MEDIA RELEASE - Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank

coats arms
















Labor is very concerned about new reports of division in the Abbott Cabinet over the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

We believe the Abbott Government should be actively engaging China on its proposal for an Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.  That can’t happen if senior ministers like the Treasurer, the Foreign Minister, and now the Trade Minister, Andrew Robb, continue to squabble amongst themselves.

Of course, governance and transparency arrangements, as well as environmental, social, and labour matters in relation to the proposal will need to be worked through.

But there is an enormous need for increased infrastructure investment in the Asia Pacific, and we welcome additional investment from China in the region.

Today, reports say Andrew Robb has joined the Treasurer, Joe Hockey, in support of China’s proposal.  This pits them both against Foreign Minister Julie Bishop who is reportedly leading the charge against the bank.

It’s clear from media reports that the Abbott Government is hopelessly divided on this issue.

These fresh reports of division and dysfunction inside the Abbott Cabinet are extraordinary.

This is not how important economic decisions should be made.

The Prime Minister needs to show some leadership, bring his feuding Cabinet to order, and immediately clarify the Government’s position.




Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Labor Welcomes Appointment of New Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues

coats arms












Labor welcomes the appointment of Mr Andrew Goledzinowski AM as Australia's next Ambassador for People Smuggling Issues.

Mr Goledzinowskiwill bring his extensive diplomatic expertise to this important role.

His experience serving in senior positions with the United Nations, including as the Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative will be a great asset in leading Australia’s efforts to combat people smuggling and trafficking.

Mr Goledzinowskialso has a solid understanding of Pacific regional issues which will be of great importance in his role.

Labor would like to pay tribute to outgoing Ambassador Craig Chittick OAM for his efforts in pursuing Australian efforts to combat people smuggling and trafficking.

Add your reaction Share

TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop, Sydney, Saturday 22 November 2014

coats arms











Subject/s: ABC cuts, Ebola.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: We’re here in Town Hall Square where in the next hour or so we’ll see a crowd gather to show its support for our national broadcaster, the ABC. The ABC and SBS provide a valuable service to Australians and they have for many years. Just as we’ve grown as a nation, so we’ve seen the ABC grow, from its early days with just a few programs and the unusual spectacle of Australian stories told in an Australian voice for the first time on our TV screens and on our radio bulletins, to now a very sophisticated media organisation that can compare well with the best in the world. Before the election Tony Abbott said as clear as day, no cuts to the ABC, no cuts to SBS. He didn’t say it once, he said it many times and Australians are shocked and horrified to think that this is another broken promise from the Abbott Government. Before the election Tony Abbott said “No cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to the GST, no change to pensions, and no cuts to the ABC or SBS”, now every one of those promises has been broken. There is no promise that he’s made left to be broken. Australians want to defend the ABC and SBS because they value the ABC and SBS. Particularly at times of crisis when there are bushfires, when there are floods, when there are natural disasters they turn to the ABC for the information that keeps them safe. And when they’re overseas, if they wish for information from Australia, they tune in wherever they can to stories from home. Australians want to hear Australian stories told in Australian voices and they want a television industry here in Australia that tells those stories with Australian actors and Australian story lines. Stories like Redfern Now, and back in the day Sweet and Sour, so many programs that have reflected the way Australia has changed over the years. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: Talking of these cuts, the Government explains them away as not cuts but as efficiency dividends, do you buy that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think everybody knows a lie when they’re being told a lie. Before the election Tony Abbott said “no cuts to the ABC” and now we’ve seen, if you include the Australian network and the cuts in the previous budget, more than half a billion dollars cut from the ABC and SBS, now I don’t know how anyone can think they can get away with cutting half a billion dollars and then saying nothing to see here, no cuts here. A lie is a lie is a lie.

JOURNALIST: Do you think we’re going to see an impact on content?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course we’ll see an impact on content, I mean isn’t it extraordinary that you’ve got Christopher Pyne launching a petition in Adelaide because he knows that programming will be cut and he knows that jobs will go in Adelaide. And isn’t it extraordinary that you’ve got National Party members saying don’t touch programming in the bush. I mean these are the people who have supported these cuts and then they want their own patch of turf protected. If you cut half a billion dollars from the ABC and SBS, you can’t protect broadcasting, you can’t protect programming, you can’t protect Australian content. We will see all of these things negatively affected, jobs will go, 400 to 500 jobs are predicted to go, you can’t keep making fine quality TV and radio when you’re cutting hundreds of staff and half a billion dollars.

JOURNALIST: Do you think a rally like this will make any difference, isn’t it too late now?

PLIBERSEK: Well no, I think rallies like this are absolutely vital because the fact that Christopher Pyne and National Party members are out there saying to the Government ‘don’t cut my patch, hands off my ABC’ shows that they know Australians care for the ABC and care for SBS. In fact, the very fact that Tony Abbott made this promise before the election shows that he knows Australians want the ABC and SBS protected. The fact that he made the promise that he broke shows that he knows that people care. So I think rallies like this are absolutely vital and I think people should be contacting their Liberal Party and National Party MPs and Senators and saying hands off my ABC.

JOURNALIST: How seriously should we take the comments from the United Nations today about discrimination against refugees that have Ebola?

PLIBERSEK: Well isn’t it extraordinary to see our Foreign Minister at a Security Council meeting lecturing the world on Ebola when Australia has been so slow to act, dragged kicking and screaming to doing anything. It is an extraordinary scenario to have Australia lecturing countries that have done so much more than we have in terms of providing medical assistance and humanitarian support, and extraordinary to have Australia lecturing the world about discriminating against countries where Ebola is prevalent when the Foreign Minister and the Immigration Minister can’t even get their story straight about whether we’ve got visa bans or we don’t.

JOURNALIST: Do you think there has been a contradiction there from what the Minister said in terms of those visa applications from people coming from Ebola affected countries?

PLIBERSEK: Well Scott Morrison and Julie Bishop have said two completely different things. I don’t know whether this is part of their continuing turf war or whether they just don’t know – the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. But they’ve made two completely contradictory comments about whether we are or aren’t processing visas from Ebola affected countries.

JOURNALIST: Doesn’t the Government have a responsibility though to take precautions like this to protect their citizens?

PLIBERSEK: The first and most important responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens. What we’ve said all along is the best way to protect Australians is to fight Ebola in West Africa, at the source of where the virus is spreading. We know now that close to five and a half thousand people have died from Ebola. We’ve been told by the World Health Organisation, the Centres for Disease Control, the United Nations, the Security Council in the past, our own AMA, our own Public Health Association, the International Crisis Group, that the best way to fight Ebola is at the source, in the countries where most of the infections are occurring, and the best thing that Australia can do is help the international effort to contain the spread of the virus. We’ve got Julie Bishop saying that at the Security Council, but not doing it here at home. I think this is an example where deeds matter more than words and our deeds so far have been inadequate. 


Add your reaction Share

TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop, Sydney, Friday 21 November 2014

coats arms










Subject/s: Julie Bishop’s attack on the United States, Peter Greste, Wayne Goss, the Great Barrier Reef, climate change, Palmer United, Martin Ferguson.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much for coming out. I just want to say a couple words first about Peter Greste and his family. There of course have been reports that there is a possibility of a presidential pardon for Peter Greste. Certainly those reports are encouraging, we hope for the sake of Peter and his family that those reports are accurate. I met with his parents just recently and of course his family are very concerned that Peter should be released from gaol in Egypt as soon as possible. Secondly, I wanted to mention that Wayne Goss’ funeral is on today. Wayne Goss was a great Premier of Queensland, he is a man who modernised Queensland after three decades of corrupt, conservative control. He will be sorely missed by his family of course but also by the broader Labor Party, his many supporters in Queensland and many friends and we’ll send him off today with all of our thanks for the incredible work he did in Queensland.

Turning now to international affairs, we heard Campbell Newman a few days ago criticising the US President Barack Obama for daring to say that he hoped that the Great Barrier Reef would still be there in 50 years’ time for his daughters and his grandchildren to be able to see. The Great Barrier Reef of course is one of the natural wonders of the world, it is an environmental treasure and also brings about $6 billion into the Australian community through tourism and so on. So you wouldn’t think that it would be such a controversial thing to say that we should protect and look after our beautiful Barrier Reef. But Campbell Newman took offence. Campbell Newman is no diplomat so I guess people might not be surprised that he’s gone the US President on this. What is more surprising is that the Abbott Government and our Foreign Minister are now also criticising the United States of America, our good and close friend, for daring to say that we should look after the Barrier Reef. This is an extraordinarily petulant performance that just shows how stung the Abbott Government is by the fact that they tried to keep climate change off the G20 agenda and they failed in that endeavour.

The whole world wanted to talk about climate change at the G20 because climate change is not just an environmental issue, it’s an economic issue. As the climate globally changes, we see more extreme weather events, we see degradation of our natural environments, we see drought and floods and these have economic as well as social consequences. During the G20 meeting when a number of global leaders were in Australia, we had all of them talking to each other and to the Australian people about the importance of taking action on climate change. Certainly President Obama's speech received a lot of attention but the Chinese President, Xi Jinping, talked about the importance of climate change, Prime Minister Modi talked about the importance of climate change. Conservative Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, David Cameron, talked to Tony Abbott, his friend, about climate change.

Australia is now behind the rest of the world. We're out on a limb. We're trailing behind. We're going in the wrong direction. We are on our own amongst developed countries in denying that climate change is real and reversing action that was actually having an effect. Carbon pricing in its first year saw the economy continue to grow, jobs continue to grow, but emissions from the national electricity market reduced by 7%. Since we got rid of carbon pricing we've seen carbon emissions rise again and they’re on a trajectory to rise by 2% in this year.  So we had a program that worked, we've replaced it with this so-called Direct Action which nobody thinks will work, we've made a change from taking money from big polluters and using it to reduce the effects of carbon pollution in our society and in our economy.  So instead of taking money from big polluters and spreading it through our community, we're actually taking taxpayers' dollars and giving those dollars to big polluters in the hope that something will change but with no clear plan for that change - no guarantee that pollution will actually reduce.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop obviously took a swipe at President Obama over his speech. Isn’t she right to stand up for Australia on any issue?

PLIBERSEK:  Julie Bishop's not standing up for Australia. She's berating the President of the United States, a very good friend to Australia, because she's responding to his quite reasonable comment that we should protect our beautiful Barrier Reef. What an absurd situation where the Foreign Minister of our nation is insulting one of our closest friends because that friend wants to talk about climate change and the effects on our natural environment. Actually defending the pollution that will degrade the Barrier Reef, that's not standing up for Australia.

JOURNALIST: Tanya, why did Labor not stop dredging and dumping material in the marine park when it was in Government?

PLIBERSEK: We've made a commitment that if we return to Government, we will prevent dumping in the Great Barrier Reef.


PLIBERSEK: We've made that commitment already. You can talk to Mark Butler more about that if you want more details.

JOURNALIST: Canada this morning pledged $300 million to the Green climate fund. Obviously there's been similarities between their leader and Tony Abbott. Are we on our own now?

PLIBERSEK: We are completely on our own. Now, Tony Abbott is completely out on a limb. The world leaders that he is closest to, including Stephen Harper in Canada, Prime Minister Modi.  The United States, China, all of these countries are taking action both domestically and globally to reduce dangerous climate change. We're the only ones who are going backwards.

JOURNALIST: What do you make of the latest drama surrounding the Palmer United Party?

PLIBERSEK: The members of the Palmer United Party are delighted to talk to the media so I'll leave it for them to explain what's going on in their political party. What I would say is that I was very pleased to see the future of Financial Advice laws that Labor had introduced in government, that we had sought to protect, actually protected in the Senate with the support of a couple of Palmer United Party Senators so it's great to see those very good Labor initiatives defended.

JOURNALIST: So, how will it affect the workings of the Senate?

PLIBERSEK: Well, most governments have had to negotiate with Senates that they didn't control and usually that gives you an opportunity to fine-tune and strengthen legislation. I hope that that's the case now. We'll see.

JOURNALIST: A former colleague of yours, Martin Ferguson, appears prepared to take a swipe at the Opposition Leader John Robertson just today about the Baird Government’s privatisation plans for electricity assets. Is it appropriate for Mr Ferguson to be doing that four months out from the State election?

PLIBERSEK: I haven't seen Martin Ferguson's comments so I won't make any comment. Thank you.


Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Abbott Government Embarrasses Australia on the World Stage, Again

coats arms













In an extraordinary attack on our close friend and ally, the United States, the Abbott Government says it has “an issue” with a plea from President Obama to protect our beautiful Great Barrier Reef.

In a speech at University of Queensland during the G20 last weekend, President Obama pointed to the impact of climate change on the reef saying:


”I have not had time ... to go to the Great Barrier Reef and I want to come back and I want my daughters to be able to come back and I want them to be able to bring their daughters or sons to visit. And I want that there 50 years from now.”


The Abbott Government has criticised President Obama’s remarks, despite the fact they are consistent with the views of the World Heritage Committee.

Just this year, the World Heritage Committee “noted with concern” the Abbott Government’s lack of action to protect the Great Barrier Reef, and went on to recommend the reef for consideration on the list of “world heritage in danger” sites in 2015.

It seems it’s only the Abbott Government that fails to accept that climate change is going to take a significant toll on our Great Barrier Reef, unless we act now.  It is embarrassing.

The Abbott Government’s criticism of President Obama follows a similar attack from Queensland Premier, Campbell Newman.

Everyone knows Campbell Newman is no diplomat, but Australians expect better from their national government, especially the Foreign Minister.

World leaders, including Australia's largest trading partners, are taking action against climate change, but Tony Abbott would rather pay polluters to pollute.

While the rest of the world looks to a clean energy future, an economic advantage that could present jobs and investment for Australia, the Abbott Government continues to drag its feet on taking serious climate action.

Labor recently announced that, if re-elected, it would ban capital dredge spoil being dumped in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.

We did this because we want to protect this vital heritage area from further degradation.


Add your reaction Share

SPEECH - The Australia-India relationship in a changing world

coats arms

The Australia-India relationship in a changing world

Co-hosted by the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the University of Tasmania

Hobart, TAS

Thursday 20 November 2014





In September, Senator Lisa Singh and I went to New Delhi and met with political leaders, Members of Parliament, NGOs, academics, and experts.

It was particularly great to be able to take Lisa Singh with me.  She has received a very high honour from the Government of India.  She was in correspondence with Prime Minister Modi when he was the Chief Minister of Gujarat, so I got to trail on her coattails a little bit on this visit to India.

It’s one of the wonderful things about Australian multiculturalism – it gives us so many links with so many countries that are deep and sincere links because they are people to people links.  We have a profound understanding of the many nations that make up the backgrounds of our people, remembering that about a quarter of Australians are born overseas and about half of all Australians have at least one parent born overseas.

Having Lisa there as one of the 400,000 people of Indian origin in Australia, was really a great demonstration of the very special bond between India and Australia and the very special characteristics of Australia as a multicultural society.

That visit was a visit designed to build on the good work that Labor in government had done.  I was going to talk about the Rudd/Gillard years, but of course as far back as an Australian Labor Government supporting Indian independence, and being one of the first countries to do so.


Our visit coincided with a very special event.  We were there on the 24th of September and the Indian Mars Orbiter spacecraft successfully moved into its Mars orbit at that time.

The Indian Space Research Organisation is the fourth space agency to reach Mars, and India is the first nation to achieve it on its first attempt.

This remarkable mission is not an end in itself – it is a demonstrator project to support technologies for India’s future interplanetary missions.  The mission tells the story of a nation that takes thoughtful and deliberate steps to secure its future.

India has also been able to deliver its Mars mission at a lower cost than any other mission to date, with a total cost of around US$73 million.  It has done this through a skilled domestic workforce, lower worker costs, home-grown technologies, simpler design, and significantly less complicated payload than other missions.

In an opinion piece in the English language daily The Hindu it was pointed out that the cost was equivalent to less than a single bus ride for each of India's population of 1.2 billion.

The Mars mission is reflective of the economic miracle of modern India.

Since the late 1980s the world's largest democracy and second most populous country has opened itself to the outside world, encouraging economic reform and foreign investment.

India’s position as a fast-growing and powerful economy has been recently reinforced by the recent election campaign of Narendra Modi.  His commitments to speed government decision-making and remove the bureaucratic hurdles that have slowed development will give some confidence to foreign investors.

India is now on the radar of the world's leading economic and political powers, governments and private investors alike.

The thing that was striking about that Mars mission is that the announcement was made on the same day that Lisa and I were visiting one of the slums in Delhi, and so we saw first-hand the capacity of India and the constraint.

Despite an economic miracle that supports a burgeoning middle class and remarkable technological strides, many Indians remain impoverished, and inequality in fact is on the rise.  According to the World Bank, 22 per cent of India’s population lives in poverty.

Economic growth rates in India averaged around 7 per cent between 1993 and 2010 and the benefits of that growth were shared more broadly than ever before in India.  It enabled large numbers of people to be lifted out of poverty.

But at the same time, the gap between the very rich and the very poor continued to grow, and the gap between rich and poor regions in India also grew.

This sort of inequality is now accepted by the World Bank, the IMF, the G20, and even the most conservative of economic analysis, as causing an overall drag on growth.

These same institutions have accepted that the previous orthodoxy of “trickle-down economics” – that notion that unbridled capitalism is all it takes to lift people out of poverty, doesn’t bear too much scrutiny.

India is expected to overtake China in terms of population by 2028 according to UN projections, but the real capacity of India comes with the development of its people, not just the numbers, but the investment in those people.

Prime Minister Modi’s visit to Australia, which we have watched so closely this week, generated phenomenal excitement – I know that Lisa was one of the fan girls at the Allphones stadium in Western Sydney.

16,000 people – a rapturous welcome for Prime Minister Modi.  Many of my colleagues were there.  There was singing, and there was dancing.  It was a very big deal.

In fact, the Victorians chartered a special train from Melbourne to Sydney – they called it the “Modi Express”.

I can tell you it’s not very often that we greet political leaders this way.  I don’t know the last time an Australian Prime Minister got that sort of greeting.

This excitement, that was so very tangible this week in Australia, was not just about Prime Minister Modi as a person, although I am sure some of it was that very focused political support for him and for his agenda, but it was about a vision he has expressed for India, which is about both unlocking the full economic potential of the country, but also the full human potential of its people.

In his address to Parliament he said: “we have moved forward, thinking with ambition, acting with speed; seeking growth not just for growth, but to transform the quality of life of every Indian.”

The Prime Minister is reforming his country not just through continued reduction in poverty, but also through efforts to increase equality.  He knows that the country’s population overtaking that of China is not going to be as meaningful in 2028 if 25 per cent of his people are still living without electricity.

Mr Modi says he will change this.  Public investments in infrastructure and in national endowments are part of the solution he has laid out.

The IMF has found that government expenditures - particularly social expenditures - are closely linked to inclusive growth outcomes.  It found that Indian states that boosted spending on education and attainment rates have experienced better growth outcomes.  The virtuous growth circle is investment in education; better jobs; higher incomes; more investment in education ……and so it goes on.

This brings me back to another reflection on my visit to India – when I met with women who were participating in the Shikhar Microfinance project.  This project gives more than 30,000 families in the slums of Delhi a chance at escaping poverty.  And despite the incredible poverty, and the desperate situations in which people were living, the small amounts of money that were being earned by these women were prioritised almost universally on one thing – and that was the education of their children.

Of course, India has a public education system but many of these mothers were either taking the small amount they had to send their children to religious-based schools, in some cases not the religion that they were practicing at home, but they thought they would get a better quality of education, and if they couldn’t afford full-time school fees, they were paying for tutors, an afternoon a week or two afternoons a week.

These are people living in one room, maybe two rooms, maybe twice the size of this desk here. Some of them still without electricity, often without any plumbing, sorting through junkyards for little piece of fabric that they were washing and processing for recycling, making tiny little dolls clothes for a dollar a day. These are people who are really just surviving but their priority is educating their children and a great outcome for their kids is a job in a hotel, for example. Something that gives them inside work, security in the formal employment sector, that is what they wanted for their children.

I was so inspired by that commitment to education I saw from those women.  They were from different part of India, different religions, and different castes, and all of them expressed that desire for their children to go to school, receive an education, and get jobs.   They recognised the importance of education to giving their children the best chance of living a better life.

India is now a nation which can send an explorer to Mars but it still has millions of people to lift out of poverty, and there are immense expectations that Prime Minister Modi will do this, that he’ll use his electoral mandate and support to make economic reforms that will give greater prosperity to allow the social investment in people and to generate economic growth that actually benefits the vast number of people still to be lifted out of poverty.

The rise of India is also an enormous opportunity for us and for the world. Prime Minister Modi’s promised new markets to open as India's emerging middle class achieves a higher standard of living. He has promised increased trade and international cooperation and more importantly, he’s talked about the role that India will play in shaping the region for the future. As Australians, we are a tiny nation in terms of population, but we think of ourselves as playing a role internationally in shaping not just our region but the way our globe operates, the way that countries relate to one another, and I think that this is a terrifically important partnership for Australia into the future.

Under Prime Minister Gillard, two major steps were taken which lay a framework for Australia’s vision.  The “Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement” between Australia and India which launched negotiations in May 2011 under Prime Minister Gillard’s administration, upgrading our partnership with India.  This followed a joint statement signed by former Prime Ministers Rudd and Singh upgrading bilateral relations to a “strategic partnership” level.

If you look at that work with India and also compare the strategic partnership secured by former Prime Minister Gillard with China, you see that Australia as a country has these two great opportunities as our neighbours grow to engage economically and strategically in our region. Both of these agreements deepen our previous relationships and indeed Prime Minister Modi made a particular point of telling Bill Shorten and I when we met this week that the agreements signed on social security, combating narcotics, transfer of sentenced persons, cooperation in the field of arts and tourism are all things that came out of that work that had been done previously by our government and he thanked us for our work.

In August, I spoke at the Confucius Institute at UNSW about how the growth of China brought with it not just great opportunities to us and for China but also great responsibilities.

I think it is very true to talk about India in these terms as well, that economic growth is a terrific opportunity for the people of India, it is a terrific opportunity for our businesses engaging with this growing middle class but it also brings with it expectations and responsibilities. It brings with it the domestic expectations of Indian citizens, of their quality of life and how it will change, but it also brings with it global expectations as well about the role that India will play in the globe.

Just as China will be a more significant participant in the global economy and in global institutions, India too will take its place on the world stage as an increasingly influential member of the global community.

Prime Minister Modi also spoke about this in his address to our Parliament.  He called for greater cooperation between India and Australia in this “moment of enormous opportunity and great responsibility”.  He said “Since my Government entered office, no region has seen more intense engagement on India's part than the Asia Pacific region - because we understand how deeply our future is linked to this region.”

So it is going to be very interesting over the next years and decades to watch what that greater engagement, that Prime Minister Modi acknowledges India will need to engage in, what that will look like, what form it will take, what structures will be used.


The world is watching the rise of India in the context of a changing region.  Alongside India’s rise, we have been focused on the major political and economic shifts which are occurring in China.

As the world’s two most populous countries, both have immense opportunities and challenges.  They are also the largest emerging economies in the world, and have growing middle classes with changing expectations.

And there is also a very interesting - I think it is fascinating for people who watch foreign affairs - evolving relationship between India and China.

When Xi Jinping visited Prime Minister Modi it was considered a very important visit, all eyes were on it.  There is the longest contested land border in the world between India and China. There was an advance of Chinese troops into India while Xi Jinping was in India. People have been struggling to understand: what is the symbolism, why then, why pick this moment? The reason that there was so much fascination with that one event is because people are holding onto their breaths to find out what will the relationship between India and China be like. We sometimes as Australians always think about how we relate to India, how we relate to China, how we relate to the United States, how we relate to Japan, and forget that the intricacy between the relationship of our friends and neighbours are as significant an effect on our future as our own efforts to engage with each of those nations.

Both Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Modi in their visits have talked about their own determination to increase economic growth within the countries that have also talked about what that growth will look like and what it is designed to deliver for their people.

Xi Jinping’s China Dream speech at his government's third plenum talk about the reasons for growth in China is to continue to deliver an improved standard of living for Chinese people and as that standard of living increases of course the expectations of the middle-class change. You’ve got an increasing number of Chinese students studying overseas, you’ve got more tourists coming and going, China's leadership are wondering how they will continue to respond to those demands for a cleaner environment, better social services, more freedom of expression.

Prime Minister Modi’s agenda for economic growth including the ambitious targets for infrastructure and sanitation also give an enormous hope to the people of India about what growth will mean in terms of transforming their everyday lives.

The first meeting between these two new leaders was also closely watched.  During the state visit Prime Minister Modi said of his relationship with President Xi: “we can reinforce each other's economic growth. We can contribute to peace, stability and prosperity in our region. And, we can give new direction and energy to the global economy.”


Prime Minister Modi has staked part of his reform agenda on India as a robust, well-functioning democracy in the region.

He has talked about India’s 3Ds: “Democracy, Demography and Demand” as taking a significant role in his “Make in India” campaign to attract more foreign investment.

When he talks about demographics, he is talking about a very young country that will be a driving force in the Asian labour market in the 21st century and the demand of a rising middle class with a higher disposable income.

And of course the response of neighbours like China, Japan and the US have meant that they have wasted no time in courting Prime Minister Modi since his election.

We have also prioritised our relationship with India, not just since the election, but before that as well.

Australia’s interaction with India is also a part of this - we need to take account of this juggle of suitors that India is experiencing with China, Japan and the United States – each of them vying for the affection of Prime Minister Modi and India.


One of the things that this will effect is how India relates to the existing international infrastructure that we use to make decisions as countries in our region and globally.

I would like to raise a couple of areas where this will be of particular interest.

One of them obviously is climate change.  We’ve got a global agreement that we are heading for, we hope, in Paris next year.  We’ve had some very important statements from the G20 about the necessity for countries to decarbonise their economies. And we’ve had very significantly both China and the United States, the world’s two largest polluters, sign up to an agreement that nobody thought possible just two weeks ago.

So what will happen? What role will India take when it comes to multilateral action on climate change? And the second question of course is how will India change its role as it grows in prosperity in multilateral fora, including the two new investment banks. The BRICS investment bank and the Chinese backed investment bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. So watching those very important issues of how India will engage in these great challenges of the future I think will be of enormous interest to Australia and other countries as well.

India is the third largest carbon dioxide emitter after the United States and China, and it was very significant that Prime Minister Modi said in his address to the Australian Parliament that yes, he wants to keep buying Australian coal, and yes, he wants to keep buying Australian uranium, but he included in that statement about meeting the energy needs of the hundreds of millions of Indians that have no access even to basic electricity in their homes. He said we have to find fuel sources that don’t melt our glaciers. Now I think that is pretty significant because as I say, India, fast-growing, third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, if India takes a path of looking for energy use sources from low carbon emission technologies, compared with if it takes a path of not caring whether its energy comes from low carbon or high carbon sources, compared with if India prioritises energy from renewable sources, that will make a huge difference to the global economics of energy supply.

The other area that will be very important to observe and work with India on is the New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank which both give India a huge opportunity to have investment within India from the New Development Bank which of course is set up by the BRICS country and India is going to be its inaugural president for the first six years. The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, India of course is also a founding member.

Both of those banks, potentially huge investors in Indian infrastructure, but both of those banks also with India as a founding member and guiding president for the first six years with the New Development Bank will be setting the agenda for the type of infrastructure that gets built, for the type of transparency in government arrangements around these banks as well. This is a response that comes from the emerging economies really being shut out of the institutions that were set up after the Second World War that don’t reflect the fact that China and India and these other emerging countries are now very significant economic players and a question for us has to be how much will we change international arrangements that are 50 years old, sometimes older, actually take account of the fact that economic power is changing. Instead of being part of the IMF, China set up its own bank. It has done that because the IMF does not recognise China's weight in the international community and has up til now been incapable of amending its own governance to recognise China as a growing power. Will the same happen for India or will we manage to change our global infrastructure or global architecture to take account of these changing shifts in power?

For us, it is a reminder of what happens when international organisations do not adapt to a changing world, and for India it’s a reminder of what changing architecture means for their own economy and their potential for global leadership.  Prime Minister Modi said in our Parliament this week: “we do not have to rely on borrowed architecture of the past. Nor do we have the luxury to choose who we work with and who we won't.”[9]

So there are a couple of challenges and a couple of opportunities that I’ve laid out for you. India has enormous capacity; we see it in its growing economy, fast-growing middle class, growing demographics and its capacity. The Mars expedition is a colourful way of describing the capacity but you see it in so many areas, yet it still has this demand from its own people, this great challenge of poverty and how it will take economic growth and spread the benefit of that so that it benefits not just for moral reasons the vast majority of people, but for its own continued economic strength, those benefits have to be shared and investment has to be made into lifting people out of poverty, investing in health and education, and our own place in the world, our own relationship with India and how India sits in our region. Can our architecture accommodate these rising powers? Do we need to do more to understand that the world is a changing place and that the organisations that have served us very well for many decades need to take account of those changing power relationships?


Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Visit to the Alliance of Girls School Leadership Forum

coats arms














This morning Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek and Labor Senator Lisa Singh visited Ogilvie High School to talk to female students from across Hobart high schools about leadership and the rights of women and girls.

“It's important to say to the girls of today that there is a place for women in every part of Australian life: every workplace, every company board and every Cabinet table,” said Tanya Plibersek.

“Speaking with the girls at Ogilvie today, we discussed the challenges and rewards of public life, and of the importance of feminism in empowering women to freely choose the lives that are most meaningful to them.”

“While there are areas where we have seen progress, such as the increase of women in positions of political leadership, there are many ways in which we are going backwards,” said Senator Singh.

“The appointment of only one woman out of nineteen members of Tony Abbott’s Cabinet is emblematic of this.”

“It is important that the next generation of women are aware of the inequities that women face across society, ranging from the 18.2 per cent pay gap to the levels of family violence that afflict one in three Australian women.”

The Alliance of Girls Schools which hosted the event is a network of schools advocating for girls' education.



Add your reaction Share

MEDIA RELEASE - Lecture on Australia-India Relations in a Changing World

coats arms














Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development, Tanya Plibersek, gave a lecture today on ‘the Australia-India Relationship in a Changing World’ at the Menzies Research Centre, in partnership with the Australian Institute of International Affairs and the University of Tasmania.

“With the visit of Narendra Modi to Australia last week, Australia’s relationship with the world’s largest democracy has been at the centre of national discussion” said the Deputy Opposition Leader.

“Only two months ago I visited India with Senator Singh to meet with political leaders, senior officials, academics and non-government organisations in New Delhi.

“Today I talked about the possibilities for the growth in the Australia-India relationship, building on our shared democratic values and the special connection that goes with the more than 400,000 people of Indian origin who live in Australia.

“The election of Modi has galvanized India and turned its focus out to the world” said Labor Senator Singh.

“The strength of our current relationship builds on the past work done by Labor Governments, including the pivotal visit by Julia Gillard to India in 2012.

“Prime Minister Modi visit to Australia this week marks another important milestone in our relationship.

“Mr Modi's visionary speech to the Australian Parliament highlighted his commitment to lift India out of poverty through social and economic development. Australia can play a key role in that vision," Senator Singh said.

“As two nations we share strong connections through democratic values, multiculturalism and of course cricketing culture. We can continue to grow our relationship into the future in trade, education, infrastructure development and tourism.”

Add your reaction Share

TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Hobart, Thursday 20 November 2014

coats arms
















Subject/s: Childcare; FOFA; Palmer United; UN Security Council; Ukraine; Privatisation

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Good morning. It’s great to be here at Lady Gowrie in Hobart. This centre has offered quality early childhood care and education for well over three quarters of a century. We have had a wonderful morning talking to the educators here and to the kids and of course it raises all sorts lots of issues about what the Government’s got planned for early childhood education and care. We know that the Abbott Government is undermining the national quality framework. The national quality framework ensures that all of these children get the quality care they deserve. We also know that the Abbott Government said that they want to expand access to nannies and in-home care but not spend any more on childcare. That means that long day care centres like this are under threat. Someone's got to make up the difference. It is also important to say that despite saying before the election that the Government would not make any cuts to education, over $1 billion has been cut from the childcare and early childhood education. You can’t take that sort of money out of this sector and not see the effects on parents, on childcare workers and on the quality of care that is able to be offered to children.

JOURNALIST: Are we running the risk of jobs and centres closing?

PLIBERSEK: Well of course if the Government keeps taking money out of the long day care the way they have then of course that puts pressure on childcare centres and puts pressure on childcare workers. People choose a career in childcare because they love kids but they deserve to be paid appropriately for the level of responsibility and dedication that they show in their work.

JOURNALIST: And in terms of the, I suppose, the gap that would be left in children's learning does that then put extra pressure on the primary school system to be making up the difference where the skills are being missed?

PLIBERSEK: Well we know that the years before a child goes to school are really critical in their brain development. They’re the years where the brain is just soaking up like a little sponge everything that is happening around them and if you give children a quality early childhood education through play, through experience, through adventure, like Lady Gowrie childcare centre, then they start school school-ready. They start school excited about learning and confident and those confident learners go on to have a great education throughout their school career, so investing in early childhood education, preschools, long day care centres, makes all the difference to a child’s school readiness and their future school achievements.

JOURNALIST: We saw Jacqui Lambie vote with Labor last night on financial advice laws in the Senate. Are you hopeful or is Labor hopeful that this rift in the Palmer United Party could potentially work in your favour in the Senate?

PLIBERSEK: Well look, I’m not going to talk about the rift in the Palmer United Party, what I would talk about is the future of financial advice laws. These were laws that were brought in by Labor when we were in government to protect mum and dad, mums and dads who are thinking about their future, their retirement, making sure that they have got some savings and they are designed to make sure that financial advice benefits the people who are saving their money and putting it aside. Now it seems like a very simple and obvious thing to do, that financial advice should benefit the person who is investing their money, it is not a big ask and I am very pleased that the Government’s efforts to remove these protections were overturned by the Senate last night.

JOURNALIST: The Palmer storm seems to be building momentum though, is it - are you hopeful that with the positions Jacqui Lambie has put forward so far this could be what you need in the Senate to be getting more opposition to legislation and seeing things for the Opposition's way?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I am delighted when any senator thinks about and considers the issues before the Senate and votes according to their conscience and to their best judgement and last night making sure that the financial advice that people are given is actually in their best interests so that is a great win for the Senate.

JOURNALIST: Is it tenable for Jacqui Lambie to still be calling herself a Palmer United Party given the latest development?

PLIBERSEK: Look at all those questions about the Palmer United Party are really questions for Jacqui Lambie and Clive Palmer. What I am pleased to see is that Labor’s initial legislation protecting Australians who are investing their hard earned money now has some protection, the original protections that Labor proposed, has been restored.

JOURNALIST: Julie Bishop has called for an international taskforce to target modern terrorism, what is your take on that?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think that terrorism is certainly something that we need to consider, all countries need to make sure that the primary responsibility, keeping their citizens safe, is discharged. We haven’t seen particular details of this call in the UN Security Council, so I’ll have to see more details to consider whether having a special envoy, I think she’s recommended, would make the difference she’s suggesting.

JOURNALIST: With the discussion focusing on social media and other modern techniques do you think it will carry a risk of censorship?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is something we need to wrestle with as a community, what we’ve seen in recent times is young people radicalised very quickly because of what they’re reading and looking at online. Young people who have no previous signs that they are potentially violent have in some cases been radicalised over a matter of months by material they have been accessing over the internet. Of course that’s true.

JOURNALIST: Australia has begun its final presidency of the UN Security Council, do you think the Government has made the most of its position on the world stage?

PLIBERSEK: Well Labor pursued the presidency of the Security Council because we believe that we’re a country that has always punched above its weight in international affairs. I’m not sure you could say that our presidency under the Liberal Government has really delivered an enormous amount of change. Certainly the fact that there was a motion about MH17 was very important, it was a very important opportunity for Australia because 38 Australians of course lost their lives in that terrible tragedy. It was of course very important that we had an opportunity to say to Russia and to say to the world that we expected adequate investigation, access to the crash site and for those responsible to be held to account. Being able to do that on the Security Council was a very important opportunity for Australia. As for other achievements, I’m not sure you could say that it has been a year of extraordinary achievement.

JOURNALIST: The Prime Minister had a phone conversation with the Ukrainian President overnight, do you think we should be focusing on efforts to stabilize the situation in Ukraine rather than securing the MH17 crash site?

PLIBERSEK: Well certainly I think it is very important that Ukraine is able to ensure peace within its borders. There’s a lot of trouble in the eastern parts of Ukraine and of course Crimea has already been lost. We support the right of Ukraine to determine its own future, to have whatever arrangements it chooses with Russia and with Europe, not to be held to ransom by either one side or the other. The situation in the Ukraine continues to be troubling we do have a particular interest in it because we do want answers for the victims of MH17, not just the Australians, but the almost 300 people who lost their lives in that terrible tragedy. So it is important that access to that crash site continues to be possible for international investigators, but beyond that there is a wider question of security within Ukraine and the necessity for Russian backed rebels to obey the law and to behave appropriately.

JOURNALIST: The latest policy announcement that we’re open for business from the Liberals is about potentially selling off Government assets, is it a different name for privatising?

COLLINS: Of course I would be concerned about the Government trying to privatise any assets that belong to the Tasmanian people without a proper process, without Tasmanians being able to have a say. We’ve of course seen Liberal Governments in the past try to privatise assets without having that conversation with the Tasmanian people and it cost them dearly at that point when it came to the hydro. So I do think it’s really important that they have the conversation with the public first and that it’s not privatisation by stealth.

Add your reaction Share

TRANSCRIPT - Sky News, Saturday 15 November 2014

coats arms










Subject/s: G20; Climate change; Inclusive growth.

DAVID SPEERS, PRESENTER: Joining me now is the Deputy Labor leader and the Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek, who was there watching Barack Obama’s speech and is still there at Queensland University. Thank you very much for joining us this afternoon. Can I ask, on this climate change announcement from President Obama, do you think Australia should now also be making a commitment to this green climate fund?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well of course Labor supported a commitment to helping developing countries with climate change mitigation  when we were in government. Of course Australia should be part of this. It’s extraordinary that Tony Abbott in his opening remarks to world leaders today was boasting about the fact that Australia is the only country going backwards on climate change. We now have the United States and China, two of the world’s largest polluters and largest economies talking about the action that they will take, deeper cuts, faster cuts to carbon emissions and today’s announcement of course saying that developing countries won’t have to choose between economic development and climate change mitigation, or reducing their carbon footprint, they’ll be able to do both, of course Australia should be part of that.

SPEERS: Alright, but to what extent are you able to put a dollar figure or as some have suggested, a percentage figure? I think there are some suggesting Australia should make up 2.7% of this international $10 billion fund. Are you able to put any sort of ballpark figure on where you think Australia should land here?

PLIBERSEK:  Oh no, that would be something that would need to be thought through, discussed, I don’t have a particular number in mind. But here we- the very reason that Wayne Swan and Kevin Rudd promoted the G20 as the premiere economic decision making body in the world was because there are some problems that are too big for any one country on its own to fix. At the time, the Global Financial Crisis required coordinated international action. Climate change is not just an environmental issue, it’s an economic issue and today President Obama said the world should act together to reduce the effect of dangerous climate change on countries that are bearing the worst brunt of it. Poorer countries, particularly in our region. He mentioned Asia and the Pacific region in particular as areas that are feeling the effects of climate change and will feel the effects of climate change in the future. This is an issue where global cooperation is absolutely vital and Australia has to be part of that global cooperation instead of being as we are now, an outlier. Not just behind the pack, but heading in completely the wrong direction.

SPEERS: Alright, but as you know, many have pointed out that China’s commitment here allows them to keep increasing emissions for another 16 years, in the meantime that could well and truly not just surpass entire Australian emissions but entire American emissions as well in that period. Is that good enough from the world’s biggest emitter?

PLIBERSEK: China is a country of well over a billion people, it’s not surprising that their emissions are higher in total than Australia’s. But Australia is one of the highest emitters per person in the world of carbon pollution. We can’t get away with doing nothing. Yes, of course China should act. They’re sourcing a greater proportion of their energy from renewables, they’ve made further commitments, they’ve gone further than any international observers expected. Now it’s time for Australia to do the same.

SPEERS: Well when it comes to doing the same, and you did refer to Australia as falling behind the pack, do you think we should match at least what the Americans have committed to now in terms of a post 2020 emissions reduction.

PLIBERSEK: Well I think our goals and targets should be a matter for discussion but at the moment we’ve got a government that has thrown out the window an emissions trading system that was working, a price on carbon that was working to bring down our carbon pollution. And they’re also trying to trash our renewable energy target and what we’re seeing because of that is job losses in renewables, we’ve slipped in terms of attractiveness as a destination for investment in companies that focus on renewable energy. We are going backwards as a nation on climate change mitigation and carbon pollution reduction, completely out of step with the rest of the world.

SPEERS: Okay, but let me ask you this, is it important to you that countries, when they make commitments like we’ve seen here, show how they’re going to deliver it? Because at the moment it is unknown how the Americans, how President Obama will be able to deliver on that commitment he’s made for 2025.

PLIBERSEK: Well can I say I’ve got an awful lot of faith in both the United States and China to be able to do what they say they are going to do. Unfortunately, what Australia says it is going to do is go backwards on climate change. I mean we’ve got the two largest economies in the world saying that they will take decisive action to cut pollution deeper and faster than anyone imagined. Today we’ve got an additional commitment that countries will help our region to reduce the effects of climate change and reduce carbon pollution in our region, that’s unequivocally a good thing.

SPEERS: Let me turn to some of the other elements of President Obama’s speech there today, he’s talked about an even deeper American military commitment in this region, the majority of its navy and air force will be in the Pacific by the end of the decade, do you welcome that?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it was a very good opportunity for President Obama to reemphasise that the United States has a long and strong bond with Australia and with other countries in our region too. The President also talked about the areas of commonality with China and the work they’ve done for example on climate change more recently. I think the other very important message from today’s speech was the importance of inclusive growth, of aid and development, making sure that other countries in the region, poorer countries, have the opportunity to develop their people by investing in health, investing in education, investing in more productive agriculture. This was a speech that of course talked about US foreign policy in the Asia-Pacific and Indo-Pacific regions but spoke about so much more, spoke about growth, but the quality of growth, saying that growth should be both environmentally sustainable but also inclusive and really that’s the bar that we set for this G20 meeting. We hoped that climate change would be on the agenda and President Obama has put it firmly on the agenda. We hoped that inclusive growth would be on the agenda and again President Obama has put it firmly on the agenda.

SPEERS: But he did talk about the need for the security, order of this region not to be based on spheres of influence, coercion or intimidation where big nations bully small and he talked about the need for international law norms to be upheld, peaceful resolution of disputes. Do you share all of those views? And are you concerned about China’s behaviour when it comes to some of these disputes?

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s always worth emphasising that we need to uphold international laws and norms. Of course all countries should expect to be held to account in that way. But I was also very, very pleased during the week that the United States and China could come to this agreement on climate change because it shows that the channels of communication are very open, that there is a lot of room for constructive negotiation and coming to agreement on the issues that matter to all of us.

SPEERS: Final question Tanya Plibersek, when you talk about growth and I hear that you share, and certainly the President does as well, the need for inclusive growth in this region and around the world. Do you give the Abbott Government a tick for at least being able to drive on this G20 agenda this two percent target to boost growth adding two trillion dollars to the global economy?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think everybody would agree that economic growth is good.  But economic growth has to be environmentally and socially sustainable and inclusive as well. What we’ve heard recently from the IMF, from the OECD, from economists like Joseph Stiglitz is the firm evidence that countries that have a smaller gap between the richest and the poorest have longer and stronger and more durable economic growth. The proof is there in the numbers that inequality is bad for growth. Inequality within countries and inequality between countries is bad for growth. So it’s terrific that the G20 is talking about growth but from the President’s speech today, from the comments of other world leaders including people like Christine Lagard from the IMF we know that it’s also the quality of growth. Not just the number in front of the percentage point.

SPEERS: Shadow Foreign Minister Tanya Plibersek, thank you for joining us from Queensland University, we appreciate that.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you very much.


Add your reaction Share