THE HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP
DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
SHADOW MINISTER FOR EDUCATION AND TRAINING
SHADOW MINISTER FOR WOMEN
MEMBER FOR SYDNEY
THURSDAY 10 MAY 2018
SUBJECTS: Budget Reply speech; Budget; High Court decision on MPs eligibility.
HON TANYA PLIBERSEK MP, DEPUTY LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION: Tonight you'll see Bill Shorten's Budget Reply speech and you'll see a real Labor vision for this country. What you'll see is Bill Shorten talking about ordinary people, low and middle income earners, and how they'll always be better served by a Labor Government. The Government that we've got at the moment, Malcolm Turnbull's government, is all about the top end of town. Tonight you'll see an alternate vision for Australia that emphasises the greatest support for the vast bulk of people at the middle, low and middle income earners. In contrast to Malcolm Turnbull's budget, that locks in $80 billion worth of a big business tax cuts, $17 billion of tax cuts for the big banks alone. You've got Malcolm Turnbull with a new income tax plan and Labor has already said that we are very happy to support the measures that start on the 1st of July for actual low and middle income earners. What we won't agree to, sight unseen, is a seven year tax plan. The Government won't even tell us what the later elements of the tax plan cost. So that's it - looking forward to tonight! Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Are you and your colleagues sorry about what has unfolded in regards to citizenship resignations?
PLIBERSEK: Of course we are very sorry that people in a number of seats will have to face by-elections now. I know that people don't generally like by-elections, they get quite intense campaigning in their local communities when there's by-elections. So we are sorry for the cost and the inconvenience of these by-elections,. But when the High Court changes the law, takes a new stricter interpretation of the law, of course we have to respect that and accept it and the result of that is several of our MPs, three of ours and Rebekha Sharkie, resigning yesterday.
JOURNALIST: There is some suggestion that Labor should probably acted a lot sooner on this issue, that the law did appear to be coming a lot more clearer after Canavan. Why didn't Labor have the by-elections last year along with people like John Alexander and so forth?
PLIBERSEK: Because people like John Alexander were actual dual citizens. They had taken no steps to renounce their citizenship. Barnaby Joyce remained the Deputy Prime Minister despite the fact that he was actually a citizen of New Zealand and acknowledged as a citizen of New Zealand, and the Prime Minister said there was no problem with that and the High Court 'would so hold'. So I think it's a bit rich for people to say that they had perfect knowledge of what the High Court would find in each of these legal cases. There are a number of constitutional experts - Professor Anne Twomey, Professor Kim Rubenstein, Professor George Williams - who have said that they weren't expecting the result from the High Court yesterday, they were expecting a different interpretation. So we can only act on the best legal advice that we had at the time, and the best legal advice we've had, for 25 years, is that people who had taken all reasonable steps, as our people had, were eligible for Parliament.
JOURNALIST: What do you say to voters who are questioning Bill Shorten's judgement, considering he repeatedly said that no one from Labor was under a cloud?
PLIBERSEK: Well the Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull let Barnaby Joyce remain the Deputy Prime Minister when he was the citizen of another nation, and he said the High Court 'will so hold'. So I think it's a bit rich for the Liberals to pretend they had perfect knowledge.
JOURNALIST: Can you confirm that the renunciation of Susan Lamb's dual citizenship has been confirmed?
PLIBERSEK: Susan Lamb will be eligible. The British Home Office have said that they are able to process her paperwork without her parent's marriage certificate. There was one over here?
JOURNALIST: Well it's just that Malcolm Turnbull was criticised for what he said. Shouldn't you be criticised now?
PLIBERSEK: Yes it's unfortunate that we will be seeing by-elections in these seats. We are sorry for the cost and the inconvenience of that. All we can do is work on the best legal advice we had at the time, and for 25 years the legal advice has been if you take all reasonable steps then you are eligible. When the High Court changes the interpretation of the law, then we're dealing with a whole new set of circumstances.
JOURNALIST: And are you confident of holding onto those four Labor seats?
PLIBERSEK: I'm very confident. We've got three great candidates, it would be terrific if we picked up Mayo as well, that would be excellent, but we're not counting on that. We've got three excellent candidates, they were re-endorsed by our National Executive last night. And let's face it, people on the ground in these seats will be making their decision based on the alternative offering of the Liberals and Labor. If the Liberal Government persists in offering an $80 billion big business tax cut, $17 billion of that going to the big banks, and cutting services, cutting health, cutting education, cutting TAFE, cutting schools, cutting pensions. I mean, Malcolm Turnbull can find $16,000 a year to give someone on one million bucks a year a tax cut, but he can't find seven bucks a week to give a pensioner an energy supplement. This Budget bakes in all of the unfair cuts of recent budgets, and on top of that wants to give more benefit to the big end of town. I'm happy to fight on those grounds. Thanks.