TRANSCRIPT – DOORSTOP, SYDNEY
19 May | '2023
Hon Sussan Ley MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Industry, Skills and Training
Shadow Minister for Small and Family Business
Shadow Minister for Women
Federal Member for Farrer
Angie Bell MP
Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education
Shadow Minister for Youth
Federal Member for Moncrieff
18 May 2023
Well, good afternoon. When the aspirations and enterprise of Australian women are supported, all Australians benefit. That was the theme behind the Women’s Economic Security Roundtable that I held this morning. I was delighted to have our Shadow Minister for Early Childhood Education Angie Bell here with me. We had a really positive discussion with so many women in the room who conversed across a wide range of subjects, including superannuation, including access to affordable early learning, including that balance that women find themselves juggling between the children, the family, their own career, perhaps their parents in aged care and so much more. We heard some ideas around that.
We heard some really good suggestions around supporting women who are over 55. Because we know that whether they’re starting a small business, or concerned about their superannuation balance, or have recently faced family breakdown, that’s a really tough time.
But it was, as it always is Angie, great to hear from small business, from those who work with, and understand the real pressures and the real opportunities, we have particularly for women in small business.
So we as the Liberal Party, want to support the working women of middle Australia and today’s policy discussion was a great start to doing exactly that. Over to you Angie.
Thank you, Sussan. Thank you for convening the roundtable today. It was very warmly received by women from all over the country, where we discussed women’s economic security.
There were very many suggestions put on the table and we were listening today to the suggestions put forward by women in terms of removing those barriers to return to work. Currently in the early childhood education and learning sector, there are barriers to entry and some of those have been caused by the Albanese Government, in terms of the sector struggling with what is going to be put in place on the first of July.
It is going to be difficult for workforce and it’s going to be more difficult for families around the country to access early childhood education. Today we talked about building flexibility and choice into the system for families. There were some terrific suggestions on the table today from those who came to the roundtable.
Also, we talked about small business and entrepreneurialism, which of course is close to my heart being my background, and many women talked about the difficulties, particularly for older women who want to come back into the workforce and starting their own businesses, and how the Government or the Opposition in our situation can help them get back into the workforce and build a good income for themselves.
We’re talking about the policies. We’re listening to the policy ideas and taking that forward.
This is the first of many high-level roundtables, but of course, both Angie Bell and I meet with women regularly across Australia and we’re always ready to hear their good ideas. Over to questions.
The discussions sound very informative, what comes next after these roundtables?
Well, we said we take away some of the ideas particularly around financial literacy and financial products for women. Women who come from a place of disadvantage or find themselves starting a small business honestly have no one in the financial sector it feels like that’s there to support them. So that was one piece of work we undertook to do some more homework on.
Angie just mentioned flexible childcare options. Of course, we know that early learning and education supports those before they go to school and we have built a really, really strong system in this country. But the flexibility we often hear is not quite where it needs to be. So, I know that Angie will continue working on options around flexible childcare, flexible early learning, and underpinning that is supporting women’s choices. Because if we support women’s choices well, we enable their economic participation in the workforce. We enable their career choices, we enable their family choices, and we support them at every age and stage of their life.
Great, just on a different topic, the Chinese Ambassador has confirmed resumption of the Australian timber trade, has Labor managed to improve this diplomatic relationship in ways the Coalition could not?
We continue to wish Labor well in terms of the relationship with China. We want it to be a constructive relationship. But we also know that it has to be clear eyed, with no strings attached.
When it comes to trade as a rural Member of Parliament, I know the value of that trade and I know that the people in China would really appreciate access to the fine quality products that we produce here in Australia.
But a constructive relationship with no strings attached is absolutely what that should be.
A cancellation of next week’s Quad meeting is seeing as a win for Beijing. How important is that Quad leaders meet on the sidelines of the G7 this weekend
It’s disappointing that President Biden couldn’t come to Australia and obviously our relationship with the US is way bigger than any one meeting, or indeed any one anyone individual.
I know the President has a warm and deep affection for this country because when I met him as vice president, he certainly expressed that to me.
So those conversations will take place, of course on the sidelines because the Quad is important and it is important that Australia participates to its fullest effect.
Right and just lastly, employment figures show the unemployment rate is rising. Can I get your reaction to this?
We handed Labor an economy with record low unemployment. That was our focus as we came out of COVID, to keep people connected to their jobs, which we did. We did that to make sure that the recovery was strong. So we did gift the Labor Party as they came into government an economy with record low unemployment.
It is concerning to see unemployment start to rise. Because behind that statistic there are individuals who unfortunately are losing their jobs. There are businesses that are stressed. There is a cost of living crisis in this country and so this is of real concern.
I worry about not just the statistics, but the individuals that represent what’s happening behind these numbers.