THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THURSDAY, 16 NOVEMBER 2017
SUBJECT: Marriage equality.
SABRA LANE, PRESENTER: And with Labor's take on the result we’re joined by the Deputy Opposition Leader, Tanya Plibersek. Good morning and welcome to AM.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Good morning Sabra.
LANE: How do you think history will record yesterday?
PLIBERSEK: Look I think history will see those pictures of people crying and they’ll understand that there was a lot of joy yesterday, and a sense of relief. But really, this is a $122 million survey that told us exactly what we already knew, that the majority of Australians support marriage equality and that the majority of Australians were way ahead of their parliamentary representatives in wanting to give equality to the LGBTI community.
LANE: Does the PM get credit for that? I mean, it wasn’t his preferred policy but he’s achieved the end result and it’s happened under Malcolm Turnbull. And the Chief Statistician also pointed out yesterday it's going to come in under $100 million.
PLIBERSEK: Well fantastic, that’ll be a great comfort to the homeless medical service that closed in my electorate after 40 years of operation because they couldn't find $800,000 a year to keep it open. I mean, $100 million is an awful lot of taxpayers’ money. But no, I actually am delighted by yesterday’s result and I am so proud of the army of volunteers who went out there and handed out at railway stations in the morning and doorknocked and had difficult conversations with people.
I’m proud of Australia for saying yes to this. But we cannot take away from the fact that this has been distressing and difficult for many, many people. We know that calls to helpline type services have gone through the roof during this period, and I’ve spoken to so many, many young people, Sabra, who felt alone and unsupported by friends and family during this period. And also to people who’ve been out for decades who said it made them feel just like they were 15 again, just like they were hiding from their friends and neighbours and family. It took them right back to those confused feelings as a teenager. And it was unnecessary. What have we learnt? Yesterday we learnt that the majority of Australians want their fellow Australians to be equal before the law. We knew that. We’ve known that for years.
LANE: You’ve just heard the Attorney-General, he wants two amendments. Tinkering is how he characterises it, nothing major, to assuage concerns. Are you heartened by that?
PLIBERSEK: Look I certainly will judge any amendments case by case, but we have to remember that this consensus bill that’s been introduced into the Senate has already been through an extensive Senate inquiry process. It has the support of the Liberal Party, the Nationals, the Labor Party, Xenophon, the Greens –
LANE: Points that have been made.
PLIBERSEK: And I think that it’s very significant for people to understand that there should not be too much mucking around with a bill that already has cross-party support. If there are minor technical amendments, of course we’ll look at them on a case-by-case basis, but anything that looks like deliberate delay, or the opponents of marriage equality coming to try and stop this or delay it by some other means, is not something that we could accept or countenance.
LANE: Your seat recorded the highest Yes result, 84 per cent, but in a swag of Western Sydney seats held by Labor MPs: Blaxland, Watson, McMahon, Werriwa, for example, were a majority of no votes, many of them – there’s a high proportion of migrant voters there. Did that surprise you?
PLIBERSEK: No it didn’t really surprise me and I think the MPs for those seats would be the first to say that they’ve got some large socially conservative communities in their electorates, and as you say, particularly amongst more recently arrived migrant groups. So it’s no surprise, but what I also know about these electorates is that they feel very well represented by Labor MPs who stand up for jobs, decent pay and conditions, a strong health system, a great education system for their kids. Most people aren’t one-issue voters and I think for the people representing those seats, they’ll continue to represent them strongly on the issues that matter day-to-day to the communities that they represent, and I think their constituents will actually admire them for having the courage of their convictions on an issue like this.
LANE: What risk do you think there is of a backlash, given that many of those MPs have said that they won’t abide by what the electorate has said, that they will vote yes?
PLIBERSEK: I think most members of the Australian community admire a political leader who’ll stand up, take a risk, actually stand according to their principles. And I’m sure that the electorates of our Western Sydney MPs will continue to vote for them, because they vote on the issues that matter day to day: jobs, health, education, and they admire their local MPs for their connectedness to their community and their willingness to stand up for the things they believe in. They want fighters. They want fighters in their corner.
LANE: Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek, thanks for joining AM.
PLIBERSEK: Thanks Sabra.