Interview with Iskhandar Razak, ABC News Breakfast

31 March 2021


ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Now let's turn to some environmental news, and the Northern Corroboree Frog is one of Australia's most endangered species. It's, it's so rare the Federal Government is helping find a new breeding program to safeguard its future. With more, Environment Minister, Sussan Ley, joins us now from Taronga Zoo in Sydney.
Good morning to you, Minister. Looks pretty nice there at Taronga Zoo. But tell us more about the Corroboree Frog, how important is it? And what's been done?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, thanks, Iskhandar. This little frog, the Northern Corroboree Frog, there's probably only 1000 left in its range, 70 per cent was burnt during the bushfires. We were determined, with our early funding - part of a $200 million package - but right out of the blocks to help protect this and other endangered species with captive breeding. So, here at Taronga Zoo the amazing workforce that has such detailed knowledge of how to breed and reintroduce this frog back into the wild, is doing just that. So, we're opening a new facility dedicated to breeding the Northern Corroboree Frog. And, recognising that the alpine environment is incredibly fragile, we need to protect both the environment and the species within it. So, across the whole of that bushfire area we've spent, so far, $11 million with more to come to make sure we build back better, post-bushfires.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: And the frog itself, is it important in a, in a environmental standpoint? Is it- If we lose it, does it have repercussions?

SUSSAN LEY: All frogs are important - they're central to every ecosystem, to the web of life, and we don't want to lose any of them. Frogs, the world over, are being affected by a fungus, and frogs in Australia are no different. But the real threat for the Northern Corroboree Frog has been the bushfires, because 70 per cent of its range has burnt. And with only maybe 1000 left, it's so important that we send [audio skip] back into the wild.
So that's what the experts here at Taronga Zoo will be doing. They know how to breed these frogs, they know how, when and in what circumstances to reintroduce them, and we can keep doing that. This, this is just so important. And we all like to think of the furry animals when it comes to bushfires, and I'm sure a lot of your viewers love the koala as I do. But let's not forget that every species, every animal, every fish, is important when it comes to the ecosystem and its recovery.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Minister, while I have you, we do have to talk about some of the other news stories of the day and of the week and of the month really. But this morning we saw reports that a Liberal advisor is claiming that the new Home Affairs Minister, Karen Andrews, bullied and humiliated her. Karen Andrews denies it, but the report is out there. When you see this story, yet another story involving a politician and these kinds of workplace behaviours, what, what goes through your [audio skip]? What does it say about what is going on in Canberra?

SUSSAN LEY: Well, for the privacy of all concerned, I never comment on individual workplace matters - they're a matter for the workplace and there are appropriate processes in place. Stepping back, I'm very excited this week that Minister Andrews is taking on the portfolio of home affairs where she'll do an outstanding job. And others in the ministry, the female task force, we've never had this in Parliament. We're meeting, I think, early next week to talk about how we apply issues that are vital to Australian women in a huge range of circumstances, to all our individual policy areas. So I'm very excited about that. I think the commitment is genuine - well, I know the commitment is genuine. But I think, from the Australian people, they're seeing how we're responding to this call that started several weeks ago and is continuing.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Well, the march may have happened several weeks ago, but the call is- seems to be growing for a long time. We've been seeing issues like [audio skip] took so long?

SUSSAN LEY: I think we all took some time to tune in to what many women across Australia were saying - I mean, I'm not going to step back from that - and I think that we now have. I heard it loud and clear from rural and regional Australia, I've heard it from all corners from my electorate - small towns where women felt when they sat at a table and they haven't had a voice. It goes through society. There are women in a variety of situations that have been able, now, to speak up and talk about what they would like to see in their local areas, and how they want to make a difference. So it's not so much about our workplace - even though people often focus on that and I understand that, we have to have the most exemplary workplace in Australia, without a doubt - it's about every workplace, and it's every woman in that workplace having the feeling of being confident speak up when they know something is not right because of something that happened to them, or because of a conversation that they know is reflecting a poor culture in that workplace.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: [Talks over] Let's talk about this Cabinet taskforce co-chaired by Scott Morrison and Marise Payne. How does that work? And does that mean that you can now raise something new and different about workplace culture or women's issues?

SUSSAN LEY:  It means all women who sit at that table with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Women, Marise Payne, can speak up, across-the-board, about what concerns them or where they see policy development needing to head. So that's the importance of it. We are getting the strongest possible female ministry voice inputting into policy for women. Now, I don't see policy for women as necessarily always completely separate from other policy, however, I see it being much more strongly profiled than it has been before. And, strong policy that reflects 52 per cent of the [audio skip] population is better policy for the government overall.

ISKHANDAR RAZAK: Sussan Ley, thank you very much.

SUSSAN LEY: Thank you.