SUBJECT: Age Pension; Tony Abbott; Liberal bullying; Peter Dutton

LINDA BURNEY, SHADOW MINISTER FOR FAMILIES AND SOCIAL SERVICES, SHADOW MINISTER FOR PREVENTING FAMILY VIOLENCE, MEMBER FOR BARTON: I’m issuing a Scott Morrison scam alert to all age pensioners in Australia today. Do not be fooled. I know you won’t be. Scott Morrison has overseen five budgets , three of them as Treasurer, where he wanted to increase the pension age, decrease the pension, take away the energy supplement, and we won’t even go there with assets tests and a whole range of other things that Scott Morrison in his DNA wants to do to the age pension. The scam alert – the Scott Morrison scam alert – is seriously being issued today by Labor to age pensioners in Australia. A leopard does not change its spots, and Scott Morrison has been attacking the age pension for five years – three of them as Treasurer. His big backflip on the weekend about the pension age is simply a scam. And pensioners will not be fooled by a scam.

The second thing I would like to address today is that – this is a just joke – they are making it up as they go when it comes to Tony Abbott as the special envoy for Indigenous Australians. It really is a joke and it is being made up as we go. You can tell that because it is slowly leaking out what this envoy is supposed to do. Aboriginal leaders are clear. They are saying they do not need an envoy. They can advocate for themselves. There are many peak organisations, articulate people, and people that understand what the Indigenous space is about. There is no need for this envoy. Tony Abbott will be blundering in the Indigenous space. And look at his history when he was Prime Minister: he has spent $80 million on a remote schools program that saw no increase in children going to school; absolutely cut pensions; cut schools; cut hospitals. His track record is clear and it comes to his lack of capacity in the Indigenous space. And he’s going to report directly to the Prime Minister. What does that mean for the Minister? What does it mean for people like Ken Wyatt, an Indigenous person himself sitting in the parliament? Tony Abbott has been given a responsibility that he has not earned. He’s been given a responsibility he will blunder around in. And it is a major major insult to Aboriginal people that can speak for themselves.

The final thing I’d like to address this morning of course is the issue of bullying in the Parliament. It is clear that when we have people like Warren Entsch saying that this has to be – the boil has to be lanced – that this needs to come to a head – Lucy Gichuhi saying that she will name names this week and their own internal mechanisms clearly very very improper when it comes to women. We look at the bullying claims, we look at what happened in terms of the leadership and we can see that there are major problems on the Liberal side. Affirmative action Labor has had in place for many years now and we’ve seen that we are almost 50% women in the Labor Party, which is in stark contrast to the other side of politics. Affirmative action and targets are very much what Labor has been pursuing and the results speak for themselves. Bullying, intimidation, this workplace should not have those things and the Liberal women have basically had enough.

JOURNALIST: Julia Banks also said that some of the bullying also came from the Labor Party – as Julie Bishop said, it comes from both sides of politics. Aren’t Labor really coming from a position of hypocrisy?

BURNEY: I can say with absolute honesty, I have never experienced bullying or intimidation in my side of politics. And remember, I’ve been in the political game since 2003. It is clear that these claims are recent claims. And it’s come as the result of the leadership changes and the mess that the Liberals have gotten themselves into. It is Liberal women that are making the complaints. It’s not Labor women. It’ is Julia Banks, Lucy Gichuhi, Marise Payne’s had something to say, as has Julie Bishop. There is clearly a problem of culture in the Liberals and their absolute incapacity to deal with it is obvious.

JOURNALIST: On the question of au pairs – there’s revelations today about Labor ministers letting nannies into the country as well – again, isn’t this just another – the attack from Labor also hypcorcisy from the left?

BURNEY: Peter Dutton has questions to answer. If he had any decency, he should refer himself to the High Court in relation to section 44 of the Constitution, and if he doesn’t refer himself, then the Prime Minister should refer him. There should not have to be a question on the floor of the Parliament about the eligibility this man to sit. He should refer himself. In relation to Peter Dutton, it’s also a question he needs to answer – has he misled the Parliament? He said he had no knowledge of the people that made the request in terms of au pairs. Clearly he did. So the question is not on Tony Burke or Mr Bowen. They are clearly on Mr Dutton on three fronts.

Thank you.