SUBJECTS: The 2016 Federal Election

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN, PRESENTER: I'm here in the studio with Deputy Labor Leader, Tanya Plibersek, good morning.

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well you can't fault Christopher for front can you? He's certainly got that in spades.

BRISSENDEN: It is clear you've lost the election though, are you ready to concede?

PLIBERSEK: I think we need to let the Australian Electoral Commission complete its work but if you're a betting person, you'd have to say it's more likely that the Turnbull Government, as probably a minority government, a very unstable minority government, will be returned. The idea that Christopher could suggest that this is anything but a complete repudiation of the agenda set by Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey, and then Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison, I think is extreme. It looks like we may well have more than half of the two party-preferred vote across the national level.

BRISSENDEN: There is certainly a mood of celebration among Labor, I mean you keep saying you did well, but you didn't win. In fact, Labor recorded its second lowest primary vote since, what, 1949, I think. So what's the source of all the celebration? Is it just that you did so much better than you expected?

PLIBERSEK: We're going to be welcoming a lot of new Labor MPs to our Caucus. This is our first term in Opposition, it may well be that we end up with more than half of the two party-preferred vote - it's certainly looking like that now.

BRISSENDEN: But you'll still be in Opposition?

PLIBERSEK: Well, which is terrible. I'm very disappointed about that, given how close we came. But this is a pretty great result and I think the enthusiasm and the efforts of those new Members of Parliament will be very welcome by those of us who are already there. We've done better than anybody expected us to - certainly a lot of people in the media were writing us off. They wrote us off, first of all, when Tony Abbott became Prime Minister, that was it for a generation. And then we got rid of Tony Abbott and then Malcolm Turnbull became the leader of the Liberal Party and we were written off again then. The fact that we've come so close, I think, is a tribute to our discipline, to the fact that we had more than 100 positive policies for people to judge us on; we explained how we would pay for those. And, in contrast, you had a Liberal Party that had one big idea, it was a $50 billion tax cut for big business that was supposed to trickle down and benefit the rest of us.

BRISSENDEN: Okay, the point is we're still talking about this, you know, a week after the election. No one really has the numbers yet, I mean the result is still inconclusive.

PLIBERSEK: Despite Christopher's claims.

BRISSENDEN: The result is still inconclusive and probably will be conclusive in the next couple of days. But there's a lesson here for both sides, isn't there? Malcolm Turnbull says he's going to work to rebuild trust with voters. Doesn't that still apply, the same thing apply to Labor?

PLIBERSEK: Well, it's always been important for Members of Parliament and for political parties to have a focus on building trust with voters. But I think, certainly, voters did trust our message that we were prioritising jobs, health and education.

BRISSENDEN: But the results show that voters didn't trust either side enough to give them a ringing endorsement for government.

PLIBERSEK: Yes, which is of course, as I said, disappointing. But the fact that we've done so well after one term in Opposition, that we'll be welcoming a large number of new members, we're yet to determine how many, I think is a great tribute to Bill's leadership, to our unity, to our discipline, and to our positive policy agenda; to the fact that we protect and put Medicare at the centre of our campaign, that we were prepared to commit to the full Gonski education funding, we were opposed to $100,000 university degrees, we had a plan for clear action on climate change, marriage equality within the first 100 days and, most importantly, jobs. We were talking about jobs this whole campaign. Blue collar jobs and the jobs of the future, making sure that our young people are ready.

BRISSENDEN: Why are you rushing to hold this meeting now, before the result is conclusive?

PLIBERSEK: Because we've got a lot to celebrate - we really want to welcome our new members into our Caucus. We've got to focus on what comes next. We've got a deeply divided, unstable Government, and we need to be prepared to go back to the polls sooner rather than later. So, both to welcome our new members, and to make sure that...

BRISSENDEN: So there will be no challenge, obviously, to Bill Shorten?

PLIBERSEK: I don't expect there to be, certainly. We'll call for nominations today, according to the rules. Nominations will be open for a week; people will have the opportunity to nominate. But I would be very surprised, given the success of this campaign.

BRISSENDEN: Isn't one of the lessons also from this I mean, obviously, people will be talking about this for some time: but we've had two elections now, after there's been a leadership change in the middle of a term of government - a change by the party. Doesn't this show really, that the voters just really don't like that?

PLIBERSEK: They really don't like instability, I think that's true. And that's why we have actually prioritised being a united, focused and disciplined Opposition. When I became Deputy, I set myself two jobs. One was to make sure that our policy offering at this election was a good one, we did that. And the other was to make sure that our Caucus was a united one with a good culture, and I think we've done that too.

BRISSENDEN: You're a member of the Party's left faction, there's some reports today that the left is going to push for greater representation because you've done better in the election. Will that cause some internal friction?

PLIBERSEK: No, it won't. I mean the arrangement is always that the executive positions reflect the make up of the Caucus, so if the left does better in terms of more Members of Parliament into Parliament, then that changes the arrangement at the executive level. There's nothing controversial about that, there's a formula.

BRISSENDEN: But you will be pushing for more positions?

PLIBERSEK: We'll see. We need to find out who is actually elected to the Parliament - we've still got to let the AEC do a little bit more work on that. We've got some great Members of Parliament that are in, you know, very close-run contests. The ones in Queensland, in particular, are very close-run. But of course, we're still waiting on the result in Cowan and Hindmarsh as well.

BRISSENDEN: Okay. Tanya Plibersek, thanks very much for joining us.

PLIBERSEK: Thank you.