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4BC Drive with Scott Emerson

Senator the Hon Amanda Stoker


Subjects: International Women’s Day, Ukraine

SCOTT EMERSON: Every year on 8 March, across the world, we celebrate women's achievements on International Women's Day. It's a time when we can reflect and be grateful for the women who have shaped our society, and recognise and celebrate their contribution and achievements. This year's International Women's Day theme is all about gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow, and breaking the bias. Senator Amanda Stoker, and she's the Assistant Minister for Women. She's also the Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General and Assistant Minister for Industrial Relations. And of course, she's an LNP Senator here in Queensland, and she's on the line now. Senator Stoker, good to have you back on 4BC Drive.

AMANDA STOKER: Hello, Scott. Great to be with you.

SCOTT EMERSON: Now first up, why is International Women's Day such an important day each year?

AMANDA STOKER: It's an important opportunity, I think, for us to pause, be grateful for all of the efforts of great women and great men who have come before us, who have helped to make this a country where people, no matter whether they're a man or a woman, can forge ahead and achieve their ambitions. It's also a chance for us to think about women in places that are not as free and are not as fair, and reflect with gratitude about many of the great opportunities we have in this country.

SCOTT EMERSON: How would you describe the state of women here in Australia compared to some other countries out there at the moment? You talked about equality out there. Do you think women are equal here in Australia?

AMANDA STOKER: Look, I think women are fundamentally equal in the sense that we have legislated equal pay for equal work. We have equity in the sense that you're not supposed to be discriminated against on when you're applying for a job and the like. But that doesn't mean there aren't some barriers, it doesn't mean there aren't some cultural matters that we need to make an effort to ensure that people understand so that we can, as far as possible, make sure that everybody, man or woman, has every single one of life's opportunities available to them, and the freedom to choose what works for them.

SCOTT EMERSON: All right, then- you're the Assistant Minister for Women, Amanda Stoker. What is the Morrison Government doing to improve gender equality?

AMANDA STOKER: Really good question. The first thing to say is that we haven't taken a myopic view of this. We are looking at women's safety, woman's financial security, women's leadership and women's health. And those four different ways of looking at the life cycle of being a woman in this country are informing the kind of policy initiatives we've put in place. So women's safety has been at front of mind for a lot of people over the last few years. Since 2013, we have put a record $2  billion into improving women's safety in this country. And that means there has been the initiation of an Escaping Violence Payment, for instance, to help people fleeing domestic violence to set up a new place. We've put $73  million into safe emergency accommodation, helping 6340 people escape a dangerous place and find safe accommodation every year, $26  million into improving safety for women and children online. And $73  million into prevention campaigns that are about educating people about the attitudes and behaviours that can lead to domestic violence at another point in life. We've put so much into additional support for frontline services, particularly through to COVID period where we know that domestic violence increased. And that's just in the safety space. This very week, we put an extra $189  million into consent education for teenagers and parents, and the research to back it up, so that we can confront the attitudes and expectations that feed into a cycle of violence.

Those sorts of things mean we have had a record approach in the safety space. But we partner that with efforts to improve women's economic outcomes and women's health outcomes, because we know as a country that no person is just one-dimensional. Everyone comes to life with a complex story.

SCOTT EMERSON: I'm talking to Senator Amanda Stoker. She's the Assistant Minister for Women. She's also an LNP Senator for Queensland. Senator, there was a protest at your office this morning. Now, what was that all about?

AMANDA STOKER: Look, the United Workers Union rounded up their - I don't know whether they were members or people on the payroll, and sort of bussed(*) them out to my office. [Indistinct]…

SCOTT EMERSON: [Talks over] This is your office at Springfield, is that right?

AMANDA STOKER: Springwood, yes. And look, they had signs saying that they were concerned about sexual violence. And of course, anyone who either knows about or who has experienced it would understandably be concerned too. But while they hadn't asked to speak with me or anything like that, I came outside for a chat, and they didn't raise that with me. They were interested in talking about aged care. But look, everyone's free to talk about whatever they like, I guess, and to do it in protest if they wish about whatever they like. But the important thing is that people like me are able to constructively come out and engage, and make sure that if people don't feel like they are happy with an outcome, they can work through their representatives to get it sorted.

SCOTT EMERSON: And just finally on Ukraine. There are reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing to ramp up the attacks in Ukraine. Is Australia doing enough to help support the people of Ukraine?

AMANDA STOKER: Look, I think Australia is taking a really keen interest in what's happening there. We are really troubled by what's going on in Ukraine, and so we have provided substantial lethal and non-lethal weapons and military support for the Ukrainian people. And we're working as part of an international coalition to make sure that there are trade sanctions that don't just go onto the Russian Government, but also key players in what is essentially an oligarchy, to make sure that the levers of the financial system and the trade system are being applied to maximum pressure in support of the right of Ukrainian people to be able to live in peace. And I think we will continue to show that interest, because these are principles that underpin western democracies everywhere.

SCOTT EMERSON: Senator Amanda Stoker, thanks for being on 4BC Drive this afternoon.

AMANDA STOKER: Thank you very much.