TRANSCRIPT: ABC News Breakfast, Monday 20 June



MONDAY, 20 JUNE 2016

SUBJECTS: AFL personalities' comments and family violence; Labor's plans to protect Medicare; Liberals' tax cuts for big business and high income earners; Labor's positive plans for Australia's economy; Christian Kunde.

MICHAEL ROWLAND, PRESENTER: To Federal politics now and Labor will be hoping for a boost from yesterday's campaign launch which focused heavily on Medicare and health. Joining us now is the Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek. Tanya Plibersek good morning to you.


ROWLAND: I want to get onto federal politics in just a moment but do you have any thoughts on this playful on-air banter - in Eddie Maguire's words - regarding the drowning of Caroline Wilson?

PLIBERSEK: Well it's not really funny is it? I think what Eddie Maguire is missing is that when you've got a culture in Australia where, probably, 1 in 3 women experience domestic violence in their lifetime and 1 in 5 will experience sexual assault, it's not funny to joke about it. It's medieval in fact - it reminds me of the sort of witch-dunking that used to go on in the Middle Ages and in that context, joking about drowning someone just doesn't cut it as humour.

ROWLAND: What action would you like, say the AFL or the Collingwood Football Club, to take in this instance?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I'd like the people who are making the jokes to examine their consciences and ask themselves why they think it's funny to make jokes about drowning a woman. I don't see it as something we particularly need an intervention by an organisation but I would really like to think that the individuals involved would think hard about what message it sends to their female listeners and also to their male listeners that they can laugh so casually about the idea of drowning someone.

ROWLAND: Eddie Maguire hasn't gone the 'full Monty' so to speak this morning - he's apologised if those comments were taken the wrong way. Does he get it in your view?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I'm not sure what the right way is to take a joke about drowning someone. Like I say, I think people who are used to hearing jokes about violence against women don't get disturbed when they hear jokes about violence against women, but that’s one of the things that we really need to change in our society. Now it's interesting, a lot of your viewers are sending in messages - would anybody care if a joke like this was made about a man - this is actually kind of the point in a way. We have a society where 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, where we're losing more than one woman a week in a domestic homicide. There is a cultural context for these kinds of jokes and that’s why it does kind of make it worse - big strong footballers sitting around joking about drowning a woman. There is a sort of physical power imbalance there and there's also a history where women are much more likely to be the victims of this kind of thing than men. And like I say, it does remind you of the medieval witch dunking that used to go on. It's a very inappropriate thing to be laughing about anyway.

ROWLAND: Ok, let’s go to federal politics now. The Prime Minister over the weekend said in his words, ‘a re-elected coalition would never, ever privatise Medicare’. That sort of kills Labor's claim stone dead doesn't it?

PLIBERSEK: Yes, that's like they said before the last election that there'd be no cuts to health, and no cuts to education, and no change to pensions, and no new taxes, and no cuts to the ABC - and they broke all those promises. For forty years, Labor has been fighting to establish and protect Medicare and since coming to government the Abbott-Turnbull Government have tried to introduce a GP co-payment, they've cut tens of billions of dollars from hospitals, they've slashed Medicare so that doctors can't bulk bill anymore. They've cut support for diagnostic imaging and pathology - hundreds of millions of dollars again - they've cut funding for preventive health. If you look at their record rather than what the Prime Minister is saying twelve days out from an election, people understand that it's only Labor that will protect Medicare. If you want to keep Medicare, y ou have to vote Labor.

ROWLAND: Ok, we had the Newspoll out today showing both parties, both major parties neck and neck - 50 percent each on a two party preferred basis, what does that say to you about where the electorate is at, at the moment.

PLIBERSEK: It says to me that we need to work really hard over the next two weeks to tell people that if they want to keep Medicare they have to vote Labor. If they want good quality jobs - and we made an announcement over the weekend about supporting small business to take on more Australians. If they want investment in public transport like the Western Sydney north-south rail link, Melbourne Metro, Adelink, Gawler light rail, Brisbane Cross River Rail, Perth Metro, all of these projects - if they want those projects, they have to vote Labor. If they want a strong economy and a fair society, they have to vote Labor. And we've got two weeks to make that case.

ROWLAND: Your leader Bill Shorten, used his Labor Party Campaign Launch yesterday to unveil a suite of new promises totalling to $3 billion - do you understand, Tanya Plibersek, that feeds into the concern amongst some voters about a Labor government's ability to pay the bills? 

PLIBERSEK: Well, Michael I'll tell you what, there's one big promise, the biggest promise in this election is a $50 billion tax cut, most of which will go to foreign shareholders - that's from the Liberals and a $16 billion tax cut for people on more than $180,000 a year. That's from the Liberals...

ROWLAND: Yes, but I'm asking you about Labor's policies...

PLIBERSEK: This is really important. These were promises made a week before the election was called. $66 billion worth of spending for no appreciable benefit to our economy. We say yes, we'll invest in health, we'll invest in education but we are not going to give $66 billion worth of tax cuts. We've outlined more than $100 billion of improvements to the budget bottom line with our changes to negative gearing and capital gains tax, tightening up high-end super, tightening up tax so multinational companies can't avoid paying their tax - but most importantly we won't give away $66 billion, mostly to foreign shareholders and very high income earners - that's how we pay for health and education. Yes, there are choices to be made but in a choice between a $50 billion tax cut and a $16 billion tax cut for big companies and high-end earners and properly funding our schools and hospitals, we cho ose schools and we choose hospitals. That's the difference, that's what people are voting on in this election. Do they want to give that $66 billion away to big multinational companies and high-income earners or do they want to properly fund our schools and hospitals. And job creation coming out of small business where small businesses will be able to hire up to five new workers with a tax deduction of up to an extra $20,000 a year for each one of them. That's where we'll see job creation.

ROWLAND: Okay, finally your candidate for the seat of Farrer, Christian Kunde has resigned because of links he has with the radical Islamic group, Hizb ut-Tahrir. That's a bit of an embarrassment as we launch into the final fortnight?

PLIBERSEK: And he's resigned, we've accepted his resignation because he wasn't honest about his background. If you are not honest about your background, there's no place for you as a Labor candidate.

ROWLAND: Should there be greater checks and balances or greater checks by Labor pre-selection panels?

PLIBERSEK: Well, I think all political parties during campaigns come up with the occasional candidate that hasn't fully disclosed their background. We've seen some very interesting characters like the fellow who's running against Rob Mitchell in McEwen who’s got all sorts of unanswered questions around him so it's sadly a feature of election campaigns that some people aren't honest about their backgrounds.

ROWLAND: We'll leave it there, Tanya Plibersek in Sydney, thank you very much.