Joint Press Conference – Macquarie Fields



12 APRIL 2013


Subjects: National Crime Prevention Fund; $5 million for Youth Off The Streets and the PCYC; Woodside; Automotive industry; Margaret Thatcher’s funeral; Drugs in sport; Asylum seekers

PM: I’m pleased to be here with Minister Jason Clare, with local member Laurie Ferguson, the Member for Werriwa.

I’m joined too by Father Chris Riley and also by Chris Gardiner who leads the PCYC movement, the Police Citizens and Youth Clubs that do so much good work.

When I was last here in Sydney’s west I made some announcements about cracking down on the harder end of crime, making sure that federal police and state police worked together in strike teams to deal with gangs and gang violence; to deal with what we see from committed criminals including firearms offences, shootings in our streets.

I also announced that as a Government we would be pursuing national anti-gang laws and unexplained wealth laws.

This is making sure that criminals can’t exploit loopholes by moving from state to state with inconsistent regimes, or moving money around to try and stop that money being detected.

We’ve got the Council of Australian Governments meeting on Friday and there I will be pursuing with state premiers and chief ministers the need for national laws.

Our criminals, the gangs, they work around the nation so we do need national laws.

I also want to make sure that we’re engaged in a better effort to get at unexplained wealth; the proceeds of crime that should not be in the hands of criminals.

I want to assure my state and territory colleagues that nothing about having national laws is about the Federal Government looking to take money that is currently flowing to state and territory governments because they’ve cracked down on crime in their jurisdiction.

We’d make sure that crime money that is got through new laws is fairly shared around the nation and the more states go out and catch criminals and find this wealth, the more money they will get.

What should that money be used for? Well today is a great example because we as a Federal Government are going to take $40 million, which is the proceeds of crime, and put it into a National Crime Prevention Fund to make a difference for young people who are just kids who need some assistance, they’re at risk of losing their way.

But if they get a helping hand at the right time, then they will go on to live a great and productive life.

I’ve met some of those kids today who are here building a great life for themselves. I’ve met some youth workers who actually started being kids themselves in some of these programs on the streets at risk of losing their way but someone reached out and helped them at the right time.

And of the people who do that reaching out and make such a difference, I’m standing here with Father Chris Riley who is known around the country for his Youth Off The Streets work.

It makes a difference to young people’s lives. It breaks anything that could turn into a cycle of crime. It helps young people get back on the right path.

And we will be allocating from this $40 million fund $5 million so Father Chris Riley can expand what he does – not only here in NSW – but taking it around the nation.

We will also be allocating $5 million to the great work that is undertaken by Police Citizens and Youth Clubs, by PCYCs, and Chris is here leading that PCYC movement.

These clubs make a real difference to kids too. They’re safe places, they’re places where they can find other young people to talk to, to get a helping hand, to get some good advice about steering their lives onto the right path.

So I’m really pleased that Chris Gardiner is here as part of today’s announcement, and thank you too for all of the magnificent work that happens from PCYCs and from the associated blue light organisations and the work that they do.

For the remainder of the funds, we will be targeting this money at hotspots around the nation where work with local communities, including things like the provision of CCTV and programs for youth, will make a difference.

So this is an announcement for the nation to make a difference for our young people and I’m very pleased to be able to do it here in Sydney’s west.

I’ll turn now to Minister Clare for some comments and then ask both of our Chris’s to make some comments.

MINISTER CLARE: Thanks very much Prime Minister. It is great to be here in Macquarie Fields with Father Chris Riley, a friend of mine, and one of our greatest Australians who does greatest Australians who does great work in our local community here.

The work of Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets has done amazing work here in Macquarie Fields.

After the Macquarie Fields riots, the work that’s been done here with outreach and youth services has helped to reduce crime in the local community.

Father, you’ve got the same outreach services in Bankstown and in Blacktown and other parts of western Sydney.

This $5 million will enable Youth Off The Streets to now expand that outreach service to ten new locations in other parts of western Sydney, and to expand Youth Off The Streets to other parts of the country.

An organisation that does such amazing work and now with this new money will have the opportunity to roll it out to other parts of Australia.

This is a $40 million National Crime Prevention Fund using money seized from criminals; $5 million for Youth Off The Streets, but $5 million also, Chris for PCYC.

I’m a boy from Cabramatta; I grew up around the corner from Cabramatta PCYC. I know the great work that PCYC does and has done for 75 years from Tasmania to Queensland, from western Sydney to WA.

PCYCs help young people who are at risk of falling through the cracks of society and putting them on the right path, meeting up with police officers and building that respect between police officers and young people.

There’s no better organisation that does that than PCYC and that’s why I’m glad we’ve been able to give $5 million to PCYC to continue the work that you’re already doing so well.

As the Prime Minister said, this money will also be allocated to crime hotspots for local councils to invest in CCTV and extra lighting to help target areas where crime is worst, and help other non-government organisations with youth outreach services to target young people at risk of falling into a life of crime.

A month ago we announced the National Gang Taskforce and the national anti-gang laws will go to a meeting of premiers next Friday.

This is about targeting young people at risk of falling through the cracks; the next generation of young people.

Can I just give you one story, one example: a young bloke that I know very well who got involved in drugs and alcohol ran away from home lived in an abandoned factory.

With the help of his mum and the help of this bloke here, Father Chris Riley and Youth Off The Streets, he’s back at home now. He’s at Chapel School studying in year 11, and he won an award from Youth Off The Streets recently for outstanding achievement.

He wants to finish school and he wants to join the Army. That’s just one example of the work that Father Chris’s organisation does to turn lives around.

There are thousands and thousands of examples of that that happen every day through the work of Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off The Streets, and through PCYC and we want to do more of that work.

Just one last point: this is not taxpayers’ money that we’re investing here. This is money seized from criminals.

Criminals make a lot of money, billions of dollars.

The Crime Commission estimates that criminals take about $15 billion off the economy every year. They’re making billions.

Police are already seizing millions of dollars, but we can seize a lot more. That’s why next Friday we’re asking premiers to help us establish national asset seizure laws, national unexplained wealth laws, so we can seize more money off criminals.

That will mean more money for state governments and more money for Youth Off The Streets, more money for PCYC, more money to help the next generation of young people. Thanks very much.

FATHER CHRIS RILEY: Thanks Prime Minister and Minister Clare for the contribution to Youth Off The Streets. We only get 35 per cent government funding.

When you go into an outreach service like this we go in very quickly. After the riots we were here within a few weeks. Bankstown we were there 18 months when there was a stabbing, within 24 hours.

And when we go into those hot spots, basically governments, particularly state governments will say we won’t fund them. You went and did it yourself, so we only receive 35 per cent government funding.

And so this is an incredible boost but it will take us into ten new areas. It won’t fill that black hole.

It means we reach more kids and right across south-west and western Sydney and other parts of the country, we have thousands of young people who have been overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness.

There’s nothing for them to do. Blacktown is one of our strongest and we’ll be certainly moving with this funding out to the Mt Druitt area as well.

With 27 per cent of the population of Blacktown under the age of 18, why is the highest crime rate nearly in every area in that suburb? Because it’s got these kids with nothing to do and I guess one of the biggest things that pushes a boy particularly back onto the streets is not having a father. That’s the biggest indicator of a kid getting into trouble, being fatherless.

We have right across this nation hundreds of thousands of kids who don’t have fathers. So we will move quickly I can guarantee we’ll be in two locations within three to four weeks. That’s how quickly we will move.

We’ll roll that across over the next three or four months. We’ll certainly be in about six within three or four months as well. So we will move quickly. We’ll use that funding and we’ll engage kids.

One of our biggest successes is we actually – one of the youth workers here is now a senior youth worker was involved in the riots in those days – our biggest magic is employing young people from the area.

So when – and we’ll negotiate with suburbs, we won’t just land there, we’ll negotiate with suburbs but we’ll employ local young people from the area.

We don’t care what their past has been, but they’re the ones who have incredible influence over the rest of the young people in those suburbs that we’re going to land in.

As I say, I’m really grateful because I always speak for PCYC saying they have to raise too of money themselves and spend too much time doing that.

So we’re really glad that these guys with us are receiving this funding because as I said they do so much fundraising and that’s how much of their time is spent.

I’d better not speak on their behalf, though!

CHRIS GARDINER: Prime Minister, Minister, and Father Chris, this is really important work Prime Minister, and we’re grateful.

There’s clear evidence that the community want to divert kid away from crime. They don’t want them locked up if they can be given a second chance.

Most police officers don’t want to lock kids up. And so getting resources available to police officers involved in this youth work, partnering with community groups, partnering with young men like the young men from Hyatt House that you met, that’s really important.

The truancy programs, the breakfast programs, the outreach programs at night, these guys working until midnight to pick kids up and steer them in the right direction, it’s really important work and we are very grateful that you’ve done this and the Minister’s championing of this.

I grew up without a father. I was put into an intervention program out in Maroubra housing commission area. I know how important it is to have young men like the men from Hyatt House come alongside you and give you another chance.

Resourcing that work is what the community wants and we’re very grateful Prime Minister.

PM: Thank you very much. This is an unusual step at a press conference, but I think those stories deserve a round of applause.

So, for our friends from the media, we’ll take questions on this announcement and then we’ll move to questions of the day. So can I take questions on this announcement first?

JOURNALIST: What are you hoping this might achieve?

PM: I think you’ve heard the stories from the people who are actually doing this work. I’m hoping that it will achieve more of what you’ve just heard.

Young people, a helping hand at the right time in their lives, making a difference for the rest of their lives.

We don’t want to embarrass any one individual in the crowd but the fact that there is someone here who was throwing rocks during the days of the riots in this community, and is now here working to steer other young people on to a great path in life tells the story just absolutely.

That if you get a second chance, if you make a friend, if someone’s there to help you at the right time in life, then it will be a positive difference for all of your life.

And I agree, we’re talking here about a different problem than the problem Jason and I talked about when I last came to western Sydney.

We’ve got the really hardened criminals, people who are well into a life of crime, causing problems for our community, and we’ve got to police that strongly and that’s what we’re determined to do with the strike teams and the unexplained wealth laws and the anti-gang laws.

But we’ve got this other issue which is young people at risk of losing their way; we can make a difference to them. We know it works. These two men can tell us how it’s worked and if we put some more resources in we’ll make a difference.

And I think it’s just a wonderful thing to take money from crooks, money out of the pockets of criminals, and to put it into the pockets of Father Chris Riley and our PCYCs to make a difference.

JOURNALIST: Where are else are putting that money? Obviously there’s a lot more, does this open the door for these organisations to get something every year? You’ve broken new ground here, is there a commitment from you to keep slushing the funds?

PM: Certainly the commitment here to these two organisations that we’ve spoken about today and then the balance of the $40 million National Crime Prevention Fund will go to hot spots around the country.

So it will be about where is the need, where do we know that there’s a problem emerging in the community that a difference can be made to, and one of the conversations that Father Chris and I had as we moved around is, the work that’s happened here in Macquarie Fields since the days of the riots is amazing but wouldn’t it be fantastic if someone had seen all of that building up and intervened before it got to that stage.

Through the National Crime Prevention Fund we’re obviously wanting to identify the need, identify the hot spots and make a difference before you see that kind of really explosive issue.

JOURNALIST: How much of the total money will be going to western Sydney funds?

PM: We’ve got obviously the $5 million allocation here and Father Chris and his organisation will work out the distribution of that but it will take this Youth Off the Streets model nationally and we know that PCYCs work nationally and have done so for three quarters of a century. So that will make a difference around the country.

For the balance of the fund it will depend where the needs are. So we will look to see the areas of greatest need.

Yes, western Sydney has needs and communities around the country do as well, and so we will be working to channel the funds where they will make the most difference.

JOURNALIST: What do you say to people who suggest this is throwing money at western Sydney in the lead up to the election in September?

PM: As I just explained to you this is about money from crooks flowing nationally to make a difference for kids and to prevent crime in the future.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, what do you think about Woodside’s shelving its James Price Point project?

PM: Well as Woodside has made clear this is a decision for the company.

It doesn’t relate to any Federal Government regulatory issues or state government regulatory issues.

It’s an issue for the company so it’s for them to deal with.

JOURNALIST: Is this a major loss to our economy; $45 billion?

PM: This is a decision for Woodside. More generally, when we look at our economy, what we are continuing to see is strong investment in resources.

We haven’t seen the peak of the investment phase into resources yet and we are yet to see the peak of production phase.

You’ve got to remember there’s a cycle here. People decide to investment, then there is intensive construction generating a lot of jobs, then what has been constructed moves into production and over decades and decades and decades we sell that resource and our nation makes money from it.

So we will be seeing the resources boom at work in our economy for a long time to come.

But I am determined as Prime Minister that we’ve got a resilient and diversified economy, that we don’t have just one source of strength, we have many sources of strength.

And one of the things I’ve been doing whilst I’ve been in China is making sure that in this century of growth and change every sector of the Australian economy benefits from the growth and new demand that is now on our doorstep.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, is Jac Nasser right to say that the demise of the Australian car industry is inevitable?

PM: I certainly don’t believe so. As I’ve just said in answer to the question here, there’s nothing we value more highly as a Government than creating jobs.

That is what we’ve been determined to do in the worst of global economic times and we are determined to do it now.

In order to do that you need to make sure we’ve got a diversified economy including manufacturing and car making is important to the continuation of a strong manufacturing sector in our economy.

That’s why we’ve been prepared to work with the car industry and we continue to be prepared to work with the car industry because the skills and innovation that come from the car industry matter to the around one million Australians employed in manufacturing.

This comes down to what you value as a Government, what you believe is the appropriate vision for our nation’s future.

For me, our nation’s future should be a strong economy, a diverse economy, many areas in which Australians can find jobs and opportunity – including manufacturing.

We’re so committed to that, we’re working with the car industry, we’re rolling out the National Broadband Network, we’re making record investments in infrastructure and in skills because that’s what will create that strong economy full of opportunity for the future.

Nothing about that future’s assured, it doesn’t happen by accident.

It means as a Government you’ve got to have a national plan and take the right decisions today.

We’ve got that plan, we outlined it last year, Australia in the Asian Century, and we’re taking the right decisions today to make sure we’ve got those jobs and that opportunity in the future.

JOURNALIST: Despite what he said since she passed away, wouldn’t Bob Carr be the obvious choice to attend Margaret Thatcher’s funeral next week?

PM: I made a decision actually travelling back from China that I would extend this opportunity to former Prime Minister John Howard.

I decided to do that because out of the former Australian prime ministers I think he is the one with the deepest connection to Margaret Thatcher and so it was the appropriate thing for him to represent the nation at the funeral.

I’m very pleased that John Howard has accepted my invitation to attend the funeral and to represent the nation.

JOURNALIST: Did you offer it to Bob Carr before you offered it to John Howard?

PM: No, not at all. I got on the plane from Beijing, as I said before, it’s been two days, Beijing to Macquarie Fields; here I am. But I got on the plane from Beijing and I was reading the coverage actually in the Chinese newspapers, the English language newspapers, about the arrangements for Baroness Thatcher’s funeral and at that point I decided we should extend the invitation to former Prime Minister John Howard.

JOURNALIST: The Opposition says Bob Carr should apologise to Mrs Thatcher’s family for raising allegations of racism, do you think he should have made those comments?

PM: I’ll leave all of that to Senator Carr.

JOURNALIST: Regarding today’s announcement, Tony Abbott back in March announced $50 million for a crime prevention fund as well, are you concerned about similarities there, that you may be copying?

PM: I think the Minister can give you chapter and verse on this. I can just tell!

MINISTER CLARE: Well Mr Abbott’s focused on closed circuit television cameras. My view is that you can’t be specific; local communities know what they need.

In some cases it’s going to be more cameras or better lighting, in some cases it’s going to be more money for the Police youth club or outreach services that Father Chris Riley’s Youth Off the Streets program can provide.

It’s local solutions for local problems; we shouldn’t be prescriptive and what this fund will do is allow local communities to make an application for what they need. That includes local councils and local youth organisations.

The one guiding principle here is that they need to back an application based on crime statistics and information from police.

We need to target this money where it’s needed most.

JOURNALIST: Minister, just after that, it was two months ago when we had the shock horror news conference in Canberra about sport and the Crime Commission and ASADA, do you still stand by everything that you said that day and just how bad things are?

MINISTER CLARE: Damien, I had no other choice. The Crime Commission has done a 12-month investigation that’s identified links between organised crime and sport.

That’s now the subject of an ongoing investigation by ASADA that will involve interviews with more than 100 people.

Now that’s going to take some time but the change in behaviour has been immediate.

One of the anti-ageing clinics that the Crime Commission was concerned about has closed and not reopened.

We’ve got the NRL establishing an integrity unit. Injecting of players in different codes has stopped to my advice; we’ve got players now coming forward.

The Crime Commission made the decision to release the report and I backed them.

The idea that you could collect all this information and then not make it public is both wrong and impossible.

When you start interviewing 100 people, that information was going to get out.

No one wants drugs involved in sport, and sport will be better for the investigation that’s going on.

JOURNALIST: Match fixing is heavily targeted as well but not one police force in the country is investigating match fixing.

MINISTER CLARE: I think if you go back to the report Damien, you will see that the Crime Commission identified one case there they were working with one state police on.

That’s subsequently led to more work that’s being done by a Senate Committee and the Crime Commission’s investigation into all of these areas continues as well.

JOURNALIST: When do you expect to close the loophole regarding the migration zone that asylum seekers are taking advantage of?

MINISTER CLARE: Minister O’Connor has carriage of that legislation. His advice to me is he intends to have that legislation debated and passed through the Senate as soon as the Parliament returns.

JOURNALIST: And Minister, the Coalition announced unmanned drones as part of its asylum seeker policy, is that something that you’ve looked at?

MINISTER CLARE: If you look at the Defence White Paper that was released a couple of years ago you will see that UAVs are also in the Australian Government’s Defence White Paper.

There’s a mixture of equipment that’s necessary here to patrol our borders.

Part of it is the surveillance aircraft and the patrol boats we use now.

But in the future, UAVs are the sort of unmanned aircraft that can provide this service as well.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that aircraft could have detected that boat earlier this week?

MINISTER CLARE: It all depends upon where you target surveillance.

And as I said, we target our patrol boats and our surveillance aircraft to where boats are travelling to Australia in the north-west.

The initial interviews that have been conducted with the people on this boat indicate that they were intending to travel to New Zealand rather than Australia, but those interviews need to continue and I’ve asked Customs and Border Protection to conduct a review based on those interviews and advise me whether there’s any change needed to their positioning or posture.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

MINISTER CLARE: No, no, it’s two separate things. They’re already embedded in the Defence White Paper so this is separate from the issues that occurred this week.

PM: Okay, thank you very much.