TRANSCRIPT - ABC News Breakfast, Thursday 5 March 2015

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Subjects: Mr Chan and Mr Sukumaran, Intergenerational Report

VIRGINIA TRIOLI, PRESENTER: The pressure on Indonesia has been intense, the pleading, the requests have been consistent and repeated, they've been bipartisan, why after all of that do you believe that Indonesia is so unwilling to oblige?

TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY OPPOSITION LEADER: Well I think the new President has come in with a very clear statement that he is determined to stamp out drug crimes in Indonesia. I think it's very clear that there's a change of policy at the top level in Indonesia when it comes to implementing the death penalty. But I don't think that we should accept that that's the end of the story. Of course, we accept the right of Indonesia to have its own legal system, to determine its own priorities, but we are another country respectfully asking the President of Indonesia to reconsider the application of the death penalty in this case. We have two citizens who have transformed their lives and have transformed the lives of the people around them. A sentence like this carried out on these two young men is not just a sentence on them, it's a sentence on their families, on their friends, their supporters. And also on the people who have come to look up to them within the Indonesian gaol system as examples of reformation, rehabilitation and hope for the future.

TRIOLI: You can't have a qualified position on the death penalty, you either support it or you don't and Australia does not, but is this perhaps at least in part, Tanya Plibersek, a bit of our own history coming back to haunt us because of course at various times both Kevin Rudd and John Howard supported the death penalty, the execution for the Bali Bombers?

PLIBERSEK: I think it is very important to have a consistent position on the death penalty and to say to our friends and allies that still have the death penalty that Australia will always oppose it to whomever it's applied, wherever it may be applied, we are consistently opposed to the death penalty and I think at times like this-

TRIOLI: Although of course, just to jump in there, we weren't of course at that time. I wonder if that history is playing out a little bit here?

PLIBERSEK: I don't think you can draw that link but I would say that if there's one good thing to come out of this public concern about what's happening to Andrew and Myuran is it’s a reinvigoration of a feeling across our Australian community that the death penalty is always wrong wherever it's applied, to whomever it is applied.

TRIOLI: We've always believed that we have a, it’s been fractious at times, a reasonably good relationship with Indonesia, certainly a very strong and very important one. Why in your view is that not counting for much in this discussion at the moment?

PLIBERSEK: I actually think it does count for a lot. We've had an enormous amount of support from many, many senior Indonesian political figures, diplomatic figures, current and former, many, many people pleading on behalf of our citizens. Of course there's strong business links, there's people who have been, Australians who have been great friends to Indonesia over many years who are engaged in behind the scenes diplomatic efforts and there are many, many Indonesians who have also been pleading with the President and those around him in our- on our behalf. Unfortunately that hasn't borne fruit yet but I don't think we can accept that time has run out. I think there we need to continue to say that there are two current legal challenges under way, those legal challenges must be allowed to run their course and just as Indonesia pleads for clemency for its own citizens around the world, we will continue to plead for clemency until every avenue is exhausted.

TRIOLI: Tanya Plibersek, from the Labor Party's point of view, what consequences, if any, should flow from these two men ultimately being executed in terms of our relationship with Indonesia?

PLIBERSEK: Look, I think it's the wrong time to be talking about anything like that. I think our whole focus, our whole discussion at the moment and every effort has to be on stating very clearly that the legal challenges that remain should be completed and that in any case the President has available to him the option of showing clemency and we would plead that President Widodo think about what he would want for his own citizens on death row around the world, the clemency that he would like Indonesians to be shown by the governments of other countries and he apply that same principle to our citizens and not just to our citizens of course but to the citizens of other nations facing a similar penalty.

TRIOLI: Just one quick question before I let you go if I can, Tanya Plibersek, on the Intergenerational Report, a very important document that’s coming out today, according to some figures that have been pre-released and published today in some newspaper outlets, the most optimistic four decade trajectory shows that Australia would only be free of net debt by 2031/32 if every budget measure announced last year or something equivalent was passed and passed now. What does the Labor Party believe its responsibility is in this, in making sure that Australia is free of debt?

PLIBERSEK: This Intergenerational Report is the final trashing of Peter Costello's legacy in terms of a Charter of Budget Honesty. This is a completely political document that hasn't used Department of Immigration figures for net overseas migration, that includes in it for example savings from a GP co-payment that the Government's made clear they can't get through the House of Representatives and the Senate, it includes in it- it doesn't include in it things like their promise to get rid of means testing for the Private Health Insurance Rebate which would cost $100 billion over the next 40 years, it's a political stitch up of a document. It's the Treasurer's document, not the Treasury's document as they've made clear, this is a document that's been manipulated by Joe Hockey for his own political means.

TRIOLI: Nowhere in that answer to was an answer to my question about what the Labor Party thinks should be done to rid Australia of debt, there's no policy statement there from you.

PLIBERSEK: We announced just recently our plans for reducing multinational tax evasion. Unfortunately we had measures in place to do this when the Government, when the Liberal Government were first elected. They trashed them. They gave billions of dollars back to multinational tax avoiders. We had a carbon pricing mechanism that raised revenue, they've got a carbon pricing mechanism that spends taxpayers' dollars. We have made very large and important savings, including when I was Health Minister, things like means testing the Private Health Insurance Rebate and paying less for generic medicines when they come off patent. The Liberals opposed billions of dollars of savings in those areas so I think it's a bit rich for a Government that's come in, given $9 billion to the Reserve Bank unasked for and unneeded, doubled the deficit since coming to Government, for them to be talking about debt and deficit. We actually now have under Joe Hockey as Treasurer higher debt, higher deficits, higher unemployment, lower consumer confidence and slower growth.

TRIOLI: I assume then from your answer then that a carbon price would then be part of a Government policy should the Labor Party ever win Government?

PLIBERSEK: We'll announce more details about our policies periodically over coming months and years.

TRIOLI: You were just saying that there was a revenue raising measure and that's one you're clearly attached to?

PLIBERSEK: I'm pointing out that it is bit rich for the Liberals to come in and reduce the revenue that they're taking, to change the tax system so that they're collecting less money, they're spending more on their own priorities, they've doubled the deficit, and for them to consistently try and say that this is a Labor responsibility, they have made bad choices in Government. They have rejected the revenue that we collected in a number of different ways, they haven't replaced it. We've supported already more than $20 billion of measures that improve the budget bottom line from the last Budget but we're not going to support things that are unfair, we're not going to support things like the GP co-payment that stop people going to see a doctor.

TRIOLI: Tanya Plibersek, good to talk to you this morning, thank you.




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