SUBJECTS: Education; Climate change; Marriage equality; Bill Shorten; Bob Hawke; Peter Garrett; Tony Abbott.



CLAIRSY: Tanya Plibersek, good to see you. How're you doing?


KYMBA: Now Tanya, you have been out visiting kids in schools and you were out at Clairsy's old school yesterday, Greenwood College. Now what are the questions that teenagers are asking at the moment about politics?

PLIBERSEK: Well the questions I get from young people are always the hardest questions, I've got to say. I think young people are really worried about a few things. High school students are worried about whether they're going to be able to afford a university education. And that's also at Edith Cowan University, talking to students there, and of course they've got that immediate "what's going to happen next year?" Fees are going up, university funding's going down, the Government wants them to pay back higher fees sooner, and high school students are really aware of that too. They're thinking "I'm working really hard to get a good mark when I finish school. Will I be able to go to university?" I've got to say Greenwood College was a fantastic place to visit, I've never seen a school with a helicopter flight simulator before, they teach aviation to the kids there - 

MATT: Really? Wow.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah. Maybe a bit different to back in the day.

CLAIRSY: Little bit different to the old days. But yeah they're big on that and cheer leading as well, at that school now, the College.

PLIBERSEK: They've actually got a fantastic, nationally recognised cheer leading squad, their volleyball's great, they won a terrific debating championship lately. And I mean, that's a great school, but I see so much of that in the schools that I visit - these fantastic young people, absolutely killing it, and what they're really worried about, university education, but also jobs. I mean, what kind of jobs are they going to be doing in the future? And it's not just the type of work, because I think our whole economy's changing so quickly. We need to be thinking about what type of work people will be doing in years to come, what industries will be growing, but also the pay and conditions of those jobs. Because if you want to have a well-operating economy, if people are worried about putting their hand in their pocket to get out a few bucks to buy a cup of coffee on the way to work, that affects the health of the whole economy. And I think young people are really aware of those questions - what type of work will I be doing? What will the pay and conditions be? And I think it's great that they're so aware of that.

CLAIRSY: Just wondering, my old school, it was Greenwood High School back then, it's Greenwood College nowadays, but is "Sandra forever" still graffitied on the science block? I thought it was my forever love in 1982.

PLIBERSEK: And there was a phone number, is that your phone number?

CLAIRSY: Yeah but it's only six numbers, six numerals, there's no nine on the front.

MATT: Tanya it's fantastic to see you and meet you, and thank you for coming in. We've had the Prime Minister in that chair, we've had Mr Shorten, we've had both our Premier and Opposition Leader here, and we love have politicians in. However - 

PLIBERSEK: I knew there would be a but.

MATT: Of course, and I mean this with utmost respect, the interaction we have with our listeners is "another politician, ho hum." Right? Now that upsets me, that people are becoming so disengaged with politics and it's from both sides. Does that worry you and, you know, we've been talking about this for a long time - is it going to change and how can it change?

PLIBERSEK: Look I think a lot of people are very frustrated and you see that in the big international political changes that we've seen - the rise of Donald Trump, the UK leaving Europe - these are big expressions of frustration, I think. But I guess I see the flip-side as well. I actually see a lot of people who care passionately about their community, their country, the world that they live in. I see a lot of young people, for example, at the moment campaigning in favour of marriage equality. They care deeply and passionately about it. Climate change is another thing that comes up, that young people raise with me all the time. The cuts to the aid budget - they're really aware of the world that they live in as well, not just their own immediate concerns. And that gives me a lot of hope and a lot of faith. I think it is important that however frustrated we are, I get frustrated too, I can tell you I sit in Parliament sometimes tearing my hair out. But if it's not good enough, if what you see before you is not good enough, if you are frustrated by the status quo, if you think things aren't fair, you can't pack up your bat and ball and go home. You actually have to get into it. Get involved, make the change that you want to see. And I see a lot of people doing that.

MATT: Yes. 

CLAIRSY: I just want to go down the Labor Party route here, right, this is for the true believers. I've got some very brief questions. One is have you ever had a drink with Bob Hawke?

PLIBERSEK: Yes I have.

MATT: Who hasn't?

PLIBERSEK: I've had a drink with Bob Hawke and I've had a nice sing with Bob Hawke. He's done most of the singing and I've done most of the listening but - 

CLAIRSY: Speaking of singing, we're talking to Peter Garrett today. Have you got a Midnight Oil song that's your favourite? What would get you up at a karaoke night?

PLIBERSEK: Beds are burning, I suppose. 

CLAIRSY: Nice choice.

PLIBERSEK: There's so many great songs. I'm really looking forward, on the 11th of November I'm going to the final concert of this big tour, and I think they're coming to Canberra in a Parliamentary sitting week in a couple of weeks time, and I'm actually going to finish Parliament and go and see Midnight Oil in Canberra. So I'm a bit excited about those two shows coming up.

CLAIRSY: It'll be surreal for Peter to see you in the crowd, I think that's great. And have you got any dirt on Bill Shorten? Because he comes in here and he's just the sweetest bloke to us.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah no, there is no dirt. He's just a good, ordinary bloke. He does the grocery shopping. He does the grocery shopping. So I think the only dirt is, Chloe said, his wife said, that when he first started shopping for a family of five instead of a single bloke he came home with some pretty odd matches of stuff. You know, like weetbix, no milk, kind of scenario, but I don't know if that really qualifies as dirt.

CLAIRSY: That's good dirt. We like that.

MATT: I think we should have a new segment - Shorten's Tips, shopping tips.

KYMBA: Just grab what you can find and get out.

CLAIRSY: He needs some help.

MATT: Can I ask you this, and I mean, when I saw Abbott's speech the other day about climate change I just wanted to cry. I don't know if our listeners heard it, but he basically suggested that climate change might actually be a good thing. These are the sorts of things that I feel so disempowered about and it seems like our ruling class are not, I don't know, that there's a debate, when to me there is no debate. 

PLIBERSEK: Look it was just a really loopy speech. I mean, essentially he was saying climate change isn't real, but if it is real it's probably a good thing. Just the illogic of the speech drives me crazy. And don't forget, I mean, he was the Prime Minister when we signed up to the Paris Agreement. He actually, as Prime Minister, said on more than one occasion "yes it's actually real, it is actually happening." Now you can question whether he did anything to stop climate change as Prime Minister, but he accepted that it was real. He's now, for purely political reasons, trying to find a campaignable opposition to action on climate change. That's really what drives me most crazy about it. He must know that it is happening. 

MATT: He's a spolier.

PLIBERSEK: He must know that the effect on Australia, we're already beginning to see it - we're seeing these bleaching events on the Great Barrier Reef, we're seeing longer, more frequent droughts, we're seeing extreme weather events. So we're already beginning to see the impact in Australia, but you only have to travel around the Pacific, as I have done, and go to places like Kiribati where literally peoples homes are now sitting in the ocean. People can point out to sea and say "see those sticks? That was the foundation of my home." These low-lying islands are being swallowed by the sea. Their whole way of life is being taken from them. And then to be crassly political about this, as Tony Abbott's being, it's just devastating. But what's bad about this is actually he's calling the shots in Liberal Party policy. It's not just bad that he's being loopy - the really bad thing about it is Malcolm Turnbull's letting him run Liberal Party policy.

KYMBA: Tony Abbott to me has sort of become the Kim Kardashian of politics, like he's just desperately trying to stay relevant so he just keeps trying to get in the magazines. 

PLIBERSEK: I think there's a real element of that to it, and he knows that if he says something extreme like that it'll be covered.

MATT: Yes.

CLAIRSY: A bit of power from the backbench. Just in wrapping up, Tanya, we are relatively well-known in this town because they put our mugs on billboards which is scary, this is radio. Do you find people when they actually meet you, because I was at the Warick shops recently and someone yelled out "you look different in 3D." Tanya Plibersek's gorgeous by the way, but do people find you different when they actually meet you, and do they actually comment on that?

PLIBERSEK: Well yes and no. I do get recognised sometimes, but some of the interactions are less than complimentary. I was handing out at a railway station a few years ago and this guy came up to me and he pointed at the poster that was next to me and he said is that you? And I said yeah that's me and he said you look a lot fatter in real life. I was pregnant, I said I'm five months pregnant, maybe it's that. And he went look it's not just your body it's your face. It's just everything.

KYMBA: Cheers mate.

PLIBERSEK: One guy pulled up to a screaming stop in his car and got out of his car to say "you need to change your hair."

CLAIRSY: I bet that was Tony Abbott.

MATT: And do they call out Plibber? Hey Plibber!


MATT: Of course, I beg your pardon. 

PLIBERSEK: But yeah, sometimes. That's the more complimentary thing on the scale as well. 

KAYLA: You'd rather be yelled at for your political stance than how you look.

PLIBERSEK: Yeah. Well actually that's what I thought when the guy told me I looked fat, I just thought oh well, at least he's not saying I'm a sell-out.

CLAIRSY: Well we've got to kick you out because we're talking to Peter Garret. That's funny isn't it?

PLIBERSEK: Great. Give him my love. 

CLAIRSY: Will do.

MATT: Thanks for coming in.

CLAIRSY: Thanks Tanya.


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