Transcript interview with Sabra Lane, ABC AM

  • Transcript
Hannah Clarke; Domestic and Family Violence; coronavirus
27 February 2020

Sabra Lane: Marise Payne was at that vigil. She is the Minister for Women and Foreign Affairs. She joined me earlier.

Sabra Lane: Marise Payne, what change do you think the death of Hannah Clarke and her three children will bring?

Marise Payne: Sabra, I think every death – and I pay tribute to Hannah Clarke and Aaliyah, Laianah and to Trey and to those others who have died and suffered at the hands of perpetrators of domestic and family violence. It focuses our attention in a way that brought the Parliament together in a vigil last night, illustrates how deeply the Parliament is reflecting on these events and strengthened our resolve to work for an Australia where women and children can always feel safe. It is a national challenge for us. We work closely with the states and territories. Funding has increased in recent years, but still we see these awful, awful events. So I'll be working very hard with my colleagues in the coming weeks to look at what options there are for us to pursue further actions in this area.

Sabra Lane: The Queensland Women's Legal Service says it's been inundated with calls from women who say their partners are also threatening the same action against them. What's your response?

Marise Payne: We want to make sure that we are responding in the best way possible. I spoke with Di Farmer the Queensland Minister for Women's Safety on Monday about some of these issues. Nothing is off the table in terms of what we need to look at.

Sabra Lane: On average, one woman is dying each week because of a violent partner. That figure hasn't changed much in recent years despite politicians agreeing that more needs to be done. If this violence was due to sport or a coward punch or terrorism or something else, it wouldn't be tolerated. Why is family violence different?

Marise Payne: I don't think it is tolerated, Sabra. I think since 2010, when the Gillard Government initiated the national action plan for the prevention of violence against women and their children, we have been working in a much more coordinated way between the states and territories to try and address these challenges. We have funded in the last year a very significant – the most significant – Commonwealth funding in frontline services. It's the single largest Commonwealth contribution and it's been steadily increasing. We support 1800RESPECT, we support new and expanded emergency accommodation training for frontline workers, a whole range of things.

So working in every way we can together is obviously a national obligation on us as parliamentarians, as ministers, as leaders. I don't think it's tolerated though. I think that that is certainly not the case.

Sabra Lane: You say nothing's off the table. What do you think it will take for the message to get through?

Marise Payne: Well obviously, there need to be changes in attitudes that suggest that violence of this nature is an acceptable solution to intractable human relationship problems. That is a fundamental misconception of how society should work. It's a hurdle for communities, it's a hurdle for individuals and it's a hurdle for families and it's a conversation that has changed immensely in the time that I have been in Parliament.

I mean, 20 years ago, we would never have been able to have the discussions that we have today because, as you and I both know, these sorts of things were kept hidden in communities, in suburbs, in country towns, because people were embarrassed and there was stigma attached to it.  We've come a long way in the conversation and a long way in support that is provided, but we all acknowledge that there is still more to do.

Sabra Lane: Your colleague Sarah Henderson has asked that Bettina Arndt be stripped of her Member of Order of Australia over comments regarding the Clarke murders and the police investigation. Do you support that call?

Marise Payne: I think Ms Arndt's comments are absolutely outrageous. They are totally unacceptable. There's no way that we could accept language that ever trivialises or distorts the reality of domestic violence and murders like this. Every single one is an individual atrocity. But I would say that in relation to the Order of Australia, the council is an independent body. It's up to the councillors as to whether an Order should be rescinded in any case. But in relation to the comments themselves, they are completely unacceptable.

Sabra Lane: Onto coronavirus, the National Security Committee of Cabinet is scheduled to meet today to discuss extending the travel ban but that it might be relaxed for students. Given the spread of the virus, how likely is that?

Marise Payne: Well, I'm not going to pre-empt the considerations of the National Security Committee on matters like that. I would like to indicate though that we have been meeting on multiple occasions every week. So at the highest levels of the Government, we are constantly reviewing our response to coronavirus at every time. So that goes for my department and my agencies in terms of our travel advisories. It goes for the extraordinary work that the Chief Medical Officer and his colleagues around the states and territories, are doing – the Department of Health, Australian Border Force and Home Affairs, the whole of Government response.

I think Australia has prepared ourselves well, but this is obviously a significantly growing issue. We have seen reports this- in the last day of course that we have more official infections outside China in the most recent update. So we are constantly reviewing our position.

Sabra Lane: Thanks, Minister.

Marise Payne: Thanks very much, Sabra.

Sabra Lane: That's the Minister for Women and Foreign Affairs Marise Payne.

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