Subjects: Labor’s border protection legislation fail, cost of living pressures, Australian War Memorial
KAREN ANDREWS: Last night, the Coalition bailed Labor out of yet another mistake in relation to border protection. We actually assisted them to fix a very big hole in border protection by voting with them to ensure that the motion passed that would designate Nauru as a regional processing centre. This legislation lacked in October of last year. It is unforgivable that the Labor government could do absolutely nothing in a four month period of time to ensure that there was a regional processing centre designated. Now, it is important and that was demonstrated by the fact that Labor suspended Standing Orders yesterday to try and rush through this legislation. Now, if they’d handled this in a timely manner, firstly it would not have led to the issues that we had to deal with yesterday. Secondly, it would not have left the hole in our border protection, but thirdly, it would not have enlivened the debate that ensued yesterday. Now, many were quite concerned at the actions or the inactions, quite frankly, of the Labor government. It’s now starting to become a pattern of behaviour from the current Minister for Home Affairs. I’m sure that many people will recall that she stood up in Parliament and berated Optus for a failure with their cyber security. And there are a series of promises, remarks that she made about how she was going to take action. And yet months later, nothing has been done. There was ransomware legislation that was introduced by the Coalition when we were in government last year. I introduced that again as a Private Members Bill Labor refused to support that, but they’ve introduced no other legislation. So what we’re starting to see is a pattern of behaviour. And it’s not just from the Minister for Home Affairs, it’s actually the entire Albanese government. So there is issue after issue, the basics of the government. They don’t seem to be able to get their heads around. The Australian people deserve more. They deserve a government that is going to take account and take him to consideration the most important matters, and that certainly goes to issues such as national security, border security, cyber security, and of course there are ongoing issues in terms of cost of living, increases to interest rates are coming through thick and fast at the moment, and that is having an enormous impact on household budgets. So there are a range of issues that the Albanese government needs to be tackling head on. They’re clearly not. It’s actually time that they lifted their game, that they looked at what they needed to do to deliver for the Australian people because so far it’s been sadly lacking.
QUESTION: What specific program or measure could the government introduce to help with cost of living pressures?
KAREN ANDREWS: Well, there’s a range of things that they could be doing. One of the most significant issues is the cost of power, and energy prices are just escalating out control. Now, the Albanese government recalled Parliament last year, they were going to save Australia from rising energy prices. That has clearly not been the case. They have been very focused on a range of issues other than how they’re going to assist people to reign in the costs of living. The increases to mortgages are seriously going to hit. The Reserve Bank is saying that there’s 800,000 people that will move from a fixed loan into a variable loan that is going to have an enormous impact on people’s ability to spend some money. Now, whilst we need to have restraint to bring the budget back under control, anecdotally, many of the shop owners pre-Christmas were saying that people were still splurging before Christmas because they knew post-Christmas there would not be any money available for them to really cover the basic necessities that they needed. But the government seems to be particularly silent on the fact that people are hurting. There’s no acknowledgement that people are suffering at the moment that there is pain and it is only going to get worse. It’s like when the Minister for Home Affairs went into Parliament, into the chamber yesterday and spoke about the legislation that was needed to designate Nauru as a regional processing centre. There was no Mea Culpa for her mistake, and it was clearly her mistake. There was absolutely no recognition of anything that had gone wrong. This is the government that doesn’t know how to look after the people who were hurting here in Australia, and they are just continuing on like the modern day Boadicea.
QUESTION: On another matter, the Australian War Memorial, they’re setting to remove a system of Chinese made surveillance cameras due to fears of, you know, they could be operating spyware. Were you told about any concerns while you were in government about these specific cameras, their hick vision devices?
KAREN ANDREWS: Look, I wasn’t breached on anything specifically in relation to the Australian War Memorial. I think it’s actually a very positive step that they’re aware of what the implications are now, the Coalition government was always very strong on issues such as cyber security and national security in making sure that there are appropriate mechanisms in place to deal with it. I think Australians should be really aware of the circumstances in which we live, now the access that foreign nations have in relation to things that we consider just every day right up the mill things. So when you do have a facility such as the Australian War Memorial, they do have to be very conscious of things such as the surveillance that is likely to be undertaken there. But all organizations also need to be doing that. So I think it’s a very positive step from the Australian War Memorial.
QUESTION: Have you heard about those hip vision devices in particular though, concerning those?
KAREN ANDREWS: I’ve heard about a whole range of devices that people need to be very much aware of. I would encourage people to look for advice on anything that they are installing either in their homes or in their businesses and where they can absolutely, people need to look at reputable supply sources and I would encourage people very strongly to look wherever possible to buy Australian made.
QUESTION: Do you think that people will start defaulting on their loans and be forced to sell because of the rate rises?
KAREN ANDREWS: I think it’s a real possibility because many people are very heavily mortgaged and they were heavily mortgaged with interest rates were very low, but they were paying now about 1.8%. So now that they’re probably paying upwards of 5.8% or they’re about to be in the very near future when their loan moves from fixed to variable, they’re going to have to look at what they’re going to do, whether or not they’re going to sell to recover some of the costs that they’ve sent to pay their mortgage. Now, that would be very concerning. We have seen markets around the country starting to drop for real estate. So prices are starting to come down. That means that people can no longer afford or prepared to inject as much money as they had previously into real estate, whether that’s for a home to live in or whether it’s for investment purposes.