Home - Claire Moore - Labor Senator for Queensland



MONDAY, 13 JULY 2015

SUBJECT/S: NDIS, Tony Abbott's Royal Commission on Trade Unions, Victorian Royal Commission on Family Violence, Cuts to Services for Victims of Family Violence, National Summit on Family Violence

KRISTINA KENEALLY: Senator Moore, thank you for joining us on Monday Politics. I want to start with the NDIS. As Shadow Minister for Carers, how concerned are you about reports coming out of South Australia that the NDIS trial there, which focuses on children, appears to have vastly underestimated the number of children who need coverage.

SENATOR CLAIRE MOORE: Well we know it's a trial site and this kind of discussion has to go on all the time. I mean it is concerning when we get in the middle of a trial and we are still worried about numbers. But the important thing is for the governments to talk to each other, for the departments to talk to each other and to make sure that no children, no families, are left without getting the support they need.

KENEALLY: I mean the numbers are pretty stark here, the South Australian government apparently planned for 5000 children, it now seems more than 10,000 need to be covered by the NDIS. I mean how frustrating must this situation be for parents and carers who it appears are starting to lose services as the South Australian Government is reportedly running out of funding for kids with a disability.

MOORE: Well I think the important thing is for the South Australian Government and the Federal Government to keep talking about who is doing what and who is paying for what. And, as you would know from your time in New South Wales, one of the great worries in this area is that people have had so much unmet need over the years, so really understanding that many families are looking for the services is an important element and that was why the trials were put in place. So that these things could be worked out during the trial rather than when there was a full transition. And we know that there will be many families, and many children, who have had a lack of services up till now. That has been exposed over many years. The important thing now is to work out exactly what is going on, what the needs are, and to ensure that we make it work.

KENEALLY: Well, Prime Minister Julia Gillard reportedly had concerns at the beginning of the bilateral agreement that the State Government didn't have accurate figures when they began this trial. Can the Labor Opposition encourage the South Australian Government? Can you actively encourage the South Australian Government to work with the Federal Government to reach an agreement? I mean surely nobody wants kids with a disability to lose services?

MOORE: No one does. No one does. And as I said, the important thing is that we make the right people talk to each other, to identify where the need is and this reflects what we have been concerned about across the whole nation about the lack of services that were there, the lack of clarity and the need for people who have disability to be effectively heard and their needs met. So yes, I think those discussions are happening now. Get together, make sure the people who have the need are listened to and get that service done.

KENEALLY: Well we will be following that I'm sure. It is one of the most contentious trial sites in the country and we're expecting, of course, to see the NDIS rolled out in full over the next four years. I want to turn now to the Trade Union Royal Commission. You're a former trade union official?

MOORE: I am.

KENEALLY: ....Community and Public Sector Union. Now today we see suggestions that the Abbott Government might look for a double dissolution trigger by sending the Australian Building and Construction Commission and other proposals the Government says are designed for union reforms back to the Senate. Would Labor welcome the opportunity to fight an election on workplace relations?

MOORE: We are always looking at a way to ensure that workers have their rights and that has been a long-standing issue for all of us in the party. The legislation that was before us before was not good enough. So just putting it, surrounding it with fear of a double dissolution, and it must be the time for those rumours because they're going around a lot, just threatening some kind of double disillusion doesn't make the legislation any better. So we will look at legislation that comes to the Senate. We will see what the impact is and we will make sure that workers have their rights and their entitlements looked after. That is what we do. That is what Labor does and most assuredly that is what unions do.

KENEALLY: So when the legislation comes back is it likely that Labor would respond with some amendments? Would they be similar to what is being proposed previously? Is Labor going to put forward its own views on union governance and, if there is any case, if anything is learned out of the Royal Commission for strengthening that governance?

MOORE: Well we will consider the legislation that comes up. The one we had before us a few months ago was flawed and it did not put effective protections in for workers. We are always open to discuss. We always open to debate to see how we can make things as strong, and as effective, as they can be. But if it is just another attempt to put all the blame on workers, to put all the blame on unions, to not look at the best possible result in the workplace, we won't be open to that kind of action. So we will look at it. We have always looked at it. Our shadow ministers have been very clear that they've been prepared to look at what is going on. But there won't be any attempt or any response to just another threat that it could go to a double dissolution. In fact, I believe Bill said this morning, he's be very open to going forward and taking our reputation and our work with unions to the community.

KENEALLY: Indeed he did say something of that nature. Most reviews of Bill Shorten's appearance before the Trade Unions Royal Commission said that it was probably damaging politically but certainly not fatal. Did you and your colleagues heave a sigh of relief on reading the weekend's papers, and once the Leader's time in the witness box was over?

MOORE: I'm not sure that we breathe a sigh of relief when we're looking at the weekend papers, Kristina, but nonetheless...

KENEALLY: Fair enough.

MOORE: But in terms of the process, it was a tough act there at the Royal Commission. And there was a real intent to go after Bill and I think he held up very strongly. He is an experienced man. He's been a leader in the trade unions for a long time, worked with members, worked with employers and was also politically active for a long time. This was part of his job.

KENEALLY: Well today, the Victorian Government's Royal Commission into Family Violence began in Melbourne. We have had report after report and yet the rates of family violence are increasing. The number of deaths, according to the group, Destroy the Joint, is 48 women in 2015. That's up to 2015 so far. Why do you think that it is that we aren't solving this problem?

MOORE: It's one of those things at the moment Kristina, I've sent this a few times, that at the moment, all the stars are seemed to be aligned, that the focus is on this terrible issue. You know that many of them have been talking about the issue of family violence for years, for decades and it is been difficult to get the debate in to the open to make sure we hear from the people who know best what is going on. So I think we have a real opportunity now with the focus that we seem to have had with Rosie Batty as Australian of the Year, with various reports coming forward, with the Royal Commission in Victoria having such a clear focus to find out what is going on and what responses will work best. If there was a single response it would've already happened. This is not a simple issue. But the important thing now is that we know and we have identified that this is important. It can't be dismissed. And we know that people and women and families need support. So I can't answer it simply Kristina. I don't have the answer but I think we're getting closer as a community to understanding that we all have a role to play.

KENEALLY: You mention Rosie Batty there, and I just want to reflect that we saw some comments from Mark Latham recently that essentially said that she shouldn't be out there speaking publically about that. You have worked in this area for quite a long time. Your reflections on her contribution to this debate?

MOORE: She has been extraordinary and the ability she has to connect with people and to ensure that the terror and the horror which she and her family suffered can be used to strong purpose, to work together to get a result. I've heard Rosie speak now many times and I never fail to be impressed by her and also to learn more. She has a special connection. Her generosity and her strength in sharing with people are truly inspirational. And it will be because of the work that she is done that I think this issue will galvanise and that we will be able to work for a response. She has made a real difference.

KENEALLY: Indeed I would agree with that assessment. I do want to reflect though on the fact that we've seen some cuts at both state and federal levels across the country when it comes to essential services that assist the victims of domestic violence. What is Labor's response to that? Do you have any commitments in place should you win at the next election? And if I can also throw in there, how essential are prevention programs for women, trying to help women, avoid becoming trapped in abusive relationships?

MOORE: The first set of national policies that Bill released from our party was about this issue, Kristina and it was really heartening to see his personal commitment and his strength in this area. We have actually talked about reductions in legal services. Everybody talks about the complexities of the legal structure and how women and families need support to go through that. We have made amendments to make sure that there is more funding in that space. We have talked about safety issues both in terms of connection to protection and prevention methodologies. We have also talked about housing Kristina. It is incredibly important thing and this is an area around each of the states that needs to see more investment into effective safe housing, both for women to stay at home and not have to move out, and also if they need to leave that there is an effective resource there for them. We've also talked about that there needs to be a national summit on this issue, with people with the knowledge from across the whole of our country. This is an issue that impacts right across the nation and we have incredible resources out there, that have been working in the field for years but I think that we have the opportunity to pull those resources together, building on things like the Royal Commission, so that we can come up with a true national strategy. Our National Plan has been in place for a while but certainly Labor has a view that there needs to be more consolidated action into the future. As I said, if it was a simple thing, it would already be solved. We need to pull together those resources to make it happen. But there must not be reductions in services. One thing, in terms of where need is already, but your point about prevention services is essential and we've got to ensure that people know how to be safe. We have to know that violence is never right, is never the appropriate response. So that kind of support beforehand, to point out how we can stay safe and strong, that is essential.

KENEALLY: Indeed it is. This is really a national tragedy but I am confident that a country as well resourced as ours can work together and perhaps you're right that the conversation with where it is at nationally we may get that opportunity. Senator Claire Moore I want to thank you for joining us for Monday politics tonight.

MOORE: Thank you very much.