STATEMENT - Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan

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THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

STATEMENT

 

MYURAN SUKUMARAN AND ANDREW CHAN

 

SATURDAY, 17 JANUARY 2015

Labor opposes the death penalty in all cases.

We urge clemency for anyone facing it, whoever and wherever they may be. That includes two members of the Bali Nine, Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan.

Consistent with the long standing bi-partisan opposition to the death penalty, both Labor and Liberal governments have made representations to a number of countries on behalf of Australian citizens who face the death penalty. That work has Labor's full support.

 

 

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Transcript of Press Conference: 16 December 2013

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The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

Transcript of press conference

E&OE

Subjects: Marriage equality, Abbott Government’s first 100 days

Tanya Plibersek: Last week we saw in the ACT, the court decided that indeed it’s the federal Parliament that needs to legislate for marriage equality in Australia. That means the federal Parliament needs to decide to end discrimination against same couples when it comes to marriage. I’m going to reintroduce into Parliament next year, a private member’s Bill that will make it possible for same sex couples who love each other to marry. What I’d like to see is conscience vote for Liberal and National Members of Parliament. Until Liberal and National Members of Parliament are allowed a conscience vote, it’s not possible for such legislation to pass. Ideally I’m looking for a Liberal or a National party member to co-sponsor this Bill. I’d like to see a Liberal or National party member put their name this private member’s leg with mine to show that this is a matter that’s above politics, that is bi-partisan. Of course not everyone agrees, but with a conscience vote, we’ll see a majority of Labor party members, and those Liberal and National party members who believe in marriage equality able to express that.
Journalist: Are you heartened by Malcolm Turnbull’s comments?

Plibersek: It’s been obvious for a long time that Malcolm Turnbull is a supporter of marriage equality. And he’s said in the past that he’d like to see a conscience vote in his own party. So ideally, it’d be wonderful if Malcolm was prepared to or able to co-sponsor such a Bill. But of course being a Cabinet minister, that makes that a little more difficult. So if not Malcolm, perhaps one of the Liberal backbenchers or a National party backbencher would be prepared to co-sponsor the Bill. If not, I’m sure that I’ll find someone in the Labor Party. But, there is a fundamental threshold question here. Unless Liberal and National party members are able to have a conscience vote there’s no way that this legislation can pass. So I’ll go to my party room in January, with a proposal that Labor would have a new private member’s Bill, and that I would sponsor that Bill.
But I won’t intro a new bill until Liberal and National members have a conscience vote. So it’s up to Tony Abbott really now to allow his members of Parliament to vote according to their conscience.

Journalist: It’s a hundred days since the Coalition … [inaudible)

Plibersek: Well, I think most Australians have worked out that Tony Abbott’s Government is not the Government they said they’d be. They said they’d be a Government of no surprises and no excuses. But so far it’s been nasty surprises and pathetic excuses. In every area of government policy we’ve seen broken promises. We’ve seen broken promises in health. They said they wouldn’t cut health funding, and they have. We’ve seen broken promises in education. They said they were a unity ticket with Labor on education funding, and instead they been dragged kicking and screaming to funding part of the Gonski funding model but not all of it, and indeed they are cutting Trades Training Centres. So they are cutting some school funding to pay for some other school funding. Trades Training Centres are more important than ever before. We see the jobs losses at Holden, the job losses at Qantas, the job losses in Gove at Rio Tinto, Electrolux, Simplot, all of these job losses. We need to have highly skilled highly trained workers. By cutting Trades Training Centres from high school , a $400 million cut there, you reduce the likelihood that young people come out of high school ready for the skilled trades jobs of the future. Across every area of government policy we’ve seen mis-steps, failures, and broken promises.

Journalist: Do you have anything to add on marriage equality?

Plibersek: I think now is really the time for Australians to say to their Government that we need a conscience vote on this. I think its time for Tony Abbott to allow his members of Parliament to follow their conscience and to vote in the federal Parliament for marriage equality.

Journalist: So with your conversations with Malcolm, how did that go, how did the conversation about marriage equality go?

Plibersek: Malcolm Turnbull is in a seat neighbouring mine, and I talk to him all the time about all sorts of issues, but I don’t talk about those conversations afterwards.

Journalist: [inaudible]

Plibersek: I think it’s very difficult for the Coalition to refuse a conscience vote...[inaudible]…so if there’s a CV we’ll see a number of people vote for marriage equality, I and think that it’s very likely there will be a conscience vote.

15 DECEMBER 2013
SYDNEY

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Transcript of interview with Ben Fordham: Today Show, Channel 9

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The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

Transcript of interview with Ben Fordham

Today Show, Channel 9

 

Subjects: Holden, NBN

Ben Fordham: How are we all?

Malcom Turnbull: We're very well.

Fordham: Everyone friendly?

Tanya Plibersek: Yeah.

Fordham: Ok, we’ll keep our answers short and sharp today because there's a lot to get through if we can. It's been a devastating week for Holden workers after the company confirmed it will cease manufacturing cars in Australia by 2017. Today a warning from Toyota that uncompetitive work practices could force it to go the same way as Holden, Ford and others. So does that mean, Malcolm, we need to have more flexible agreements i.e. Work Choices, things like that, in the automotive sector?

Turnbull: I think what it means is you need greater productivity. My understanding is that the wages of auto workers in Japan and Australia are comparable but the productivity here is a lot less.

Fordham: The bosses want more flexibility though and there are plenty of people within the Liberal Party who want a return to more flexibility in the workplace, so why wouldn't you deliver that to this industry if that's what they need?

Turnbull: Well, we’ve committed to an industrial relations policy and as you know, Work Choices is dead, buried and cremated but nonetheless it's incumbent on both the unions and the company and Toyota to be able to come to some settlement in terms of more productive work practices because if they can't, if they can't then Toyota will no doubt follow Holden. And then everyone loses.

Fordham: It's been revealed today, Tanya, that the executives in the US, the Holden executives were working on this decision for months. It was months in the making therefore it's a little bit …

Plibersek: Well, no Ben, what I think was revealed is they had two plans. If we stay this is what we need to stay, if we can't stay this is how we leave. And any business makes contingency plans. As late as Tuesday this week, when Mike Devereaux was talking to the Productivity Commission he was saying no decision had been made. What changed was he went into - we went into question time and Joe Hockey dared Holden to leave and they took his dare.

Fordham: You honestly believe that's why they pulled out?

Plibersek: I do.

Fordham: As a result of what Joe Hockey said in question time?

Plibersek: Seeing that, you've seen the text messages being sent by Holden executives saying "Are you watching this, this bloke wants us to leave, he's daring us, he's goading us." I think it was very significant in their decision.

Fordham: Ok, let’s move on right now. The Government is set to break a key election promise on the NBN, Malcolm Turnbull's baby. The pledge to deliver download speeds of 25 megabytes per second to the majority of Australians by 2016.

Now Malcom, I know that you will blame the former government for this.  I know that you will bore us with all sorts of details on the NBN but can you just admit in the interest of transparency that what you said before the election is different to what you were saying now?

Turnbull: Well, what I said before the election is we would tell the truth about the NBN and we would for the first time get a thoroughly objective, independent analysis of where the project is now, where it could have gone to if Labor had stayed in Government which is to run up another $29 billion in debt and a much, much slower roll out and what the options are. Options are constrained by the mess we've been left with by Labor.

Fordham: But in the interests of transparency, you will admit now won’t you, that what you said before the election is different to what you're saying now?

Turnbull: What I said before the election was that we believed we could get all Australians 25 megs by 2016 and the company has come back with its advisers and said they do not believe that is achievable. But you know what that is? That is the first time the NBN Co has ever written a report which does not coincide with the political agenda of the Minister and that's because I'm the first Communications Minister - it's true.

Fordham: Come on, Tanya…

Turnbull: You can't deny that. I'm the first Communications Minister that has allowed the NBN to tell the truth. Stephen Conroy bullied them into telling lies again and again and again. And that’s the tragedy.

Plibersek: OK, two things to say. This is a report written by Malcolm's mate that he owns a yacht with.

Turnbull: That is outrageous. That is not true. The report on Labor…

Fordham: Hang on, is it true or not true?

Turnbull: It's completely untrue.

Plibersek: You don't own a yacht with him?

Turnbull: I own a yacht, own not a yacht actually, it's an old couta boat, it’s really better described as a menace to shipping and JB Rousselot, who is one of the people on that review - I own that boat with him.

Plibersek: The answer is yes.

Turnbull: No, hang on, wait a minute.

Fordham: Hang on a minute, Malcolm, Malcolm, Malcolm.

Turnbull: No, we've got to tell the truth, the truth about Labor was written by KordaMentha, not by JB Rousselot, and the Boston Consulting Group, it was not written by JB Rousselot, and you know that and you are smearing JB Rousselot because you are ashamed of the billions of dollars your government wasted and the mess that we have to clean up, Tanya, and it is a disgrace. Tens of billions of dollars…

Plibersek: Ben, Ben... This is a clearly broken promise.

Turnbull: You’ve broken your promise (to Fordham) to keep the answers short, you see.

Fordham: You're the one who didn't keep it short.

Turnbull: I never said I would.

Plibersek: The Prime Minister said a minimum of 25 megabits per second download speed, he said that before the election, very clearly.  Promise broken.

Turnbull: Well, what we said was that was our objective.

Plibersek: Promise broken.

Plibersek: No, no, no the Prime Minister promised that.

Turnbull: We made it very clear that all of our objectives, all of our targets were subject to getting to the facts –

Plibersek: That's not true.

Fordham: This is supposed to be a lovely Christmas get together.

Turnbull: Well Tanya, you were –

Fordham: Let’s look at what you turned Christmas into you two.

Turnbull: Let's get this straight.

Fordham: No, Malcolm we're not going to. We're moving on Malcolm.

Turnbull: You went to the election with forecasts on the NBN which you and your Cabinet knew were false. And you didn’t tell the Australian people the truth.

Plibersek: Broken promise.

Fordham: Malcolm, you need to have respect for what I'm doing here right because I've got certain constraints that I've got to follow. Now we're moving on.

Turnbull: Good. Moving forward as someone said.

Fordham: You have found your own way of admitting that what you said beforehand is different to what you've said now. You have found your own way of admitting it.

Turnbull: Well, what I’ve done is made sure the truth is told …

Fordham: If you could, both of you, we need to end this nicely because this is our Christmas edition of In the House, if you could get anything in the world for each other for Christmas without any budget constraints, anything, what would you give Malcolm for Christmas?

Plibersek: Well, I had a really good present for him but I don't want to give it to him now because he's being mean.

Fordham: Come on.

Plibersek: I know that Malcolm and Lucy have been big supporters of the Wayside Chapel so I'd make a donation on their behalf to the Wayside Chapel.

Turnbull: That's very sweet and that's a lovely thing to do.

Plibersek: Now you're sorry you interrupted me, aren't you?

Turnbull: No, no, I tell you what I would give Tanya and it's not really mine to give but I would give Tanya lots of time, quiet time away from politicians and journalists to spend time with Anna, Joe and Louis, her three very beautiful children. That's lots of hugs from those 3.

Fordham: See, we all get along in the end, don't we?

Turnbull: We do.

Plibersek: Well, mostly.

Fordham: Merry Christmas, everyone, from all of us here at the Plibersek and Turnbull families.

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Transcript of Press Conference - Wednesday, 11 December 2013

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

 

SENATOR THE HON KIM CARR

SHADOW MINISTER ASSISTING THE LEADER FOR SCIENCE

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION, AND INDUSTRY

 

THE HON BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP

MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT AND WORKPLACE RELATIONS

 

PRESS CONFERENCE

CANBERRA

WEDNESDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2013

SUBJECT/S: Abbott Government abandon’s Australia’s automotive industry.

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION, TANYA PLIBERSEK: Thank you very much everyone for coming this afternoon. I want to say a few words about the closure of Holden in Australia. Today’s a shocking day for Holden workers and the first thing I want to say is that we are very concerned for their futures, that we are thinking of them and their families particularly in the lead up to Christmas, this is terrible news for them to get and that we will do everything that we can to support and assist them. It’s a shocking day for Holden workers. It's also a terrifying day for other auto industry workers. We know that component manufacturers will be affected by this. We know that there are all sorts of industries that support auto manufacturing in Australia that will be affected by this, including research and development, logistics and so on. All of them will feel this. It's also a very frightening day for Toyota workers, seeing the fate of fellow auto industry workers and of course they would be nervous about their futures as well.

It's very unusual to see one decision, like the Government's decision to rip $500 million out of this industry, that has such huge ramifications for Australia. We are talking about probably 200,000 jobs that rely on the auto industry here in Australia. This one decision to rip out $500 million has extraordinary ongoing effects for the industry. It was Joseph Benedict Chifley, as my friend Nick Champion said, Joseph Benedict Chifley who watched the first car roll off the production line at Fisherman's Bend, and it will be his name sake, it will be Joseph Benedict Hockey, who sees the last car roll off the production line. And it’s unfortunately a decision of government that has made it so. Treasurer Hockey dared Holden to withdraw from Australia, and he got his way.

We saw yesterday in the Parliament Treasurer Hockey make an extraordinary show, manning up, puffed up, shouting, arguing, making a point of daring Holden to leave. Well, they’ve left. We had evidence from Mike Devereux yesterday that there had been no decision made, that Holden hadn't decided about its future in Australia. We had the Treasurer goading them to leave Australia and on top of that, the Acting Prime Minister writing a letter that Holden and, you know, anyone who had seen the letter would think was designed specifically to be released for public consumption, and indeed that was the conclusion that Holden drew.

Instead of picking up the phone, instead of decent dialogue, instead of an adult approach that would keep these vital jobs in Australia, we had the Treasurer and the Acting Prime Minister goading and daring Holden to pull out. Today, the response of the Acting Prime Minister is that at least Holden workers now have certainty. Well, that's a very curious definition of certainty. Yes, they’ve have got the certainty that they’ll lose their jobs. Other auto industry workers have the certainty that there will be other job losses in the auto industry. Workers at Toyota and in other related fields have the fear that they will be next, that they will be the domino that falls next. It is a very curious definition of certainty.

This government said that they would be a government of no surprises and no excuses. And today in Question Time, we had an absolute litany of excuses. Excuses for why Holden’s made this decision to leave. We had Christopher Pyne saying that this was a decision made months ago in the United States. It's only just been announced today for reasons he would not say, but it's a decision made months ago. We had Christopher Pyne also saying that this decision was nothing to do with the Federal Government. That's an absolutely extraordinary claim when it's been clear from everything that Holden has said that they were waiting for a clear signal from the Commonwealth Government about what the Government would do for the future of the auto industry here in Australia. It's extraordinary to say that this is nothing to do with the Government when we have had Holden negotiating, holding back, seeking to talk to the Government, making clear that they hadn't made a decision. We’ve have had a Productivity Commission inquiry that's kicked off any decision from the Government about auto industry assistance to sometime in the future. For now, the Government to wash their hands of this and say it's nothing to do with them is a tragic day for Holden. It's a tragic day for the auto industry. It's a tragic day for manufacturing in Australia. I think most Australians would regard it as a tragic day for Australia. It's extraordinary to see a Commonwealth Government drive the car industry out of Australia. Any questions?

JOURNALIST: I have a question to Senator Carr, as an outgoing Industry Minister as it were, do you accept that as some of your opponents are saying today, you should share a fair bit of the blame in that in the last three years maybe we should have seen more effort, and a car plan that would work and be sustainable?

SENATOR KIM CARR: No, I don't. Just think what happened during the economic crisis. General Motors in the United States went into bankruptcy. Yet in Australia, we are able to secure the assets for the future. And around the world, when the automotive industry was in retreat, in Australia we attracted additional investment. Now, we put $1.8 billion on the table. We attracted $25 billion, $25.9 billion worth of new investment. So it is just not true. This was a decision that did not have to be made. It was not necessary that this had to end this way. This is a government's responsibility. Now General Motors Holden had been talking to us in government and to the Opposition when they were in opposition. And we all know what it would take to keep the car industry in place in this country. I've indicated this week considerably less than $150 million per annum, remembering that the current car plan comes to an end in 2020. We would not have to actually draw upon the budget at all until 2017. Because this was all about investments after 2017. So it was absolutely unnecessary. This is a tragedy that need not have had to happen in this country.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible] that Mike Devereux this afternoon said that the decision wasn't made until after he gave evidence to the Productivity Commission yesterday –

CARR: No it does not, it does not. It does not. I know this company well, I know these people well. Where was the Minister? Why hasn’t the Minister been to Detroit to talk to the leadership? If they were serious, why hasn't this government gone to Detroit to talk? Why would you issue a letter like the Acting Prime Minister did yesterday? Why wouldn't you pick up the telephone? Why wouldn't they have responded to the business case proposal that General Motors has had before the new government since its election? So the facts are very simple here. The Government has sought to drive this industry out of Australia because they believe there is some ideological quest that has to be pursued and it became more urgent after what we saw with GrainCorp. Now, for seven days in a row, we have had senior Ministers for seven days, senior Ministers, back grounding against the Industry Minister, demanding that the company make a decision. They have been playing chicken with this company. The Government has been playing chicken for months. Well, they got what they wanted.

JOURNALIST: We’re getting the message out of Detroit that General Motors felt it was no longer sustainable to make cars in Australia, something Devereux said this afternoon.

CARR: And that's what that means. The business case doesn't stack up. Why not? Because the Australian Government would not contribute, would not co-invest as governments all around the world do. In Australia the Government turned its back, turned its back on 200,000 Australians. Turned its back on the 50,000 workers employed directly in this industry. Everyone knows what the consequences are except this Government. They have played chicken with the industry and now we have the consequence.

JOURNALIST: Toyota says they are now facing unprecedented pressure, that’s a very bad signal isn't it?

CARR: That’s the point. All the component manufacturers are faced with the same pressures. We’ve had the dollar increase in value by 65 per cent. You would have thought the Government would understand what that meant. We did. We were prepared to talk to them and I know if we had been re- elected, the contracts would have been signed. There would be no need for this decision today, if there’d been a different result at the last federal election.

JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, What is your response to Mr Hockey's claims that Labor didn't show the same outrage when Mitsubishi and Ford left Australia?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I’ll say a couple of things. I think for a start that it is extraordinary that the Treasurer’s focus today in Question Time has been making political points. The second thing I'd say is we have never been anything other than devastated when a single job is lost in Australia. But the difference with today's decision is a company has been goaded into leaving Australia. They’ve been, as Senator Carr said, the Government was playing chicken with Holden and the workers are the ones that lost out.

CARR: There are two points. Mitsubishi did not want to invest in Australia. I found out about Mitsubishi during the election campaign in 2007. I found out from a dealer who, of course, advised me that there had been a return on an order for fleet cars. That's how I found out, during the previous government, during the previous government. In regard to Ford, the Ford motor company did not want to invest. General Motors did want to invest. They gave us the choice. The Government has made a choice and the choice is not to have an automotive industry in this country. That is what we have got to appreciate here. This is a policy decision of Government. No one else but the Government has to be held responsible for their decision.

JOURNALIST: Treasurer Hockey clearly believes that he was being gamed by General Motors.

CARR: Look, I've been involved in this trade for a long time. And I've heard these sorts of idiotic statements from neo-liberals. You know these are the North Shore bankers talking. They are only too happy to bail out the banks when they need help but when it comes to blue collar workers, in the automotive industry they think there is something illegitimate in that. Look, let's be clear about this. There is a section of the Liberal Party that actually hates the automotive industry and they have expressed their views for as long as I've been engaged in this debate.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you everyone.

ENDS

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Media Release: Government Must Pledge Support For Holden Workers

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SENATOR THE HON KIM CARR

SHADOW MINISTER FOR HIGHER EDUCATION, RESEARCH, INNOVATION & INDUSTRY

THE HON BRENDAN O’CONNOR MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR EMPLOYMENT & WORKPLACE RELATIONS 

MEDIA RELEASE 

GOVERNMENT MUST PLEDGE SUPPORT FOR HOLDEN WORKERS 

Today is a devastating day for Holden workers, their families, and thousands more Australians who depend on a strong automotive sector.

The ramifications of this announcement will be felt throughout our economy. We know there will be more bad news to come, and we know more Australians will lose their jobs.

Our hearts are very heavy for these workers and their families, and the communities that depend on these jobs.

The Federal Opposition has repeatedly called on the Abbott Government to provide certainty to Holden and its workers. Their inaction has helped create a situation where an important business believed it could no longer operate in our country.

Workers and their families are the ultimate losers from the Government’s irresponsible game of brinkmanship.

Having succeeded in forcing GM Holden out of Australia, the Abbott Government must now deal with the consequences of its reckless policies.

Some 2,900 Holden workers will now go into Christmas knowing that the Abbott Government has cost them their job.

A further 47,000 workers directly employed in the automotive industry face great uncertainty over their future.

The Abbott Government helped cause this situation.

First, the Government decided to rip out $500 million in government assistance for the automotive industry.

Second, they sought to cover their inaction with a Productivity Commission Inquiry, which won’t report for months.

Then they undertook an extraordinary back-grounding campaign in the media, attacking the company and its workers, including letters designed to be leaked.

And yesterday, the Treasurer dared Holden to leave Australia. He got his way.

This devastating news was preventable. Under Labor this would not have happened.

The Labor Government had come to an agreement with Holden that would have seen them stay in Australia until the middle of the next decade, for less than $150 million a year in government co-investment.

The Abbott Government needs to urgently put forward a comprehensive and detailed plan to help these workers retrain, reskill and transition to new jobs.

It is not good enough to say that the company will look after redundancy payments and that there won’t “necessarily be any extra assistance required from Government”, as Senator Abetz said today.

The Abbott Government has failed Australian manufacturing. They must not be allowed to fail their workers even further.

Today, our Prime Minister has let an Australian icon die.

WEDNESDAY, 11 DECEMBER 2013

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Transcript of Today Show interview with Lisa Wilkinson

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The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP
Deputy Leader of the Opposition
Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

Transcript of interview with Lisa Wilkinson
Today Show, Channel 9

Subjects: Qantas, Holden, School Funding

Lisa Wilkinson: Well the Government insists it won't rush into bail out Qantas even as the national airline announced a $300 million loss yesterday and the need to axe 1,000 jobs in the coming year.

Joining us now to discuss this and explain his backflip on Gonski is Education Minister Christopher Pyne and Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek joins us as well. Good morning to both of you. Christopher Pyne, if I can start with you, is there a case for the Government to step in and bail out Qantas?

Christopher Pyne: Well Qantas has a unique problem which most other private companies don't have in Australia and that is it's restricted by legislation in terms of its foreign investment, who can invest in Qantas.

Now Virgin doesn't have that restriction which means Qantas is hide bound really so we have to think about whether the taxpayer directly supports Qantas or whether we remove those restrictions and allow it to get foreign investment which also means that it might not necessarily be entirely Australian owned. So it's a problem and we have to sort through it, which we will.

Wilkinson: Is the Government feeling sentimental about this Australian icon or do you think you really have to start doing business now?

Pyne: Well there's a whole host of reasons why Australia needs to have a national carrier. But it is a global world and at the moment Qantas can't compete as easily as it should because it's got this 50% restriction on its ownership.

Wilkinson: Christopher's right, Tanya, I mean there's not an even playing field at the moment between Qantas and Virgin. Virgin has got 63% foreign ownership that really does help them in their funding. Do you think those restrictions should be loosened?

Tanya Plibersek: Look, I think it's important to have a look at anything that Qantas is proposing to help them operate more effectively. My dad spent the last 20 years of his working life working at Qantas and I think I do and many Australians do have a very strong attachment to Qantas as an Australian brand and carrier. I think we should have a look at what they're suggesting.

Wilkinson: But it's a heart versus head thing, isn't it?

Plibersek: Well absolutely. I think the emotional attachment is certainly there. You get on a Qantas plane coming back from overseas and hear those Australian accents, it's always so wonderful.

Pyne: I think there's a sense of almost bipartisanship about this issue. I mean I don't think you can make much politics out of Qantas because it's an icon for Australia and that's a good thing.

Wilkinson: And 1,000 people facing job losses.

Plibersek: Absolutely, and right before Christmas. The important thing there is to make sure we give those 1,000 people the support they need to find new jobs as quickly as possible.
Wilkinson: Speaking of Aussie icons, Holden, there's talk that it could close its operations here by 2016. Is this another case of the Government having to step in?

Pyne: Well, Holden - well GM really in Detroit - needs to let Holden compete internationally. One of the problems for Holden in Australia is it doesn't seem to be given the freedom to export and if it's not exporting the market here in Australia isn't big enough. And because we allow so much overseas cars into our market, which is a good thing for competition and for consumer choice, Toyota and Holden and Ford need to export whereas GM and Detroit puts all sorts of restrictions around Holden's capacity to export.

It hasn't invested in the equipment that it needs to invest in and if Holden make that decision it will be a decision of Holden's. We in the federal Liberal Party want to support the car industry as much as possible but at the end of the day Holden make a decision, a commercial decision, it's not something that we can make for them.

Plibersek: Well Lisa, I mean Christopher's skated over the fact that the Liberal Government's taking $500 million support out of the car industry and I think it's very important that we keep car manufacturing here in Australia.

There's a 9 to 1 multiplier effect. For every dollar we put in we get $9 back and if you look at the support for the Australian car industry, compared to the US or Germany, the Americans put in about 14 times as much per person as we do, even the Germans that would be acknowledged as having a very strong car industry, they get about 5 times per person as much support going into their car industry as we do here in Australia.

Pyne: But even with all the support that Labor's been putting in over the last 6 years, Ford's already decided to leave, even with all that support. Holden's operations here in Australia, even with all the support, made a loss again last year. When General Motors looked at their entire international operations, the Australian operation was the one
that was making a loss so all that money's been flowing into Holden and Ford and they're still making losses or deciding to leave in the case of Ford.

Plibersek: But the point is Christopher, we're not putting in a lot compared with other countries that have car industries and we're talking about 200,000 jobs and also the spin off for research and development and innovation that comes from having a car industry. I think it's very important that we keep it here.

Wilkinson: Alright, we'll have to move on. We need to move onto you, Christopher Pyne.

This week's double backflip over Gonski. Now a week ago you were Gonski's foremost critic. You said it was un-implementable, this week you've not only backed it but you've found more than $1 billion extra to put into it. Was it just a case of you caved in to public pressure?

Pyne: Well the good news, Lisa, is I found $1.2 billion more for education than Labor was going to put in.

Wilkinson: But was that because of public pressure because you were its greatest critic?

Pyne: It's because I've been spending the last 11 weeks working behind the scenes with WA, NT and Queensland.

Wilkinson: But for 10 weeks of that, you didn’t like it…

Pyne: Well I haven't said much about the school funding model since the election. But I found $1.2 billion.

Wilkinson: Where did you find that?

Pyne: Well the Treasurer and I, and the PM, worked out how we could fund that, which Labor took out.

Wilkinson: Where was it?

Pyne: You will find out in MYEFO, which will be handed down before the end of the year where that money's come from.
And I got WA, Queensland and the NT to sign up, something Labor never did. So I've delivered the national agreement and more money.

Wilkinson: But will you change your mind again because you've changed it about four times now on Gonski?

Pyne: I haven't really. It's where you end the race Lisa that counts, not where you started.

Wilkinson: But we don't know where you end, because we could have said a couple of decisions ago “this was the end”.

Pyne: I've crossed the finish line, I’ve crossed the line. I’ve got the money and the agreement.

Plibersek: It’s great, Christopher was vacuuming the couch and lifted up the cushions and found $1.2 billion.

Pyne: It was amazing.

Plibersek: You’re right Lisa, this is the 4th position Christopher's had and it's not delivering what the Government said they would deliver before the election. They said they were on a unity ticket with Labor.

Our proposal was $14.65 billion extra over six years, this is $2.8 billion over 4 years. There's no requirement, we had a requirement, for every $2 put we put in as a Commonwealth Government the States put in an extra $1. Christopher said to the States “It doesn't matter. We'll put in a bit of extra money but if you cut education funding in your own States it doesn't matter”.

And most importantly, the Gonski model said we give most to the kids who need it most and the schools who need it most, and there's no guarantee that what Christopher is proposing gives that money to disadvantaged kids. You look at the report that came out this week, the PISA Report, and it shows that Australia has one of the biggest gaps in learning between the wealthiest kids and the poorest kids anywhere in the world, and that's exactly what the Gonski model was designed to fix. Put the most resources where they're most needed.

Wilkinson: Part of the problem is we saw those figures this week saying that Australia has really fallen behind in its educational standards in this country. We had 6 years of Labor rule. Why didn't things improve during that time?

Plibersek: Well because these are 15-year-old kids. They've had a whole career in the education system.

Pyne: So it's their fault?

Plibersek: No, I'm not saying it's their fault. I'm saying a good education system starts with top quality childcare, it starts with preschool. Any parent will tell you and Christopher I know you’re a parent, that those early years of childhood are the most important learning time. So we've got to invest from the beginning in preschool, making sure that every child gets a year of preschool and making sure that our whole education system from day 1 focuses on lifting the most disadvantaged kids. The kids who start behind the eight ball.

Wilkinson: Last word, Christopher Pyne?

Pyne: Well Lisa, Labor took $1.2 billion out before the election.

Plibersek: That's not true Christopher, you can't keep saying that.

Pyne: I put it back in. Over six years Labor spent $20 billion more on education and they've achieved the worst PISA result in history.

Wilkinson: The trouble is that that $1.2 billion was never on the table, you can't take something out that wasn't on the table?

Pyne: It was in the Budget, it was in the economic statement of the Treasurer’s before the election but it was taken out in the pre-election fiscal outlook. [Plibersek interjects] You had a lovely long run and I didn't interrupt you. It's not all about money, it's about teacher quality and PISA found the one single determinant in Australia about the outcomes for students was not the school they were in but the teacher they were allocated.

Plibersek: And that's why you need the standards that come with Gonski and you don’t guarantee that. And that $1.2 billion dollars, that’s WA, NT and QLD that refused to take the extra money…

Pyne: So you took the money back.

Plibersek: … because they put politics before kids.

Pyne: You put it into consolidated revenue.

Plibersek: That’s just nonsense.

Wilkinson: Ok, I think you two need to take it out the back. In the meantime, thank you very much.

ENDS
6 DECEMBER 2013
SYDNEY

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Speech: Nelson Mandela Condolence Motion

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THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

ACTING LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT 

NELSON MANDELA CONDOLENCE MOTION 

SPEECH TO THE PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA

CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY

There's a story from Robben Island which speaks to the power of words, and art, to inspire and to sustain the human spirit.

The story goes the political prisoners used to secretly pass around a copy of Shakespeare's collected works. On one occasion, the men marked their favourite passages.

Mandela chose one from Julius Caesar.

Cowards die many times before their deaths,

The valiant never taste of death but once.

Of all the wonders that I have yet heard,

It seems to me most strange that men should fear,

Seeing that death, a necessary end,

Will come when it will come.

Well, it has now come for Nelson Mandela.

We should be thankful that he lived, fought and led his country.

But we mourn the fact he's now passed from this world.

There was a news report a few nights ago, where the presenter remarked dawn was breaking in South Africa for the first time in 95 years without Nelson Mandela.

There is something in that. Such an iconic figure can sometimes take on the stature of being permanent.

But the nature of human history is that everything is fleeting – a “mere brief passing moment in time and space,” as Mandela put it.

No longer do freedom fighters have the living and breathing Mandela to look to.

He belongs to history now, the man who spent more than a quarter of his life, his “long, lonely, wasted years” imprisoned by a regime which he was prepared to give his life to bring down, only to preach reconciliation on his release.

The man who brought down apartheid without, in the end, a shot being fired, now belongs to an echelon reserved for leaders like Gandhi and Martin Luther King – who first said those words Mandela repeated on his release – “free at last”.

Indomitable fighters for the expression and realisation of human dignity.

Names which will always inspire millions to think and to act and to fight.

We are all bound by the times we live in. There's been some commentary over the past few days pointing out Mandela was no saint, as if it's a criticism.

Well of course he wasn't.

He was a political leader engaged in a bitter struggle; a political leader reacting to the unpredictability of human events, and the grotesque nature of apartheid.

Or, in his own words, he was a “product of the mire that (his) society was.”

It's one of those ironies of history which reveals the complexity of the human condition: men and women created something as repressive as apartheid

But men and women in Africa and around the world, led by Mandela, were part of the movement of millions which brought it down.

The contradiction of all this is that while Mandela's struggle reveals complexity, it also provides a moral clarity.

Dividing a country based on race and class is wrong.

Denying a person his or her inherent rights based on the colour of their skin is wrong.

Fighting racism is right.

Uniting a troubled country through reconciliation and forgiveness is right.

We should not forget those millions who fought alongside Mandela. While they were lucky to have a leader of his stature, their struggle should never be forgotten.

Mandela, and his people’s struggle, was a touchstone for generations of progressive people around the globe. There would be people in this Parliament today who could trace their political awakening to the anti-apartheid movement. It was formative for many of us.

I'm proud to be a member of a party which supported Mandela's struggle for the decades in which he was in prison.

I’m proud to be part of a labour movement, of party activists and trade unionists, which long supported sanctions as one of the fundamental ways the international community united to help to bring down apartheid.

There can hardly be a person who was of age in February 1990 who can't recall the jolt of excitement as Mandela walked free.

Likewise, the triumph of his 1994 election.

We were lucky to share Mandela's times.

He said that to “overthrow oppression has been sanctioned by humanity and is the highest aspiration of every man.”

The world is better because he lived, and fought.

But, like the valiant in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, he has now come to the necessary end we all shall taste.

Mandela once remarked that the “names of only very few people are remembered beyond their lives.”

He will be one of these people.

Australia mourns his end, but gives thanks for his life.

MONDAY, 9 DECEMBER 2013 

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Transcript of interview with Marius Benson, ABC NewsRadio

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The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

Acting Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

Transcript of interview with Marius Benson

NewsRadio, ABC

Subjects: Carbon price, Holden, Qantas

Marius Benson: Tanya Plibersek, good morning.

Tanya Plibersek: Hi Marius.

Benson: There’s a fair shopping list of things to get through for Parliament in the last four scheduled sitting days.  At the top of the list for the Government is the Carbon Tax, and on the Carbon Tax, the abolition there of.  The Government says the people have spoken they don’t want the Carbon Tax, “get out of the way” is the remark directed to you and the Greens. And the Government says “by the way, it doesn’t work anyway, it only reduced emissions by one tenth of one per cent”.

Plibersek: Well one tenth of one per cent is 300,000 tonnes, that’s a lot of pollution taken out of the atmosphere.  It is actually more than what was anticipated in its first year of operation. And at the same time as reducing pollution very substantially, we’ve seen around 150,000 new jobs created across the economy.  The economy’s continued to grow despite all the claims that the then Opposition, the now Government, made about how this would bring economic destruction.  We’ve seen pollution through the national electricity market decrease by seven per cent.  We’ve seen renewable power up as a share of our national electricity market by around twenty five per cent.  We’ve seen our power from wind triple in the time that we are talking about.  More than a million households have got solar panels installed, and this has been a very successful effort to reduce pollution in our atmosphere.

Benson: Nonetheless it is going to go, the Carbon Tax, in July when the Senate numbers change, if not before, why not let it go now?

Plibersek: Well we would support getting rid of a fixed price per tonne on carbon pollution if we had something effective to replace it.  What the Government is proposing is getting rid of the Carbon Tax and replacing it with what they like to call “Direct Action”.  A program which no serious economist or environmentalist believes will do anything to reduce pollution being pumped into our atmosphere.  So if the Government were prepared to keep a market based solution, if they were prepared to replace the fixed price per tonne on carbon pollution with something that was actually going to protect the environment in some way, reduce pollution being pumped into the atmosphere, then we’d be happy to talk.  But, at the moment, that’s not the proposal.

Benson: To another issue, which is the future of Holden, or the lack of future for Holden. There are a lot of reports around saying that Detroit has already decided that Holden is going to close here, do you this it can be saved?

Plibersek: Well I think it can be and it must be.  We’re talking about 200,000 jobs related to the car industry in Australia, and a million jobs across the manufacturing sector if we keep losing these big important manufacturing sector employers.  The car industry in Australia does get Government support, but it does get support at a much lower rate than comparable countries.  Per person the United States subsidises its car industry fourteen times per person more than we do, and even the German car industry, which most people would say is considered a very effective one, they subsidise at a rate five times per person higher than Australia does.  We invest in the car industry, we get a nine times return on that investment, so for every dollar we put in we get nine dollars back.  And you think about those people who are sitting at Holden today wondering whether they are going to have a job after Christmas.  It is absolutely unacceptable for the Government to be sitting on its hands saying “we’ll wait for the Productivity Commission Report”.  Holden is making this decision now and without some indication from the Government that they believe manufacturing, and in particular car industry manufacturing have a future in Australia, they’ll make a decision to withdraw.

Benson: To another national brand Qantas, which is in doubt at the moment, Chris Bowen at the weekend the Shadow Treasurer said it is too important to fail, is that the Labor position?  Qantas is too important to fail and Government money should be put in to buy a share in it?

Plibersek: Well I think most Australians would say that we need a national airline. There’s a very strong attachment by Australian’s to the Qantas brand.  Again, we’ve …

Benson: But that’s a sentimental attachment rather than a purchasing attachment, I mean only a small fraction of international travel goes to Qantas now, eighteen per cent.

Plibersek: Well I think most countries, most developed nations, have a national airline, and Qantas has always been an important employer in Australia.  We’ve just lost a thousand jobs over the next twelve months, again a very significant effect on those workers and those families.  I think it is important to consider how we can back Qantas but that needs to be based on a proposal that they come forward with.  We are happy to examine and discuss what they would suggest.  It is very important for us, as a first step however, to look at the thousand workers who have just lost their jobs or been told that they’re no longer employed; we need to make sure they get all the support they can get to find new work. We have had packages in the past where we have supported industries in transition and I think the Government should be looking at what they can do to support to get these workers back into employment as quickly as possible.

Benson: Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much.

Plibersek: It’s a pleasure Marius.

ENDS

 

9 DECEMBER 2013

CANBERRA

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Joint Media Statement: Nelson Mandela

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THE HON BILL SHORTEN MP

LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

MEMBER FOR MARIBYRNONG


THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP

DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION

SHADOW MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS AND INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

MEMBER FOR SYDNEY 

STATEMENT -  NELSON MANDELA

On behalf of the Federal Opposition, we pay tribute to Nelson Mandela, unarguably one of the greatest global figures of our time.

Today we have lost a light of our world.

In fractious and troubled times, Mandela led his nation out of the dark age of apartheid – not with a violent struggle, but with peace, compassion and a force of moral leadership.

Mandela knew his country could never be healed with violence or vengeance. He suffered so his people could be free.

Mandela was a true leader, a statesman, and the defining symbol of reconciliation.

He achieved perhaps more than any other leader in his pursuit of peace, acceptance and justice.

The slow struggle for reconciliation does not end today – not for South Africa, and not for any of us.

Let today renew our resolve for reconciliation. Mandela was an example to the world – we must live by that example.

Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, his country, and all who looked to him in hope for a better world.

We are better because of Mandela. May he rest in peace.

FRIDAY, 6 DECEMBER 2013

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Media Release: ABBOTT GOVERNMENT CUTS FUNDING TO GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS AND MALARIA

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The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP

Deputy Leader of the Opposition

Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development

 MEDIA RELEASE

ABBOTT GOVERNMENT CUTS FUNDING TO GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST AIDS, TUBERCULOSIS AND MALARIA

Today, the Abbott Government started to show where the harsh axe will fall in their cuts to international aid funding.

In Washington DC, countries from around the world are currently gathered to pledge their financial support for the future work of the Global Fund to fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.

This year, the Australian contribution to the Global Fund is at the historic high of $100 million.

Today’s announcement cuts Australia’s contribution to $200 million over three years - an average of around $67 million per year.

Tony Abbott has failed to deliver the $375 million contribution expected of Australia to replenish the Global Fund – an international financing institution established to dramatically increase resources for the fight against the three pandemics.

The Abbott Government has fallen $175 million short on Australia’s contribution.  Instead of the $125 million a year expected, the Abbott Government will only give about half.

The cut comes as countries on Australia’s doorstep continue to battle against the three pandemics.

The Abbott Government was forced to reveal the cut today following Labor’s calls to maintain Australia’s strong support for the Global Fund.

Australia has been associated with the Global Fund for many years, under both Labor and Coalition Governments.

3 DECEMBER 2013

CANBERRA 

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