TRANSCRIPT - 2UE Radio Interview, Monday 1 September 2014

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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

RADIO INTERVIEW

2UE RADIO

MONDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: Iraq; Ukraine.

STUART BOCKING: On the line from Canberra is the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs, Tanya Plibersek has been good enough to join us. Tanya Plibersek, good morning.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi Stuart, how are you?

BOCKING: I’m well, thank you for your time on this Monday morning. Parliament’s set to resume, should Parliament be debating the issue of our involvement in Iraq?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it is a good opportunity for the Parliament sitting this week to discuss what’s proposed in our involvement in Iraq. That doesn’t mean necessarily having a vote, it just means an opportunity for parliamentarians to put on the record their views about Australia’s involvement in any humanitarian mission.

BOCKING: Now, some comments from Christine Milne and Andrew Wilkie over the weekend, just have a listen.

CHRISTINE MILNE (audio recording): If we’re going to start, where is it going to end?

ANDREW WILKIE (audio recording): We still have this insane situation where our Prime Minister unilaterally can make decisions of war and peace.

BOCKING: Well, is it so insane? I mean, we do elect to whether it’s your party or the Coalition to govern in the best interest of this country. It’s not unreasonable to imagine that from time to time you get called on to make difficult decisions.

PLIBERSEK: I think it’s certainly true that governments do have to make difficult decisions at times and I’d say there’s absolutely nothing preventing Christine Milne, Andrew Wilkie, any Member of Parliament raising this issue in the Parliament. It is perfectly appropriate for them to make their views known. That’s quite different to insisting on a binding vote when we know that governments have access to some information, security information, intelligence and so on, that it would not be useful to make public before they make their decisions.

BOCKING: As the Shadow Foreign Minister, have you been made aware of some of that detail?

PLIBERSEK: Well, we have received- we received a briefing at the end of last week. Obviously I’m not going to talk about the contents of that briefing-

BOCKING: No, no.

PLIBERSEK: But of course we have supported from the very beginning, the humanitarian mission that Australia’s involved in because you don’t need to be party to security briefings to know that around 700,000 people have been pushed out of their homes in northern Iraq, there are many, many thousands that have been killed in very brutal ways, that men are being killed and women are being sold into slavery with their children. I mean this is a very serious humanitarian disaster in northern Iraq. You only need to look next door to Syria where around 190,000 people have lost their lives already and a third of the population of Syria is displaced from their homes, to know that the potential for continuing disaster is enormous and that an international move to protect people from genocide is very important. You think about the world community standing by when so many hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives in Rwanda, for example. We’ve said more than once, we cannot stand by as an international community where civilian populations are threatened in the way that is happening in northern Iraq and frankly in Syria at the moment.

BOCKING: So how is it in light of that Andrew Wilkie at the weekend saying we’re taking sides, given we certainly don’t want to side with the Islamic State, who’s other side are we going to be on?

PLIBERSEK: Well, the mission that the Prime Minister has been talking about, that Labor has said we are supportive of, does include rearming the Kurdish fighters, the Peshmerga and some other anti-IS forces in northern Iraq. They are the only effective fighting force against IS in northern Iraq at the moment. We certainly don’t think it’s fair to leave these people to their fate. They are, in some cases, surrounded, they are besieged, there are communities without food and water for months at a time. And now you’re looking at this, you know, I suppose the last barrier between the IS moving right across Iraq and into Baghdad as well. Of course we want to support them, this is their own country and they are being overrun by an incredibly brutal fighting force that will not stop, does not obey the rules of war. Of course we would support Iraqis protecting their own country from that.

BOCKING: So how open ended then is your support for what Tony Abbott has proposed at this stage? If it was then to involve, again, let’s say a coalition of the willing in Iraq, is that where you’d have to have a rethink? How open ended is this bipartisan support?

PLIBERSEK: Well we have to be very careful not to get involved in a fight that makes things worse not better and my criticism of the Iraqi invasion in 2003 stands. I think it was a terrible idea and terribly executed because we didn’t have the support of the Iraqi people we didn’t have the support of neighbouring countries. What we really need to look at today is making sure that we are protecting from genocide, that that’s the purpose of any involvement, that we tried everything else and I think it’s fair to say there is no real negotiating with IS - that we have reasonable prospects of getting in, doing what we need to do and getting out, and that we have the right authority so that we are working with the UN Security Council with other partners, and most particularly with other countries in the neighbourhood, this really does require the involvement of countries like Saudi Arabia saying ‘IS are beyond the pale and we will join in international efforts to withstand them’.

BOCKING: I think the other big point that seems to have been lost on Christine Milne, Andrew Wilkie and I’ll get a chance to chat with them throughout the week. It seems to me we can still have the argument about some of the intelligence around weapons of mass destruction, what was stockpiled in Iraq what wasn’t, what we’re seeing now out of the Islamic State, courtesy of very modern technology, cutting edge technology, is there for all of us to see. Whether it’s Syrian men being herded like cattle and shot, whether it’s the execution of James Foley, it doesn’t take a great stretch of imagination or intelligence to see what’s happening this time around.

PLIBERSEK: Well the information that we went to war on in 2003 was wrong. The Americans and others said that there were weapons of mass destruction, there weren’t. We went without any real international – the so called ‘Coalition of the Willing’, but there was no support from the UN Security Council and others. We also went before weapons inspectors had even been given time to complete their work in 2003. For all of those reasons at the time I very strongly opposed Australia’s involvement. What we see now is hard evidence, hard evidence of a genocidal campaign. IS, frankly, they kill anyone who doesn’t agree with them. They kill Muslims, they kill Christians, they kill a variety of different religions. They’re selling women and children for $25 a head. This is a shocking attack on civilian populations who just want to be left in peace. Are we really saying that the international community is just going to stand by and let IS do this, of course we can’t.

BOCKING: Extraordinary isn’t it. I know you’re pressed for time, one other quick point just on another trouble spot around the world, the situation in Ukraine. Vladimir Putin is scheduled to arrive in Australia later this year for the G20 Summit. As the Deputy Labor Leader, as the Shadow Foreign Minister would you want to shake hands with Vladimir Putin in Brisbane?

PLIBERSEK: Well you know that Bill Shorten for some time since the MH17 disaster has said that he doesn’t think Vladimir Putin will be welcome in Australia. Of course it’s not a decision for Australia on its own we need to talk to other G20 member nations but I think one thing that Vladimir Putin understands at this stage is the international community turning their backs on him. So it’s not just about the G20. There’s sporting events coming up, there’s potential for further financial sanction against his inner circle and there’s all sorts of further international action that we can take, but it can’t be Australia on its own - we need to be talking to other like-minded countries and saying what can we do together to make sure that Vladimir Putin understands that sending thousands of troops to Ukraine is completely unacceptable.

BOCKING: I appreciate your time on a busy morning. Thank you.

PLIBERSEK: Good to talk to you.

BOCKING: You too, Tanya Plibersek who is the member for Sydney. She’s also the Shadow Foreign Minister and Deputy Labor Leader.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - Insiders, Sunday 31 August 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

TV INTERVIEW

INSIDERS, ABC

SUNDAY, 31 AUGUST 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: Iraq, Ukraine.

BARRIE CASSIDY, PRESENTER: Now to the program guest and this morning it's the Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Deputy Labor Leader Tanya Plibersek. Good morning.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Hi. How are you?

CASSIDY: Very well. Labor's view about the Australian Air Force dropping guns and ammunition over Iraq. How do you feel about that?

PLIBERSEK: I think it's pretty clear that the anti- IS forces in northern Iraq including the Peshmerga and others have been really the only effective fighting force stopping IS at the moment. And we've both supported the humanitarian effort until now to protect civilian populations that have been under attack. I think that the next step of ensuring that the Peshmerga and other anti- IS forces are able to continue to fight back IS is a logical next step.

CASSIDY: So you would see it as an important role and with minimal risk?

PLIBERSEK: Of course any activity like this has risk. And we believe our Australian defence personnel are some of the best trained and best equipped in the world. But of course any mission like this has some risk. Nothing can be without risk in the incredibly violent circumstances that you are talking about. We don't know all of the weapons that IS have on hand but they've been capturing weapons as part of their advance through Iraq, they have been capturing weapons along the way. There's some reports that they have been supplied by other nations as well. So you can't count on the fact that they won't fight back. But the Peshmerga and those other forces in northern Iraq are the only effective barrier to IS slaughtering civilian populations as they advance through northern Iraq. So I don't really see what alternative the international community has. There are a few things that are important here. In 2003, the United States and Australia and a few others went into Iraq without international support and without the support of the majority of the Iraqi population. The difference here is you've got the newly forming Iraqi Government speaking with the international community. You've got an imminent humanitarian disaster. We have seen already that IS are prepared to commit genocide if they can. So you do have a responsibility to protect, from the international community and you've got a United States administration that are taking a much more methodical and much more internationally inclusive approach.

CASSIDY: You talk about this being a worthy next step. What about the step after that? What if they were to introduce Super Hornets? Would you be equally embracing of that?

PLIBERSEK: We would have to have a lot more information about that next step, if there is to be a next step. We would have to discuss that also within our Shadow National Security Committee and Shadow Cabinet.

CASSIDY: Are they drawing you into the conversation up until now? Did you know about these – that we're about to drop guns and ammunition?

PLIBERSEK: I am not going to discuss the briefings we have had from the Government. What I would say is we’ve been very supportive of the humanitarian effort until now. And where you have an effective or reasonably effective fighting force on the ground being the only thing standing between IS and civilian populations that are at risk of genocide or ethnic cleansing, then there is an international responsibility to assist those people to hold back IS.

CASSIDY: The Greens are demanding parliamentary debates before any decision is taken to introduce the fighters, the hornets. Do you think that is the way to go?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think that it's clear that 2003 was a disaster and most Australians remember 2003 as a disaster and they remember the fact that the Howard Government, many of whom are obviously still part of the new Abbott Government, didn't consult the Australian community at that time. I think that we are - I think it's important to have a national discussion but I would also say that we're at a very different - we're in a very different environment today. We have a US administration that is cautious about involvement. They're saying, President Obama is saying very clearly that he is not keen to put formed combat brigades back on the ground. There is no - there are some people in the United States who are urging him to go further but it seems very clear that President Obama is not keen on the idea of having large numbers of American troops back in Iraq. And I think the discussion that we are having in Australia is very much informed by the disaster that was the 2003 invasion. We do have a responsibility to protect civilian populations from potential genocide and ethnic cleansing. If we have the ability to support Iraqi forces to do that, then I think that is a worthwhile thing to do. But, beyond that, we would have to have more detailed discussion.

CASSIDY: You're saying because of the limited nature of the involvement at this stage you don't think it demands a parliamentary debate before decisions are taken.

PLIBERSEK: There is nothing stopping the Greens or anyone in the Parliament having a discussion about these issues. There are plenty of forums of the Parliament where they can publicly air the concerns that they have. I am just cautioning about the idea that this is just like 2003. There are a great number of differences including the - I mean, people will remember how enthusiastic the Bush administration was and the Blair administration and our own administration were about the 2003 invasion of Iraq. I don't think that there is that tone in our national debate at the moment. But there is an imminent humanitarian disaster. Gareth Evans actually has written a great deal about the proper circumstances to consider when you are thinking about a military intervention for a humanitarian basis. And that includes things like is there a potential genocide or genocide imminent? Is this the only reason for the military intervention? There is no ulterior motive. Is it a proportionate response? Does it have a likelihood of success, does it have international backing or international approval? They are all the sort of issues we should be considering. There is a great deal as I say written about this already in the international community. We can have a sensible debate about it.

CASSIDY: And have you disabused those in your party who feel this is all over-hyped and this is a Government trying to cover for its domestic problems?

PLIBERSEK: This is clearly a very serious international issue. There are domestic considerations, the fact that Khaled Sharrouf was allowed out of Australia and indeed took his family overseas to participate in such brutal fighting is of concern to all Australians. So there are - there is an international problem. There are domestic implications for it. That is a separate issue from the fact that this Government a year into its administration is not handling its domestic responsibilities well. It's the most unpopular Budget in 40 years, it's a Budget that takes Australia down a path of unfairness that Australians are rejecting. We can have both of those conversations at the same time.

CASSIDY: Just on Ukraine, does Labor share Tony Abbott's definition of the events there as a Russian invasion?

PLIBERSEK: I don't think the words we use are as important as the fact that there are thousands of Russian troops inside the borders of Ukraine now. The only people who seem not to be prepared to accept that are the Russians themselves. There is satellite imagery, there's NATO presenting evidence to the Russians. Russian-backed separatists fighters themselves are talking about the thousands of Russian troops that they're fighting alongside. We know that the Russians have supported financially and militarily this separatist movement. It seems that they have deliberately opened a third front in the fighting. I would say that the surge in Russian troop numbers cannot be separated from the fact that the United States is preoccupied and focussed on the threat of IS in Iraq and the Russians are using this as an opportunity to push forward their advantage. It is a serious issue. And it does deserve international attention and sanction of President Putin who I think is not only behaving aggressively he is being dishonest to boot.

CASSIDY: But you suggest or Labor has been urging Tony Abbott to push harder for Vladimir Putin to be banned from the G20 but it seems their lobbying has been well out in front of you on that score.

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think it's very important that the international community show President Putin there are consequences to this sort of aggressive behaviour. There's some Russians indeed who are arguing that he shouldn't have been invited to France earlier in the year in June for D-day commemorations. I think there's an acceptance that economic sanctions, particularly sanctions that relate to military or strategic issues are a very important next step. But there do have to be consequences to this sort of aggression. This is the only forcible - the annexation of Crimea is the only forcible annexation of land since the Second World War. It is not acceptable for this to be the approach of Russia and particularly for as I suggested for them to try and make advances while the world community is focussed on the brutality of ISIS in northern Iraq and in Syria as well.

CASSIDY: Finally the United States Ambassador John Berry said this of Julie Bishop, the Foreign Minister, this week that she is in the top tier of the most effective and capable Foreign Ministers in the world. She's impressive in every way. That is very high praise.

PLIBERSEK: And John Berry is a terrific diplomat.

CASSIDY: He said that she's had an amazing debut on the world stage and she's taken the world by storm. That seems to go beyond diplomacy.

PLIBERSEK: All I can say is he is a very enthusiastic man and a very good diplomat.

CASSIDY: Thank you for your time this morning.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.

ENDS

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STATEMENT - Australia's Relationship with Indonesia

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

STATEMENT

 

AUSTRALIA’S RELATIONSHIP WITH INDONESIA

 

THURSDAY, 28 AUGUST 2014

Labor welcomes the agreement signed today between Australia and Indonesia.

Given cooperation between our two nations had been suspended in critical areas like defence and people smuggling for almost nine months, we are disappointed it took the Abbott Government so long to reach agreement with Indonesia.

When we are able to see the text of the agreement, we will go through it carefully.

Labor always said we wanted Australia’s relationship with Indonesia back on track, and we hope today’s agreement helps achieve that.

Indonesia is a neighbour of paramount importance, and a great partner of Australia.  Labor is keen to see that warm partnership grow.

 

We pay particular tribute to the leadership of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono who has been a very good friend to Australia over many years.

 

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TRANSCRIPT - RN Breakfast, Thursday 28 August 2014

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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

RADIO INTERVIEW
RN BREAKFAST, ABC RADIO NATIONAL

THURSDAY, 28 AUGUST 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: Iraq; national security legislation; Indonesia.   

 

FRAN KELLY, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek is Labor’s Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Parliament House studios. Tanya Plibersek welcome back to Breakfast.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Thanks Fran.

KELLY: According to the Minister David Johnson, Australian forces are in “a high state of readiness”, that’s a quote. So it would seem that once again Australian forces are inching closer to a military commitment in Iraq. What is the Government considering? Have you been briefed on this?

PLIBERSEK: Well, no, we have requested a briefing from the Government that so far, that request hasn't been granted so far. What I would say Fran is that we have to be very, very cautious when we’re talking about potential military involvement. Labor has been very supportive of humanitarian assistance in northern Iraq. It is plain that IS are on a genocidal campaign against ethnic minorities and religious minorities in Iraq. In fact, against anyone who doesn't agree with them. That's also true of Syria, the most recent United Nations reports about what's happening in Syria are also shocking. So we support humanitarian assistance in Iraq. We also support greater humanitarian effort in Syria. The United Nations has requested international assistance. They launched a fund hoping to collect around $6 billion for humanitarian and reconstruction efforts and I think the Abbott Government so far has contributed $12 million to that. So we would say we can help more, although of course the way we help in northern Iraq and the way we help Syria would be quite different.

KELLY: I also guess the definition of humanitarian assistance can be as broad or as narrow as you want it to be. The Defence Minister has said if asked it would be "the right thing to do to assist the new Iraqi government". Is it as clear cut as that in your view, that if the Iraqi Government does ask, it is the right thing for Australia to do to participate more fully militarily?

PLIBERSEK: Well we'd have to get a lot more information about what's being requested of us. I think it’s very clear that if there is a potential genocide, the international community has a responsibility to protect. It does look as though there are potential genocides in northern Iraq and certainly, a genocidal campaign both in Syria and Iraq. But the type of any action that Australia might take - I think that is something that we need to be very thoughtful and very calm about. The war in 2003 was not just damaging for Australia, for the United States, for all of the countries that were involved, I think it's been very damaging for Iraq as well. We need to be very cautious and not do more harm than good.

KELLY: Talking of northern Iraq, yesterday on this program we asked the Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about the Kurdish regional government's request for weapons and ammunition. She said at that time there'd been no request for weapons but then clarified later that in fact there had been to the Government. What's Labor's position on Australia arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces operating in the north where IS is, as you say, on a genocidal campaign?

PLIBERSEK: Well I will be meeting with two Kurdish groups later today, including the author of that letter to the Government. I think it's clear that the Peshmerga are the most effective fighting force against IS in northern Iraq at the moment. If the Peshmerga have made requests of the Australian Government, it really is up to the Australian Government to tell us what they intend to do. I note that some European countries, the United States and others are supporting the Peshmerga with ammunition and so on. But it would have to again be something that we need a lot more information about and we also need to know the view of the Iraqi Government when it comes to arming a separate military force to the Iraqi Army.

KELLY: The Greens have warned of mission creep, if there is to be any additional military commitment in Iraq we need to be clear on what the aim is. In your view is it to firm up the Iraqi Government, to protect the state of Iraq against IS? Or is it to defeat the Islamic State? Is that important - that we clarify that before anything more happens?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think the first and most important thing we need to be clear about is that there is a humanitarian disaster right now. Thousands of people are dying, many hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. That’s true in northern Iraq it’s also true in Syria and as an international community we do have a responsibility to prevent genocide and to provide humanitarian assistance. Anything more than that has to be after a great deal of thought and consideration, the international community with the government of Iraq. This is something the people of Iraq need to do with international support.

KELLY: And what about debate? What about the role of the Australian Parliament? The Prime Minister Tony Abbott made it clear again this week that the Government will do what governments always have done in the past – they’ll consult, they’ll consult with the Opposition, but they will not seek parliamentary approval. Is that good enough?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I mean I was here in 2003 and I don’t recall a great deal of useful consultation at that time-

KELLY: Well the Greens want more than that, they want a vote in the Parliament, so do others.

PLIBERSEK: I think it is important for us to be very clear as Australians about what our goal is, what the objective would be, what the specific task for Australian forces would be and what the end state is, what do we hope to achieve and how do we then withdraw. None of those questions were answered in 2003 and we can’t afford to make that similar mistake again.

KELLY: It’s 22 minutes to eight on breakfast, our guest is the Shadow Foreign Minister, Tanya Plibersek in our Parliament House studios. Tanya Plibersek, the Government says its new counter-terror law will be introduced soon. The Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, clarified yesterday there is no reverse onus of proof in the new law that had been one of Labor’s complaints and complaints by others. Is that your understanding of these laws?

PLIBERSEK: Well, Fran, it’s very difficult, what we’ve seen here-

KELLY: We’re talking about people leaving or coming back from places like Syria or Iraq.

PLIBERSEK: We’ve seen a press conference. I mean, these are extremely serious matters. We’ve seen no draft legislation-

KELLY: Have you been briefed on these laws?

PLIBERSEK: Well we’ve been briefed on the intention, after the press conference was held, we got a briefing and in fact, I had two briefings and in neither of those briefings were any of the questions that we had about how these laws would operate satisfactorily answered. So we’re waiting on draft legislation. Of course it’s important to help our security agencies keep Australians safe, there is no one who would disagree with that. And frankly, there is no one who would disagree with the fact that there is heightened risk. We’ve already seen two Australians leave on family members’ passports to go overseas to fight, Khaled Sharrouf being the worst example of this. Of course we believe our security agencies need support to keep Australians safe-

KELLY: They’re already getting it, it’s already working. I mean, the front page of the Telegraph yesterday, the Prime Minister told us yesterday someone was stopped at Sydney airport over the weekend. Front page of the Tele screams “Enemy of the State”.

PLIBERSEK: I was also surprised-

KELLY: “Enemy at our gate”, sorry.

PLIBERSEK: I was also surprised to hear yesterday in Question Time that some airports, some named airports, have extra resources and some named airports don’t yet, which I thought was an extraordinary thing to do, to say if you want to come into Australia or leave Australia more easily, these are the airports that you use. But just back on these laws, Fran, you can’t make serious decisions about national security by press conference and so far we’ve had a press conference and very little extra detail. We want to support our national security agencies but it is very difficult without even draft legislation before us, to comment on the specifics.

KELLY: And yesterday at the National Press Club, the ASIO Director General, David Irvine, was asked whether there would be any, if there was a danger if Australia escalated its military involvement in Iraq that would make Australia more of a terror threat back home. He said he didn’t see any link between that escalation and Australia being a terror threat. Do you agree with that?

PLIBERSEK: Well, he’s a very experienced national security leader and I am not going to contradict him. I think it’s important that we listen to our most experienced, most expert advisers.

KELLY: Just finally, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is in Bali today. She will sign the new code of conduct with Indonesia on intelligence. This flowed from those leaks from the Snowden files that Australia had been tapping the phone of the wife of the Indonesian President and others. This new code is called a set of behaviour principles. Have you seen what’s being signed today and does it diminish our capacity to gather vital intelligence?

PLIBERSEK: No, unfortunately we haven’t seen the text of the agreement and it is disappointing that it’s taken around 300 days to conclude this matter. I’m very pleased that it’s occurred before the end of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s term because he has been a good friend to Australia and a good interlocker with Australia but it is, of course, again - unable to comment without having seen what the Government’s-

KELLY: Is that good enough, our Government signing a code of conduct that no one else in the Parliament has seen except presumably the Foreign Minister, Prime Minister and a few-

PLIBERSEK: Well that’s a question for Julie Bishop, really.

KELLY: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for joining us.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks, Fran.

ENDS

 

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MEDIA RELEASE - Long-Term Ceasefire in Israel and Gaza

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 THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

LONG-TERM CEASEFIRE IN ISRAEL AND GAZA

 

WEDNESDAY, 27 AUGUST 2014

Labor warmly welcomes the long-term ceasefire in Israel and Gaza.

With reports of more than 2000 dead, the human toll of this terrible conflict has been unspeakable.

We welcome both the agreement of Hamas and other militant groups in Gaza to halt all rocket and mortar fire into Israel, and Israel's agreement to stop all military action including air strikes and ground operations.

In addition, more border crossings will be opened with Gaza to allow the easier flow of goods, including humanitarian aid and reconstruction equipment.

Labor calls on the Abbott Government to do everything it can to assist with humanitarian relief in the region.

Now a long-term ceasefire has been agreed, we support a return to negotiations between the parties for a lasting peace through a two state solution

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TRANSCRIPT - Doorstop Interview, Brisbane, Saturday 23 August 2014

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

E&OE TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

BRISBANE

SATURDAY, 23 AUGUST 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: Tony Abbott’s Budget of broken promises; Bill Shorten’s statement; Clive Palmer

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: It is a great pleasure to be here today at the Labor Party conference in Brisbane. The Queensland Labor Party has been doing a terrific job in their struggle to keep Campbell Newman honest. To keep the LNP Government to account and they’ve been working very hard with their Federal colleagues to keep Tony Abbott on the straight and narrow. I spoke about this in my speech today, I said each one of them, Campbell Newman on his own & Tony Abbott on his own are toxic but together they are devastating for Queenslanders. When you think about the health system, the cuts Campbell Newman made, we said they were a curtain raiser to Tony Abbott’s cuts. But what Tony Abbott has done is so much worse than what any of us ever imagined. It is like being sick with the flu and then getting a dose of food poisoning on top of it. Campbell Newman’s cuts followed up by Tony Abbott’s cuts mean an American style, two-tiered health system for Queenslanders and when it comes to education, the same thing is true there. Campbell Newman rejected $4 billion of new funding for Queensland schools when he rejected the Gonski school education funding reforms. You bring that in on top of what Tony Abbott is now doing. From pre-school through schooling, new fees for TAFE, higher fees for TAFE and higher fees for university as well as cutting programs like Youth Connections – to help young people get a job. You see how Campbell Newman’s cuts with Tony Abbott’s cuts make life so much harder for Queenslanders when it comes to education. It’s like having the worst teacher in the school and getting sat next to the school bully. Now we’ve heard from Tony Abbott in the last few days and sometimes, Mathias Cormann as well, about their Budget. The problem of course isn’t the Budget sales job, the problem is the Budget. On the one hand, we’ve got Tony Abbott saying ‘nothing to see here, no problem here. We’re happy with the number of savings we’ve got through’ and on the other hand, we’ve got Mathias Cormann saying that there is a Budget emergency still. The problem is not the sales job. The problem is the Budget itself. But what an appalling sales job. You’ve got the Prime Minister, and Joe Hockey in hiding, now Mathis Cormann has been drafted to sell this dud Budget and Mathias Cormann and the Prime Minister can’t even get their story straight. Tony Abbott apparently said he is ‘proud of keeping his promises’. Well I remember some of the promises he made. He promised ‘no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions and no new taxes’ and he has broken every single one of those promises since coming to office.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, in your speech, you said ‘Opposition is the worst place to be. It is difficult to move on from the past.’ With three books now looking at the Rudd-Gillard years and the Paul Kelly book today saying today that ‘Rudd wasn’t in the right space.’ How difficult is it to move on from the past?

PLIBERSEK: I think you’ve asserted that I said it is difficult to move on from the past. I said that it is important that we know our history because we have a lot to be proud of. Federally, we are the party; we are the government that helped Australia survive the Global Financial Crisis better than any other advanced economy in the world. We are the government that introduced the National Disability Insurance Scheme, the Gonski school education funding reforms. We are proud of our history. But we also know that looking back is not enough. We have to have a clear vision that is articulated for Australians. We have to talk to them about the sort of Australia that we want. An Australia that is productive, an Australia that is prosperous and an Australia that makes sure that that prosperity spreads to every Australian.

JOURNALIST: But do you agree that Kevin Rudd was mentally unfit to lead at that time?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I didn’t speak about our leadership issues at the time; I’m certainly not going to start now.

JOURNALIST: Has Labor been negotiating with Ricky Muir about the Budget at all?

PLIBERSEK: I personally haven’t spoken to Mr Muir, but I am sure he is in contact with Labor people. I can’t answer that question. It would be very natural if he was.

JOURNALIST: In September 2012, you were one of the people who said ‘Tony Abbott had questions to answer about Barbara Ranjam.’ Now in light of Bill Shorten’s unfound allegations resurfacing this week, is it time to lay off Tony Abbott’s past with women?

PLIBERSEK:  Well, I don’t think I’ve spoken about Tony Abbott’s personal life for some time now.

JOURNALIST: Is the Government giving us mixed messages or is there a Budget crisis or not?

PLIBERSEK: It’s just crazy. You’ve got the Prime Minister out there saying ‘No emergency, nothing to see here’. Six months ago he was saying there was a fire and they needed to bring in the fire engines. Now they are saying ‘There is no emergency, there is nothing to see here’. But then at the same time, they’ve got Mathias Cormann, the substitute Joe Hockey, out there saying there is a Budget emergency. They can’t even keep their story straight for a day.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, what concerns did you have about Kevin Rudd in 2010, if any?

PLIBERSEK: Well I just said I didn’t speak about it at the time and I won’t talk about it now.

JOURNALIST: Who would you like to see take on Campbell Newman in the seat of Ashgrove?

PLIBERSEK: That is a matter for Queensland Labor.

JOURNALIST: How has this been the worst week of Bill Shorten’s time as Opposition Leader?

PLIBERSEK: Well I didn’t say that.

JOURNALIST: Well you did say that at the beginning of your speech.

PLIBERSEK: No, I said it has been a tough week and indeed, anyone who has had such serious allegations made about them would feel the pressure of that. These were very serious allegations; the police have had many months to investigate them, as is absolutely proper. We want to make sure that Australians who make serious allegations have them treated with the upmost seriousness by police. That they are thoroughly investigated by police. That has happened now, Bill has spoken about it now, he didn’t need to, he wasn’t named in the media. He went out in the media and put his hand up and said ‘I want to put on the record that I was the person investigated’. He has done that now and he is entitled to draw a line under it.

JOURNALIST: Was it the worst week for the Opposition leader?

PLIBERSEK: I think it has been a successful first year for Labor. No one would have imagined that in less than one year since Tony Abbott was elected, that he would be so spectacularly unpopular. The reason he is so unpopular, having such a hard time, is because he has exposed his vision for Australia. What is it? It is an Australia that has an American style health care system, an American style education system and American style workplaces. It is not the Australia that people value. It’s not an Australia of prosperity that is shared so that all Australians have the opportunity that they deserve.

JOURNALIST: What is your view on the Clive Palmer party?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is marvellous that we live in a democracy and what the people decide is what the people decide. We need to work with the results of democratic elections. Labor has often had, when we are in government, we haven’t had the majority in the Senate. We’ve had to work with crossbench Senators. In the last Parliament, we had to get 5 independents every time we had to pass a piece of Legislation and we got about 600 pieces of legislation through that minority House of Representatives Government, so that is democracy for you.

JOURNALIST: Even with the leader [Palmer United Party] expressing racist views on China? That’s democracy for you?

PLIBERSEK: Of course, nobody would support Clive Palmer’s comments on China and I see Clive Palmer has backed down from those comments quite rightly, pretty quickly. But I also have a fair idea that the Chinese Government understands that Clive Palmer is one voice and not a representative voice when it comes to his comments on China.

Thanks everyone.

ENDS

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SPEECH - Queensland ALP State Conference

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

SPEECH

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

Queensland ALP State Conference

 

SATURDAY, 23 AUGUST 2014

BRISBANE

 

I want to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we gather today, and pay my respect to their elders both past and present.

Thanks Dr Jim Chalmers for that very warm welcome, and for the work you do fighting for Queenslanders on the Federal Labor frontbench.

And to my other Federal colleagues: Shayne Neumann, Jan McLucas, Bernie Ripoll, Claire Moore, Joe Ludwig, Terri Butler, Graham Perrett, Chris Ketter - every single one of them, a terrific contributor down in Canberra.

I want to say how wonderful it is to be here with Annastacia. Annastacia has been doing such a fine job in such difficult times.

There are two blokes I want to make particular mention of today.

My friend Bill Shorten would have loved to have been here today. Bill has had a difficult week, but he has had a wonderful year. Who would have thought, slightly less than a year in from the last Federal election, Tony Abbott would have had the shortest political honeymoon in Australian history.

Because like Annastacia here with Campbell Newman, Bill has been in Canberra holding Tony Abbott to account every single day.

I want to say how wonderful it is to be in my friend, Wayne Swan’s home state too. 40 years ago Wayne Swan came to Canberra and over those 40 years he has served the Labor Party in many different roles. Including as the Treasurer who saved Australia from the Global Financial Crisis, and did it to save hundreds of thousands of jobs for ordinary people. And he did it too at a time when we were able to introduce the Gonski school funding reforms, the NDIS and other great Labor reforms.

To those already in the State Parliamentary Labor Party and those of you who I have been campaigning with, who I am confident I will see there after the next election.

Local Government candidates and representatives. My union comrades. Delegates, one and all.

Rebuilding Queensland Labor

In particular I want to say how great it is to be in Brisbane. Even though I come from south of the border, we have at least one thing in common.

We both know that in politics, Opposition is the worst kind of place to be.

The difficulty of moving on from the past, while staying united as a team.

The frustration of seeing what you’ve built up being torn down by the conservatives.

The bitterness of being proven right, on all the dire predictions we made on the campaign trail.

And so it’s nothing short of remarkable, the strength that Queensland Labor has shown in the past year under Annastacia Paluszczuk’s leadership.

I also want to particularly welcome two of newer members of your state parliamentary team.

The first is a friend and old colleague of mine – Yvette D’ath, who took Redcliffe back for the ALP.

Could there be a sharper contrast than between Scott Driscoll, the disgraced former member, and Yvette D’ath?

One having to jump out of politics before he was pushed, the other such an effective campaigner and representative that she was only allowed six months off after a gruelling Federal election campaign before she was called back to public life.

And, of course, the new member for Stafford, Anthony Lynham. What a phenomenal campaign - over 4000 volunteer phone calls, almost 4000 doors knocked on, 350 volunteers on polling day. And on Election Day, a 19.1 per cent swing, carrying every booth in the electorate bar one.

But these by-elections weren't just about the quality of Labor’s candidates or the strength of our campaigns – great as they were.

Anthony Lynham met a Northsider on polling day, George, who was 81 years old. He'd never voted Labor before in his life - until that day.

And there's one more person to thank for that.

Yes, it's time to talk about Campbell Newman.

When Bill Shorten gave his Budget Reply speech this year, I had people stopping me on the street to give their thanks for voicing their anger at the unfairness.

Well - voters in Redcliffe and Stafford were the start of a twelve month "right of reply" that Queenslanders have been waiting to deliver, ever since Campbell Newman’s first budget.

Because who would have voted for the LNP if they had known that nurses and health workers in Redcliffe Hospital would be sacked after the brutal cuts to Metro North health funding, with over 1000 full-time jobs lost in Metro North alone?

Who in Stafford would have voted for them, knowing that community organisations would be gutted by cuts to the Skilling Queenslanders for Work program?

Who would have voted for them if Campbell Newman had come clean about his plans for Queensland?

Campbell Newman said when he was elected, ‘I pledge to you that we will conduct ourselves with humility, grace and dignity’.

But for that first-time Labor voter in Stafford, for George, it was the arrogance of the LNP Government that finally tipped him over the edge – the fact that on top of all of the cuts and broken promises, they just stopped listening to the people who put them there.

Which is starting to sound like a very familiar story.

Yes, it’s time to talk about Tony Abbott.

Newman and Abbott: same political strategy of broken promises and cuts

We said in the Federal election campaign that Campbell Newman was the curtain-raiser for an Abbott Federal Government.

For a playbook that has proven to be such a political train wreck, it's strange how closely Newman and Abbott have stuck to it.

  • Step one: promise from opposition that there's nothing to fear;
  • Step two: set up a commission of audit to get your marching orders from the big end of town;
  • Step three: tear up your election commitments and start cutting health and education.

Let’s take Campbell Newman:

First he tells Queensland’s public servants they have ‘nothing to fear’ and that he will ‘revitalise frontline services’.

Then in his first budget, he cuts $3 billion from the Queensland health system and sacks over 4000 health workers.

Revitalising Campbell Newman-style – ripping the guts out of public services Queenslanders rely on.

Now Tony Abbott:

Right up to Election Day, he says: 'No cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions, no new taxes’.

Then comes the National Commission of Audit, calling for cuts to health, education and essential services.

Here Tony Abbott starts to improvise on the plan – the $5 GP co-payment for concession card holders recommended by the Commission of Audit doesn’t go far enough, so he decides to push for a $7 fee.

Campbell Newman: says he’s “not a right-wing ideologue” and then sacks 14,000 Queenslanders.

Tony Abbott: says before he’s elected “the one thing that the Australian workers will find is that I am their best friend”, goes on to cut 16, 500 jobs from the public service and kills the car industry to boot.

He promised a million new jobs - We just thought some of them would be in Australia.

And for Queenslanders, it isn’t just the insult of having to sit through a re-run of this cynical political play.

Separately, they would be dangerous enough. Together, they’re a disaster for Queensland.

 

Bad separately, together a disaster

Take the impact on our health system.

Over in the United States, they are taking the long and difficult path back from a user pays health system.

But here, Campbell Newman doesn’t mind sacking nurses, closing hospital beds and pushing out waiting times.

And Tony Abbott backs up with more cuts - to hospitals, to GP services, and to prevention - the job of keeping people healthy and out of hospital.

Campbell Newman cuts, then Tony Abbott shows up with a plan for even deeper cuts.

It’s like coming down with the flu and and then getting food poisoning: bad separately, together a disaster.

Or take education.

Campbell Newman called the Gonski school funding reforms a ‘bucket of custard.’[1]

He turned his back on an extra $3.8 billion for Queensland schools, but worse he sabotaged the opportunity to create a new system which addressed the rising gap between well-off and disadvantaged students.

Now Christopher Pyne has unveiled his plans for higher education, with students paying more and getting less.

It’s true that all students are going to be worse off, but the biggest tragedy is the smart kids who’ll never make it through those university gates because of the prospect of decades of rising debt.

What happens to those kids, the bright ones born in the wrong postcode?

The ones the LNP want to keep piling handicaps on, from threats to federal cuts to preschool through the end of their schooling lives?

The cumulative effect of Newman and Abbott’s robbing of those kids is devastating.

It’s like a having a hopeless teacher and then getting stuck next to the school bully: bad separately, but together a disaster.

What they want to do to young people breaks your heart - cut TAFE, cut Youth Connections and other successful employment programs, leave them without any income at all for six months at a time if they're unlucky enough not to find work, then saddle them with a debt sentence if they want to go to uni.

The question of whether to fund university education is something that shows up the difference between us and them: they argue, why should we subsidise people with our tax money just so they can get ahead? It’s every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost. That’s their approach.

And we respond – those future graduates we invest in, they will pay through the tax system when they’re graduates and they’ll help the next generation, and they’ll help the next generation.

Because to us in the Labor movement, health and education aren’t just businesses. They’re the right of every Australian, and reserving them for the privileged diminishes us all.

I want to tell you a story about myself.

When I was about 4 or 5 we went to Slovenia for the first time, which is where my parents are from.

When we arrived we went to my grandfather’s farm where everyone was out in the field, with their neighbours, cutting a wheat crop.

This was 40 years ago and they were cutting the wheat crop with scythes, then bundling the wheat up to dry in the sun.

When we finished working we got into a wooden cart pulled by bullocks that took us home.

I think about that first time I met my grandfather and what he would think about my life now and the opportunities that I’ve had.

The thing that strikes me most about it is he could never have imagined, 40 years ago, the jobs that exist in Australia today.

The fact that we live in a country where any kid can go to school and we have aspired to any kid being able to do post school education; TAFE, vocational education or university.

And not based on their families wealth, based on their ability and their desire and their dreams.

What will this country be like in 40 years’ time? We cannot imagine the jobs that will exist in 40 years’ time. We can’t even conceive of them today.

So we aren’t just robbing these individual kids of their opportunity, we are robbing the future prosperity of this nation if we don’t invest in education.

 

Why we care

Each of us has a different story about what makes us Labor.

I think of my dad. He migrated to Australia and worked here in Queensland for a while, cutting cane and helping build big sugar silos.

It was hard work and he worked hard at it. And he felt the effects of that strain and the cement dust on his lungs for years after he’d moved on.

It was important to him that he could provide for his family, and he told me that’s why he was always part of the union.

Instead of going it alone, being part of a union meant he knew he could rely on decent wages and conditions that had some dignity.

I think of my mum. She came to Australia in her early twenties with no English and worked in factories, before raising us.

I think of the choices my mum and dad made, raising me and my brothers.

We didn't have a lot of money, but all I ever had to say was "it's educational" for them to hand over the money they worked so hard to save.

They never resented paying tax so other people could go to university as Christopher Pyne says, because those "other people" were their kids – we were the first generation to have that chance.

I cannot tolerate a vision of Australia where we are the last generation to have that chance.

Each of us has a different story about why we're Labor, but we share the same vision for the kind of Australia we want to live in.

When I was elected, I said that I was proud to live in a country where your birth is not your destiny.

And together, as a movement, we can protect and build on that vision.

We've done it before - we're a party that values our history and the great Labor reforms of the past, like Medicare and superannuation.

And more importantly we'll do it again, because our party is the party of building the future.

And as bad as Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott are individually, and as toxic as they are in combination, by that same degree Labor working together in State and Federal government can change Queensland for the better.

And that's the reason Annastacia and her team have been working every day to hold the Newman Government to account.

And that's why Bill and his Federal team has been working every single day to take on Tony Abbott.

 

Conclusion

A British Prime Minister, the Earl of Derby, once said: "The duty of an Opposition is very simple... to oppose everything, and propose nothing."

Of course, Lord Derby was a Tory. That was Tony Abbott’s approach.

Labor knows that we are only worthy of regaining government because of our hopes and aspirations – because of what we stand for:

  • a decent wage, and strong rights at work – the purpose of a thriving economy, not the barrier to it.
  • a health system where patients are treated on need, not triaged on the size of their wallets.
  • schools where every kid can get a great education, and where a difficult childhood doesn’t mean you are lost for the rest of your life.

We will face up to the challenge of climate change, because the political costs of today are nothing compared to the real costs we’re leaving to our kids and grandkids.

And we won’t stop until everybody has the same rights – no matter the colour of your skin, or the gender of the person you love.

We stand for an Australia where:

  • If you become homeless, you don’t become invisible.
  • If your child is born with a disability, you aren’t on your own.
  • If you lose your job and can’t make ends meet, you can lean on us while you look for work - and then you in turn help others.

Delegates, we know that prosperity and justice only come together when we work together.

That’s the Labor way, that’s the kind of Australia we stand for, and that’s why we’re taking the fight up to Campbell Newman and Tony Abbott.

And Queensland – it starts with you. I’ll see you on the campaign trail.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - ABC Radio National AM, Friday 22 August 2014

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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

RADIO INTERVIEW
AM, ABC RADIO NATIONAL

FRIDAY, 22 AUGUST 2014

 

SUBJECT/S: Bill Shorten addressing claims; National security legislation.  

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: Tanya Plibersek is Labor’s Deputy Leader and she joins me now. Tanya Plibersek welcome to AM.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Michael, how are you?

BRISSENDEN: What do you make of the decision to go public, it certainly would have come as a shock to most Australians wouldn’t it?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think it would have surprised many people that Bill has outed himself as the person that The Australian reported several months ago there was an investigation about. But it is important of course when such serious allegations are made that the police do thoroughly investigate those allegations and having seen that process completed now I think Bill thought it was time to hopefully put a line under this.

BRISSENDEN: How is it going to play out politically because Parliament is back next week, do you expect it will divert debate at all?

PLIBERSEK: Michael, I’m not a political commentator I think that’s really a question for someone else. This has been a very serious allegation, like any serious allegation it should have been thoroughly investigated by the police. They have taken some months to investigate it. They’ve spoken also to the Office of the Public Prosecutor in Victoria to confirm that there is no case to answer here. I think that does really need to be the end.

BRISSENDEN: Okay I know he says he wants that to be the end of it as well, but online is where this allegation first surfaced. Do you fear that this may be driven further by a non-mainstream media campaign?

PLIBERSEK: Well I don’t think any of us can control what’s said on the internet.

BRISSENDEN: Clearly there is a lot of chatter out there that will continue, I guess you have to find a way to deal with that somehow.

PLIBERSEK: Well Michael I don’t know, I don’t read that sort of stuff. I think we’d all go mad if we read and believed everything that’s on the internet.

BRISSENDEN: Did he and the Labor Party need to clear the air on this at this stage well before an election?

PLIBERSEK: No, Bill didn’t need to address this at all. He was not named in the original report, he could have carried on without ever expressing the fact that this report was about him. But you can imagine that it’s taken a significant toll on his family and he thought now that the police investigation is concluded it was a good time to say it was me – ‘I’m not hiding behind spin doctors and so on. I put my hand up, it was about me, but the police have thoroughly investigated as they should’ve and they’ve found that there’s no case to answer’.

BRISSENDEN: Do you expect the woman will continue with her claim?

PLIBERSEK: I couldn’t begin to speculate.

BRISSENDEN: Okay. On other matters the Prime Minister has been meeting with Muslim leaders this week trying to win their support for the planned changes to the terrorism laws. Would you urge the community to support those laws?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think it’s very important that David Irvine the head of ASIO was out yesterday saying that these laws are not about targeting any particular community. They’re about keeping Australians safe from potential acts of terrorism. We are very fortunate that we’ve been able to keep Australians safe but we shouldn’t ever be complacent about threats overseas. On the other hand it’s also very important – I mean one of the reasons terrorists behave in the way they do Michael is because they want to strike fear into people’s hearts, and we’ve been a free and functioning democracy. We can’t change the way we behave as Australians to behaving in a fearful way because of terrorist events overseas. So we need to find a balance. There’s a first lot of laws that the Parliamentary Committee that I’m on, the Intelligence and Security Committee is examining at the moment. We’re methodically examining those laws. The Prime Minister announced recently that he wants to introduce a second tranche of laws but we haven’t seen any of the details of those Michael. So we’d need to look at them, examine them methodically and make sure that they do help our security agencies do their job but they don’t change our Australian way of life.

BRISSENDEN: Do you agree with the Prime Minister when he says we need to remain vigilant and that these laws do that and that if we don’t beheading such as in Iraq could happen here in Australia at the hands of terrorists?

PLIBERSEK: I don’t know which laws he’s talking about because he’s made an announcement that there will be new laws but he hasn’t drafted them yet. So when those laws are drafted Labor will examine them closely and see whether they do assist the national security agencies do their work. The national security agencies do very important work, we are very supportive of the work they do. We want them to keep Australians safe but I have to say that we balance that against behaving fearfully. I don’t want terrorists to change the way that I live as an Australian.

BRISSENDEN: Okay Tanya Plibersek thanks for joining us.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you Michael.

ENDS

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TRANSCRIPT - Today Show, Friday, 22 August 2014

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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

TV INTERVIEW
TODAY SHOW, CHANNEL 9

FRIDAY, 22 AUGUST 2014

 

Subject/s: Higher education; Bill Shorten addresses claims.  

LISA WILKINSON: PM Tony Abbott has been bombarded by more than 500 protestors overnight while trying to deliver a speech at Adelaide University. The mostly student crowd barged through a security fence and screamed at the Prime Minister about his unpopular policies on asylum seekers, student fees, gay marriage and job losses. To have a look at this and more we are joined now by communications minister Malcom Turnbull and deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek. Good morning to both of you. Malcolm, if I can start with you, 100 or so days on from releasing the budget there is certainly a lot that those protestors are unhappy about.

MALCOLM TURNBULL: Well so it seems but the bulk of the budget has been passed already. There are some issues that are, that we are still debating with the cross benchers but that is situation normal. As Tanya knows Governments rarely have a majority in the Senate and so you have to negotiate with the people with the swing votes which in that case is the 8 independent Senators.

WILKINSON: Tanya Plibersek, 50 police were called in. One protester was injured in the ruckus. We know there is a lot of opposition to the Abbott Government policies but are protestors starting to go too far?

TANYA PLIBERSEK: Well I think it is interesting that Malcolm has changed the rhetoric now. A few weeks ago it was budget emergency and we had Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott out there saying disaster, disaster. Now the Government has realised they have gone too far in talking about a budget emergency and they are dialling back the rhetoric. It’s been a very noticeable change in their talking points. When it comes to these students I don’t think protests should ever turn violent but I think every Australian has a right to tell their Government how they feel about a budget that breaks promises. There was no cuts to health, no cuts to education, no change to pensions, no new taxes. All those promises broken. And these uni students are really going to feel the brunt of it. They are looking at much more expensive degrees and of course they are worried about that. They are worried about having to choose between buying a house when they grow up and actually paying off their university debt. It is a terrible thing in Australia, it’s a very American-style university system and Australians have rejected it. And not just uni students have rejected it but all Australians have rejected that move away from the fairer system that we have always had.

WILKINSON: Do those broken promises sit comfortably with you Malcolm?

TURNBULL: I do not concede we have broken any promises.

WILKINSON: There is a laundry list there that Tanya read out?

TURNBULL: It’s a very long list, it’ll be a long program! Let's just go back to the point about university fees. When I went to university fees were free. And it was actually a Labor Government that reintroduced fees and introduced HECS because it recognised it was unfair to ask the whole population, many of whom, most of who had not gone to university to pay tax to send people to university so they could get jobs and earn much higher incomes than they would without a university degree. So it is fair for people to pay –

PLIBERSEK: A small portion Malcolm, but not an unaffordable, not an unaffordable amount.

TURNBULL: The reality is that students will be able to borrow the entire amount of the fees at the best rate they will ever be able to get and they will have significantly higher income in their lives.

PLIBERSEK: So they should pay more tax. So they will pay more tax throughout their lives.

TURNBULL: They will have significantly higher income and as a consequence of that degree – you see this is the critical thing – I mean for a Labor Party which – the Labor Party claims to be on behalf of the battler, working man and woman –

PLIBERSEK: I know I could never have afforded to go to university if what your Government proposes is true. I could not afford it. My dad was a plumber, my mum a housewife, I would never have got to university under your scheme.

TURNBULL: Tanya, that is not true –

PLIBERSEK: It is true –

TURNBULL: Because you would have been able to obviously contribute to your fees by your own work, which all students did, I certainly did.

PLIBERSEK: And I did that too.

TURNBULL: I worked when I was at university but I did not have fees. But you would also be able to borrow the money from the Government at a very low rate and that is something you - don't sniff, we borrow money for everything.

PLIBERSEK: But Malcolm, working class kids are not going to go into $200,000 worth of debt knowing that that means they will never be able to buy a home of their own.

TURNBULL: That is not true.

PLIBERSEK: No listen, if you’re talk about a nurse or a teacher, you are looking at 15 years’ worth of repayment. If you’re talking about a woman studying engineering you are talking about 18 years’ worth of university-fee repayment. Would you take on as an 18-year-old student almost 20 years’ worth of debt not even knowing you’ve got a job at the end of that study? Would you do that?

TURNBULL: These figures are wildly exaggerated.

PLIBERSEK: No, they are not. They are not wildly exaggerated. They are National Tertiary Education Union  figures.

TURNBULL: This is the case today, I mean students are taking on debt today under Fee Help. So this is –

PLIBERSEK: It is the size of the debt.

TURNBULL: All the reforms are doing is giving the universities greater flexibility in setting fees. And some universities may set lower fees to compete.

PLIBERSEK: And who is going to do that?

TURNBULL: Universities that want to compete for students.

PLIBERSEK: Except you are cutting their funding, you’re cutting their funding by 20 per cent so they have to make up the 20 per cent just to be back at stage one.

WILKINSON: We are going to have to leave it there, we have to move on, because a big story yesterday. We saw that Victoria Police will not pursue rape charges against opposition leader Bill Shorten saying they don’t have enough evidence to secure a conviction. Mr Shorten came forward to address the story yesterday.

BILL SHORTEN: I fully cooperated to clear my name. That is what I have done. I freely answered all the questions that the police asked of me. The police have now concluded the investigation. The decision speaks for itself. It is over.

WILKINSON: Bill Shorten yesterday. Now Tanya, for most people I think the fact that these allegations even existed came as a surprise. We know that it has been circulating a bit on social media. These allegations emerged around the time that Bill Shorten became opposition leader. Can you give us some idea of how much concern there has been over the last ten months over these allegations?

PLIBERSEK: Well I – the first and most important thing to say is that when allegations like this are made it is absolutely vital that the person making the allegation goes to the police and that the issue is thoroughly investigated. And a few months ago when this was first in the newspapers, an unnamed person was being investigated. I was asked about it at the time and I said the police have to investigate. It’s an incredibly serious allegation. We take these allegations seriously as a society, that means the police must investigate. But having had all these months to undertake their investigation I think with the investigation concluded Bill thought ‘Well I’ve got to now face this front-on’ and I think that is a pretty gutsy thing to do given he had not been named in the media.

He wanted to take it head-on and say ‘cooperated with the police, they’ve found I have no case to answer.’ We now should be able to draw a line under it. It has been an incredibly stressful period I think for him and his family and no doubt everybody involved in this – it has been very stressful. But having been investigated, having had his name cleared it is good now he can draw a line under it.

WILKINSON: Malcolm, as a young lawyer working for Kerry Parker, you defended him during the time of Costigan. Do you feel sorry? Obviously those allegations were proved untrue but do you feel sorry for Bill Shorten right now?

TURNBULL: Let me say this - I think Bill Shorten made the right decision to come out and say he was the person being talked about. Remember Kerry Parker did the same thing because the allegations which were being made about him were about the goanna, it was a pseudonym but everybody was talking and was saying it was Kerry. I think you have to nail these things. Look, there is nothing more - well, I suppose there are plenty of things but it is very, very painful to be - to feel you are the subject of a an unjust accusation, particularly a very serious one like that. I think Shorten has done the right thing. The police - it is very important that allegations of this kind are taken seriously. And the police have to investigate them, go through their process and they have come to a conclusion that they don’t want to take it any further. Bill Shorten has said ‘Yes, well that was the me’ and that’s it now.  What the complainant says now, I do not know but from Bill Shorten's point of view he is better off getting this thing aired and ventilated and dealt with now rather than it continuing to bubble up as a whispering campaign which, those things can be very dangerous.

WILKINSON: Indeed. Ok, Malcolm and Tanya, we’ll have to leave it there. Thanks very much.

PLIBERSEK: Thanks Lisa.

WILKINSON: Hope you both have a great weekend.

PLIBERSEK: You too.

ENDS

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SPEECH - 2014 ACTU National Women's Conference

coats arms

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

SPEECH

*** CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY ***

2014 ACTU NATIONAL WOMEN’S CONFERENCE

THURSDAY, 21 AUGUST 2014

 I want to start by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today, and pay my respect to elders both past and present.

Thank you Aunty Joy Murphy for providing the welcome to country.

I also want to acknowledge all of the activists from the union movement here in the room, including the ACTU Women’s Committee who have organised this conference.

Thank you Ged for your words and your welcome – it’s easy to see that the union movement has a strong future with you at the helm.

It is particularly important that this conference is gathering today, a week after figures emerged from the Australian Bureau of Statistics that the gender pay gap in Australia is actually growing.

The average man now earns 18.2 per cent, or $283.20 per week, more than a woman doing comparable work.

When we hear that the gender pay gap is at a 20-year high, it’s easy to feel angry that women's work isn't valued properly, a fact even harder to stomach when we are then told we live in a post-feminist world.

That's when we need more than ever to spend time in the company of other union women, to celebrate our strength and most importantly to organise for change.

 

History of trade union women

It’s also worth taking a moment to remember the past.

Muriel Heagney was the daughter of one of the founding members of the ALP and a lifelong campaigner for equal pay for clothing workers.

In the 1930s, rising unemployment in the Great Depression gave rise to a campaign to get women out of the workforce.

Heagney responded by helping found the Council of Action of Equal Pay, saying:

‘a woman’s right to work rests not on the number of her dependents, nor on the fact that she does or does not compete with men, but in the absolute right of a free human being, a taxpayer and a voter, to economic independence.

Of course Heagney faced stiff resistance: from employers, from wider society, and from within some parts of the trade union movement itself.

But that basic driving principle - that women’s rights at work are human rights worth fighting for - kept her campaigning for change throughout her life.

As Edna Ryan, one of the feminists she inspired, said, ‘Muriel was a real goer, she never missed a trick.’

Muriel first called for a standard minimum wage for men and women in a submission to the Arbitration court in 1923. It would be over 50 years, in 1974, that the National Wage Case decision granted women an adult minimum wage.

Muriel lived to see that great result of her decades of activism – but survived just a week after the decision. She must have been hanging on for it.

For her to see, after half a century, her call for equality at last becoming law, it must have felt bittersweet.

To win the fight for formal pay equity, and yet to see that substantive equality was still a far way off.

Of course, Muriel was a pioneer, but she was never on her own. She was an inspiration and she was part of a movement:

  • Kath Williams, who had to quit being a teacher twice each time she got married in the 1930s and 40s, who drove the equal pay campaign within the Victorian trade union movement, leading to the ACTU congress in 1953 agreeing to establish equal pay committees in each State.
  • Jenny Acton, the ACTU advocate in the 1985 claim for nurses’ salaries to be increased to put them on par with similar occupations like firefighters and police. Some of you might remember the campaign that accompanied that case, with women boarding Melbourne buses and trams bound for the Commission and paying only 67 cents of the $1 fare, because they were only making 67% of the male wage.
  • Anna Booth, who would become ACTU Vice President after pushing for equal pay for clothing workers in the 1980s and 90s. She helped broker deals with clothing brands and retailers who promised to only deal with suppliers who paid their workers properly.

 

Modern union activism and Labor in government

It’s a line of activism that runs right to the present day.

I remember when Julia Gillard was Prime Minister in 2011, meeting unionists at the forefront of the equal pay case run by the Australian Services Union.

I met Maree, a delegate who had spent her life contributing to the labour movement as an active unionist, and contributing to her community running local neighbourhood services.

Yet her work was still not given equal value because it was caring work – ‘women’s work’.

Maree became an active and passionate equal pay advocate, in a campaign that forged a personal relationship between her and Julia Gillard.

I remember talking with Maree that day, and then walking straight into an auditorium full of delegates and organisers, where Julia announced the federal government would provide $3 billion to fund our share of equal pay for social and community sector workers.

To me, it felt like the labour movement at our best: unions organising working people to achieve real change, and the parliamentary wing living up to its history and its purpose.

And I was grateful to have many moments like that as member of the Labor Government, working towards gender equality:

  • The strengthened Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Act 2012 which allows the Government to set industry-specific minimum standards and requires companies to report on the composition of their governing bodies like boards;
  • $22.4 billion to make quality early childhood education and care more affordable and accessible;
  • Giving workers the right to request flexible work arrangements from their employer after having a child, if they are experiencing domestic violence, or if they have caring responsibilities.

 

Tony Abbott and the Federal Budget

Only a few years later, and we live in a very different political moment.

It won’t surprise you to learn that our minister for women, Tony Abbott, hasn't said much about the widening gender pay gap.

Instead his ideology, laid bare in this year's budget, seems designed to make economic inequality worse.

The Labor movement built superannuation and helped build up workers’ retirement savings.

Abbott’s budget cut the Low Income Superannuation Contribution, stopped our increase to superannuation, and gave back tax breaks for wealthy individuals and companies.

When Labor was in government, we committed to funding wage increases for aged care workers and early childhood educators. We knew that the work that these professionals did – caring work – was undervalued.

The Abbott Government tore up these wage increases as soon as they got into office, and in the budget they cut funding to early childhood education even further, including cutting all federal funding for preschool.

The Labor Party and the union movement together fought for and built our first national paid parental leave scheme – which Abbott at one point said would be ‘over my dead body’.

In trying to persuade him we should have been careful what we wished for – now as a late convert, Abbott wants to introduce his own scheme which pays the most money to the richest Australians, and he plans to fund it by cutting pensions and wage increases for underpaid workers.

 

The agenda for the union movement today

At this moment, with a widening gender pay gap and a conservative government making the challenge of inequality worse, the union movement is needed more than ever.

Over these next two days, you will sharpen the union movement’s strategy to deliver for working women.

You will need to talk about what you want, and as organisers you know that means tapping into what makes you angry:

  • The gender pay gap means that in a 38 hour working week, women who start at 9am, by 3.38pm every day are working for free.
  • According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, the number of people who reported having being sexually harassed in the workplace actually increased between 2008 and 2012 – most of them were women, and most people reported having been harassed in the workplace. Better reporting often means people have the confidence for the first time to complain about behavior that has been common and acceptable in the past, but how are we responding to this increase in the reports?
  • The rise of insecure work in Australia and around the world is leaving women with fewer rights and less economic independence. The ACTU’s own inquiry in 2011 revealed stories like the Sydney women working casually in the textiles sector who were paid piece rates that amount to $4 to $5 per hour to produce garments with a retail value of up to $1,000.

As well as setting your agenda for the future, you also need to spend some time reflecting on the wins you have had, and drawing strength from each other:

  • Acknowledge the women who have built strong organizing campaigns in their unions, as well as the women who have stepped up as delegates and activists to grow our movement.
  • Share ideas about what has worked and what hasn’t; learn from and mentor each other; build on the network of women unionists that spans every industry across the country.

Because chances are you will need those friendships in the years ahead.

Joyce Barry was a tram conductress for 27 years before she finally became the first a qualified female tram driver in 1975.

It wasn’t just the sexist attitudes in the community which stood in her way. The final and biggest hurdle for her to overcome was her union’s ban on women tram drivers, in a high-profile campaign that drew on the solidarity of the broader labour and women’s movements to finally succeed.

Joyce Barry, reflecting on the campaign, said: ‘I’ve stuck rigidly to one thing – that I wanted this done so that girls had equal opportunities in the structures of our union.’

Making sure that our union movement reflects the diversity of its membership, right up to its leadership, is just one of the many challenges that require union women to work together.

Together, you can build better unions, better workplaces, and a better Australian community.

 

Conclusion

Today I wanted to pay tribute to some of the women who have been part of the trade union movement’s history, like Muriel Heagney and Joyce Barry.

I want to pay tribute to some other union women.

Ged Kearney, leading the ACTU and the national conversation on insecure work.

Sharan Burrow, re-elected this year as the General Secretary of the 170-million member International Trade Union Confederation.

And our future union women leaders, some of them in this room.

Australia has a proud history of women leading the fight for economic and gender equality, and I know it has a bright future too.

So I wish you all the best for the conference over the next two days: I hope it propels you to make your mark on Australia’s workplaces and our country.

I know you’ll leave them the better for it.

 

 

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