STATEMENT - Ukraine Statement

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THE HON. BILL SHORTEN

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG

 

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY


STATEMENT

  

UKRAINE 

 

MONDAY, 9 FEBRUARY 2015

Labor is very concerned about the continuing conflict in Ukraine.

Reports indicate that since April 2014, more than 5,300 people have been killed in the fighting.  That includes 38 Australians who tragically lost their lives when Russian backed rebels shot down Malaysia Airlines flight 17 over Ukraine.    

Russia must respect Ukraine’s sovereignty.  It is completely unacceptable that Russia has failed to act in accordance with the agreement reached in Minsk last September.

We urge all parties to resolve their concerns diplomatically, without further bloodshed.  We welcome talks scheduled for this week between France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia.

Australia has been directly affected by this terrible conflict.  The Government must be doing all it can to help bring about a peaceful resolution. 

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Berkeley Vale, NSW Central Coast, Monday 2 February 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

BERKELEY VALE, NSW CENTRAL COAST

MONDAY, 2 FEBRUARY 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Liberal cuts and broken promises; Peter Greste’s release; Queensland election; Central Coast environmental issues

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: It is a great pleasure to be here on the coast with David Mehan, David Harris and my friend Deb O'Neil talking about both state and federal issues. We have been talking about cost of living issues particularly for seniors today and what we have heard loud and clear is that seniors are really suffering. They are suffering from the $23 billion in pension cuts that Tony Abbott’s made, from the cuts to superannuation, from the plan to increase the pension retirement age. But they are also concerned about a whole range of cost of living issues that don’t just affect them but affect their kids and grandkids. The fact that a family on $60,000 a year is $6500 worse off because of Tony Abbott's budget cuts, the $50 billion cut to hospitals, the $30 billion cut from our schools. But there’s also the effect of Mike Baird's cost of living increases. The increasing cost of electricity, gas, water and of course council rates as well. Did you want to ask...?

JOURNALIST: Yeah, specifically if I could ask you just about your reaction to Peter Greste’s release overnight?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course every Australian is delighted to hear that Peter Greste has been released. I know that his family have been so incredibly supportive and such great advocates for Peter and for the men that he was arrested with. I know that his family will be so relieved to have him back. No journalist should be gaoled for simply doing their job and as pleased as we are to have Peter back I think it is very important that Australia continues to be part of international efforts to see the release of the two colleagues that he was arrested with.

JOURNALIST: Mrs Bishop has already spoken to him, do you intend to get in contact with him?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course I have left a message with his parents this morning, I know that they will be beside themselves with excitement that Peter is returning and I’ll look forward to speaking with him when he has had a chance to have a bit of a rest.

JOURNALIST: It has been a long time but now on his release, were you happy with the way the Government handled it, would you have handled it any differently?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s very important to say that our diplomats were working around the clock to secure Peter Greste’s release. They were doing the best possible job they could, both supporting Peter day to day while he was in gaol, but also working with the Egyptian authorities to secure his release. I certainly hope that our diplomats will continue to advocate for nationals of other countries that are facing the same gaol time that Peter was facing simply for doing his job as a journalist. I think it’s of course been frustrating for all of Peter’s family, friends and supporters that it’s taken so long to secure his release. He was an innocent, he was innocent all along, he was a journalist simply doing his job.

JOURNALIST: Just another question if we get back to local issues but you were part of a government that cut down its leader, what advice have you got for the Coalition now?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think Tony Abbott is obviously facing real problems but the problem is not Tony Abbott, the man, the problem is the Liberal Party, the policy. We saw at the time of the last Budget in May, a range of spectacularly bad decisions about cuts to all of the services that Australian families rely on. Cuts to health, cuts to education, $100,000 university degrees, $23 billion cut to pensions that means aged pensioners will be up to $80 a week worse off. These policies should be junked, they can junk the leader but if they don’t junk the policies they’ll still be in deep trouble

JOURNALIST: We have news coming out today that he’s actually junked his Paid Parental Leave Scheme, is that good news?

PLIBERSEK: Well this was always a dog of a scheme. We’ve been saying for years that this is a dog of a scheme. What kind of government designs a scheme that gives the biggest benefit to the families that already have the most money? It was a flawed scheme from the very beginning. But what we need to see- the thing that is really putting pressure on Australian families are cuts to family tax benefit, and massive cuts to childcare, more than $1 billion cut out of childcare. So Tony Abbott can junk the Paid Parental Leave Scheme but if he doesn’t do something to give families some relief from the cuts that were made in the last Budget, to family tax benefit for example, and the massive cuts, billions of dollars of cuts in childcare, then we’ll be no better off.

JOURNALIST: I guess the March election is certainly drawing closer, does Queensland’s result over the weekend bring a boost to the party?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the result in Queensland over the weekend is spectacular and Annastacia Palaszczuk should be very proud of the campaign that she ran. She has achieved what many people thought was unachievable. It’s a terrific result and the very, very strong message here is that voters will not accept being lied to. Campbell Newman came in and made a whole lot of promises, he said public servants didn’t need to worry, there wouldn’t be public service job cuts, there wouldn’t be cuts to health or education. Many of the same things Tony Abbott said, no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no cuts to the ABC and SBS, no change to pensions and no new taxes. Tony Abbott’s broken all those promises just as Campbell Newman broke his promises to the voters of Queensland. Campbell Newman’s paid the price, I think Tony Abbott’s paying the price. It’s a very strong message to governments of all persuasions that you can’t promise one thing before election, get elected and do the exact opposite. There are a number of promises made up here on the Central Coast before the last state election and I’ll let David and David speak to those promises and the way that the Baird Government has broken those commitments to the voters of the Central Coast. You can’t do that, Australians won’t accept it.

JOURNALIST:  You were here this morning, what sort of feedback on this issue were you getting today?

PLIBERSEK: Well we had a lot of people obviously talking about their concerns about cuts to pensions, cuts to Medicare, their kids and grandkids facing cuts to family tax benefit and unaffordable university education, TAFE closures. But we also had a very strong message about local people disappointed in the dishonest and deceptive representation that they’ve had from Liberals here on the Central Coast and those people who have been caught up in the ICAC controversies up here, and a very strong message about environmental promises that were made about mining and other environmental issues on the Central Coast. Very clear commitments made before the election, broken moments after the state election. And I think, well I might give the state candidates an opportunity to talk a little about those. Which David wants to go first?

DAVID MEHAN, STATE LABOR CANDIDATE FOR THE ENTRANCE: I think the issue for the Central Coast in the lead up to March 28 is ‘Who is going to stand up to Tony Abbott and the cuts Canberra have imposed on the Central Coast and on NSW?’ The local Liberals haven’t, certainly Mike Baird won’t. Only a vote for Labor will ensure that someone is arguing against Tony Abbott in NSW. Certainly in my electorate of the Entrance, the Pacific Highway at Ourimbah was announced as a new initiative of the Baird Government last week, we’ll need to go back in time and remember that Labor had already programed to have that work completed over the last four years and we were going to do it within the budget. Now Baird has come down the coast and said you will only have the Pacific Highway if you privatise electricity. That’s not good enough. We concluded stages one and two of Ourimbah within the budget while maintaining a AAA credit rating in NSW. Now Baird, Tony Abbott’s mate in NSW, has come to the coast and said you’ll only get stage three if you privatise electricity. It’s not good enough and we need better on the Central Coast.

JOURNALIST: So is that not true? It’s a lie?

MEHAN: That’s not true, it’s a lie. Duncan Gay has made a quip that people on the Central Coast hadn’t seen tractors and bulldozers in Ourimbah. Stage one and two were complete under the former Labor Government. The Advocate put a photo montage which was just a false representation of road works happening at Ourimbah. These were road works that happened under Labor. These guys can’t be trusted. The promises they’ve made in the lead up to the 2011 election haven’t been lived up to. The only people who are going to stand up to Tony Abbott and make sure the Central Coast gets what it deserves are the Labor candidates who have been arguing the case for many years.

DAVID HARRIS, STATE LABOR CANDIDATE FOR WYONG: I concur with my colleagues of course. This morning I’ve been up at Wadalba, fighting another environmental issue. It’s an issue that’s very dear to my heart. Last week we were able to save a local park that the Liberals on council had tried to develop. Today we’re up there fighting for an endangered sea eagle’s nest. People might say that’s not very important but when you’re building suburbs which are wall to wall houses you need to keep the environment that people move to this area for and what we’re seeing is that under the Liberals with their tree-felling policies etc, that they’re not worried about people’s lifestyles, they’re not worried about our local environment, they’re just worried about developer dollars and that’s not surprising when you find out that it was the developers that made donations to them before the last election even though it wasn’t the right thing to do and ICAC is certainly dealing with that. But the one thing that people on the Central Coast, and Wyong in particular, are very upset about is and they talk to me about it everyday is the broken promise on Wallarah Two coal mine. It was written in blood, no ifs, no buts, we will not let this mine go ahead. They’ve broken that promise. They’re putting pressure on the Darkinjung Aboriginal people to reconsider their opposition to letting the mine come on to their land. People need to remember that. You can’t stand up before an election and say hand on heart that you’ll do one thing and as soon as the election is over go back to them and say ‘oh no things have changed’. People vote for you because of what you say. The Liberals have proven through their actions that they can’t be trusted.

JOURNALIST: In terms of the fight for the eagle’s nest up their today, what’s actually happening? I know the community environment network was going to put in a complaint to the Department of Environment about this. Where is it at today?

HARRIS: Look when I was the local member I worked with the council at the time and residents to make sure that there were defined green corridors in that area because of the size of the developments that were going to take place. What we find with the sea eagle’s nest is that an amendment was put in saying that they had surveyed the area wrongly and they wanted to tack on some extra land. Now the current council with their development policy who have abolished their environment group within the council, there is no environment group within the council, there is no environment director anymore which is symptomatic of what Liberals are doing across the state, has put this nest at danger. Now there are only 800 nesting pairs in the whole of the east coast from Toowoomba coming all the way down into NSW. We need to protect these things they’re important to the community. I was out doorknocking in the area yesterday and people said to me they moved to the area for the lifestyle and the environment. Well guess what if you keep voting the Liberals in you won’t have the lifestyle and you won’t have the environment and you may as well be living in a suburb in Sydney and that's not what people want.

JOURNALIST: Do you know how it can be stopped though?

HARRIS: Well we’ve managed to have it fenced off through our Labor councillors at the moment.

JOURNALIST: When did that happen?

HARRIS: That happened in the last few days. We’ve been told, we understand that, they’re only prepared to keep the tree safe until the chicks leave the nest and then after that the tree would be removed. What we’re saying is it was a part of the original plan. They shouldn’t have put an amendment in, it should have gone out to public consultation in a proper way, not over Christmas when everyone is on holidays and the local newspaper isn’t being published and they need to protect it. What we are talking about is 600 - 800 new houses and we can’t protect 10 metres of bushland along the fringe. People just see this as unreasonable. We’re not against development, development will happen but we must protect our green areas.

JOURNALIST: Just one final question. I guess in the last week, or the last two weeks, we’ve seen a lot of visits from both sides of politics to the Central Coast. Do you think that reflects that the Central Coast is shaping up as a key battle ground for the March 28 election?

PLIBERSEK: Well the Central Coast has always been important to Labor. We know that we have a lot of communities up here that value the lifestyle and the environment of living on the Central Coast. But we know the coast has also had its challenges. It’s had challenges with the local TAFEs, with public transport, pockets of poverty living up here as well. And so we’ve been very active over many years including Deb’s great work as a local federal Labor Member and Senator to make sure the people of the Central Coast have a strong voice. Now this isn’t my first visit here. I’ve been here many times to talk with local residents about many different issues over the years. I’m thrilled to be back here again not just because there is the state election in a few weeks time but because this is a growing area that deserves strong representation and what they’ve been given by the NSW Liberals are a bunch of dodgy people who’ve been prepared to make promises before the election and break them five minutes after.

ENDS

 

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STATEMENT - The Hon. Tom Uren

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

STATEMENT

THE HON. TOM UREN AC

 MONDAY, 26 JANUARY 2015

Tom Uren was, to me and so many of my generation in Labor politics, our great inspiration, our elder statesman, and an unstintingly generous and loving mentor and friend.

Among the last veterans of World War II to serve in the House of Representatives, Tom’s wartime experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese left him not with bitterness, but with an abiding conviction of the importance of mutual support and collective aid – of the strong helping the weak, the well helping the ill, of those who could bear a heavier burden willingly shouldering that load in the interests of all.

It left him, too, with a great faith in the power of love versus hate.  He would always emphasise to those of us to whom he so willingly gave his time, his wisdom, and his experience, that there is no profit in hate, either in personal relationships or in politics.  He would quote Martin Luther King’s words, that hate scars the soul.

Loving as he was, he could still be tough: tough in the pursuit of fairness, justice, and peace, tough in his battles to protect the Sydney Harbour foreshore for public use and to restore and invigorate the working-class neighbourhoods of inner Sydney.  And if you disappointed him, or he disagreed with you, he let you know.

The face of our city, and the survival of the working-class communities within the inner city areas, is down to Tom.  He lived a long and a rich and full life, but the legacy he left us will last far longer.

He was one of Labor’s, and the Left’s, great champions, never hesitating to state his beliefs, always ready to speak out for the voiceless, the dispossessed, for those in need.

We are all the poorer for losing him.  He was much loved throughout the Party, and will be very greatly missed.

 

 

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Brisbane, Friday 23 January 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND

FRIDAY, 23 JANUARY 2015

SUBJECT/S: Campbell Newman's plan to privatise bus and train services; WorkChoices; Tony Abbott in hiding; Bali Nine; David Hicks.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: I’m joined by my federal colleague of course Terri Butler, who’s also the Chair of our Cost of Living committee and she’ll make a brief statement later about the cost of living indications of both the bus privatisation that we’re talking about today, the transport privatisation, but also if you want to ask her any questions about the reanimation of WorkChoices I’m sure she’s happy to say a few words about that. We’ve also got Labor’s candidate for Chatsworth, Paul Keene, our candidate for Bulimba, Di Farmer, and Councillor Steve Griffiths. Steve has responsibility for public transport on behalf of the Labor opposition up here and I’m sure he’s happy to answer any questions as well.

We know what happens when state governments privatise public transport. We only have to look at the example of Victoria, what happened under Jeff Kennett when he privatised public transport in Victoria. What we saw were fewer services, more chaotic services and substantial price increases. Fewer buses and fewer routes, and higher costs. If you look at the privatisation experience in Victoria you see that public transport costs rose very substantially for commuters including a 20 percent increase over one, two-year period. But it is not just the increased costs that worry commuters, it’s the reduced services. And in Victoria, in particular, we also saw questions about on-time running, about the reliability of braking systems for example, and other issues about the quality of the service. Now Jeff Kennett said at the time that if they privatised public transport in Victoria instead of being a liability it would become an asset, and in fact Jeff Kennett predicted by around about this time the Victorian public transport system would be returning about 20 million dollars a year to Victorian state coffers. Well the exact opposite is true. The last figures I saw, the Victorian public transport system was costing the Victorian government about $2.6 billion a year. It is a pretty substantial difference, $20 million profit compared to the $2.6 billion loss. So the history of privatisation of public transport systems is not a good one, it is not a good one for commuters and of course it is not a good one for the staff of those services. We have got right across the road here a bus depot that employs a large number of people, those people living in, spending in the local community and of course contribute to the economic health of this local community and when you start to see the sackings, you also see the loss of confidence and the loss of income for the whole community. The effects of that are very- they’re not just an effect on the individuals who lose their jobs, it’s an effect on whole community and you can see that with the tens of thousands of public servants that have already lost their jobs in Queensland. Instead of Queensland being an economic powerhouse, as Campbell Newman claimed, in fact you see higher unemployment and higher debt today than when they took office. Any questions about this or any other federal issues and then I’ll hand over to Terri to say a few words.

JOURNALIST: Just on the Federal issue of the Productivity Commission's report, do you believe that this is a sign that the Coalition intends to bring back WorkChoices?

PLIBERSEK: Well it is clearly a sign that this is a softening up exercise for a return to WorkChoices. The Coalition has said that WorkChoices is dead and buried, it looks like it was just sleeping. What you see is the zombie policy of the Coalition, the policy that just won’t die. They’ve said it is dead and buried. It’s back to haunt us.

JOURNALIST: What should the Government do in regards to the two Aussies officially in line for the firing squad in Indonesia?

PLIBERSEK: I have just come from a briefing with the Prime Minister's Office on the fate of the two Australians who are on death row in Indonesia. Of course both the Government and the Opposition are united in pleading clemency from the Indonesian Government. Of course these two young men have done the wrong thing and of course they should be punished but Labor always believes that the death penalty is wrong. The death penalty is wrong for anyone in any circumstance and we will always advocate for Australians who are facing the death penalty. Beyond that I would say that it is not just Australians, we believe that the death penalty is wrong in any case, in any country, at any time.

JOURNALIST: What is your reaction to [inaudible] David Hick’s case?

PLIBERSEK: Well I have seen reports from Mr Hicks’ lawyers that it may be that his conviction will be overturned. Of course David Hicks faced an American judicial system and was convicted under their laws. So we’ll watch with interest any further statement from the Government of the United States. If it is the case the conviction is overturned, and that it was based on wrong facts then of course there are questions for the Australian Government of the day in what they accepted as fair treatment of David Hicks and proper gathering of information at the time of his trial.

JOURNALIST: [Inaudible]

PLIBERSEK: Look I am not going to speculate any further on this because the reports are only initial reports and I’d like to see more information. As a general statement I would say that I think you need to be very cautious when you talk about paying people for their stories when you have been through the legal process.

JOURNALIST: Do you think he should have compensation if he is completely clear?

PLIBERSEK: Look I am sorry, the facts are very- there are just not enough facts out there for me to make more specific comments about what should happen. These are only initial reports. It appears that they have come from Mr Hicks’ legal team rather than from the Government of the United States so we really do need to know more before making further comment.

JOURNALIST: You and Bill Shorten have been spending a lot of time up here during this campaign. Can we read anything into that about what you think about Ms Palaszczuk’s leadership?

PLIBERSEK: You can read into that that we are proud of our Queensland colleagues and the fantastic line-up of candidates that the Labor Party is offering in the upcoming State election. I think it is highly ironic that Tony Abbott is pretending that the reason he is not here is because Campbell Newman is somehow doing a great job. Tony Abbott, you couldn’t get him out of Queensland at the time of the last State election, he was camped out in Campbell Newman’s back bedroom. The fact that he is not here now is for electoral reasons. The policies that Tony Abbott has introduced have damaged Queenslanders. He has taken $6 billion out of the education system, more than $10 billion from the hospital system. And when Tony Abbott’s here, he reminds voters of everything they do not like about the Liberal party in Canberra and everything they do not like about the LNP here in Queensland. The LNP here in Queensland simply have not stood up against these cuts made by the Federal Government and Tony Abbott is a constant reminder of that. Terri, do you want to say a few words about the cost of living?

TERRI BUTLER, MEMBER FOR GRIFFITH: Thanks. Obviously cost of living is a great concern to everyone here in Queensland and particularly to those people from the bus depot who are staring down the privatisation because we know of course that privatisation generally leads to attacks on their wages and conditions. There is an unfortunate trend in Australia at the moment, attacks on wages and conditions. We saw the release from the Productivity Commission issues paper under the Productivity Commission Inquiry that Joe Hockey snuck out the Friday before Christmas. We saw that released a day early yesterday and the issues paper has been out today. And what is really clear from that issues paper is that penalty rates are squarely in the sights of the Abbott Government, the wages and conditions are squarely in the sight of the Abbott Government.

We talk about return of Work Choices and whether Work Choices was really dead, buried and cremated but as Tanya said WorkChoices was just sleeping. We know that under WorkChoices one of the key components was individual agreements, and under those individual agreements, 63 percent of them abolished penalty rates. We have had backbenchers like Dan Tehan coming out and doing some running for the Government saying that penalty rates need to be looked at. Penalty rates are under attack from this Government, there should be no doubt about that. And every working person whose wages rely on penalty rates as part of their ordinary earnings every week should be concerned about the revival of WorkChoices.

ENDS

 

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TRANSCRIPT - Television Interview, ABC News Breakfast, Thursday 22 January 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TELEVISION INTERVIEW

ABC NEWS BREAKFAST

THURSDAY, 22 JANUARY 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Questions for Julie Bishop and Alexander Downer over party at London diplomatic residence; political donations; Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott’s cuts; Abbott Government chaos and in-fighting; Manus Island.

BEVERLEY O’CONNOR: To another story now, it's emerged that the Australian High Commissioner's taxpayer owned London home was thrown open last year for a party hosted by a hedge fund billionaire and President of the Liberal Party. The Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says it was all above board.

But her Opposition counterpart Tanya Plibersek says there are many questions to be answered and she joins us now. Tanya Plibersek, thank you for your time this morning. Now we've heard from Julie Bishop already today, she insists that it had nothing to do with party political matters, DFAT has confirmed that the function was paid for quite separately. What are the issues as you see it?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well I think it's highly unusual for the High Commissioner's personal taxpayer-funded private residence to be used in this way without the High Commissioner present. Of course it's perfectly appropriate for the High Commissioner to host businesses that might be interested in investing in Australia or Australian businesses that are looking to do business in London. But why not be there to spruik the benefits of those businesses doing business in Australia if that's what the function was about? And as for the expenses being picked up, of course catering is one thing, but we're talking about staff time, security, all of those other expenses as well.

O’CONNOR: So you would have no issue had the High Commissioner been there and taken advantage of what was a private function?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I'd like to know what the benefits are for Australian taxpayers in having a taxpayer-funded residence made available in this way. I think it's important for the Government to answer questions about what the benefits have been for Australian taxpayers.

O’CONNOR: So you are happy to accept the explanation that it wasn't a party political fundraiser in any way?

PLIBERSEK: Well, no, I'm not convinced that that is clearly established by the facts. You have got the President of the Liberal Party inviting a substantial donor to the Conservative party in Britain and making a, I believe, very nice residence available for a private function. It's not really clear what the purpose was of the function and indeed what the benefits have been to Australian taxpayers of hosting it in this way.

O’CONNOR: What are your thoughts if we go to the Brisbane election in terms of a topic like this that has the become quite an issue, that is fundraisers being used and being cash for access to the politician, both by the LNP and by Annastacia Palaszczuk, something that Anna Bligh had outlawed?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's very important to note that Labor in Queensland had tightened electoral funding laws and Campbell Newman as one of his first acts has been to make it easier to donate in secret to the LNP or to any political party in Queensland. I think political parties will always seek to raise funds to run election campaigns, what's very important is that voters have the opportunity to know who is donating to those political campaigns as soon as possible, as transparently as possible and not at those very high rates that you see conservative parties trying to introduce. I think there should be lower disclosure thresholds than we see in Queensland, and the principle should be low disclosure thresholds, fast disclosure - not months after an election is called, and personally I'd also be interested to seeing caps on spending in elections because while ever you have an arms race of electoral spending, there will be pressure on political parties to raise funds to meet those requirements.

O’CONNOR: What do you make too of the Federal side of politics being really asked on both sides to stay out of the Queensland election, it looks like Campbell Newman really wants this to be fought on home turf issues only?

PLIBERSEK: I've been in Queensland quite a bit this week in Brisbane, surrounding areas, up in Townsville and so on and I can tell you Queensland voters like most people around Australia don't differentiate between State and Federal issues in terms of service delivery. What they see is larger classroom sizes, fewer teachers, they see almost 5,000 people lost from the Queensland health system, their hospitals understaffed and they actually expect Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman to work together to provide decent services to Queenslanders. What we see is a Queensland Government that's cut funding from health, education, infrastructure and a Federal Government that has doubled down on that and made the provision of those services worse for Queenslanders. I think the reception that Bill Shorten's got, and I have and my Federal colleagues, has been very warm in Queensland, because Queenslanders feel the effects both of Federal cuts and Campbell Newman's cuts and they certainly don't have Campbell Newman standing up to Tony Abbott, when Tony Abbott cuts $10 billion from the hospital system up there or $6 billion from schools they don't have Campbell Newman complaining about that, they have him explaining Tony Abbott's cuts to Queenslanders and justifying them.

O’CONNOR: Talking of Tony Abbott, Tanya Plibersek, we know that he certainly exploited Labor's leadership divisions when you were in office, are you planning to do the same to Tony Abbott now we are hearing rumbling from his backbench?

PLIBERSEK: With friends like Tony Abbott's got, I don't know if they need the Labor Party to exploit divisions. Of course, it's pretty concerning that you've got people leaking out of the expenditure review committee of Cabinet and defending their own positions, you got a former Health Minister and a Treasurer saying it wasn't us, it was the Prime Minister. But what I'd say is more concerning than this sort of exercise of undermining of Tony Abbott by his colleagues is the actually substance of the matter. The substance of the matter is you've got a Government that is determined to destroy Medicare and particularly determined to destroy bulk-billing. When I was the Health Minister I saw it as one of my key performance indicators how high I could get bulk-billing rate, I wanted people to be bulk-billed, I was happy when the rates went up. What you have now is a Government that thinks too many people are already being bulk-billed and that we should lower the rates. It's a completely perverted view of the benefits of Medicare. We have one of the best health systems in the world, we have fine dedicated health workers across Australia, who want to be free to look after their patients, not worry about fighting with the Government. The real concern is not the infighting in the Government but the chaos that that's causing in health policy, in education policy and across the board.

O’CONNOR: If I could also ask you one final question and of course it was a policy started by Kevin Rudd in the dying days of that Government, the policy to send refugees to Manus Island and Nauru. What are your thoughts as you see these stories of attempted suicides and great disruption at Manus?

PLIBERSEK: I'm extremely concerned at the reports that are coming out of Manus Island at the moment. I believe most Australians would be. We saw the shocking loss of the life of Reza Berati almost a year ago and it is completely unacceptable to see the secrecy that surrounds what's happening on Manus at the moment.

O’CONNOR: So is it a policy you would abandon if in Government now?

PLIBERSEK: It's certainly the case that we wouldn't see people treated in the way that people are being treated on Manus Island at the moment and we wouldn't accept the culture of secrecy that this Government has shrouded the events on Manus Island with.

O’CONNOR: Tanya Plibersek, thanks for your time.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

ENDS

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MEDIA RELEASE - Julie Bishop and Alexander Downer Have Serious Questions to Answer

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

MEDIA RELEASE

 

JULIE BISHOP AND ALEXANDER DOWNER HAVE SERIOUS QUESTIONS TO ANSWER 

 THURSDAY, 22 JANUARY 2015   

The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, and Australia's High Commissioner to the UK, Alexander Downer have serious questions to answer about reports that Liberal Party President, Richard Alston, and a billionaire hedge fund manager were allowed to host a lavish private party at Australia's official diplomatic residence in London.

Ms Bishop and Mr Downer, a former Liberal Foreign Minister, must immediately explain whether the taxpayer funded residence was used in any way to help raise money for the Liberal Party, or the UK Conservative Party.

If there is nothing to hide, the guest list and any costs incurred should be released in full to the public.

Reports suggest that the High Commissioner, Mr Downer, did not attend the party.

Ms Bishop and Mr Downer must also say why they think it is appropriate to lend the residence for entertaining purposes, especially if the High Commissioner is not present.

Who else have they allowed to use the High Commissioner's residence in this way?

It's understood it is extremely unusual for the High Commissioner not to be present for functions hosted at the official residence, given the importance of keeping things like sensitive communications equipment secure.

 

     

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Townsville, Tuesday 20 January 2015

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

TOWNSVILLE, QUEENSLAND

TUESDAY, 20 JANUARY 2015

 

SUBJECT/S: Campbell Newman's asset sell-off; Campbell Newman's and Tony Abbott's cuts; Tony Abbott in hiding; Abbott Government chaos and in-fighting; Manus Island; Tony Abbott's $100,000 university degrees

 

CORALEE O’ROURKE, LABOR CANDIDATE FOR MUNDINGBURRA: Today, look, I’m very excited to have Tanya Plibersek, Deputy Leader of the Opposition federally, spending time with the candidates of Townsville. All three of us, we’re actually covering a cross-section of industries, be it from early years education and care, health, teaching and we’re actually hearing that there is a lot of - we’re speaking with a lot of people that are very concerned about those particular areas.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Thank you, it’s great pleasure for me to be here today with Scott Stewart, Aaron Harper and Coralee O’Rourke, our three candidates for the Townsville area. We have just come from the port obviously, where we were having a look at a terrific hospital ship that’s been developed by Youth with a Mission, a great organisation that has a very strong presence locally and that ship’s going to make its first journey to PNG in a few months’ time and it is great to see that the second ship that they’ve bought and the plans they have for fitting that out as a hospital ship.

But one of the reasons that we wanted to come to Townsville was because Campbell Newman has a privatisation agenda that includes selling the assets of ports like this, long term leasing them, an asset of course that belongs to the people of Townsville and the people of Queensland and using that money to bankroll short term promises to get himself re-elected. He is proposing to sell the assets that belong to all Queenslanders to buy himself the next election. We have come here from the port but of course the port is not the only asset in Townsville that risks privatisation; Ergon energy of course if that is privatised, you see the risk of 900 jobs.

Townsville of course is a community that cannot afford to lose 900 jobs. It has already got higher than state average unemployment; 8.7 percent adult unemployment, 15.9 percent youth unemployment, both above the state average and those privatisations risk further job losses. Those job losses in those privatised industries have flow on effects. We know that if you haven’t got a job yourself, you cannot afford to stop for a cup of coffee on the way to work, you can’t afford to get your hair cut as often as you’d like and so the whole of the Townsville economy will of course be affected by those privatisations.

And this is just part of Campbell Newman’s negative agenda for Queensland. People have sent a very strong message that they do not want privatisation here in Townsville but Campbell Newman is not listening. He is not listening on the issue of privatisation, just as he never listened on the health cuts, just as he never listened on education policies. Townsville Hospital was one of the first places to suffer those massive job losses in the health sector, with over 200 jobs lost in nursing and allied health services almost immediately after Campbell Newman came into power and Queenslanders do not forget. They won't put up with thousands of job losses, cuts to their local health services, cuts to teacher numbers, threats to public education and then find five minutes before midnight when Campbell Newman calls a snap election that all this [inaudible].

JOURNALIST: It is obviously a state issue, why are federal shadow ministers continuing to come to Queensland and talk about these issues, I mean, can’t the Queensland Labor representatives fight the battle themselves?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the real question is where is Tony Abbott and why is he in hiding? You know, Tony Abbott could not wait to get here to support Campbell Newman last time around, he basically moved into Campbell's back bedroom for the course of the last Queensland election and now Tony Abbott is nowhere to be seen. The reason Tony Abbott’s nowhere to be seen is because he is box office poison. The cuts that Campbell Newman has made in health, in education, in transport, in infrastructure, they are made doubly worse because the Federal Government has also been cutting. The Federal Government has cut $10 billion from health services here in Queensland and $6 billion from Queensland schools. You know Campbell Newman on his own, Tony Abbott on his own, bad enough, but the two of them together are a disaster. It is like having the flu and coming down with a particularly nasty bout of food poisoning to have Campbell Newman here in Queensland and Tony Abbott in Canberra.

Of course Labor Federal members are here to support their Labor state colleagues because it is all about the quality of life for Queenslanders. We know that Queenslanders don’t care whether it's a state government, a federal government, or a local council delivering a service they just want good schools for their kids, a decent hospital when they need it, they need decent public transport systems, they need good post-secondary education for their kids so that they can take up the job opportunities of the future and we are committed to working in a united way with our state candidates. And I’ve got to say, Coralee mentioned this before, how lucky are we here in Townsville to have three Labor candidates that represent such diverse backgrounds. We’ve got Coralee who has worked in early childhood education, we’ve got high schools, we’ve got the health sector with Aaron’s work as a paramedic. I mean, we’ve got candidates that have been motivated to stand for the Labor Party because they have seen the effects of these budget cuts firsthand.

JOURNALIST: That still does not explain why federal shadow ministers are continuing to come to Queensland. Are they unable to fight the battle for themselves?

PLIBERSEK: Absolutely not, we have got fine candidates on the ground and I’m standing with three of them now. What I say to you is Tony Abbott could not wait to get here at the time of the last election. He spent every day with Campbell Newman, you know putting out press releases in support of him, doing social media with him, right here on the ground. That was the last election. What has changed? Why is Tony Abbott in hiding now? We know he is in hiding because people do not support his attacks on Medicare, his $900 million cut to Queensland universities, his $10 billion cut to hospitals here, his $6 billion cut to education, to school education. They do not support the fact that Campbell Newman has been silent as Tony Abbott has sucked resources out of this state, cancelled projects, infrastructure projects, and sent that money down south. The real question is not ‘why am I here to stand with these terrific candidates?’, the real question is ‘why isn’t Tony Abbott backing up for a second campaign with Campbell Newman?’ and the answer is because they are both poison.

JOURNALIST: Do you think that we will see any additional colleagues from the LNP up here in Townsville before next, Saturday week?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I am very surprised that you don’t even see Queensland LNP members, Federal members campaigning with state candidates very often and that is because the agenda that Tony Abbot is running in Canberra, it has been rejected comprehensively by Queenslanders. They do not want cuts to health and education, they do not want the cuts to infrastructure funding, they don’t want [inaudible]. Tony Abbott and Campbell Newman both came to government promising reduce unemployment and to reduce government debt, both of them have failed in those missions. Of course federal coalition members are not campaigning up here, they’ve got nothing to be proud of.

JOURNALIST: Labor has its own plans to use profits from assets to fund their promises, is there a risk that for example the profits from the Townsville port could be spent in the southeast of the state.

PLIBERSEK: Well, what we have said is it makes absolutely no sense to sell assets that are bringing in money for taxpayers - instead use that money that is coming in to pay down debt but also to invest in the services and the infrastructure that Queenslanders need.

JOURNALIST: Isn’t much of the money already been used though, I mean can you really double-dip?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it’s important to say how you would use that money. And what we know from Campbell Newman is that you get a one-off sugar hit as those assets are sold and then nothing forever after that.

JOURNALIST: I’ve got a question for my colleagues down in Canberra. It seems there’s someone leaking internal government information about tensions between the Treasurer and the Prime Minister, do you think the Prime Minister should be worried about his job?

PLIBERSEK: Well the leaks that you have seen in the last couple of days come from the Expenditure Review Committee of the Cabinet, that’s a very small group of people and the fact that it has been reported that both the previous Health Minister Peter Dutton and the Treasurer Joe Hockey were opposed to the measure that the Prime Minister was supposedly pushing to make it more expensive for ordinary Australians to visit their doctor - it shows that either Peter Dutton or Joe Hockey placed the story. I think the Prime Minister should be very worried about that kind of arse-covering exercise by his colleagues.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]… would Labor close down Manus Island if it was re-elected?

PLIBERSEK: Well what you absolutely need to see is a government that takes charge of what is happening on Manus Island now and tells the people of Australia exactly what is going on. We saw a very half-hearted press conference today from the Prime Minister and the new Immigration Minister. It left more questions unanswered than were actually answered. This is a very large [inaudible]… taxpayers of Australia. Taxpayers deserve to know that the centre is being run properly and that the people that are housed there are safe.

JOURNALIST: What would Labor do to fix that?

PLIBERSEK: Well for a start, you need a minister who is honest with the people of Australia about what is going on there, actually does not indulge in this culture of secrecy. And we need to work with international organisations to describe to the people who are on Manus Island what comes next for them.

JOURNALIST: And to higher education reforms, [inaudible]… policy passed through, would Labour look at some concessions perhaps to strike up a deal?

PLIBERSEK: Well, this is a bit rich really, what the Government is saying is that you have got a generation of students being held to ransom if Labor does not do something then this generation of students will suffer. What we have seen is a cut of about 20 percent of the average investment of Commonwealth Government into university courses, you have got university students who are facing $100,000, $200,000 university degrees. It’s actually up to the Government to come up with a solution that shows that we value higher education. We know that Australia will never compete internationally unless we continue to invest in our young people and in our future. We have seen Australian universities produce some magnificent graduates, do wonderful research, and this argument that cutting billions of dollars is somehow going to improve our university system is a complete furphy.

ENDS

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MEDIA RELEASE - Boko Haram Attack in Nigeria

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

MEDIA RELEASE

BOKO HARAM ATTACK IN NIGERIA

 

MONDAY, 12 JANUARY 2015

Labor is extremely disturbed by reports that as many as 2,000 people have been killed in Nigeria as part of the latest attack by listed terrorist organisation Boko Haram.

Reports suggest that many of the victims were children, women, and the elderly. News of this horrific incident follows a string of other attacks by Boko Haram, including the kidnapping last year of more than 200 girls from a Nigerian secondary school.

The Australian Government must condemn any such attacks in the strongest possible terms.

These terrible events underscore how important it is for Australia, and others, to help improve stability in the region - including through our overseas aid program.

That’s why it’s so disappointing that in just over a year the Abbott Government has cut more than $118 million from Australian aid to Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

 

 

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STATEMENT - Martin Place Tragedy

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

 

STATEMENT

MARTIN PLACE TRAGEDY

Australians are shocked and deeply saddened to learn of the deaths overnight of two of the hostages in the siege in Sydney’s Martin Place.

Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones, and all those who have been affected by this ordeal.

We respect and appreciate the professionalism of our police and the determination of the wider community to reject the division and fear this abhorrent act was designed to engender.

TUESDAY, 16 DECEMBER 2014

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MEDIA RELEASE - UN World Food Program Funding Crisis

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS

AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY

  

MEDIA RELEASE

 

UN WORLD FOOD PROGRAM FUNDING CRISIS

 

 TUESDAY, 2 DECEMBER 2014

The Abbott Government must act immediately to help relieve the UN World Food Program’s (WFP) funding crisis which threatens to see more than 1.7 million Syrian refugees go hungry through winter.

The WFP says it has been forced to suspend its food voucher program for Syrian refugees due to lack of funding.  It has called for $US64 million immediately so support can be resumed this month. 

Instead of threatening further cuts to Australia’s overseas aid budget, the Abbott Government must step up and contribute funds to help resolve this terrible humanitarian emergency.

This WFP food voucher program allows Syrian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq and Egypt to buy food in local shops.

The conflict in Syria has caused an overwhelming humanitarian crisis, with 3 million refugees, and another 6.5 million internally displaced.  This has put significant pressure on international aid agencies, including the WFP.

I visited Syrian refugee camps in Jordan and Lebanon earlier this year.  The need there is enormous.  The international community, including Australia, can’t let those families, those children, go through winter without food.

The Abbott Government has only contributed about $35 million to humanitarian relief for the Syrian crisis.  By contrast, the former Labor Government delivered around $100 million in assistance.

In its first Budget, the Abbott Government has cut $7.6 billion from overseas aid, including $51.1 million from the Middle East and North Africa.

By contrast, the former Labor Government almost doubled the aid budget – from $2.9 billion to $5.7 billion.

 

 

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