Release type: Transcript


Interview - ABC Afternoon Briefing


The Hon Dr Anne Aly MP
Minister for Early Childhood Education
Minister for Youth

GREG JENETT, HOST: Anne Aly, good to have you back on the program with us. Now, you've been in Ballarat earlier today, I thought I might start out asking you about your purpose for being there. I think you added to a large network of child care centres for Indigenous kids. What does Connected Beginnings do as a group that is different to others and which is actually improving the lot of Aboriginal kids?

MINISTER ANNE ALY: Well, thanks, Greg, thanks for having me. And it is great to be here in Victoria. And you're right, I was in Ballarat earlier this morning opening up a new Connected Beginnings site. 

Now, it's not necessarily an early learning centre per se, but what it is is a site where we have early childhood education, along with health, along with parenting and all of the kinds of services that wrap around children in those very vital first five years of a child's life. Now, we've committed to 50 Connected Beginnings sites by the end of the year and we're well on our way towards that. 

This site in Ballarat that I announced today is receiving around $1.8 million to do what the other sites around Australia have done, which is to, specifically for First Nations children, look at how we can bring together health and nutrition and early childhood education and parenting and do that kind of holistic wraparound for children in those first five years to really focus on their well-being and their development.

The success that we've had with Connected Beginnings speaks for itself. It has made a huge contribution to Closing the Gap. We know that for First Nations children, there is a gap in their participation in early childhood education and care. We've seen a 10 per cent increase in that with Connected Beginnings and we hope to see more as more Connected Beginnings sites are opened around Australia.

JENETT: Thank you for the explanation. We hear so much about programs that aren't necessarily firing, but that sounds like a story to celebrate. We'll keep across it Anne. Let's move on to other matters in domestic politics now. Nuclear policy would be very hard to go past, wouldn't it? As a West Australian, you have a site nominated by the Coalition for Collie. How do you know that it's not going to be attractive to workers and to industry in your state?

ALY: Okay, well, let's be very clear, Greg. It's not really a policy, it's more a fantasy. The science is very clear, the experts are very clear that nuclear is much more expensive and will take much longer to build and that Australians will be paying for Peter Dutton's nuclear fantasy for years to come.

One of the things I will say, though, is that there is very little detail in this fantasy that the Coalition have put forward and there has been no community consultation. I think the people of Collie deserve to have a say in whether or not they want a nuclear reactor in their backyard. And I will say that the last time we heard about any plan for nuclear reactors, it was people from the Coalition, members of Parliament from the Coalition lining up to say, not in my backyard. 

So, how is it that they get to say, “not in my backyard,” but the people of Collie and the other sites around Australia don't get a say in this at all? There are no costings for this. We know it is more expensive, eight times more expensive. We know it takes longer to build. There is just nothing to this other than, as I said, a fantasy.

JENETT: Can I also take you to matters in the Middle East? Many of our viewers would be aware you've recently returned as a special representative for Australia in talks there. Your colleague, Senator Payman, has again laid out a public argument for what I think is unconditional and fairly immediate recognition of a Palestinian state. Australia's recognition would be a symbolic and bold rejection of Israel's current bid to erase the Palestinian people, she wrote for Al Jazeera. Do you agree?

ALY: Just by way of background, I have returned from Jordan, where there was a conference that was called by the King Abdullah of Jordan, President El-Sisi of Egypt, António Guterres, who, of course, is the UN Secretary General, to look at the immediate humanitarian aid to Gaza. 

There were a lot of issues that were canvassed there, but the three major issues   a commonality on were the three needs of increased aid, the scaling up of aid and the distribution of aid. So, increased aid, the distribution of aid, and the rebuilding of Gaza. Australia was incredibly well received, as was our announcement that I announced on behalf of the Foreign Minister for another $10 million of aid to the World Food Program. 

With the matter of recognition, as you have asked, Greg, we have made it very clear, and I am among many of my Labor colleagues who have a commitment to seeing freedom and self-determination for the people of Palestine. And many of my Labor colleagues have had a commitment to this for a very long time. And we have made it very clear that that commitment is to a two-state solution. And a necessary precursor to a two-state solution is the recognition of Palestine.

Now, that was discussed at this conference, and it was made very clear by everyone there that there was a need for a governance framework in Gaza and in Palestine in order to enable a two-state process to progress towards peace. So, we've made it clear that we will recognise Palestine when we can be assured that it will contribute to that peace process and where there is a governance structure in place.

JENETT: Was that who – I won't ask you to name names, but how was that expressed? Was that a consensus view or was it a view put by a certain small number of countries? Because it's a matter of record that Spain, the Netherlands and others have unilaterally jumped ahead and done their own recognition of late.

ALY: I'll say that this conference was brought together by countries that are at the coal face. These are countries that are bordering Gaza and bordering Palestine and who are doing the heavy lifting and the hard yards. What I saw, what I witnessed, was that what Australia is doing, the three things that we are doing, providing aid, calling for a ceasefire and lending our voice to a two-state solution, our commitment to a two-state solution, which, as I said, as a necessary precursor, is the Palestinian statehood. Those three things are very much the common priorities that those countries that are at the coalface share. Our participation in this, as well as our respected voice in the region, is incredibly appreciated. And everything that we are doing is exactly what those countries need us to be doing. The issue of recognition was raised within that discussion around the necessity for a governance framework.

JENETT: Ok. All right. Well, look, you've put that on the record. Obviously, the Australian Government will continue to assess its position and international developments. Anne Aly, we've covered a bit of ground. We'll catch up again soon.

ALY: Thank you so much.