Doorstop, Parliament House, Mural Hall
Journalist: Do you think it was a bad look to not attend the Women's march yesterday?
Marise Payne: I think I've made a number of comments on that in the chamber yesterday and again, on 7.30 last night. And working through – this is the work that we do as a government, as a Minister, and as a Member of this Parliament - hundreds of hundreds of meetings a year. Importantly we offered a meeting with the Prime Minister and myself to the organisers of the march and that offer stands.
Journalist: You're the Minister for Women and you weren't at the march. Can you appreciate how they felt offended by that?
Marise Payne: As I said, I attend hundreds and hundreds of meetings all year with representatives from key organisations. In fact, I did so yesterday afternoon. And importantly, the Prime Minister of Australia, the Prime Minister of this nation, offered an opportunity, which is available to be taken up at any time and I sincerely hope that it is. They were politely declined yesterday and that's a matter for the organisers.
Journalist: Minister Payne, quickly on PNG. We've had a request from Marape for vaccines to be-
Marise Payne: [Interrupts] Prime Minister Marape.
Journalist: From Prime Minister Marape to bring vaccines in, early batches of the vaccine for frontline health workers in PNG. Is that something the government's contemplating? What was decided last night please at NSC?
Marise Payne: We're working closely with the Government of Papua New Guinea. In fact, I spoke with High Commissioner, John Philp, this morning on these matters and of course, Papua New Guinea's High Commissioner, Kali, is well engaged with DFAT as well. The Government will make decisions on those issues. But, as you saw this morning, we have arranged the deployment of an AUSMAT team. We are already working on the ground in Papua New Guinea, including to reopen a number of facilities that deal with both testing and with other health issues. We understand the system is very strained. It's a major focus for the Government and we'll have more to say on that.
Journalist: What were your thoughts on the Prime Minister's comments about marches not far from here, people are hailed with bullets. Do you think that was an appropriate comparison yesterday?
Marise Payne: I think the observation about the opportunity to protest peacefully and safely in Australia is an important one. Our democracy does provide Australians with that opportunity.
Journalist: Can you understand why Australian women feel disappointed and let down by you?
Marise Payne: I understand the march yesterday made some very important points about issues that are of concern to many Australian women. I had the opportunity to talk about that and my own views in recent days, particularly through the period of International Women's Day. One thing I'm very clear about and I have made explicitly clear, is that in this workplace, where you work, where I work, where Stephen works, there is a lot to do in terms of the workplace culture and the workplace environment. It doesn't just affect Members of Parliament and their staff. I think it affects the whole building. But for parliamentarians who are the leaders in this place, our role now, in my view, is to own the problems, to own the failings as well, and most importantly, to own the solutions and that is our focus.
Journalist: Minister, just briefly, is the Government contemplating more broadly bringing forward the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines throughout the whole Pacific region and in particular, the Melanesian arc as a result of the situation in PNG?
Marise Payne: Well, we have a significant commitment of over $500 million to support vaccine rollout in the Pacific and in South East Asia, as you are aware. And the Government is working closely with each of our partners on their specific needs and their specific priorities and we will have more to say on that.
Thank you very much.
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