SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

TRANSCRIPT

6 March 2020

FIVEAA BREAKFAST WITH DAVID PENBERTHY & WILL GOODINGS

TOPICS: ADELAIDE INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY BREAKFAST, GENDER EQUALITY, INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY, VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN

E&OE - PROOF ONLY

WILL GOODINGS, HOST: Senator, good morning to you. Thanks for joining us.

SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY IN THE SENATE: Good morning, good to be with you.

DAVID PENBERTHY, HOST: Hey Penny, Will just said at the start there that this is the biggest event of its kind in the country. What do you think we can attribute that to because South Australia’s always played a bit of a pioneering role here with the suffragettes and so forth? Is that maybe part of it? Is it in the state’s DNA to be a bit more progressive on these issues?

WONG: I hope so – I mean we’ve got a pretty good history, haven’t we? We were the first state in Australia where women could stand for parliament and have the vote. We’ve led the way when it comes to women’s equality in terms of equal opportunity legislation and protections. We’ve had a lot of women in leadership positions and women throughout the community showing the way. So I think there’s a belief in the principle of equality in South Australia and International Women’s Day is one of the ways in which we can show that. Today we have, as you said, the largest breakfast in Australia, which is a pretty proud achievement and we’ve held that for many, many years.

GOODINGS: Penny, just thinking back over the various eras where have strides have been made. In the early 1900s it was the suffragettes, then you flash forward to the 1960s and you’re talking about equality with access to work and across the spectrum. When we look back at this era – the 2020s or the teens – what are we going to reflect on positively? And maybe in that discussion, what are we going to reflect on when we go ‘well, we’re still a way short of the expectation in these areas?’

WONG: Yeah, good question. Women have fought for equality for generations. Our great-grandmothers fought for the vote, our grandmothers fought for the right to work, our mothers fought for the right for equal pay for equal work and this generation we’ve got my generation and those who are much younger than me – we have to do our bit.

I hope, as I said to some of the schoolgirls who are here and the young women who came – I said I hope when one of you gives the speech I gave this morning, you don’t have to talk about what has to be done, you can talk about what we have achieved. If there was one thing I could pick, it would be reducing the levels of violence against women.

We saw the heart-rending, tragic murders of Hannah Clarke and her three children. We shouldn’t just mourn that, we should do something about that. We should recognise that a woman a week loses her life to an intimate partner; past or current partner. We should say to ourselves, what do we have to do – all of us as a community – to ensure we have more respectful relationships, so that in years to come someone can give the speech I gave this morning and say we have reduced and tackled the violence against women that society once saw.

PENBERTHY: It felt like that was such a galvanising moment for the nation, Penny. Apart from a few isolated voices, I think in a way it’s been kind of heartening to see the sort of mainstream ostracising of the sentiments that were put by people like Bettina Arndt where women and men just went, hang on, there is no set of circumstances by which this can be explained, rationalised or justified.

WONG: That is true and I hope it is a galvanising moment because when something like this happens we shouldn’t just mourn. We should mourn but we should also say ‘what is it that we all have to do to lessen the risk of these things happening’.

GOODINGS: We appreciate your time this morning.

PENBERTHY: Good on you, Penny.

WONG: Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it, it’s fantastic.

GOODINGS: Senator Penny Wong, the host of Adelaide’s International Women’s Day Breakfast.

Authorised by Paul Erickson, ALP, Canberra.