SUBJECT: National Apology, Redress, Wentworth

LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE, MEMBER FOR BARTON: Well good morning everyone. Today is an incredibly important day in the parliament of this country. We will see a National Apology for those people – the many thousands of people – who’ve been affected by sexual abuse in the nation’s institutions. It is a serious day. And it is a day that must be dedicated to those who have told their story bravely, for those who have survived. I was watching a report on this last night talking to the oldest person that’s coming today, a 96 year old woman. And she made the point that sexual assault is a life sentence.

And I think we need to pay tribute to Julia Gillard, recognising the work of Jenny Macklin – but also recognise the work of the Government in making this apology, and in particular, the main recommendation out of the report, the Redress Scheme, a reality. Finally, people are going to hear, ‘we believe you’. And they will be here today and right across this country, listening carefully, reliving their trauma in many cases, but listening carefully to the words of our political leaders in recognising on behalf of all Australians the story, the pain and the suffering, and finally the proper acknowledgement of the experience of these adults and old people now, that they experienced as children.

The recommendations of the Royal Commission are very important. The Royal Commission was started in 2012 by the then Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Today is the day for those who have been brave, who have told their stories and they will be here to listen to what the nation will say to them, and that of course is that ‘we are sorry, this cannot ever happen again, and we believe you.’

Any questions?

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BURNEY: Nothing about Wentworth?

JOURNALIST: (inaudible)

BURNEY: Well, I did the ABC election coverage on Saturday night for Wentworth, and spent some time in Wentworth, as many other people did. The Wentworth By-Election is extraordinary: the largest swing in a by-election against a sitting government in Australian history. This is the safest, the most blue-ribbon seat held by the Liberals. And it’s clearly going to be a seat that will be held by an independent in Dr Kerryn Phelps.

The Prime Minister said that there will be chaos and the world will never be the same again if there is a change of leadership in Wentworth. The people of Wentworth knew what they were doing. They were strategic. And they were sending a number of messages. The two key messages was the way in which the Prime Minister – the then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was removed – furious about that. And also the other big issue of course, was climate change. So I think it was a message to the Morrison Government: we reject your agenda, we reject the values that you’ve exposed. You’ve got to do better. A remarkable outcome in the seat of Wentworth on Saturday – on Saturday evening.

We would want the Prime Minister to be considering carefully his future actions and his government’s future actions. And the question has been raised, should there be an early general election? That will be up to the Prime Minister of course. But it has to be part of his considerations surely. Thank you.