17 March 2021

Subjects: Jobseeker; Scott Morrison’s comments in the House; Senator Dodson’s motion on a treaty and truth-telling committee; need to cultural change in Australia

MCCARTHY: I'm deeply troubled by what I see happening in terms of the removal of [jobseeker]. We've got a long way to go. It's going to be very hard times come the 31st of March and certainly in a remote and regional communities of Australia, it's going to be even tougher.

REPORTER: The Jobseeker increase of $50, do you think that's enough or could it be higher

MCCARTHY: Look, we know that we need to see more in this country. I think the difficult thing in Opposition is that we can't make that change at the moment. And these are things we want to have to look at, obviously, if we get the opportunity to be in government.

REPORTER: What's the thinking behind just going with it at this point?

MCCARTHY: Well, we don't want to see people go back to forty dollars a day. And I think that's really the crux of this legislation, in amidst many other things. I'm very concerned, though, about the obligations, the mutual obligations. We've seen that not working, especially with our CDP program, Community Development Program, which impacts over 30,000 Australians, mainly in northern Australia. And so I think when we go back to mutual obligations and have these fairly draconian conditions around that, Labor will be looking at particular amendments in relation to that.

REPORTER: What do you see happening after March 31st?

MCCARTHY: Well, it's going to be pretty tough. We've had a tough year just with the pandemic, and we're not really through that yet. We we need to see these vaccines roll out across the country. I think that if we felt last year was tough, we're going to have it even tougher. In the Northern Territory, I'm very concerned about our businesses, certainly our tourism industry. And I know that those businesses have spoken to me already about their fears and trepidation come 31st of March.

REPORTER: Just on the prime minister's comments in the House about protests and bullets. Did Anthony Albanese read that wrong or what did you make of the prime minister's response to his questions yesterday?

MCCARTHY: Just deeply disappointing. I find that this has been an opportunity for our country to hear from our leader, and that is the prime minister. And he hasn't reassured, he hasn't reassured families or survivors, victims. He hasn't reassured the women and the men who marched across the country. And there are times in political life where you have to step up as well. And, you know, of course, it's tough. You know, when I asked questions in the Senate around why people weren't out there and we've asked, we've heard those questions in terms of the prime minister and the minister for women, you know, it is tough, as leaders, political leaders, you have to step out and be there. And what people wanted to see was reassurance that our country is starting to turn around on an issue that impacts so many Australians.

REPORTER: Yesterday, Senator Pat Dodson was quite scathing of the government for rejecting a committee to truth telling. What did you make of that?

MCCARTHY: Senator Dodson brought forward a motion to the Senate in the deep hope that the Senate would support a joint parliamentary committee, to look at truth telling in our country, to look at the Makarrata and hopefully awaken all Australians as to why this this committee would be so important. To have it negatived in the Senate was disappointing, but we won't give up. We're fairly certain that our country calls out for this kind of truth telling and Labor will certainly pursue it.

REPORTER: And on the March for Justice, do you think that this will inspire real change within parliament?

MCCARTHY: Sorry can you just repeat that?

REPORTER: Sorry, you know, in the follow up of the March for Justice, do you think that that will inspire real change within the parliament?

MCCARTHY: Well, it has to inspire change. I mean, what do we we want to do, all turn up and go home and forget about what's happened. We can't do that. You know, I think we've got to dig deep and be the better part of what our country can be, and that's all of us, all political parties, men and women, whether we work in the Australian Parliament or whether we work in businesses or cities around the country, we have to dig deep, we have to be better. Australia has to be better. And I believe we can be.