THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THURSDAY 25 OCTOBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Labor’s Asian language announcement; removing discrimination against LGBTI students and teachers; defence; refugees and asylum seekers.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Well thanks very much for coming out this morning. I'm very pleased to announce that Labor will be focusing on the teaching of Asian languages in our schools. I'll be speaking later today to students who have been studying Asian languages at ANU about their pathway through school, why they studied an Asian language in the first place and the benefits of doing so. We know that the jobs of the future are in our region, nine out of ten of the next billion people who will enter the middle class live in our region - it's a terrific, economic opportunity for Australia - if we are prepared to take advantage of it. To fully take advantage of that great economic opportunity, we need to make sure that more of our young people are studying an Asian language and are Asian literate - understand doing business in Asia. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Ms Plibersek, you've been provided - or the Opposition has been provided with this legislation to restrict discrimination against gay kids in religious schools, what's the Opposition's thinking on that, have you given the draft back to the Government?
PLIBERSEK: Well, we've only seen the legislation late last night, so we'll take that through all of our proper processes, but there's a couple of things that I can say generally - of course, we support any move to prevent discrimination against children in any school, or in any setting. Of course we support that. We're a bit perplexed at why the Government wouldn't offer the same protections to teachers and other school staff. If it's not good to discriminate against kids, how can it be good to discriminate against adults? Now, we understand, of course, that religious schools have the right to teach the tenets of their faith. What we're concerned about is discrimination against whole classes of people.
JOURNALIST: So the Government wants to introduce it this week - as in, today. Will you work through your processes today, so that that legislation can be introduced today?
PLIBERSEK: Well, all I can say is we've only received the legislation very late last night. We'll work through our proper processes and we'll work with the Government to progress the issue that we do both agree on - which is preventing discrimination against children.
JOURNALIST: We heard submissions in Senate Estimates, yesterday, around deals with Saudi Arabia - arms deals. Should Australians know, or have the right to know, where their arms ago, where exports are going to, what's being provided to who and where those weapons, those arms are ending up?
PLIBERSEK: Well, I think there is a significant amount of information publicly available about Australia's defence industries. I'd say more broadly, it is important for the international community to send a strong message to Saudi Arabia about the apparent murder of a Saudi journalist living in Turkey. It is important not just for Australia to send a strong message in this respect, but for the international community to do so.
JOURNALIST: Would Labor be willing to more transparent when it comes to defence industry contracts?
PLIBERSEK: I think there is a degree of transparency already, we can look at issues like that down the track.
JOURNALIST: With regard to the lifetime ban legislation we're talking about. Why do you think the amendments that you have proposed are needed?
PLIBERSEK: Well, let's take a step back. We would very much like to see Australia accept New Zealand's very generous offer of resettling refugees, who are on Nauru, in New Zealand at the moment. We think that the families on Nauru, the people who are on Manus Island, as well, have been there way too long. It is an abject failure of this Government not to have found new homes for these people. Manus Island and Nauru were not set up to be places of indefinite detention and the Government has to act to accept New Zealand's offer as quickly as possible. Now, the Government has said that they can't accept this generous offer until Labor agrees to legislation that would prevent anyone who has ever tried to come to Australia from anywhere who's been resettled anywhere - being prevented ever from setting foot in Australia again. This means under the Government's ridiculous, overkill legislation that if you were resettled in another country - and you went on to the Olympic sports team or you became the Prime Minister of that country or you became, you know, a world famous heart surgeon in that place. You couldn't come here, you couldn't come for a meeting of Heads of Government, you couldn't come for a conference, you couldn't come for the Olympics. That is not necessary, that is complete overkill and we accept the proposition from the Government that we don't want a backdoor way into Australia, we don't want people to get resettled in New Zealand and then be able to settle immediately afterwards in Australia; we'll work with them on that. We can prevent people coming here on the visa subclass that allows that free movement but to reach - overreach in the way this Government has done - have these permanent bans for everybody is completely unnecessary and frankly, is causing problems with our neighbours. Winston Peters has said that New Zealand doesn't want two classes of New Zealand citizen. We need to be very careful that we don't lose this opportunity by putting unreasonable demands on our neighbours.
JOURNALIST: The open that you make is not entirely true about the surgeon or the Prime Minister or the Olympics because under the proposed amendment, the Minister has discretion to override the lifetime ban and there's also a clause that says; "if it's in the public interest, the Minister can override it." So, if someone's the Prime Minister and they want to come over here, surely they could do that.
PLIBERSEK: Great, and could you imagine how humiliating it would be to go through that process. I mean, look it's just unnecessary, overkill legislation. We are very pleased that people have been resettled in the United States, we're very supportive. Why can't the arrangements that have been agreed with the United States also apply to New Zealand?
JOURNALIST: The Government has claimed time and time again that these ships started under the previous Labor Governments. If you are elected, how can you be confident that you will be able to keep Australian borders safe; and what measures will you be taking to make sure that situation doesn't happen again?
PLIBERSEK: We are absolutely committed to ensuring that the people smugglers can't sell their evil product - put people on dangerous journeys on leaky votes, costing thousands of dollars. We are committed to that just as the Government is committed to that, what we don't agree with the Government on is the continued cruelty to children on Nauru and we believe that we can meet both of those objectives to have strong borders but also show compassion for the people who are the victims of this evil trade. The victims of the people smugglers. Thanks everyone.