NATALIE BARR: Let's bring in Home Affairs Minister Clare O'Neil and Liberal Senator Jane Hume Good morning to both of you. Clare, we know this is a big problem. A lot of people will be sitting at home saying why does he look? Can he just not take off all the notifications on Twitter like a lot of us do, though?
CLARE O’NEIL: Yeah, I mean, for sure. Nat and I'm really conscious that, you know, people hate to hear politicians complain. And so I've kind of got in two minds about some of this. I think the thing that I want people to understand is how much this problem has changed in the time I've been in Parliament. So I've been in Parliament for ten years. The kind of like torrent and violent nature of the abuse that we get online today is really serious and I think that's awful. And I guess it's easy to say not to look at it. The thing that I just also talk to people about is the fact that this does also reflect what's going on in the real world. So we're lucky to live in a country where politicians actually live pretty normal lives and I'm sure is the same as me. You know, I go to the supermarket and I drop my kids off at school and I often tell my constituents where I'm going to be so they can come and talk to me. And I don't want that to change. But what we do see is that there's sort of relatively increasing incidences of real life sort of harassment and violence. And I do think that's really worrying.
NATALIE BARR: Yeah. Clare, you've got a point there actually. Sometimes it feels like we're all getting angrier, doesn't it? And maybe this is reflected after the Stan Grant fiasco. Someone was arrested. I'm not sure where that story went, but do we start needing to go down that route, Jane, rather than everyone saying, Oh, it's terrible. Online abuse is terrible. We know that And it doesn't seem to be ending. Do we start arresting people?
JANE HUME: Well, I hope we don't get to that stage, Nat.
NATALIE BARR: Why not if they're abusing people, why aren't we arresting them?
JANE HUME: Well, some of them are very hard to track down. Certainly you don't have to go very far onto the politician's Twitter account to see that most of these accounts are, in fact, anonymous. The big fear for me is not necessarily what happens to us, but more what our families see. You know, the phrase that I hate to hear most is, ‘mum, you're trending’. Clare probably hasn't got that yet. Her kids are too young, but mine are sort of late teens, early 20s and they see what's said about me online that I find because you can't switch that off, I can't make them switch it off. And I think that's really disturbing because Clare's right, it is getting more violent. It is getting more abusive. Very, very personal, too. And yes, look, I think something might have to give. I just hope we don't get to a stage where something terrible happens that makes us all stand back and go, why didn't we do something earlier?
NATALIE BARR: Yeah. So? Well, instead of wringing our hands over this, every women's lunch I have ever been to, every panel I've ever been to, this is the topic you ladies would know. So let's start arresting them. They are not all anonymous. I've got some on my phone and you can track. I can see who they are, their family people. And they seem very normal. They're, you know, got normal jobs. If I can find them maybe the police can Clare.
CLARE O’NEIL: Yeah. I mean, I think we've got to ask real questions about why anonymity is being protected in this way. And a lot of these people are just total cowards who just want to, you know, say their violent comments and not be held accountable. I mean, I would say that as politicians like we do have to contact the police about these things. We do get real violent threats on ourselves, on our kids. And that part of things is really scary. But you're right, like this is not just about politicians. It reflects a kind of decline in civility across society that affects you, that affects lots of people who are watching your show right now. And I don't think there's any easy answers to that. But it's really important as a community that we talk about these experiences. And I thought what Stan Grant had to say was really powerful because we know that, you know, people of colour and women are going to be much more affected by these problems and they're really serious.
NATALIE BARR: Look, I know we say that and I'm sure it is, but Kochie’s had just as much abuse as all the rest of us. So it's a nationwide problem and it starts with teens. And so it gets worse from there with mental health. Finally today, approvals for new apartments have plummeted almost 17% to their lowest level in more than 11 years, which isn't good news for the rental and housing crisis. Clare, what is your plan to help those struggling to find a home? Because there was a report just out that said the roadblock is council planning laws. They say it's not. But a former RBA economist has just come out and said yes it is. I know that's not your patch, but can you, as my Nana said, get them together and bash their heads together
CLARE O’NEIL: Absolutely. Nat, I think the PM's will into that. So just quickly, this is a really big problem for my constituents and it's not something that's just happened over the last year. It's been a 30 or 40 year decline in the ability of normal Australians to buy their own home or even to access rental properties. So the Federal Government is in the game of this big time. We didn't see a lot of activity over the last decade, but I just mentioned to you that we've got something that's before the Senate at the moment the Housing Australia Futures Fund, which will build 30,000 affordable homes for Australians over the coming five years. Jane and her party at the moment are not letting that get debated and decided in the Senate. This is a really important part of the Federal Government's plan to help with this problem. We can't fix the problem completely because, as you note, other governments are involved, but we've rolled up our sleeves. We want to get active on this and we need Jane and her people to come with us on this, because this is a problem that affects not just my community, but communities right across Australia.
NATALIE BARR: Yeah, Jane, we know this is not the solution, but it's something. Why are you against it?
JANE HUME: It's not the solution. Nat In fact, the solution is supply. You put your, you know, you put your finger on the pulse just before when you said that supply is the issue. Let's get the premiers, Labor premiers wall to wall across the mainland of Australia together to say unlock supply, because unless you can unlock supply of housing, you simply won't bring the price of housing down government intervention is only one small part.
CLARE O’NEIL: But Jane, that's what we're trying to do. That's what we're trying to do.
JANE HUME: And the Housing Australia Future Fund is a flawed model that might in fact build zero houses if there's no earnings on that fund and we have to borrow 10 billion to do it. The private sector will do this, Clare. You just have to make sure that they open up supply so that they can do it. Get government out of the way, lower the taxes and open up supply.
CLARE O’NEIL: Jane, we're trying to act on this really urgent problem, and your party won't let us do it. If you want to complain about housing, get out of the way while we try to fix the problem.
NATALIE BARR: And in the meantime, let's get those planning laws sorted. We really need that. First of all, I think. Thank you, ladies. Great conversation.