Transcript by The Hon Paul Fletcher MP

Sky News Live


KIERAN GILBERT: Joining us now is the Minister for Families and Social Services Paul Fletcher. Paul Fletcher thanks so much for your time. Are you encouraged by the reaction you’ve had to this campaign?

PAUL FLETCHER: Good to be with you this morning. And yes, the early research done on the effectiveness of the campaign does show that it’s having an impact. But the intention of this $30 million Stop it at the Start campaign which is co-funded by the Commonwealth and state and territory governments, is to encourage adults to think about the things that we say when we’re around children and young people.

It’s particularly targeted parents, teachers, sports coaches and others because we can inadvertently say things which demonstrate a lack of respect for women. And the ad that you’ve just ran, I think, conveys that message very effectively.

Now, the research shows that there is a linkage between lack of respect for women and domestic violence and the statistics on domestic violence in Australia are shocking. Each day, nearly eight women are hospitalised as a result of an assault by a current or former partner. So domestic violence is a very significant issue and the purpose of this campaign is to seek to change community attitudes over time.

At the moment, around a quarter of young people say that if a young bloke makes comments about a girl on the street for example, that they would not see a problem with that. And so the statistics suggest- the evidence suggests that we do have some lack of awareness amongst young people about the importance of demonstrating respect for women. So this campaign is designed to help change community attitudes and remind adults of their role in what we say in influencing children and young people.

LAURA JAYES: How shocked were you about this gamer playing this game Fortnite? It’s on the front page of The Daily Telegraph today and he allegedly airs himself assaulting his pregnant partner.

I mean, this was particularly jarring as KG said before because we don’t often see these things, they happen behind closed doors. So I mean, what more can the government do?

PAUL FLETCHER: What I’ve seen and what’s been reported is absolutely terrible, but the point you just made there is that the incidence of domestic violence is much higher than many of us may think and that is why it’s so important to be working to change attitudes and why it’s important to have an integrated plan.

We have a national plan to reduce violence against women and their children; the Stop it at the Start campaign is part of phase three of that.

Our Liberal-National government has invested over $350 million on measures to address women’s safety. For example, just recently, my colleague Minister for Women Kelly O’Dwyer announced $14.9 million to Good Shepherd MicroFinance for no interest loans for women who are in a situation where they need to very rapidly escape domestic violence in the home, need to set up a new household often with children, and it’s things like the cost of a bond or a new fridge or furniture that these no interest loans will help women deal with.

We’re funding 1-800-RESPECT, the national help line for assault and domestic violence and indeed we’ve just committed another round of $11 million for that. And this Stop it at the Start campaign is part of that integrated approach designed to shift community attitudes over time and the initial research on those who’ve seen it shows it is having an impact and causing people to think about the things that they say and causing young people to think about issues in relation to respect for women and the linkage between that and the risk of domestic violence.

KIERAN GILBERT: Yeah, exactly and you know, just a reminder of the importance of families and parents in all of that and making sure that everyone respects women and that young boys learn to do that from the outset.

Let’s Paul Fletcher ask you about the Labor position on a big issue heading into the election year and this is on border protection. I know that the government wants to say that this is a vulnerability for Labor, but the fact is Tanya Plibersek has reiterated again over the last 24 hours, her support leading left figure of the Labor Party, her support for offshore processing and boat turn backs.

They could not be tougher in terms of the message on those key pillars of the border protection approach, could they?

PAUL FLETCHER: Look, it’s not about whether it’s a vulnerability for Labor. It’s about what is in Australia’s best interests.

Let’s bear in mind, Labor went to the 2016 election campaign claiming that there was no difference between Labor and the Coalition when it came to border protection. But just last week in the Parliament, we saw Bill Shorten and Labor voting with the Greens and the crossbenchers to fundamentally weaken offshore processing which is a key element of our integrated approach to border security.

What they’ve now done, and the advice of the security agencies is very clear on this, what they’ve now done is weakened the offshore processing arrangements because on the vote that Labor supported in the Senate, on that bill which would allow two doctors to override in practice the decision of a minister and have people removed from Nauru and come to Australia.

Now, that is a fundamental weakening of our border protection arrangements of the offshore processing arrangements. Labor claims that there is no difference between their position and the Coalition’s position. They were proven last week to have misled the Australian people on that. That is not true and Australians who are concerned and should be concerned about border protection and the fact that under the previous Labor government, 50,000 unauthorised arrivals, 1200 dying at sea. If you want to maintain border protection, you must vote for the Coalition at the next election because Labor simply cannot be trusted on border protection.

KIERAN GILBERT: Paul Fletcher thanks for that.