THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
TUESDAY, 4 DECEMBER 2018
SUBJECTS: Liberal chaos, Encryption Bill, Manus Island and Nauru.
TANYA PLIBERSEK, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Thanks very much for coming out this morning. Last night we heard that [Scott Morrison] called an emergency meeting in the dead of night to talk about the Liberal Party leadership. He didn't call the meeting to talk about the bushfires or climate change or energy prices, the fact that debt has doubled in this country, the fact we've got historic low wages growth for Australian workers, the crisis in our schools and in our hospitals. No, it was a crisis meeting to protect his own job. If anybody needed any proof that what Malcolm Turnbull said about Scott Morrison yesterday, that he was all about keeping his seat in C1, then they got that proof last night when this emergency meeting was called not to discuss the issues that matter to Australians, that would change their lives, but in order to keep Scott Morrison in his job.
If Scott Morrison was really interested in stability, he would explain why he knifed Malcolm Turnbull, or he wouldn't have done it in the first place. Nothing says stability like an emergency meeting of the Liberal Party in the dead of night. And this Government has now reached such crisis in the Government that nobody believes that a simple rule change will actually bring certainty to the federal Liberal Party.
This Government has basically gone on strike. I mean, check out the speaking list from yesterday, with one Liberal on the speaking list for yesterday. This is a part-time Parliament that refuses to sit next year. The sitting schedule is one of the weakest, slowest we've seen in many long years. And even when they are turning up to Parliament, their members are on a go-slow, they're not even speaking on legislation in the Parliament. This is a Government in chaos and last night's emergency meeting does nothing to end the chaos. It frankly just underscores the chaos that we're living with, because really, nothing says stability like an emergency meeting of the Liberal Party in the dead of night.
In contrast, Labor has had five solid years under Bill Shorten's leadership.
We've been focused on fixing our schools and hospitals, on decent jobs with security, good pay and conditions, an economy that works for all, doing something about climate change with cleaner and cheaper energy - that's what we've been focused on.
JOURNALIST: Aren't these leadership changes very similar to what Labor did under Kevin Rudd in 2013?
PLIBERSEK: Yeah and I think having sensible rules about the leadership is a good thing. But the idea that you, with no notice, in the dead of night, call an emergency meeting - that doesn't look like stability to me, that looks like panic.
JOURNALIST: Do you think Scott Morrison is worried about his job?
PLIBERSEK: You would be, wouldn't you? I mean what Scott Morrison's got to watch is someone putting their arm around him and saying 'my ambition is for him.' His party is in chaos at the moment. All sorts of people are speculating that Julie Bishop's on the march. Who knows? I mean, is he really worried about his job or does he have nothing better to do than try and shore up his leadership in the final weeks and months of this Parliament?
JOURNALIST: Encryption bill, this week, should it be forced through - rather than get it 100 per cent right?
PLIBERSEK: Look, it is very important to get this encryption bill right and Labor has consistently worked cooperatively with the Government on issues of national security. The Joint Standing Committee on Security and Intelligence matters has been one of the best functioning committees in the Parliament. They've examined a number of very complex pieces of legislation, they've made hundreds of recommendations for amendments to the Government. The Government have accepted all of those bipartisan recommendations - I think it's important to maintain that bipartisanship to examine this legislation closely. We have very credible witnesses saying to this Committee that this legislation would make Australians less safe - not more safe. So, it is, of course, important to give the security organisations the support and the assistance that they need to keep Australians safe, but when we have expert witnesses saying that this legislation potentially makes Australians less safe, not more safe, then we need to actually examine this legislation - complex legislation - properly.
JOURNALIST: That being said, we've seen the head of the AFP and more heads of senior - more senior intelligence figures coming out in the past few days saying that Labor's different bill - is it worth it? And that this [inaudible] bill proposed by the Government needs to be passed as a matter of urgency. Should Labor be heeding their warning?
PLIBERSEK: Well, we've also seen very credible comments saying that it is important to examine this legislation closely. Look, Labor's up for passing this bill, we just need to get the details of it right. We have consistently sought bipartisanship and to work with the Government on the legislation - the people who walked away from the negotiating table are Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton. I am pleased that, just yesterday, negotiations have recommenced - I have every confidence that the Committee members are able to come to an agreement, as they have with other previous, very complex pieces of legislation.
JOURNALIST: Do you feel this week is a false deadline put forward by the Government?
PLIBERSEK: No I think it's very important that we focus our efforts this week and if we can get the details of the legislation right, well that's a good thing.
JOURNALIST: We saw some pretty damning data come out yesterday about people on Nauru and their mental health conditions. Does this just need to happen immediately to get people out of offshore processing?
PLIBERSEK: Well, people have been on Nauru, both Nauru and Manus Island, for far too long - it is one of the greatest failures of this Government that people have been effectively in indefinite detention on Manus Island and Nauru. There is no reason on earth why this Government should have rejected the New Zealand offer. They should have accepted it years ago when it was first made. We are very grateful to the United States for taking a number of people - but we need to find permanent homes for the people on Manus Island and Nauru. Of course it affecting their mental and physical health to have this uncertainty in their lives.
Okay, thanks everybody.