THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THURSDAY, 6 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberal chaos, removing exemptions for discrimination against LGBTIQ students, Manus Island and Nauru, Emma Husar, Indigenous education, Labor’s united team and positive vision for Australia.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thank you for coming out this morning. We saw yesterday the national accounts figures released, and in those national accounts we saw that company profits are up, wages are flat-lining and living standards are going backwards. In the face of this very bad economic news, we see from the Government - instead of focusing on increasing wages, increasing business and consumer confidence - we see a government that is intent on discriminating against school children and nationalising the national electricity market.
At the end of a parliamentary year you have a government ridden with chaos - midnight meetings, late night press conferences to shore up the Prime Minister's numbers, legislation introduced with little or no consultation. Yesterday's electricity legislation hadn't even been discussed in the Liberals' own party room. It has just been a very chaotic end to the parliamentary sitting period.
JOURNALIST: Is it embarrassing for the Parliament to not get the law changes through to protect gay students before Christmas?
PLIBERSEK: It's shameful. This failure of the Government to legislate to remove discrimination against GLBTI children is absolutely shameful. Scott Morrison said before the Wentworth by-election that this was a priority, and it was a priority because it was causing unnecessary concern for students and parents. We agree. We could get this done now. There is a Bill in the House of Representatives and a Bill in the Senate. If we vote on this today, we could get it done today. And instead what we've seen with this discrimination against children is all of the same tactics that were used in the marriage equality debate. Unnecessary amendments introduced, unnecessary concerns raised in the community by people who really just want to stop - either delay or stop entirely - the removal of this discrimination. This is simple. We simply need to remove the exemption from the Sex Discrimination Act as it applies to children in schools. We could do it today.
JOURNALIST: With the refugee bill, will Labor be taking up with the Greens and the crossbench to try and get that through?
PLIBERSEK: We'll be working very closely with the independents and minor parties to try and do what we all believe should happen, which is to make sure that children in particular, if there is a medical concern, can be brought to Australia for treatment. The background of this is the Government has failed to find permanent homes for people living on Manus Island and Nauru. These people have been on Manus Island and Nauru for too long. We do need to find permanent homes to settle those refugees and asylum seekers on Manus Island and Nauru.
JOURNALIST: Do you support Emma Husar's bid to be re-endorsed by the Labor Party?
PLIBERSEK: Emma, some months ago, said that she would not be recontesting the election and pre-selections have opened for the seat of Lindsay. They're a matter for the New South Wales Labor Party.
JOURNALIST: What do you think of Tony Abbott's plan to pay teachers more to, in remote areas, to increase Indigenous education?
PLIBERSEK: I think pretty much anything Tony Abbott says about Indigenous communities you can take with a grain of salt because he, as Prime Minister, having said that he would be the Prime Minister for Indigenous Australians, cut $500 million from programs to support Indigenous Australia. The period under his prime ministership was chaotic when it came to remote service delivery in remote Aboriginal communities. I am very supportive of sending our most experienced teachers to remote communities, I think it is very important that we properly staff remote schools. When Labor was in government, we were not just supportive of teachers going to remote schools, we managed to extend preschool education for four year olds to remote communities as well. So we absolutely share a commitment to making sure that the quality of education in those schools is high. But look at this Government's record - cuts to Indigenous programs, $14 billion less over the next decade spent in our public schools - which are the schools that most Aboriginal kids attend - if this Government's school funding program stands. And one of the worst affected jurisdictions, the Northern Territory, this Government's funding formula leaves children in the Northern Territory worse off by tens of millions of dollars. So it's a bit rich to come up with these suggestions in the face of all of that.
JOURNALIST: Just on a more positive note, I don't know how to ask you your goals at the start of the year, but you probably had some goals at the start of the year. Have you achieved some of those?
PLIBERSEK: I think it's been a great year. I've been very focused on making sure that we have good policies to take to the Australian people in time for the next election. I'm very proud of the policy development process we've had this year in the Labor party and the very many positive announcements that we've made - better preschools, schools, TAFE, university and restoring confidence in our health system in the face of Liberal cuts. And I'm also very proud of the unity of this group we've shown, as the Labor party. We are absolutely focused on building a strong economy and a fairer society for all Australians. We haven't been focused on ourselves, that's a good thing. Thanks.