Transcript by The Hon Julie Collins MP

Transcript of press conference – Hobart – 5 July

SUBJECTS: Opening of DisabilityCare Hobart office; Liberal Party online advertising

JULIE COLLINS: Today is a great day for Tasmanians with a disability. This week has been a fantastic week for people with a disability in Tasmania, and has seen the opening of the Devonport office and the Launceston office, and now today the Hobart office for DisabilityCare Australia. For Tasmanians aged between 15 and 24 they can start accessing DisabilityCare. Over 1000 Tasmanians will be accessing it within 18 months. And then of course as the full standard is rolled out more than 11,000 Tasmanians will be able to access DisabilityCare. This is major social reform introduced by a Labor government and it’s a great day today for people with disabilities.

JOURNO: What are you hearing from the people today about what sort of change that they’re likely to see and how happy they are about it?

JULIE COLLINS: There’s great excitement here today about DisabilityCare. Talking to Michaela about her plans, as Cassy did, and the fact that she wants to go to unverisity. This DisabilityCare means she will be able to do that.

JOURNO: What are the main changes that you see an average person with a disability between the ages of 15 and 24 seeing in their lives over the next 18 months?

JULIE COLLINS: Well this of course gives them control over the services that they want to purchase. It means that they can access a range of services at their choosing. It gives them some independence, their families and their carers some support. It means they have a choice about the type of care they want to receive. It’s really important today. It is the launch of DisabilityCare in Hobart and it means some people with disability are getting more support services and some are receiving support for the first time. I hear today there are 75 appointments already made for people with disability here in Hobart. It’s wonderful news indeed.

JOURNO: There have been some concerns from service providers about not having enough information on the ground as to what they should do when July 1st came. Have some of those issues been sorted out yet?

JULIE COLLINS: My understanding is that some of them have been resolved. Cassy’s got a bit more information. Did you want to…

CASSY O’CONNOR: If you want to keep asking Julie questions and ask me about service providers when you’re done, I’m happy to deal with them.

JOURNO: So, Cassy O’Connor, on those issues of some of the uncertainties for service providers, it’s such a massive change for them and they were unsure on the first of July just how it was going to roll out. What is being done to appease those concerns?

CASSY O’CONNOR: Well, the first thing I want to say is that this is a fantastic day for Tasmanians living with a disability, their families and carers. From 1 July life will change significantly for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 and I think it’s important to remember that it was only just over 2 years ago that the Productivity Commission brought down its report, a damning report, on disability services in Australia that found they were fragmented and unfair. And here we are, just a little over two years later, with this major reform happening on the ground. Of course there will be teething problems. We always knew that which is why the plan was to go to launch. I know that some service providers were uncertain about what 1 July would mean but I also know that DisabilityCare and our disability community services people in the state government have been working very closely with service providers about what they need to do to be ready for this scheme. And my understanding is that service providers are starting to come to terms with the launch but also some of the changes that they’re going to be experiencing as providers as people living with a disability make decisions about the services that they receive.

JOURNO: Tasmania often has higher levels in other places of people in need for these sort of services. What does it mean that the launch has been here?

CASSY O’CONNOR: It’s so fantastic that we’re having a launch here in Tasmania. As Minister I know that there’s a significant level of unmet need in our community. The state funds supports for around six and a half thousand people but we know the need is much higher. So Tasmanians living with a disability, their families and carers can know that change is here. It’s going to be profound and it will change the lives of people living with a disability for the far, far better. It will able independent living, more choices, more opportunities for education, training, and employment and participation as valued and equal members of our community.

JULIE COLLINS: Thanks very much.

JOURNO: Maybe just on the ad campaign, Julie?

JOURNO: Yeah, Julie Collins. If I could ask you, the Liberal Party have put out an ad, which is essentially an attack ad showing you from a 2010 press conference on the mining tax. What’s your personal response to that?

JULIE COLLINS: Obviously it was over three years ago. If the Liberal Party want to resort to negative personal attacks, that’s up to them.

JOURNO: Does it hurt your feelings?

JULIE COLLINS: As I said, if they want to resort to negative personal attacks, that’s up to them.

JOURNO: What was the context of that press conference in 2010? Were you asked a lot of questions that you weren’t briefed on, what was the context?

JULIE COLLINS: Well that was in 2010, as I said. More than three years ago. It was a long interview of 3 to 4 minutes. They’ve taken a short space, they’ve spliced it, and it really is just showing the Liberal Party has no policies, nothing positive to talk about. All they want to do is attack people and put up negative ads.

JOURNO: Joe Hockey has said on Sunrise this morning that you basically don’t know what you’re talking about, in a very personal way. What do you respond to with that? JULIE COLLINS: As I said, if the Liberal Party want to resort to negative personal attacks that’s up to them.

JOURNO: And in terms of being a Cabinet Minister, they say you’re not up to the job and that basically Kevin Rudd didn’t have the talent to choose from in terms of his Cabinet. What’s your response to that?

JULIE COLLINS: Well that’s just ridiculous. The Liberal Party are just resorting to negative personal attacks because they have nothing positive to say about Tasmania, or about Australia, and they’re just resorting to these type of attacks.

CASSY O’CONNOR: Let me tell you, at a ministerial level Julie is a very, very capable and diligent minister, so they’re wrong.

JOURNO: Julie, you have been thrust into this role now, and you are in the spotlight. Anything that you’re going to be doing to prepare?

JULIE COLLINS: Obviously I’ve been getting briefings on my new portfolio of housing and homelessness. I’ve been working on indigenous employment for 18 months, almost 2 years now, community services and the status of women so I’ve been working in those portfolio areas. I’ve been responsible for a lot of reform, particularly in the status of women portfolio, particularly on the National Framework for the Protection of Australia’s Children. I think actually the work I’ve done stands for itself.

JOURNO: Do you take any offence to this in terms of the misogyny debate and whether or not you’re being attacked as a woman?

JULIE COLLINS: I’ve got nothing to say on that other than the Liberal Party’s resorting to negative personal attacks and that’s a decision for them. And that’s because they’ve got nothing positive to talk about.