Subjects: Religious Discrimination Bill, Newspoll.

JOURNALIST: The religious discrimination bill, are we going to see it before the election?

AMANDA STOKER: It’s certainly something we’re still committed to, though I expect that given the events of last week, and the timing, that’s something we’ll have to revisit post-election.

JOURNALIST: Some of the criticism- I’ll backtrack, you’ve gone and presented a letter to Rebecca Sharkie – not you personally, but the government has presented a letter to Rebecca Sharkie – saying there is legal advice that the amendments moved in the house, the consequences of them are far-reaching.


JOURNALIST: But haven’t actually gone into any more detail about what that legal advice is. Considering how difficult this situation is, do you need to be more forthcoming about what the Solicitor-General’s advice is?

AMANDA STOKER: Well look, I think we’ve been putting the substance of the advice on the record in the explanations that the Attorney General, and I, and the PM, have been making over the last few days. I understand that there’s also been private conversations with Ms Sharkie, although I can’t speak to those because they were held with people other than me.

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with Peter Dutton when he says the PM was misled by the Liberal backbenchers who crossed the floor last week?

AMANDA STOKER: It was certainly a surprised to find that people other than Ms Archer and Mr Zimmerman acted as they did.

JOURNALIST: Why was it a surprised?

AMANDA STOKER: Because, as I understand it, it’s not in keeping with commitments they have made. But they are best to speak to that, because they were party to those discussions.

JOURNALIST: Will they face repercussions in the partyroom as a result of this?

AMANDA STOKER: That’s a matter for the partyroom.

JOURNALIST: What do you think?

AMANDA STOKER: Look, I think we are all responsible to our party, and accountable to our party, to act as a team and act in the interests of Australians. That’s certainly what we were hoping to deliver with the Religious Discrimination Act, including with the amendments we proposed to the Sex Discrimination Act with it. And it’s a great pity for everybody that we aren’t able to wake up this morning and find that that’s been done. So I’m sure that there will be opportunities for those people to reflect on the consequences of those decisions.

JOURNALIST: Ms Stoker, what do you make of the Prime Minister’s personal popularity falling so dramatically since the start of the pandemic, given so much of the 2019 election campaign was him on his own shoulders.

AMANDA STOKER: None of this is about popularity, it’s about doing what’s right for Australians

JOURNALIST: Elections are entirely about popularity.

AMANDA STOKER: Look, I am somebody who believes deeply that the Prime Minister is focused – today and everyday – on doing what’s right for Australians. And I also believe that Australians know that when they see it, and they’ll be able to make their own call on that in the one poll that matters, and that’s on Election Day.

JOURNALIST: But it makes the job harder, doesn’t it? Given that at the 2019 election it was his race, he put himself as the man, the person, at the centre of the party. He put himself as the figurehead of the party, and now that popularity has taken a significant hit.

AMANDA STOKER: Politics is hard. We show up every day to do hard things. And I know that this team is prepared to do it, shoulder to shoulder with Prime Minister Morrison, as we have everyday of his term –

JOURNALIST: Do you agree with –

AMANDA STOKER: Look guys, I’ve really got to get to estimates.

JOURNALIST: One last question: Do you agree with Jenny Morrison’s sentiment about Grace Tame’s behaviour at the Lodge? That she should have been more polite.

AMANDA STOKER: Look, every person is free in this country act as they like – with or without manners. Grace Tame is fierce, she- you know, that shows in the way that she behaves. There’s more than one way to get your point across, and I would say that good manners never go out of style. Thank you very much guys, have a great day. [END]