Cash, joins us in Perth. Good morning to you, Minister. Before we get into that, I want to ask you about the vaccine rollout. It was slow to start with, even slower now given all of this. How long have we been setback? What? Six months? A year?

MICHAELIA CASH: Well, in the first instance, could I say, Australia is in a very unique position compared to so many other nations in the world. We have very, very limited COVID within Australia and I think that is something that Australians appreciate on a daily basis. I would also say that both the Prime Minister and the Minister for Health have made it very clear from the outset, the safety of Australians will always be our first priority. Now that we have received this advice, what we have said to the Australian people is AstraZeneca is still a highly- effective vaccine. However, in around 4-6 people per million, under the age of 50, you may develop a blood clot. And on that basis, last night the Prime Minister has said to those people: you may now wish to consider the alternative vaccine. And that is what we will now do. But, I do want to be clear, AstraZeneca is a highly-effective vaccine. And in Australia, we are in that unique position that we have very, very low levels of COVID and that is a good thing.

LEILA MCKINNON: Let's move on and now, talk about the Respect at Work report. Why did it take the Government more than a year to respond? Is there a sense of urgency that's, that's lacking?

MICHAELIA CASH: Well, in the first instance what I would say is this - last year, we implemented nine of the recommendations from the Respect at Work report and we provided funding for that. One of the main recommendations coming out of the Kate Jenkins' report was to establish the Respect at Work Council headed by Kate Jenkins - and we have done that. And the Respect at Work Council bringing together other regulators who are also responsible for workplace safety, have already met and are working towards the implementation of the report.

Yesterday, we provided our full response to the Respect at Work report. And as you said in your opening, the Government has accepted in full, or in part, all of the recommendations provided by Kate Jenkins. I've spoken to Kate Jenkins at length about our response and she has welcomed the response, and said she's very pleased to work with the Government in relation to the implementation of that report - and that is exactly what we will now do.

LEILA MCKINNON: It is a step in the right direction, and hopefully a game changer, as the Prime Minister said. But, it's a matter of changing culture about changing the way things have been done for decades. Now, how optimistic are you that we're going to see quick change?

MICHAELIA CASH: Well, certainly, the Government is committed to these changes. And as I've said, we already commenced the implementation of the Respect at Work last year. But, you know, what Kate's report makes clear is this - this is a societal problem that requires a societal response. The recommendations that she provided, they were directed towards governments, Commonwealth, state, territory, to business, to industry, to employers, to employees. That is why her report is a comprehensive suite of recommendations that we have accepted and will now implement.

Sexual harassment in the workplace or, indeed, anywhere is unacceptable, and each one of us, as an Australian, has a role to play in, as you say, changing that culture. Sexual harassment is actually preventable. Don't do it. And what we need to do now as a Government is work with state and territory governments, is work with business, is work with industry to ensure that we have that appropriate clarity in the mechanisms, in the workplace, so employers know they can take action and terminate someone's employment if they are found guilty of sexually harassing someone.

LEILA MCKINNON: Great.

MICHAELIA CASH: But also say to employees, if you've been subjected to this behaviour, you can stand up and make a complaint.

LEILA MCKINNON:  Right. Minister, money talks though. Will we see any funds allocated to women in the budget? To help with superannuation? Childcare? Putting your mouth where your money is, so to speak? Money where your mouth is?

MICHAELIA CASH: Yep. And the Government- yep, the Prime Minister made very clear yesterday that funding is now being considered as part of the budget process. As you know, the budget is now in but a few weeks' time, and that funding will be announced at that budget.

LEILA MCKINNON:  Okay. I know you have to go, Minister. Thank you.