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PM accused of ‘disgraceful lie’ in heated exchange

Anthony Albanese at Canberra march

Source: ABC News

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has defended the decision to stop short of calling violence against women a national emergency, saying a “concerted plan” is needed instead.

Albanese will meet state and territory leaders on Wednesday to discuss solutions to resolve the national crisis.

It comes after mass marches across the country on the weekend as demonstrators called on governments to do more after the deaths of at least 27 women in 2024 from male violence.

At many of the marches, there were calls for the government to declare violence against women a national emergency.

Albanese, who was heckled when he turned out in Canberra on Sunday with Women’s Minister Katy Gallagher and Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth, said more long-term targeted action was needed.

“An emergency declaration by state or territory governments kicks in immediate, one-off actions by the federal government. What we need here is not one-off actions. What we need is a concerted plan,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

“This isn’t something that requires a one-off action. This is something that requires concerted action from all levels of government, from the media, from all levels of society to change culture, because this is a scourge.”

The 17 rallies across Australia drew an estimated 15,000 people in Melbourne, about 10,000 in Sydney and thousands more in Brisbane.

In Canberra, some of the crowd yelled “we want action”, “do your job” and “what are you even doing here?” after the government trio failed to declare the violence is a national emergency.

A row has also erupted between the government and march organiser Sarah Williams from non-profit group What Were You Wearing after Albanese told marchers that he and Gallagher had been barred from speaking.

“To be clear we did ask to speak, myself and Katy, and were told that that wasn’t possible and that’s fine, I respect the organisers’ right to do that,” he can be heard saying in ABC footage.

“We’re here today to demand that governments of all levels must do better, including my own, including every state and territory government.

“We’re here as well to say that society and Australia must do better. We need to change the culture. We need to change attitudes. We need to change the legal system.”

In the footage, Williams can be heard saying: “That’s a lie, that’s a full-out lie.”

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In a statement posted to Instagram, she accused Albanese of a “disgraceful lie”.

“Representatives from Gallagher and Albanese’s offices both said this morning that they were sure Katy would be happy to speak. Not the Prime Minister … Myself and WWYW never denied him from speaking. He never asked to speak,” she said.

Albanese played down the exchange on Monday, saying it should not become a distraction from the issue of gender-based violence.

“I’m focused on the issue … it was an emotional day for people and I get that. It is an emotional issue, because women were saying yesterday ‘enough is enough’,” he told Channel Nine.

PM on domestic violence

Source: Anthony Albanese

‘People want change’

The federal government is two years into a 10-year national plan on domestic violence.

Gallagher said the government had an open mind on further measures.

“I don’t think there’s any shortage of resources and commitment going into this,” she told ABC TV on Monday.

“But I think we always need to look at whether things are working, whether we need to shift focus or look at new ways, particularly in the area of prevention, about how we provide support and service.

“From our point of view, we have an open mind.”

Gallagher acknowledged more still needed to be done.

“People are wanting to see change happen faster than it’s been, and I think we all feel that,” she said.

“But we’ve also got to acknowledge that this is a very deeply embedded cultural problem in our community, and it isn’t one that one government or eight governments can solve. It’s a whole of community problem.”

Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek said the community anger was not surprising.

“We need to look at what government’s doing, what police are doing, what courts are doing, what emergency services are doing,” she told Seven’s Sunrise program.

“But we need to look at what is happening, particularly young men online, that is supporting these misogynist attitudes.”

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-with AAP

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