TRANSCRIPT: ABC 7.30, Wednesday 25 November 2015



ABC 7.30

SUBJECTS: Domestic violence, national security, polls

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek is the Deputy Opposition Leader as well as the Shadow Foreign Minister. She joined me from Canberra a short time ago. Tanya Plibersek, thank you very much for coming in.


PRESENTER: On White Ribbon Day I'd like to start with a question about domestic violence. The Government said today that it’s open to considering a Labor proposal for the introduction of workplace domestic violence leave. How would you get around the problem of many women perhaps not feeling comfortable telling their boss that they need leave because they have domestic violence problems at home?

PLIBERSEK: I think a formal entitlement to leave actually helps with that problem because it sends a very strong signal that employers and the community generally are acknowledging that this is a serious issue, that it happens to many women and that you're not in it alone, if you are a victim of domestic violence. In fact 1.6 million employees already have access to this entitlement, a number of large businesses have already given it to their employees. Unions have fought for the inclusion of such provisions in agreements and of course it's not just big business. A lot of small businesses have stood by their employees when they've faced these sorts of issues. So I think the more common we make the entitlement to leave like this the stronger the signal that no woman is in this alone.

PRESENTER: Let's switch to your portfolio, Foreign Affairs, and the shooting down of a Russian plane over Syria by Turkish forces. What's your analysis of how much of a potential setback that is to the prospects of a successful united campaign against IS in Syria?

PLIBERSEK: Well, look, it's certainly complicated issues in the short term. Of course, Turkey and Russia already had quite different objectives in this conflict. Turkey has been very focused on getting rid of Bashar al-Assad. The Russians, of course, have been very interested in protecting him and his Government. So what we need to do, I think, over coming days and weeks is refocus the attention of both Turkey and Russia on the common objective of defeating IS or Daesh. We've now got more than 60 countries involved in a Coalition to fight Daesh and making sure, of course, that we have clear lines of communications between all of the countries involved, particularly those who are operating above Syrian air space is critical. And making sure that we have the common objective of protecting civilians and fighting Daesh or IS… We need to be very clear about that.

PRESENTER: You mention that there's more than 60 countries, there needs to be clear coordination. The Opposition Leader Bill Shorten today raised concerns about the crowded air space over Syria. Do you think there's insufficient coordination of the campaign at the moment and how do you think that can be improved?

PLIBERSEK: I wouldn't say insufficient. I think today's event was obviously very concerning but the United States and Russia have signed a memorandum of understanding to ensure that they are coordinating their efforts or at least, you know, know where the air force of each country is operating. It is important to keep those lines of communication open and obviously, the greater level of coordination when it comes to targeting IS the better. We do have different rules of engagement. I think we need to be clear about that too. I think it's clear that the Russians have a higher rate of bombardment; that they're targeting when it comes to the risk of civilian casualties, they take, I guess, a greater risk of including civilians, unfortunately, than we would, or that the United States or some of the other countries would. So we can coordinate but we need to coordinate to ensure that we are targeting IS, that we're not taking unacceptable risks to civilians at the same time.

PRESENTER: The US-led mission against IS, of which Australia is a part, has now been running for about a year yet the organisation's ability to inspire terrorist attacks around the globe is undiminished. What's the Western side of the fight doing wrong?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm not sure that we can say it like that. This is a terrible conflict, well over 200,000 people have lost their lives, about half the population of Syria have been displaced. There's a humanitarian disaster and as you say, IS is also inspiring attacks in other countries. On the other hand, we do see forces, you know, different names, Syrian Democratic forces, as they're calling themselves, Kurdish forces, are pushing IS back in a number of theatres of conflict and have regained territory. Your own reporter, obviously Matt Brown is in Syria at the moment and is reporting, in fact, on some of those gains that have been made. So it is important to acknowledge that there has been some military success. I think the Vienna conference is inching in the right direction towards a political solution. It’s a very slow progress, of course, but inching in the right direction. The third area that has always concerned me is our inadequate humanitarian response to the millions of people who have been displaced and I think this is another area where we really need to increase our international efforts.

PRESENTER: Before you go, does Labor's recent leadership history mean the party is too scared to even ask itself if Bill Shorten is the right person for the top job?

PLIBERSEK: We wouldn't be asking ourselves that because Bill Shorten's seen off Tony Abbott and he will see off Malcolm Turnbull. 

PRESENTER: He's currently on 15 per cent as preferred Prime Minister, a number a lot lower than either Kevin Rudd or Julia Gillard had when they were knifed?

PLIBERSEK: Well I think Leigh, you're seeing a sense of national relief that Tony Abbott is no longer the Prime Minister. But as people take a closer look at Malcolm Turnbull and find that he's “Tony Abbott light”, he's still got all of the same Tony Abbott policies, he's just putting a different face on those policies. They will really start to think twice. We're talking now about a 15 per cent GST on absolutely everything. Same unambitious climate change policies, same expensive and wasteful plebiscite on marriage equality, same cuts to health and education, $100,000 university degrees, still there, just delayed for a year.

PRESENTER: And would you rather risk giving Australia another 3 years of that, as you see it, than change leaders?

PLIBERSEK: Leigh, I don’t see it like that at all. I see us putting out a very positive agenda. Bill said at the beginning of the year that it would be a year of ideas and we've announced dozens of policies now and we've announced how we'd pay for them with three major revenue raising measures, our multinational tax avoidance, our high income super changes, and most recently our increased excise on tobacco products. So we’ve got dozens of ideas out there, we've got the ability to pay for that ambitious agenda. Our focus is on making sure people know the details of those policies.

PRESENTER: Tanya Plibersek, thank you for your time this evening.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you Leigh