20 February 2021

SUBJECTS: Rally for a Fairer NDIS For All; call to end Independent Assessments; Morrison Government handling of rape allegations; anti-vaccination protests. 

BILL SHORTEN, MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG: Good afternoon, I’m here with Senator Kimberley Kitching, Labor’s assistant spokesperson on the NDIS. Australians are becoming increasingly concerned that the Morrison Government is rolling out a radical new cost-cutting program, which will potentially affect 440,000 people on the NDIS. Labor is speaking today to tell the government, please stop your campaign to roll out re-interviewing all 440,000 people on the NDIS.  People with a profound or severe disability should not have to re-audition for funding which they’ve already earned, for people who already have profound or severe disabilities. Today we’re seeing the start of a grassroots campaign which will spread to every part of Australia, saying to Mr Morrison, hands off the NDIS. Do not ask 440,000 profoundly and severely disabled people to have to prove that they’re actually profoundly or severely disabled.  The government already know that they are. This is a cost cutting program to keep disabled people off the safety net which they require to live their lives. Happy to take your questions.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible)
SHORTEN: First of all, let me just say that Brittany Higgins is a very strong woman. She's been traumatised. She's had all sorts of challenging situations to deal with since the complaint took place, the alleged rape took place. And now, we hear about another potential offence. The government needs to come clean about what they knew and when did they know it. This is about making sure that not just Parliament, but all workplaces are safe for women. This has been a shocking ordeal for Brittany, and I think Mr Morrison simply needs to sort it out and come clean and tell us what the government have known, and they must acknowledge that it appears something has gone catastrophically wrong in taking Brittany Higgins concerns seriously and indeed now the next person that has emerged.
JOURNALIST: (inaudible)
SHORTEN: I just say to the anti-vaxxer protest, please think about everyone else. Australians want to get back to normal. I understand that some people don’t want to be compelled to get a vaccination, but most Australians won’t be able to go back to normal, they want to go to the sporting events, the travel industry, the international student industry, the live event industry, they can’t go back to normal until people start getting vaccinations. Vaccinations are part of Australia’s path back to normality after the COVID-19 disaster. So, I just say to the anti-vaxxers, you're actually making it hard for the whole country and hundreds of thousands, millions of people to get their lives back to normal.
KIMBERLEY KITCHING, SENATOR FOR VICTORIA: Pleasure to be here at the disability rally, of course people with a disability, Australians with a disability, just want a fair go. They want their aspirations that they have, like any other Australian, realised. And what the Morrison Government is doing and what the minister is doing, Stuart Robert, is denying Australians with a disability from having the best life that they can. It was Bill Shorten who thought of and started the NDIS. And we are just holding this government to account to the dream that everyone in this country, which is a lucky country, that they have. And I don't think it’s right, that Stuart Robert really is a Minister of the Crown. Just because he’s a former flatmate of the Prime Minister, doesn’t mean he’s a Minister of the Crown.