TRANSCRIPT: DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - NORTH MELBOURNE - TUESDAY, 5 MARCH 2019

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP  
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
 
 
THE HON CATHERINE KING MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE
MEMBER FOR BALLARAT
 
LUKE CREASEY
LABOR CANDIDATE FOR MELBOURNE


E&OE TRANSCRIPT
DOORSTOP INTERVIEW
NORTH MELBOURNE
TUESDAY, 5 MARCH 2019
 
SUBJECTS: Tackling obesity with healthy eating in schools; Liberal Political appointments; Family and domestic violence.

LUKE CREASEY, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR MELBOURNE: Good morning everyone. My name is Luke Creasey and I'm the Labor candidate for the Federal seat of Melbourne. I'm joined today by Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Education Minister and Deputy Leader of the Labor Party and Catherine King, Shadow Health Minister and of course the legendary Stephanie Alexander. In my day job I'm a food technology teacher and I know just how important the life skills that these young people get through the Kitchen Garden Program tracks through their life. Now I trained, before I started teaching, in nutrition and the benefits of eating fresh, healthy food and of growing your own food, the social context of sharing food, it's just wonderful and it tracks through and will allow these young to people to not just be successful in their work but in their lives. Achieving happy, healthy lives. I'd like to throw now to Tanya Plibersek to make this really important, I think life changing announcement. Thank you Tanya.
 
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thank you so much Luke and we really couldn't be in a better setting for this announcement and we couldn't have a better endorsement than from Luke with his professional background. We know how much children enjoy the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program, I've visited dozens of these schools that have the garden program and I've spoken to the children, I've spoken to the teachers and I've spoken to their parents about what a contribution this makes to young lives. Kids learn about growing food, harvesting it together, cooking it together, eating it together and they develop life skills around cooking. But they also use this as an opportunity to learn maths and reading, writing, following instructions, writing instructions. It's a great educational program. And it's so very important when we know that a quarter of young Australians are overweight or obese and this is leading to real pressures on their lives and on our health system more generally. We want young Australians to lead fit, healthy, active lives and that starts with a good diet. Being able to cook for yourself is a life skill that lasts a whole lifetime. So I'm delighted today to announce that Labor would invest $6 million in supporting the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program. At the moment we've got about 800 schools that have already been established when Labor last funded this program when we were in government. Sadly the funding for those schools has run out and so we want to extend the life of the program where it already exists. But even better, we want to expand this program to an additional 1,200 schools because we know wherever this program is running it's very popular and the demand is absolutely out of sight. We have so many schools that would love to join this program if they had a little bit of additional funding to help with set up costs, like the gardens and the kitchens. We're also going to concentrate on three areas in particular, three regions where we've got a lot of highly disadvantaged schools because we know that areas with poor nutrition and pressure on family budgets are really struggling to teach kids healthy eating habits, so by really supercharging investment in those regions we can start lifelong healthy eating patterns. I'm going to ask Catherine King to say a few words because her actions as Shadow Health Minister, supporting the preventative health agenda have been so very important in this program too.
 
CATHERINE KING, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND MEDICARE: Thank you. Thank you Tanya and it's terrific to be here with Luke, with Tanya and of course, with Stephanie Alexander. This program and the announcement that Labor is making today is our first down payment in prevention. We know, with one in four children being overweight or obese, we know if that extends into their adulthood that that will only add to the burden of chronic disease that we already have in this country, that mean that their life capacity, their life opportunities, will be limited. We know that if we don't address obesity, if we don't start to get those early healthy eating habits early, as a nation we will continue to struggle with chronic disease and a chronic disease crisis. Unfortunately, under the Liberal National Party, all we have seen is an abandonment of prevention. When they first came to office, over $300 million was cut out of prevention programs. Programs that were seeing schools like North Melbourne Primary School having walking programs, being able to actually develop healthy physical activity habits with children. We also saw cuts for workplace prevention programs. We've also seen obviously, the funding for the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden program left to lapse. With 800 schools already supporting the program and wanting to be able to keep sustaining that program and the capacity to expand this program to a further 1,200 schools, we will be setting young people and our children up for the healthy future. We know that it does more than that. It teaches maths skills, literacy skills, numeracy skills. It's ensuring that children are having those social skills around sharing a meal around a table. Often there are many children and parents who are part of the program who have never, ever cooked a meal, who have never sat down as a family and shared a meal together. This program is one of the proven programs to help with childhood obesity and I'm very, very proud that Tanya Plibersek, under Labor, will fund this in our schools across this country. 
 
And I might ask the wonderful Stephanie Alexander, who's whole impetus this have been throughout the community, to talk a little bit about what the announcement means for her.
 
STEPHANIE ALEXANDER: Thank you very much. Look this program is probably the thing I'm most proud of, of all my 30,40 years working as a food educator and in various ways as a restaurateur, as a writer, but when I experience what goes on in one of these kitchen garden schools these days, it makes me incredibly proud. It makes me want it to happen for every Australian child because it is there in front of your very eyes how much the program is valued by the children. It is considered the most enjoyable part of school by almost all of the participants and sitting around a table is just, it's like a party, and it is so sad to me that for so many children the experience of sitting and sharing a meal is something they are not experiencing on a daily basis. With this program, it not only teaches kids how to grow food, how to taste lovely new things, how to know where their food comes from, but it enables them to share, and to develop decision-making skills, they discuss things together, they contemplate flavour and juiciness, and we don't have to talk about nutrition and pyramids and boxes. We just have to put in front of them a wide range of fresh, seasonal food and of course, it's absolutely the healthiest food they could possibly ever have. So I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of our school program, our Kitchen Garden program, having this amazingly important injection of funds. Thank you.
 
PLIBERSEK: Thank you. Any questions?
 
JOURNALIST: I do have a question about the food program. You said three regions would be focussed upon. Which three regions are those and why those regions?
 
PLIBERSEK: We'll work with the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program to decide which those three regions are. But we know that there is a very wide disparity in nutritional outcomes in different regions in Australia. We want to really work in some of the most disadvantaged communities to make sure we're really focusing on nutrition in those communities.
 
JOURNALIST: So we don't know which it will be?
 
PLIBERSEK: No. We'll make that selection at a later date.
 
JOURNALIST: OK. I have some other questions if that's alright. How suitable is George Brandis for the role of Australia's High Commissioner in London?
 
PLIBERSEK: We're not going to start pointing fingers at who's suitable and who's unsuitable. I'd simply say that this government has not seen a high-paid job that it doesn't want to fill with a mate or a crony. There's a rush for the exit from members of this government, and they're trying to just shove the silverware in their bag as they leave. You've seen, when it comes to appointments to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, you're talking about jobs with pay packets of a couple of hundred thousand dollars. They're appointing ex-Liberal MPs, Liberal staffers and Liberal donors to these jobs. When it comes to overseas appointments, anyone that they wanted to move on from the Parliament because they were starting to cause problems in the Parliament, they offered an overseas posting to. It's just not the way a government should operate. Yes of course, there have traditionally been Labor and Liberal appointments overseas, to overseas posts. And where the person is properly experienced and doing a good job, we have traditionally been completely bipartisan in that respect. When Labor was last in government, we appointed both Liberal and Labor ex-Parliamentarians to some of these roles. But what we've seen from this government is an absolute government of cronies. They have been trying to fill every position with a Liberal Party mate that they could possibly fill. And it ends up with problems like Joe Hockey's experience with Helloworld in the Washington Embassy. It ends up with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal stacked with people who don't have the experience to do the job. Their only qualification is they're a mate.
 
JOURNALIST: So would you review the London position and -
 
PLIBERSEK: We've been clear that we'll be reviewing a number of these positions. I'm not going to start specifying which ones.
 
JOURNALIST: You kind of have though with Joe Hockey and London, so any beyond that?
 
PLIBERSEK: You can draw your own conclusions. You can draw your own conclusions.
 
JOURNALIST: Do you support the domestic violence package announced by the Government today and will you match it?
 
PLIBERSEK: We support any additional investment in supporting domestic violence victims to leave violent relationships, to keep themselves and their children at home. Looking at this package today, it looks like a substantial amount of the package is just ongoing funding for existing programs, which of course we welcome. We don't want to see those programs lapse. But there is so much unmet demand in our community for domestic violence services. So our announcement yesterday of 20,000 new extra, flexible packages for victims of violence escaping violent situations is in addition to what already exists. That's a very important contribution. Our commitment to ten days paid domestic violence leave sadly hasn't been matched by the Government. We know that keeping a job is absolutely vital for someone trying to leave a violent relationship. If you don't have income, your opportunities and your choices in life are so severely restricted. So we believe that ten days domestic violence leave is absolutely critical.
 
We've also made a commitment of $88 million of funding to build new emergency accommodation. This is money that was cut by the Liberals and Nationals in the 2014 Budget. We are restoring that money and we've got a commitment to build 250,000 National Rental Affordability Scheme properties. That social and community housing again gives real options to women and children seeking to escape violent relationships.
 
We've made other announcements that the Government has followed on, like preventing cross-examination of victims of violence in the Family Court by the perpetrator of the violence. We are pleased when the Government adopts some of our policies and we'll continue to make further announcements between now and the next election, because with one in three women experiencing domestic violence in her lifetime, we cannot do enough to change these outcomes in Australia. The number of deaths that we see of women at the hands of a current or former partner - completely unacceptable -so we support any frontline services, any expansion of those services. And we are very keen to see a greater effort on the prevention of domestic violence. This, of course, has been part of our policy since the first National Plan on Violence Against Women and their Children, that was developed by me when I was the Minister for Women in the Rudd Labor Government, and that has been continued by successive governments. 
 
Thank you.
 
 
ENDS