Doorstop interview: Batman Election, Michaelia Cash, Volunteer Tourism

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3 years ago
Doorstop interview: Batman Election, Michaelia Cash, Volunteer Tourism
LISA CHESTERS, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BENDIGO: Yesterday, Senator Cash’s attack on women and every woman that works in this building is a demonstration of just how out of touch this government has become. Today we read that the Minister is refusing to apologise for those outrageous attacks on women, young women that work in this building. She should apologise and resign. The Minister has form in this area, this is not the first time she has had this kind of outburst. As the former Minister for Women and as the former Minister for Workplace Relations, she should know better. She should apologise and resign, and if she doesn’t the Prime Minister needs to step in and sack her. This behaviour, this treatment of women who work here is just unacceptable.
I would also like to comment on another matter that has been in today’s papers and that’s about the Greens in Batman. Today we’ve learnt that the rank and file Greens party members of Batman are calling for their candidate to be disendorsed and expelled from the party. These rank and file Greens members are saying that their candidate is “malicious”, their candidate is a “bully” and all about “power”. This is not the kind of representative that we need representing the people of Batman in this place. This is also about transparency. The Greens need to come down from their ivory tower and explain to the people of Batman what exactly has happened. The people of Batman – who are voting as we speak; pre-poll has opened  – they need to know that who they are voting for is someone who has the best interests of the people of Batman at heart. Now I know Ged Kearney, who is the Labor candidate, quite well. She has spent her working life advocating, caring and supporting people – people who live in Batman. First as a nurse, then as a Union leader. She has Labor values to her core. She is progressive, she’s active, and as the member for Batman, she will continue to be a strong activist and representative not just for the people of Batman, but for the people of Victoria.
JOURNALIST: Michaelia Cash did withdraw her comments yesterday. Aren’t calls for her to resign just playing politics with the issue and is that necessary?
CHESTERS: Under duress and under pressure – she withdrew. But today in the papers, her staff are saying she did not apologise and that is just appalling. It is an appalling attack on women and appalling behaviour by the Minister and her office afterwards. This is not out of character for Cash. Maybe if it was a once off, or as Tony Abbott said, a “brain snap” – but it’s not. This is a Minister who repeatedly gets up and uses parliamentary privilege to attack union leaders, to attack union delegates, to attack people who oppose her. This is the exact culture that people are saying they’re sick of in Parliament House, and the Prime Minister needs to stand up to the Minister and say “you’re gone, you’re sacked”.
JOURNALIST: On a different issue, the government is launching a smart volunteering campaign for Australians overseas engaging in volunteer tourism. Do you have any concerns about the boom of ‘volun-tourism’, as it’s called and if that needs to be addressed?
CHESTERS: What we hear from a lot from the not-for-profit organisations in this space, particularly Save the Children, is that people need to know who they’re volunteering for and the kind of organisation it is. When you go to another country like Cambodia and Myanmar you have got to do your research. I’ll be looking at the proposal closely, as will others, and exercising caution around it. 
JOURNALIST: Just heading overseas reports today that China has imposed a diplomatic freeze on Australia over the proposed foreign interference laws. What do you think the implications are for the Australia-China relationship?
CHESTERS: Look that’s news to me, and that’s something for Labor’s Penny Wong, our Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and Jason Clare in relation to trade. Overseas relationships are always complicated, but when it comes to setting the agenda for good public policy in this country, we need to do what’s in the best interest of Australians.
Labor Party Batman election volun-tourism workplace relations