BRIDGET ARCHER, FEDERAL MEMBER FOR BASS: Look, it's really, it's a bit overwhelming for me actually to be here today. And ironically, I was just saying this, this is something that's very important to me. And when people ask why you get involved in public life, I think everyone has their reasons why. And this is one of the whys for me and one of the proudest things for me to be here today and talking about Head to Health and what that does for improving mental health of Tasmanians and how together with the State Government we will build on, on the work that we have done here. I have suffered from sort of poor mental health for a lot of my life. I have anxiety and panic disorders and having a bit of a panic attack when I walk in here this morning, so I'm in the right place. But it it, I know how much it means to to me and how much it means to Tasmanians to be able to access good quality mental health care when they need it and that to be able to walk in here to these temporary services here, people just can walk off the street, there's no wrong door. If you need help, you can walk in here and you will find it. And already they have seen about 400 referrals come through this place, I think about 50 just in the last week alone. And the more that we get the word out that this service exists and then when they move into their new site in Canning Street, the more people that we'll be able to help. But I'm I'm thrilled to have both the Prime Minister and the Health Minister here in Launceston today, along with Deputy Premier Michael Ferguson, to talk about how we'll be able to build on that, how we can do more to support the mental health of all Tasmanians and how we can do more to try and reduce the suicide rate. Again with suicide, something that I've unfortunate personal experience of losing my stepsister to suicide and I have seen the impact that suicide has had on small communities like mine across Tasmania as well. If we can stop one person from taking their life then these services will be worth it. So a bit of an emotional day for me today. Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you, Bridget. Thank you, Bridget. It's great to be here with you today. We love your passion and we love your commitment and dedication to the community. And I know why you joined us at the last election, and I can only commend Bridge in the strongest possible of terms to her community, because she's got a massive heart and there's plenty of room for everybody with her big heart. When I became Prime Minister three and a half years ago, ensuring that mental health was getting the support it needed and that we're able to take much greater strides in how we were helping people across this country who are living with mental health challenges each and every day. Those challenges that come from the disruptive things that can happen in your life or those who have just struggled with it from a very young age, it's real, it's debilitating, it can rob people of their quality of life. And this is one of the most tangible things we can do to help people improve their quality of life is by ensuring that they have mental health services that they can access, that we're destigmatising issues of mental health. Our Government has been on a mission on this for many years as we've sought to continue to build the support and services that are available. And what we're announcing here today with the Tasmanian Government, again, a true partnership and not just a partnership here with the Tasmanian Government, but we've been able to land with every single state and territory across the country this mental health agreement - all governments across the country understanding the importance of the need to address mental health challenges and for all governments to be lifting their game when it comes to delivering those services. Now when I was Treasurer we initiated the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Mental Health, which has very much informed our path ahead over these many years. There's $3 billion in the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. That has seen us, over the course of our Government, doubled the funding that the Commonwealth Government has put into mental health, up to around $6 billion a year now. Now this is involved services and prevention and early intervention, suicide prevention which has been an absolute mission of ours, a $1.8 billion investment for treatment and around $150 million for supporting vulnerable groups, but also almost $300 million to support workforce and getting more people working in this area to provide the support that is necessary that Australians need.

And this partnership agreement, not just with the Tasmanian Government but with all states and territories around the country, and I particularly pay tribute to David Coleman, the Assistant Minister to myself on Mental Health, who, together with Greg Hunt as Minister for Health, has shepherded this agreement through with every single state and territory. This is exactly what I'd ask David to do in taking on that role and to give it that whole-of-government priority. And I'm so pleased that he's been able to deliver that, and I know he will feel the same way. So well done, David, on an outstanding job. There are a couple of key parts of what this agreement focuses on. But the Head to Health services are as big a game changer as what headspace was when the Coalition Government under John Howard first introduced that program with Pat McGorry all those years ago.

Our National Plan includes just under $500 million to deliver a network of up to 70 adult mental health services across the country, just like we're standing in right here. And that builds on $114 million in the 2019-20 Budget, where we first set up those first eight centres across the country, one in each state and territory. And so now we're expanding them. And what happens here is on-the-spot support, care and advice without needing referral, without prior appointments, without charging out-of-pocket expenses. This is the sort of missing middle service that is desperately needed in mental health across Australia. We have services that deal with incredibly acute needs and we see some wonderful work going on in the prevention space in the community. But there's a lot in the middle and the lines are blurred between State and Commonwealth Governments when it comes to who does what in that space. And that's why this partnership agreement is so important, because it brings State and Commonwealth together to try and fill that missing middle together.

But there is more work to do there. And I can assure you as Prime Minister, this would continue to be a very high priority for me, as Greg has known all these years we've worked together. There's also the Headspace funding that it's been part of our program. You know, we've taken Headspace from just 56 centres when we first came to Government to 164 nationally. This is an incredibly big initiative that is reaching out that early support and important support for people in their lives who are struggling with mental health challenges. And over the next four years, we are investing $873 million in the National Headspace Network to address demand and reduce wait times. So it's not just enough to have the centres there, such as their success and support and usefulness is so many young people are looking to access them as well. And so we need to help them be even more effective in helping more and more Australians. And also here in Tasmania, we've been able to put in place the Early Youth Psychosis Program. Now, this was available on the mainland, but it wasn't available here in Tasmania. It provides early intervention to young people aged 12 to 25 years of age who are at high risk or of active or are actively experiencing their first episode of psychosis. And it's delivered from 14 Headspace centres in six jurisdictions across Australia, and that will now include, with the $206 million we put in this Budget, to provide that care in both Tasmania and the ACT. And that builds on about $163 million we put in place before.

There's also the work we're doing on eating disorders, some $215 million million in services and support and research in that area. But today, the partnership agreement specifically is a $55 million partnership between the Tasmanian Government and the Federal Government, with the Federal Government providing $45.6 million. And this is going into a number of areas, firstly $24.7 million to provide seamless mental health care for adults, just like we're seeing here with the establishment of three new Head to Health satellite clinics in Burnie, Devonport and outer Hobart, and they will align with state-based services, including Tasmania's integration hubs.

There's money for a new headspace centre in Rosny Park in Hobart. And $2.9 million to boost the clinical capacity of existing headspace in Burnie, Devonport, Launceston and Hobart. There's $12.6 million for three kids centres, Head to Health kids centres. And what's great about these is they go within the Tasmanian child and family centres, child and family learning centres. So this is bringing parents and their kids, young kids who can be experiencing real serious mental health issues, or not so serious but could develop into the future, and it supports them to get off on the right foot. There's also a $2.5 million for the Tasmanian Government to establish three eating disorder day programs here in Launceston and as well in Burnie and as in Hobart.

There's $5.2 million for universal aftercare services to support individuals to start discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt. The most vulnerable time for a person where they may die by suicide is after they have been discharged from hospital from having made an attempt. That is the clear learning of all the research and advice we've received. Want to bring down the number of people who are dying by suicide in this country? That's where we have to focus important services, so they can get that care in that immediate period after they're discharged. And this program provides support for that. And there's also $3 million to support perinatal mental health screening. So as you can see, this is a comprehensive package and it's mirrored in all the state and territory agreements all around the country. And it should say very clearly about what our commitment as a Government is to improving the mental health of Australians, because I know that's what can improve the quality of their daily lives. Many things they can't control, but things that we can do to support them get through, whether it's just getting through each day or their recovery process over many months and years. They should know, I would hope that our Government is very committed to them and continuing to do the work. And the reason we can do all that, keep coming back to it. If we couldn't run a strong economy, we couldn't do this. In a country like Australia with a Government running its Budget well, and a strong economy, we can make a big difference in this area, and I really do believe we are. So, Michael, thank you for the partnership with the State Government and I invite you to make some comments on behalf of the Tasmanian Government.

MICHAEL FERGUSON, DEPUTY PREMIER OF TASMANIA: Thank you. Well, welcome back to Tassie Scomo and thank you very much for those words of welcome and to Greg Hunt, our Health Minister, and in particular, if I may say, my good friend Bridget Archer, who has been such a champion for supporting our community here in Northern Tasmania. A friend to me and a friend to many people around our local community here in Bass. And I happen to know that the opening of Head to Health here in Launceston earlier this year was one of Bridget's personal greatest achievements and that, she believes, is one of the most important things that she has been able to deliver for our local community. It's already changing lives. And it was a great pleasure wasn't it, PM to just, just earlier speak and spend some time with Penny and Lisa and John and listen to their informed stories and about what they can teach us about how we can do a better job? The simple fact is that one in five people will experience a mental health episode this year. And when you look at this room, just have a look around you and see how many people are here. And you can quickly do the work to see that this is a mainstream issue for Tasmanians and for Australians.

I really welcome this partnership. It's something that we've worked very closely with between our Health Minister, Jeremy Rockliff, who is now our Premier, who sends his apologies, PM, today. He's quite well, but in isolation and so I'm acting for him in this press conference today, having worked so closely to make sure that state and federal policies don't duplicate each other and don't leave behind any gaps. The State Government's contribution of $9.4 million to establish this bilateral agreement really locks in what is, can only be described as historic and comprehensive and integrated for mental health services, including those ones that don't exist, but which will now be established. Importantly, while we're here in Launceston, this is an agreement which establishes services right around the state of Tasmania, in the North, in the South and in the North West, helping to reach people with the right level of support where they're at geographically, but also where they're at in their journey with mental health and wellness. This is important for us as well because it is perfectly aligned with the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Strategy, together with the Rethink Mental Health Agenda that the Tasmanian Liberal Government has embarked upon. These are vital and for many people who have felt that in the past, they've been forgotten or overlooked all the services that people gave them some level of support, but not enough, I think people will come to understand quite quickly that these improvements are going to help them with where they're at in their journey.

The Prime Minister has thoroughly covered the areas of new service around our state. I want to emphasise the importance of the Head to Health Service Network. So we've established one here in Launceston thanks to Bridget and the Morrison Government, but this is now going to expand to Devonport and to Burnie and to Hobart. And in addition to that, it will add to the two new integration hubs that the Prime Minister has mentioned that the Peacock Centre and Saint John's Park, but also we're very excited that the Head to Health Network will in fact continue to grow to three family and child early learning centres that we've established here in Tasmania. So that we're helping people at all ages and stages, helping family members as well, and making sure that we do keep a clear focus on people's journey to recovery, which Penny spoke about this morning, so that people can have hope for a future, that tomorrow can be better than today. And it's with a great deal of warmth and gratitude, Prime Minister, that we welcome you here again to Tasmania today.

So thank you for the strong partnership that our Governments enjoy because we're actually getting results. And I'll conclude on the point that the Prime Minister did. You're standing here in Launceston, you're standing in Tasmania, it's the nation's leading economy of all the states and territories. We've been able to do that by growing employment, supporting industries, dealing with some of the pressures that families have had to confront, but continuing our march ever forward so that we get strong economic growth. So the partnership between our Governments has led to that which allows us to make these funding investments into the quality of life for Tasmanians and Australians. Thank you very much, I'll hand to our Health Minister, Mr Hunt.

GREG HUNT, MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGED CARE: And thanks very much to and to Michael, to the PM, but especially to Bridge. Bridge is somebody with immense courage. I mean to face what she has faced in her life and to turn this into a passionate career. There's not a person in Australia who doesn't face themselves, or through their friends or their families, mental health challenges. Some of you in this room have shared with me your journeys, and I know how hard they have been. And so as a country, we are evolving in not just our treatment, but our recognition around the stigma of mental health and what Penny said to us, one word, recovery. And today is about hope and recovery. And so this journey is about recognition, but it's about support. What we've been able to do, and I, like the PM, want to acknowledge David Coleman for his work, is strike agreements with every state and territory. On the eve of an election, being able to do that, I think, speaks to the partnership that we've been able to build, and it's a credit to every state and territory as well. You know, in particular, Michael and Jeremy here, but around the country, people such as Amber-Jade Sanderson in Western Australia, the work we've been able to do with people across all of the, all of the different parties right around the country. So those agreements, together, are part of the broader, long-term National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan. It's a $3 billion plan. These agreements with every state and territory will deliver Head to Health for adults, Headspace for youth, and extraordinarily, Head to Health Kids for under 12s - and a lot of emerging issues are created in those primary school years, and it's something we've really, as a country not acknowledged before.

So this agreement completes that process. Every state and territory working with the Commonwealth in partnership to protect mental health. 70 Head to Health centres around the country, 164 Headspace centres and now 15 kids' Head to Health centres, and these will save lives and protect lives. I have no doubt about that. And we heard it this morning, you've heard from Penny and Lisa, who were so courageous. But before you came, I was talking with Katrina at the front desk and Katrina sort of said, sorry, I have to take a client call. And she worked with somebody on their issues. And as Bridget said, over 400 since it started, 50 in the last week. Word is getting out. People are coming to help themselves. And that's why these agreements are so, so important. Michael and the PM have set out what this agreement means for Tasmania, but in addition to that, specialised eating disorder clinics in the North East, in the North West and in the South. In addition to that, the support for perinatal mental health. And then of course what we have is the biggest lifesaver potentially, is universal aftercare for those people who have attempted suicide. That is their most vulnerable moment. And this agreement embeds funding, so as every person who is recovering from having attempted to take their life will have the support to protect them. I just want to say this. Through this journey, I could not have had stronger support than from the PM. It was pushing on an open door and his test was always one. He said, what's going to save lives? And Head to Health, Head to Health Kids, and aftercare, were the things that he identified, along with eating disorders, and to have that support has been an absolute privilege. Thank you.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, everyone in this room and watching at home would be connected to someone who has had mental health struggles. There's no doubt that your Government has invested in this space. But mental health experts are telling me that it's still not changing the needle enough. We know that self-harm rates, hospitalisations as a result of self-harm are going up, suicide rates are not going down. When you're willing to invest $100 billion in submarines that won't hit the water for two decades, a worthwhile investment, why are we not seeing that level of investment in mental health?

PRIME MINISTER: This is a very difficult challenge, there's no doubt about that. And that's why we have doubled our investment to some over $6 billion a year is what we now invest in mental health each and every year. And that is up from around $3 billion when we first came to Government. That's each and every year. And that is a significant part of the health Budget now, as it should be. And as we continue to work with the sector and learn more, I think one of the great things about Head to Health is it will actually have the same journey as Headspace where we've learnt so much more about mental health issues being confronted by young people because Headspace exists. And it's a way of understanding and there are just so much more learnings that come from that. We'll see that with Head to Health. And it's the work that you've seen in Headspace as it has lead to the, you know, world-leading work that Pat McGorry has done on on early youth psychosis. So the finish line keeps receding from you, when it comes to dealing with these challenges. And that's the hard part of Government, that you have to keep growing your economy, to keep being able to invest in the services that can completely change people's lives. I mean, on suicide deaths, one of the most remarkable things during the pandemic, and we have to be careful with these statistics, and I appreciate that. But in 2019, pre-pandemic, we lost 3,318 Australians to death by suicide. In 2020, we lost 3,139. That was a fall of 179. Now, that was in a year of the pandemic. One of the things that we did during the pandemic is, yes, we did address, of course, the physical health needs around what was necessary to combat COVID, but we were one of the countries that actually did probably more than any other to address the mental health needs of the country as it was going through this incredible trial. Now, we'll see ultimate figures come out for the 2020 year, but I can tell you at the start of the pandemic, one of the things that was concerning Greg and I greatly is that we would see a soaring in those rates, a soaring in those rates. And we didn't. And I think that is an extraordinary testament to the many services, whether they be Lifeline or Kids Helpline or Beyond Blue, or the many other services that we invested heavily in, including Headspace, to get Australians through that incredibly difficult period. We have great tools here and great services in Australia, world-class, that can help people live with mental health challenges, overcome mental health challenges to prevent finding themselves in those situations. Some of the best, if not the best in the world. And as a Government, we've been investing in them, we've been developing in them and indeed, we've been pioneering them. And my Government will always do that. That is the dividend of the strong economy that we've put in place.

JOURNALIST: Can I ask Bridget a question on mental health, if that's okay?

PRIME MINISTER: Sure. Sure. Of course you can.

JOURNALIST: Bridget, thank you. This is obviously a very important topic for you and an issue. Thank you for sharing with us what you've been going through as well. When it comes to the mental health of transgender communities here in Australia, are you worried about the mental health of the transgender community when you've got Katherine Deves, a Liberal candidate, making these, her views very clear and you've got a Prime Minister that's standing behind her? What are your concerns for that community when it comes to their mental health?

ARCHER: Well, my concern for the mental health of all Australians. I, I concern for the mental health of all Australians, but we know and I have spoken previously that LGBTIQ community members are some 15 times more likely to suffer mental health challenges and and be at risk of suicide. I think we all should be very mindful of that. There are discussions that are important and can be had, and I'm not to say that we shouldn't have those discussions. But what I've always said and what I'll continue to say is when we talk about people, whoever they are, whoever they are, that we should do so with kindness. That we should do so understanding that people are vulnerable and marginalised. And I don't think it matters who people are. We can all do better.

JOURNALIST: Just a follow up on that, Bridget, if I may. Are you satisfied with the Prime Minister's commitment to prioritise religious discrimination ahead of protections for LGBTQI students through the Sexual Discrimination Act sequentially, as he's described it, given there will be a gap between the RDA passing and protections for these incredibly vulnerable students?

ARCHER: Well, as the Prime Minister has already said, our views are well known and we will continue to work through those issues in the Party Room, not just myself but others, the Prime Minister, as we do with all issues, and I'm committed to doing that.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, do you stand by your claim that the $500,000 compensation claim being negotiated for Rachelle Miller does not involve claims against Alan Tudge, and if the Cabinet Minister was involved in such a claim, you would be told?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that was the advice that I received from the Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.

JOURNALIST: Are you being briefed on the contents of the claim? Because it does name Mr Tudge and it also names former employer Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I couldn't confirm that one way or the other. The only advice that I have on this matter is that it hadn't been settled. That was my last advice. And if there was any matter there that went to the conduct of any Minister, any Minister at all that related to the Ministerial Standards, then I would be advised of that.

JOURNALIST: But it does name Mr Tudge.

PRIME MINISTER: And I've been, and I have been advised of no such matters that would require my, my attention in relation to the Ministerial Standards. We had a, an independent inquiry into those matters and, and that independent inquiry did not find any basis for any action in relation to the Ministerial Standards.

JOURNALIST: Last night, Anthony Albanese came on top, on top on the debate. I'll have some polls from AusGov [YouGov] today showing again, Labor looks like it could win the election if it was held today. Is this where you expected to be nine days out of the election? How confident are you you can still secure a win?

PRIME MINISTER: The election is in the hands of the Australian people. It's not in the hands of pollsters or modellers or or anyone else. It's in Australians' hands. And I set out very clearly last night the risk that is there. I said, rightly, that the Liberals and Nationals, the Liberals here, particularly in the seat where we are today, in Bass with Bridget Archer, is the strong, responsible and safe choice, because Australia is facing some of the most difficult challenges and uncertainty that we have seen since any time since the Second World War. And in our Government you have a known quantity. You have a Government that understands the economy, that isn't loose with the economy, that isn't loose with how the various elements of the economy work. I mean, yesterday we had Mr Albanese on the issue of wages be yes, no, and maybe. Now, that is not someone who knows what's going on in the economy or how you manage an economy. And he would be the Prime Minister. Now, we need someone who's up to the job, not for someone whose the job is to big for them. We need someone who understands how the economy works and also knows how to manage money. And today you've heard from the Treasurer and the Finance Minister, and they have set out very clearly, not one policy during this election campaign has been submitted by the Labor Party and Mr Albanese for costing. Not one, not one. And so he can make all sorts of claims but you know, the ability to do things in Government, like what we're talking about here, doubling mental health funding. You can only do that if you know how to manage money. And if you don't know how to manage money, and let's not forget, there has never been a Labor Leader in the past that has trusted Mr Albanese with a financial portfolio when they were Leader. They haven't let him anywhere near the till. And my view to the Australians is, don't let him near the till, because he doesn't know how much things cost, he doesn't know how the economy runs, he didn't even know what the unemployment rate was or the cash rate. And he's loose with the economy.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] Fiona Martin appears -

PRIME MINISTER: Sorry, I couldn't quite hear.

JOURNALIST: Your colleague, Fiona Martin, appears to have confused her challenger, Sally Sitou, with another Asian-Australian. Is it fair for Asian-Australians to be stereotyped or generalised in this way? And do you think Ms Sitou deserves an apology for what is quite an offensive comment for Asian-Australians?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, Dr Martin has already made statements on that issue today, and no, that wasn't the case.

JOURNALIST: But, no, that, her defence doesn't make sense. Ms Sitou hasn't run in Cabramatta.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I'm sorry, I don't accept that because she's made that statement and she's made, she's made it very clear.

JOURNALIST: But Ms Sitou didn't run in Cabramatta, so.

PRIME MINISTER: No, No. From. So and I'm sorry, she's she's made a statement, but I refer you to the statement. I think it makes it very clear.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just another one for Bridget Archer. Sorry, if I may?


JOURNALIST: Bridget, do you think the Prime Minister is being hypocritical when it comes to repeatedly announcing mental health support, but then supporting Ms Deves comments on trans? And also, thank you for sharing your own experiences. How are you finding the pressures of the campaign?

ARCHER: Look, I think a, a campaign is, you know, an additional layer of pressure that, you know, anybody would be feeling. All of you, I reckon, are feeling it as well, just quietly. So I think it's yeah, it definitely adds to the challenge. I was talking to a friend, Rick, before from Relationships Australia and he was saying, you know, that generally nowadays anybody that experiences those challenges, you work out strategies and you have tools in place and they usually involve things like exercise and sleep, and you know, maybe finding some time to meditate. And of course, some of those things go out the window in a campaign, so that adds to a bit of pressure. But yeah, I'm holding up okay, thanks very much. And in relation to the other question that you asked, you know, I just refer to what I said earlier.

JOURNALIST: It is hypocritical though, isn't it?

ARCHER: Look, I think it is, there is a place for having the conversations that we are having. And I don't think that we should necessarily seek to censor people. But what I would say, as I've said before, and I think that the Prime Minister understands this as well, is that when we're talking about people, whoever they might be, we should always seek to do that in a way that is respectful and is not damaging to people's mental health.

JOURNALIST: Is Katherine Deves comments respectful?

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on cost of living regarding childcare. So Labor has a policy that will help more families. Doesn't better childcare support boost productivity? And what's wrong with spending money to get women back into the workforce sooner?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, as I set out last night, 1.1 million women have come into the workforce under the strong economic policies that we have put in place. Workforce participation of women has risen to record levels under the economic policies that our Government has put in place. The gender pay gap has fallen from 7.4 per cent to 13.8 per cent, which means -

JOURNALIST: But couldn't you do more with making childcare better?

PRIME MINISTER: No, no, these are important, I'm sorry, these are really important points. Because the question is about participation, and what I'm saying is the policies that our Government has put in place, which has strengthened our economy, means the gender pay gap has come from 17.8 per cent down to 13.4 per cent and what that, sorry, 17.4 per cent to 13.8 per cent, and that means that women today in the workforce are $70 a week better off on average than they were before we came to Government. Now these policies are working. Now, it was when I was Social Services Minister that we redesigned the childcare system which ensured that we ensured that those who are on lower incomes were getting up to 85 per cent rebates on their childcare. Now that's a place where you're not making choices about whether you're going to work or not. You've got no choice. Everybody's having to work and every single way they can and often taking more than one job. And when I redesigned the childcare system, I made sure that those who needed it most got the most support. And I can tell you after that happened, the childcare out of expense, out of pocket expenses increased in costs, ran at 1.2 per cent. Now, under Labor, it was running at 3.1 per cent growth. So after we put our changes in place, it actually decelerated the rate of increase in out of pocket expenses. And you know, in the last quarter, Mr Albanese said this last night saying it was going up, in the last quarter, in the March quarter, out of pocket expenses for childcare flatlined. They didn't go up. They flatlined. Now that was in a quarter where we saw inflation go up by 5.1 per cent. Admittedly, a lot less than it is in New Zealand and United States and UK and many other countries. But our policies are designed affordably to give the support where those who need it most get that support. And on top of that, we provide those services in block funding grants to disadvantaged communities. Because what I learnt when I was Social Services Minister is that's one of the most important ways you can turn around the lives, particularly of young Indigenous children. And that's where so much of our block funding has gone into those Indigenous communities to support that early childhood education. So these issues aren’t about just spending lots and lots of money. I mean, 90 per cent childcare rebates for everybody costs around $18 billion over four years and it costs $63 billion over a decade. And my only question to Anthony Albanese on this -

JOURNALIST: What's wrong with spending money it helps families?

PRIME MINISTER: ... on everything, is where's the money going to come from? And what we know is, in this election he can't answer that question. He has all sorts of thought bubbles lying out there with no costings. He doesn't know how to pay for it. He doesn't know how to run an economy. He doesn't even understand the economy and he doesn't know how to manage money. That's why Anthony Albanese in charge of the economy can make things worse, not better.

JOURNALIST: You've said in recent weeks that there is no magic pen to raise wages.


JOURNALIST: That wages promises to rage raises are, to raise wage are, you know, are make believe. But now you're arguing that Labor can raise wages and that they're raising, want to raise them too high. That that would be dangerous, the amount they want to raise them. Can Government raise wages or can it not?

PRIME MINISTER: No, no. That's I think you've misunderstood my point. My point is that the Fair Work Commission is an important institution in how our economy is run. And the fact that decisions about wages are made by such a body, like the Reserve Bank makes decisions on interest rates, that provides stability in the economy. It provides certainty in the economy. So if you're a small business person, you can have some comfort that wage rates are not just going to be set arbitrarily. But you know, if you're a Prime Minister or a Treasurer and you're just careless about these things, you're loose with these things, and you run off on the mouth about where you think wages should be or shouldn't be, that can pre-condition inflationary expectations in the economy. And it can actually become a self-fulfilling prophecy. And that's what, my, my issue is, we all want to see wages increase, but I don't want to see reckless behaviour in how the process should work. And this is where Mr Albanese has failed. He has had three positions on the one thing on one day. He knows he got that wrong. He knows he acted recklessly. And he's been trying to cover his tracks ever since. What I know is the way that he would be running the economy is that not only would you see inflationary pressures, which means that you would be paying more than you otherwise would have to, we've got global forces putting up inflation. But any potential support you might have got and wages will be clawed back in even higher interest rates and even higher inflation. See that's not how you manage an economy. He doesn't understand the moving parts. He doesn't understand the complexity of the global economy. That's why he is a great risk. And that's why a vote for Labor could make things far worse. We're facing serious challenges in this space, and he just does not have the comprehension of these issues to handle them. Yeah, you haven't had a question.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] superannuation.


JOURNALIST: Will you guarantee that the guarantee goes up to 12 per cent under a Government you lead? And what will that do to businesses?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, we haven't made any changes to that legislation and we stand by the legislation as set out.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] comments from China's Ambassador to Australia. He said in an Opinion Piece in The Fin today that Beijing's growing cooperation with the South Pacific is not a security threat to Australia. And how does that rhetoric fit in your mind with Chinese, China's Foreign Minister visiting the Solomons next week on the eve of the Election. Were you aware of this? Did you have advance warning of this?

PRIME MINISTER: I don't have - you won't be surprised to know that I don't agree with the Chinese Ambassador to Australia, who is writing in the Australian Financial Review today that Chinese Government interference in the Pacific is of no consequence. I think it's of great consequence. I think it's a great consequence. I don't sort of want to give any amplification for the views of the Chinese Government in seeking to provide some sort of succour to that type of view. I don't, I don't support those views. I support the Australian national interest, not the Chinese Government's view of what national interests are, whether it be in Australia or across the Pacific. And that's why I've always taken a very strong stance on this.

JOURNALIST: What about the Foreign Minister's visit next week to the Solomons?

PRIME MINISTER: A stance that I've been criticised for right across the country. I've even been criticised by the Labor Party -

JOURNALIST: Are you worried about the visit next week to the Solomons?

PRIME MINISTER: ... for the strong position that I have had in standing up to the coercion of the Chinese Government.

JOURNALIST: He's also said that a common interest between Australia and China -

JOURNALIST: [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: Okay. Okay, you haven't had a question.

JOURNALIST: Are you tired? You seem tired. I saw a frown earlier. And secondly, what role does the Lord play in this election and do you pray to him?

PRIME MINISTER: I pray every day. That's been my practice over a very long time in my life. And I can assure you I'm fighting fit, full of beans and looking forward as the next ten days because Australians are going to face a very big choice at this election and it has very real consequences for people at home, perhaps watching this or maybe seeing it later. How you vote at this election is going to have a big impact on the future of the Australian economy that you live in. The economy where your job depends on it, your income, your retirement savings, how your children will be able to buy a house, indeed, how you'll be able to buy a house. All of this will be impacted by the strength of the Australian economy in the years to come. I was making this point last night to vote for a strong economy, vote Liberal National, to vote for the responsible choice in a time of great uncertainty, vote Liberal National. A vote for Labor means a weaker economy. It means more uncertainty. It means a Party and a Leader, you don't know what they're capable of and they don't know what they'll do and they don't know how much it will cost. Thanks very much, everyone.